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Questions and Answers - October 17


QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Economic Programme—Job Creation and Productivity

1. PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: What steps is the Government taking to support new jobs and build a productive and competitive economy?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member is entitled to ask a question. Before the Minister has got a word out there were lots of interjections. That is not reasonable.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): I am pleased to get a question on jobs today. I did not get one yesterday, so the crisis must be over. The Government has worked through an economic programme to support business investment because it is business investment that leads to more jobs. Specific measures include a 90-day trial period and reducing company tax to 28 percent. ACC levies have been reduced, saving $600 million this year, we have removed 170 unnecessary and excessive regulations, and, in terms of direct intervention on behalf of young people, we have the $152 million Youth Opportunities package, which includes 4,000 places in Job Ops.

Paul Goldsmith: How have the New Zealand economy and employment market performed over the past 2 years, and what is the outlook for the next few years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: A very good question. In net terms, almost 60,000 more New Zealanders have jobs now than 2 years ago, and unemployment is forecast to fall. That has happened because the economy grew by 2.6 percent in the year to June, and annual growth is forecast at between 2 and 3 percent over the next 4 years—better than most developed countries. The after-tax average wage is up by 20 percent since 2008. New Zealand now has the lowest inflation rate since 1999, which means that the cost of living is increasing at its slowest rate in 12 years. All of this will help support jobs.

Paul Goldsmith: What examples has he seen of jobs being created in the infrastructure sector?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Through the recession the Government, despite tight financial times, has maintained a consistently high level of investment in infrastructure. Here are just a few examples of those projects: there will be about 1,000 construction jobs on the new Wiri Prison, for which the contract has been signed, 1,000 new jobs over the next 4 years at the height of the Waterview construction, and nearly 2,000 people employed in the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband, which has been assisted with $1.5 billion of investment by the Government.

Paul Goldsmith: What recent reports has he seen on jobs and output in the manufacturing sector?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have seen reports that there is a crisis in jobs in the manufacturing sector, and, as is often the case with what the Opposition parties say, that is wrong. The household labour force survey shows that the number of people employed in manufacturing has remained quite steady since the beginning of 2009, although it did drop somewhat in the last 18 months of the Labour Government’s time in office. The number is now fluctuating between 245,000 and 255,000

people, depending on the season. Over the past 2 years employment in manufacturing has actually gone up a little, from 239,500 to 246,500. Manufacturing output, in GDP terms, has risen by 8 percent since June 2009. Latest GDP data shows the manufacturing sector growing by 2.5 percent over the last year.

Dotcom Case—Government Communications Security Bureau Staffing

2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister responsible for the

GCSB: Specifically, have there been staff issues associated with the Government Communications Security Bureau and Dotcom affair brought to his attention by the Government Communications Security Bureau or members of the New Zealand Police, in which such staff members no longer work in their previous capacity for the Government Communications Security Bureau or any government agency; if so, what were the circumstances?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Minister responsible for the GCSB): The director of the Government Communications Security Bureau has raised some staff issues with me. As the member will be aware, the director made a public statement last week, which advised that an investigation had commenced within the bureau as to whether there had been unauthorised disclosure of information, and if so, its source. I do not believe that it is appropriate for me to make further comment about staff matters, which are clearly the responsibility of the director.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Prime Minister have any knowledge at all of disciplinary action being taken against an individual working for the Government Communications Security Bureau in respect of the Dotcom affair; if so, why will he not tell the House when he was first informed of it?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not in a position to discuss staffing matters; they are a matter for the director, and best left with him.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not asking him to discuss staffing matters; I am asking him whether there was a discussion relating to staffing matters that came to his attention. That is a different question.

Mr SPEAKER: I am prepared to let the member repeat his question, but that was not what his question actually asked. In case I am in error, I am happy for the member to repeat his question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does he have any knowledge at all of disciplinary action being taken against an individual working for the Government Communications Security Bureau in respect of the Dotcom affair; if so, why will he not tell the House when he was first informed of it?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not in a position to confirm whether disciplinary action has or has not been taken. I am advised by the director as he sees fit. But they are ongoing staffing matters and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Minister saying that he is not aware of a member of the Government Communications Security Bureau being specifically and particularly put on “gardening leave” in respect of the Kim Dotcom affair, despite the name and role of that person being widely known around Wellington?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I am prepared to say is that any matters involving personnel at the Government Communications Security Bureau are a matter for the director. It would be inappropriate for me to publicly comment on those at this time.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: In another case, can he assure the House that an officer of the New Zealand Police force with a record of 15 years’ service in the Diplomatic Protection Squad never spoke to him about Dotcom prior to 19 January 2012, the date the PM now finally admits he first learnt of Kim Dotcom?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have no recollection of any Diplomatic Protection Squad agent speaking to me about that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is he saying as Minister that a member of the Prime Minister’s protection squad with a record of 15 years’ service to Prime Ministers, including himself, never told

him as Prime Minister of his intention to leave the Diplomatic Protection Squad to go to work for Kim Dotcom?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is referring to a chap whose last name I do not know; his first name is Regan. He does not work for the Diplomatic Protection Squad; he works for—or he used to work for—VIP Transport Services in Auckland, and, no, I was not aware that he went to work for Kim Dotcom.

Dotcom Case—Actions of Government Communications Security Bureau

3. DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Further to his answers to the first supplementary question to Oral Question No 1 on 26 September and the first supplementary question to Oral Question No 1 yesterday, does he now know on what date the Government Communications Security Bureau was first told that its surveillance of Kim Dotcom was illegal?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I am advised by the Government Communications Security Bureau that the first time it became aware its activity in relation to the Dotcom case was unlawful was between 7 September, when an affidavit was filed in the court, and 13 September, when my office was informed. As I have previously stated publicly, there were two main aspects to the human error at the heart of this matter: first, the Government Communications Security Bureau originally relied on the police information about the residency status of the people in question and did not check further, and, second, the error was compounded after the operation was concluded by a simple wrong interpretation of the law, which occurred in February, as I have stated publicly several times.

