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Questions and Answers - October 17


QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Hon John Banks—Prime Minister’s Statements and Views

1. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement yesterday that Hon John Banks is a “credible” and “trustworthy” individual?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.

Grant Robertson: If he believes John Banks is a credible and trustworthy individual, why did he accept his resignation as a Minister, given that Mr Banks continues to insist he has done nothing wrong and has nothing to fear, nothing to hide?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Because Mr Banks indicated to the office of the Prime Minister late last week that in the event the judge ruled against him he would tender his resignation as a Minister. The judge ruled against him, he kept his word, and tendered his resignation as a Minister.

Grant Robertson: Given his statement yesterday that he would reinstate Mr Banks as a Minister if he managed to avoid a trial, can he confirm that he regards Mr Banks’ conduct as acceptable for Ministers who are part of his Government?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member has misrepresented what the Prime Minister said yesterday.

Grant Robertson: Can he confirm that Mr Banks’ actions make him acceptable to be a Minister in his Government?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, the member may have noticed that Mr Banks is not a Minister in the current Government.

Grant Robertson: Is it not the case that the Prime Minister is the last person left in New Zealand who thinks that John Banks is credible and trustworthy, and that he is saying that only because he desperately needs to cling to that political corpse to prop up his Government?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: For the benefit of the member, if he looks at the confidence and supply agreements, which are publicly available, the Prime Minister commands a majority of 64 votes to 57 in this Parliament. No single vote is critical to the Government. Secondly, if legal proceedings continue, as indicated yesterday, and Mr Banks does go to trial, he will benefit, as every other New Zealand citizen does, from the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Labour Party may know the result already. Fortunately, the legal system is more even handed.

Grant Robertson: Does he now regret refusing to read the police report into John Banks filing a false electoral return, given that he had all the information he needed to know that Mr Banks should resign as a Minister last September but he failed to act on it?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. The correct way of handling allegations that someone has not complied with the law is through the legal process.

New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill—Passage

2. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Economic Development: Has Cabinet discussed delaying the passage of the New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill until the Hon John Banks prosecution is resolved; if not, why not?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): No. I am relatively new here, but it is my understanding that the executive proposes legislation and then a properly constituted Parliament of the House of Representatives debates and votes on legislation. I dare say that is what will actually happen in this case.

Metiria Turei: Has Cabinet discussed the conflict of interest arising from Mr Banks having a crucial vote on the Skycity deal at the same time as Skycity is a witness in the court proceedings against Mr Banks regarding a $15,000 donation that Mr Banks received from Skycity?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am not really sure what the member is trying to infer here, but my understanding is that Parliament gets to vote on legislation. Every member of Parliament in this House has the opportunity to do that, and to vote according to how their party and their caucus want them to vote. I think that is what is appropriate. It is generally what occurs, and I am sure that is what will occur in this case.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question expressly asked “Has Cabinet discussed the conflict of interest”—

Mr SPEAKER: I agree with the point the member is raising. Would she please ask the question again.

Metiria Turei: Has Cabinet discussed the conflict of interest arising from Mr Banks having a crucial vote on the Skycity deal at the same time as Skycity is a witness in the court proceedings against Mr Banks regarding a $15,000 donation that Mr Banks received from Skycity?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I reject much of the supposition contained in that question, but the answer is still no, same as it was for the primary question.

Metiria Turei: Why does the Minister not believe that there is a conflict of interest, when Mr Banks’ seat in this House is potentially dependent on the evidence that Skycity will present at his criminal trial, and Skycity’s $400 million deal could stand or fall on Mr Banks’ vote?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, this Parliament is the master of its own destiny, and every MP who sits here sits here because of this Parliament and are entitled to do so. While they are here, I presume they are entitled to vote. I might be old-fashioned in that respect, but that was my understanding of it.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order, and it will be—[Interruption] Order! A point of order has been called, and there were interjections coming from two-quarters of the House. If that continues, you leave me with no choice but to ask the member interjecting through a point of order to leave the Chamber.

Metiria Turei: Again, my question expressly concerned whether he believed there was or was not a—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I listened carefully to the question, and on this occasion the Minister addressed it to my satisfaction.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister believe it is good for democracy to pass a law benefiting Skycity while relying on the vote of a man whose seat in this House and even his freedom may depend on the testimony that Skycity presents at his criminal trial?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Speaking to the question, there are two answers to it. Firstly, I disagree with the member’s characterisation of the benefits of the legislation. The benefit of this legislation is to the people of Auckland and to the people of New Zealand, who would obtain a $400 million convention centre with the benefit of economic growth and jobs in this country. I know that member disagrees, but it is democratic for people to have different views.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: What reports has the Minister received on the precedent that was set when retrospective legislation for paying for the credit card costs in the 2005 election came before Parliament, in which every member of the Government had a vested interest—

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Grant Robertson: I cannot see how that could possibly be relevant to the primary question.

