Questions and Answers - November 27
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Housing Affordability—Government Initiatives
1. JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Finance: What steps is the Government taking to address the long-standing problem of housing affordability in New Zealand?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Acting Minister of Finance): The Government—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister has barely uttered a word, and the interjections are unreasonable.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: They do not want to hear. The Government recently set out its plan—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Does business dress involve having one’s collar—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That is enough. [Interruption] Order! The House will come to order. It has been noisy all day so far today. [Interruption] It seems like all day because it has been so noisy. We do not need that kind of point of order. I call the Hon Steven Joyce.
Hon Members: Yay!
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Thanks, mum! The Government recently set out its plan to improve housing affordability in its response to the Productivity Commission’s comprehensive 320-page report on the same subject. The Government will work with councils to increase land supply, both greenfield and brownfield; reduce the delays, costs, and uncertainties of the Resource Management Act, including introducing a 6-month time limit on medium-sized consents; improve infrastructure provision; and improve productivity in the construction sector. The plan builds on progress already made in housing, including the Resource Management Act reforms in 2010 for faster decisions, streamlining of the Auckland Unitary Plan, and the Government’s ongoing and substantial investment in social housing.
John Hayes: How will the Government’s plan improve housing affordability in New Zealand?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Government’s view is that you cannot fix housing affordability without fixing the underlying drivers of cost. That is why the Government’s plan targets red tape and low productivity, which are tying up house construction. In addition to freeing up land and improving construction sector productivity, officials have been directed to look at developing a performance monitoring regime for local government and introducing a single plan for each district. It is also important to point out that already the Government’s responsible economic management is helping to keep interest rates low. [Interruption] They do not want to hear it, but it is true. A family with—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the Minister. The level of interjection is unreasonable. Members have every right to be able to hear the Minister. I would ask, though, that answers not be too long.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It is an important point. The Government’s responsible economic management is actually helping to keep interest rates low, and that is very important in this context. A family with a $200,000 mortgage is saving about $200 per week compared with what it was paying in 2008.
John Hayes: What are some of the particular issues in the Auckland market affecting housing affordability?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: One of the big issues in Auckland is the availability and price of land. The median cost of an Auckland section is nearly $320,000, which is around 60 percent of the cost of the house, and that compares with around 40 percent in the rest of New Zealand. That is why the Government is putting a big emphasis on land section availability in our biggest city. I have heard there are some people who believe there are thousands of sections around Auckland available for around $50,000, apparently. That is news to most people. I actually suspect we would have to zone all the land to Taupō as residential before we would get to that sort of price.
John Hayes: Has he received any other proposals on housing affordability?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I have received a proposal that would take $1.5 billion of borrowed money, magically build $30 billion worth of houses with it, provide those houses to people at low interest rates but apparently at no cost to the Government, and then get the $1.5 billion straight back again. Under this particular “back of the envelope” plan, apparently, two-thirds of these houses will be built in Auckland on all those widely available sections that sell for $50,000. A very esteemed colleague of mine has referred to this plan as fantasyland.
Hon Annette King: Has he visited sites within the current Auckland City boundaries to view houses that have been built for $300,000, which are of quality and are affordable; if not—
Hon Member: Include the land.
Hon Annette King: —including the land—what is the Government’s basis for its assertion that it is not possible to build such homes?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think it is called the statistics of the actual cost of building homes, and I refer the member to this excellent report, which would be able to help her with it. But in answer to her question, I am aware that there were some people who visited some houses in Auckland, but I also understand that the houses that were visited were subject to quite a significant Government subsidy.
Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked a specific question: has he visited sites within the current Auckland boundaries to view homes that have been built for $300,000 including land, which are of quality and affordable? I will give him the addresses if he wants them.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I would ask the House, please, to settle down a little, because it was very difficult for me to even hear the original question. That is why I let the member, on her point of order, go on a little longer. She did ask whether the Minister had visited such houses, and the Minister said that some people had visited such houses. I am not sure that he said whether he had. If the Minister could enlighten the House as to that.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I have not personally. But if there are so many thousands of these houses, and they do not involve Government subsidies, and they have been built recently—not in the 1950s at 1950s prices—I would be happy for the member to supply a list of streets and addresses where these wonderful houses are, and we will take it from there.
Manufacturing Sector, Jobs—Household Labour Force Survey
Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green): Thank you, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Look, I apologise to Dr Russel Norman. These interjections must, please, become more reasonable.
2. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that the Household Labour Force Survey shows that “over the last four years, the number
of jobs in manufacturing is roughly about the same”, given that the survey shows employment in manufacturing has declined by 31,600 in the four years to September 2012?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes. In September 2009 it was 244,700, in September 2010 it was 245,000, in September 2011 it was 244,700, and in September 2012 it was 240,400.
Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister began his recitation of the figures, but he went back only 3 years. The quote was about 4 years.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister has, in his view, answered the question. He certainly gave some figures to back his answer. The member has got further supplementary questions to dig further into that answer if it was deficient. He cannot use a point of order to challenge the quality of the answer.
Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was “Does he stand by his statement …” la la la, and that over the last 4 years it had been roughly the same number. He did not answer the question, because he talked about the numbers over 3 years.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: It was on notice.