David Shearer: Did the Government Communications Security Bureau mention the police operation of Kim Dotcom at either or both of the briefings that it gave him on 14 and 24 February?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

David Shearer: Given his answer yesterday, has he now gone and asked his department, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, what, if any, knowledge it had of the Kim Dotcom case prior to September?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: A member of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet was aware of the Government Communications Security Bureau’s involvement after the raid took place; that would have been in late January. That information was never passed on to me. We have looked at all of the records and notes and email correspondence and the person has confirmed that they never discussed the matter with me, and has actually never discussed the matter with me.

David Shearer: Who was that person who did not pass on that information to him?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Roy Ferguson.

David Shearer: Which of his ministerial colleagues, other than the Attorney-General, did he discuss the Government Communications Security Bureau’s unlawful surveillance of Mr Dotcom with prior to the bureau’s actions being made public?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not know the answer to those questions.

David Shearer: How, then, can he be sure he actually spoke to Ministers if he cannot actually recall who they were?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I remember having a discussion; I think it was with the Attorney-General. I am sure there were another couple of Ministers there, but I do not recall who they were.

David Shearer: Mr Speaker—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I want to hear the—[Interruption] Order! Order! I say to the Labour members to show your leader some courtesy. I want to hear his question.

David Shearer: Will he confirm that he had not heard of Kim Dotcom or Megaupload prior to 19 January?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Correct.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the question of the Prime Minister’s knowledge or memory, does he stand by his written answer to my question of 7 May when he was asked what dates between 7 April and 23 July 2011 he met with the Hon Simon Power following Mr Power’s seeking further information on Kim Dotcom, and can he assure the House that Mr Power did not raise the subject of Kim Dotcom at that 13 June 2011 meeting?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I can confirm he did not raise the matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the Prime Minister make that assurance when in his written answer to my question on 7 May he claimed: “There is no record of what was discussed … and I have no recollection of the discussion.”? How could he give that assurance to the House today?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As I distinctly recall, the first I heard of Kim Dotcom was 19 January 2012.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the Prime Minister possibly give an assurance that that matter was not raised by the Hon Simon Power with him back in June 2011, as he just did, when in his formal writing to me in a written answer he said: “There is no record of what was discussed … and I have no recollection of the discussion.”? How can he reconcile those two statements: the one today and the written one in the House?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Quite easily because I do not recall the exact conversation of why Simon came to me on that particular occasion, but I know for a fact it was not about Kim Dotcom.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order has been called.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I seek leave to table this question and answer—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We do not table questions for written answer. They are available to all members anyhow.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, a further supplementary question?

Mr SPEAKER: The member, I think, has used his allocation of supplementary questions available.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to get the truth out of the Prime Minister.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member can seek leave only for a procedure of the House.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The idea that you would indicate that getting the truth out of the Prime Minister is not a procedure of the House—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. This is the House of Representatives. We do not need that sort of nonsense.

Parenting Support—Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

4. ALFRED NGARO (National) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made regarding providing extra financial assistance to grandparents raising grandchildren and other kin-carers?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): I have announced my commitment to provide extra financial assistance to grandparents raising grandchildren and other kin carers. Although this group of carers get the same basic payment as those fostering children in the care of Child, Youth and Family they do not receive additional assistance for things like clothing, which Child, Youth and Family caregivers get through the foster care allowance.

Tracey Martin: I seek leave for the Social Security (Clothing Allowances for Orphans and Unsupported Children) Amendment Bill in my name to be introduced and set down as members’ order of the day No. 1 today.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that course of action. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Alfred Ngaro: Why does she think grandparents and other kin carers need this extra financial support?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Grandparents have brought up their own families and are often now in a period of their lives when they are not financially prepared for the costs of raising a new family. It is likely that these children have had a hard time in many cases and need extra support. We know that these children will have better outcomes if they are raised within a loving and stable environment. I have huge admiration for these kin carers who take on the significant responsibility of raising these children, often in need.

Alfred Ngaro: How will you work with these groups to see that they get the financial support they need?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: We will go out to these groups and these people to work out with them what this will look like. We need to know from them what is most important to them. It will not look exactly the same as the assistance that non-kin carers get. We do not want to undermine or override familial responsibilities. For example, I think it would be inappropriate to give grandparents money so that they can buy their own grandchildren presents, but there are certainly areas where they need and deserve more support.

Export Sector—Comparison of 2008 and 2012 Figures

5. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: When he said yesterday that with a “relatively high” exchange rate, our exporters “have been sufficiently resilient to be able to grow export volumes and value” did he mean that all export sectors have been growing, and according to Statistics New Zealand, in 2008 dollars what is the percentage change in exports of simply and elaborately transformed manufactured goods from the 2008 to 2012 financial years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): To the first part of the member’s question, what I meant was that exporters have been sufficiently resilient to be able to grow export volumes and value, and, indeed, that is what has been happening. To the second part of his question, I am advised by Statistics New Zealand that there is no existing series that perfectly covers his request. In fact, it does not make a lot of sense to deflate exports by the Consumers Price Index, but a close approximation can be made from the export volume index for non-food manufactured goods. This series shows manufacturing exports in constant dollar terms, which is what the member appears to be after. The series shows that there has been an increase in manufacturing export volumes of 3.9 percent between the year to June 2008 and the year to June 2012, despite the recession and a global financial crisis.

