Parliament: Questions and Answers - May 9
Question No. 1—Prime Minister
1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government's policies and actions?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.
Hon Simon Bridges: When she said yesterday that the Government's current immigration policy is "exactly the same one we campaigned on", can she do better than that and elucidate for everyone exactly what her Government intends to deliver on immigration?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I said, what we talked about in the campaign remains the same. We are developing policy and Cabinet papers on this issue as we speak. I'm sure the member can wait until those are available publicly.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she agree that "the rate at which our population is growing is placing unsustainable pressure on infrastructure", as stated in the immigration policy she campaigned on?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Do we have a housing crisis because the last Government didn't do any population planning? Yes.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she agree that the rate at which our population is growing is placing unsustainable pressure on infrastructure?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: This is, of course, a question in two parts. If we had the infrastructure we wouldn't be having this debate. That Government did not do any population planning, immigration got to the highest level it has in some time, and there was no planning around transport or housing, and we're having to pick up the pieces from that. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! There was a member who made an unparliamentary reference to the Prime Minister. That member will stand, withdraw, and apologise. I'll listen to the tape and work out who it was.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: What was it?
Mr SPEAKER: I'm not going to repeat the reference, Mr Brownlee—a very sexist remark. It wasn't Mr Bridges; it was someone behind.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she agree on immigration that "It is time to take a breather."?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I've said, there is no question—ask anyone resident in Auckland—there was no population planning done. Now, whether or not you take into account returning New Zealanders or population growth generally, or the regions spilling into Auckland because there weren't jobs available for them there, there are not enough houses in Auckland, there's not enough transport infrastructure. We're dealing with that problem now to try and make sure that everyone who's resident there has a decent standard of living. It's a big difference between us and the previous Government.
Hon Simon Bridges: What is the Government trying to achieve in its immigration policy—can we be clear: is it smaller numbers, is it a breather, is it something different now?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Given I was late to the House because I was having to correct the member's confusion outside, I'm happy to do it in here as well. What we are focused on in our immigration policy is a quality education system for international students and proper labour market testing so that we fill genuine gaps in our labour market. It's quite simple. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I am going to ask the Leader of the Opposition to be a little quieter. When he asks a question, I think he should show the Prime Minister the respect of at least listening to the first half of the answer.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is the Government's immigration policy Labour's election promise to reduce net migration by 20,000 to 30,000 a year, or New Zealand First's policy to reduce net migration to just 10,000 a year, or is it something else?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I said yesterday, and as I'm repeating today, our policy as a party has not changed. The Government is now progressing that policy. It is about quality education and about proper labour market testing, and the estimates off the back of those changes were in the 20,000 to 30,000 mark—estimates, not targets.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why did her Government favour $900 million for diplomats rather than fully funding universally cheaper GP visits from 1 July?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I'm again happy to correct the member. We are not spending that amount of money on diplomats. In fact, we're spending roughly the amount that that last Government spent on a bad Saudi sheep deal and a bad flag referendum.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why is that $900 million more important than cheaper universal GP visits?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I correct the member again. The amount that he is quoting includes the amount that we are putting into overseas aid and development. When it comes to our health spending, we've yet to announce the full package that this Government has produced, and the member will just have to wait. But I do really question whether or not the National Party is now telling us they see that they have no responsibility for aid and development in the Pacific, because that's a big change from what they purported to do when they were in office.
Hon Simon Bridges: How can she spend nearly a billion dollars on foreign affairs and aid and also claim that there's a crisis in health and education funding?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Because there is.
Hon Simon Bridges: If there's a crisis in health and education funding, why is it that she's putting nearly a billion dollars into foreign affairs and foreign aid?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Of course we are having to invest in health and education as well, and the member will see at Budget time how we have balanced the range of competing demands that we have. I can tell the member why we've had to put this big boost in. When the last Government was in office, Official Development Assistance was at 0.27 percent of gross national income, but, as with everything else, in the next financial year, they let it plummet—plummet. So we've had to reinvest just to get it back up to meet our international responsibilities—shame on you.
Hon Simon Bridges: What analysis convinced her that we needed to open an embassy in Stockholm?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The same analysis that meant it was open 10 years ago, and then shut by them.