Mr SPEAKER: I agree with the member.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister think that a Government deal that causes people harm in order to increase casino profits is morally bankrupt?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I completely disagree with the premise of that member’s question, and here is the problem. The tenor of the questions of the member today is that she does not want a properly constituted Parliament of this country to vote on this legislation because she disagrees with it. I am sorry, but that is wrong.

Metiria Turei: Will the Minister meet with the victims of problem gambling and explain to them why he feels comfortable using the vote of a disgraced MP to pass a law that will increase the harm that problem gambling causes to our communities?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Everybody has a different view on what is disgraceful, and I think it is actually reasonably disgraceful to run a political campaign with taxpayers’ money during a term, but that is just my view. Of course, what is allowed to be done is allowed to be done. But my view on that is that every human activity involves some risk and every risk has to be managed, and that is what happens. The member, unless she is proposing to ban casinos and ban all gambling and ban lotteries, has no right to lecture me on that subject.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I expressly asked the Minister whether he will meet—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question was far more loaded than that.

Metiria Turei: Is this not the truth of the matter, Minister, that the Skycity bill—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member has a right to ask a supplementary question.

Metiria Turei: Is it not the truth of the matter that the Skycity bill is a sleazy deal in which his Government trades harm—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That question is now out of order.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I just want to check, first of all, that the member is not going to question the decision I have just made.

Metiria Turei: No, I am not going to question your decision. I would like your reasoning as to why you now consider that question out of order. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not need assistance. The member can just go back and look at the wording of her question and some of the words she used in that question, and I am sure she will figure it out for herself.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Can I just again clarify that we are not in any way questioning a ruling.

Metiria Turei: I am not questioning your decision.

Mr SPEAKER: Then I will hear a fresh point of order.

Metiria Turei: Does your ruling now mean that the word “sleazy” is a prohibited word in this Parliament?

Mr SPEAKER: No, it does not.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Can I just remind the member, because she is getting very, very close to having to be asked to leave the Chamber, that if she continues to raise points of order that I consider are trifling with the Chair, Speakers’ rulings—Speaker’s ruling 20/8 from memory—will suggest that she leaves me with no choice.

Metiria Turei: I understand.

Mr SPEAKER: OK, we will hear one more—hopefully one more—point of order.

Metiria Turei: At the point that you declared my question out of order, which is your right to do so, the only phrase I had used was “sleazy deal”. I am not sure—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume her seat. I have ruled the question out of order. That is the end of the matter. It is not something that is relitigated in this House.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has been the practice under your term as Speaker for members both of the Government and of Opposition parties to seek clarification from you on rulings. It is a perfectly legitimate part of all the time that I have been in the Chamber that that has been done, and that when a ruling appears to be a new one, members have the right to raise points of order with you and you have in the past responded. Or, if not that day, you come back with a considered ruling to explain why you made the ruling you made. I think that would be the appropriate course in this case.

Mr SPEAKER: And I agree with the member. Metiria Turei raised the question as to whether “sleazy” was now an unparliamentary term, and I said no.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I will hear, but I just want to warn the member that if we are any way addressing a decision I have made, I will be immediately, sadly, asking the member to leave the Chamber.

Metiria Turei: Absolutely, Mr Speaker. My point of order to you—

Mr SPEAKER: I just want to check that it is a fresh point of order.

Metiria Turei: It is a fresh point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Good.

Metiria Turei: What part of my question was out of order?

Mr SPEAKER: The member will now leave the Chamber. [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet. Metiria Turei withdrew from the Chamber.

Iain Lees-Galloway: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask— [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We have a point of order, and it will be heard in silence. [Interruption] Order!

Iain Lees-Galloway: I ask that you reflect on the original decision to rule Metiria Turei’s question out of order and perhaps bring a considered response back to the House. You have now left members in a difficult situation, I submit, in that it is difficult to craft questions that are in order because we do not know why it was that Metiria Turei’s question was out of order.

