Questions And Answers Dec 8 2010
(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
WEDNESDAY, 8 DECEMBER 2010
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Tax System Changes—Effects on New Zealanders
1. Hon PHIL GOFF (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that the “vast majority” of New Zealanders will be “better off” as a result of the tax switch?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, because the combination of putting up GST, increasing superannuation, benefits, and Working for Families payments, and cutting income tax rates across the board have made people demonstrably better off. Of course, I guess the proof of this policy working is that there is not one political party that is campaigning on reversing the tax switch.
Hon Phil Goff: How are the vast majority of New Zealanders better off when the household economic survey released recently by the Government Statistician shows that the average household income in the year to June 2010 for New Zealand households dropped by $28 a week, and that individuals were each $17 a week worse off?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As we have been through this question several times before, I will give the Leader of the Opposition the same answer as previously, which is that it is a very broad measure of income and it is not solely normal income. It includes investment income and a lot of other issues.
Hon Phil Goff: How many New Zealanders got wages increases in the last year that matched the 5.1 percent increase in food prices in the year to October 2010 and the 20 percent increase in vegetable prices in the September quarter alone?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot answer in relation to what individuals got in pay increases; I simply do not see the pay packets of 2.5 million full-time New Zealand workers. But what I do know is that real after-tax incomes have grown by about 8 percent in the time that National has been in Government and grew by 3 percent in the entire 9 years that Labour was last in office. I also add that food prices, up until the point that I am looking at, at the moment, were actually down by 2 percent at 3 June, compared with much higher food prices under the previous Labour Government.
Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave to table a Government document showing that food prices in the last year went up, in fact, by 5.1 percent, and that vegetable prices went up by 20 percent.
Mr SPEAKER: Could the member be more specific about what the document is?
Hon Phil Goff: The documents are both publications by New Zealand Government agencies— the Government Statistician, I think. I will have a look at the papers; I have them with me. Statistics New Zealand is the source of the figures. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: It is my fault, and I accept the blame for this exchange happening. It should not happen. We do not normally table current or recent releases from Statistics New Zealand, because every member has them.
Chris Tremain: Where did the idea for the tax switch come from?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am proud to say we thought of it all by ourselves, with a little help from some advisers. We did not have to google Ed Miliband’s statements and shamelessly plagiarise them, like Phil Goff did with his “squeezed middle” speech. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I apologise to the member. Can we have a little order, please, so that at least the Speaker can hear the question?
Hon Phil Goff: Are the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, economist Bill Rosenberg, and Treasury’s own figures all wrong in showing that for middle and lower-income New Zealanders prices have increased, and continue to increase, faster than wages?
Hon Trevor Mallard: Stand up, “David Cameron”.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: For a start, no. I get my Davids right, I tell Trevor Mallard. I come back to the business at hand. No, the increase in real after-tax wages is 8 percent. But let us look at those middle-income New Zealanders, because it is quite interesting. When we look at middle-income New Zealanders and at the tax that they pay, we can see that under the National Government their personal tax rate has halved from 33 percent to 17.5 percent.
Hon Phil Goff: Are more than half of the New Zealanders in recent surveys wrong in stating that they are worse off after the tax switch, and is the Prime Minister telling them that, contrary to what they think, they are actually better off?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not one to go out and criticise polls. But if the member is quoting from the HorizonPoll, which he is, and if he seriously believes that Winston Peters is on 6 percent and he is on 28 percent, then he is underestimating even his performance in other public polls.
Hon Phil Goff: He’s very worried, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: The House is having a bit of fun, but I ask members to treat question time with a little more respect than that.
Hon Phil Goff: How does he expect anyone to believe that real incomes are rising, when today’s figures show that manufacturing sales in this country are at a 10-year low and that housing consents are 20 percent down from what they were earlier this year, and retailers are comprehensively saying they are facing the worst situation in decades, simply because wage and salary earners do not have money in their pockets to spend?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am glad the member raised that, because there is an article on the front page of this morning’s “Business Herald” about Paymark and what it is seeing in terms of consumer spending. The article indicated that spending had increased by 5.5 percent. When Paymark was asked in November why that was happening, the answer from the chief executive was: “Oh, because New Zealanders have more money as a result of the tax cuts, and they’re out there spending it.”
Hon Phil Goff: I seek the leave of the House to table a document that the Prime Minister has not seen, which shows that manufacturing sales volumes continue to fall—the lowest level for more than 10 years. It is from Statistics New Zealand.
Mr SPEAKER: There is a proper process for seeking leave to table documents, and it does not include comments about whether the Prime Minister may have seen them. The member should identify the source of the document before saying what is in it. The habit of saying what is in a document, when there is no real document to be tabled, is not good enough.
Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is out of order.
Mr SPEAKER: Members will be leaving the House. [Interruption] The member will be very careful. The member will leave the Chamber. I will not tolerate that. Hon Trevor Mallard withdrew from the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: The House will come to order. What I was saying was being said for good reason. There are times when members seek leave to table a document that is clearly outside the current rules for tabling documents, but they want to get across a political point. That is why I
require members to identify the source of the document, so that members can make a proper decision on it. I will allow the member to seek leave again to table his document.
Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take offence at the implication that I was seeking to table a document that does not exist. I have it in my hand. It was out of order for you to make that allegation.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will seek leave, if he wishes to, to table his document.
Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that your comments were out of order in implying that I wanted to table—
Mr SPEAKER: I am on my feet. The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. If he wishes to stay in the House, he will show the Speaker respect. I have invited him to seek leave again properly to table his document. He does not need to take that opportunity, but he is welcome to do so if he wishes.
Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do respect your role as Speaker, and I expect you to respect the members of this House and their integrity when you make comments like that, which reflect on it. I do not think that is good enough.
Mr SPEAKER: The member should just reflect on the way that he sought leave to table the document. The member, when seeking leave to table the document, made a comment about whether the Prime Minister had seen it. He then went on to say what the document contained—in other words, the points that he wanted to make—instead of first identifying where the document was from. That is not good enough, and that is why I clamped down on what the member was doing. If the member took offence at that, I apologise to him for the offence caused. But I am serious about the way that members will seek leave to table documents, and I am serious about the respect that will be shown in this House. Any further nonsense today will be treated just as firmly as I have treated the Hon Trevor Mallard—and that includes party leaders.
Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave to table a document from Statistics New Zealand, the Acting Government Statistician, dated today, which shows that manufacturing sales volumes are at the lowest level for more than 10 years.
Mr SPEAKER: All members have the release from Statistics New Zealand. We do not seek leave to table those kinds of documents.
Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have made that comment on two occasions today. I cannot remember your previously ruling out documents by Government agencies. You have ruled out press statements. Are you setting a new precedent today?
Mr SPEAKER: The member will know that the process for seeking leave to table documents, and for the House to consider the tabling of documents, is intended to provide members with information that they do not have. All members have been circulated that information today. All members have that information, so there is absolutely no point in wasting the time of the House. It is clearly an attempt to make a political point, and that is not what the tabling of documents is about. We have established that very clearly. It is about providing information for the House: providing members with information that they otherwise would not have access to. That is why I am not seeking leave for that matter.
Hon David Cunliffe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your clarification on this matter. If I interpret it correctly, your previous ruling was made because the release in question was available on the Internet to members, whether they had sought it or not. I seek your clarification of whether you are now ruling that any document released generally on the Internet, or available on the Internet, is unable to be tabled in the House, because that would be a significant extension of your previous ruling in respect of media statements.
Mr SPEAKER: I just ask members to look back at the relevant Standing Order. The provision is there to provide members with access to information that they otherwise would not have. Clearly, in the case of recent releases from Statistics New Zealand, all members have them, and that is why I am not seeking leave for that purpose.
Financial Performance, Government—Improvements
2. DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister of Finance: What steps is the Government taking to improve its financial performance?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Government is taking steps to improve its management of capital expenditure. Total assets of the Crown have trebled over the past decade to more than $223 billion at June 2010, yet the means by which those are funded and the way that the capital is used is not transparent to the Government, let alone to the taxpayer. Yesterday the Government released the first annual portfolio report, which is a concise summary of the financial performance of Crown financial institutions, State-owned enterprises, and Crown research institutes. Next week we will release the Crown’s first investment statement, which will show in full the Government’s balance sheet and its investment intentions over the next 5 years.
David Bennett: What does the 2010 annual portfolio report show?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The portfolio report sets out the performance of, in particular, Stateowned enterprises. Excluding the rail and post enterprises, State-owned enterprises earned $500 million and declared dividends of $386 million. Crown financial institutions collectively returned 12.8 percent last year, following 2 years of losses. By the end of the year the Crown had $40 billion invested in financial investments, and Crown has around $700 million invested in the Crown research institutes.
David Bennett: What will the 2010 investment statement show?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The investment statement will show the quantity of Government assets and the ambition of the Government’s investment programme to 2015. Net Crown assets are expected to grow by some $35 billion over the next 4 years, and total investment is around $70 billion of fresh capital investment over the next 4 years. About half of that relates to services such as schools, hospitals, rail, broadband, roads, and the electricity network. There is also a substantial accumulation within the Crown’s investments funds, which are expected to grow by about $20 billion of investments through to 2015.
Hon David Cunliffe: How can he claim to be improving the Government’s net financial position when his deficit has increased in the last quarter alone by almost $2 billion more than forecast?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: In the first place, the figures I have been talking about are the asset values of the Government, whereas the deficit relates to our operating expenditure. But the member does make a fair point that the Government cannot continue to run very large deficits. This year it could be somewhere up to $11 billion. We have set out a path to reach a surplus by 2015. That will take some very significant fiscal discipline, which I know the member is opposed to, but it is the only way we will get there.
Hon David Cunliffe: Further to the Minister’s answer to question No. 8 yesterday, when he said he would not be surprised if there were some quarters in the last 2 years when annualised real GDP per capita had fallen, can he now confirm that, in fact, annualised real GDP per capita has fallen in every single quarter since his Government took office, meaning that average New Zealanders have consistently gone backwards, and are still earning less today, on average, than on the day he first took office?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I disagree with the member’s last point. But as I pointed out yesterday, in a significant recession one would expect real per capita incomes to drop. The Government has set out a plan to turn that round. However, we are dealing with the legacy of a Government that managed to have negative growth in real per capita incomes even when the rest of the world was not in recession and the rest of the world was growing strongly. I do not know how he managed it.
Hon David Cunliffe: I seek leave to table the statistical table from page 8 of the monthly economic indicators published by Treasury, which shows that real GDP per capita has fallen every single quarter since the Government took office up until—
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
David Bennett: Why does the Government need to lift the quality of its investment performance?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Because we are dealing with the legacy of 10 years when the previous Government spent large amounts on new capital. Much of that was spent ineffectively. The attention paid to it by the Public Service has been just about zero, so we are going through a significant exercise to make sure taxpayers get value for the $230 billion of assets that they own.
Question No. 1 to Minister
Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek some guidance as to when Mr Mallard can return. I would seek that he be able to return at the end of question time.
Mr SPEAKER: No, he is out for the day.
Hon Annette King: That’s pretty tough.
Mr SPEAKER: No one will comment on a Speaker’s ruling. Members know that I do not throw many members out of this Chamber, but they are out for the day when I do ask them to leave.
Tax Cuts—Fairness and Impact on Economic Growth
3. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement that “Our tax cuts have been good for economic growth and fair for New Zealanders.”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, the tax cuts were part of a fiscally neutral package, which was designed to tilt the incentives in this economy away from excessive housing speculation and excessive consumption, which were both funded by excessive debt, and to create more incentives for savings, investment, exports, and new jobs. We are satisfied that the package we put together, when we take into account the increases in GST and the decreases in income taxes, is fair for New Zealanders, and in the long run will be good for economic growth.
Metiria Turei: Will the Minister consider extending Working for Families tax credits to families who are reliant on benefits, as a way of both stimulating the economy and promoting fairness; if not, why not?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the member will know, the previous Government extended Working for Families considerably and introduced a mechanism that ensured that people with children who went from benefits into work were better off for being in work. By and large, the Government has left that mechanism in place and has not seen a strong case for making significant changes to it.