Dr Russel Norman: This was a question on notice. I want to hear about 4 years. That is the question.
Mr SPEAKER: The member has further supplementary questions. The Prime Minister gave figures going back to 2009 and gave 2009, 2010, and 2011 figures. OK, the question did ask whether or not he stood by his statement. It sought an opinion. The member did not ask how many people were unemployed under the household labour force survey. It sought an opinion. Where members seek opinions in questions on notice, and where a reasonable answer is given, I am not going to pin the Minister down any further. The member has further supplementary questions.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, the question “Does he stand by his statement” is not about an opinion. It is about whether it is a fact, or not, and that he stands behind it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! This will cease. I invite the member to reflect on what he has just said. The question did not ask whether the two sets of figures were identical. The question asked the Prime Minister’s opinion—whether he stood by his statement. The Prime Minister can stand by his statement for all number of reasons. So this nonsense will stop. I commend the member’s own question that is coming up on the day’s Order Paper, because it actually asks for some information.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the reason that the Prime Minister gave in his answer to the primary question statistics going back only 3 years that the household labour force survey shows that in the 4 years to September 2012 there are 31,600 fewer people employed in manufacturing?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What the household labour force survey shows is very similar to what the linked employer-employee data survey shows and what the quarterly employment survey shows, and that is that there has been a gradual decline over 20 years in manufacturing. What is true is that manufacturing was hit in the economic crisis that we inherited from Labour in 2008, and over the last 3-odd years that has been pretty constant. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I want to hear this question.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the Prime Minister disputing the fact that the household labour force survey shows that there are 31,600 fewer people employed in manufacturing today than when he came to power 4 years ago?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is certainly true that the difference between 272,000 and 240,400 is 31,600. I was not the Prime Minister of New Zealand in September 2008.
Dr Russel Norman: Is he aware that the September 2008 figures are the last household labour force survey figures before he became Prime Minister; and is he disputing that the household labour force survey shows that there is a decline in manufacturing employment over those 4 years of 31,600 fewer jobs?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I am saying is that, broadly speaking, the numbers have been quite consistent in the period of time we have been in office. What is true is that there was a global financial crisis that we inherited from Labour, and that had a big impact on the economy.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the Prime Minister saying he inherited the global financial crisis from the Labour Government?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In part of it, yes, because after 5 years of increasing Government expenditure by 50 percent, interest rates were 8.25 percent in this country. But this is the good bit of the news—this is the good bit of the story—if Labour are now accepting that there is a global financial crisis, then they will stop all that talk about Greece not having any impact on New Zealand. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Now that we have let off a bit of steam, let us have a little more order.
Dr Russel Norman: Which of these figures does he dispute: that the household labour force survey shows a 31,600 decline in the number of people employed in manufacturing in the past 4 years; that the quarterly employment survey shows a 31,300 decline in the number of jobs in manufacturing in the past 4 years; or that the linked employer-employee data set shows a decline in the number of filled jobs in manufacturing of 20,000 in the 3 years to September 2011?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, no, in the past 4 years.
Dr Russel Norman: Does it not all boil down to the fact that whichever way you cut it, whichever statistics you care to choose, the Government has failed on jobs, unemployment has grown in New Zealand, and the number of jobs in the manufacturing sector has not grown; and is it not time he just admitted it and figured out what to do about it?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, what it shows is that the Green Party, along with the Labour Party and New Zealand First—
Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is nothing about the Green Party. It was a simple question about the Prime Minister.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! National front-benchers do not need to interject. I invite the member to reflect back on the question he asked if he is not happy with the way the Prime Minister is answering it. I think that question left plenty of room for the Prime Minister to answer in almost any way he liked.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The answer is no. What it shows is that the Green Party, supported by the Labour Party and New Zealand First, has been running around saying—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, he cannot draw New Zealand First into his answer to this question. We were not responsible for the question, and we are surely entitled for him to be terse and to the point, and it does not include the magnificent policies of New Zealand First.
Mr SPEAKER: We have had enough of this. If members ask such loose questions there is a lot of scope in the answer. If he attributes any specific policies to New Zealand First I will stop him, but the Prime Minister has a fairly wide licence in answering that kind of question.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I was going to go on to say is that the talk of those three parties that there is a manufacturing crisis in New Zealand is wrong. If you go and have a look at the comments of Craig Ebert from the BNZ, he said: “So, all things considered, we can see enough positivism emanating from New Zealand’s manufacturing sector to take the signs of recent weakness as more turbulence than tragedy. Talk that the industry is in crisis is overblown.” If one looks at Rob Hosking’s comments, he says: “In a dose of reality aimed at the recently politically generated posturing around manufacturing …”, and he goes on and on and on. I was simply quoting that three parties—New Zealand First, the Greens, and Labour—went to what they quoted was a manufacturing crisis, Mr Peters. That is why I said that. I should point out that I deal in the facts. All I am interested in is the facts.
