Questions and Answers - June 27
strong>QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Economic Programme—Support for New Zealand Families
1. MAGGIE BARRY (National—North Shore) to the Minister of Finance: How has the Government’s economic plan helped New Zealand families to get ahead since the recession five years ago?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Acting Minister of Finance): I can confirm that the Government’s economic plan is helping families in many ways. The Government has clearly set out a strong plan for the economy. We have stuck to that plan and we have taken New Zealanders with us, as the latest polls confirm. The plan is about responsibly managing the Government’s finances so that New Zealanders’ taxes are spent wisely on the services that they need. It is about building a more competitive and productive economy to create more jobs, raise incomes, and build opportunities here in New Zealand. It is about delivering better public services for families, such as schools, hospitals, and keeping communities safe, and it is about rebuilding Christchurch so that Canterbury families can get their lives back on track.
Maggie Barry: What are some of the signs of progress with the Government’s economic programme?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: There are several positive indicators. Firstly, the economy grew by 2.4 percent in the 12 months to 31 March. This is better than most developed countries. Secondly, there are around 50,000 more jobs in the economy than there were 2 years ago. Thirdly, the cost of living is increasing by less than 1 percent—its lowest rate in more than 13 years. Fourthly, the unemployment levels have been the lowest they have been since the global financial crisis, but, of course, there is still more work to do there. The Government is on track to surplus in 2014-15, so that we can start repaying debt on behalf of New Zealanders. All of these things are very positive for New Zealand families.
Maggie Barry: What do the latest official statistics show about growth in wages?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The quarterly employment survey from Statistics New Zealand shows that average full-time weekly wages, including overtime, rose 2.6 percent over the last year. This compares with inflation over the last year of only 0.9 percent. Over the last 2 years the average wage, including overtime, has risen 6.1 percent, and that compares with 2.4 percent inflation over those 2 years. Of course, every individual has their own particular circumstances, but it is quite clear that on average wages have been rising considerably faster than the cost of living, which is an important indicator that families are getting ahead.
Maggie Barry: How have wages in the manufacturing sector performed in the past year, and how does that compare with the situation in 2008?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The average wage in the manufacturing sector, including overtime, increased 5.2 percent, or, in other words, twice as fast as wages in the economy as a whole. In fact,
since the beginning of 2009, the average wage in the manufacturing sector has risen a total of 18 percent, making it the second-strongest sector of the economy in terms of wage growth. That strong wage growth is in marked contrast with the situation in 2008, when manufacturing wages fell by 0.3 percent while inflation was running at 3 percent. So, again, it is clear that manufacturing is in much better shape now than it was during the manufacturing crisis of 2008.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did he read the economist Bernard Hickey’s article in the Herald on Sunday last weekend, where he said “[New Zealand’s] real per capita GDP is still 1.3 percent below 2007’s. Most of the gains in any economic recovery have gone to the top few percent”; given that, why should anybody believe a word he said just now?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I can stand corrected, but I am pretty sure that Mr Hickey is not an economist; he is a journalist. Of course, although journalists are wonderful people, generally, I am not sure that I would take their recommendations always on economic matters.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did he read further, where Mr Hickey, recalling the similarity with New Zealand, said of the US recovery that the incomes of the top 1 percent rose over 11 percent, while the real incomes of the bottom 99 percent fell 0.4 percent, which meant the top 1 percent captured 121 percent of the economic recovery in that country, as he says happened here; given that, why would anybody believe a word he is saying in the House today?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think the idea that you could just lay out some statistics in regard to the US economy and somehow translate that to the New Zealand economy suggests that that is actually quite a big leap of faith to make. Can I confirm for the member that I read a number of economists, but it is fair to say that there are two columnists whose work I do not bother reading too much, because the level of accuracy is concerning—one is Mr Hickey and one is Mr Horan.
Hon David Parker: Having dismissed the American comparison, does he agree with the OECD that in New Zealand “Income inequality is higher than the OECD average.”, and “There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest. The top 20 percent of the population earn five times as much as the bottom 20 percent.”?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: There is undoubtedly income inequality between the top income earners and the lower income earners, by definition.
Hon David Parker: Is it getting worse?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: You did not ask that question, Mr Parker. But my key point is that the answer to that is to do things that encourage investment and growth of jobs in the New Zealand economy. This Government is, in many ways, doing that across a range of industries, and it is interesting to contrast that with the view of the Opposition, which is basically to oppose every approach that the Government takes to grow jobs in this economy.
Jacinda Ardern: In light of that answer, can the Minister confirm for the House that both income and asset inequality are getting worse under National?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I cannot.
Dr Russel Norman: In light of the Minister’s statement that the Government is taking actions to improve investment in the New Zealand economy, has he read the submission by InternetNZ on the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, currently before the Intelligence and Security Committee, where InternetNZ says that New Zealand’s internet economy is at risk of going backwards as a result of this bill?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I have not. What I can tell the member is that the information and communications technology industry in New Zealand is growing, partially in response to the Government’s policy around the Ultra-fast Broadband Initiative and the Rural Broadband Initiative, and partly in response to the general settings of the economy. In a broader sense, the Government is focused on things like resource management law changes to speed up investment, the building of an international convention centre in Auckland, oil and gas exploration on the North Island’s East Coast, investment by international companies, reforms to allow aquaculture development, speeding up mining exploration on the West Coast, and increasing irrigation and agricultural intensification,
to name just a few that the Government is in favour of and the Opposition is against—and they try to lecture us about jobs.