Metiria Turei: Is the Minister aware of the evidence from the US Congressional Budget Office that putting more money in the back pockets of beneficiaries has the biggest stimulus effect on the economy because low-income households spend all the money they get on essentials?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, I am aware of that evidence. The Government has worked to strike a balance between the need to protect New Zealanders as much as possible from the sharp edges of recession—and in the case of beneficiaries we have made sure there have been adjustments to benefits regardless of the economic situation, including compensation for GST increases—and, on the other hand, the need to make sure we do not end up in the situation of a country like Ireland, where we lose control of our economic destiny because we have not lived within our means. So the Government has stimulated the economy in the recession, but now has a path back to surplus.
Metiria Turei: Does the Minister agree that extending Working for Families tax credits, as proposed in the Green Party’s Mind the Gap plan, would inject $300 million into the economy, and give 130,000 low-income families a much-needed income boost?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I would not dispute the facts with the member; I am sure she has done her research. As I have said, though, we have tried to strike a balance between supporting people
through the recession, and on the other hand showing a path back to surplus. There is any amount of spending we could do right now, but we would simply have to pay it back later, and on any significant scale it would pose a risk to New Zealand’s economic future.
Nikki Kaye: Has he seen any reports on economic support for middle-income New Zealanders?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, I have seen some reports. One was a speech entitled “The Squeezed Middle”. Another was a statement that says: “My aim is to show our party is on the side of the squeezed middle …”. The first one was the title of a speech by Phil Goff; the second one was a statement made about 9 weeks before by Ed Miliband in the UK, and I do not think it was an accident that they used the same language.
Hon David Cunliffe: Does he stand by his statement made in public session to the Finance and Expenditure Committee on 27 October 2010 when he said, in relation to a question about fiscally irresponsible tax cuts: “Despite the recession, we implemented the first tranche of that because we said we would”, and can he confirm that he admitted to the Finance and Expenditure Committee that “this has had a $1.5 billion impact on tax revenue”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is a matter of fact that National promised a series of tax cuts in the 2008 election. We implemented the first tranche of those and we cancelled the next two, because between announcing the package and the implementation date Lehman Brothers crashed and the world went into a global financial crisis. So we chopped off the last two tranches of that tax cut.
Hon David Cunliffe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Respectfully, I do not believe that the Minister has addressed the essence of that question. The question was not whether he passed $1.5 billion in tax cuts, but whether he did so knowing that that would be irresponsible because of the recession. I do not believe he has answered that point.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not think, though, that the member can expect the Minister to give exactly the answer the member might want. The member asked him about the issue of those tax cuts, specifically, and the Minister replied with why the Government had implemented the first tranche, and why it had not implemented the rest. The member has further supplementary questions if he wishes to pursue the matter.
Metiria Turei: Does the Minister not agree that every child should have the essentials this Christmas, regardless of whether their parent relies on the benefit?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, that would be desirable. One of the reasons we set up the Welfare Working Group is that there is a strong correlation between child poverty and people who are long term on benefits. That is why I hope the Green Party will give full consideration to the recommendations of that working-group when they come forward early in the new year. Because we all have an interest in ensuring that the large proportion of New Zealand children who are raised in child poverty can have more hope than a lifetime of dependency.
Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table two documents. The first is a paper from the US Congressional Budget Office on policies for increasing economic growth, dated January 2010, showing that increasing aid to the unemployed has an impact on GDP.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Metiria Turei: The second document I am seeking leave to table is a White House paper on the Framework Agreement on Middle Class Tax Cuts and Unemployment Insurance, showing that lowincome families are most likely to spend additional money that they receive in creating jobs and helping growth, dated 7 December 2010.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Work and Income—Changes to Unemployment Growth
4. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister for Social
Development and Employment: What recent changes have been made by Work and Income for people on unemployment benefits?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development and Employment): We have changed the way Work and Income case management works by letting people on the unemployment benefit access the first available case manager for standard inquiries. Work and Income has reduced waiting times and allowed case managers to see 32 percent more beneficiaries. This is just one example of how we are helping more people into work.
Hon Annette King: Does she stand by her statements that those who are looking for work but cannot find it will not be penalised and that she is taking great care to be reasonable in implementing the new work-test requirements; if not, why not?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes, and I have obligations and incentives in place that I think make it a fairer system. There are obligations on people on the unemployment benefit to make sure they turn up to appointments and to make sure they are work-ready wherever possible.
Hon Annette King: Is it reasonable to require a recently unemployed person to seek at least three job interviews per day in order to comply with the new work-test requirements or else have their benefit cut, particularly in places like South Auckland where there is high unemployment and few jobs available?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: The difference is that I believe that people can find work. I support them in that and back them to get out there and to go to interviews. I am very optimistic that they can find work if they are looking.
Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not believe that that answer addressed the question put down by the deputy leader of the Labour Party. It was a specific question about the reasonableness of the requirement for three interviews a day. The Minister said she believed in people finding work—I do not think there is any member of Parliament who does not— so her answer did not add anything to the question asked by Annette King.
Mr SPEAKER: The question asked whether she thought the requirement was reasonable. That is asking for an opinion, and there is no precise answer to that. The Minister’s answer clearly implied—and correct me if I am wrong here—that she thought it was reasonable, or she would have said it was not reasonable. The Minister’s answer clearly implied that, and if that is not the case she had better correct the answer. She does not appear to wish to.
Hon Annette King: Is it reasonable to require a recently unemployed person to apply for 10 jobs—that is, put in 10 applications a week—otherwise have their unemployment benefit cut, even if they do not have the qualifications and experience for those jobs; or does, for example, a 22-yearold unemployed person with no qualifications applying for a job as professor of maths at Auckland University meet her work-test criteria?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I say to the member that people cannot find a job unless they are looking. I support those people to look for work. I am quite pleased that Work and Income is showing them jobs that are available and suggesting they apply. I am sure that a level of reasonableness is expected and that people apply for jobs they are qualified for. The odd mistake may be made, but people cannot find a job unless they are looking, and that is a key policy for this Government.