Hon David Parker: Why is the Minister using volume terms? Is it because outside of primary products, in real terms, manufacturing is declining—in fact, there is a 14 percent decline in simply transformed manufactured exports and a 10 percent decline in elaborately transformed manufactured exports—and is he not aware of that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: We can have a contest of different statistics if the member likes. The fact is that the Statistics New Zealand series of export volume for non-food manufactured goods shows an increase, even in constant dollar terms. Total exports have been rising after a bit of a dip from the global financial crisis. The value of exports has risen 13 percent in the last 2 years. Both volumes and prices have risen over that time. As I have pointed out in the answer to an earlier question, the number of people employed in manufacturing did drop in the last 2 years of the previous Government’s time in office, but, actually, since 2009 it has fluctuated between 245,000 and 255,000 people. So the member can look as hard as he likes, but it will be difficult for him to create a sense of crisis for manufacturing.

Hon David Parker: If, according to his own Government statistics department, there has been a 14 percent decline and a 10 percent decline in value in simply and elaborately transformed manufacturing exports but he still thinks the sector is doing well, how much more would exports in these sectors have to decline in value before he thought there was a serious problem?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: There may be categories of manufacturing exports that have declined. That is the nature of the recovery that we are in. Some businesses are doing well; some are doing

poorly. Some sectors are doing well; some are doing poorly. The fact is that for manufacturing the measure that means the most, in my view, is the number of people employed in it, and the number of people employed in it declined in the last 2 years of the previous Labour Government. Since 2009 it has fluctuated between 245,000 and 255,000 people, so there is not a crisis in manufacturing over job losses. There is a lot of pressure on exporters, who are trying to be profitable despite the global financial problems.

Hon David Parker: Given that the International Monetary Fund’s most recent World Economic Outlook said that New Zealand’s current account deficit this year will be second worst after Greece, and in 2013 and 2017 is projected by the IMF to be the worst in the developed world, how can he sit back and not take seriously the decline in non-primary manufacturing and the related job losses?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As has been pretty clear, we dispute the member’s conclusion. The fact is that the job numbers in manufacturing have been remarkably constant despite the global financial crisis and worldwide recession. That is a tribute to the businesses and their staff, who have shown remarkable resilience and attention to productivity and profitability and have maintained hundreds of thousands of jobs through one of the worst economic times we have seen in decades.

Hon David Cunliffe: With New Zealand’s current account deficit forecast by the IMF to be the worst in the developed world next year, and with inflation at 0.8 percent for the year below the target range of the Reserve Bank, does he now agree that boosting exports should be a higher priority than further reductions in inflation?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The effective decisions about the interest rates will actually be made by the Governor of the Reserve Bank. The Government and the new governor re-signed a policy targets agreement that is not substantially different from the one that was in place before or, in fact, the one that was in place under the previous Labour Government. It is up to the governor to make those kinds of decisions about whether he believes interest rates should be raised or lowered.

Hon David Cunliffe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Actually, the question was carefully worded to seek his opinion, asking “does he now agree”, and it was on a policy matter, not on an operational matter, to do with inflation control, because it addressed the balance between matters within the purview of the Reserve Bank—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I hear the member, but I think the member is experienced enough to recognise in the Minister’s answer that the Minister answered all that a Minister of Finance can. The member knows that under the current New Zealand legislation it is not a matter for the Minister of Finance to even express opinions on those matters. Ministers of Finance need to be careful about expressing opinions on those matters. They are the responsibility of the Governor of the Reserve Bank.

Hon David Cunliffe: Given that the policy targets agreement that the Minister has just referred to sets a midpoint target of 2 percent inflation per annum, and given that inflation is now at 0.8 percent below the bottom end of the target range, may I repeat: does he believe that promoting exports and the use of policy tools by his ministry—Treasury; not the Reserve Bank—would now take a higher priority in his Government’s policy programme than achieving further reductions of inflation by compressing the economy further into a rut?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am not quite sure what the last bit means, but the Government has focused strongly, since taking office, on reinforcing the competitiveness of our export industries. They lost a lot of competitiveness through the first decade of this century. In the light of the global financial crisis and recession around the world, it is vital that we continue the programme laid out in a number of documents that have been published, and some that will be published, on the business growth agenda, which is designed to enable our businesses to more easily make the decision to invest, to expand, to employ more people, to make profits, and also to pay tax, and the Government will stay focused on that.

Income Tax (Universalisation of In-work Tax Credit) Amendment Bill—Prime Minister’s

Statements

6. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement, in response to a question about whether he will support my Income Tax (Universalisation of In-work Tax Credit) Amendment Bill that “she wants to give the same millionaires yet more money to raise their kids”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I stand by my full statement, which made reference to the member’s support in general for a universal child payment. That full statement in relation to children living in difficult circumstances was “This Government spends a huge amount of time, money, and energy focused on those young New Zealanders and on trying to give them help. If the member thinks that that will be resolved without giving them a decent education—because she does not support all the measures that this Government has taken to lift education standards—then she is dreaming. If the member thinks that that can be achieved by a universal payment, as I said to the member some time ago, she comes into this House and she bags the Government because she argues that we have people who are well off, and then she wants to give the same millionaires yet more money to raise their kids.”

Metiria Turei: Is the Prime Minister aware that my bill is an opportunity to lift 100,000 children out of poverty, but would have no effect at all on millionaires and the rich, who would remain ineligible for the in-work tax credit, just as they are now?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, broadly I am aware of it, although I am also advised that if the inwork tax credit equivalent was paid to beneficiary families, it would cost more than $1.5 billion over 4 years. I do not know the financial costs of the member’s payment.

