Parliament: Questions and Answers - April 2
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Question No. 1—Research, Science, and Innovation
1. JO LUXTON (Labour) to the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation: Will the Government's research and development tax incentive, which will apply from 1 April 2019, help boost R & D in New Zealand?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Research, Science and Innovation): Yes, the R & D tax incentive will help a wide range of New Zealand businesses to boost their investment in innovation—
SPEAKER: The question's answered.
Jo Luxton: How can businesses check whether they're eligible to receive the R & D tax incentive?
SPEAKER: Order! That doesn't flow from the question or the answer.
Jo Luxton: What feedback has she heard from business on how the Government's work on the R & D tax incentive will help them?
SPEAKER: No, that doesn't flow from the question or the answer.
Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Will that very, very narrow interpretation of what supplementary questions flow from the answer apply to all 12 questions today?
SPEAKER: I think the member will find that most of the rest of the questions are well enough drafted to have slightly more than a yes or no answer to finish them and, therefore, no available supplementaries.
• Question No. 2—Prime Minister
2. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government's statements, policies, and actions?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Acting Prime Minister): In their context, yes.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is Sir Michael Cullen's pay of $84,000 by the Government for his work to 6 March on a capital gains tax good value for money?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, first of all, Dr Cullen is being paid in the same way that the criteria was laid out by the National Party when they were in Government, and in that context, given the difficulty of the subject matter and also the composition of that committee of highly trained experts, that's what we'd expect the cost to be.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does he agree with the Hon Willie Jackson who said recently in this House that at a $1,000 a day, Sir Michael is "doing us a favour", because it's peanuts?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, compared to what some other people get, yes it is. Anyone who was a serious lawyer would know what I'm talking about—but of course, you had to be a serious lawyer with his own business.
Hon Simon Bridges: Should Sir Michael in fact have been paid more, as Willie Jackson has suggested: "He's undercharged himself. There's no doubt about that."?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Could I just say that Dr Cullen has a serious record of being a fine public servant and that's why the National Party put him in so many jobs.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does the Prime Minister agree he should be paid more than $84,000 for four months' work?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, to be honest with that member, the reality is that Cabinet left it to the appropriate Minister and he set the rate that the National Party had set in its criteria—no different to what they paid similar people in similar circumstances. So why all of a sudden Mr Cullen is being picked out, despite his frequent appointments by the National Party, is beyond me.
Hon Simon Bridges: Was any of Sir Michael's pay for deep contemplation or is it only the current, not the former Deputy Prime Minister—
SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I can answer that one.
SPEAKER: No, you can't.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does he agree with Willie Jackson that, "We need a capital gains tax because we need a more fairer, a more equitable society."?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I say that the Government has received the Cullen report. We are in deep contemplation of that. We'll be soon announcing—[Interruption]. We'll be shortly announcing our conclusion and can I say that in that state of deep contemplation we can still beat them any day of the week.
Hon Simon Bridges: Can the Prime Minister elaborate for me what his deep contemplation looks like?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It looks like us over here and him over there.
Hon Simon Bridges: By that, does he mean asleep on the job?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I just say that we decided that the endangerment of New Zealand's embassies—
Hon Simon Bridges: Wake up and smell the coffee, Winston.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —and high commissions offshore and our people in their thousands around the world—
SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. Sorry. I think the member knows that's an inappropriate interjection. He's had his warning for the day.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The reality is we went to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to ensure that they understood the true facts about the circumstances at Christchurch. Can I say that unless you were there and saw the reaction—and I have a colleague who was there—they will never know how successful that trip was.
Hon Simon Bridges: How did he set the record straight when yet an hour afterwards, the video of the massacre was being played?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I just say that if it's an hour afterwards, then the President of Turkey was still at the conference. More importantly, before we even left, we had the ambassador for Turkey in to make it every clear how we viewed the repetition of that tape. Now, those are the facts, and you can have all the fake news imitation you like, but that's what we did—
SPEAKER: Order! Order!