Hon Annette King: What is fair about a situation where some people have to comply with unrealistic obligations for the Minister’s work-test requirements, yet in other cases a Minister can go overseas for 6 weeks on full pay and fail to meet her obligations as a Minister, such as responding to the Speaker’s request to answer written questions?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I will tell members what is not reasonable. It is not reasonable to leave people to a lifetime on the unemployment benefit and not work test them, which is what
happened for 9 long years under the previous Government. This Government will stand up and put people into work wherever possible. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I do not know whether the member could hear the answer.
Hon Annette King: I could not hear a word—but she was showing off anyway.
Mr SPEAKER: It is my fault that that happened. I say to members that there is nothing wrong with showing support for an answer, but the level of interjection was totally unreasonable there, and it is not fair on the person asking the question. Under the circumstances I am prepared to give the member another supplementary question if she would like to have it. Members have to realise that the House deserves to hear an answer. If the Hon Annette King would like to ask an extra question, the Speaker has just said that she can.
Hon Annette King: Do I take from the Minister’s answer that she believes it is reasonable for a person to apply for a job they have no hope of getting—for example, as professor of maths at Auckland University when they have no qualification—because it meets her work-test requirements and therefore makes it right?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: No. What she can take from my answer is that we think it is reasonable that people look for work, that we think it is unreasonable to leave them to a lifetime of benefit dependency, and that, yes, Work and Income will be case-managing and working alongside those people who are on the unemployment benefit. I learnt a lot on my trip away—I thank the member for asking—to the point where I got to have lunch with her former Prime Minister—
Mr SPEAKER: The final supplementary question that was asked by the Hon Annette King did not contain anything about the member’s trip or lunch appointments. What is more, the Minister will resume her seat when the Speaker gets to his feet.
Katrina Shanks: What has been the effect of the Government’s unrelenting focus on work for young people?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: The proportion of young—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: There is no way I could hear what the Minister was saying then, at all. I ask, please, for a little more reasonableness in the House.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: The proportion of young people on the unemployment benefit continues to decrease. It is now at about 30.3 percent of the total. That is down from 32.1 percent this time last year, and it represents a drop of 736 young people in the last month. That is great news, no matter which side of the House one sits on.
Hon Jim Anderton: Can I ask the Minister to be very clear about what she said. As I understand it, she is saying that all people who are unemployed are looking for work or are not looking for work—or that all the people who are unemployed and have looked for work have got a job because they looked. Is that what she is saying?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I can understand that that member might be looking for work, and I wish him well in that.
Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It cannot be in order for a Minister to begin an answer with such a gratuitous put-down of the member asking the question, particularly a member as senior as—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Some other members will be leaving this Chamber soon if the place does not come to order. Members know I am pretty tolerant of a robust session; there is no problem with that. But the House is being unreasonable today, and I will not tolerate that. The Hon Darren Hughes has raised a point of order about the answer that was given, but had he listened to the supposed question, he would see that as Speaker I could have ruled the question out of order, because it was not really a question at all. It is very difficult for me to clamp down on a Minister faced with a statement that was masquerading as a question. I think there has to be balance in these things. With that kind of question, I cannot be too hard on Ministers. But I ask the Minister to please not be gratuitous in answering the question.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I suppose the policy is quite clear that people on the unemployment benefit should be work-ready, should be able to attend interviews wherever possible, and should be able to make themselves as available for work as they can, as the circumstances arise.
Hon Phil Goff: Is the implication of what the Minister is saying that the threefold increase in unemployment beneficiaries under her watch is because people are not trying hard enough; if so, how does she explain the fact that 2,700 people in my electorate were looking for 150 jobs at a new supermarket that opened?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: No, not at all. In fact, I am pleased to say that 2,250 people came off the unemployment benefit last month. I believe, though, that there needed to be a balance of incentives and obligations for people, and that is what we have done.
Rahui Katene: Does she agree with—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I apologise to the member. I ask the Hon Darren Hughes and Chester Borrows to please stop this interjection exchange across the House. It is totally discourteous to the member whom I have called to ask her supplementary question.
Rahui Katene: Does the Minister agree with Ministry of Social Development chief executive Peter Hughes, who suggested that the most recent statistics will show a marked reduction in unemployment benefits and that half of the placements Work and Income New Zealand is making are with young people; and what place has Community Max played in such improved outcomes?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes. The Community Max programme has played an important role in keeping young people attached to the workforce during this recession, especially in our rural communities. However, long-term outcomes for young people depend on getting jobs, and as the economy grows out of this recession, our priority is to get them into work.
5. LOUISE UPSTON (National—Taupō) to the Minister for Communications and
Information Technology: What further progress has been made on rolling out faster broadband around New Zealand?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Communications and Information Technology): Further to yesterday’s announcement of the first partners of the Ultra-fast Broadband Initiative, this morning I announced the short-listing of tenderers for the Rural Broadband Initiative. This follows quickly on yesterday’s announcement of the partners that will help to roll out ultra-fast broadband around Northland and through cities and towns in the central North Island. The rural initiative received a number of high-quality bids, and three have now been placed on a short list. I expect the final partner to be announced early next year.
Louise Upston: What are the economic impacts of the broadband roll-out?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Delivering much faster broadband will greatly improve telecommunications, lift productivity, and provide for faster growth in New Zealand relative to that of the rest of the world. Of more immediate benefit, the two deals announced yesterday will directly lead to the creation of an estimated 300 jobs across the ultra-fast fibre roll-out in Taranaki, Waikato, and the Bay of Plenty, and the Northpower roll-out will see an extra 50 people employed. In addition, the Rural Broadband Initiative will see hundreds more people being employed in developing and deploying the network to rural schools and communities.
Clare Curran: Is it the Government’s intention that legislation for a regulation-free period until the end of 2019 for successful bidders will apply to the Rural Broadband Initiative as well as to the ultra-fast broadband scheme; if so, will that regulation-free period apply only to new fibre or to other technologies that have not been laid yet and that are agreed to in those schemes?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Firstly, I do not agree with the member that it is a regulation-free period, at all. The pricing will be set by contract between Crown Fibre Holdings and the bidders for the ultra-fast broadband. The rural broadband will be different. It will not have the same regulatory mechanism as the ultra-fast broadband, as it also differs from it in a number of other ways.
