Questions and Answers - June 26
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Tax System Changes—Fairness and Impact on Households and Businesses 1. Dr JIAN YANG (National) to the Minister of Finance: What changes has the Government made in recent years to make the tax system fairer and to help families and businesses get ahead?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Associate Minister of Finance) on behalf of the Minister of Finance: In Budget 2010 the Government introduced across-the-board income tax cuts and better targeting of support programmes such as Working for Families. The package reduced tax on work and savings for every taxpayer and increased taxes on consumption and property speculation. After-tax incomes at all levels of taxable income were immediately increased by more than the increase in GST. Someone on the average wage of around $50,000 at the time was immediately about $15 a week better off as a result of the tax changes, and a family with two children on the average household income of $76,000 in 2010 was about $25 a week better off. The changes also made the tax system fairer. Two-thirds of the cost of the income tax cuts in 2010 went into reducing the bottom two tax rates. So someone earning $48,000 a year now has a top tax rate of 17.5 percent.
Dr Jian Yang: What steps has the Government taken in recent years to ensure property speculators and other investors trading for a profit pay their fair share of tax, and how much is this estimated to have increased Crown revenue?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The Government has significantly tightened the tax system to ensure property speculators are paying their fair share of tax. Budget 2010, for example, denied depreciation deductions for buildings such as rental housing. It tightened rules for loss attributing qualifying companies. It prevented property investors from using rental losses to inflate their Working for Families eligibility and payments. It also significantly increased Inland Revenue’s funding to target property speculators who were avoiding tax. And it removed opportunities for income earners in the top personal tax bracket to claim losses on their property investments. Together these measures are expected to generate at least $2.48 billion in additional revenue over 4 years. That is significantly more than what another capital gains tax full of complexity and exemptions would raise over that period.
Hon David Parker: Has he read Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephen’s analysis that a proposed 15 percent tax on capital gains on investment property excluding the family home would have a significant effect on the net present value of residential property investments, and so would affect new investment decisions; if so, why did his associate Steven Joyce say on Radio New Zealand National this morning that it would have no effect on the housing market?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: No, I have not read that particular report. But what I do know is that with a growing economy the last thing New Zealand needs is another tax. The electorate knows that as well.
Dr Jian Yang: How significantly do the current income tax and income support systems redistribute incomes for New Zealand households?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The income tax and income support systems provide a significant amount of income redistribution. For example, Treasury estimates that households earning over $150,000 a year, the top 15 percent of households by income, will pay 49 percent of income tax this year. But when benefit payments, Working for Families, paid parental leave, and accommodation support is taken into account, these 15 percent of households will actually pay 74 percent of net income tax. And that is before New Zealand superannuation is taken into account. By contrast, after accounting for these income support payments, households earning under $60,000 a year, which is just under half of all households, will pay no net income tax at all. That is because the $2.5 billion worth of income tax they are expected to pay this year will be more than offset by the $7.3 billion they will receive in income support.
Dr Jian Yang: What reports has he received on the proposal for an additional capital gains tax in New Zealand?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: It is worth noting that investors buying and selling assets for the purpose of making a profit are already taxed on their gains. I have seen reports about a proposal for an additional capital gains tax that would apply to every business and every farm in New Zealand, but only a quarter of the housing market. It would be full of exemptions for things like the family home, personal assets, collectables, small business assets sold for retirement, and payments from retirement savings schemes. However, nowhere does the documentation supporting this policy set out exemptions for KiwiSaver funds, which currently do not pay tax on capital gains, on gains made from trading with New Zealand - listed shares and most Australian shares. In fact, one of the architects of this proposal has said: “The circumstances—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That answer is now getting substantially too long. Supplementary question Dr David Parker—ah, Hon David Parker.
Hon David Parker: Thank you, Mr Speaker—prescient again! In the Minister’s answer to the second to last supplementary question, when he was talking about income tax rates paid, is it correct that he did not include either GST or capital gains in respect of the income earned by the wealthy?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Well, what I can say is that the so-called wealthy as outlined in that answer are paying more than their fair share of tax. I refer you to Bill English’s press release of 28 May, which lays out the case very clearly.
Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have had very long—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Get to the point of order.
Hon David Parker: Well, with respect, the length of the answers that we have had from the Minister would give him room, you would have thought, to address the issues that I raised. I asked him whether his answer included GST or capital gains—
Mr SPEAKER: Thank you. So the point of order, effectively, is that the question has not been addressed. The difficulty was, again, not only the length of the answer but the length of the question. The question was whether the figures that the Minister used earlier included GST and capital gains. If that could be addressed, then we could move forward.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker.
Hon David Parker: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I have got a point of order here, I think, first.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, a supplementary question.
Mr SPEAKER: No, well I am waiting for the answer. I am waiting for Dr Jonathan Coleman to answer the question that was asked.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The point is we are talking about income tax. Obviously GST is paid on goods and services, which are discretionary. But the bottom line is that those people in the so-called wealthy section of the population pay much more than their share of GST as an overall proportion.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Has he seen any reports on how taxation policy may adversely affect KiwiSaver savings?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I have seen a concerning report—a letter that David Cunliffe wrote to the Shareholders Association back in 2011, in which he said that in circumstances in which there would currently be no tax payable on capital gains, the 15 percent capital gains tax would tend to apply. He was talking there about KiwiSaver funds. The 2.3 million New Zealanders in KiwiSaver will be very concerned about that written admission to the Shareholders Association by one David Cunliffe.