Housing—Prime Minister’s Statements
3. DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “Yes, there is a housing issue in New Zealand”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, and that is why the Government has responded to the Productivity Commission and is working with local councils on the underlying problems of land supply, building and resource consents, provision of infrastructure—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I apologise to the right honourable Prime Minister. Look, the members’ leader asked a question. I imagine he is interested in the answer, and too much interjection is not reasonable.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, and that is why the Government has responded to the Productivity Commission and is working with local councils on the underlying problems of land supply, building and resource consents, provision of infrastructure, and productivity in the construction sector. I also stand by the statement I made yesterday in relation to this issue. I reckon—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister is now going on a little long.
David Shearer: How many houses does he guarantee will be built as a result of his Government’s package that he announced on 29 October?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: More than the number that Labour will produce in Auckland—
David Shearer: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a pretty straight question. It asked just for a number. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: What is it about a point of order the National ministerial benchers do not understand in terms of being silent? The House is just so rowdy today. When a person asks how many, I think it is unreasonable just to expect a single-figure answer, but the Prime Minister needs to do his best, though, to give some information about how many.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The answer is more than the number of $300,000 houses that Labour will ever produce in Auckland, given the median price of a house in Auckland is currently $530,000. The median section price is—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is sufficient answer given the question asked.
David Shearer: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that the Prime Minister could at least give a ballpark figure about how many houses his package will be able to provide. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, I say to National ministerial benchers that that was a point of order and only the Speaker can determine whether it is a valid point of order, not members. They must listen to it in silence so the Speaker can hear it. The reason why there are more supplementary questions is that if the quality of the answer is not sufficient, and I accept that the member has some grounds for not thinking the quality of the answer was quite what he might have expected, there are further supplementary questions that dig into what “more” meant—if he thinks that is a wise supplementary question.
David Shearer: What proportion of the houses that he hopes to build will be in the affordable category of houses?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, it depends on what the member means about what I intend to build. I do not intend to build any houses.
David Shearer: Does he agree with Murray Sherwin when he said: “We no longer build the starter homes that allow … young families to get started in a decent home. … We can build them cheaper, we should be building them cheaper, and we need to.”; if not, why not?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do agree with Murray Sherwin and that is why the Government has been doing quite a lot of work looking at this issue. But let us have a dose of reality. Let us just take the average section cost at Hobsonville, an area the Labour Party knows well. The bare land cost was approximately—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Would the foghorn at the back please desist from his interjections.
Dr David Clark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, my interjections today have been rare. That, I believe, was my third today in the whole of question time.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Look, this is getting beyond a joke. Members do not take on the Speaker in that way if they want to stay in the House. The member’s interjections have been, in my view, unreasonable. He is not the only one. Members sitting against the back walls should know that their voices project across the House loudly and they need to be a little more reasonable. I have got to be able to hear and I cannot.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have enormous sympathy with the member. He is not the only David sitting in the back row who wants to make a noise and be the leader.
Mr SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition. [Interruption] Order! The Leader of the Opposition.
David Shearer: Does he stand by his statement that building homes for low-income people in Hobsonville is economic vandalism; if so, why?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: That was in relation to the building of State houses on prime land at Hobsonville, and yes I do stand by that. Let us go back to Hobsonville, because the bare land at Hobsonville was bought from the Defence Force at roughly $46,000. The land that went to the council for roads and reserves was $46,000. The infrastructure costs that largely went to the council were another $80,000. The professional consultants and selling costs were $18,000, and the consenting—[Interruption] Look, this is not a Labour Party caucus meeting. I know that is the way you talk to each other there.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! In the past I have had to ask the Attorney-General to look after a certain Minister sitting next to him during question time. I am now asking the senior Opposition whip to please take care of the member on his left, to have him interject just a little more reasonably. Today’s performance is not a good look, believe me.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: So, Mr Speaker—
Mr SPEAKER: No, I think we have heard a sufficient answer. The Leader of the Opposition.
David Shearer: Thank you, Mr Speaker—
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was in the middle of answering a serious question that was interrupted by endless interruptions by the senior Opposition whip. It was a serious point, I was not being smart about it, and I was simply making a point about costs. I think I should be allowed to finish.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the thing is, though, that the question was a certain question and the Prime Minister’s information was a little more additional than was absolutely essential to answer the question. I let him go on until he started to respond to the interjections, but answers cannot be too long. A lot of information had been provided.
David Shearer: Why does he say that building homes for $300,000 in Auckland is impossible, when the New Zealand Housing Foundation, backed by the Tindall Foundation, is already building homes in Auckland for that price?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If one goes and has a look at the social housing fund as a good example of subsidised housing that the Government supports, then it will cost the entirety of New Zealand the average price of $409,000, and in Auckland it is $431,000. That is coming from the social housing fund. If you go and have a look at a basic place, a large piece of land like Hobsonville, the total cost of the land is about $200,000 on average for a 250 square metre section, of which $80,000 alone is development contributions to the council. So that member is saying he can build on land that is less than almost half of the development contributions from the council. That is why he is in fantasyland.
Michael Woodhouse: Has he heard of any reports that would encourage the building of at least one house for $300,000?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have. I have seen the reports that there would be interest to build one house for $300,000 in Lumsden. The advice I have had is that it is possible to build a house for
$300,000 in Lumsden. That house would contain David Cunliffe and it would be called the doghouse.
Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund—Eligibility
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): My question is to the Minister responsible for Whānau Ora—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the right honourable member. The House is being particularly unruly today. I accept some days are like that. Members have got a bit of a head of steam up over this issue, and I accept that because it is a topical, current issue. But the House has to behave in a reasonable manner, and it is not reasonable at the moment.
4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: Is the Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund open to individuals who do not have New Zealand citizenship or residency; if so, how many non-residents have received grants from the Fund since 2010?
Hon TARIANA TURIA (Minister for Whānau Ora): The Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund is not open to individuals or privately owned businesses. However, any New Zealand family or w’ānau collective can make application to the fund.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has she received any reports of Whānau Ora providers using Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund grants to help overstayers remain in New Zealand; if so, what are the details?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: My understanding is that we have had one provider in the South Island that during its work with a group on the Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund discovered that one of the members—there were 18 members of a family included—was, in fact, an overstayer and that it has been dealing with that issue. It has been incredibly transparent.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does that mean she is aware of a case in Canterbury where an overstayer with a history of family violence, child neglect, and drug abuse received help from Whānau Ora in an attempt to get his residency application approved?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: That is not correct. This particular person was, as I said, part of a group of 18 family members. They have been assisting that person with all of the issues that are confronting him, including the family violence issues. The issue of whether he gets to stay in New Zealand will depend on the outcomes of that.
Te Ururoa Flavell: Kia ora tātou. How can the Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund inform or support the way in which the Government can address monitoring gaps in how taxpayer funds are being spent?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: The evaluation points out that the Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund plans provide an early indication of the goals and the aspirations that w’ānau are pursuing. The evaluation identifies a rich w’ānau-centred data source that points out where the gaps are for Māori in mainstream services and other families. The collation, analysis, and reporting of the data will enable Whānau Ora to demonstrate leadership in the State sector in being able to inform service delivery responsiveness. Operational improvements continue to be made as a result of this information, including sharing of good practice and revision of policy and procedural guidelines, and a greater understanding of this work draws on departmental capacity.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: So does that mean that this psychobabble is appropriate when a Whānau Ora provider supported this overstayer’s attempts to become a permanent resident, despite him having a history of violence towards women and children as well as of substance abuse?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: I am not prepared to discuss in this House one individual person when we have 33,000 members of families who are participating in Whānau Ora. Although this particular person likes to get around and find the issues where things are wrong—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This Minister is required to come to this House and answer questions properly put. She pointed out in answer to the primary
supplementary question that she was aware of this case in South Canterbury, down in the South Island, and now she is saying she is not prepared to discuss it. She should be, with respect, told that she is a Minister. When a person properly puts a legitimate question in this House, her job is to answer it if she has the information.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the member makes a fair point. If the Minister is invoking the public interest or—and I guess it is related—there are privacy issues where it is not in the public interest to breach privacy issues, that is a matter for the Minister to determine. But if the Minister is not invoking such matters, then the Minister should answer the question, unless she is invoking those things.
Hon TARIANA TURIA: I have already answered that particular question. I have made it very clear that this was a group of 18 family members, that this issue was, in fact, disclosed by the provider immediately it was discovered, and that that matter is being dealt with in the appropriate way.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why should New Zealand taxpayers be supporting an illegal immigrant with a history of family violence and substance abuse to work towards permanent residency, when that information is on the material of the Whānau Ora provider that was dealing with this person?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: I have already told the House that this matter is being dealt with appropriately by the provider concerned. Mr Peters did not disclose this information; we disclosed it to him when he applied for it. We have been very transparent, the provider has been transparent, and the issue is being dealt with.
Mr SPEAKER: The only problem with that answer is that it is not responding to the question the member actually asked. He asked why—and admittedly it was seeking the Minister’s view on something, but it would be helpful if the view related to the question asked—or whether the Minister considers it acceptable, or something, for taxpayers’ money to be spent on assisting an overstayer. I do not want to get the member’s question wrong so I invite the Rt Hon Winston Peters to repeat his question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: My supplementary question is why should New Zealand taxpayers be supporting an illegal immigrant with a history of family violence and substance abuse to work towards permanent residence when that information was available on the material that Whānau Ora was dealing with?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: That particular information was disclosed once this family had become engaged with the organisation down in the South Island. I want to point out that we do not agree with anybody misappropriating any taxpayer funds. In this case I do not believe that this is a misappropriation. That particular issue, once it has been discovered, is being dealt with appropriately.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the individual in question was a successful applicant of the Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund, what confidence can the public have in Whānau Ora when it is so vulnerable to exploitation by overstayers, gang members, and other undesirable characters?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: I think that the member needs to make up his mind whether he is saying Whānau Ora is Māori separatism or that it is throwing open the door to immigrants, because—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, my question has nothing to do with that, at all. I am asking what confidence the public can have when we know that overstayers—in this case gang members and other undesirable characters—have received funds from Whānau Ora.
Mr SPEAKER: The member—unlike some of the earlier questions—was simply seeking an opinion here from the Minister, and injected into his question some statements the Minister may
disagree with. I think we need to give the Minister a bit of licence in answering that particular question.