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —and I feel—and my country, hopefully, feels—better for it.
Hon Simon Bridges: Will Māori land recovered under the Treaty of Waitangi settlements be exempted under the Government's proposed capital gains tax, as Meka Whaitiri has suggested recently to the Gisborne Herald?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I just say that this attempt to provide an ethnic and racist view on a very serious study is bound to fail.
SPEAKER: Order! The member will withdraw and apologise. He cannot suggest that that member is racist.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I withdraw and apologise. Could I just say that any suggestion of the nature that he is putting out there to try and put a wedge between the people of this country based on race is bound to fail. We will ensure that this is a comprehensive law [Interruption] I beg your pardon?
Hon Member: It's a legitimate question.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: How would you know it's legitimate, given your background? With the greatest respect—
SPEAKER: Order! And the member has a name, and it's not "you", because "you" is me, all right? No; further supplementary. We've had enough.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is the Government considering introducing a capital gains tax that exempts Māori from the capital gains tax?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I say that the report will be decided upon shortly, and an announcement will be made, no doubt, by the Minister of Finance. I can say that it was the National Party who dropped the Māori corporate entity tax rate down to 17 percent—National did that.
Hon Simon Bridges: Can I take from that he disagrees with what Meka Whaitiri told the Gisborne Herald?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I just say that in a coalition where the bountiful nature of our ideas requires serious discussion, a lot of members will say a lot of things, but in the end, what we announce officially will be the Government's policy, and it'll be, sooner rather than later, before that member.
Hon Simon Bridges: On that, is it Cabinet's position—or is it his position—that the response by the Government to the Tax Working Group report will still be delivered, quote, "in early April"?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: As I recall, the Minister of Finance made it very clear it would be in April of 2019, and we're in the second day of that month. So it was no time line set on the first week, second week, or third or fourth week, for that matter, but April was the time given, and if he's patient, as we have been whilst we go around the country and talk to businesses and farmers and workers around New Zealand, then he will have his answer very shortly.
Hon Simon Bridges: Stuart Nash, the Minister of Revenue, said at a conference in Queenstown recently that it would be in early April. Will the Prime Minister confirm that, or is there a slightly different time line?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The reality is that certain things have happened in this country in the last 2½weeks—
Hon Paula Bennett: Just answer the question.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —I am answering the question—which have required serious attention, not only in our forward planning with respect of our diary. That being the case, there'll be an answer from this Government on the Tax Working Group's report in April this year.
• Question No. 3—Finance
3. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement in February 2018, "growth is expected to continue to travel along on average at about 3 percent over the next four years", and has he revised his view in light of annual GDP growth to December 2018 of 2.3 percent?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): In answer to the first part of the question, yes, that is what Treasury and independent economists were forecasting at the time for growth in the year to June of each of those four years. In answer to the second part of the question, I would highlight for the member that Statistics New Zealand has reported annual average GDP growth for the 2018 year was 2.8 percent or, as some might say, "about 3 percent".
Hon Amy Adams: Has his view been impacted by today's Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion from New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, which points to a further softening in annual economic growth to below 2 percent in the first quarter of this year?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I note in the last quarterly survey they were projecting, for the numbers that the member wants to refer to—the December to December quarter—2 percent, and that ended up being 2.3 percent. So we'll see whether or not they end up being accurate.
Hon Amy Adams: When reflecting on economic growth, how does he reconcile his statement that the Government "knows that growing the economy requires more than just an increasing population" with New Zealand having had zero economic growth per person over the last six months?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I do note that in the last quarter it did go up, and I do note that it's forecast GDP per capita to be 1.1 percent. We'll see where that gets when the forecasts are finalised.
Hon Amy Adams: Well, what does it say about this Government's economic management that despite an already record low official cash rate, the Reserve Bank is now indicating further rate cuts are likely to be needed to stimulate the weakening economy.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: If the member took the time to read the statement from Adrian Orr, the very first thing he talked about was global volatility and the decline in growth in a number of our trading partners. New Zealand is not immune from what happens in the rest of the world, but the good news is that the fundamentals of the economy are strong, the books are in surplus, unemployment is low, and this is an economy that will be able to withstand global headwinds—but we will not be unaffected by them.