Hon Anne Tolley: I suggest that every member in this House has a responsibility to read the Standing Orders. If you read Standing Order 377, it makes it very clear. Standing Order 377(1)(b) states: “arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, ironical expressions or expressions of opinion,”—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I thank the member. I do not need further help on this point. Iain Lees- Galloway—[Interruption] Order! Iain Lees-Galloway has asked a reasonable question. I will have a further consideration of it, but I again say exactly what I said to Metiria Turei. I think that a reread of the supplementary question that was asked would help the member understand. But I do want to point out that Metiria Turei was not asked to leave the House because she asked that question; she then continued to raise numerous points of order that were relitigating—[Interruption] Order! I am on my feet. She continued to raise numerous points of order that were, in effect, relitigating a decision the Speaker had made.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek clarification, and it is simply this. It is not to challenge your ruling, but to ask you whether the statement that rules out that word is a precedent, or is it based on a precedent?

Mr SPEAKER: No, again, the member is now raising exactly the same point of order that was raised by Metiria Turei—whether the word “sleazy” is unparliamentary. I said that, no, it was not necessarily unparliamentary. It was the total content of the question that I was not satisfied with.

Infrastructure Investment Programme—Progress

NICKY WAGNER (National—Christchurch Central): What progress is the Government making with its multi-billion dollar—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am sorry, that question was very difficult to hear at the start because of the level of interjection. Would the member start again?

3. NICKY WAGNER (National—Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Finance: What progress is the Government making with its multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment programme, as part of its wider plan to build a more productive and competitive economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The 2013 National State of Infrastructure report issued today shows that the Government is making good progress. It shows a pipeline of around $14 billion worth of investment, including large investments in electricity transmission; the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband; and major transport projects, including roads of national significance, completion of the Auckland metropolitan rail network, begun under the previous Government, and the KiwiRail Turnaround Plan. It also shows that regulatory changes made by this Government to the relevant statutes have enabled 13 large projects to be consented in recent years, when this would normally have taken up to 7 years.

Nicky Wagner: Why has the Government made investment in modern infrastructure a high priority within its wider economic programme?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: It has made an investment because we have a very optimistic view about the future for growth in New Zealand, and we want the infrastructure investment to permit that growth, rather than to smother it. So despite the recession and a tight financial situation, the Government has set out on a large-scale programme, which, through difficult times in the job market, has supported thousands of jobs across New Zealand. We have also welcomed more private sector involvement in delivering public infrastructure, and this has been important in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of this investment.

Nicky Wagner: What are some of the main areas to benefit from the Government’s significant investment in infrastructure?

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Standing Order 377(1)(b) actually applies to all of the questions that Nicky Wagner has asked, and I was wondering whether you were going to rule on either of the first two—that is, questions must not contain “arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, ironical expressions or expressions of opinion,”. All of her questions have done that and they should all be ruled out of order.

Mr SPEAKER: I certainly did not interpret that question that way. If members want to get down to adhering strictly to Standing Order 377, I can do that. But it will hardy make it an interesting— [Interruption] Order! I ask the member to ask her question again.

Nicky Wagner: What are some of the main areas to benefit from the Government’s significant investment in infrastructure?

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the member is going to say that that question is out of order, then he is wrong.

Grant Robertson: I am seeking clarification from you about whether speaking about the benefits of significant investment amounts to a breach of Standing Order 377(1)(b).

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I would have preferred the question to be asked without the word “significant”, but I am not ruling the question out of order because it included the word “significant”.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The answer is really a matter of fact rather than opinion. The significant investments—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am sorry to interrupt the member. That interjection from Grant Robertson directly questions the partiality of the Speaker.

Hon Trevor Mallard: That’s right.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, that is a very serious interjection. The Hon Bill English is to answer the question.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The investments are significant because they are so large. There has been a $5.9 billion investment in roading, $3 billion for rebuilding Christchurch, $1.7 billion in the health sector, $900 million for education, $690 million for the housing sector, and $430 million for ultra-fast broadband, and these are for just the years 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Kia ora tātou. What can the residents of Raetihi, Turakina, Whangaehu, and Whanganui expect to receive out of the Government’s multibillion-dollar infrastructure investment programme to support them in facing recent crisis events such as flooding and diesel spills in their river?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Certainly, in the case of the flooding, there are arrangements in place between the Government and local councils for a degree of cost-sharing where that is appropriate. These are provisions that have been in place for up to 10 years and were used, for instance, in the case of extensive flooding in the Manawatū a number of years back. I cannot comment in detail on the diesel spill issue; it would be better to ask the relevant Minister.