Dr Russel Norman: Does the Acting Minister of Finance stand by the statement of Bill English from Budget 2010 where Mr English said “New Zealand’s largest single vulnerability is now its large and growing net external liabilities.”; if so, is he concerned by the projections that were in his Budget from this year, which show that New Zealand’s net external liabilities would grow from $150 billion this year to $208 billion by 2017?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Of course I read his Budgets on a nightly basis, to keep up with his wisdom. I think that this weekend I am reading Budget 2013 again, because it is a wonderful Budget. But in regard to the member’s concerns with international liabilities, of course we share those concerns, particularly if they are about investment in the New Zealand economy. But I have good news for the member, because the balance of payments has just come out and international liabilities have dropped again under this Government. Our international liabilities are now significantly lower than they were when that member was propping up the previous Labour Government.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the Minister concerned that under the projections in his own Budget and under the economic projections that were contained in the Budget of only a month or so ago, New Zealand’s current account deficit will increase from $10 billion a year, or about 5 percent of GDP, to $17 billion a year by 2017, or about 6.5 percent of GDP, and that that will mean, according to the International Monetary Fund, that New Zealand has the second-worst current account deficit amongst developed countries in the whole world?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Firstly, it would probably still be lower than it was under the previous Government. But the member makes a valid point about the importance of encouraging a rebalancing of the New Zealand economy, and that is why this Government is focused on the things I outlined earlier, which I note he is against, like oil and gas exploration, international investment, reforms to encourage aquaculture development, encouraging mining development, increasing irrigation, building an international convention centre, and changing the resource management laws to speed up investment. These are all things—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He was asked a question on the rapidly growing current account deficit—from $10 billion to $17 billion. That requires an explanation, not a diatribe of things that are not true.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] No, I do not need any assistance from the Minister. The member is to cease interrupting an answer with a point of order that is not valid. The Minister was explaining reasons why he thought, over time, the current account deficit could come down.
Question No. 2 to Minister
PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū): I seek leave to have this question held over, as I think Mr Brownlee would be sorry to miss it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Leave is sought to hold the question over. Is there any objection? There is objection. The member can proceed to ask his question.
Public Transport, Auckland—City Rail Link
2. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) to the Minister of Transport: Why is the Government planning to fund the City Rail Link from 2020 and not 2016 as proposed by the Auckland Council?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Associate Minister of Transport) on behalf of the
Minister of Transport: To be clear, the Government will be announcing details tomorrow of how it will advance the city rail link. It will not be funding the entire project. In 2017 the Waterview Connection, funded by this Government, will open and will finally complete the Auckland motorway network. This will lead to a considerable improvement in the transport system.
Phil Twyford: What financial or traffic modelling was done to justify the selection of 2020 as the year to start funding the project, and what vital information was provided by the well-known transport planners Curia Market Research?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: Well, if there was to be any research done, it was probably going to be done by Herald-DigiPoll, but, nevertheless, there were a number of reports and assessments that said that the project becomes more viable closer to 2030. So we have looked at the likely demographics of Auckland and determined that we do need to futureproof the city. Therefore, we support the rail loop being built from 2020.
Phil Twyford: Why is the Government continuing to deliberately hold back Auckland growth by delaying the start of the city rail link by 4 years, when the project could be started now and be in service by 2020, adding badly needed jobs and prosperity to the Auckland economy?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: No Government has done more to advance the interests of Auckland transport than this one. There has been a huge number of projects—
Phil Twyford: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked why the Government is delaying the start of the city rail link. I did not ask for a diatribe—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the member gave enough opportunity for the Minister to answer the question, we might hear the answer. Would the Minister please continue.
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: In response to the part of the question where the member asked why the Government is holding back Auckland’s development, no Government has done more than this one to advance Auckland’s interests: in rail, in the electrification and in electric multiple units; in Waterview; and in the State Highway 16 project, which that member opposed. I think we do very well and stand up when it comes to Auckland transport.
Phil Twyford: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. No member on this side of the House ever opposed State Highway 16.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order. [Interruption] Order! That is not a valid point of order, and the member is going to be very lucky today to be allowed to continue with his questioning.
Phil Twyford: Why is it that a new survey out today says that only 18 percent of Aucklanders rate the Government as trustworthy, and what does that appalling level of trust mean for the Government’s ability to contribute to the Auckland economic growth agenda if hardly anyone trusts a word it says?
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Michael Woodhouse, in as far as he has ministerial responsibility.
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: Quite frankly, I am amazed that the member should be reading about polls. That particular poll polled very high levels of support for this particular project—much higher support, I have to say, than the recent Herald-DigiPoll polled for his leader, his party, or his leader and party combined.
Phil Twyford: Can he confirm that the Minister for Economic Development, the Hon Steven Joyce, has until very recently been describing the city rail link to senior Auckland business leaders in terms that are too obscene to be repeated in this House?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: Well, clearly, I cannot confirm those comments, but what I know is that Mr Joyce did agree with the Auckland Council that it should go ahead and protect the route, and that is occurring as we speak. When the Minister of Transport inherited that ministry, we carried on the position that had previously been taken.
Primary Growth Partnership—Funding of Projects
3. IAN McKELVIE (National—Rangitīkei) to the Minister for Primary Industries: What announcements has he made on boosting productivity and environmental outcomes in the primary sector?
Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister for Primary Industries): Yesterday I announced $6.88 million in Government funding for two new Primary Growth Partnership programmes. The first project will
work to develop new probiotic dairy health products, helping to add value to what we export by targeting high-value niche markets. The Government and the companies involved will each invest $1.75 million in this project. It is expected that this project will generate around $8.6 million per year in economic benefits by 2021. The second project will help improve how fertilisers are applied to hill country. The project will help the environment by better targeting fertiliser use and reducing nutrient runoff. The Government and Ravensdown will invest—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We know that we are not allowed to table press statements in the House, but are we allowed to read them out? This was something that was announced a couple of—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That is not a valid point of order. The Minister was asked a question by another member, and the member is entitled to an answer to that question. Has the Minister got further to add?