Hon Simon Bridges: What was the rationale—what was the position in that analysis on the embassy opening in Stockholm?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member may have failed to acknowledge that one of the biggest opportunities that we have in trade is the potential to have an EU free-trade agreement that is worth potentially $15 billion. Now, that party may think that we can float around the international environment without having any representation internationally; they are wrong. We're going to suffer if our voice is not heard within Europe and the international stage.
Hon Simon Bridges: For clarity, why are we reopening an embassy in Stockholm?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Because they should never have closed it.
David Seymour: Do immigrants ultimately build more homes than they occupy?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If the question that the member's trying to allude to is that we need to make sure that we meet the housing demands of everyone who lives here, then the answer seems pretty obvious to me.
David Seymour: Is it any different if the immigrants have Chinese-sounding names?
Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has indicated she's declined to answer.
Hon Simon Bridges: When she said that all the issues around social services can't be solved in one Budget, was that because she knew she had billions of dollars going to Winston Peters—and that's simply in the first year?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes, I still stand by that statement. For example, this morning we announced the first increase in funding that family violence services like Women's Refuge have had in 10 years—the first. We've managed to do—
Hon Paula Bennett: That is not true.
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: And if the member Ms Paula Bennett wants to demonstrate that she gave money to front-line services, I'd welcome it. But what that proves is that we, in this Budget, are balancing a huge number of competing needs, and we've done it well.
David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the Standing Orders requiring a Minister to address a question, is it now possible that a Minister can address a question without even getting out of her seat? She just refused to address—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Mr Speaker—
Mr SPEAKER: No, the Prime Minister will resume her seat. The situation is very clear: a Minister has a right not to answer a question. It's always been there. I've seen it done on a number of occasions. I certainly can't force a Minister to answer, and certainly not for that question.
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I seek leave to answer the question.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the Prime Minister seeks leave to revert back one supplementary and to answer it. Is there any objection? There is objection.
• Question No. 2—Foreign Affairs
2. ANAHILA KANONGATA'A-SUISUIKI (Labour) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: What recent announcements has he made relating to New Zealand's role in the Pacific and the wider world? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Before the member starts, David Bennett is not to interject for the rest of this question time.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Yesterday, we announced the first steps this Government has taken to ensure New Zealand protects its prosperity, security, and democracy after a decade of neglect. To this end, we have committed to a $1 billion foreign affairs package composed of $150 million of additional operational spending over four years, which will bring 50 new full-time positions and diplomats, amongst other objectives; second, $40 million of additional capital spending to boost New Zealand's overseas offices; and, third, $714 million in additional funding for New Zealand's Overseas Development Assistance—
Hon Maggie Barry: What about funding Te Reo?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —directed primarily towards the Pacific region. And if that member wants to talk about Te Reo, I was in the party that first funded Te Reo, and she wouldn't know that because she's only been here for five minutes.
Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: Why are the announcements in foreign affairs and trade in Budget 2018 necessary for protecting New Zealanders' safety and prosperity?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That is a seriously responsible question. The prosperity and safety of New Zealanders rest on the ability of this country to protect and advance its interests offshore, and that includes trade. Trade has been declining as a percentage of GDP, despite the previous Government's pledge to increase it. We announced yesterday changes which will see us facing an increasingly difficult world, with security challenges, sovereignty, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, myrtle rust, cyber-crime, domestic affairs interference from other countries, transnational crime, and humanitarian crises. The rules-based international system is struggling to adapt, and we're going to step up and do our job for the first time for a long time.
Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: Has the Minister seen any other reports on overseas development assistance budget increases?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Perchance I have. Following directly on from our speech last night, the Australian Government announced its largest ever aid commitment to the Pacific, of $1.3 billion. This reflects a shared commitment to assist our closest neighbours and advance our common interests together in the Pacific region. It follows on from an agreement we entered into when we spoke at the Lowy Institute in March in Sydney, and I'm delighted that my Australian colleague has stepped up as well to arrest a decline in their funding. I'd also like to acknowledge our close partners, including the United Kingdom, the EU, France, and Japan. Three new high commissions are starting for the UK in the Pacific very shortly, and alongside that a greater commitment from the EU in terms of wanting to work with us and also a re-engagement with France. It's all great progress. Thank you.