Nicky Wagner: How will proceeds from the Government’s share offer programme to be invested out of the Future Investment Fund help to pay for new public infrastructure?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: One of the benefits of the Government’s share offers is that they generate significant amounts of cash from New Zealanders, who have the opportunity to invest in large New Zealand companies, and that cash has paid into the Government bank account. In the case of Mighty River Power it is around $1.7 billion. We can then use that cash to invest in public infrastructure without having to go and borrow it from foreign lenders, as any number of other people would prefer that we do. In the past two Budgets we have allocated around $2 billion from the Future Investment Fund into 21st century schools, new hospitals, and the rebuild of Christchurch.

Superannuation Fund—Commentary

4. Hon DAVID PARKER (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Dominion Post report that “Bill English was gushing about the NZ Super Fund yesterday” saying it was “one of the best-structured sovereign wealth funds in the world”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): No, I do not agree that I was gushing; I was simply pointing out what is a widely acknowledged fact. As the member may want to point out to the House, I went on to praise the architect of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Dr Michael Cullen, who was the finance spokesman when Labour had finance spokespeople who knew how to handle Labour’s spending instincts. That is why he set it up—to protect New Zealand from the Labour caucus—and he did a great job.

Hon David Parker: Is it correct that he voted against the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, voted against the formation of KiwiSaver, as Minister of Finance halted contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, opposes universal KiwiSaver, and will not address the age of eligibility of New Zealand superannuation?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am just trying to remember the order, but it goes something like yes, yes, no, no, yes—I think—to answer any one of those questions. Of course, the Government has

made pragmatic decisions about contributions to the Superannuation Fund. The fund was designed to make contributions when we had surpluses. Dr Cullen made sure that happened, so that Labour did not waste them. Unfortunately, we have had to deal with the legacy of deficits that Labour left behind. When we have cleared up that mess, we will start making contributions again.

Hon David Parker: Given that the guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund estimate that the fund would be a net—that is, net of the extra contributions—$2.2 billion better off had he not suspended contributions in 2009, is he now prepared to admit that his suspension of contributions has decreased the wealth of the fund?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. In fact, our policy simply follows the Labour policy as articulated by David Shearer when he said: “We have listened. That’s why I won’t continue with [the] previous policy to restore contributions to the … Super Fund until … we can afford it.” That is our policy too.

Louise Upston: What were Treasury’s fiscal and economic forecasts in late 2008 and into 2009, which influenced the incoming Government’s decision to temporarily suspend contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The forecasts actually showed that if the Government had maintained the spending and policy track it had inherited, we would never return to surplus, and that net Government debt would have exceeded 60 percent of GDP by the early 2020s. Under this Government’s sensible policy, debt will be around 20 percent of GDP—around one-third of that projected as a result of the Labour Party policies.

Hon David Parker: Did the temporary suspension of contributions to which Mrs Upston referred begin in 2008, and is it predicted to end, under his Government’s policy, only in 2020?

Hon Steven Joyce: Well, if it was Labour it would be 2030.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: My colleague makes a good point. If we followed the Labour Party policies that we inherited, we would be restoring contributions in about 2070, because it would have taken that long to get debt back to some kind of reasonable level. I do not think that the member’s party’s policy has changed. His previous leader said a Labour Government would make contributions when the country can afford it. We think that is reasonable, and we agree with that policy.

Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has no responsibility for, and should not misrepresent, the Labour Party policy.

Mr SPEAKER: The question was around when the—[Interruption] Order! The question was really around, first of all, when did the contributions conclude, and then, when they might start again. He is allowed to justify that, in my opinion.

Hon David Parker: How can he be gushing about the Superannuation Fund when he voted against it and said at the time that the scheme was “a dog”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The fact is that at the time there was extensive discussion over whether the New Zealand Government could maintain the surpluses required to continue making contributions. It turned out that within 4 or 5 years that was not the case, so I think we were probably half right. On the other half, the fund has turned out to be well structured, making good returns, and we support its continuation.

Louise Upston: What reports has he seen setting out sensible approaches to making contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I saw one report that I thought was pretty sensible. It said that “The government will make contributions to the Fund from available surpluses. Where these are insufficient for making the required contribution a reduced contribution would be made.” I would venture to suggest that if the speaker had contemplated deficits, he would have said that if there were deficits, we probably would not contribute. That comment came from Dr Michael Cullen. I think the legislation was structured in a way that allowed the Government to make up its own mind about whether to contribute, and we have, and the Labour Party now supports National’s policy.