Hon TARIANA TURIA: To quote Mr Peters, “show me the facts and the evidence” that an individual—[Interruption] Hold on a minute. You can laugh, because that is how you deal with these issues: you laugh them off. You show me—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! This will cease. That answer is totally out of order because the Speaker is certainly not going to show the Minister any evidence whatsoever. The Minister is senior enough to know that she does not refer to members across the House in that way.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave of the House to table a Whānau Ora assessment and Whānau Ora family plan from Pacific Trust Canterbury—confidential, it says on the document— dated 23 January and 24 February 2012, which stated the individual in question has a suspended immigration status and a history of family violence and drug abuse.
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.
Te Ururoa Flavell: How will we know a difference has been made in people’s lives through the Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: Professor Sir Mason Durie told Whānau Ora last week that most Government programmes do not measure outcomes; they measure volumes, they measure the amount of work that is done, and they measure the amount of money that is spent. Whānau Ora is about measuring the difference that is made and the outcomes that are achieved.
Unemployment—Household Labour Force Survey
5. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister for Economic Development: Does he accept the findings of the most recent Household Labour Force Survey that show the unemployment rate at its highest level in 13 years; if not, why not?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): I welcome the member to his acting role. I accept that the household labour force survey—[Interruption]—another day, another David. Can I say that I accept that the household labour force survey is a key indicator of employment and unemployment, although not the only one. The different measures do not always agree. The latest household labour force survey, for example, says, as the member points out, that the unemployment rate is at its highest rate since 1999, and yet, for example, the number of people on an unemployment benefit is around 100,000 less than in 1999, despite a big increase in New Zealand’s population over that period.
Hon David Parker: How many additional people have become unemployed since he became Minister of employment in December 2011—is it 20,000 or 24,000 more?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Again, it depends on the measure that you use. If you look at the number of people on the unemployment benefit, that number has actually dropped over the year to September, from 55,700 to 50,400, which is 5,300 fewer over that same period of time. So it all depends on which figure you use.
Hon David Parker: Given that the household labour force survey shows 31,600 fewer people employed in manufacturing in the 4 years since 2008, the quarterly employment survey shows 31,000 fewer filled jobs in manufacturing, and the linked employer-employee data set shows 21,000 fewer jobs in the period 2008 to 2011—which is the latest statistic—does he still agree with the Prime Minister that “None of the stats that Treasury provided to my office argue the case that there is anything other than actually quite consistent to modest growth in manufacturing.”?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I think the member is once again playing with the start dates to suit his case—which is fair enough; I mean, you would do that in his position—but the reality is
that over the last couple of years since the global financial crisis, which actually hit manufacturing right around the world, as Mr Parker may not be aware, we have actually had a pretty steady result there. If you actually look at the Reserve Bank report on that same matter, the Reserve Bank says that the issue is construction, not actually manufacturing. It is the construction business that is the challenge—in other words, the supplying of manufactured things for construction—
Hon David Cunliffe: Can’t do numbers.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: —and actually the rest of the manufacturing sector is holding up very well. Who cannot do the numbers?
Hon David Parker: Does he now regret dismissing—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the honourable member. Again, I say to National Party front-benchers—I have been critical of the Labour benches for making too much noise, and now it is the National members being too noisy.
Hon David Parker: Does he now regret dismissing members who raised the numerous job losses in this House over recent months as being from another planet, which I think is the phrase he has used, given that the statistical evidence now shows that unemployment rose sharply in the third quarter, to the highest level in 13 years?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I have not dismissed concerns that are raised when people lose their jobs, because it is a very difficult situation for those who lose their jobs. The point I am making is that we are in a very challenging situation. We have had some job growth but not as much as we would like. But I would point out to the member that if he is genuinely concerned about unemployment in New Zealand, he should look across the Tasman, because, interestingly, they have lost around 60,000 or 70,000 jobs in manufacturing over the last 3 years, but they have created around 120,000-odd jobs in the mining sector. If the member could actually get together with his friends in the Greens—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That is not the Minister’s responsibility.
Hon David Parker: If, as the Minister implies, his Government has no responsibility for these jobs losses and rising unemployment, why did his Government hold a job summit in 2009, when the unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, and is his failure to call another job summit because his Government has got no plan to change course, despite rising unemployment, falling exports, and the Canterbury real build being the only source of growth in the country?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am sorry but the member, again, is on another planet, because actually the world has been going through a global financial crisis. Actually, he speaks of the Canterbury earthquake as if it has been some lucky thing, but, in actual fact, for the New Zealand economy and for the people of Christchurch it has been a very unlucky thing. Yes, we are going to get some benefit out of the post-earthquake construction, but, actually, it has cost New Zealand and the people of Christchurch substantially, and so it is only proper that they actually benefit in terms of the rebuild. If the member is saying that that somehow should be discounted away, then, truly, that is ludicrous.
Better Public Services—Office Accommodation Strategy
6. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National) to the Minister of State Services: What recent announcements has the Government made regarding public service office accommodation in Wellington?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of State Services): Last week the Government announced the Wellington office accommodation strategy. This strategy has seen the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Crown Law, and the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development, and the Ministry of Education tendering for office space in a coordinated fashion. This will lead to an overall reduction in office space footprint equivalent to three Reserve Bank buildings.
Chris Auchinvole: What are the benefits of the Wellington office accommodation strategy?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: As well as improving efficiency by having each department situated at a suitable site, coordinated tendering will reduce the Public Service office footprint by 30 percent and reduce rental costs by 20 percent, saving $338 million over 20 years. This means that these departments will need no additional funding for Wellington accommodation over the next 20 years.