Louise Upston: What feedback has the Minister received on yesterday’s broadband announcement?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Yesterday’s kick-off of the urban broadband roll-out generated some excellent feedback, including from the local councils in the coverage areas, which universally welcomed the announcement. In addition, InternetNZ stated: “Ultra-fast broadband is a game changer” and “The services will be affordable and really will drive uptake of fibre”. Even IDC analyst Rosalie Nelson said “it is encouraging to see the emphasis that is being placed in the two regions on making fibre accessible and affordable.”
Hon Darren Hughes: And what did Rod Oram say?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Rod Oram said nothing. The combined urban and rural initiatives mean we are now on the way towards ensuring that New Zealand is well equipped for the future.
6. Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills) to the Minister of Health: Will he act to prevent the closure of health services in Taihape?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health): As was said yesterday, the Whanganui District Health Board has acted to prevent the closure of a large number of services in Taihape as a result of the trustees deciding to put the Ōtaihape Health Trust into liquidation. The district health board will help retain the general practice services, primary maternity services, day services for older people, home-based support services, radiology services, specialist outpatient services, palliative care services, the mobile surgical bus, and more. I am keeping in close contact with the district health board as it works to get the best possible outcome for the people of Taihape.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Why does he think it is OK to force Taihape people aged in their 80s and 90s to move out of their home in the community they have lived in for years, and live somewhere else not of their choosing?
Hon TONY RYALL: Well, of course it is always a very concerning time when a provider cannot carry on and there is uncertainty. What is important is the fact that the district health board is making arrangements to support those families who may be affected, but what is clear is that with the liquidation, changes had to be made in Taihape, and the district health board is working to do that.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Has he picked up the phone to explain to Mrs Wendy Campbell that having health services closer to home actually means in her home, when she picks up her 94-year-old mother, Joan, and 96-year-old father, Les, from Ruanui House in Taihape this Saturday?
Hon TONY RYALL: Of course, no one is happy that people’s lives are disrupted in this way. But the fact is the trust has gone into liquidation and the public health service is doing its level best to make sure that we can maintain as many of those services as the trust was providing.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Does he think the community will notice “very little difference”, as Simon Power, the current member of Parliament, claimed in a letter, and is that why the people of Taihape and the district have been pleading for the Government’s help and finally protesting outside this Parliament because there has been no help from Simon Power or the Minister, and they know services are being removed from their community, and staff are losing their jobs?
Hon TONY RYALL: The real priority here is to make sure that we can secure as many services for the people of Taihape as the trust was providing. The fact is that the member opposite has been making claims about what services may or may not happen in Taihape when she says that one thing will not be provided, when we know quite clearly it will be provided. So I would rather rely on what the Whanganui District Health Board is actually going to provide than what that member chooses to make up.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Does he care that family members will from this Sunday have to travel for up to 2 hours each way in order to visit the older family members who have been, up until now, living in their own community; if he does care, when will he act?
Hon TONY RYALL: No one wants older people having their arrangements disrupted. But the fact is the trust has gone into liquidation, despite the fact that the district health board was trying to put in another $1 million worth of services and in-kind support. A number of those residents are being moved to another rest home. Some, in fact, are getting closer to their family members.
Bowel Cancer Screening—Pilot Programme
7. Dr JACKIE BLUE (National) to the Minister of Health: What progress has been made regarding the 4-year, $24 million bowel cancer screening pilot announced in this year’s budget?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health): After years of no progress, yesterday this Government announced that the Waitematā District Health Board has been selected to run the 4- year bowel cancer screening pilot. It is international best practice to foolproof new screening programmes with a pilot. The Waitematā board was chosen because of its strong focus on screening and its commitment to working closely with its neighbouring district health boards, primary care, and the Northern Cancer Network to ensure that as many people as possible participate in the pilot. Up to 130,000 people aged 50 to 74 who live in the Waitematā District Health Board area will be invited to participate.
Dr Jackie Blue: What is being done to support the health sector to deliver the services that support detection and treatment of bowel cancer?
Hon TONY RYALL: The member is quite right to identify the need to support the services that underpin a screening programme. That is why I can advise the House that in the last year nearly 38,000 New Zealanders had colonoscopies to investigate for bowel cancer and other serious bowel issues. This was an increase of almost 2,500 colonoscopies over the previous year. These record numbers build on earlier increases and show that the sector is growing capacity for this important cancer test. The Government is fixing public health services with a concerted effort to make colonoscopies more freely and fairly available to New Zealanders who need them.
New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill—Access to Hearings
8. KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Prime Minister: Why is he not supporting public hearings for submissions on the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Up until yesterday the advice I had received was that such hearings were properly done in private. However, last night I received advice that led me to ask the director of the SIS to reassess the issue and provide me with new advice on what the situation should be. I will discuss that advice with the Intelligence and Security Committee in due course.
Keith Locke: When the Prime Minister is considering that advice, will he take into account that in February 1999 Prime Minister Shipley chaired 2 days of public submissions on a New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill that even included a public submission by the former head of the British spy agency MI5, Stella Rimmington?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, and I will also take into account that Helen Clark in 2001 chaired the GCSB committee in private.
Keith Locke: Will the Prime Minister also take into account that most committees in this Parliament have open hearings, but if there is sensitive information, it can be heard in private or secret, as has happened with the Intelligence and Security Committee in the past?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, but I am also aware of the advice I have received in the past, which is that open hearings on this matter, in relation to this part of the SIS, could lead to truncated and sterile debate, which would not necessarily lead to a robust process that we would all want to see.
Keith Locke: I seek leave to table a couple of documents. I take your ruling, Mr Speaker, that news media reports are generally not tabled, but in this case it is not so much the content of the reports that matter—
Mr SPEAKER: What is the source of the document?