Welfare Reforms—Reports

5. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister for Social Development: What reports has she received on the progress of the Government’s welfare reforms to date?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): We are seeing more people coming off benefits as a result of the Government’s efforts to support more people off welfare and into work. Benefit numbers are at the lowest they have been since 2008. In the September quarter the number of New Zealanders on benefits fell by 5,388 people to just over 304,000, which is the third straight quarterly drop. A year ago there were almost 321,000 New Zealanders on benefits. This has fallen by 16,500 people since September 2012.

Melissa Lee: How is the Government’s new work bonus payment supporting people to transition into work?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The new work bonus payment allows people who are not work tested and who go off that benefit and into work to keep their benefit, which reduces by $100 a week. In just the 6 weeks since the new work bonus policy was introduced, 706 people have come off benefit into work, seeking out and landing jobs, even though they have no requirement to work. As I said, this means that they can keep their benefit for longer, and it is easier for them to transition to a wage.

Melissa Lee: How are the changes making a difference for people in the regions?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: We have seen significant drops over the last year, in particular for sole parents in the Bay of Plenty, where that number is down by 524. In Canterbury it is down by 721, in the central region it is down by 500, in Waikato it is down by 689, and in Auckland it is down by nearly 3,000 people. As for jobseekers in Auckland, there are 4,500 fewer people, in Canterbury the number is down by 2,162, and in Mrs Anne Tolley’s own East Coast it is down by 815 people, which is really significant.

Sue Moroney: Given her assertion that 2,000 people every week have their benefits cancelled even though they have no job to go to, can she guarantee that those 2,000 people and their children are not falling further into poverty?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The number of people who leave for reasons other than finding work has not changed. It was the same in 2007 as it is now.

Sue Moroney: I didn’t ask that.

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Well, it is significant. What we have got is people leaving for the reasons of getting into a relationship, changing benefit categories, or going into study, so they change benefits. Those numbers have not actually changed in the last 13 years. So they leave for many different reasons. Some will do so, as I said, for relationship reasons and other reasons. What has changed is the number of people who are leaving to go into work, and, as I have expressed, that has gone up.

Sue Moroney: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was very straightforward. I asked for a guarantee—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I apologise to the member. I was concentrating on another matter. I did not hear the question to know whether it was addressed. I invite the member to ask the question again.

Sue Moroney: Thank you. Given her assertion that 2,000 people every week have their benefits cancelled even though they have no job to go to, can she guarantee that those 2,000 people and their children are not falling further into poverty?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The assertion of the question is that we cancel 2,000 benefits each week. Those people cancel them themselves, right? They say they no longer require a benefit, because they are in a relationship, because they have gone into study, or because they have transferred onto another benefit. This may help the member: since welfare reforms, 37 percent are cancelling into work compared with just 30 percent in 2007.

Primary Industries, Minister—Statements

6. Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR (Labour—West Coast - Tasman) to the Minister for

Primary Industries: Does he stand by all his statements?

Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister for Primary Industries): Yes.

Hon Damien O’Connor: Does he stand by his statement following the Fonterra botulism scare that “What you have seen in the last couple of weeks is MPI performing really well.”; if so, how does he reconcile that with his senior colleague’s comments yesterday that “Clearly, we did not have enough resources in MPI and, I know this is a little bit unusual, but whenever I’ve raised this issue the response is, ‘Well, this is an operational matter minister, don’t worry your little head about it’.”?

Hon NATHAN GUY: Yes, of course I stand by my comments about the response of the Government. That was the same acknowledgment that Mr Shearer made in the House at that time, as leader of the Labour Party, when he said: “The Government was quick off the mark. I commend it for its speed in being able to do that. I believe that the response the Government has made to the emergency, up to now, has been a good one.”

Hon Damien O’Connor: Does the Minister now consider that cuts to his own ministry of 200 staff and $26 million have been a disaster given yesterday’s statement by his colleague and given that Michael Barnett, chair of the infant formula exporters, said that up to 30 New Zealand businesses stand to lose tens of millions of dollars and that New Zealand’s reputational damage may amount to hundreds of millions of dollars because of the Minister’s under-resourcing of the Ministry for Primary Industries?

Hon NATHAN GUY: I refute those numbers. I do not know where the member has made those numbers up from. I do acknowledge that staffing resources in China have not kept pace with the growth, and as a result of that the ministry—

Hon Annette King: Of what?