Internal Affairs—Recall and Cancellation of Passport 2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (NZ First) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: On what basis was the recall and cancellation of New Zealand Passport LN138690 undertaken?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery) on behalf of the Minister of Internal Affairs: I do not believe it is in the public interest to discuss individual passport matters in this House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister confirm whether Mr Anthony Fullman’s passport, and advice to me, was withdrawn at the request of the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the basis that Mr Fullman had been involved in plotting a coup against the Fiji regime; if so, what evidence was given to the Department of Internal Affairs justifying that action?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There are any number of reasons why a passport may be withdrawn, but it does not change the fact that I do not believe that it is in the public interest to discuss individual people’s passports in this House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did the Minister of Internal Affairs and his department receive advice from the SIS on this matter, and what steps, if any, did they take to validate that advice?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There are any number of reasons why a passport may be withdrawn—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are about to hear the same answer for the third time. With respect, this information was brought to me by the person in question. He wants justice and this is the place to get it.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. We will now allow the Minister to complete his answer.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There are any number of reasons why a person may have their passport withdrawn. There are a number of avenues by which a passport may be returned or reissued to a person. But I do not believe it is in the public interest to answer questions about individual passports in this House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That, for the third time, is the same answer. The reality, of course, is whether the department’s and the Minister’s actions were legal or illegal. The illegality has been requested of me to be brought before this Parliament—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard enough. I would invite the member to look at Speaker’s ruling 173(1), which clearly says that on a matter like this a Minister is perfectly entitled to respond the way he has by saying that it is not in the public interest for this information to be discussed in this House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Were there others in addition to Mr Fullman who received grievous treatment from the department—which acted illegally—only to be later judged innocent by Justice McGechan?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There are a number of reasons why any person might lose their passport permanently or for a period of time, and they do have the right to go to the High Court to have that tested. I do not believe it is appropriate for individual passports and details thereof to be discussed in this House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, does the Minister believe that the ministerial and departmental actions should be an instrument for oppression and harassment against law-abiding residents legally in this country; and when will the department pay those wronged innocent parties compensation, first of all, and give them an apology?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The member asks questions that are not best answered by the Minister of Internal Affairs, and I would go on to further say that all individuals in this country have a recourse to the courts when they believe they have been mistreated.
Question No. 3 to Minister.
New Zealand - Australia Migration—Relation to Tax System 3. Hon DAVID PARKER (Deputy Leader - Labour) to the Associate Minister of Finance: Does he still believe that a 33 cent top marginal income tax rate is the reason for fewer departures to Australia in 2014?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Associate Minister of Finance) on behalf of the Associate Minister of Finance: Yes, it is one of the factors. As I said, the combination of lower taxes, a stronger economy, and more job opportunities have stemmed the flow of people to Australia. People are going to make their decision to stay in New Zealand or move offshore based on the opportunities they have to earn a good income in either country. We have supported higher take-home pay in New Zealand through lower income tax rates. In addition, 84,000 jobs were added to the economy in the last year. Weekly wages were up 3.2 percent compared with inflation of 1.5 percent in that period, and 172,000 jobs are expected to be added to the economy over the next 4 years. Wages are expected to rise by around $7,000 in that time. These are all important reasons why more New Zealanders are choosing to stay in New Zealand and bring up their families in this country.
Hon David Parker: If he sticks to his answer on Radio New Zealand National this morning, how does he explain that migration to Australia peaked at an all-time high of 54,000 in the year to September 2012, 4 years after he came to office, when the top marginal tax rate was 33c, as it is now?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Well, what I think that means is that you have got to look at the whole picture. We have had a concerted programme across the economy. I know that Labour members were hoping to take photos of football stadiums full of crowds and say that that was the net migration figure, but in actual fact, they will now need a phone box if they going to try to push that during the campaign.
Jami-Lee Ross: What recent trends has he seen on permanent migration to Australia, and what are some of the main reasons for these changes?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I am pleased to report that there has been quite a turn-round in migration to Australia, and that is good news for New Zealand. For example, in the year to November 2008 a net figure of 35,300 permanently departed New Zealand to live in Australia. That is an average of nearly 3,000 every month. At that time we were deep in recession—even before the global financial crisis—inflation was more than 5 percent, floating mortgage rates were nearly 11 percent, and house prices had doubled in 9 years under the Government of the time. By comparison to those outflows in 2008, in the months of April and May this year the net migration loss across the Tasman was around 200 each month—the lowest-equal monthly figure since this data series began in 1996. So New Zealanders are clearly voting with their feet, recognising the—
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister will resume his seat. There is a point of order from Grant Robertson.
Grant Robertson: I am sure you know what it is.
Mr SPEAKER: I could anticipate. The answers are excessively long. If the Minister gets further supplementary questions, I would like him to address that.
Hon David Parker: If he sticks with his answer on Radio New Zealand National this morning, how does he explain that migration to Australia hit an all-time low in January 1984, under his spiritual forebear National’s Robert Muldoon, when the top marginal tax rate was an eye-watering 66c in the dollar?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The problem for Labour is it is never happy—either too many people are staying or too many are going. But I guess the answer back in 1984 was that people just could not afford to leave.
Hon David Parker: Is it correct that the Minister received his advice linking marginal tax rates to migration flows from Colin Craig, the man to whom National is throwing the East Coast Bays electorate and the man who believes in chemtrails and thinks the moon landings may have been faked?
Mr SPEAKER: Where there may be some ministerial responsibility, the Minister can answer.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: What I can tell New Zealanders is that if that crowd ever gets into Government, they will be receiving advice from a German resident in Coatesville. Labour is the tail on a big Green German Alsatian, and it better not forget it.
Schools, Partnership—Preference Factors 4. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) to the Minister of Education: Did she write a new preference factor for Partnership School applicants on the 14 November education report “Confirming Round Two of Applications to Operate Partnership Schools”; if so, on what advice?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Ā, tēnā koe e te Mana Whakawā, otirā, huri noa i tō tātou Whare. Ngā mihi nui o te ahiahi ki a koe e te mema, tēnā koe. Anei te whakahoki ki tō pātai. [And salutations to you, Mr Speaker, and, indeed, throughout our House. Huge greetings of the afternoon to you the member, and thank you. Here is the response to your question.] Yes. The addition of this preference factor for the provision of innovative models around the consistent provision for 0 to 8-year-olds was based on a range of advice I received from the Ministry of Education. The point of partnership schoolskura hourua is that they are innovative and provide parents with further choice. The first round resulted in the opening of mainly secondary schools. Learning from this, as we do, we indicated six preferences for the second round. This was just one of them.