Hon Todd McClay: What explanation can he give to hard-working New Zealand taxpayers of why an embassy in Stockholm is more important than universally cheaper GP visits, free dental care for seniors—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That's two questions.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Because my fellow citizens in this country are enlightened human beings and understand international policy, and foreign affairs in particular, better than the Opposition, I don't have to explain that; they understand the necessity of that. In the last poll there ever was done, 72 percent of New Zealanders said they supported that, as did Australia last week, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, where a majority of Australians also said that they should step up and assist in overseas aid.
• Question No. 3—Finance
3. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: What is the current difference in average full-time after-tax wages between New Zealand and Australia?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): According to advice that I have received, the current full-time after-tax annual wage in Australia converted to New Zealand dollars is $70,478, compared with $50,957 in New Zealand, a difference of $19,521.
Hon Amy Adams: Is this after-tax wage gap going to get larger or smaller as a result of his decision to take away a thousand dollars per year of tax reductions from New Zealanders on the average wage, and Australia's decision last night to give workers a $500-a-year tax cut?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The details of the Australian tax package are to roll out over a number of years, so the impact will vary both in terms of time and on individuals. Clearly, this Government rejected the previous Government's tax package, so therefore there will be an impact in terms of the after-tax annual average wage, but I hasten to add, for the member, that for many families and individuals in New Zealand they will be significantly better off as a result of our targeted families package.
Hon Amy Adams: Given that, since the end of 2008, take-home pay in New Zealand has grown twice as fast as in Australia, is he worried that all the work that has gone into making New Zealand more attractive than our neighbours for skilled workers is going to be eroded over the coming years?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Far from it, because in New Zealand today the tax as a portion of gross income will be 18.9 percent, and after the changes made last night by the Australian Government, it'll be 22 percent. So, actually, in New Zealand the impact of tax is, in fact, smaller in New Zealand on gross income.
Hon Amy Adams: Is he at all concerned that New Zealanders will simply vote with their feet and that, having turned around the exodus of New Zealanders heading to Australia from 35,000 a year in 2008 to actually now a small gain, the outward migration to Australia will now increase as a result of their growing after-tax wage advantage?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No, I do not believe that will occur, because this Government has a plan to grow sustainable jobs and lift wages. Unlike the National Party Opposition, we actually believe that the reward for workers is higher wages. That is actually how people get rewarded, rather than tax cuts.
Hon Amy Adams: Why would skilled young New Zealanders choose to stay here if the after-tax wage gap starts to grow and they face a Government in New Zealand that's actively slowing down the local economy by ending our oil and gas sector, large-scale cow culls, discouraging foreign investment, and restrictive industrial relations laws?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I reject almost everything in that question from the member. We actually have a plan for New Zealand's economy to be more productive, more sustainable, and more inclusive. I think New Zealanders want to live in a country that's fair and where they get a chance to achieve their potential—that's the plan of this Government.
• Question No. 4—Transport
4. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany) to the Minister of Transport: Does he stand by all his statements and actions on fuel taxes?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): Yes, when described and reported accurately.
Jami-Lee Ross: Will he support the calls from councils located in the Wellington, Canterbury, Bay of Plenty, and Waikato regions to have regional fuel taxes in place, when he only ever said it would be required in Auckland?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I've made it very clear publicly and to the councils in question that the Government's intention, as demonstrated in the bill that is currently before the Parliament, the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill, that only Auckland Council will have the opportunity to put in place a regional fuel tax during this parliamentary term.
Jami-Lee Ross: Will he campaign for the next 2½ years for councils located within the Wellington, Canterbury, Bay of Plenty, and Waikato regions to tax their hard-working taxpayers more to have regional fuel taxes in place?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The member will learn the issues that we'll be campaigning on in the next election a little closer to the time.
Jami-Lee Ross: Was he embarrassed when his officials told him that the total number of submissions in favour of his regional fuel tax legislation is 8 percent?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No, because I believe that Aucklanders understand that under this Government they are going to see action on fixing the gridlock that plagues our country's biggest city and costs it $1.3 billion every year in lost productivity. Aucklanders want action, and as the New Zealand Herald said last week, let's just do it.
Marja Lubeck: Supplementary?
Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 5—oh, sorry. Marja Lubeck—supplementary.