Keith Locke: It is an article by Guyon Espiner from the Evening Post of 9 February 1999, reporting on a hearing of the Intelligence and Security Committee.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. It is over a decade old. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Keith Locke: I seek leave to table an article dated 11 February 1999 from the New Zealand Herald, showing that the Green Party submission by Rod Donald and Keith Locke was presented in public session to the Intelligence and Security Committee.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Police Resourcing—Minister’s Statements
9. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Police: Does she stand by her answer to my question in the House on 24 November about whether Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard was correct when he confirmed to the Law and Order Committee that, as at September 2010, the current Government had contributed just 30 new police officers nationwide since it came into Government, “That is not, in fact, what Deputy Commissioner Rickard said.”?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Police): Yes.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I seek leave to table an audio recording from 24 November, provided to me by an independent media organisation—so it is not an uncorrected transcript from the select committee that has not been released—of the police financial review hearing, which includes the comments referred to from Deputy Police Commissioner Viv Rickard confirming that the current Government had contributed just 30 new police officers nationwide as at September 2010.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Given that I have an audio recording of the Law and Order Committee hearing referred to—which I will make available to the Minister despite the leave being denied in terms of tabling it, and its being blocked—confirming that Deputy Police Commissioner Rickard said “Yes”, when I asked him to confirm that “between that period June 2009 to September 2010 there is an addition of 30 officers only”, does she still stand by her answer referred to in my primary question?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: There are several questions there, but, yes, I stand by my original statement, and the reason is that the question the member has just—
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: So he’s a liar?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: No, the question the member has just asked is different from the one he has put down today.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Before I seek leave of the House, I ask you for your ruling. The primary question has to be authenticated by your office, and the information therein. It was accepted by your office, so therefore it must be fact and it must be true.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not believe there is anything for me to rule on.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: The Minister denies that that is a fact.
Mr SPEAKER: But as I heard it, the member asked a supplementary question and it seemed to me that the Minister’s answer applied to the supplementary question the member just asked. There is nothing for me to rule on; the Minister replied.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I seek leave, and I will make a detailed description as per your rulings, to table a transcript of the relevant part of the audio recording from the Law and Order Committee hearing that confirms that in answer to my question “If we look at the number of police officers as at June 09, not one of those officers was funded by the current Government, the answer to that has to be ‘yes’, correct?”, deputy commissioner Rickard responded “Yes”.
Hon Simon Power: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a bit unclear from the start of the member’s leave as to whether the transcripts related to the recording he referred to earlier that was from an independent recording or from the official recording of the select committee.
Mr SPEAKER: I ask the member to clarify that for the House.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Absolutely. They relate to the independent recording that I have in my possession, not the transcript.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: So long as it is to do with clarification on the document.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, no, not really.
Mr SPEAKER: I will deal with this. Leave is sought to table that document, is there any objection? There is objection.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Given that she claimed in the House on 24 November that “We have already delivered over 380 police.”, and given deputy commissioner Rickard’s statement to the Law and Order Committee, can she now explain how many of her 380 police were funded by the current Government as opposed to the previous Government?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: As we said in our policy at the 2008 election, 250 police officers were funded in Budget 2008. That was, in other words, by the previous Government. We said we would deliver 600 police officers on the front-line by the end of next year, and that would include the 250. That member is quite wrong in what he said about deputy commissioner Rickard. I suggest that he gets his ears checked, because that was not what he actually said.
Dr Cam Calder: How much additional funding did this Government provide for new officers and how many extra officers will be on the front line by the end of 2011?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Good question. In May 2009 this Government injected an extra $162.4 million of operating funding over 4 years into police recruitment, training, personnel costs, and deployment. This funding will ensure that we put 600 new officers on the front line by the end of next year. We have already reached our goal of 300 new officers for Counties-Manukau. It is helping police pilot new policing policies, which are already producing great results. I am sorry that member cannot—
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I think the banshee might be—
Mr SPEAKER: The member will just ask his question.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Which is correct: her statement of 24 November that this Government has “already delivered over 380 police” or deputy commissioner Rickard’s statements, as verified by the audio I have in my possession and also witnessed by journalists and reported publicly, recorded on the same day confirming that the National Government had delivered only 30 police as at September 2010?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: That member is quite incorrect. What we have here are the correct figures that the police have provided to the select committee. The growth from the end of November 2008 to the end of this month is 384 police officers delivered; 384 by 30 November.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Will the Minister confirm that Deputy Police Commissioner Rickard’s honest and straightforward answers to my questions at the select committee did him no good at all when it came to appointing the new Commissioner of Police?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: This Government values constabulary independence, and I have to say it is not something I have seen from Phil Goff and the terrible point-scoring he has tried to make against the designate commissioner Peter Marshall, a man of absolute integrity. I can tell him—
Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave to make a personal explanation about what the Minister has just said.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to make a personal explanation about that matter. Is there any objection to that course of action? There is no objection.
Hon Phil Goff: At no time have I questioned the integrity or the suitability of Superintendent Marshall, whom I know well and I have worked with. What the Minister said is absolutely wrong.
Hon Simon Power: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition knows exactly what I am about to say. He cannot accuse a member of being a liar in the House, and frankly I am surprised that a member such as Mr Goff—
Mr SPEAKER: There was such noise in the House that I could not hear what went on. I can only ask the honourable member whether he accused another member of being a liar.
Hon Phil Goff: I did accuse her of being a liar. I withdraw and apologise, as I must.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He has to do it properly. He knows that that was not the right way to do it.
Mr SPEAKER: One of the difficulties is when there is background noise and I cannot hear exactly what members are saying. I did not hear the last words that the Leader of the Opposition said. It makes it very difficult for me when I cannot hear what is being said. The Leader of the Opposition has acknowledged that he did call a member a liar, and I ask him simply to get to his feet to withdraw and apologise, with no other words.
Hon Phil Goff: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it in order when a member makes a personal explanation to correct another member who has said something that is wrong, for that member then to carry on, as she did from her seat, which provoked my response?