Catherine Delahunty: Can the Minister confirm that 5 days before tenders were opened for the latest round of partnership schools she handwrote a new category to be given priority, and that was a school offering options for babies aged 0 to 8 years old?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: What I can confirm is that the paper I took to Cabinet in October identified the range of preferences I would be looking to operationalise in the second round. One of the policy options was to explore innovative proposals that provided for seamless transition between early childhood education and primary school. I subsequently, when operationalising it, included that particular preference, along with five others.
Catherine Delahunty: What official advice did she receive about bringing babies and pre-schoolers into charter schools before she announced that schools offering options for 0 to 8-year-olds would be given priority?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I received a range of advice, which included The Science of Early Childhood Development by Mustard and McCain, 1999; An Agenda for Amazing Children: Final Report of the ECE Task force, 2011; a literature review by Sally Peters, 2010, titled “Literature review: Transition from early childhood education to school”; L Mitchell et al, “Locality-based evaluation of Pathways to the Future—Ngā Huarahi Arataki” for the Ministry of Education; and a range of others.
Catherine Delahunty: I seek leave to table an answer to a written question that I received today from the Minister’s office stating that she did not receive any advice—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The matter has been described. Can I be clear just before I put the leave that it is an answer to a written question that you have received that has not yet been published?
Catherine Delahunty: Yes, it is.
Mr SPEAKER: On that basis I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table that particular answer to a written question. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.
Catherine Delahunty: Why was she so keen on the radically new idea of partnership schools for 0 to 8-year-olds that she changed the criteria days before tenders opened to include this, in the absence of any official advice at all, as my written question confirms?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: As I have already indicated in my answer to the recent supplementary question, I have been provided with a whole range of advice. The member’s written question is accurate. It does not preclude having had a whole range of advice in the past 3 to 10 years on what needs to happen on transition from early childhood education to primary school. Why did I do that? Because we know that children who start behind too often stay behind. We are interested in giving all New Zealand children the best educational start possible.
Catherine Delahunty: Will partnership schools be allowed to use the extra Government money that babies and pre-schoolers attract not on those children but to run the rest of the school or boost the owners’ profits?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: We have not yet finalised the submissions for the second round, so whether there will be any in this category is yet to be determined, but certainly I am happy to table for the member the actual requirements of the request for proposals, which makes it very clear how early childhood component funding is to be used were there to be a proposal made of that kind, were it to be approved, were it to be negotiated, and were it to be established.
Catherine Delahunty: I seek leave to table the ministry advice that says that partnershipkura will receive the same grant as equivalent early childhood services—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is a Ministry of Education document. I would just like the date of it and the approximate age of the document, and then I will put the leave.
Catherine Delahunty: I think it is November 2013.
Mr SPEAKER: November 2013—it is a Ministry of Education document. Is there any objection to that being tabled? There appears to be none. It can be tabled.
Chris Hipkins: Why is the Minister happy to extend the reach of charter schools to cover babies, given the results from the first round of charter schools is already mixed, with at least one school plagued by drug use, bullying, use of gang signals, high staff turnover, and high rates of student dropouts, or is she satisfied that these lower levels of accountability for charter schools are just par for the course?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: One of the core purposes of partnerships schools kura hourua is to cater to kids who have not been successful in the mainstream system. By and large, those are kids who are categorised by early exclusion and by the very problems that the member clearly takes pleasure in tabulating here. These schools really are about trying to help those kids whom the system has been failing. Unlike the member in the Opposition, who is happy to wring his hands about these problems and do nothing about them, this side of the House is prepared to do something about them. That is why we are working with the most vulnerable in our system to give them a chance at educational success.
Tracey Martin: Before the Minister signs any further contracts for partnership schools, will she make sure that there is a clause included whereby the taxpayers can regain their taxpayer-funded assets should these kura close?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: There is already provision within the education sector for disposal and reacquisition of those assets, were schools to close, and we consider that appropriate for this school as well.
Tracey Martin: No, there’s not—not inside partnership schools.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I thought the member might want to hear my answer, but there you go.
Catherine Delahunty: Is it not the truth that she is making policy up as she goes along, and that there was no justification for a 0 to 8 partnership school, other than allowing charter school owners to use babies as a cash cow to fund the school?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Is it not more the truth that that member is not interested in how we ensure that every child in New Zealand gets the best opportunity to succeed?
Catherine Delahunty: When poorer communities are desperate for good-quality early childhood education, why does she want to spend precious public money on a hugely risky experimental concept of charter schools for babies?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: This Government has increased funding for early childhood education from just over $800 million to just under $1.6 billion in the last 5 years. That is almost double the amount of funding for early childhood education, so for the member to suggest that this Government is underfunding early childhood education flies in the face of evidence.
Forestry—Cyclone Damage on West Coast 5. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National) to the Minister of Conservation: What reports has he received on the extent of the damage to West Coast forests from Cyclone Ita and what estimates are there of the area affected and the volume of wood felled?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): I am advised that this extraordinary event has caused the worst wind-blown damage in the Buller area in generations, with 20,000 hectares severely damaged. There are a further 200,000 hectares across the coast where there is significant tree-fell. The volume of wood felled amounts to millions of cubic metres, but it is my expectation that only a small proportion of this will be economically recoverable, with the tight safety and environmental standards that the Department of Conservation will have in place.
