Questions & Answers - 6 April 2017
• ORAL QUESTIONS
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
1. TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First) to the Minister of Education: Does she agree with the Ministry of Education's National Director for Learning Support that schools in Northland should contact the police when primary school children threaten teachers and other students with violence?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Yes, I agree with the full quote that the ministry's National Director for Learning Support made and the context in which it was given. For the benefit of the House, he stated: "I would certainly see suspension as being a last resort. If we're talking about very violent behaviour, then that's a matter that schools need to be discussing with police." As per the Guidance for New Zealand Schools on Behaviour Management to Minimise Physical Restraint, released by the ministry in October last year, schools across the country should call the police in situations when a student cannot be managed safely and the imminent danger to students, staff, or themselves remains after all alternatives have been explored. As we expect in all situations, the police are the most appropriate people to deal with violence.
Tracey Martin: Is it acceptable that schools, on behalf of students in Northland, are having to wait for up to 12 months for a diagnosis of foetal alcohol syndrome, between 6 to 12 months for an attention deficit disorder diagnosis, and are finding it almost impossible to gain access to suitable support even after a diagnosis?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: This Government has increased funding for special education or for learning needs support by nearly 30 percent—up to $590 million. Schools in Tai Tokerau have the highest special education grant per child funding in the country and the highest per child staffing entitlement rate in the country. There are also opportunities for schools of the kind that have been reported in the media most recently to participate in other initiatives that are occurring in Tai Tokerau, which are all aimed at supporting every child according to the needs that they have.
Tracey Martin: In light of that answer, can she explain why there are now only 367 Ministry of Education - funded education support workers, compared with 502 education support workers in 2013-14, a drop of over 100 support workers?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I cannot answer the member's question, because I do not know where those numbers come from, but what I can tell—[Interruption] What I can tell the member, and perhaps the member's own party would like to listen to the answer, is that the ministry has nearly 40 specialist staff in Tai Tokerau dealing with children with additional needs. The ministry also provides funding for approximately 22,500 hours of behaviour teacher-aide support to schools in Tai Tokerau. The two resource teacher of learning and behaviour clusters employ 51 resource teachers of learning behaviour, which is an increase. Additionally, 63 schools in Tai Tokerau have signed up to the Positive Behaviour for Learning programme, and it is available to many more up there, and we have formed six kāhui ako in Tai Tokerau.
Tracey Martin: Is it not a fact that the freeze on specialist Ministry of Education staff is now seriously impacting on schools' abilities to access diagnosis and appropriate support?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: There is no freeze, and those members who keep insisting on that, in the face of actual facts to the contrary—it suggests mischievous carrying out of their responsibilities, because the facts are that Vote Education is now over $11 billion, when in 2008 it was $8 billion. The facts are that special education funding is now—[Interruption] Look, I know the members are not interested in actual facts, but these are those. Special education funding has gone up to $590 million, and the facts for Tai Tokerau are those that I have already outlined to the member.
Tracey Martin: Will the Minister commit to immediate emergency funding, perhaps from the $300 million underspent on the communities of learning, for experienced teacher or student support for Northland schools, which are reporting that staff are buckling under the pressure of severe behavioural or suicidal children, while her department works with other ministries to sort out what is an unacceptable situation?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: The underspend to which the member refers is precisely for the recruitment and appointment of expert teachers, so, yes, I will commit to that. I have already committed to it, our Government has committed to it, there is funding for it, and now we need the schools forming communities of learning to get on and appoint those expert resources.
• Schools—Funding and Support
2. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister of Education: Is she confident that schools are getting all the support they need to help every child succeed?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): I am confident that schools have received more in support under this National Government to help their children succeed than under any other Government.
Chris Hipkins: Why did she allow the number of full-time equivalent education support workers employed by the ministry, who work with the youngest and most vulnerable, to be halved from 275 in 2008 to just 134 in 2015, according to the answer that she has supplied—her own numbers—through written questions?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Then they will be factual. What I can answer is that I do not make operational decisions—
Hon Members: Oh!
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I guess it is a surprise to the Opposition, but that is how the Government works. The chief executive of the department makes that decision, and I trust that those decisions have been made in the context of delivering better outcomes. That is actually what we are seeing.
Chris Hipkins: Which does she believe does more to support students with the highest needs in our schools and early childhood centres: halving the number of education support workers who work directly with children or the 700 percent increase in the Ministry of Education's use of consultants during her watch, taking the consultant spend from $4 million under Labour to $35 million under National?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: It is not a matter of what I believe; it is a matter of what we know, and what we know is that there is more funding going into every part of the New Zealand education system under this Government than there the ever has been. We are also dealing—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is little point in continuing with the answer if the Opposition does not want to hear it.