Hon NATHAN GUY: Growth in trade—

Grant Robertson: So you’ve under-resourced them.

Hon NATHAN GUY: —which has gone up three times, Mr Robertson, in the last 5 years. I acknowledge that. That is why the ministry has a 25-point action plan. It is beefing up its resources in China and also here in Wellington.

Hon Damien O’Connor: I seek leave to table a transcript of an interview and a quote from Minister Groser, who says: “Clearly, we did not have enough resources in MPI …”.

Mr SPEAKER: The source of the transcript?

Hon Damien O’Connor: It is a transcript from Medianet. It is one that we have paid to be transcribed.

Mr SPEAKER: On this occasion I will put the leave. It is over to the House. Leave is sought to table that particular transcript. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon Damien O’Connor: How can we believe the Minister’s reassurances on biosecurity protection for New Zealand given the honest admission by Minister Groser yesterday, the interception of a live onion fly in imported garlic, and the control of the great white butterfly relying on consumers catching flies and Cubs and Brownies catching butterflies?

Hon NATHAN GUY: We have got a world-class biosecurity system, and part of the biosecurity system is the intelligence from the New Zealand public. They play an important part. I think it is great that the Department of Conservation is working so closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries on getting on top of the great white butterfly issue. But if the member wants to come in here and say that Labour was squeaky clean on biosecurity, I have a list in front of me of all the incursions that occurred under his watch.

Hon Damien O’Connor: I seek leave to table a copy of a letter from the Ministry for Primary Industries to a constituent of mine who found a Delia antiqua, or onion fly, in a bag of garlic—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular letter from the—[Interruption] Order! Leave is sought to table that particular letter. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon Phil Goff: Does he agree with all three statements that Tim Groser made yesterday regarding the debacles over trade with China: firstly, that his ministry was understaffed, secondly, that his communications strategy was poor, and thirdly, that there was an inadequate regulatory framework; if so, why has he been hiding from those realities when Mr Groser said: “There’s no place to hide.”?

Hon Tim Groser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is a complete misstatement of what was said.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. The Minister can now answer the question that has been asked.

Hon NATHAN GUY: I agree with Minister Groser’s comments that the Ministry for Primary Industries has been under-resourced in China, because the growth up there has been beyond everyone’s expectations. So I will take the member through what we are doing about it. We are increasing the staff numbers up in China. I announced that in June this year. What we are also doing is we are beefing up our capability here in Wellington from eight to 16. What we have also got in front of us is a 25-point action plan that the Ministry for Primary Industries is working through. What we are also doing is we are working closely with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to make sure that China is our No. 1 focus because it is a hugely important market to us. We are doing a lot.

Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave to table the notes that I took carefully when Minister Tim Groser was replying—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The speech has been well-recorded and is available to members.

Social Development, Minister—Statements on Entitlements

7. JAN LOGIE (Green) to the Minister for Social Development: When she said last month, “for every example that the member can give, I can give another 10 of people who are grateful for the help that they are getting” was she saying that it is acceptable that a large portion of people are not getting the help they are entitled to?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): I have seen absolutely no evidence that there is a large portion of people who are not getting the help that they require. In fact, evidence speaks otherwise. For example, access to hardship assistance has not reduced. Since September last year, as I have already stated in the House, benefit numbers have reduced by 16,500 people, or 5.2 percent. Over that time grants of hardship assistance have fallen by just 1 percent. The other example is the triage rates, which are those who go into Work and Income to go on a benefit. For the last 3 years or 4 years they have averaged around 42 percent; they are currently at about 37 percent. So, actually, more who walk through our door are going on benefit than were previously 12 months ago. Who we are working more with, though, are people who have been on longer, putting more support up front around them and doing more face-to-face interviews, and we are seeing great progress from that.

Jan Logie: What prompted her U-turn on our request for an evaluation of the implementation of the welfare reforms, including clients’ perspectives?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I do not believe there has been a U-turn. I think that we are constantly looking at the way that we are implementing what is happening. We are doing pilots. We

are testing things. We are prepared to change. We are always refining. I think we are having a better look and more transparent look at the welfare system now than we ever have before.

Jan Logie: I seek leave to table the as yet unpublished response to my written question about the evaluation of the welfare reforms.

Mr SPEAKER: In that it is unpublished—it is in the 3-day time frame?

Jan Logie: It is.