Chris Auchinvole: What are the time constraints for the different types of wind-blown timber felled, and how does this impact on the timing of the legislation?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The major species affected are beech and rimu, but with smaller amounts of mataī, miro, and tōtara. Beech is very susceptible to sap stain and borer, and will quickly deteriorate in spring. That is why urgency is required in the legislation, to get the expressions of interest process under way, and ensure time is available to develop good safety and environmental control systems. I am advised that the rimu can be quite recoverable for up to 5 years, and this is the time limit set in the legislation. I am advised that spreading the recovery of the rimu over 5 years would be less disruptive to the indigenous timber market, would smooth the economic and employment opportunities, and would have negligible effect on the time for these forests to regrow and to recover.
Chris Auchinvole: Will the Government limit access to the wood to West Coast companies, as has been suggested; if not, why not?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: There are four good reasons why such an approach would be unworkable. The first is that the bulk of the benefits will accrue to the West Coast regardless of who owns the company. It is like saying that the West Coast does not want Australian companies like Bathurst Resources because it is Australian-owned, which I think is the Labour Party’s position. The second is that there is more than enough wood for existing West Coast sawmills, as well as new entrants. There are millions of cubic metres of wood. The third reason is that it would compromise safety. The recovery of this wood is not a job for amateurs, and with the recent decline in radiata log prices, there are skilled logging crews that need to relocate to the West Coast to do this work, and it would not be sensible to prevent that. The final and fourth reason is that it is an economic nonsense. We do not require that Canterbury lamb is processed in Canterbury, that Taranaki gas has to be used in Taranaki, or that Nelson apples have to be used in Nelson. It is the sort of economic lunacy that would cost jobs, and which members opposite now seem to be promoting.
Hon Damien O'Connor: Will the Minister support my amendments to ensure that West Coast businesses and West Coast workers get access to the wind-blown timber, and a requirement that any
timber produced is managed appropriately on to the very small market for indigenous timber in this country; if not, why not?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I would welcome that member explaining to his constituents in Tasman—
Hon Members: Answer the question.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: —I am answering the question—where there is the Moutere mill, which would love to have access to this timber, but the member is effectively saying to those constituents in Tasman that they do not get some jobs, because of some Stalinist idea that the wood has to stay on the West Coast.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has become very difficult to follow this Minister. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, I am trying to raise a point of order here.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will do it correctly, otherwise the member will be leaving this Chamber.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: My point of order is that it was very difficult to follow the Minister, because I have no idea what a timber called “romu” is, or where “Moo-terry” is as a location.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat and stop wasting the time of the House.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: It makes as much as sense to limit access to the wood to the West Coast as it would be for us to pass a law that says that Nelson’s apples have to stay in Nelson or that gas in Taranaki has to stay in Taranaki. It is protectionism gone mad, and no wonder the members opposite are not able to provide a job growth formula for New Zealand.
Grant Robertson: I seek leave of the House to table a report that shows that the Department of Conservation spent $6,344 on Nick Smith’s photo opportunity to announce this policy.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Before I decide whether to put the leave, it is a Department of Conservation document?
Grant Robertson: It is a media report.
Mr SPEAKER: It is a media report. We will not be tabling that.
Canterbury, Recovery—Repair 5000 Programme 6. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour - Te Atatū) to the Minister of Housing: How many homes out of the 5,000 earthquake damaged Housing New Zealand homes have completed repairs as part of its Repair 5000 programme?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Housing): Twenty-seven thousand emergency repairs were completed on those 5,000 State homes in the immediate period after the earthquake to enable as many as possible to continue to be used. A comprehensive settlement for the substantive repairs for $320 million was reached last April, and 1,368 have now been fully repaired. We also have 360 new homes under construction to replace those that it was neither economic nor sensible to repair.
Phil Twyford: Does he stand by his statement that “Five years is not unreasonable.” to stabilise rents in Christchurch; if so, what convinced him that 8½ years is a reasonable time for families living in campervans and cars, the over 500 families on the Housing New Zealand waiting list, and the 7,400 people who the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says are living in insecure housing to have to wait for the affordable rental housing he has promised, given that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority says things are going to get worse before they get better?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I would note that the portion of Housing New Zealand homes that have been repaired is significantly ahead of the pace of the Christchurch City Council’s own social housing, and it is actually going faster than those homes that are in the private sector. When you have an earthquake that wrecks 12,000 houses and you have an average of 1,500 homes usually
built in Christchurch—and we have it up to 3,000 new building consents being issued per year—that is the time it takes to build and repair those homes.
Poto Williams: Can he confirm from his own press release dated April 11 that of the 700 Housing New Zealand new builds he promised in May last year, only 20 houses have been completed, or was that a typo and it is more than 20 houses actually built a year later?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: We have committed to completing those 5,000 repairs and those 700 new builds by the end of 2015. We are on track to do that, and I note that the pace at which we are replacing and repairing homes for Housing New Zealand is ahead of that of the Christchurch City Council and that of the private sector.
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very specific question from the member and the Minister did not address it.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I address that I will take the point of order from the Minister. The trouble was that it was not that specific a question, but I will hear from the Hon Nick Smith.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: This was not a question on notice, and to be asked for the exact number of houses that have been completed is not reasonable for a Minister to have at his fingertips.
Mr SPEAKER: I appreciate that, and the best way forward—and this is advice to all members—is simply to say at the start of an answer: “I don’t have that information with me.”
Poto Williams: Why has he done next to nothing to help the thousands of Christchurch families who have had to pay extortionate rents while they are having their repairs done, exacerbating the chronic shortage of affordable rental housing and holding up the progress of the rebuild?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: It is a purely political statement to say that the Government has not done anything in respect of housing. I could spend the entire afternoon in the House explaining all the things that we have done. Let me give you a few examples. We built four temporary villages. We have established the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service and provided help for thousands of families. We have completed 27,000 emergency repairs. We have 1,000 people currently engaged on repairing those Housing New Zealand houses, and they are being repaired at a faster rate than those either in the private sector or not. We have partnered with the community sector to build dozens of houses. We have partnered with the Community Trust in Canterbury for additional houses. It is simply not correct for the member opposite to say that this Government has not been incredibly active in dealing with those housing challenges.