Chris Hipkins: Was the fact that the number of students receiving special education communication services, behaviour services, or ORS-funded services within 90 days of referral are all declining the reason that the performance measure was removed from the Ministry of Education's annual report altogether?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: No. At the risk of iterating, yet again, the facts, Vote Education has gone up by 35 percent. Funding for special education or learning support has gone up by 29 percent. Participation by young people with all kinds of needs has increased significantly. The way that young people are getting support in terms of education has change from when the member is referring to, and it changes all the time.
Dr David Clark: Now for the question.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: And I am answering the question. We are seeing more young people participating. We are seeing them getting a better education. We are seeing them leave with more qualifications. We are seeing them go on to more tertiary options, and these are signs of success. Are there challenges within the portfolio in terms of kids with particularly high and complex needs? Yes, there are, and everyone in the system is working hard to meet those.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very long answer, but the question that I asked—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! You do not need to repeat the question for me, because I am going to invite you to repeat the question to the House.
Chris Hipkins: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Was the fact that the number of students receiving special education communication services, behaviour services, or ORS-funded services within 90 days of referral are all declining the reason that the performance measure was removed from the Ministry of Education's annual report altogether?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: No.
Chris Hipkins: Did she say in her Budget bid last year "there is increasing demand for additional learning support. In most cases, these are capped appropriations and we can ration provision, …"; if so, is that rationing the reason why so many schools are saying that under this Government they are considering suspending or expelling students with behavioural or other learning support needs because they do not have the resources to support them?
Mr SPEAKER: There were two supplementary questions there. The Minister can address one or either, or both.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I am going to address both, thank you, Mr Speaker. The answer to the first one is yes and the answer to the second one is no. We work with every school across the country to address their particular needs, and I think it is inappropriate to simply be recommending, as one principal in the media is, that schools start suspending students. There is a natural justice process in the event of particular violent acts and those should be followed by every school.
Chris Hipkins: If she does not want schools to suspend or expel students, why is the level of special education support provided to students who have been suspended or expelled so much significantly higher than those students who remain in a school?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I think the member is conflating two things. There are students who are suspended for particular reasons and they have all gone through a natural justice process, and then they go into alternative education, and then they get particular support.
Chris Hipkins: No, they go to another school.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: But I am answering the first part of your question, which relates to a particular principal recommending that schools simply start suspending students, and the answer there is that would be irresponsible and they must follow the process.
• Government Fiscal Position—Changes Since Budget 2016
3. SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel) to the Minister of Finance: How are the Government's financial accounts tracking compared to Budget 2016?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): The financial accounts are tracking along well. Currently, the Crown accounts for the 8 months to February are showing a $1.4 billion operating surplus compared with Treasury's forecast of a $568 million surplus at the start of the fiscal year. This is also $912 million better than expected at the half-yearly update, which was released just before Christmas. The Government's books are in good shape because we have shown spending restraint, improved the quality of our expenditure, and focused on the areas where we can make the most difference to people's lives.
Scott Simpson: What is driving this higher-than-anticipated level of Government surplus?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Higher tax revenues are the major contributing factor, with $3.5 billion more in tax collected in the first 8 months of this year compared with last year. In fact, tax revenues are 3.8 percent ahead of Budget 2016 expectations and 7.7 percent ahead of the same period last year. All categories have been growing, but company tax was the largest driver of this favourable result. Revenue is $551 million ahead of forecast. That is, of course, the return the country gets from a consistently growing economy that is responding to a strong economic plan.
Grant Robertson: Can the Minister tell the House whether or not the surplus number includes a calculation for the cost of the Kaikōura earthquake, and has he been updated on what the likely cost to the Government of the recovery from it will be?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It does have some costs in it for the Kaikōura earthquake. There will be further costs. We are yet to refine, for example, the final cost of restoring the State Highway 1 corridor, and I will update members in due course as to the final amounts for those particular issues in relation to Kaikōura.
Scott Simpson: How is the strong financial position that he has spoken about helping the Government achieve its debt target?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: We are making good progress on achieving our debt target. Net debt currently sits at 23.5 percent of GDP. It does move around, and I think, in reference to my colleague opposite, there are some significant items of expenditure. But we are on track to reduce net debt to around 20 percent of GDP by 2020-21, which will improve the resilience of the New Zealand economy to withstand future shocks.