Mr SPEAKER: We will not take this any further. The member makes an absolutely fair point. I am on my feet. Members do not make comment when a member is granted leave to make a personal explanation. That is the end of the matter. What I must say led to this period of disorder was a question that perhaps I should have ruled out of order, but I did not. It was my fault, because it certainly led to the disorder I expected when the question was asked. The member knows who asked the question. The member should not look puzzled. Maybe I should have ruled the question out, but that is what led to the disorder and I think the House should come back to a semblance of order.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have two points of order. My first point of order is one of consistency, and I ask for your ruling on it. You required the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw and apologise for a term that was used that was unparliamentary. You allowed, in a previous question, the Minister of Health to say to my colleague, the opposite number, that she was making it up, which is tantamount to exactly the same thing, and you let that fly. I ask for your ruling on that, first.
Mr SPEAKER: Let me deal with that. I invite the member to go back and look at the Hansard of the question asked by his colleague. He will find that the member inserted a lot of information into the supplementary question, for which there was no authentication. A Minister is perfectly at liberty to question the accuracy of such information in a question. I would ask that Ministers do not do it in a gratuitous way, but they are perfectly at liberty to question the accuracy of such information and that is what I believe the Minister did. If there is a further point of order, I will listen to it.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: As you are fond of teaching us in this House—and I mean that in a positive way—and giving us the odd tutorial, which is appreciated—
Mr SPEAKER: The member will just make his point of order.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: What I would like is for you to advise me as to why the final question I asked, which was simply whether the Minister could confirm something, is out of order.
Mr SPEAKER: I invite the member to go back and look at the Hansard because he implied in his question that the Minister had interfered in the appointment of a senior official, because of something said at a select committee. That is verging on the kind of thing that could be argued to be outrageous and could be ruled out. I did not rule it out, because I felt the Minister was capable of handling it, but it led to the disorder I expected. Members need to be mindful of that when asking questions. To make that kind of innuendo in a question is totally outside the Standing Orders.
Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill—Minister of Māori Affairs’ Statement
10. HILARY CALVERT (ACT) to the Minister of Māori Affairs: Does he stand by his statement “the focus will be on finding the best balance of customary rights and the interests of the wider public.”, and what concerns, if any, has he raised with the Attorney-General over the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs): Yes, indeed, I do stand by that statement. As Minister I have not raised any concerns with the Attorney-General about the bill, but I have made representations to the Attorney-General in other capacities.
Hilary Calvert: Does he share Ngāi Tahu’s concern that the bill “would revisit on us the injustices of the past because it is built on tests that exclude us from our rights, based on past injustices.”; if not, how are Ngāi Tahu wrong?
Te Ururoa Flavell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek some clarity, and I suppose it goes to the issue of responsibility for answering these questions. In this case, questions in respect of the pire takutai moana sit firmly and squarely with the Attorney-General. Although in the past you have accepted that it is OK for Ministers to give opinions and to say how they feel about particular things, it must be within the realm of a particular portfolio. In this case, the Hon Mr Finlayson is in charge of the bill, and therefore would be the appropriate person to answer the question, which seeks a view about Ngāi Tahu. Mr Speaker, I ask whether you could consider that, please.
Mr SPEAKER: The member has made a very good point of order. It is quite correct that supplementary questions must relate to the Minister’s responsibilities, and questioners need to be careful not to ask about the detail of the bill, which is the responsibility of the Attorney-General. I invite the member to restate her question, bearing that in mind. Her primary question was perfectly OK, because it asked whether the Minister stood by his statement and what concerns he had raised with the Attorney-General, but she cannot question the Minister about the detail of the bill, because that is not that Minister’s responsibility.
Hilary Calvert: It was asking whether he had any concerns about Ngāi Tahu’s—
Mr SPEAKER: I invite the member to restate her question, and I ask for silence so that I can hear it properly, because it is an important matter.
Hilary Calvert: Does he share Ngāi Tahu’s concern as stated in the submission they made to the Māori Affairs Committee that the bill “would revisit on us the injustices of the past because it is built on tests that exclude us from our rights, based on past injustices.”?
Te Ururoa Flavell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask again for your clarification in respect of the seeking of an opinion, particularly about the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill. The question seems to be heading in the same direction, and therefore should be fairly and squarely in the hands of the Hon Mr Finlayson, surely.
Mr SPEAKER: It is an interesting issue. The question asked whether the Minister shared the concerns of Ngāi Tahu, who made submissions on the bill. Ministers, especially the Minister of Māori Affairs, can be asked for their opinion about matters affecting Māori, without the need for them to comment on the detail of the bill. The Minister is definitely not responsible for the detail of the bill. I believe that the Minister, in so far as he is able, given that he is not responsible for the bill, could attempt to answer that question.
Te Ururoa Flavell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The problem might be, firstly, that the Hon Dr Pita Sharples was not at the select committee hearings and is unable to offer an opinion on that submission, because he has not seen it. Therefore the question is pretty much out of order.
Mr SPEAKER: The member has made a perfectly good point—that would be a perfectly good answer. That is the thing. In answering that kind of question, Ministers who are not responsible for a bill can answer in that way.
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: Although I am not responsible for the bill, it will come before me after the select committee has finished with it; then I will deliberate.
Hilary Calvert: Does the Minister of Māori Affairs agree with Māori Party MP Hone Harawira that the bill is “not what we marched for in 2004”?
Te Ururoa Flavell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to reflect again—the question is in the same line as the first question—that any reference to the bill itself must surely fit with the Attorney-General, who has responsibility for this particular bill. Of course, that is where it should fit.
Mr SPEAKER: These are important issues, and I would like to suggest that a member cannot ask a Minister who is not responsible for a bill whether they agree with a particular statement such as the one quoted, because it is inviting the Minister to accept some responsibility for the bill, and it is not the Minister’s bill. I have to rule that question out, but this is the member’s last supplementary question, so I will give her another chance to ask a supplementary question. But she must remember that the Minister she is questioning is not the Minister responsible for the bill. The question cannot, in any way, cause him to act as if he is responsible for the bill. That makes questioning quite difficult, but I do not want to rule out the member’s opportunity to ask a further supplementary question.