Hon Amy Adams: Well, given that he wants to blame global conditions, has he seen that ANZ have recently concluded that while international headwinds remain just risks, a domestic slow-down is concrete.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I would note that the New Zealand economy began slowing down at the beginning of 2017, when the party opposite was in place. I would also note that for the GDP numbers for the December 2018 quarter, New Zealand had 0.6 percent growth compared to Australia with 0.2 percent, Canada with 0.1 percent, the Euro area with 0.2 percent, Japan with 0.5 percent, and an OECD average of 0.3 percent. The economy continues to do well in the face of global headwinds.
Hon Amy Adams: Well, when considering the Tax Working Group's recommended capital gains tax, will he take on board comments from Harbour Asset Management, who have noted that a capital gains tax would lower investment, lower productivity, lower employment, and lower economic growth?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: We consider all of the views that are coming forward around the question of the Tax Working Group, and, as the Prime Minister has said, we are considering that report and our response will be coming forthwith.
• Question No. 1 to Minister
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to raise an issue with regard to your ruling on the first question. You ruled that because the question was a yes/no primary question, that limited the further supplementaries that could be asked. The question as lodged was changed by your office to remove the word "how" from it. If you are going to change members' questions to narrow them to only a yes/no question and then restrict the supplementaries that can be followed up, that is going to inhibit members on both sides of the House—
SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. First of all, there's a question of timeliness. The second is that I don't change questions; members agreed to them as changed. Your office agreed to them.
• Question No. 4—Social Development
4. PRIYANCA RADHAKRISHNAN (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What are the changes to superannuation and veteran's pension rates as of 1 April 2019?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): On 1 April 2019, net superannuation and veterans pension rates went up 2.6 percent. The annual net rate for a couple receiving superannuation increased to $32,892.08. When taking into account last year's increases, the annual net rate of superannuation has increased $1,676.48 since we came into Government. This increase comes as a direct result of growing wages, including changes to the minimum wage. When there is wage growth in New Zealand, everyone benefits, including the 780,000 senior—
SPEAKER: All right. Order! The member has more than answered the question.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan: What will this mean for people receiving superannuation and the veterans pension?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: In dollar terms, this means an eligible retired couple both receiving superannuation or the veterans pension will receive an extra $15.82 per week in the hand. This increase exceeds the 2.1 percent increase in prices experienced by superannuitant households between December 2017 and December 2018, reported by Statistics New Zealand. We hope that a little bit extra in the pocket will help superannuitants towards meeting the costs of living and continuing to lead fulfilling lives as older citizens.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan: Why is this important?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: As at the end of March 2018, there were 780,000 people receiving superannuation or veterans pensions. We also know that New Zealanders are living longer. The New Zealand population aged 65 and over is expected to reach over one million in the next 10 years. This represents the largest cohort of people receiving income support from the Government. We want to ensure that they are supported to age positively and continue leading fulfilling lives.
• Question No. 5—Housing and Urban Development
5. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: How many unsold KiwiBuild houses have been bought by the Crown as part of the underwrite and in what developments have these purchases occurred?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): I am advised that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has purchased five homes at Northlake, in accordance with the terms of the contract.
Hon Judith Collins: Will KiwiBuild pay any real estate marketing costs of selling KiwiBuild houses that have been purchased by the Crown as part of the underwrite and later sold to eligible buyers?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: KiwiBuild will pay the marketing costs when it's selling homes that are owned by the Government. At Northlake, there are five homes that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has purchased, and six out of the 10 homes built in the first tranche have sold.
Hon Judith Collins: Who will pay for the upkeep and maintenance costs while houses purchased by the Crown sit unsold?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The owner will pay the upkeep and maintenance costs, but the fact that these homes are temporarily in the ownership of the Government while they're on sale and being marketed to KiwiBuild buyers is not a matter for concern. This programme is about sharing the pre-sales risks with developers to ensure that more affordable homes are built, and that is what's happened.