Metiria Turei: Is he aware that one of the key goals of the Working for Families package when it was established was to lift incomes “for families with dependent children … as a means of tackling child poverty;”, and does he think that it is fair for the poorest children in New Zealand to continue to be excluded from that goal?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In answer to the first part of the question, yes, but in terms of the second part of the question, the member should be aware—or is aware—that, in fact, benefit-based households receive Working for Families. What they do not receive is the in-work tax credit.

Metiria Turei: Does he think that it is fair to deny this little bit of extra financial support to the 36 percent of Māori children who live in benefit-reliant households and who do not get access to the in-work tax credit, even where their parents also work?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot comment on the last bit, because it is subject to everybody’s household, depending on whether they get the in-work tax credit or not, because if their income is high enough, then it is abated. But, in principle, the in-work tax credit when it was designed by a Labour Government was to make sure that there was always a differential between working and welfare. And the reason for that, and rightfully so, when Michael Cullen put that scheme together was that he wanted to make sure there was an incentive for people to move off benefits into work. He was right to do that, because quite a lot of research indicates that the fastest way to lift poor households that have children in poverty out of that poverty situation is through work. In fact, the Children’s Commissioner’s expert group said this: “Research indicates that a parent obtaining fulltime paid employment is the most important event to lift children out of poverty.” If the member wants to lift those children out of poverty, may I suggest she work and focus on getting their families into work.

Metiria Turei: Is it fair that because Māori joblessness has grown by 80 percent under his Government, thousands of Māori children have lost access to the in-work tax credit as a direct consequence of his Government’s economic failures?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I refute the last point. Firstly, this is a Government where growth has been 1.6 percent for the first half of this year, where 57,000 jobs have been created in the last 2 years, and where we are growing faster than most other OECD countries. Secondly, what is true is that if

somebody is in work and then loses their job, they will lose the in-work tax credit. But I would also hasten to add that if someone then takes a part-time job, even for 20 hours or more, to the best of my memory, they then get the in-work tax credit back. So therefore I think that is a pretty good scheme.

Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister not understand even the existing policy, which says that whether they work 20 hours or not, if they also are in receipt of a benefit or a student allowance or superannuation they are not eligible for the in-work tax credit, because they receive a means-tested benefit, and that is the discrimination that has been found to exist that traps—locks—100,000 children or more into poverty, because he does not even understand his own policy?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do, but what the member is arguing is that someone should get an inwork tax credit when they are on a benefit. What you cannot do is get both. What currently happens, though, is that everybody under a certain income level gets Working for Families.

Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister accept that children are actually going hungry in this country, and that their parents do not have enough money to feed them or to accommodate them in warm, dry homes, and will he help thousands of these children today by supporting a simple, pragmatic bill to extend the support that is given to other children to those who need it the very most?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In answer to the last part of the member’s question, no, we will not be supporting the bill. In terms of whether there are some children in New Zealand in very poor conditions, the answer to that is yes, but then I think we also need to take a step back and say that the Government does a huge range of things, including making sure there is universal provision of welfare support. There are emergency hardships, there is State housing provided, there are accommodation supplements, and there are many other provisions of support from the Government to those who are in the worst scenario. I say to the member that this is a Government that is working hard to address those issues with all sorts of things, from insulation of homes to trying to get rid of rheumatic fever.

Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister think that the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Every Child Counts coalition of community organisations, and other experts are wrong to conclude that my bill would make a real difference to the poverty suffered by thousands of New Zealand children every day? Are they all wrong?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Around 60 percent of kids who are living in poverty are in benefitdependent households. That is why, to quote her, the Children’s Commissioner’s expert group—the very group she just quoted—said, and I quote this again, “Research indicates that a parent obtaining full-time paid employment is the most important event to lift children out of poverty.”

Primary Growth Partnership—Successful Bids

7. SHANE ARDERN (National—Taranaki - King Country) to the Minister for Primary

Industries: What progress can he report on the Primary Growth Partnership Initiative?

Hon DAVID CARTER (Minister for Primary Industries): I have recently announced the Government is to fund nearly half of a $14.6 million programme, led by PGG Wrightson Seeds, to develop new pasture and forage crop technology. This successful bid lifts the total amount of Government and industry funding under the Primary Growth Partnership to around $600 million. In just 3 years the Primary Growth Partnership has worked with industry to develop some of the most exciting primary sector research and innovation proposals that New Zealand has ever seen.

Shane Ardern: Why has the Government committed funding to improving innovation and productivity in the primary sector?

Hon DAVID CARTER: This Government has set ambitious targets of increasing exports to 40 percent of GDP and encouraging the business sector to double its expenditure on research and development to more than 1 percent of GDP. As the primary sector makes up 71 percent of New

Zealand’s merchandise exports, it is clear that this sector will play a crucial part in achieving these targets. Increasing innovation investment in our food, fishing, fibre, and forestry industries is crucial to the success of the New Zealand economy.

Shane Ardern: Has the Primary Growth Partnership been successful in providing funding to a wide range of firms?

Hon DAVID CARTER: Yes, it certainly has. I am very pleased to report that over a quarter of a billion dollars of Government funding has been allocated across a wide range of firms, big and small. The Primary Growth Partnership initiative is encouraging buy-in by industry right across a range of business, it is encouraging new, innovative investment, and it is encouraging industry to work together in order to make New Zealand a more productive and competitive economy. The Primary Growth Partnership has been highly successful.

Social Development, Ministry—Report on Security of Private Information

8. JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What vulnerabilities were identified in the report prepared by Dimension Data on the security of the Work and Income kiosks?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): The Dimension Data report found an issue with the lack of network separation whereby the kiosks were connected directly to the Ministry of Social Development network, meaning that sensitive documents were accessible from the kiosks. This report sparks the obvious question of whether this issue was addressed and the problems fixed, and given the situation we are now in, it is clear that they were not. This is why the chief executive and I decided to release this information publicly yesterday, in an effort to be upfront and honest about what we are actually dealing with.