Hon NATHAN GUY: Would you like me to reread it? I will just finish it off for the member concerned. The Government and Ravensdown will each invest $5.13 million into this project and it is expected that this project will generate around $120 million per year in economic benefits to New Zealand by 2030.
Ian McKelvie: Why is the Government investing in innovation in the primary sector?
Hon NATHAN GUY: The Government has an ambitious goal of increasing New Zealand’s exports from 30 percent to 40 percent of GDP by 2025. To help reach this target we have set a goal of doubling our primary sector exports by 2025. We will not meet this by continuing with business as usual. We need to increase innovation investment in the primary sector, and these projects will help to do that.
Hon Damien O’Connor: How much of the $674 million committed to the Primary Growth Partnership is delivering benefits, given the refusal of the Minister to provide proof of any deliverable outcomes, and is it not truer to say that this is like confetti to consummate a few cosy deals with a few of their mates?
Hon NATHAN GUY: I refute that allegation. It is no wonder that Labour is down in the polls and that it does not care about rural New Zealand. This is going to generate a huge amount of money for this country and for rural communities and I am disappointed that Labour will not support it in the way that this Government does. I have already taken the member through in the Primary Production Committee today how these projects are returning to New Zealand, and I am happy to do that now, if you would like me to.
Mr SPEAKER: No, that is quite a sufficient answer.
Hon Damien O’Connor: I seek leave to table the report referred to by the Minister in the select committee of the results and the accountability for the Primary Growth Partnership programme, which contains no narrative detailing—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The document has been described enough. What I just want to check is, if it is the deliberations of a select committee, has the select committee concluded its deliberation, or was it heard in public?
Hon Damien O’Connor: No. This is, I believe, the only document that I could find on the website that must be the one that the Minister referred to, which is the evaluation—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! If it is available on the website, it does not need to be tabled here. [Interruption] I cannot deal with two points of order.
Hon Damien O’Connor: I do seek, in a genuine attempt, to work out whether this is the document that the Minister referred to, or, indeed, I might have missed the point.
Mr SPEAKER: For the benefit of the member, the easiest way to tidy it up is to allow leave to be sought. Leave is sought to table this particular document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Businesses, Small—Number of Start-up Companies
4. Dr DAVID CLARK (Labour—Dunedin North) to the Minister for Economic
Development: Why has the number of small business start-ups declined from an average of 8,000 a year under the previous Government to fewer than 5,500 under this Government?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): Well, first off, can I welcome that member to his first economic development question—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Would the Minister—[Interruption] Order! The Minister will please answer the question.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: This is an exciting day for him, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Sorry.
Mr SPEAKER: That sort of comment is not helpful to the order of the House. The Minister will now, please, just answer the question.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, it is convention in this House that when a member refers to the previous Government he or she matches the data to that period. In fact, if you look at the data, the majority of the decline in small business start-ups actually happened in 2008, when that member’s party was still in Government and New Zealand was in a domestic recession ahead of most of the world. The other point in terms of the explanation for it is that—and it may have escaped the attention of the member—New Zealand, of course, along with the rest of the world went into a thing known as the global financial crisis, which occurred in recent years. I am a bit surprised the member is heading down the path that Mr Parker did when he ignored the global financial crisis. So 2008 was when most of it happened, and the balance of it was because of the global financial crisis.
Dr David Clark: Why did his Government further increase compliance costs for small businesses by introducing an annual $45 filing fee for companies when electronic filing used to be free?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am not aware of the exact details of that, because the member did not place it in his primary question. I would have been quite happy to come down and discuss it in the House. But I think it is fair to say that this is probably not the most significant issue that businesses have faced in the last 5 years.
Hon John Banks: Are the following conducive to the formation of small businesses: introducing a capital gains tax, increasing public debt to fund new spending, printing money, nationalising the electricity sector, having different rates of GST or income based on activity type, resisting reform of the Resource Management Act, opposing the supply of more land for housing, resisting reform of labour laws, and telling investors that their investments will be subject to political will if they ever get their hands on the levers?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think the member raises some very fair points because, of course, none of those things would be helpful to the formation of small businesses. If the member who asked the primary question is concerned about small businesses then I would persuade his colleagues to abandon all of those policies.
Dr David Clark: Does he agree—with respect, Mr Speaker, I have forgotten how many supplementary questions I have already asked.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Dr David Clark: Is that a legitimate thing to ask you?
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, I am sorry—I am not sure what the point of order is. The member rose to ask—[Interruption] Order! Order! I do not want to have to repeat the departure of one member again today.
Hon Tau Henare: I haven’t got any numbers.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member might leave for more reasons than not having the numbers. Dr David Clark has called for a supplementary question.
Dr David Clark: I was quite thrown by Mr Banks getting up. Has he been advised— [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! I have called Dr David Clark. David Clark.
Dr David Clark: Does he agree that charging small businesses the Financial Markets Authority fee is effectively the cross-subsidisation of large businesses by small businesses; if not, why not?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well done. I think in terms of the matter of how much to charge individual, different-sized businesses, I know it has been the subject of great debate, and my understanding is that large businesses are paying a very significant amount, as are the medium-sized businesses. In terms of the wider issue, of course, it is very important to all businesses that we have good management of our financial markets. It is crucially important, and to pay a small amount to actually improve the management of the financial markets is very important because we all know what happened when they were badly run. It was called the finance company collapses of the last Government.
Dr David Clark: Has he been advised as to why the Minister for Small Business, who popped up earlier, has not led a single practical initiative designed specifically to support small businesses since he took office in 2011; if so, what are the reasons?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am sorry, the member is simply incorrect. The Minister has been focused on advocating strongly for small businesses right through the period that he has been the Minister for Small Business. He is at the Cabinet economic growth and infrastructure committee every single week. He is one of the strongest attendees. He makes the case for small businesses for every initiative.