Hon Judith Collins: Is it correct that he has approved binding contracts for more than 200 KiwiBuild houses to be built in Wanaka even when only five of the current houses have sold?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, six of the current houses have sold. They've only been completed in the last few weeks, and it's true to say that the Queenstown-Lakes District has the most expensive housing in New Zealand. Lower-quartile house prices in the district are at $825,000. On average, the KiwiBuild homes in that development are selling in the low $500,000s. Interest.co.nz's housing affordability report puts mortgage payments in that district at 57 percent of income for first-home buyers.
Hon Judith Collins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question is: has he approved binding contracts for more than 200 KiwiBuild houses to be built in Wanaka? I don't think he's addressed that question.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Yes, I have: over the next three years.
Hon Judith Collins: How will costs associated with purchasing KiwiBuild houses impact the Government's ability to recycle revenue and build 100,000 houses over 10 years?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The point of the underwrite is that we're sharing the pre-sales risk with developers. Those funds, as in the six homes that have sold at the Northlake development in Wanaka—that money is then recycled back into the programme and more homes are built. As was shown in the business case for the buying off the plans scheme, the projected net cost is zero, because the funds are recycled.
Hon Judith Collins: How can the developer be sharing any of the downside on this when, actually, it's the Crown and KiwiBuild that are going to have to pick up all the costs of any losses?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, there are a number of risks that developers face in building homes. The point of this programme is to share the pre-sales risk. Fewer than five percent of new builds over the last decade have been in the affordable price range. This is about incentivising developers to build affordable homes, and it's working.
• Question No. 6—Transport
6. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Transport: What progress has been made on delivering the Auckland Transport Alignment Project?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): I'm advised that excellent progress has been made implementing the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP). The $28 billion investment plan—agreed with Auckland Council—is the largest 10-year transport programme in the city's history. I'm advised that project includes 15 new electric train carriages ordered, with the first units expected this year; construction has commenced on the Panmure to Pakuranga busway; the Northern Busway extension has been contracted; Crown Infrastructure Partners have unlocked 9,000 new houses at Milldale through a $90 million infrastructure partnership; the business case for the eastern airport access and design work is under way; planning for a new greenfield development that will account for more than 30 percent of Auckland's growth is progressing on the basis of transport connections included in ATAP; widening of the Southern Motorway is under way; the consultation on Mill Road has been completed, and Auckland Transport (AT) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) are considering proposals as we speak; and the business case for Penlink has been completed and is now with Auckland Transport.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: What's his response to Shane Ellison, CEO of Auckland Transport, who has written to NZTA outlining concerns that five critical ATAP projects are being held up because "business cases and funding requests are not being approved in a timely way."?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Our Government wants to see transport projects rolled out as quickly as possible, and I'm aware of the longstanding concerns that local government have about the time it takes for transport projects to come to fruition. I've instructed the board of NZTA that the agency should work closely with local and regional councils, including Auckland Transport, to clear away any obstacles to rolling out our transport programme.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: What are the five critical projects that Mr Ellison is concerned about?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: You'll have to ask Mr Ellison that.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is he telling the House that the CEO of AT has written saying that five critical transport projects in Auckland are being held up because of his key Government agency, and he's not across it to the extent that he knows what those five are?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: So for the member's information the five are, according to the letter from Auckland Transport: the Wellesley Street bus improvements, the Papakura to Pukekohe electrification, the Matiātia landside transport networks strategic case, the Puhinui Interchange and the Huapai road upgrade.
Jami-Lee Ross: What progress has been made on a Botany to Manukau busway—
Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He seemed to be quoting from an official document, I would ask—
SPEAKER: No, he was quoting from a letter, the member knew that [Interruption]. The member asked him to quote from the letter and he did. It is not an official document.