Fletcher Tabuteau: What is the total debt attributable to the Crown, inclusive of student loans, State-owned enterprises debt, and debt owed by councils?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am not sure that debts held by councils are attributable to the Crown. I know that some councils would prefer it that way, but that is definitely not the case. I would not want to give the indication that that was about to change any time soon. I do not actually have that exact number for the member today, but I can tell him that net debt, which is the net debt once the assets are deducted, is 23.5 percent of GDP currently.
Fletcher Tabuteau: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a question related very much to the primary question. It was precise, it was concise, and the Minister has not answered it.
Mr SPEAKER: No, the Minister definitely answered it. He said he did not have that information to hand. That is not an unreasonable answer at all.
Scott Simpson: What options does the Government have in order to utilise strong Crown accounts and growing surpluses?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: As I have said, the Government's priorities for the upcoming Budget are clear. We will be working on delivering better public services for a growing country. We will also be doing more work to build the infrastructure that we need in growing a modern economy, on top of what we are already doing. We intend to keep paying down debt as a percentage of GDP. Finally, we remain committed to reducing the tax burden on lower and middle income Kiwi families when we are able to. What we cannot do is look to fritter away the hard work completed to date, as I am sure my friend Mr Robertson would love to do.
• Social Development, Ministry—Security of Private Information
4. CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston) to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by her statement about the Privacy Commissioner that "we will listen to any recommendations that he has to make" about feedback on her Government's approach to private client data collection from social services?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): Yes.
Carmel Sepuloni: How can she say she is listening, when this morning on Radio New Zealand she said "There is no proof that people will not seek help if they have to give their name.", despite the Privacy Commissioner clearly stating data sharing "could impede vulnerable people's access to much needed services and worsen already difficult circumstances.", and one organisation reporting that not one of the 17 male survivors of sexual abuse they are working with would seek support if they knew the data was going to be shared?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Because the Privacy Commissioner's comment was "could", and in my discussions with the Privacy Commissioner he did not have any proof that people would not seek help; it is an assumption that they will not seek help.
Carmel Sepuloni: How can she expect New Zealanders to have confidence in her ministry's client data-sharing approach, when 2 days ago her IT portal for storing this data had to be shut down because it was compromised, she said this morning she had no confidence in the system, and her ministry has an abysmal track record for breaches of private client information?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Firstly, I would say that the Ministry for Social Development deals with over a million New Zealanders, and does not have an appalling track record. That is not to say it has not had breaches, but it has a very good record of protecting over a million New Zealanders' information. Secondly, I would say to that member: the reason I shut the portal down was that I am not confident in it, and, therefore, no New Zealander can be confident in it.
Carmel Sepuloni: Does she really think she has the confidence of social service providers and vulnerable people seeking support from these social services, given the data security breach and the findings of the Privacy Commissioner that have come to light in the past 72 hours?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I think it is very dangerous to link the two. First of all, the data collection will continue, but there will be no information uploaded until I am convinced, and the Privacy Commissioner is convinced, that we have a system that is secure. That is the responsible thing to do. However, when we talk about vulnerable New Zealanders, what they want is to be able to get access to the services that the taxpayer funds on their behalf. That is why we need the client data: to ensure that all the vulnerable New Zealand families and children are accessing the services that the Government is providing.
Carmel Sepuloni: Should not the Minister have made sure that the system for storing that information was secure before she pushed ahead with her Government's data collection and sharing agenda?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I have said in this House and I have said outside this House that we will not be uploading any data until I can be assured, and I can assure New Zealanders, that the system that collects and hold the data is secure.
Carmel Sepuloni: Will she admit that the Government's social investment approach was never about investing in people but about saving money in the short term by underfunding social services and putting up barriers to people accessing support, and will she acknowledge that this approach has long-term cost repercussions?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Well, far be it for that member to ever describe social investment, because it is quite the reverse. The whole social investment approach is by investing earlier and more effectively so that you get better long-term outcomes for people. That always costs more.
• Social Development, Ministry—Security of Private Information
5. JAN LOGIE (Green) to the Minister for Social Development: Does she believe she delivered on her statement that "robust procedures would gather and protect the information" when referring to her ministry's Individual Client Level Data Collection policy?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): Yes. As I said yesterday, it is absolutely vital that clients and providers have confidence that their information is being protected, which is why yesterday, after I was made aware of a technical issue with the portal system, I directed that a new IT solution be developed for the collection of that individual client - level data. As I said in the House yesterday, I have also directed that this new system be independently assessed, and I would welcome the Privacy Commissioner's input as well. I have also asked that the Government Chief Information Officer be involved in this.