Marja Lubeck: Will the proposed Auckland regional fuel tax be spent on the light rail network?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I thank the member for that question. I'm pleased to confirm that not one cent raised by Auckland Council's regional fuel tax will be spent on the light rail network. In fact, today the Government launched a market-sounding and procurement process for the light rail project that will be funded from the city's share of the National Land Transport Fund and, in all likelihood, innovative funding from other investors. It is another great day under this Government for growth and prosperity in Auckland.
• Question No. 5—Finance
5. KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: What were the operating and capital allowances in the Budget Policy Statement 2018 and how do these compare with previous periods?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): In the Budget Policy Statement that this Government released in December last year, we allocated for 2018-19 $2.6 billion of new operating allowances and $3.4 billion of capital allowances. This compares to the pre-election fiscal update, which had $1.8 billion in new operating allowances for 2018-19 and $2 billion on capital. Final allowances for Budget 2018 will be outlined next Thursday.
Kiritapu Allan: What priorities has this Government signalled for these increased spending allowances?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: We have made rebuilding our critical public services, lifting children out of poverty, strengthening economic development in our regions, and better managing our natural resources as top priorities. Every New Zealander knows a story of how the services and infrastructure that we rely on have been run down in recent years. Just today, a group of health professionals delivered the stories of thousands of New Zealanders to us, which outlined the pressure that an underfunded health system has put on them. This is why we need these increased spending allowances.
Kiritapu Allan: What impact would lower allowances have on public services?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Lower allowances would mean less funding for our critical public services, resulting in poorer quality services for New Zealanders. We can see examples of this in the current state of our health system, with leaky hospitals and overstretched staff, and in our education system, with more and more students enrolling but fewer teachers training. Anyone advocating for lower allowances would have to tell the New Zealand public what public services they would cut.
• Question No. 6—Housing and Urban Development
6. SIMON O'CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: Does he agree that nobody should be sleeping in cars this winter?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Yes.
Simon O'Connor: When he accepted, on The AM Show on Friday, "there are indications that, in fact, homelessness is getting worse before it will get better" under this Government, how much worse will it have to be before he increases funding to at least the level that the previous National Government funded?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: It's true that the housing crisis that we inherited, and a masked level of hidden homelessness that's come to the fore in recent months, indicates that, in fact, homelessness may well get better before it gets worse.
Hon Judith Collins: What?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I want to respond—sorry, "get worse before it gets better". I do want to respond to the member's assertion that the former Government—
Hon Todd McClay: Are you going to get better before you get worse?
Mr SPEAKER: Mr McClay.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: —actually put more money into dealing with homelessness than this Government. The member should realise that, actually, we have continued to fund the emergency and transitional housing that his Government promised but failed to properly fund, and the $100 million that the Prime Minister announced only last week will properly fund the emergency and transitional housing that wasn't funded fully by his Government. On top of that, we have been putting in place 1,500 extra housing places since last winter, on top of what that Government provided.
Simon O'Connor: When he said that the previous Government was "spending $140,000 a day putting people in motels."—that "this is not housing policy; that's an admission of failure."—was the Minister wrong then, or is he now admitting that by funding motels he has failed by his own standard?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: By rolling out more emergency and transitional housing in the last six months, we have cut in half the daily spend on motels that that Government was undertaking only a year ago.
Simon O'Connor: Will his housing for winter 2018 programme be of any use to people in winter if his plan is not to be completed until spring?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: We ramped up the building of State houses. We stopped that Government's sell-off of State houses. We've added more than 500 additional emergency and transitional housing places since we came to office. We started building extra houses. We're not going to stop until demand is met and homelessness is ended.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister as to whether or not, after nine years, if he were to be the Minister of Housing for that period and the crisis was still the one he inherited, would he not regard himself as a "miserable blue failure"?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Yes, I say to the member that I certainly would. To take nine years and deny there's a housing crisis, to hardly lift a finger to address the social and economic disaster—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister may well be responsible for his own condition, and may well want to explain that he would, in certain circumstances—although I can't think what would be worse than now—describe himself as a miserable failure, but he has no ministerial responsibility or accountability to the House for his personal failings in that regard.
Mr SPEAKER: The question was a hypothetical one and—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: It shouldn't have been asked.
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Brownlee: the member knows that hypothetical questions and matters of opinion have been allowed in this House for some time—most of that member's career. So the question was in order. I will also say to him that he is sailing very close to the wind using the point of order process in the way that he did, to make inappropriate references to a member. It's a very tight process and should not be used in that way. Shall we move on to the next question? It might be the best thing to do, I think.
