PQ 2. Prime Minister—Government Policy
[Sitting date: 23 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]
2. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his Government’s policies?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.
Dr Russel Norman : Does he stand by his Government’s economic strategy to focus on expanding simple commodity exports such as milk powder, raw logs, and minerals—a pollution-based economy—rather than investing in research, science, and development to create a smarter, greener economy?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member is really away with the fairies if that is what he believes, because in every single Budget since 2009 this Government has increased its expenditure on science. This year alone we are spending $1.5 billion in that area. In fact, the science and high-tech area is growing rapidly under a National-led Government. So if the member thinks we are solely a commodity-based economy, he needs to get his head out of the clouds and look at what is actually happening around New Zealand. What I do know is when he goes around New Zealand and implements the sorts of policies he would like to do, he will be sending most New Zealand workers to the dole queue. I will be pointing that out to them over the course of the next 60 days.
Dr Russel Norman : Why is his Government planning to cut Government spending in science and research by over 10 percent in real terms over the next 3 years?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member is making it up.
Dr Russel Norman : Has the Prime Minister actually read the Draft National Statement of Science Investment—which the Government just issued, for the Prime Minister’s benefit—which says that Government investment will be dropping from $1.4 billion in 2014/15 to $1.35 billion in 2017/18 in nominal terms, which in real terms is a cut of 10 percent in 3 years?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member is misinterpreting the data. The correct data represents what I have been saying, which is that the Government has been increasing expenditure in science and technology every year. Even in the worst of the financial conditions we have been doing that. That is why you are seeing some of the stellar results that are being delivered around the country.
Dr Russel Norman : I seek leave to table a document from the Parliamentary Library showing Government investment in science to drop by 10 percent in real terms over 3 years, and 21 percent—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The document has now been satisfactorily described. I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table that—[Interruption] Does the member want to speak to the point of order?
Hon Steven Joyce : I am just interested to know what that data is from. He said data from the library, but—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member has described it. It is now over to the House. It was information prepared by the Parliamentary Library. Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Dr Russel Norman : Does New Zealand’s prosperity lie in selling more milk powder and polluting more rivers, or does prosperity lie in investing in people and smart, green innovation—something that the Government is cutting, according to its own documents?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In relation to the last point, the member is wrong, and he knows he is wrong. In relation to the earlier points, in fact, New Zealand’s prosperity lies in doing a combination of lots of things. There will be an increasing demand, I suspect, around the world, particularly from Asian nations, for continued commodities from New Zealand, but there is equally, as we can see, a rapid move up the value curve. We are seeing that with UHT milks and the like. We are seeing it with nutraceuticals. In the information and communications technology sector, generally we are seeing quite a significant expansion. We have had had the manufacturing sector expanding month after month after month. The member lives in a world where he wants to believe a few things. Unfortunately, the reality does not actually fit with the narrative that he, in his own little mind, wants to believe is true. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I will be reluctant to ask a member to leave the House, but if the member continues to interject with that barrage, then I will be doing so.
Dr Russel Norman : With regard to manufactured exports, is he proud of his Government’s record of simplifying our export economy, given the 19 percent fall in real terms of the value of manufactured exports since the National Government took office? Real statistics, real facts—just try dealing with them, Mr Prime Minister.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : OK, well, we will deal with the facts. Fifty billion dollars’ worth of goods was exported over the last 12 months out of New Zealand. I will tell you the way to kill those exports markets. That is, one, to stop signing free-trade agreements—oh, yes: that is the Green Party policy. Two—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! It is not necessary for the member to be commenting on another party’s policy.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In relation to the answer, it is actually germane if the member is going to ask a question about a specific point about our strategy for growing the economy. It is quite fair and right, actually, to contrast—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have heard enough from the Prime Minister. On many of the questions we have had so far, members themselves have asked for comment on policies of the Labour Party and the Green Party, and in that case I will be perfectly accepting of an answer that makes comment on those particular policies. But on this particular occasion, the question did not raise any other political party’s policy. On that basis, I am not accepting the answer.
Dr Russel Norman : Is the best way to add value to our exports to simply produce more and to pollute more, or is investing in manufacturing, information and communications technology, and innovation a smarter, greener alternative; if so, why is the Government cutting spending on research and development and science, according to the Government’s own predictions as confirmed by the Parliamentary Library document that his members stopped me tabling?
Mr SPEAKER : The Rt Hon Prime Minister—either of those questions.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member’s question was quite instructive, actually, because his argument was that to produce more, you have to pollute more. On this side of the House, we actually totally and utterly disagree with that, but it does show what the member is thinking, and that is, of course, if you want to pollute less—which is something we accept the Green Party wants to do—you have to produce less, and boy will the Greens be producing less if they ever assume the Treasury benches.
Dr Russel Norman : How does the Prime Minister expect New Zealand to move towards a smarter economy when New Zealand’s investment in research and development has barely lifted as a proportion of GDP during National’s Government, and languishes at only 54 percent of the OECD average, and according to Government predictions is going to drop even further?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member is wrong. I am not surprised that the member is using dodgy numbers, because most of his policies are backed up by dodgy numbers—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Answer the question.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : But this is the way to grow the New Zealand economy, and that is to follow the prescription that the National Government has been following in the last 6 years we have been here. Have a tax system that actually encourages investment—something that this Government has been doing. Sign free-trade agreements so that we have better access to international markets—something that this Government has been doing. Invest in science and innovation—something that this Government has been doing. Invest in skills—something that this Government has been doing. Invest in infrastructure—something that this Government has been doing. Make sure our businesses face less regulation and less red tape—something that this Government has been doing. Make sure that our businesses face a fair carbon tax, not something that is disproportionate to what is happening around the world—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! That answer now is quite long enough.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : If any of what he has just said in his answers this afternoon is correct, how does he explain two things—[Interruption]—and, “Big Ears”, you can help out as well—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Just ask the question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Well, how does he explain two things, if any of that is true: one, the growing nervousness of the National Party backbench, and, two, the internal polls of the National Party showing him that it is well behind where it was this far out from the 2011 election? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have a particular interest in listening to the answer.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : If the member genuinely believes that the National backbench is demonstrating nervousness, then what I think the member should do is look left, because out there they are terrified, buddy.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Members will resume their seats. I am on my feet. Now I gather there is a point of order from the Rt Hon Winston Peters. It will be heard in silence.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Look, I cannot let a misnomer like that start running, and the Prime Minister must not call someone “buddy” in the House.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member now will resume his seat because that is not a point of order.