Jan Logie: When the Minister told this House "Of course, we are working closely with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that clients' privacy rights are protected.", can she tell this House whether he was briefed on significant changes to the policy after first being consulted in June?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I do not have that information. What I have assured the House on, on a number of occasions, is that I understood that the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) was working closely with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. The details of that I leave to the MSD people to work through themselves, but in my conversations with the Privacy Commissioner, we have traversed all the areas that he covered in his report. Three of the four recommendations I agree with, and I have put things into action to implement his recommendations.
Jan Logie: Did the Minister check the Privacy Commissioner's view on such changes as collecting identifiable data for sharing and matching with other agencies instead of the initial proposal to use anonymised data for research purposes?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I cannot answer that question, as to whether MSD was talking to the Privacy Commissioner about that particular issue. I know that I have been talking to providers about that change in processes for almost 2 years.
Jan Logie: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If you had listened to my question, you would have heard that I asked whether the Minister had checked, and her answer was that she cannot say whether the ministry spoke with the Privacy Commissioner.
Mr SPEAKER: No, no, the question was addressed. The Minister was saying, effectively, that she did not speak and that she is not sure whether the ministry had. That has addressed the question.
Jan Logie: Does she think it is acceptable to have gone ahead with this policy without having completed a privacy impact assessment when the Privacy Commissioner has said he expected it to have happened before they went ahead?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I agree with the Privacy Commissioner.
Jan Logie: On what date did the Minister see the first draft from the Privacy Commissioner, which her ministry received on 9 March?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Oh, I am sorry; I do not have in front of me—it is in the Hansard from yesterday—when I received a letter from the Privacy Commissioner, I think it was 10 March, with his initial findings. I then met with him several days later to talk through those findings. As I say, of his four recommendations, I do not agree with his first recommendation about using Statistics New Zealand and anonymised data, because, whilst that might give us the progress that is being made by NGOs, it does not give us the coverage, so we do not know that everyone who needs the services are actually getting that service. But, certainly, for his other recommendations, following that meeting, I did discuss with MSD working up an exemptions regime, as he has recommended in recommendation No. 2. I think, for recommendation No. 3, I have made sure that MSD has been very clear what the data is needed for and that it will not be used in order to be matched with any other Work and Income - type information. And recommendation No. 4 I absolutely agree with, which is why I shut the portal down yesterday.
Jan Logie: If the Minister read in the draft report, or knew, that MSD was collecting individual client data via spreadsheets, which the Privacy Commissioner says "lack inbuilt security protection and have been associated with significant data breaches", why did she not put a stop to the collection of data rather than waiting for this week's breach to happen?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Well, the member is assuming that I was aware of that level of detail. I have asked the chief executive of MSD to provide me with a detailed report of what happened and how this process was developed, because I did not, as a Minister, have operational oversight of it. But I agree with the Privacy Commissioner that that is not the correct way to develop a system like this, and as I have just said to the media, I am furious and disappointed that the agency seems to have taken shortcuts.
Jan Logie: How can the public trust the Minister to protect their privacy when she has been completely missing in action on core protections of privacy in terms of ensuring that the database system was able to protect their privacy, ensuring that assessment was done in the first place, and even finding out whether the Privacy Commissioner had been consulted on massive changes?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The public can have confidence because I shut the portal down immediately I became aware that it was not secure, and I have said that we will not upload any data until not only I but the Privacy Commissioner and the Government Chief Information Officer are content that it is a secure system. It is absolutely critical that it is secure and that people's privacy is respected.
• City Rail Link—Job Creation
6. SIMON O'CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Transport: What employment opportunities are being created by the construction of the City Rail Link in Auckland?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Transport): Well, construction of the City Rail Link (CRL) project is already bringing economic benefits by creating hundreds of employment opportunities. It is estimated the project will see about 600 general construction workers employed and an estimated 1,600 jobs at the peak of works—
Tracey Martin: From where?
Richard Prosser: How many New Zealanders?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: —and the members opposite can apply, if that is what they need to do post-election. While the CRL is New Zealand's largest transport infrastructure project, it is just one of many significant projects across Auckland. Others include the soon to be opened Waterview tunnel, the new East-West Link highway, improvements to State Highway 20 to the airport, and widening of the southern and northern motorways. These really big Government projects reflect the Government's strong investment in Auckland. We continue to construct more by value than ever before, in order to respond to and support the strong economic growth we are seeing.
Simon O'Connor: How will the City Rail Link boost the use of public transport and investment in Auckland?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: With Auckland's population predicted to grow by more than 700,000 people over the next 30 years, the CRL will play an important role in getting people in and out of the city with ease and boosting public transport use across the city. When completed, the CRL will double the capacity of Auckland's rail network, provide two new stations in the central city, and benefit commuters whose travel times will be reduced very significantly. The Government's commitment to the project has seen its delivery accelerated and it has provided more certainty for many large-scale private sector developments, which will pump renewed investment into the CBD, as well as creating many new jobs.