Phil Twyford: Does he stand by his assertion that Deloitte was wrong when it said that “New home/replacement home building is not yet well advanced. Less than 1,000 houses have been built out of the 12-15,000 needed,”; if so, how many new homes have actually been built, as opposed to merely consented, since the February 2011 earthquakes under his watch?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The member opposite runs this line: “A consent isn’t a house.” Well, let me tell him something: you cannot build a house without a consent, and the number of homes that have been consented in Christchurch is at the highest level ever—over 3,000 per year. In fact, last week we had the member’s colleague criticising the Government because there was too much building activity occurring in the GDP figures.
Education—Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards 7. TIM MACINDOE (National - Hamilton West) to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made to celebrate and recognise the highly effective and innovative practice happening across the education system?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): I was delighted to announce the 16 finalists, from whom the Prime Minister presented six winners, at the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards ceremony last night. The evening was a celebration of the wonderful work being done every day in schools and early childhood centres around the country. The supreme award winner, Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School in Tauranga, represented the best of what works to raise student
achievement. I want to congratulate all our winners and our finalists and acknowledge the other 147 entries, which are making a difference for Kiwi kids every day.
Tim Macindoe: What is the focus of the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: The focus of the awards reflects the best evidence on what works in education to raise achievement. As has been consistently identified in this House, quality teaching and school leadership are the big in-school factors, and parental involvement and community expectations are the big out-of-school factors. These awards and their winners emphasise, profile, and celebrate what can be achieved with a focus on these factors. It has been fantastic to hear how the finalists have worked together to raise achievement for all.
Tim Macindoe: What other initiatives are in place to strengthen and value the teaching profession?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: This Government is committed to celebrating and investing in excellence in education and to backing all of our teachers to raise achievement. Our $359 million investment to raise student achievement and the establishment of the new professional body, the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, are all part of acknowledging the profession, raising its status, and recognising the critical contribution that quality educational achievement makes to New Zealand.
New Zealand Defence Force—Army Capacity for Overseas Deployments 8. Hon PHIL GOFF (Labour - Mt Roskill) to the Minister of Defence: Has there been a reduction in the capacity of the Army in the last three years to sustain an overseas deployment; if so, why?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Defence): No. In fact, the army’s ability to sustain overseas deployments has improved. In 2014 the New Zealand Defence Force is able to deploy a light task group of 250 and a combined armed task group of 560. All New Zealand Defence Force annual reports 2006 through to 2013 showed that the New Zealand Defence Force could not have sustained these deployments and its other commitments, so clearly there has been a real turn-round. Despite the member’s regular assertions to the contrary, the Defence Force is in much better shape today than it was when he was the Minister of Defence.
Hon Phil Goff: Why does the Minister answer in that way when these two documents that I have here, both of them in his own name, say that the Defence Force could not be guaranteed to sustain an overseas deployment for more than 12 months, when under Labour the army sustained deployments in Timor, the Solomons, andBamian simultaneously and continuously for 10 years?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: What the member knows is that actually under the National Government we sustained exactly the same deployments. He refers to documents that he does not quote from. I can quote from a document, the New Zealand Herald. I have got a copy of it here, actually, dated 3 September 2008, when he was the Minister, and the verdict from the New Zealand Herald was—
Hon Phil Goff: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Both members will resume their seats.
Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption] It is a point of order and the Minister is interjecting.
Mr SPEAKER: This is a point of order and it will be heard in silence.
Hon Phil Goff: Since the Minister has denied the documents and said that I will not quote from them, I seek leave to table this document, which I do not believe is available to all members. It is additional estimates questions for Vote Defence Force 2014, where it says you cannot sustain more than 12 months.
Mr SPEAKER: I will put the leave and the House can decide whether to accept that document, but I would be grateful in the future if a member would seek leave after a question is answered
rather than interrupt it. Leave is sought to table that particular document as described by Mr Goff. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.
Hon Phil Goff: Was—
Hon Paula Bennett: You’d have done better than Cunliffe.
Hon Phil Goff: You will keep, sweetie, but not for long.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am the referee. Thursday afternoon—one all.
Hon Phil Goff: Is the cause of the Minister answering my question, saying that there is a risk that they cannot sustain now more than 12 months, the fact that his Government has slashed Defence Force numbers in the regular force by 1,200 under its watch and, as the documents from the Defence Force say, that critical trade areas and ranks have been seriously degraded, and is that the reason why our overseas deployments under international peace operations are the lowest in 20 years?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Look, there are a lot of noes with which you could respond to those questions. What I can say is that we have got virtually the same number of people in the army now as we had in 2005. What I do have here—
Hon Phil Goff: It’s not true.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: It is. I have got the figures here from the chief of army. What I have got here is a long list of things the army could not do when Phil Goff was the Minister. There’s about 20, but the army could not provide a battalion level deployment—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not think the answer continuing along that line will help the order of the House. The Minister has answered the question.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Again, this is a point of order and it will be heard in silence.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I seek leave to table this extensive list of the things the army could not do when Phil Goff was the Minister. It is an original document—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The House can sort this out. Leave is sought—
Hon Annette King: Where does it come from?
Mr SPEAKER: Oh, I apologise to the Hon Annette King. The source of the document?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: It comes from the Defence Force. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Listen. [Interruption] Order! Settle down. The Minister said that it has come from the Defence Force. On that basis, leave is sought to table—
Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: First of all, I will get this sorted out—[Interruption] The member wants to speak to—
Hon Phil Goff: Can the Minister first assure the House that he is not tabling a document from the New Zealand Herald?