Jami-Lee Ross: What progress has been made on a Botany to Manukau busway since I last questioned him on this transport project in February this year?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Early scoping work is under way for the airport to Manukau, Puhinui, and further up into east Auckland—the rapid transit connection. That part of Auckland is perhaps the worst served for public transport services of any other part of the city, and the early planning on that suggests that a rapid transit connection—likely to be bus rapid transit, with a possibility of upgrading to rail—would connect the airport with Manukau, the Puhinui station on the heavy rail line, and further up to Flat Bush and up to Howick.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is Shane Ellison correct to assume that the ATAP will struggle to receive 50 percent funding from NZTA due to the National Land Transport Fund being oversubscribed, and therefore there is likely to be a funding shortfall for ATAP projects?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No, in that respect, Mr Ellison is not correct. Our Government's putting more money into the National Land Transport Programme in this three-year period than has ever happened before. I want to quote Shane Ellison, who said also that "The good news is, for the first time we've got alignment on a whole lot of programmes and work, [and] now we're trying to crack on with delivery,".
• Question No. 7—Forestry
7. CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First) to the Minister of Forestry: What recent announcements has he made regarding the One Billion Trees Programme?
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister of Forestry): Recently, along with Minister Shaw, I announced that the one billion trees programme remains a grand slam success. In addition to the historical figures, as a consequence of improvements to the emissions trading scheme (ETS), otherwise known as averaging, a colossal, additional 89 million trees will be planted. This will have the positive impact of reducing our carbon liability by $1.3 billion.
Clayton Mitchell: How do these ETS changes incentivise tree planting?
Hon SHANE JONES: These improvements incentivise tree planting by stripping red tape—something that has afflicted the ETS system and the forestry sector as it grew, like Topsy, like Turvy, over the last nine years. The averaging simplifies the ability of people to invest in forestry and capture with certainty the carbon up side. It also enables people to identify, with greater ease, land that ought to be moved from current land use patterns into forestry. All up, a substantial improvement on the last nine years.
Clayton Mitchell: What other announcements have been made recently regarding the one billion trees programme?
Hon SHANE JONES: Recently an announcement was made along with the Minister of Corrections that our rhetoric is taking the form of employment reality. The nephs are definitely coming off the couch, and those that are incarcerated are being prepared to work, go and plant trees, and ensure that the devil does not put designs that make idle hands create community mayhem—New Zealand First policy.
SPEAKER: Before we move to the next question, I think I should probably inform a number of members, including the Hon Mr O'Connor, the Hon Mr Goldsmith, and the Hon Mr Bennett, that my hearing is now aided, so I've been able to hear a number of your interjections that I might not have been able to previously, and I would recommend that you don't do it again.
• Question No. 8—Education
8. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Education: Does he stand by all his statements and actions around the Reform of Vocational Education?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Yes.
Dr Shane Reti: When he said on TV ONE news last night that industry training organisation (ITO) concerns were "scaremongering" and "making it up", were similar concerns in the New Zealand Herald also scaremongering and making it up in the 7 March editorial, titled "Hipkins needs to rethink his tertiary shake-up"?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The comments that I was referring to, among many, were things such as that the Government was proposing to take training out of the hands of industry, abolish ITOs, rationalise the polytechs into one mega institute and give that institute the power over all industry training, take industry training away from industry itself and give it to a centralised Government appointed body with no relationship with industry. All of those statements are simply wrong. They are wrong in fact. They are not in the proposals and they do not reflect what is in the proposals.
Dr Shane Reti: How will there be more tradespeople in apprenticeships under these reforms when electricians employing seven apprentices in Wanaka, four apprentices in Nelson, six apprentices in Invercargill, and 200 apprentices in Dunedin all say they are unlikely to take on apprentices under these reforms?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Well, one of the challenges, of course, is that we have had a significant drop in the number of people engaged in industry training—40,000 fewer people in industry training during the term of the last National Government. One of the concerns, of course, that we've got is that currently only around 15 percent of employers are actually engaged in industry training and there is a very weak link, if any link, between some of the training that's delivered off the job, through the polytech sector, and the skills that employers are requiring on the job. These are all well-known problems that have been decades in the making, that have never properly been addressed, and that industry training organisations have been arguing, for quite some time, need to be addressed. This Government is addressing them.