Ron Mark: Can he categorically rule out the likelihood of the employment of unskilled migrants over Kiwis, like has happened in the Christchurch rebuild where 1,800 unskilled migrants have been brought in since 2011?
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Simon Bridges—in so far as he has ministerial responsibility.
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: What I can say is that there is a procurement process going on and let us see where that goes—the Government will not be involved in that. What I can guarantee the member is that not a single New Zealand First MP will be employed in the project. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is just simply too much noise and interjection. If I need to start asking a few people to leave early for an early departure, I am happy to do so, but I would prefer not to have to.
Ron Mark: Can the Minister tell the House if he has had discussions with his Cabinet colleagues and can he tell us where the unskilled migrant workers that they are planning to allow in are expected to be accommodated in Auckland, or is he planning on bringing in some migrant ships to accommodate them offshore?
Mr SPEAKER: Again, in so far as there may possibly be some ministerial responsibility—
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did ask: "Has he had conversations with his Cabinet colleagues over this problem?".
Mr SPEAKER: That is right, but you asked a lot more than that as well; it was a very lengthy question. I am inviting the Minister if he wants to tackle the question he is welcome, but it is a long way from—
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Well, I am really not certain what the member is talking about but if he is really angling for a job on the CRL, perhaps he can make the lunch.
• Typhoid—Outbreak Source and Containment
7. Dr DAVID CLARK (Labour—Dunedin North) to the Minister of Health: Can he tell the House the source of the typhoid outbreak that killed a 52-year-old Auckland woman; if so, can he guarantee that the outbreak has been contained?
Hon NICKY WAGNER (Associate Minister of Health) on behalf of the Minister of Health: The source of this isolated typhoid outbreak is being investigated by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, and I am advised that, clinically, the response is being handled very well and that health officials are confident that the outbreak has been contained. As typhoid is not endemic to New Zealand, at some point the disease has come from overseas.
Dr David Clark: After watching TV news and learning that his own officials were responding to a typhoid outbreak already nearly 2 weeks old, what precise actions did he take in the minutes that followed?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: The Minister has made it very clear that there are some lessons to be learned regarding the communications, but as I have said, the advice is that, clinically, the response is being handled well, and the Minister is pleased to hear that.
Dr David Clark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was really clear about the immediate action that followed this finding out, and that is the issue at point.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I heard the question very clearly, but when you consider it is being answered by another Minister on behalf of the Minister, how could the Minister possibly know the precise action the Minister took after watching a particular news item? It cannot be answered any more accurately than it was.
Dr David Clark: Point of order. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! If there is going to be continued interjections I am going to have to start asking particular members to leave. I have given my ruling on that. If the member wants to raise a fresh point of order, he is more than welcome, but it had better be a fresh point of order.
Dr David Clark: I seek the leave of the House to hold over the remainder of the questions for the next question time.
Mr SPEAKER: You cannot now do that, because you have started the question. You can certainly cease asking further supplementary questions if you do not think it is worthwhile—that is perfectly appropriate—but you cannot now hold over the supplementary questions associated with question No. 7 now that you have accepted that you have started question No. 7.
Dr David Clark: When he found out about the typhoid outbreak on 31 March, what assurances did he immediately seek from health officials that relevant health organisations in the area were being communicated with about the outbreak?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: I cannot answer that directly, but what I can tell you is that there will be a thorough debrief afterwards, and that questions around both the source of the outbreak and the response will be properly reviewed.
Dr David Clark: I seek leave to table a paywalled document that makes clear that the chief executive of the Whānau Ora commissioning agency said that her organisation had not been contacted about providing messages to the public a week after the event.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular document. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is none. It can be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Dr David Clark: Who is responsible to this House for the health funding spent on dealing with the typhoid outbreak?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: I think that will be decided through the thorough debrief afterwards, where the questions will be looking at the sources about the outbreak and the response and who is responsible.
Dr David Clark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How can that possibly be true? She is responsible to this House for the spending of the House; that is the role of the Minister.
Mr SPEAKER: I accept the point the member is making, but the Minister has answered that way. That is the way she has chosen to answer the question. The way forward now is for the member to follow up with supplementary questions.
