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Oral Questions July 22 - PQ3 Transcript

3. Families—Government Support
[Sitting date: 22 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]
3. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National - Botany) to the Minister of Finance : What measures has the Government taken to support New Zealand families – particularly through delivering better public services to those most in need?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Two years ago the Prime Minister set 10 challenging results targets for Ministers and the Public Service, which focus on helping some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people. These targets are transparent and updated publicly every 6 months. The latest update yesterday confirmed that the Government is making good overall progress in reducing welfare dependency, supporting vulnerable children, boosting skills in employment, reducing crime, and improving citizens’ interaction with the Government. More school-leavers are retaining National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2, for instance. More New Zealanders are moving off welfare into work, and crime is falling. As we said yesterday, there is more to do in some areas, but overall these indicators show that we are moving in the right direction on some of our more challenging social problems.
Jami-Lee Ross : Why did the Government set 10 challenging Public Service targets 2 years ago?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : Because we found that the Public Service, which had had large amounts of extra money up to 2008, was not thinking hard enough about what results the Government was trying to achieve for people, whereas it was quite good at thinking about how to get more funding for its departments. We also felt that the Government should put itself to the test by being held accountable as to whether it was achieving for New Zealanders the kind of results that taxpayers expect when they hand over billions of dollars a year to be spent on public services. What we have learnt from this exercise is that what works for the community—a safer community, a stronger community—is also good for the Government’s books.
Hon David Parker : Has he asked the Minister responsible for Better Public Services result No. 8, the Hon Judith Collins, why she did not inform him in 2012 that she knew that recorded crime statistics in her own electorate and South Auckland were incorrect, thus undermining the integrity of the Better Public Services results; and, if she did ask her, what was her answer; and, if he did not ask her, why has he not?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I expect that the Minister was not asked that question. Crime is clearly falling. The police—
Hon Member : No, it’s not.
Hon BILL ENGLISH : Well, it is—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Thank you.
Hon BILL ENGLISH : We know the Labour Party does not trust the police, but we do. The Police Commissioner—
Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is question time. My question was specific. It had two parts. But it is not an opportunity for the Deputy Prime Minister to misrepresent Labour Party policy.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I struggle to accept the member’s point that the question was specific. It was quite a long question. I accept it was in two parts. I attempted to write it down. I guess the way forward is to invite the member to ask his question again, but if he could make it more succinct it would help me perhaps get the answer the member might be expecting.
Hon David Parker : Thank you, Mr Speaker. Has he asked the Minister responsible for Better Public Services result No. 8, the Hon Judith Collins, why she did not inform him in 2012 that she knew that recorded crime statistics in her own electorate and South Auckland were incorrect; and, if he has not, why has he not asked her?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : No. The subsequent comments of the Minister of Police have indicated that the police have moved to deal with what they are quite sure is a one-off situation. This is a matter of trust in the police. The Government trusts the police. The Opposition clearly does not. But the public do, and that is not the first time the Opposition has been out of step.
Jami-Lee Ross : What recent reports has the Minister received on the impact of the Government’s significant support programmes on household incomes?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I have received the latest annual household incomes report from the Ministry of Social Development, which is regarded as the most authoritative analysis on incomes in New Zealand. It notes that income inequality has been volatile in recent years, with the global financial crisis impacting on investment returns, employment, and wages. It concludes that there is no evidence of any general rise or fall in income inequality since the mid-1990s. The trend line is almost flat, and some people who have looked at it say that it is falling. There is no evidence of any general rise or fall in income inequality since the mid-1990s, so those who claim that income inequality in New Zealand is getting worse—that is, those who claim the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer—are simply not correct. The facts show that that is not the case.

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