Jacinda Ardern: Did she receive any reports, either verbal or written, on vulnerabilities within the ministry’s systems at the time that that report was prepared?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: No.

Jacinda Ardern: What did her monitoring of the roll-out of her new automated systems involve, given this is what she undertook she would do in 2009?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: That monitoring of those systems was more than just the kiosks, actually. As you can see, we have got My Account, where people can now access their own information online, and we have about 12 percent who actually go into the kiosks—

Hon Trevor Mallard: The Minister was looking at their accounts?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Oh, let us not be ridiculous, Trevor Mallard, like you like to be. So what we have got now is we have got—so that whole question of we are going more online was more than just about the kiosks; it was about a range of information. I was advising the Minister that we would be looking at how quickly that is rolled out and what the cost is, and that is exactly what we have done.

Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was very specific in my question around what the monitoring exactly entailed. I would have liked the Minister to address the substantive part of that question.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I think the member’s questioning is, in fact, serious, and is appropriate questioning. I think it should be treated with more respect by the member’s colleagues. The member’s colleagues sought to interject and the Minister responded to those interjections. I am not going to now ask the Minister to ignore all of that and give a precise answer.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Oh, just protecting the weak Ministers.

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows he cannot do that. I am not sure on what basis the member, the Hon Trevor Mallard, thinks that that is appropriate. I am not going to ask the member to leave. I do not want to give the member that dignity. I just want him to know how childish I think that is.

Jacinda Ardern: Did Dimension Data contact the ministry to correct the chief executive’s claim that they had not reported on vulnerabilities in the system, or did someone within the ministry check the report?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I first saw the report on Monday night at about 8 o’clock. It had been seen that day. It was after 1 o’clock, when we had done the press conference. It was then brought to our attention that, without a doubt, they had raised this particular issue. By quarter-past 9 the next morning we had put out a press release letting everyone know that.

Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was specifically who identified that the report had found the vulnerabilities, but that was not reported.

Mr SPEAKER: The member may repeat her question.

Jacinda Ardern: Did Dimension Data contact the ministry to correct the chief executive’s claim that they had not reported on vulnerabilities in the system, or did someone within the ministry go back and check the report?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: As far as I know there was not a phone call from Dimension Data, but I do not know that. There may have been. But, as I say, it was first brought to my attention that night, and as a consequence we put the press release out the next morning.

Jacinda Ardern: Is public confidence in her ministry’s management of sensitive data an operational issue?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I think the confidence of this is everyone’s issue, and it is one that I am taking very, very seriously. It has been undermined. I think it is appalling that this information has been accessed. I have done everything I can, since knowing this on Sunday evening, to make sure that we get to the bottom of it, we fix it, and we make sure it never ever happens again.

Metiria Turei: When the Minister said yesterday concerning the Work and Income New Zealand security breach: “I have not leaked private information about individuals.”, does she deny that in July 2009 she instructed her staff to release the benefit details of two women on the DPB, without their permission, prompting a Human Rights Commission investigation into her actions and the Director of Human Rights Proceedings finding that she had deliberately breached these women’s privacy?

Mr SPEAKER: I have some difficulty with this supplementary question, because it bears no relationship whatsoever to the vulnerabilities identified in the report by Dimension Data. I am thinking back on the Minister’s answers today, and the Minister has not mentioned any of those issues in her answers. I do not want to deprive the member of her supplementary question. I invite the member to ask another supplementary question that really relates to the primary question.

Metiria Turei: How can it be anything but a clear failure of her leadership, when she has legitimised the breach of privacy by her ministry by having previously done so herself, without remorse, and when she has failed to demonstrate any oversight of ongoing breaches of privacy by not ensuring that her ministry fixed major security problems brought to its attention not once, not twice, but now three times in 2 years?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I have not leaked any information or any beneficiaries’ information. That member may struggle with that, but I transparently put it out there and did it myself without any—I know that the Opposition struggles with that, because those members prefer to pass little notes under doorways to the media, and everything else. I point-blankly went out there and said what I said. So there has been no leak from me.

Metiria Turei: Given the Minister’s assurances to the public that she was mortified by the breach by the Ministry of Social Development and that she was looking for the utmost transparency in dealing with the issue, how can she expect New Zealanders to have any confidence at all that a Minister who would deliberately release private information of people who question her policy, without their consent, can be trusted to oversee any kind of privacy management in the Ministry of Social Development?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: We have a serious system flaw that this Government has taken very seriously. We have taken action—the best and the quickest that we possibly can. We will not undermine it. Actually, that member is not the only one who gets to wring their hands and do angst. We are very concerned on this side and are taking it very seriously.

Health Services—Reports

9. Dr JACKIE BLUE (National) to the Minister of Health: What reports has he received on improving the quality and efficiency of health services?

Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health): Under the Government, public hospitals are making smarter use of their resources to treat more patients and get these patients home to their families sooner. Part of this is a new enhanced recovery after surgery programme, which helps people recover more quickly and safely after their operation, so they can have fewer complications and get home to their families sooner. This is now being used in South Auckland, the Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Southern, and Waitematā, and is expected to be rolled out to other district health boards over time.

Dr Jackie Blue: How does the enhanced recovery after surgery programme help to get patients home sooner?

Hon TONY RYALL: Under the programme, patients are given a comprehensive early preoperative assessment, where they are encouraged to get their bodies as fit as possible in preparation for surgery and anaesthesia. Then the surgical techniques used are less invasive and with different types of anaesthesia. For example, prior to this programme a patient receiving bowel surgery would take several days before they could get out of bed, and many more days before they could return home. With this new programme our clinicians are now able to see that these patients are able to eat and drink and are out of bed on the day of surgery, and walking the ward on the very next day. This means that these people are home with their families sooner, and I think everyone would join with me in congratulating our clinicians on their leadership in changing their approaches to surgery to provide this better service.