Dr David Clark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was very specific and asked whether he had been advised as to why the Minister for Small Business had not led—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! And the Minister rose and said he did not agree with the supposition in the question, and then proceeded to answer it.
Dr David Clark: Does his Government consider it appropriate that the main delegated area of ministerial responsibility delegated to Mr Banks outside small business, to which he contributes nothing, is as the Associate Minister of Commerce in the area of—wait for it—standards?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: We are a million miles from the start of the first question, but can I say that I think the member is still criticising the Minister for Small Business. Can I give him a number of things that the Minister for Small Business has been doing. He has been advocating for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise services and grants, and advocating for research and development grants for innovating firms. He has set up the Small Business Development Group that we have had. The Government has set up its Prime Minister’s Business Scholarships. We have had exemptions for small businesses under various pieces of legislation for the 90-day employment probation periods, and Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act. The regional business partners are servicing and linking businesses to local and national support. We have Business Mentors New Zealand, and a number of small to medium sized enterprise initiatives arising from back in 2009. These are a range of things, and, as I say, the Minister advocates strongly for small businesses whenever an economic matter comes up.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Crediting this Minister with things that that Minister said started in 2009 cannot be a proper answer to this question. He was not even a member of Parliament at the time.
Mr SPEAKER: It was an appropriate answer when you consider the tone of the question that was asked.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. When you consider the political nature of the question that was asked, inevitably that is going to get a political answer back again.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Even political answers have to have some concept of truthfulness about them in the House—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon Trevor Mallard: —and indicating that a Minister did something as a Minister when he was not a member of Parliament cannot be true.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member has been here long enough to know that if he thinks the Minister has misled the House, there is an appropriate process. It is not to be done by raising a point of order.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you will find that the shadow Leader of the House suggested there was a lack of truthfulness in my answers. I would appreciate it if he would withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: I think on this occasion, if the member wants to take it further, he knows how to do it. Often in a debate in this Chamber a member will disagree with an answer that has been given, and I accept that. So we are moving forward, but I think we have a further point of order.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I seek leave to table a document from the Parliament Library showing a key legislative initiative where an Act of Parliament repealed 31 spent Acts, which effectively—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That document is—[Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. That is available at the Parliamentary Library. It is available to members.
Public Transport, Auckland—City Rail Link
5. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport: Does he agree with Auckland business leaders Michael Barnett and Kim Campbell that the Auckland City Rail Link is a “game-changing project … which is ready to go”; if so, will he prioritise the project so that it can be up and running by 2021?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Associate Minister of Transport) on behalf of the
Minister of Transport: In part, yes. We have prioritised the project, and we will be working with the Auckland Council to advance work to begin construction in 2020. However there is considerable work required before the first shovels go in the ground.
Julie Anne Genter: Has he changed his mind on the Auckland rail link because it is essential to double the capacity of the entire network, allowing for trains every 5 minutes all across the region; if so, why will he not reprioritise his spending so the project can be up and running by 2021?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I would not agree that there has been any change of mind about whether the project is required. In fact, I think that great champion of National Party policy, Len Brown, said it best this morning when he said: “Right from the get go, the Prime Minister was saying ‘Look, it’s not really about whether we agree or disagree - we agree on the overarching need, its about the timing and the funding.’ ”
Julie Anne Genter: Has the Government finally changed its mind on the Auckland rail link because it will significantly cut travel times for Aucklanders from the west and south by up to half an hour per trip; if so, why will he not reprioritise the transport budget so the project can be up and running by 2021?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: There has been no change of mind in respect of the need for the project and the benefits that will accrue when it is finally completed. There are a number of reports that raise questions about the timing of the implementation of the project. We have chosen 2020.
Julie Anne Genter: Has the Government changed its mind on the Auckland rail link because it is the best way to reduce congestion on Auckland’s roads and it can move more people during rush hour than 12 lanes of motorway; if so, why will he not reprioritise the transport budget to ensure that the project can be up and running by 2021, when it will needed?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I repeat: the Government has not changed its mind on the need for the project or the benefits that will accrue when the project is finally delivered. That will be when the cost-benefit ratio suggests that it is, and that is 2020.
Julie Anne Genter: Has he changed his mind on the Auckland rail link because it is necessary for the expansion of the rail network to Aucklanders living on the North Shore and to link the airport to the city with a fast, reliable service; if so, why will he not reprioritise the transport budget so that the project can be up and running by 2021, when it will be needed?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: There has been no question about the benefits from the project when they accrue, but this is a significant investment of ratepayer and taxpayer money and it should be invested at the right time, in the right place.
Julie Anne Genter: Is he aware that modelling from Auckland Council shows that the Auckland bus services are going to be over capacity by 2021 without the rail link; if so, why will he not reprioritise spending so the project can be up and running by 2021, so that people can move around Auckland and the bus capacity will not be overrun by demand?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: The Minister is aware of a number of reports and analyses that highlight the congestion problems in the Auckland transport infrastructure, which is why this Government has made a significant investment in road, rail, and the soon to be announced central rail link.
Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table this research from—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am sorry; I could not hear because of an interjection within the Chamber. Could the member please start again.
Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table this research from Auckland Transport, which says that the bus network will be over capacity by 2021, traffic speeds will drop to 7 kilometres per hour—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is enough of a description. Leave is sought to table that particular study. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Julie Anne Genter: Given that vehicle trips all across New Zealand are down and public transport boardings are up, why will the Government not reprioritise the unbalanced transport budget so that this rail project can be up and running by 2021, so that it can benefit the people of Auckland and the country of New Zealand?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: The last time I looked buses travelled on roads, and roads are a significant part of the public transport strategy for Auckland, which is why we need to invest not only in rail but also in roads.
Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table this data from the Ministry of Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency, which shows that vehicle trips per capita have been falling—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Is it available on the Ministry of Transport website?
Julie Anne Genter: No. This is an analysis done by an independent transport engineer of the data that is available.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular graph. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table this graph showing the National Government’s transport spending over the next 3 years and how unbalanced it is.
Mr SPEAKER: What is the source of that document? Is it the same?
Julie Anne Genter: An independent transport engineer did an analysis—
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table it. Is there any objection? There is.
Julie Anne Genter: Will he accept the congratulations of the Green Party on finally recognising the huge economic, transport, and climate benefits of investing in rail after years of debate in this
House that stretches all the way back to 2008 when Jeanette Fitzsimons first called for investment in this rail project?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I would be very happy to accept the congratulations from the Green Party on the continued investment in rail in Auckland.
Julie Anne Genter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on this issue. I have a press statement from 2008 from Jeanette Fitzsimons, calling for—
Mr SPEAKER: No. [Interruption] Order! We are not tabling that. It is available.
6. JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the Minister of Tourism: What recent reports has he received on the number of tourists coming to New Zealand?
Hon CHRIS TREMAIN (Associate Minister of Tourism) on behalf of the Minister of
Tourism: I have received reports that the numbers of tourists coming to New Zealand jumped to 153,000 for the month of May, compared to around 141,000 in previous years. This is the highest number of May visitors ever. This increase was mainly due to 8,000 more visitors from Australia and nearly 4,000 more visitors from China. This is great news for our tourism industry.
Jonathan Young: How will the Budget 2013 tourism package build on the growth in visitor numbers?
Hon CHRIS TREMAIN: As part of our Budget 2013 international growth package we announced that we would put $24.5 million into growing our existing key markets over the next 4 years. These include China, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. We will also invest $44.5 million into attracting more tourists from emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, and Latin America.
Jonathan Young: So what visitor growth is expected from India, Indonesia, and Latin America?
Hon CHRIS TREMAIN: By 2016 we forecast to see 50,000 visitors from India, 45,000 from Indonesia, and another 45,000 from Latin America. Total forecast growth adds up to an additional 50,000 visitors from these markets over the next 5 years. These extra visitors will spend more money and stay in more hotels. This is great news for our tourism industry.
Question No. 7 to Minister
DENIS O’ROURKE (NZ First): This question is to the Prime Minister. Has he read the open letter to him dated 25 June 2013 written on behalf of the quake families who lost 185 of their loved ones in the collapse of the CTV building in the February 2013 earthquake?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The sound system was clearly not going when my colleague started that question.
Mr SPEAKER: We will allow the member to start again.
Earthquakes, Canterbury and Christchurch—Open Letter to Prime Minister
7. DENIS O’ROURKE (NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Has he read the open letter to him dated 25 June 2013 written on behalf of the quake families who lost 185 of their loved ones in the collapse of the CTV building in the February 2013 earthquake?
Mr SPEAKER: 2011 earthquake.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development) on behalf of the Prime
Minister: I am not quite sure of the accuracy of the question, but obviously the tenor of the question is understood, and the response is no, the Prime Minister has not yet had the opportunity to read the letter, which was received by his office earlier this week. However, I can assure the member that, as it has done in the past, the Government will carefully consider the issues raised in that letter and respond directly to the writer.
Denis O’Rourke: Whether he has read the letter or not, what is his response to the last paragraph of the open letter from the quake families, which says: “We know what went wrong. We
know who is responsible. We know that the CTV building was code non-compliant. It was illegally built by inexperienced, negligent, and incompetent individuals and entities—even a so-called engineer who had a false name and fake degrees was involved. The Government has the responsibility to ensure justice and that this will not happen again.”?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I certainly understand the sentiments in the letter as quoted by the member, but I just have to reiterate that the Prime Minister has not had the opportunity to read the letter, which was received just earlier this week. But, again, I assure the member that, as has been done in the past, the Government will carefully consider in full the issues raised in the letter and respond directly.
Denis O’Rourke: Given the statement in his letter to the quake families, dated 13 September 2012, that the “judicial avenue will remain available”, what is his reply to the plea in the recent open letter from the quake families, which says: “I am asking you, Prime Minister, on behalf of the families to give us your support, as you promised, in providing the families with legal help to give us advice, information, and the resources to undertake legal proceedings against those responsible.”?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Given the previous two answers I have made to the member, I am not sure how much further I can advance matters for him today, but I will point out one further matter of course. My understanding is that the police are currently looking into this matter, and they are yet to make a decision on any prosecution, and that would feed into the timing of any other things as proposed by the families.
Denis O’Rourke: What action has his Government taken to ensure that every person or organisation having any degree of provable culpability for the fatal defects in the CTV Building, in the state it was in as at the date of the February 2011 earthquake, is brought promptly to justice in the light of the findings of the royal commission?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Again, I think we have to be very careful while the police are investigating these matters. It would not be appropriate for the executive to direct the police in the approach that they should take. They have to have the opportunity to consider the situation and decide whether they want to take a prosecution.
Pay Equity—Briefings on Employment Court Case
8. SUE MORONEY (Labour) to the Minister of Women’s Affairs: Has she requested or received any briefings from Ministry officials on the Equal Pay Act case, which commenced this week in the Employment Court?
Hon JO GOODHEW (Minister of Women’s Affairs): No. Although the Equal Pay Act does not fall within my ministerial responsibilities, I do regularly receive briefings from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on how we can continue to reduce the gender pay gap, which has been steadily declining and is now at its lowest level since 2001, when this measure started being used. I would caution the member because this case is still before the courts.