Chris Auchinvole: I thank the Minister but would like to ask further: what will be the longerterm effect of the strategy?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: We will be applying the strategy to the 81 leases that expire over the next 2 years. The aim of the strategy is to locate agencies with overlapping policy objectives in close proximity, so that they can more effectively share services and back-office functions. The effect will be a contribution to the delivery of better public services.
Emissions Trading Scheme—Effect of Proposed Changes on Forestry
7. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: What projections, if any, have been done on the impact of his amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme on forestry?
Hon TIM GROSER (Minister for Climate Change Issues): None. I have not received formal advice containing specific projections. There are good reasons for this. Principal amongst them is the fact that of the recent changes the one change that would be likely to have a substantial impact on forestry over time is the introduction of offsetting, but it is impossible to quantify at this stage the implications for our emissions projections.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Is he concerned by reports that forest nurseries have cut back on planting millions of trees this season because the bottom has fallen out of the emissions trading scheme, and is he concerned that, given the lack of incentives in the scheme now, we are facing another chainsaw massacre, with forestry jobs at risk?
Hon TIM GROSER: Last year we had deforestation, I am told, of around 3,000 hectares. The bottom has fallen out of the international price, not the emissions trading scheme—the structure remains fully in place.
Dr Kennedy Graham: What plan does he have for achieving his Government’s emission reduction targets, given that he gutted the emissions trading scheme this month, and the low carbon price means foresters are not planting enough trees to offset our increasing emissions; what is his plan?
Hon TIM GROSER: It is the Government’s plan to maintain the emissions trading scheme. The decisions that Cabinet took recently were not to accelerate it at this point in time. So that is the plan, and we need to stick with that long-term plan.
Dr Kennedy Graham: I seek leave to table a report showing that New Zealand’s net emissions—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! What is the source of the report?
Dr Kennedy Graham: The annual report of the Ministry for the Environment.
Mr SPEAKER: No, that is readily available to all members.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Are two “Fossil of the Day” awards on climate change at Doha enough, or is the Minister gunning for more with his Rolls Royce emissions trading scheme, with fewer trees, prompting nursery owner Kevin Strawbridge to conclude: “Government intervention is the problem. It gives free carbon credits to heavy emitters and allows in these cheap foreign credits.”?
Hon TIM GROSER: We receive these Fossil awards at every single ministerial conference. It is about as predictable as the punchline to a Tui billboard ad.
Housing—Prime Minister’s Statements
8. Hon ANNETTE KING (Labour—Rongotai) to the Minister of Housing: Does he agree with all of the Prime Minister’s statements on housing?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Housing): I do.
Hon Annette King: Does he agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that using land at Hobsonville for affordable and State houses would relegate the site to “a lifetime of mediocrity”; if so, why is the Government now prepared to build what he has called affordable homes on this site?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I think members know that the Prime Minister made it clear that there would not be any State housing at Hobsonville. The main reason for that is that the demand in that area is not very high, and the Housing New Zealand Corporation can build houses on much cheaper land—more affordable houses—in other parts of Auckland, which is the sensible thing to do. Once again Annette King is changing history.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon Annette King: Pathetic. In light of his statement that the Hobsonville affordable housing scheme will “demonstrate innovative commercial market-based solutions that could be replicated … elsewhere in New Zealand.”, what is the breakdown of the actual cost of land, house, and development for an affordable home to be built at Hobsonville?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: The bare land cost at Hobsonville is $46K; land for road and reserves, $46K; infrastructure works, $80K; professional consultants, $18K; and consenting fees and development levies, $10K. The total cost before finance and margins is $200K. That is just the land, but apparently the Labour Party is going to build 100,000 houses—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The Minister is not responsible for the Labour Party. I am sure he would not want to be.
Hon Annette King: Has he visited sites within the current Auckland City boundaries, for example in Mount Roskill, Glen Eden, and Māngere, to view homes that have been built for $300,000 including land, house, and development costs that are of quality and affordable; if not, why should New Zealanders believe the Government that the only place that you can build a $300,000 house is in Lumsden?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I have visited sites in those areas in the last few years. I think what the public question is whether you can build 100,000 houses in 10 years. That is one house every hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 10 years and still 13,000 houses short. That is what that party thinks the Housing New Zealand Corporation is going to do.
Rt Hon John Key: If it is so possible for houses to be built for $300,000 in Auckland, unsubsidised, why is it not happening today, and why would the Government need to get involved? The answer is it is not.
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon—[Interruption] Order! Have the Labour benches quite finished?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have to say that the noise over here was rather too loud, and I would sure like to hear that question again, please.
Mr SPEAKER: I believe the noise followed the question.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: It is because builders and developers advise us as the National Party that when they sell a property people expect to buy the house and the land, not just the house.