Mr SPEAKER: I will put the question. Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? No, there is not. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Jan Logie: Can she guarantee that this ongoing evaluation will mean no more cases such as the young New Zealander required by Work and Income to attend work-testing seminars for job seeker support while still in an in-patient unit at a mental health unit?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I would say that the first thing we should look at is what benefit that young person is on. We are always prepared to look at that, because actually they should not be work tested if that is the case. They would have received a letter. That letter quite clearly would have said: “Please contact us if there is any reason why not.” We may not have known that they were in the in-patient clinic. So it is hard for me to talk about those individual circumstances, but that is not the expectation, at all.

Jan Logie: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I heard the question, and the question asked for a guarantee. The Minister did not give a guarantee and was unlikely ever to give a guarantee.

Jan Logie: Can she guarantee that this evaluation will mean no more cases such as the woman who was told she was not entitled to the supported living payment to care for her 80-year-old mother, even though her doctor had certified that her mother needed 24/7 care, and who was then turned down for the jobseeker allowance because she was not work-available as she was providing that care for her mum?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Well, it is impossible for me to talk about individual circumstances. If the member really cared, then she would bring them to me and I might be able to look at them and help.

Jan Logie: On this day, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, will the Minister ensure that this evaluation will mean no more cases such as the young deaf woman who was told she could not even apply for the support living allowance because she could speak?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I just struggle to believe that that is true. As I say, if the member wants to play politics, that is fine. If she has real cases that she wishes to bring to me, I have offered her my door open many times, and I am willing to help individuals who may have been unfairly treated.

Immigration—People Unlawfully in New Zealand

8. DENIS O’ROURKE (NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: How many people are currently classified as unlawfully in New Zealand, and what steps, if any, has he taken to reduce that number?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister of Immigration): The most recent figure we have is from 2012 and estimates that 14,044—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How many?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: —14,044—unlawful overstayers were in New Zealand. This is the lowest number this century and is more than 20 percent less than in 2007 under the Labour - New Zealand First Government, when—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I can anticipate the point of order, but I will hear it from the member.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Great minds think alike. There was no New Zealand First - Labour coalition Government.

Mr SPEAKER: It would be helpful to the order of this House if the Minister would not refer to it as a “Labour - New Zealand First Government”.

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: There were still 3,000 more overstayers in 2007. To the second part of the question, the Government has incentivised voluntary departures by banning anyone deported from New Zealand from coming back until they have repaid the taxpayer for the cost of their deportation. Even then, it is unlikely that they would be let back in. Those and other changes have contributed to many more overstayers choosing to leave voluntarily rather than being forcefully deported.

Denis O’Rourke: If the Government’s policy regarding people unlawfully in New Zealand was actually effective, why are the numbers—still at well over 14,000—still so high?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I would simply dispute the preface to the question. The numbers are low and dropping.

Denis O’Rourke: Does the Minister accept that the current high level of people unlawfully in New Zealand and the low probability of deportation constitute a strong signal to others that they can break immigration law with impunity; if not, why not?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: Well, I simply do not accept that it is high. It is the lowest figure this century, and continues to drop. It is 23 percent lower than when that party supported the previous Government.

Denis O’Rourke: What is the estimated cost in terms of health, criminal justice, law enforcement, education, and other costs associated with people unlawfully in New Zealand?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I do not have that figure to hand. I would be very happy to estimate it if the member puts it down in a written question. But I have every confidence that it would be at least 23 percent lower than in 2007.

Denis O’Rourke: What steps have been taken to recoup the costs of deporting people unlawfully in New Zealand, and have those steps been successful?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I think it is firstly important to point out that the removal and deportation costs have halved since 2005-06, and the Government has a very strict policy that nobody may apply for re-entry into New Zealand until the taxpayer is refunded the costs of their deportation. That is why, although deportations have increased slightly, the voluntary departures have more than doubled.

Hawke’s Bay Water Management—Departmental Submissions on Plan Change Proposal

9. Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills) to the Minister of Conservation: When was he first informed by the Department of Conservation that they were considering contributing to any submission on the Tukituki Catchment Proposal that might include nitrogen and phosphorous management?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): The first full briefing on Tukituki was on 5 March and it confirmed the department’s role in the process and mentioned nitrogen and phosphorous management. The paper was very positive on the project, saying it offered significant environmental and economic benefits. Let me quote directly what it said: “Any increased and regulated low flow level for the Tukituki River would mitigate the dry conditions … low phosphorous … which affect native fish and in-stream biota. Water quality would be improved in the entire catchment.” If the member read that report, she would understand why I was surprised at the content of the leaked draft submission that had a very different view on the effects of the project. This confirms that there were differing views within the department on the Tukituki project.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Why did he tell the House in answer to a primary question on 24 September that he was first informed of the submission on 29 July when his weekly report of 20 May stated: “Further work is needed to determine the content of any Crown submission. The Department of