Hon Tracey Martin: Can he confirm that the reform of vocational education is still a discussion document, hence why people are discussing it, and that he has also been having intense conversations with ITOs, with business, to make sure that when we do make final decisions, they are going to be the right ones?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, I can confirm that they are currently proposals, although I can't confirm that consultation is happening with every ITO because one of the ITOs that's most loud in its criticism of the short consultation period is refusing to engage in the consultation at all.
Dr Shane Reti: How will there be more tradespeople in apprenticeships under these reforms when an industry employer writes, "If the Government pushes through with this change, I will seriously assess whether I continue training electrical apprentices. In all likelihood, I will probably hire labourers, which is a bad outcome for all of us"?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I understand that employer's concern, because the information they've been given about what the proposals are is factually incorrect.
Dr Shane Reti: What is required for the Minister to delay the 1 January transfer of industry training to polytechnics, given written questions confirm industry is currently training 46,000 apprentices, and polytechnics are only training 1,265?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I'd encourage the member to have a thorough read of the consultation document so he understands what the proposals actually are. We're proposing to give industry and employers more say over the skills that are provided through off-the-job training and on-the-job training, which is something that the industry training sector have been arguing for for quite some time. What we're also proposing to do is effectively create a one-stop shop for employers around their training needs, so they don't have to deal with multiple different ITOs and multiple different training providers. They can actually get a much more seamless training system in place, something that employers have been asking for for quite some. The fact that they haven't had it is probably one of the reasons why only 15 percent of them are currently engaged in any form of formalised industry training.
• Question No. 9—Energy and Resources
9. JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she stand by her statement made to the BusinessNZ Energy Council breakfast in February that the Government has set the ambitious goal for our country of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Energy and Resources): I stand by my full statement to the BusinessNZ Energy Council breakfast in February that we've set ambitious goals for our country: 100 percent renewables in a normal hydrological year, and a clean, green carbon neutral economy by 2050.
Jonathan Young: Does she agree with Mercury chief executive Fraser Whineray, who, when asked if getting beyond 95 percent renewable electricity was a problem, replied, "Yeah, absolutely. Getting to 100 percent renewable electricity if you are after reducing emissions is the wrong place to go"?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I point that member to the statement that I did make at that breakfast, which was 100 percent renewable electricity in a normal hydrological year. The policy that this Government has set envisions that we will see some peaking through to at least 2035, or beyond. But we are also putting in place the policy work that is required to ensure that beyond that we can move to a goal of 100 percent renewable. I also point that member to comments from Transpower, that say, "A renewable future based on New Zealand's abundance of renewable energy resources is likely to offer the lowest-cost future for consumers". There are number of industry players that see this as inevitable and desirable.
Jonathan Young: Does she agree with the New Zealand Initiative report that says getting from 97 to 100 percent renewable electricity will cost an extra $800 million, resulting in increased electricity bills for consumers in New Zealand?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I have read the New Zealand Initiative report that came out last week, and what that report also says is that the analysis states that new technologies may change the equation. Again, I point that member to the fact that our policy is 100 percent renewable in a normal hydrological year and envisions some thermal peaking through to at least 2035, and that this is entirely achievable. The numbers that are being bandied about by that member simply don't reflect our policy.
Jonathan Young: Well, how patient does she think consumers will be for her "100 percent renewable electricity at any cost" ideology, that comes from her and her Government?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I imagine consumers will be incredibly happy about the policy course that this Government is setting, because not only does it allow us to address the issues that we need to but what we also know is that the cheapest forms of generation that will be built are renewables. In 2020, the levelised cost of solar is 8c a kilowatt hour, wind 6c a kilowatt hour, and gas at 20c a kilowatt hour. If we go through to 2035, that's 6c for solar, 6 for wind, and 25 for gas; through to 2050, that's 5c a kilowatt hour, 5c for wind, and 32c for gas. So I'm assuming consumers will be pretty happy with the policy path this Government is on.