Hon Annette King: How many houses was New Zealand building in the 2000s, how many houses was New Zealand building in the 1970s, and if the Minister does not know how many houses we were building then, how can he say it is not possible for us to build 100,000 houses over 10 years?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: That is quite easy, and I want to put it to the public, the House, and the gallery that we are asked to believe that the Housing New Zealand Corporation, which is leading this scheme, is going to build one house every hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 10 years and still—
Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was nowhere near the question I asked, and no one has ever said that the Housing New Zealand Corporation was going to build the houses.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the honourable member, the Leader of the House knows he should not interject like that on a point of order.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: That was not a point of order, was it?
Mr SPEAKER: It was a point of order.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: It sounded like a question.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, no, the Leader of the House knows he should not do that either. Before the Minister seeks to carry on any further, I bring him back to the question that was asked. The question asked related to whether he was aware of how many houses were built during the 2000s, how many were built in the 1970s, and why it is that he—forgive me; I do not want to go any further in case I get the question wrong. But the Minister, in answering it, I think, should have made some reference to whether he knows how many houses were built in that period of time, in those 10 years.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I do not know how many houses—
Hon David Parker: I seek leave to table a calculation to show that if a house was built every hour, 24 hours a day—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! What is the source of this document?
Hon David Parker: I have prepared it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will sit down now. [Interruption] Order! Someone will be going soon if this nonsense carries on. I will not tolerate—[Interruption] Order! I am on my feet, and the member knows that is not a point of order. It has been pretty good—[Interruption] It is just as well I did not see who that was. This nonsense will stop. It has gone on too long. It is just too noisy and too disrespectful of this place. I just want the House to come back to order. I call the Minister to answer that question.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I do not have the numbers of houses built, but I do have some statistics on housing in New Zealand, and they show that interest rates, rent increases, and property price increases—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. How do interest rates during the period of the Labour Government respond to the question asked?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I can answer that.
Mr SPEAKER: No. Order! I am not even going to give the Minister the chance to answer that, because I am struggling to, and I am not going to give the Minister the chance to do that, because it is not reasonable. The interest rates during that period are not relevant. The member asked the Minister whether he knew how many houses were being built during the 1970s and the 2000s. It would seem the Minister does not know, and we are not going to waste further time in the House if he does not know. It is not his fault if he does not, but we are not going to waste time. I will give the Minister one more chance.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I started the answer by saying I did not have that information in front of me.
Mr SPEAKER: That, therefore, has answered the question.
Hon David Parker: I would ask whether the Minister checked his arithmetic coming to the House, because, by my reckoning, if there was going to be one house built every hour for every hour of the day, 7 days a week for 10 years, there would be a build of 613,000 houses, not the 100,000 houses that Labour says we are going to build.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I guess that the press gallery will now go away and do that calculation, and we will find out the answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 9—[Interruption] Order! This is just—[Interruption] The Minister is skating on thin ice. I am warning him—I am warning him. I was on my feet and he was continuing to interject, as he is now. This will stop—just a little discipline. It is not that difficult.
Roading, Wellington—Transmission Gully Public-private Partnership
9. Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Revenue) to the Minister of Transport: What factors led to the Government announcement last Wednesday to proceed with the construction of the Transmission Gully Highway as a public-private partnership?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Transport): Notwithstanding the valuable input and advocacy for the project from the member for Ōhariu-Belmont, the decision by Cabinet will bring certainty to the project, which has been on the books—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has just made up a seat that does not exist in the House. He cannot do that.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not think it is that helpful to the order of the House. The Minister was answering a question. We do not need to be that pedantic. If every time members made mistakes in this House we stopped the House, we would never get anywhere.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I am sorry, Mr Speaker. I guess when you have been around as long as him, you remember the names of old seats. Notwithstanding the great advocacy and the valuable input of the member of Parliament for Ōhariu, the Cabinet sees that this decision will bring certainty for a project that has been on the books for many years. It fulfils a key policy initiative of the two confidence and supply agreements between National and United Future made in 2008 and 2011. In addition, it will be a positive development that will significantly enhance the future economic growth of the wider Wellington region, as well as delivering improved road safety to motorists.
Hon Peter Dunne: Can the Minister therefore tell the House what the next steps to be taken to progress this project will be?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The New Zealand Transport Agency is now moving to the next stages of procurement, with a public-private partnership contract that will be awarded by the middle of 2014 and construction will begin soon afterwards. It is expected the road will be open by 2020.
Hon Peter Dunne: Can the Minister also tell the House what reaction there has been to the announcement from regional leaders, business groups, and the wider community in the Wellington region?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: In the main the response has been very positive. Groups have highlighted the earlier start date, economic benefits, decreased congestion, and an extra route into Wellington in case of an emergency. They have said all those are real positives. They include the Wellington chamber of commerce, CentrePort, the Road Transport Forum, the Greater Wellington Regional Council and its chairman Fran Wilde, and Porirua’s Labour mayor Nick Leggett, who has previously pointed out the necessity for Transmission Gully to happen sooner rather than later. By contrast, we have had Phil Twyford enthusiastically aligning himself with the Greens to oppose this project.
Teachers and Support Staff—Implementation of Novopay Payment System
10. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Associate Minister of Education: Was he aware, before he signed off on the decision for Novopay to go live, that the Ministry of Education’s survey of trial Novopay users found only 37 percent of them believed they were ready for its introduction; if not, why not?