Sue Moroney: Well, does she think it is fair that the woman taking the case, rest home caregiver Kristine Bartlett, is paid just $14.46 an hour after 20 years’ experience as a caregiver, and does that represent equal pay to her?
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As the Minister said, this case is before the courts, so it is inappropriate to be asking these questions in that level of detail.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I accept that this is a difficult one because it is before the courts. As the question was asked, I would have thought it was still a question that is in order, and the Minister can rise and answer as she sees fit.
Hon JO GOODHEW: I believe that for me to answer the question asked, I would be, in fact, contravening sub judice because it would call on me to make an opinion on something that is currently being discussed in court.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Well, that’s disagreeing with you, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No, it is not.
Sue Moroney: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not actually ask the Minister to make a ruling on this; I asked her—
Mr SPEAKER: No, no. [Interruption] Order! You asked the Minister if it is fair, and the Minister has said she does not want to comment on that whilst the case is now before the court. Has the member got further supplementary questions?
Sue Moroney: Could she tell the country why the Government declined the invitation to appear in court as an intervener in Kristine Bartlett’s equal pay case?
Hon JO GOODHEW: I have no knowledge of that. I am not the Minister with any responsibility for that whatsoever. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Your own member is trying to call for a supplementary question.
Sue Moroney: Is the Minister telling the country that as the Minister of Women’s Affairs she has no responsibility for the Equal Pay Act?
Hon JO GOODHEW: The Equal Pay Act is within the domain of the Minister of Labour.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am asking you whether you would give more consideration and perhaps report to the House on what has just happened here. You had a Minister get up and plead the sub judice rule, and you went along with it. I am not rushing to judgment here, but I would think that is far too wide an interpretation of that legislation to bar a person, a Minister, not before the court, on the basis of the sub judice rule. I would just like some further consideration of that.
Mr SPEAKER: I will give the matter further consideration, because the member asking the question, of course, has a legal background. But this particular question was accepted as in order because it simply asked whether the Minister had requested or received reports. Supplementary questions since then have been, in my mind, close or marginal, but have been accepted by me as Speaker, and the Minister has chosen to address them by saying that because the matter is before the court she did not want to give an opinion.
Sue Moroney: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am seeking your advice. The Minister has said that she does not have responsibility for the Equal Pay Act, yet responsibility for pay and employment equity was removed from the Department of Labour and placed with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs back in 2010. I cannot see how the Minister can plead that she does not have responsibility for the Equal Pay Act.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister rose and said that the Equal Pay Act does not come under her responsibilities, and I heard an interjection from the Minister of Labour saying: “Ask me. It comes under mine.” I would have thought that was fairly clear.
Criminal Justice System—Changes to Criminal Procedure
9. SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel) to the Minister for Courts: What progress is being made on preparing for changes to criminal procedure next week?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS (Minister for Courts): On Monday our criminal courts will see the start of the biggest changes in courts for 50 years. This will see 60 percent of criminal court processes replaced or substantially changed to simplify processes and remove unnecessary court events. Ensuring a smooth change to the new system is a massive and vital task for the justice sector. As part of this, an extensive programme of training has been delivered to courts staff, judges, and prosecutors. The New Zealand Law Society and the Public Defence Service have delivered comprehensive training to lawyers around the country, and I have met with lawyers in nine centres this month. Although they approach these changes with some degree of trepidation, they have a determination to make these reforms work. On Monday we are embarking on a huge change, but our justice system is up for it.
Scott Simpson: What benefits does the Minister expect from the criminal procedure reforms?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS: These changes to criminal procedure are designed to remove unnecessary court events and speed up the criminal process. Once fully implemented, we estimate that these reforms will save 6 to 9 weeks in the time it takes to dispose of an average jury trial. They will also remove more than 30,000 unnecessary court events a year, saving 10,000 court hours. These reforms will help deliver a system focused on delivering justice in a timely and effective manner, reducing stress and inconvenience for victims, witnesses, jurors, and defendants, and they are a key part of this Government’s commitment to a better justice system that helps create a safer New Zealand.
Scott Simpson: How will these reforms allow the courts to make better use of technology?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS: Also starting on Monday will be the first part of the electronic operating model, which is enabled by these law changes. This will see police charges filed electronically, replacing the current practice of police officers having to print off the charges in triplicate, travel to the court, hand them over the counter, swear them, and deposit them. Each year police file around 250,000 charge sheets, although with crime reaching record lows under this Government, this number is falling. Electronic filing will save front-line police approximately 9,000 hours a year, which is time that can now be better spent keeping our streets safe.
Labour, Minister—Health and Safety Inspectors
10. DARIEN FENTON (Labour) to the Minister of Labour: Does he stand by his statement to the Safeguard conference that the Ministry’s programme includes an increase in the number of health and safety inspectors from the current 139 to 158, all with increased capability; if so, will all 158 inspectors be in place by 1 July 2013?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Labour): Yes, I do. The ministry’s new health and safety inspectorate model will begin on 1 July, and I am advised that there will be ongoing recruitment and training to build the required capability and capacity over time. If New Zealand’s record on health and safety is to improve, it is important to get this first step right.
Darien Fenton: Is the Minister aware that only 74 of the new inspector roles have been appointed, and there will be only half the number of health and safety inspectors as there were 2 years ago, when the deadline of 1 July for new health and safety inspectorate model is just days away?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Well, that does not accord with my understanding. My understanding is that from 1 July there will be 110 front-line inspectors in place, and there will also be 22 line managers—16 of whom will be warranted—six chief inspectors, 10 technical and specialist practice support staff, and over the following fortnight there will be a further 15 trainee health and safety inspectors commencing. That provides a total of 163 staff in the health and safety inspectorate from mid-July.