Dr David Clark: Does the Minister then take responsibility for the fact that the Auckland Regional Public Health Service's funding has not kept pace with population growth in Auckland under his watch?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: I know that the member is new to health, and he may not be aware that normally—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! A legitimate supplementary question has been asked. The Minister would be well advised to address it without the comment that she started her answer with. We might then all be able to hear the answer.
Hon NICKY WAGNER: The member may not be aware that in Auckland, it normally handles about 30 cases of typhoid every year. It does it efficiently and effectively.
Dr David Clark: Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: I will invite the member to re-ask his question, but I would be grateful for less interjection from my immediate left.
Dr David Clark: Does the Minister take responsibility for the fact that the Auckland Regional Public Health Service's funding has not kept pace with population growth in Auckland under his watch?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: That is not true. I have pointed out that every year Auckland manages about 30 cases of typhoid efficiently and effectively.
Dr David Clark: I seek leave to table material showing that the Auckland Regional Public Health Service's funding has not kept pace with the population growth in Auckland under the Minister's watch.
Mr SPEAKER: I just need the source and date of the document.
Dr David Clark: The source is the Parliamentary Library. It was sourced yesterday from the Parliamentary Library.
Mr SPEAKER: I will put the leave and the House will decide. Leave is sought to table that information from the Parliamentary Library. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is not. It can be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
• Point England Development Enabling Bill—Ngāti Paoa
8. MARAMA FOX (Co-Leader—Māori Party) to the Minister for Building and Construction: What efforts is he taking to ensure the rights and interests of Ngāti Paoa are being provided for through the Point England Development Enabling Bill?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for Building and Construction): The bill is part of Ngāti Paoa's Treaty settlement and enables them to have a marae and housing on land that has been grazed by cows for 30 years. The site is of huge cultural significance to Ngāti Paoa, and was reported in the 1820s to be the site of the most intensive Māori settlement in New Zealand. The bill will result in an area of 18 hectares no longer being fenced off for grazing, two hectares being used as a marae for Ngāti Paoa, 12 hectares for 300 new homes, and an additional four hectares for amenity and recreation. I think it is unfair for people to cry foul over Ngāti Paoa using land for marae and housing when the same people have been silent for 30 years over the land being used for grazing cows.
Marama Fox: What reports has the Minister read recently in support of the Point England Development Enabling Bill?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I was very encouraged when the bill was unanimously supported in Parliament, when it was introduced. I particularly agreed with the comments that the bill is an important Treaty settlement for Auckland, that it is a win-win for both the community and iwi, and the same person saying that housing and a marae is a much better use of the land than grazing cows. The same member also described the bill as "fantastic" and "exciting" for Tāmaki Makaurau iwi. I am surprised that that member has now been vetoed by his colleagues.
Phil Twyford: Why will he not adopt Labour's plan, which would offer Ngāti Paoa Tāmaki Regeneration Company land for their housing project and would offer Ngāti Paoa shared governance of the Point England Reserve and land for a marae, but would leave one of Auckland's best expanses of open parkland as parkland for future generations to enjoy? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Mr Bishop, if you interject again in question time, you will certainly be getting that early shower.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The member forgot to mention that the open parkland has had 18 hectares fenced off for grazing cows for 30 years. Why the member thinks it is OK for the reserve to have grazing cows but not for Ngāti Paoa to have a marae, and why that member who constantly asks for more homes to be built would much rather have cows grazed in Auckland, has me lost.
Marama Fox: Given the provisions of the Point England Enabling Development Bill, does he agree with the chief executive of Ngāti Paoa when he says: "By opposing the legislation, Labour is opposing a Treaty settlement bill for the first time in the history of the Treaty settlement process. All other iwi in Tāmaki Makaurau support this transfer. Opposing the bill pits the Labour Party against mana whenua."?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Yes. I do agree with the chief executive of Ngāti Paoa that it is sad that Labour has not maintained that broad support for Treaty settlements. But I think what is of further concern is that all the iwi of Auckland—
Peeni Henare: No, they don't.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH:—have joined—yes they have. They have been in contact expressing deep concern that grazing cows is now viewed by the Opposition as more important than Treaty settlements and affordable housing. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Mr Faafoi—equally, the same warning. You have continued to interject. If you do again, you will get the same treatment.
• Primary Sector—Exports
9. BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki - King Country) to the Minister for Primary Industries: What announcements has the Government made to help support our primary sector exporters succeed in overseas markets?
Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister for Primary Industries): Trade Minister Todd McClay and I recently announced new funding of just over $53 million to help support our primary sector exporters to overcome trade barriers. The funding was announced as part of the Government's Trade Agenda 2030, and it will increase the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI's) presence in European and South-east Asian markets; establish an export regulatory advisory service to help small exporters navigate complex regulatory environments; accelerate work on priority non-tariff barriers, which are a major issue for our primary sector exporters; and expand MPI's economic intelligence units, which will help exporters identify market opportunities.