Mr SPEAKER: We have heard that. It is not a New Zealand Herald document.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. We are going to put the leave. Do you want to clarify this, before it is put?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I want to just clarify that this is information given directly by the Defence Force to my office, assembled into an easy-to-read document, which I am happy to table.
Mr SPEAKER: That may make a difference, but we will test the House to find out. Leave is sought now to table a document that has been prepared by the Minister’s office, with information delivered from the Defence Force. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.
Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave of the House to table a Cabinet document. It is dated 23 October 2013 and it says that we have got the smallest number of personnel deployed—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! We do not need the description. The Cabinet document is dated 23 October last year. Leave is sought to table it. Is there any objection? There is not.
Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave to table a document from the Office of the Auditor-General pointing out that there has been a net reduction of 1,200 in regular Defence Force personnel—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! If it is a report by the Auditor-General—
Hon Phil Goff: No, it is not publicly available.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I accept the assurance from the member that it is an Auditor-General’s report that has not been made public. On that basis, I will put the leave and the House will sort this out. Leave is sought to table that particular Auditor-General’s document. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.
Hon Phil Goff: What has been the impact on Defence Force capabilities of defence contractors like Babcock, which was found, in 6 months of the last year, to have key performance indicator ratings at five, the lowest of all grades and a grade that is described as “unacceptable performance”, and what is the Minister doing about it?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The impact is that we have sorted out the sort of mess that used to happen all the time when Phil Goff was the Minister, and so we have corrected that and taken remedial action to make sure it cannot happen again.
Hon Phil Goff: Has another Defence Force contractor called Miltek been referred to the Office of the Auditor-General for investigation because it may not be certified to provide services, like the servicing of the life jackets such as worn by Private Michael Ross, who was drowned, and because there were huge conflicts of interest, and what is the reason why the Minister has been forced to refer them, after this arose in an inquiry from me and from the media?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The member is always trying to make political capital out of the deaths of New Zealand service people, but on the day that I received the briefing or notice of the Miltek situation, I wrote a letter to the Office of the Auditor-General asking that office to investigate Miltek.
Hon Phil Goff: Was cost the reason?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The point is I am very concerned about what I read.
Canterbury, Recovery—Support 9. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister for Social Development: What support is the Ministry of Social Development providing to people in Christchurch still dealing with the impact of the earthquakes?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): A lot. I shall just concentrate in this answer on the more money that we are putting into psychosocial services in this year’s Budget. We have invested an extra $13.5 million for continuing the Earthquake Support Coordination Service, providing more trauma counselling, supporting the 0800 Canterbury support line, and NGOs that are supporting the resilience of those people in Canterbury.
Melissa Lee: What kind of support does the Earthquake Support Coordination Service provide?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: It was important back when the earthquakes occurred, and it is still important now, that it provides practical help to Cantabrians in need of that bit of extra support to try to work their way through what can be a rather complex, at times, range of assistance available to them. The new money will provide earthquake coordination support for up to 5,000 households and access to counselling services for an extra 240 people a month.
Melissa Lee: What extra support is being provided by the Ministry of Social Development in Canterbury?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: What we know is that housing remains an issue for Cantabrians. That is why the Budget included an extra $2.26 million for the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service. Yesterday, however, Minister Brownlee and I announced that people impacted by recent flooding will also be eligible to apply for the temporary assistance, which ranges from $180 to $330 a week. The flooding has compounded problems some residents are already
facing due to the earthquakes, and we are committed to making support available to them for easing some of the short-term accommodation pressures.
Māui’s Dolphin—Impact of Oil and Gas Exploration 10. GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Conservation: Does he agree with the statement given on behalf of the Minister of Energy and Resources that “there has not been a single observation of a Māui’s dolphin in the block offer area”?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): Yes, if the part quote from the member is used in the intended context of the official Government Māui’s dolphin observer programme, where in 809 days of monitoring not a single Māui’s dolphin was observed. This context was referred to later in the question.
Gareth Hughes: Is the reason the Minister incorrectly told the House there had been no sightings—when in fact there are 10 listed on the Department of Conservation database—that he is trying to downplay the fact his Government is exposing the Māui’s dolphins to new risks?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The sightings historically are difficult to locate accurately. They go back to 1970; GPS did not exist then. So it is quite difficult to determine exactly where they were. Of course we cannot differentiate from such sightings as to whether they are Māui’s or whether they are Hector’s dolphins. I would also point out that in 40 years of the oil and gas industry there has not been a single incident that has caused any harm to any Māui’s dolphin.
Gareth Hughes: Did the Minister recently extend the Māui’s dolphin sanctuary on the basis of five confirmed sightings, including with GPS locations; if so, did he warn against seismic testing into 56 percent of his expanded sanctuary area?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Prior to this Government there was no regulation of seismic exploration work. The exclusive economic environmental effects legislation has enabled the Government, for the first time, to have compulsory regulation of those that are doing seismic survey work, to ensure that there is no harm to marine mammals. That is just another example, with this Government’s programme, of our improving the environmental protection for Maūi’s dolphins. That comes on top of us doubling the area of the set net ban.
Gareth Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I appreciate that my question had two legs, but neither of them was addressed. I asked: did he extend—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I disagree with the member. I think the second question was addressed.
Joanne Hayes: What is the probability of finding a Māui’s dolphin in the 2014 block-off area as compared to their main habitat between the Kaipara and Kāwhia harbours?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Ninety percent of the 975 historic sightings are in their main habitat, which equates to 1.25 square kilometres. In the block-off area, if we take the figures that the Green member asserts, that is one sighting per 7,500 square kilometres. That is, the probability of finding a Māui’s dolphin in the block offer area is 1/3,000th of that in the main habitat, or 0.03 percent. This is very infrequent and very nearly zero.