Darien Fenton: Has he seen yesterday’s email advice from Leslie Haynes from the department, advising that there are quite a few roles to complete recruitment for, and advising the 74 inspectors who have actually been appointed; if so, does he expect those quite a few inspectors to be in place in 5 days’ time?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I am such a busy Minister; I have not seen that email. If the member, given Labour’s current polling, is looking for a job—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Darien Fenton: Will he now consider changing the name of the health and safety change programme from Lifting Our Game to “Shifting the Blame”, as it has been called by health and safety inspectors in his department?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I am very disappointed with that comment from the member. As Ruth Dyson just said, this is health and safety, and we should take it seriously. Frankly, the facts of the matter are that this Government today, with a bill that is about to have its first reading, has done
more in one day than the Labour Government did in 9 years on this matter. So Labour members have got nothing to be smarmy about.
Darien Fenton: I seek leave to table an email for the Minister’s benefit from Leslie Haynes, advising of the 74 inspectors—
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular email. Is there any objection? There is none; it can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Student Allowances—Impact of Eligibility Restrictions on Māori
11. TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) to the Minister for Tertiary
Education, Skills and Employment: What feedback, if any, has he received about the impact that the new restrictions in student allowance eligibility for those aged 40 and over will have on the goal to increase the number of Māori students enjoying success at higher qualification levels, particularly the significant numbers of Māori who have accessed second chance education opportunities?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment): I received very little feedback on this matter. However, I can say to the member that over 90 percent of people aged 40 or over use fewer than 120 weeks of student allowance. In fact, the average number of weeks used by people aged 40 and over has been just 51 weeks. I can also say that between April 2008 and April 2013 the number of Māori students aged 40 and above studying towards Bachelor’s degrees grew by 24 percent, and the number of Māori students aged 40 and above studying postgraduate degrees has grown by 30 percent over that same period.
Te Ururoa Flavell: Is he concerned that Māori participation in postgraduate studies is being adversely affected by the caps on student allowances, and what opportunity is there to enable the Tertiary Education Commission to direct the funding to where it is most needed in order to achieve its goal to increase the number of Māori students enjoying success at higher qualification levels?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: To the first part of the question, no, I am not at this stage. The indications I have received so far are that it has not had a significant effect on the participation in postgraduate studies. To the second part, the Government’s equity loading fund provides a top-up for student achievement component funding in recognition of the additional costs that may be associated with supporting priority learners like Māori, Pasifika, and students with disabilities. Thirdly, the point would be that the Government is determined to see Māori succeed in tertiary education, and since 2008 we have seen a very big increase in Māori and Pasifika students enrolled in higher-level education—in the case of Māori students, to about 15,000 in 2008, and just a short time ago it was 20,000 this year.
Te Ururoa Flavell: Does the Minister agree with tertiary education providers in Gisborne that the changes to level 1 and level 2 student achievement component funding and to the Youth Guarantee is already having the effect of turning away students; if not, what assurances can he give those providers that Māori students still requiring study at these levels in order to progress to higher learning will not be disadvantaged?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I do not agree that it is causing people to turn students away. In fact, my understanding is that around the country there are places in those areas that the member raises. What I can say to him, though, is that moving from Youth Training to Youth Guarantee has certainly put more challenging targets on the providers in terms of the number of credits achieved, and I make no apology for that, because we do want to get good results for those students.
12. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North) to the Associate Minister of
Transport: When was he or his predecessor first made aware of concerns about the installation and
operation of security cameras used in taxis and the regular failure of some cameras to deliver images that Police could use to investigate allegations of violent crimes?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Associate Minister of Transport): I am aware that my predecessor, the Hon Simon Bridges, was provided with a Ministry of Transport briefing on 9 October 2012 that, among other things, quotes Taxi Federation head Tim Reddish saying that the cameras have had a huge effect, particularly in deterring drunks and fare-evaders. I was first made aware of concerns around a particular system on 15 June by the media. I asked officials for further information before making public comment on the allegation, unlike that member, who was quick to comment but got his facts—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is a sufficient answer.
Iain Lees-Galloway: On how many occasions since October 2012 has equipment failure prevented the police from acquiring taxi security camera footage to aid the investigation of criminal activity?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I do not have that information. It may be best to direct that to the police or the Minister of Police. What I do know is that the responsibility for maintaining the cameras is with the taxi organisations themselves.
Iain Lees-Galloway: Why, in the 8 months since Simon Bridges first became aware of this problem, have changes to the Land Transport Rule: Operator Licensing 2007, which the Taxi Federation has repeatedly asked for, to fix this problem, not been made?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: As the member knows, a review of taxi cameras is due to me in coming months, as was required when the new rules were implemented. But in respect of the specific issue, this is not one about the New Zealand Transport Agency’s role in the endorsement of the specification of cameras; it is about the counterfeit supply of a knock-off. If that member had sought to find out the true facts, he would have known that.
Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he agree with Taxi Federation Executive Director Tim Reddish that today, 8 months on from when the Government first became aware of this problem, up to 50 percent of cameras currently installed are either not working, can be tampered with to distort time and data settings, or produce images that are unable to be retrieved by the police?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I have not had those comments referred to me, so I am unable to comment on their veracity. But what I would say is that this is an issue about a counterfeit product, and that member has maligned the good name of the supplier and the New Zealand agent.
Iain Lees-Galloway: I seek leave to table a letter written to the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee, by Tim Reddish that outlines the exact statement that I just made—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Leave is sought to table that particular letter. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Iain Lees-Galloway: Is he concerned that in the rush to get the optics right, Steven Joyce oversaw the drafting of an inadequate rule that has failed to make taxi drivers and their passengers safer, which is what Steven Joyce promised he would do?