Barbara Kuriger: Why is accelerating work on non-tariff barriers so important for our primary sector exporters?
Hon NATHAN GUY: That is a good question. While conventional tariffs are a major barrier, the export of our goods is also affected by other measures such as quotas and technical standards. A New Zealand Institute of Economic Research study estimated that New Zealand exporters face around $6 billion in non-tariff barriers each year, with much of this in the primary sector. This funding will help create a flying squad of experienced market access officials, who will engage with their overseas counterparts to help gain easier market access for our products.
Barbara Kuriger: How will this funding support existing and emerging markets for our primary sector exports?
Hon NATHAN GUY: My thoughts are with the Edgecumbe farmers and households up there right now, who are dealing with a major flood event. This agriculture town is based very much on the primary sector and they know that we export to around 130 countries. This MPI funding will help ensure that we can continue to diversify our export profile. MPI, indeed, holds a wealth of different information on different markets. The economic intelligence unit will be an important source of information for our exporters to identify new market opportunities—and, of course, with MPI increasing its footprint in the new South-east Asian markets, such as Vietnam—and it will also strengthen our relationships in the very important European markets as well.
• Disability Care—Disability Support Services
10. POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East) to the Minister for Disability Issues: Does she stand by her answers to supplementary questions on 23 March 2017?
Hon NICKY WAGNER (Minister for Disability Issues): Yes, in the context that they were given. However, I would like to make one correction. I am advised that last year IDEA Services received almost $220 million in funding, not $151.9 million, which I stated previously.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If a Minister becomes aware that information they have given to the House is incorrect, there is an obligation on them—in fact, a requirement on them—to correct it at the first available opportunity, not to wait until somebody asks another question and then use that question as the basis on which they correct their answer.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is absolutely correct. There is an obligation on Ministers, whenever they answer questions, subsequently realising that it is not correct, to come back at the earliest opportunity to correct that answer. In this case, it has been done very belatedly via another question being raised. The member needs to consider whether he thinks it is serious enough to lodge a breach of privilege, and then I would have to consider it in the light of judging whether it was deliberate and whether it has seriously disadvantaged accountability to the House. I have reminded Ministers many times that they might get some figures wrong. They are expected to return to the House as soon as possible to correct those figures.
Poto Williams: When she was asked "Does she accept that IDEA Services Ltd faces limited funding and pressure on its services, requiring it to cut its disability support services by 5 percent", why did she answer that IDEA Services has an increase in funding, and was it an increase for the provision of disability support?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: The funding for IDEA Services has increased from just over $183 million in 2008 to just under $220 million last year. That is why I said it has had more money.
Poto Williams: Why does IDEA Services quote in a letter to families, dated 4 April 2017, that underfunding of over $500,000 in the 2016-17 year and no offer of increase for the coming year means it cannot continue to provide services and has been unable to renew the contract with the Ministry of Health?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: I am incredibly disappointed that an organisation like IDEA Services, which says it cares for our vulnerable, disabled people, has been so irresponsible as to cut services without notice. I have been advised by the Ministry of Health that it was informed only last week that IDEA Services did not intend to renew its contract, after previously indicating that it would. It also gave no notice to its clients and, what is worse, IDEA Services refused to agree to a temporary 3-month contract to allow arrangements to be made to look after its clients.
Poto Williams: I seek leave to table a letter from IDEA Services to families of clients, dated 4 April 2017.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular letter. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is not. It can be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Poto Williams: What does the Minister say to Diana, whose daughter waited 18 months for a social skills course, which has now been cut; or Shannon, who says "I shudder to think what the next few months will be like."; or Francesca, who has two autistic children and says that before IDEA Services' help came along 2 years ago, they were in crisis?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: I say that IDEA Services is being totally irresponsible. We all know that change can be difficult for some people and their families, and particularly for this cohort of clients for whom routine and security is so important. It is just not acceptable that IDEA Services has refused to allow a transition period and, what is more, told its clients only after it had cut the service.
Poto Williams: Would the Minister now like to correct her answer to the supplementary question "Has IDEA Services received sufficient funding from the Government to cover minimum wage increases over the past 6 years?"
Hon NICKY WAGNER: No, I would not. The member is confusing two different issues. In late March IDEA Services decided to change its business model and relinquish 5 percent of its contracts. It was working with the Ministry of Health, and it agreed to work together responsibly to transition its clients. Today we are discussing IDEA Services cancelling the contract without notice—without notice—either to the Ministry of Health or to its vulnerable clients. On top of that—[Interruption] That was after the contract was cancelled. What is more, it turned down the opportunity offered by the Ministry of Health to allow it to take care of its clients and transition them. It is appalling.