Gareth Hughes: Did the Minister reply to the recent Society for Marine Mammalogy’s letter to the Minister, which opposed seismic testing in the Māui’s sanctuary, and was his response to these more than 2,000 international scientists: “Well, I’m right and you’re wrong.”?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I would be happy to invite any of those 2,000 marine scientists who met in Europe to come and see what the Government has done to protect our Māui’s dolphins, to see the internationally recognised regulations for seismic testing, and to observe the fact that the Government has doubled the area of the set net ban. I would also note that since we have put those in place there has not been a single Māui’s dolphin death, and I contrast that with the record of the previous Government, where there were several Māui’s dolphin deaths.
Joanne Hayes: What reports has the Minister seen on the evidence of harm to Māui’s dolphins from the oil and gas industry?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I have seen a very strong statement saying that Māui’s dolphins are not posed any threat by the oil and gas industry, albeit I also see another statement from a member of the same party who is saying that he does not share that view—that being Wayne Coffey. But I would also point out that that is just one of many areas where members opposite have contradictory views on natural resource issues.
Gareth Hughes: Following on from that, has the Minister read his own assessment of the threats to Māui’s dolphins, which clearly lists seismic testing as a threat, saying it is an impact likely to affect population trends in the next 5 years; and will the Minister therefore be following the example of California, which, to protect the non-endangered harbor porpoise, has banned seismic testing in that area in order to protect our critically endangered Māui’s dolphins, of which there are only 55 left on the planet.
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Dr Nick Smith—either of those questions.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The Māui’s dolphin threat management plan identified that 95 percent of the risk to the Māui’s dolphins was from fishing, that less than 1 percent of the risk was represented from the oil and gas industry, and that, for instance, boats were more than 1 percent of the risk. That is, if the member wants to be consistent and to say that he wants to take a zero-risk approach, then he should ban all boat movements on thewest coast of the North Island because they pose a greater risk than the oil and gas industry.
Family/Whānau Violence Prevention—Government Response to Report 11. CAROL BEAUMONT (Labour) to the Minister of Justice: Given the magnitude of the problem of family violence, is it acceptable to her that none of the Family Violence Death Review Committee’s recommendations from their last annual report have been completed, and no action has been taken on a number of recommendations around funding family violence training for professionals, and addressing the need for better multi-agency practice addressing family violence?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice): The member is incorrect. To suggest that no action has been taken is wrong. It is also wrong to expect the recommendations to have been completed within 1 year, as many of them call for work to be ongoing. The Ministry of Justice, New Zealand Police, the Department of Corrections, the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education are undertaking a large body of work to address family violence. Agencies have been working together to develop a comprehensive range of initiatives, which we expect to announce shortly. On the training front, this Government’s Family Court reforms included a review of domestic violence programmes to upskill providers, and there is ongoing training across all agencies to improve the response to family violence. In its report the committee also commended better support for victims of violent crime. This Government is committed to putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. In the past few weeks this House has passed legislation arising from the Victims of Crime Reform Bill, and the Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill, and, as I have said, there are more initiatives to be announced in a few weeks.
Carol Beaumont: Regarding the statement by Professor Julia Tolmie, chair of the Family Violence Death Review Committee, that “The most disturbing death reviews for me are ones where the woman is quite clearly fighting for her life. She sees that she’s going to die and she is ... actively taking every action she possibly can to save her life. She’s contacting the police, she’s telling landlords, she’s telling neighbours, she’s telling friends ... and we are not providing her with effective help.”, is the Minister satisfied that the Government is doing enough to effectively protect women in these circumstances, and will she reconsider implementing the recommendations around better multi-agency practice?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, I thought I had made myself clear. I do not believe that anybody has done enough on this issue, which is why this Government is taking it extremely seriously and will have a range of announcements to make in the very, very near future.
Carol Beaumont: Given there are on average 35 deaths from family violence per year and many of these deaths are preventable, does she agree with the Family Violence Death Review Committee’s call for a radical change in the way our country responds to dangerous and chronic cases of family violence, and when can we expect a comprehensive Government response?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have already answered that question. I wish that member would listen and take this issue seriously.
Jacinda Ardern: Given this report finds that children who witness intimate partner violence are psychologically damaged by it, why do they receive no ongoing counselling or support within their foster care or Home for Life placement—an issue frequently raised with me by foster parents and caregivers?
Hon Paula Bennett: That’s not true across the board.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, I understand from Minister Paula Bennett that that is not true across the board, but I would also say to that member, though, that if she just waits for a short period of time, she will see the Government’s comprehensive report.
Jacinda Ardern: Why is every family violence notification referred by the police to Child, Youth and Family not automatically acted upon, when this report notes that a child who witnesses violence deals with effects that are “more disturbing than the effects of direct physical maltreatment.”?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, that question should really be directed to the Minister with responsibility for Child, Youth and Family—
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I can anticipate it, but—[Interruption] No, I will hear from the member.
Grant Robertson: As you know, this question was put down for the Minister for Social Development and was transferred by the Government. It is a question about the review and the review report. The Government has chosen the Minister to answer this question. She should be able to address it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I want to clarify this. Speaker’sruling 152/1 is very clear: the Government has the right to transfer a question, but not if in any way it then obstructs the answer. So now we have a situation where I am going to invite the member to re-ask the question, but I ask the Minister to reflect on the answer that then says “Well, it is not my responsibility.” That should have been considered at the time the Government made—[Interruption] Order! That should have been considered at the time that the Government made a decision to transfer it. I will invite Jacinda Ardern to ask the question again.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, the supplementary question that the member has asked is a long way away from the initial primary question, and I think that that is the issue. The Opposition has chosen to ask a primary question about a particular report, particularly around domestic violence, and Ms Ardern has chosen to take a particular part of family violence—child abuse areas—and to ask a specific question about that. That is the issue.