• Question No. 7—Social Development
7. Hon LOUISE UPSTON (National—Taupō) to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by all her policies and actions in the social development portfolio?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Absolutely.
Hon Louise Upston: Is it still the Government's policy that if someone is found to have dishonestly claimed a benefit, they are responsible for paying back the fraud debt no matter what the circumstances?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Yes.
Hon Louise Upston: Has she, or anyone in her office, instructed officials or anyone in Work and Income to soften the Government's approach to dealing with benefit fraud?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: No.
Hon Louise Upston: How many people will be investigated for benefit fraud and other dishonest entitlements in the crackdown on gangs promoted by the Minister of Police?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: I don't have that information on me. But what I will say is that the previous Government should have had more of a focus on the number of New Zealanders who were not getting access to what they're entitled to, and then, perhaps, they would have more effectively addressed the issues of poverty that we face as a country.
Hon Louise Upston: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a straight question around benefit fraud and the crackdown on gangs, and the Minister didn't address the question.
Mr SPEAKER: And if the member had something that had reference to gangs and crackdowns of that sort in her primary question, then I think it might have been more reasonable to expect the Minister to come with the required numbers. When a member asks a very non-specific primary question, she should not expect any detail in her supplementaries.
Jamie Strange: Does the Minister stand by her statement, "we as a State have to give people what they are entitled to, and so that is where our obligation lies."?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Yes I do. And I'm really concerned at some of the assertions that have been made by the other side of the House with respect to concerns that we would be doing that, given that we have a legal obligation as a State to give people what they are entitled to through the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). It is not just an ethical concern, although we are ethical on this side of the House and want to make sure people get what they deserve to get access to. What the other side of the House fails to realise is that when you don't give people what they are entitled to through MSD, then the cost is shifted to other areas like health, like education, and like justice. It's important that we give people what they're entitled—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Order! Too long.
Hon Louise Upston: How many more convictions for benefit fraud is she expecting following the crackdown on gangs by the Minister of Police?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Such a deficit approach from the other side of the House—such a focus on the negative. Instead of maximising the potential of the New Zealanders that come for support through MSD, they want to focus on litigation against New Zealanders. It's a hypothetical question, and I'm not going to respond to it.
• Question No. 8—Social Development
8. ANGIE WARREN-CLARK (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made about funding for family violence services?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Today, the Government announced a $76 million boost over four years to front-line family violence services—the first significant increase in 10 years. This is an almost 30 percent increase in funding, and is critical to the Government's efforts to begin to turn around New Zealand's tragic record of family violence. We know that many people who experience family violence can find themselves suffering alone. We've taken the step to increase funding in order to make more support available to these families and provide a safe space for people who are desperately seeking support.
Angie Warren-Clark: What impact will this have on family violence service providers?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: The majority of this funding will go towards addressing demand at the front line. This means that around 150 existing Ministry of Social Development family violence service providers will be provided with extra funding in this Budget. These are the people who see and work with challenging and complex needs—often in crisis situations, every day responding to family violence. We know this is a long-term issue, but this is a step we can take now to try and stem the significant increase in demand for these services while we work to get these numbers down.
Angie Warren-Clark: Why is this funding important?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: For so many reasons. Family violence has a damaging yet often hidden impact on victims. Between 2009 and 2015, there were 194 family violence deaths in New Zealand—an average of 28 family violence deaths per year. As the Prime Minister also said this morning at the Salvation Army breakfast, we're also cognisant that if we are going to prioritise children as a Government, then part of that means making sure they are in safe households that are free from violence. In this country, there are too many people—many women and children—living behind doors, filled with fear and pain. This is simply unacceptable, and this Government will do better by them.
Hon Louise Upston: Since the Minister is pleased to provide funding in addition to the $169 million from 2016, how will she measure the impact of this new funding?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Mr Speaker, can she repeat the question?
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I think it would be good to repeat, because I didn't quite understand myself.
Hon Louise Upston: If the Minister was pleased to provide additional funding, in addition to that $169 million in Budget 2016, how will she measure the impact of this new funding?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: I don't know what the $169 million additional funding that the member's talking about is. In fact, today, the Women's Refuge put out a release in response to our announcement saying that their baseline funding had remained static for the last nine years, and that they are immensely relieved that this Government is financially committing to addressing the chronic underfunding of the critical services to vulnerable women and children.