• Question No. 10—Health
10. Dr LIZ CRAIG (Labour) to the Minister of Health: How is the Government helping to protect New Zealanders against influenza this winter?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Yesterday marked the start of the annual influenza vaccination campaign. Vaccination is the best way to guard against influenza, which each year kills about 400 New Zealanders, with many more requiring hospitalisation. For many New Zealanders, the vaccination will be free. This year's funded vaccine will protect against four strains of influenza, including updated strains of influenza A and influenza B.
Dr Liz Craig: Who's eligible for free influenza vaccination?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Vaccination is free for those groups who are most at risk from the flu. This includes those aged 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic or serious health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, or severe asthma. Children aged four and under who have a history of significant respiratory illness are also eligible. A lot of people stand to benefit from the vaccination.
Dr Liz Craig: How many people are expected to benefit from vaccination?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I urge anyone who is eligible for free vaccination to take up the opportunity. Vaccination is also available at GPs and many community pharmacies for a small fee for those who are not eligible. Last year, a record 1.3 million people were immunised against influenza, and I hope that we will see similar numbers again this year.
• Question No. 11—Small Business
11. Hon JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki) to the Minister for Small Business: What advice, if any, has he received on what it would cost a small business to value their business ahead of an official valuation date in the event the Government decided to implement a capital gains tax on the sale of businesses, and what is that cost?
Hon STUART NASH (Minister for Small Business): None.
Hon Jacqui Dean: Does he agree that if every small and medium - sized business owner in New Zealand had to pay for a new valuation at around $10,000 apiece, the cost to the wider economy, with no greater productivity, would be approximately $5 billion?
Hon STUART NASH: I have no idea where the member got the figure from—purely hypothetical.
Hon Jacqui Dean: How will the qualifying business assets be valued for the purpose of rollover on the sale of a small business?
Hon STUART NASH: Let me make two points yet again. First of all, the Tax Working Group did not recommend—I'm assuming the member's talking about the Tax Working Group report—that small businesses had to provide a valuation before V-day. Look at recommendation N. The second thing is the Government is considering all options, and in time—and in time—we will release our recommendations.
Hon Jacqui Dean: If it is impossible, according to the Tax Working Group report, to provide a comprehensive list of intangible property for the calculation of goodwill for small businesses, how, then, will it be possible to calculate goodwill with any sense of accuracy?
Hon STUART NASH: I will just reiterate what the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have said today and what I have said numerous times: we are considering all options, and in time we will make our recommendations known.
SPEAKER: In fact, it was the Prime Minister who said it today.
• Question No. 12—Workplace Relations and Safety
12. MARJA LUBECK (Labour) to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: What is the new hourly adult minimum wage at 1 April 2019 and why did the Government increase it?
Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety): The new adult hourly minimum wage is $17.70 per hour. This Government believes in sharing prosperity more fairly. That's why we've increased the minimum wage by $1.20 per hour, recognising that many New Zealand workers do need more to make do. Unemployment is low, the economy is strong, and the Government books are in good shape. Now is exactly the time to improve wages.
Marja Lubeck: What are the Government's plans to further increase the minimum wage this term?
Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: As set out in the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First, we plan to get to $20 an hour by 2021. I have announced indicative rates for the adult minimum wage of $18.90 for 2020 and $20 for 2021. These rates are subject to market conditions at the time, but indicating these rates in advance allows businesses to plan for the future.
Marja Lubeck: How many working people received a pay increase yesterday?
Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates that up to 209,200 people received a pay increase yesterday of up to $48 per week. Women, young people, Māori, and Pasifika are overrepresented in minimum wage roles, and around a quarter of those earning the minimum wage are parents or guardians. This Government is committed to increasing the well-being of all New Zealanders, and steps like this make that a reality.