Jacinda Ardern: Mr Speaker—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not need assistance. I am going to give the member a chance to ask the question in a minute. I do not entirely accept that answer from the Minister, in that when I look at the fourth annual report—and this information was obviously in the hands of the Government when it decided to transfer the question—it notes that this is indeed a multi-agency matter. In fact, most of the recommendations are for Child, Youth and Family, which is leading the response. I invite Jacinda Ardern to re-ask the question.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to be very clear on what your ruling now might mean for the Government’s ability to work out who might be best to answer a question. The anticipation here was that we get questions about action taken as a result of the review, and the primary responsibilities for that overwhelmingly lie in the justice portfolio, not with the Ministry of Social Development. We made a genuine transfer to try to create an opportunity to
get the best information to the House. The fact that the member decides to pick on the back end of the question and then start saying that the Minister cannot answer it really indicates that the question here is far too long, in the first place, and not at all specific.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! My job is to ensure that all questions get the best possible answer. The member himself, in the point he has just raised, said that the Government’s decision was that the best possible answer would come via the transfer of this question to the Minister of Justice. I then invited the member to ask the question again, but the answer then that “I don’t have that information. It would have been better if the answer was given by the Minister for Social Development.” means that I would have to think very carefully about a transfer occurring in the future if I felt it was unlikely we were going to get the answer the member deserves.
Jacinda Ardern: Point of order—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I will hear from the Hon Gerry Brownlee; then I will hear from Jacinda Ardern.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: The problem that you present to us now is what if you have questions that are set down to the Minister of Justice that end up being police questions? What if you have questions to the Minister of Defence that end up—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I can explain that. What we have here is the report of the Family Violence Death Review Committee. It is, as I said, across multiple agencies, but most of the responsibilities in the document I have are led by Child, Youth and Family. I expect the Minister, having accepted that she wants to answer this question, which is the prerogative of the Government, then to be in a position to answer the question. Jacinda Ardern wants to speak to the point of order?
Jacinda Ardern: No, you have resolved that. I will re-ask my question. Why is every family violence notification referred by the police to Child, Youth and Family not automatically acted upon, when this report notes that a child who simply witnesses violence deals with effects that are “more disturbing than the effects of direct physical maltreatment”?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, I do not have the detail to that, as I have made pretty plain.
Carol Beaumont: Is she comfortable with her position—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Could the Minister stop yelling across the Chamber. I have asked Carol Beaumont to—[Interruption] Order! If the member wants the privilege of staying to answer the rest of the questions, we will have less interjection.
Carol Beaumont: Is she comfortable with her position that “Protection orders are pieces of paper, and if breaches of them aren’t treated seriously by the courts, then there is nothing we can do.”, when the Family Violence Death Review Committee says there needs to be improvement in the police’s enforcement of protection orders?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I am absolutely comfortable with my position on this. As the member well knows, I had a very close family member who had a protection order out on her former husband. He killed her. So I will not be lectured to by that member about protection orders.
Carol Beaumont: Will the Minister reconsider Labour’s recent call, following the Glenn report—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not want to have to deal with that member again. Carol Beaumont, would you simply ask your question.
Carol Beaumont: Will the Minister reconsider Labour’s recent call, following the Glenn report and the Family Violence Death Review Committee report showing an average of 35 deaths per year, to establish a cross-party task force to address the rates of child abuse and domestic violence in New Zealand?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: My colleagues and I are very happy to come up with ideas to help to fight family violence. If that member has any, I am happy to listen to them.
Census 2018—Changes to Process 12. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI (National) to the Minister of Statistics: What is the Government doing to modernise the next census?
Hon NICKY WAGNER (Minister of Statistics): As part of Budget 2014 I announced a new internet-first model to be used for the 2018 census. It will transform how the census is delivered and collected and will increase the use of administrative data. We have set a target of 70 percent of forms to be completed online, but it is also important to note that at the next census people will be able to request paper forms to be delivered to their households.
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi: What will be the advantages of this new model?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: This new model will help counter rising costs and falling response rates. It will also lead to more timely releases of information. Although the new model is technology-driven, there will also be a huge effort to reach people without technology or those who live in remote places. This is the biggest change to the census in modern memory and I am proud to be part of the National-led Government that is responsible for this step change.
Raymond Huo: Will the Minister include collecting data on foreign ownership of our residential properties in the next census; if not, why not?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: The census collects information on housing. The census itself is for households in New Zealand. It will continue to collect that information.
Raymond Huo: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked specifically on foreign ownership—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite the member to ask his question again.
Raymond Huo: Will the Minister include collecting data on foreign ownership of our residential properties in the next census; if not, why not?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: The census data collects information on ownership of homes, but it does not connect that information to the ethnicity of that ownership.
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, that does not address the question. That is a statement of fact. The member was asking whether the Minister intends to alter that in some way. That is the point of the question.
David Bennett: Why didn’t you ask the question then?
Grant Robertson: For David Bennett’s benefit, that was quite clear, I think.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is right. The difficulty I have is how many times we are going to ask the question.
Grant Robertson: Can we have one more?
Mr SPEAKER: I will allow one more—it is Thursday afternoon. The member can repeat his question.
Raymond Huo: Three strikes.
Melissa Lee: Raymond, when did you become anti-Chinese?
Raymond Huo: I beg your pardon? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! We do not need the interjections. [Interruption] Order! We do not need the interjections; we now need the question asked so the Minister can clearly hear it.
Raymond Huo: Kiwi Chinese are New Zealanders and not foreigners.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just ask the question. [Interruption] Order! The House will settle down. Now Mr Huo may rise to his feet and simply ask the question again, without any other comment.
Raymond Huo: Will the Minister include collecting data on foreign ownership of our residential properties in the next census; if not, why not?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: The census has been run for almost a hundred years, and it has alongitudinal study of certain questions. However, each time a new census comes up those questions can be tweaked. Between now and 2018 we will be looking at all those questions.