Hon CRAIG FOSS (Associate Minister of Education): No, because that operational survey was undertaken 2 months after I received the recommendation from the Ministry of Education and the Novopay board to proceed with the implementation of Novopay.
Chris Hipkins: What date did he first receive the results of the ministry’s survey of trial Novopay users, and what date did Novopay actually go live?
Hon CRAIG FOSS: In answer to the second part, 20 August was the go-live. I am not aware of the results of that operational survey as part of the lead-up to the go-live.
Chris Hipkins: Did he ask to see the results of any trials or pilots of the Novopay system before signing off on its implementation; if not, why not?
Hon CRAIG FOSS: I accepted the recommendation of the Ministry of Education and the Novopay board, which dealt with all such issues. They are experts in this field.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was very specific. It asked whether he had asked to see the results of any trials or pilots of Novopay before he signed off on its implementation.
Mr SPEAKER: That is correct. The question did ask that. The Minister’s answer appeared to say that he did not, but he had better clarify that.
Hon CRAIG FOSS: Excuse me, Mr Speaker. I constantly sought assurance from the Ministry of Education, and therefore the Novopay board, that the system was ready to go live. They recommended that it was so.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That still did not answer the question.
Mr SPEAKER: The question asked whether the Minister actually saw any of the—
Hon Members: Sought.
Mr SPEAKER: Sought—I beg your pardon. The Minister has said he did seek assurances from the ministry. To clarify, I will let the member repeat his question.
Chris Hipkins: Did he ask to see the results of any trials or pilots of Novopay before signing off on its implementation; if not, why not?
Hon CRAIG FOSS: As part of the recommendations to go live, I sought and received assurances of security and performance testing, training, etc., as the Novopay board recommended to me and the Ministry of Education.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: The member may repeat his question.
Chris Hipkins: Did he ask to see the results of any trials or pilots of Novopay before signing off on its implementation; if not, why not?
Hon CRAIG FOSS: Specifically, no. But, forming part of the recommendation, a raft of issues was addressed.
Chris Hipkins: What was the point of the trials of Novopay if it was not to establish whether, in fact, the system was ready to be implemented?
Hon CRAIG FOSS: The system was not trialled. It was tested in parallel with the previous system, and the Novopay board and the Ministry of Education recommended that it go live.
Veterans—Assistance to Attend Commemorations
11. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs: What is the Government doing to help veterans attend significant commemorations of their service?
Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister of Veterans’ Affairs): Last week I announced that 30 Korean War veterans will be funded to attend the 60th anniversary commemorations of the Korean War armistice in July next year. This will be a chance for veterans to pay tribute to their fellow servicemen and servicewomen who served New Zealand in this conflict, and it is an important way of honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I thank Melissa Lee for her support of Korean veterans. This package is in addition to the Government’s wider commitment to allow any fit and able veteran to attend the 70th commemoration of their service.
Melissa Lee: What reports has he seen on the success of the commitment to allow any fit and able veterans to attend the 70th commemoration of their service?
Hon NATHAN GUY: I have seen a number of reports on the success of the programme so far. In February, two veterans attended the commemoration of the fall of Singapore. In June, 32 veterans of Bomber Command attended the unveiling of a memorial in London. In October, 22 veterans attended commemorations of the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt. In April next year a
commemoration of the war in the Pacific will be held in New Caledonia. Veterans have expressed sincere gratitude for the opportunity to return, and have praised the work of Veterans Affairs and Ministry of Defence staff for their fantastic support of their travels.
Dotcom Case—Discussions with President of United States
12. GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister: Was the subject of Kim Dotcom raised in his recent discussion with US President Barack Obama; if so, by whom?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes; I made a passing reference to it as an issue that was topical in New Zealand. Throughout the East Asia Summit we also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Gaza, the fiscal cliff, Myanmar, the summit, the recent US election, and the New Zealand economy.
Grant Robertson: Why was not the Prime Minister prepared to confirm that he had raised the matter when reporters asked him that on the visit?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Because it has been a longstanding, I think, position of New Zealand Prime Ministers to have discussions with other leaders, but they do not characterise every part of them. Otherwise, by definition you really could not have those kinds of conversations.
Grant Robertson: Does he stand by his statement that Kim Dotcom is not a “top-of-mind issue” for him, given that in the very few minutes he has with President Barack Obama in 1 year he decides to raise it with him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Contrary to that member’s opinion, it was not a “very few minutes” I had with President Obama. But this point was about 30 seconds of the considerable amount of time we had to discuss matters.
Grant Robertson: Would he expect to be informed about extradition proceedings involving a New Zealand resident where the extradition order was signed off at the highest levels of another Government?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, I would not have thought so.
Grant Robertson: Was he informed at any point in 2011 that the US Government wished to extradite a person resident in New Zealand for copyright infringement, racketeering, and moneylaundering?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.
Question No. 8 to Minister
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (Minister for Building and Construction): In order to clear up some of the confusion in the House today, I wish to table a document that shows—
Mr SPEAKER: What is the source of the document?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: It is on parliamentary letterhead, showing 100,000 houses over 10 years—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. The member knows I was somewhat critical of his colleague on the other side of the House for trying to do that by way of point of order, and I am not going to allow a Minister to do it by way of point of order, either. That brings to a close questions for oral answer.