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I am satisfied that the rule as implemented has been a strong success, and that has been the feedback we have had from the Taxi Federation. But I do remind the member that the rule states that the taxi organisations themselves are responsible for ensuring that the in-vehicle camera is fully operational.
QUESTIONS TO MEMBERS
2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education—Presentation of Report
1. Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram) to the Chairperson of the Education and
Science Committee: When will he present the report on the 2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education to the House?
Dr CAM CALDER (Chairperson of the Education and Science Committee): The committee is due to report back by Tuesday, 16 July.
Dr Megan Woods: Does he have any concerns that the committee’s report may not be up to its normal standards; if so, what are those concerns?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That question is not in order. The chairman is not responsible for the committee’s report; the committee is.
2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education—Correspondence with Minister of Education
2. Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram) to the Chairperson of the Education and
Science Committee: Was he contacted by the Minister of Education, her staff or her officials following her appearance at the hearing of evidence on the 2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education yesterday concerning her readiness to return to the Committee at a later date to answer questions around the responses to 2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education questions received by the Committee; if so, what was the nature of any discussion?
Dr CAM CALDER (Chairperson of the Education and Science Committee): I had contact with both the Minister of Education and her office yesterday afternoon. As part of that, I advised them that the committee had resolved not to request her to return to the committee at a later date. I did not have any contact with either her or her office prior to the committee making its decision.
Dr Megan Woods: Is he aware of whether the Minister, her staff, or her officials contacted her Government colleagues on the committee to get them to vote down any motion that would see her being recalled to face questions?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is so much noise that I could not hear the question.
Dr Megan Woods: OK. Is he aware of whether the Minister, her staff, or her officials contacted her Government colleagues on the committee to get them to vote down any motion that would see her being recalled to face questions?
Mr SPEAKER: No—the purpose of these questions is to ask the member as a chairperson, and it must be linked to his responsibility. I do not accept that that question is.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are you ruling out the possibility that the chairman might have been officially advised of that?
Mr SPEAKER: I am ruling that the question was not satisfactorily addressed to the member—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why not?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! When I am giving a ruling, I do not expect interjections from the Rt Hon Winston Peters. The rules are very tight with the supplementary question. I have listened to it. I have ruled that it is not in order, so that is the end of the matter. The member can disagree with that, but I am not reconsidering it. I am inviting the member now to ask question No.—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to understand the ruling, because I might have a major misunderstanding here. I think you have ruled out the possibility of a chairman of a committee being briefed on that matter. I just do not think that you can. He might have been briefed; you do not know. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The difficulty I have is in listening to the question, because even though it was repeated for a second time, the level of noise and interjection was still substantial. For the benefit of the member, I am going to ask her to repeat it, and then I will make a ruling, which will be a final ruling.
Dr Megan Woods: Is he aware of whether the Minister, her staff, or her officials contacted her Government colleagues on the committee to get them to vote down any motion that would see her being recalled to face questions?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That question is not in order. The member is not responsible for the actions of the Minister or the Minister’s staff.
2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education—Further Appearance of Minister of Education
3. Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram) to the Chairperson of the Education and
Science Committee: Did he invite the Minister of Education to return to the Committee for further questioning on the 2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education?
Dr CAM CALDER (Chairperson of the Education and Science Committee): No, because following her lengthy appearance and her comprehensive answers over a sustained period of time to questions posed by members, the committee resolved not to ask her to return.
Dr Megan Woods: Supplementary question—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Before the member starts, we will ask all members to be a bit more silent. Thank you.
Dr Megan Woods: Why did National Party members feel it necessary to stop the Minister coming back, when she had earlier indicated—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That is not a question that is in order.
2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education—Written Response to Committee Questions
4. Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram) to the Chairperson of the Education and
Science Committee: On which date and time did he receive the Minister of Education’s written responses to the 2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education?
Dr CAM CALDER (Chairperson of the Education and Science Committee): The responses were received by the clerk of the committee at 1.26 p.m. on Tuesday, 25 June, and notice of their being posted on the eCommittee portal was communicated to all committee members at 1.52 p.m. on the same day.
Dr Megan Woods: In light of the fact that committee members received the Minister’s responses at approximately 2 p.m. on Tuesday, does he agree that it was an insufficient time to adequately review the Minister’s responses prior to her appearance at the committee, and will he write to the Minister expressing his dissatisfaction with her lack of compliance with the due date for responses to the committee?
Dr CAM CALDER: No, but it was a little difficult, I understand, and it is a credit to the Opposition members that their questioning was so comprehensive over a wide variety of topics, touching upon a huge number of the written questions asked, which showed that they had worked very hard in an effort to deal with the large amount of information that was provided to them. I have, indeed, as you will see, written to the Secretary—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That answer is quite sufficient.
2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education—Extension of Due Date for Written Response
to Committee Questions
Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram): Did—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member has put down this question on notice. She has a right to ask the question, and will proceed to do so.
5. Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram) to the Chairperson of the Education and
Science Committee: Did he agree to an extension of the due date and time set by the Committee for the Minister of Education’s written responses to the 2013/14 Estimates Review for Vote Education?
Dr CAM CALDER (Chairperson of the Education and Science Committee): No. The chairman is a servant of the committee. Only the committee can agree to an extension of a deadline set by the committee. I do understand, however, that there was some confusion between the Ministry of Education and the clerk of the committee as to whether a late submission was agreed by the clerk.
Dr Megan Woods: What action—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!I want to be able to hear this question.
Dr Megan Woods: What action will he take in light of the fact that the Minister of Education was overdue in providing her responses to the review, and will he support the recall of the Minister to be further questioned on her responses, as she agreed to do?
Mr SPEAKER: That question is not the responsibility of Dr Cam Calder as the chair. It could be the responsibility of the committee.