• Smoking—Nicotine E-Cigarettes
11. MAUREEN PUGH (National) to the Associate Minister of Health: What recent announcements has she made regarding nicotine e-cigarettes?
Hon NICKY WAGNER (Associate Minister of Health): [Interruption] I am sorry, I am overworked today. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been asked; the answer will be given.
Hon NICKY WAGNER: Last week I announced Cabinet's decision to allow the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid—to make it liquid—with appropriate controls. The controls include restricting sales to those 18 years and over, prohibiting vapour in smoke-free areas, and restricting advertising to in-store only. This ensures that cigarette smokers have access to low-risk alternatives while we continue to discourage people from smoking or vaping in the first place.
Maureen Pugh: What are the next steps for the legalisation of nicotine e-cigarettes?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: The Ministry of Health will work with stakeholders to establish the quality and the safety standards and look into ways of allowing emerging tobacco and nicotine delivery products to be regulated as consumer products into the future. It will be presented to Cabinet in July.
• Drugs, Illegal—Medical Cannabis
12. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Associate Minister of Health: Will he recommend his Government change the law so that New Zealanders with terminal illnesses using medical cannabis are not at risk of being raided by the Police and prosecuted?
Hon PETER DUNNE (Associate Minister of Health): Patients using approved cannabis-based products, such as Sativex and other approved non-pharmaceutical grade cannabis products, are not at risk. For those choosing to use raw cannabis or unapproved cannabis-based products, I have received a number of assurances from the Commissioner of Police that small-scale use by the terminally ill is not a priority, and that approach is consistent with the emphasis on compassion set out in the Government's 2015 National Drug Policy. I have considered the compassionate access scheme implemented in New South Wales. However, following very frank discussions with the Australian delegation at last month's United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting about the workability of such a scheme, I have concluded that New Zealand's more pragmatic approach based around the pillars of compassion, proportion, and innovation that underpin the National Drug Policy is the more appropriate course to follow
Julie Anne Genter: So rather than changing the law to reflect the fact that we think that it is acceptable for sick people to use cannabis to alleviate their suffering, is he suggesting that people should continue to break the law hoping that the police will not pursue them?
Hon PETER DUNNE: I make two points in response. Firstly, there is huge distinction to be drawn between raw cannabis and cannabis-based medicinal products. The Government has no interest in making any legal change, nor does any other party in Parliament, as far as I am aware, to the status of the raw cannabis plant. With regard to cannabis-based medicines, the best advice I would give any patient who feels they might benefit from such a medicine is to talk to their general practitioner and their specialist about accessing the pathway that is in place. They can view that at the Ministry of Health website; it is a very simple pathway to follow and if it is determined that that is the best treatment available to them, then it can be made available to them. For people who choose to go outside that system, then they do run the risk, particularly if they are using the raw product, but, as I said earlier, I have been assured by the police that they will adopt a compassionate approach.
Julie Anne Genter: Without a clear legal framework or a register for patients, how will the police be able to judge who is a legitimate medical user and who to be compassionate with?
Hon PETER DUNNE: The member raises a good point, and it was one that I pursued with the Australians when I discussed the matter with them. The absence of a register is actually no salvation in this regard because they find exactly the same problem with the register in New South Wales in determining who is a legitimate name to be included upon it—and bear in mind in the New South Wales case you can include up to 3 other people as supporters. But they have also found that a number of people who are suppliers, when confronted by the police about being suppliers, say that they only supply to patients with terminal illnesses. So the whole thing has become, essentially, unworkable. I think the pragmatic approach that we have here, provided it is exercised with compassion, is the far more prudent course to follow.
Julie Anne Genter: Without a law change, how can he ensure that terminally and chronically ill patients in New Zealand will not find themselves in court for using cannabis to alleviate their suffering?
Hon PETER DUNNE: I did not hear the first part of the member's question, but I think what she was seeking was some clarification as to how we can protect people from the potential risk. I come back to what I said in response to the earlier supplementary question. The very best step that anyone who feels that they would benefit from a cannabis-based medical product can take is to talk to their general practitioner about accessing the pathway set out so clearly on the Ministry of Health website. People who resort to just growing a bit in the backyard or talking to a mate and getting some from them do run some risks. If they have genuine health issues, my absolutely strong advice is to talk to their general practitioner about accessing the pathway that is currently available.