Oral Questions July 22 - PQ 4 Transcript
4. Prime Minister—Government
4. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader - Green) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his Government’s policies?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.
Metiria Turei : Does the Prime Minister accept that his policies have failed the 35,000 more children now living in severe poverty—that is, in families living on less than half the median income after housing costs—since he became Prime Minister?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No.
Metiria Turei : Is his Government responsible at all for the fact that 205,000 New Zealand children are now living in severe poverty—that is, in families living on less than half the median income after housing costs?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, I would question the member’s facts. Secondly, I would say that the Government is providing tremendous support across a range of different initiatives, and it has done so for a long time. It also borrowed significantly during the global financial crisis to support the most vulnerable New Zealanders. A number of parties in this Parliament already today have criticised the Government for borrowing to support those vulnerable New Zealanders, and I am a bit surprised by that.
Metiria Turei : Can the Prime Minister confirm that his Better Public Services targets for reducing the Third World disease rheumatic fever are failing, and that, in fact, there were 26 more children hospitalised for rheumatic fever last year than the year before, and the overall rate of rheumatic fever has increased under his Government by 16 percent?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, I do not think it is right to say it is failing. The Government has invested over $65 million in rheumatic fever. I think what is fair to say is that there is much more awareness of rheumatic fever since there has been a lot more reporting. I think there is a lot more to be done in that case, but the Government is running an intensive programme in schools and in hospital facilities to try to get on top of rheumatic fever, and it will continue to invest in that area because it is a Third World disease that New Zealand needs to eradicate.
Metiria Turei : Does the Prime Minister accept that rheumatic fever is a disease of poverty?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think there are a number of reasons why there is rheumatic fever. It is largely attributed to overcrowding, but there are a range of reasons why there is rheumatic fever.
Metiria Turei : Is it not the truth that his own data from his own Government agencies and his own targets now prove that his policies are driving children into severe poverty, that they are getting sick and in some cases are dying as a result of that sickness, and that all children in New Zealand deserve a Government that will put their interests first?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I simply do not accept that. I think that the Government over the course of the last 6 years has done the best it can, in the conditions it has inherited, globally and domestically, to support the most vulnerable New Zealanders. I know that that member lives in a dream world where she believes she can say no to every economic initiative and at the same moment promise the earth to every New Zealander, but everybody knows she is not credible when it comes to that.
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier on you admonished members on this side of the House for including political material in an inappropriate situation. The Prime Minister in pretty much every answer he has given today has done that. You have slowly risen to your feet occasionally to bring him to order, but you have actually not done so yet again here, and I just want to seek some clarification that the pattern will now continue where he can say whatever he likes—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! There is no pattern in this House whereby the Prime Minister can say whatever he likes.
Hon Members : Ha, ha!
Mr SPEAKER : Order! If members want to stay for the balance of question time, I expect some cooperation when I am on my feet, and that includes the very front bench and senior members of the Labour Party. I invite members, when they consider that question and answer, to go back and look at the tone of the question that was asked. Further supplementary—[Interruption] Order! I will issue the final warning to the Hon Annette King. If she interjects again like that, with that sort of barrage, I will be asking her to leave the Chamber.
Metiria Turei : Does the Prime Minister think that 205,000 children living in families with less than half the median wage have enough to thrive?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Sorry, I thought the member was finishing the question. What I do think is that the fastest way to move—
Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You are just not paying attention, Mr Speaker, so—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will withdraw that remark immediately.
Metiria Turei : I withdraw. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given the Prime Minister’s failure to hear the question, I seek your leave to repeat the question for him.
Mr SPEAKER : Absolutely. That is in order, because he was not the only one who failed to hear the end of it; I failed to hear it, as well.
Metiria Turei : Does the Prime Minister think that the 205,000 children living in families with less than half the median wage have enough to thrive?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think the fastest way to help those children out of poor economic conditions—although I do not necessarily accept her analysis of all of them