Hilary Calvert: Has the Minister of Māori Affairs received advice concerning any of the submissions made to the Māori Affairs Committee on the bill relating to Hone Harawira’s statement that it is “not what we marched for in 2004”?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: No.
Pansy Wong—International Travel
11. Hon PETE HODGSON (Labour—Dunedin North) to the Prime Minister: Did he approve Pansy Wong having private time on any of her ministerial trips to China and did her husband accompany her on any of those trips?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, and no.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Is he satisfied that in all of those instances no personal business was carried out by his colleague the Hon Pansy Wong; if so, why?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes.
Hon Pete Hodgson: When did he first become aware of the link between Pansy and Sammy Wong and Lianyungang Supreme Hovercraft Ltd?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: When I first met Pansy Wong she introduced Sammy as her husband, so I was aware of the link then. In terms of the question the member asked, I have no recollection of that date.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Does he recall having dinner with Sammy Wong in New Zealand on 19 September 2008 and receiving a progress report on Liangyungang Supreme Hovercraft Ltd at that time?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Is he aware that in June 2005 Sammy Wong travelled, using taxpayer funding, to Fujian Province, that on the morning after arrival he helped former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley launch a $40 million investment into a biotechnology centre, in which Mrs Shipley has shares, but that he told Mr McPhail that the reason he went to Fujian Province was for genealogical research?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, and as I said in the House yesterday, if any members have any information that they want to send off to the Auditor-General, they are free to do so.
Hon Pete Hodgson: I have a number of documents to table. I will try to group them. The first document I seek leave to table is off the Lianyungang Supreme Hovercraft website, which is no longer existent. It is both in English and in Mandarin, and it refers to the dinner between Sammy Wong and the Prime Minister on 19 September 2008.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sort to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Pete Hodgson: The second document consists of a bunch of stuff off the New Zealand Companies Office website linking the Alpha Group, and various other holdings, back to Jenny Shipley.
Mr SPEAKER: These documents are off what website?
Hon Pete Hodgson: They are from the New Zealand Companies Office website.
Hon Simon Power: Could we get a date, for example, Mr Speaker?
Mr SPEAKER: The House perhaps needs a little more information to be able to make a decision.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Well, I am be very happy to give it, Mr Speaker. It was yesterday.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sort to table those documents. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Pete Hodgson: The third group of papers is off the New Zealand GanoPoly Health Products website, and it refers to the Alpha International biotechnology campus foundation layingstone ceremony. It is in a mixture of New Zealand and Mandarin. The original Mandarin is attached, as well, in case anyone wishes to try a third translation. I have two translations.
Mr SPEAKER: What is the date of these documents?
Hon Pete Hodgson: The date of the blog on that website is 27 July 2005. The date of the download is unknown to me.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sort to table those documents. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Cultural Sector—Private Philanthropy
12. NICKY WAGNER (National) to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage: What has the Government done to encourage private philanthropy in the cultural sector?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage): Last year the Government established the Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce to investigate new opportunities to encourage private investment in the arts in New Zealand over the next 5 to 10 years. The task force reported back on 2 December. The Government will now analyse and consider its recommendations, before making decisions.
Nicky Wagner: How does private philanthropy fit into the Government’s vision of the arts?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: To quote the task force itself, the Government has done its bit directly through grants and indirectly through establishing a favourable tax environment for charitable giving that requires very little refinement. Government support can only ever be one part of an overall strategy for the sector. The task force investigated best practice in philanthropy around the world. It consulted within New Zealand with organisations and individuals—
Hon David Cunliffe: There goes the holiday!
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Could “Mr Caygill” shut up when I am speaking. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: I am trying to deal with an important matter, and throughout the answer he has just been bellowing like an oaf.
Mr SPEAKER: The House will come to order. I guess interjections can get responses, so members who interject do take risks. But I ask the member to please finish his answer without being unnecessarily reactive.
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Well, the interjections were directed at me. The task force—
Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The first transgression that the Minister made was to be aggressively gratuitous, and you pulled him up on that. When my colleague Mr Mallard interjected on you, he withdrew from the Chamber. But once you had given your ruling, the Minister, unable to let the issue go, had to have another little chip as he began his answer, in direct challenge to your ruling. When other members have challenged your ruling today, Mr Speaker, they have not remained with us.
Mr SPEAKER: In fairness, I have to say that I think the degree of challenge to the Chair was somewhat greater earlier on. When members interject, Ministers are perfectly at liberty to pick up on their interjections, but I ask the Minister to please just finish his answer without further comment.
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: The task force consulted within New Zealand with a number of organisations, it consulted around the world, and it drew on the extensive expertise of task force members like Dayle Mace and Dame Jenny Gibbs.
Rahui Katene: Is the Minister aware of the statement made by Tu Williams and David Robinson that in the broader society Māori today are virtually invisible in philanthropy, in part because the philanthropic sector has failed to market itself as being relevant to them; and what will the Government do to correct this gap?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: No, I am not, but I can understand where that particular person is coming from. That is the very reason why we have this report and why I am keen to get it out there so that people can, in a very positive way, contribute to philanthropy.
Question No. 1 to Minister
METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just seek your clarification about an intervention that occurred earlier in question time around the process when a member takes offence. Earlier in question time Mr Phil Goff took offence at a statement that the Speaker himself had made. In normal circumstances the member who made the offending comment would be asked to withdraw that comment without qualification before the House moved on to other business. I am aware that this was an engagement between Mr Goff and the Speaker, but I would ask for your clarification of whether that same requirement for an unreserved, unqualified withdrawal applies to the Chair, as it does to other members.
Mr SPEAKER: It definitely does not. If members wish to raise questions about the Speaker, they do so by a notice of motion. That is the proper way to do that. The member may have noted, though, that the Speaker did apologise to the member for having caused him offence. Speakers have not always done that in the past, in my experience. I am always prepared to apologise, especially where I get things wrong. Speakers are not beyond getting things wrong; I fully accept that. My concern at the time was simply in relation to the tabling of documents, which has improved enormously during the rest of the period of this question time, so some good did come out of it. But I do apologise for the offence that I caused at the time.