Television New Zealand—Programming Strategy

10. TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) to the Minister of Broadcasting: How does he ensure that the legislative requirement for TVNZ to provide high-quality content that reflects Māori perspectives is reflected in the programming strategy for TV1 and TV2?

Hon CRAIG FOSS (Minister of Broadcasting): Although I am not responsible for programming for Television One and TV2, I meet with the chair of Television New Zealand (TVNZ), Wayne Walden, who, I note, is the previous chair of Māori Television. I am confident that he takes seriously TVNZ’s statutory obligations, and provides high-quality content that reflects Māori perspectives.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Is he satisfied that the only programming on TV2 that reflects Māori perspectives is the Aotearoa Social Club, which runs at the prime time of 11.30 p.m. on a Thursday, and I Am TV, which was recently cut from 35 hours a year to 12.5 hours; if not, what will he do to address the less than 1 percent coverage on that channel?

Hon CRAIG FOSS: Again, although I am not responsible for the programmes on TV2, I note that today New Zealand On Air has announced funding for Poppet Stars, which will animate songs in both English and Māori, as well as funding in 2013 for Tiki Tour. Both of these programmes will be shown on TV2.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Does the Minister agree with the Māori programming strategy that Television New Zealand should focus on “Māori programmes mainly in English” that make “a conscious effort to reveal something of the past, present or future [world of Māori]” and where “at least two of the three key roles of producer, director and writer/researcher must be Māori”; if so, what programmes would he identify as meeting this definition?

Hon CRAIG FOSS: Yes, I do agree with and believe in that strategy. I think it was put out by New Zealand On Air, and it relates to all broadcasters, not just Television One or TV2. I am sorry, but I do not have at hand examples of programmes that meet that definition.

Schools, Canterbury—Criteria for Proposed Closures and Mergers

11. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister of Education: Is she confident that the information she relied upon in deciding on proposals for school closures and mergers in Christchurch was robust and reliable; if so, why?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): No. The Ministry of Education has acknowledged that there was a small number of errors in the original data for the 215 schools. The ministry has assured me that the latest information given to schools last week was the best available. In addition, I have asked the ministry to put in place a special team inside the ministry, to be based in Christchurch, to receive and review all new information.

Chris Hipkins: Was she provided with or did she ask for a physical assessment of the damage at each of the schools proposed for closure or merger and the likely cost of repair prior to finalising her proposals; if not, why not?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I was provided with a range of assessments that went from an exterior inspection, depending on the age of the school, through to a thorough physical site inspection, as well as desk-based information, and as well as advice retained from independent contractors who are geotechnical structural engineers, property managers, quantity surveyors, and others who are experts in property assessments.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very helpful answer, but—

Mr SPEAKER: It was not an answer to the question asked. I could see it coming. The Minister was actually asked whether she asked for evidence of physical examination of the schools involved in the proposals in respect of merger and closure prior to making any final decisions on those matters. I hope—I have paraphrased the member’s question, but that was the guts of the question: whether the Minister asked for physical examination of those schools.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I think the question was whether I asked for or whether I received; I had both. In some cases, the schools are of a particular age and we know that they will not meet the earthquake standard. We got a range of assessments done, all of which contributed to the range of proposals that were put forward.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Did she ask?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: Well, yes, I did ask for some, and I received some.

Mr SPEAKER: I think this time the Minister has indicated that, yes, she did ask. I suspect there is more ground for supplementary questioning there.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I accept that in your paraphrasing of my question perhaps we might have lost some of the meaning. It was a question of whether she asked for and received a physical assessment of the damage at each of the schools she has proposed for merger or closure. I think that is quite specific. It could be a yes or a no or whatever, but we could at least get a bit closer to the actual question that I asked.

Mr SPEAKER: Clearly the member is not satisfied with the answer he has received. The Minister has indicated that, yes, she sought advice in respect of physical examinations of some of those schools. I think the reasonable thing is to ask further supplementary questions to dig into that answer rather than to endlessly pursue the one question. I think it is possible to dig further into that answer.

Chris Hipkins: Did she ask for or receive a physical assessment of the damage at some of the schools proposed for closure or merger and not at others; if so, why did she not ask for that for all of the schools that she had proposed for closure or merger?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: The schools that have had proposals made to them have proposals on the basis of a mix of information. That information does relate to direct earthquake damage, but also

it relates to the weathertightness of the buildings, it relates to the geotechnical integrity of the land, and it relates to the functionality of the buildings. It related to a range of issues, all of which, coming together, related to the particular proposals that were considered.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I accept that the Minister is being helpful in her answers in giving probably more information than I am asking for, but in doing so she is not actually giving me the information that I am asking for.

Mr SPEAKER: The member is asking pretty straight questions—I agree with that absolutely— but I think what the Minister has indicated in her answer is that for some of the schools involved in closure or merger, information in respect of earthquake damage was not asked for, because there were other matters that affected those schools, like geotechnical stuff relating to the ground and existing weathertightness issues. If I am wrong there, the Minister had better correct me. If the Minister wishes to correct me—if I am wrong there—she is welcome to. Was that a correct interpretation of what the Minister told the House? If it is not, the Minister had better correct it.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I think I have given a comprehensive answer. There are 215 schools, of which 42 have had direct proposals. Those 42 schools have different permutations of effect that have led to the proposals. Some have had direct earthquake damage, some have had weathertightness issues, some have had functionality issues, and some have had strengthening issues. It is permutations of all of those that have led to the basis of the proposals.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think I am bit more confused now, having heard the Minister’s extra answer. It is even further away from the original question I asked.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! National Party members know that this is a point of order. The member has, in my view, some legitimate grievance. He has asked very straight questions and he has not received very straight answers. [Interruption] Order! The member has asked some very straight questions. When I interpreted the Minister’s answer and the Minister got to her feet, I think she repeated exactly my interpretation of a previous answer. The dilemma is that the member has only a limited number of supplementary questions available. I think he has three more, by my reckoning. It is unreasonable if Ministers avoid answering straight questions. On the previous question I said that the member had more supplementary questions to dig into it. What I am going to invite him to do, because a certain amount of time has gone by now since when he asked the question, is to repeat his second supplementary question.