• Question No. 9—Biosecurity
9. Hon NATHAN GUY (National—Ōtaki) to the Minister for Biosecurity: Does he stand by all his statements and actions in relation to Mycoplasma bovis?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Minister for Biosecurity): Yes.
Lawrence Yule: What does he say to the White family in Patoka, Hawke's Bay, who've had 900 cattle killed and are still waiting for compensation, and, as a result, they can't afford to buy their children's rugby boots or replace their washing machine?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Ask Nathan Guy.
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I have sympathy for every farmer who's in any way affected by this Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. Can I say that, by the end of today, 80 percent of all claims made to the Ministry for Primary Industries will be paid out. I can also say that if his colleague Mr Guy had moved more quickly when we first discovered Mycoplasma bovis, this wouldn't be happening.
Hon Nathan Guy: Why doesn't he direct his officials to provide a letter of intent to banks notifying them that compensation is on the way to stop them pressuring nearly bankrupt farmers who are still waiting for terribly slow compensation payments?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Can I repeat for that member: by the end of today, 80 percent of all claims made will be paid out. This is not a simple process. Can I take, for example, one claim, where the number of animals in the yard, the number of animals put on to the truck, and then the number of animals killed at the stock works were completely different. There's a lot of confusing information that has to be sorted through to ensure that the right payment goes to the farmers. In regards to the banks, the banks understand the situation. Wherever there has been a request for further information regarding compensation payments, we have delivered.
• Question No. 10—Police
10. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Police: From what date will he start to count the extra 1,800 sworn police officers that he says he is striving towards hiring?
Hon STUART NASH (Minister of Police): From the date this Government took office.
Chris Bishop: To the Minister, can he confirm then that he'll be including the extra 880 sworn police funded through Budget 2017 as part of his extra 1,800 sworn police?
Hon STUART NASH: Mr Bishop, I'll take your 880 and I'll up them 920, which equals 1,800, which is 1,800 more than your Government delivered over seven years.
Chris Bishop: How many of the extra 1,800 sworn police officers will be able to respond to family violence call outs?
Hon STUART NASH: That is a very good point, Mr Bishop. And it's one of the reasons why, of the 1,800, we're putting around about 1,100 into the front-line community positions, because we recognise that family harm and family violence is the scourge of our communities and we really want to deal with it. We think that a really good way to deal with it is to have police officers located in our communities. But having said that, all 1,800 work in the front line. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do want to remind the Leader of the Opposition that my mike is open and when he refers to members inappropriately in the second person, everyone hears it. I didn't stop him in any of the four times that he did it during that answer, but I will ask him just to take some care.
• Question No. 11—Health
11. Dr PARMJEET PARMAR (National) to the Minister of Health: Does he support the enrolment of newborns with GPs before they are 6 weeks old?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): I want parents to have a simple process to ensure newborns get the care they need, including a GP practice, a Well Child provider, being on the immunisation register, and a dental programme.
Dr Parmjeet Parmar: Can he then ensure that he will not vote against my bill, the Newborn Enrolment with General Practice Bill, and then, in order to get political mileage, steal the concept of my bill and use it as part of a Government bill?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Legislation is not the answer. If it was, I'm sure the previous Government would've acted on it.
• Question No. 12—Māori Development
12. NUK KORAKO (National) to the Minister for Māori Development: What recent reports has she seen from the Māori Language Commission on the importance of expanding te reo Māori?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Minister for Māori Development):
[Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
All New Zealand will resonate with our indigenous language.
[Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
Hon Kelvin Davis: Anō?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: Āe.
[Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
Rino Tirikatene: What work has been done on the development of the Maihi Karauna, the Crown's Māori language strategy?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: Te Māngai Pāho, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, Māori Television, and Te Puni Kōkiri have worked very hard to complete the Maihi Karauna strategy, which was actually mandated by the previous Government, to guide the work of this Government as we seek to ensure that Reo revitalisation is something that all New Zealanders will benefit from.
Nuk Korako: Pātai anō.
Mr SPEAKER: No, no, the time for oral questions has concluded. There are no supplementaries left to the member.