Chris Hipkins: I will give it a go, Mr Speaker. I am not entirely sure I can remember it. I think it was whether she asked for or received a physical assessment of the damage at some of the schools but not others that she proposed for closure or merger, and, if she received that assessment only for some but not others, why she did not ask for it for all of the schools that she was proposing.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I think—[Interruption] Order! On listening to the question, my interpretation of the Minister’s answer was exactly right—that, in fact, for some of the schools there were other issues involved, and that is why she did not seek the information about earthquake damage. It seems to me that the Minister has, in fact, answered that question, and I think we should go on to the next supplementary question.

Chris Hipkins: Why did she state in her answer to my primary question yesterday that the categories “restore”, “consolidate”, and “rejuvenate” did not relate to individual schools, when her written answer to exactly the same question stated that the criteria for determining whether an individual school was classified under one of those headings were “the extent of damage, cost of repair, demographic projections and opportunities for … renewal.”?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: The learning community clusters have been categorised under “restore”, “consolidate”, or “rejuvenate”. The question the member asked yesterday mixed the individual schools and the descriptors of the clustered communities. So that was what I was trying to answer. There are, for instance, in the “restore” category 65 schools in, I think, about 12 clusters. They are not all exactly the same, except that—

Hon Trevor Mallard: This is not Yes, Minister.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: As I was saying, there are 65 primary schools, for instance, in 12 clusters within the “restore” category. There are criteria that apply to the clusters that do not all apply to the specifics of the individual 65 schools, but the 65 schools do have some or all of those criteria. It is that complex.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I accept that that was the Minister’s explanation that she gave yesterday, but if that was the case yesterday when she answered the primary question, it was also the case when she answered the written question. I asked her to explain why she gave different explanations in her answers to the written question and to the primary question, and she has not actually addressed that.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Members should respect the fact that there was a point of order being raised. The member is raising legitimate points of order, because the question the member asked related to the difference between the answers to the oral question yesterday and to a written question previously submitted. The Minister indicated, as I heard her, that the difference was that some of the criteria do, in fact, apply to individual schools, and that is why her written answer indicated that, whereas yesterday she indicated to the House that her criteria applied principally, I would understand, to the clusters, and she is arguing that it is complex like that. That seems to explain that difference.

Nikki Kaye: Are there any other measures that she is putting in place to ensure that the sector, parents, and school communities can be confident that information received on these proposals is robust?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: In addition to the special team I have already mentioned, I have asked the ministry to appoint an appropriate independent Christchurch person to oversee the consultation process, to ensure that the views of parents and school communities are heard. The person will ensure that community feedback is incorporated in the ministry’s final advice to me.

Chris Hipkins: Is she confident that the assessment of damage at each of the schools proposed for closure or merger provided her with an accurate basis for decision making; if so, why, given that Central New Brighton School was identified as having 13 damaged buildings, when, in fact, the most damage the school can identify is two cracks in its paintwork; and why did she not ask for a physical assessment of all of the schools she was proposing for closure or merger, prior to putting that proposal forward?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: As I acknowledged in my answer to the primary question, there are some errors in the information that was originally used for the first proposals. That is why I have asked for a team to be set up to ensure that all new information that becomes available is used for this process. We are in a consultation. We are keen to learn of these issues. If the member has more helpful operational detail he would like to offer, I will refer it to that special team.

Chris Hipkins: Will the schools proposed for merger or closure be given extra time to consult with their communities, given that they were given the ministry’s estimate of the costs to repair earthquake damage, geotechnical data, and demographic projections only on Monday—over a third of the way through the time that has been allowed for consultation—and given that secondary school students, in particular, are focused on their exams at the moment rather than on worrying about the future of their school; if she will not extend that consultation time frame, why will she not?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: From the time the proposals were launched on 13 September, and the time line that I set out in my letter to schools on 28 September, it makes it clear that there are different phases available for this consultation through to April next year. There is, overall, a 6- month period. However, it is a process. I am keen to listen to the views of parents and the school communities, and I will take, along with them, the time that it will take. We—all of us—are interested in getting this right and getting in place the best possible education system for the Greater Christchurch region.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not entirely sure the Minister has answered. I asked her whether the time frame—it is a legal time frame that I was asking her about, and I am asking her whether she is extending it now. That answer could be interpreted as either a yes or a no. I do not think it is unreasonable to ask her—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I think Ministers are at liberty to answer questions, and, in my view, that question was answered. The Minister made it clear that where there are issues at a school that would take more time to sort out with the school, more time would be made available. And although it may not have been exactly the wording the member expected, I believe that that question was answered.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What I said was—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member cannot by way of a point of order now add to her answer.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, you sought to adduce an answer, which the Minister clearly does not agree with. Nor do I, and nor do most people in this House. We are sick and tired of having Ministers’ non-statements interpreted as other statements and of that becoming the record of the House, except that we cannot quote them, because the words are from you, not from the person who gave them—namely, the Minister. I am sick and tired of it, and I think the House and the public are.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I am very grateful to the member for his views.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to indicate that the Labour Party will not object if the Minister wants to seek leave now to correct the answer as interpreted by you.

Mr SPEAKER: To simplify this process, if I in fact interpreted the Minister’s answer wrongly there I will give the Minister a chance to correct that. What I said in declining the member’s point of order was that the Minister had answered the question and that she indicated that if more time was needed for some schools to sort out the issues, that would be made available. That is my paraphrasing of what I thought the Minister said. If that is wrong I am inviting the Minister to correct that and answer the member’s question.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: What I said was that I have outlined an overall consultation time line of 6 months, within which there are particular phases. So we have the opportunity to work our way through that. That is what I am saying.

Hon Lianne Dalziel: I seek leave to table a letter that the Minister wrote in response to the five schools in Aranui where they specifically requested her to extend the time line because of the many difficulties that they face. Actually, the answer is somewhat confusing, as that one was—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is—[Interruption] Order! Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Chris Hipkins: I seek leave to table a letter from the Ministry of Education dated 16 October 2012 to the director of the Labour research unit responding to an official information request for the advice provided to the Minister prior to making her decisions withholding all of the information.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Canterbury, Recovery—Insurance Cover

12. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National) to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake

Recovery: What reports has he received on the availability of insurance cover to support the rebuilding of Canterbury following the seismic events?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery): I am pleased to report that in addition to the maintenance of existing insurance cover for Cantabrians, new insurance cover packages are now offered by Westpac, BNZ, Kiwibank, ANZ, ASB, and existing insurance companies. There are now a range of providers competing to cover existing and the construction of new residential properties. Contract works cover for the construction of new commercial facilities is available, with brokers actively touting for that business. Insurance risk will not be transferred, therefore, to the taxpayers, and that means that the ongoing risk continues to lie on international balance sheets.

Chris Auchinvole: Has the Crown been asked to take over insurance cover provision in Christchurch?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There were a number of calls from Opposition members to take on insurance risk for what will be a multibillion-dollar rebuild of Christchurch. But as professional risk assessors monitor Canterbury they are noting the GNS Science predictions of reduced seismic risk. With that information they are increasingly willing to increase the level of insurance available in the region, which means that insurance risk need not be transferred to the Crown beyond the Earthquake Commission and the Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd., former AMI exposures.

QUESTIONS TO MEMBERS

Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill—

Commentary

1. ANDREW WILLIAMS (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Reserve Bank of New

Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill: Is the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill a “snake oil solution that would achieve nothing”?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Member in charge of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand

(Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill): It is demonstrably nothing of the sort. It is a vital and urgently needed bill. The bill will enable the Reserve Bank to take positive action to lower the value of the New Zealand dollar and bring relief to the hard-pressed export sector, most of whom are in National Party electorates. We are in a new economic era and need a Reserve Bank Act that reflects the new realities.

Andrew Williams: What are businesses and, in particular, broking houses saying about the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: There is wide support from the business and export sectors for the bill. For example, according to Bernard Doyle of Australian broking house JBWere, the Reserve Bank’s current orthodox monetary policy is becoming “a rarity in the global economy” and “Unfortunately, in a world where the major central banks are breaking all the rules, this is not an advantage.”

Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill—

Proposed Changes to Principal Act

2. ANDREW WILLIAMS (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Reserve Bank of New

Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill: What are the flaws in the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989 that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill seeks to address?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Member in charge of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand

(Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill): Another superbly drafted question. The current Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act puts unwarranted emphasis on price stability, and does not allow the Reserve Bank to pursue a broad mandate for economic policy that covers growth, exports, and jobs. The original Act, of course, was to try to combat the dogs of inflation

unleashed by the neo-liberals in this country—much subscribed to by the present administration. The focus on inflation in the current Act, to the neglect of other important economic indicators—

Hon Maurice Williamson: Us neo-liberals hate being attacked like that.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —and Maurice Williamson has learnt nothing as well in all that time—has lead to a chronically overvalued exchange rate, which is seriously undermining New Zealand’s international competitiveness.

Andrew Williams: Why is it necessary to broaden the primary functions of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989 as this bill proposes?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The reason is that the current Reserve Bank is no longer fit for purpose in the current economic era. The general consensus among economic commentators is that in the wake of the global financial crisis the international economy faces a prolonged period of sluggish growth and increased volatility. All manner of senior economists and the IMF say the same. What we do know is that our current Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act is now seriously out of kilter with the prevailing international economic conditions—in particular, low inflation, along with the intense efforts by many countries to hold the value of their currencies down. The West Coast and Rodney would love to have this, as well.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill—

Proposed Changes to Principal Act

3. ANDREW WILLIAMS (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Reserve Bank of New

Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill: What other functions will the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill seek to include in section 8 of the principal Act?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Member in charge of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand

(Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill): The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill will allow the bank to incorporate into its monetary policy the goal of achieving a stable and competitive exchange rate, and all over provincial New Zealand they cannot wait for this bill to pass. The bill will enable the appropriate authority and importance to be attached to economic growth and employment, as well as the desperately needed promotion of exports in an export-dependent nation.

Andrew Williams: What would the latest CPI figures mean for the Reserve Bank if the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill became law?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That is a very apposite question. If the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill was treated seriously by serious legislators, and not jeered at because of neo-liberal antagonism, and became law it would mean that the bank could take a full account of prevailing economic conditions—that is, that inflation no longer needs to be the primary target and the only imperative of economic policy. The Reserve Bank would, as an example, be better able to take into account the latest CPI figures in formulating a rational monetary policy that met New Zealand’s broader economic policy objectives. If a man as bright as Lee Kuan Yew could see the sense in this, I wonder why those members cannot.

ENDS

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