Conservation has some concerns with the novel scientific approach for dealing with nitrogen and phosphorous and how this is translated into the plan provisions.”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Very easily, because the member only half quotes. What it said was that was in respect of the option of a Crown submission. Subsequently, Cabinet made a decision not to proceed with a Crown submission. What I would also draw to the attention of the member is that the former report said that the Department of Conversation was very positive about the project. The member cannot half quote and needs to consider all the information.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Why did he tell the House repeatedly that the first he was aware that the Department of Conservation was preparing a submission was on 29 July when his weekly report on 17 June stated: “At this stage, it may be that the Department of Conservation is the only agency that will make a submission.”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The member half quotes again.

Hon Ruth Dyson: I do not.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Yes, you do. Let me see what the report on 17 June says. It says that the Department of Conservation may make a submission—may. It may. It does not say it is going to make a submission. The first report where the Department of Conservation confirmed it was going to make a submission was in the weekly report on 29 July.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Why did he tell the House repeatedly that he asked the Department of Conversation to see its submission on 29 July when his weekly report of 24 June stated as an action point from his 17 June meeting: “Any Department of Conservation submission on this proposal needs to be OK’d by the Minister prior to it being submitted.”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The word “any” says it all. When it said that any Department of Conservation submission would need to come to my office, that makes it plain that at the time, it had not decided either that it would make a submission or what would be in that submission.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Why did he have Nicky Wagner ask a patsy question on 26 September in order for him to say that senior management had “not even read the submission prior to 29 July” when, as he stated in written question 13184: “Senior managers made amendments to or comments on the draft submission.”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The reason the member’s question was so useful was that members opposite selectively just ask for some of the information. It is important, if you are going to make a judgment, to have all of the information. For instance, can I quote the exact information from the Deputy Director-General of Conservation. She said of me that I did not play any role in her decision making, that she made the decision about the submission, that she did not know my view, and that I never saw the leaked draft submission. The members opposite are effectively saying that Doris Johnston was not telling the truth. It is members opposite who are not telling the truth.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was actually going to raise a different point of order, but do you consider the answer that Nick Smith gave to be in order?

Mr SPEAKER: No. The accusation that the members opposite are not telling the truth is completely unparliamentary. The Minister will stand, withdraw, and apologise for that.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I withdraw and apologise.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the Minister’s primary answer he quoted from an official document dated 5 March. He is required to table that document.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Is the member quoting from an official document?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I was going to seek leave, anyway, to table the official report I received on 5 March. It has been released under the Official Information Act.

Mr SPEAKER: It will be tabled. It has been asked for. It is an official document. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon Ruth Dyson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In answer to my last supplementary question, the Minister repeated comments in relation to the deputy director-general’s quotes. They

were entirely irrelevant actually, interesting though they may be, to the question that I asked about the question from Nicky Wagner—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard quite sufficient. Again, I invite the member to go back and look at the tone of the way she asked the question. It was likely it gave great liberty to the Minister to then answer the question.

Hon Ruth Dyson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Is this a fresh point of order or in any way challenging a ruling I have just given?

Hon Ruth Dyson: I am seeking clarification, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Points of order are not to be raised for points of clarification. The member was unhappy with the answer. I accept that. That happens frequently. The member asked a question referring to a question asked by Nicky Wagner. It was a patsy question. That gave liberty to the Minister to respond quite liberally.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Does the Minister think that the Ruataniwha Dam, promoted by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, will solve the problem of low summer flows in the Tukituki River, and is that not a problem caused by the regional council allocating more water for irrigation than the river can provide?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: It is certainly true that in that catchment, and in a number of others, water management historically has resulted in overallocation. That is why the good work of my colleague Amy Adams and previously my own work on a national policy statement on water management seeks to put in place a stronger framework to prevent that sort of overallocation of water.

Better Public Service Targets—Rheumatic Fever

10. Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (National—Maungakiekie) to the Minister of Health: What progress is the Government making on its Rheumatic Fever Programme?

Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health): The challenge of reducing rheumatic fever rates, after years of relentless increases, is a real challenge. Working with the Māori Party, an important part of the Government’s campaign to reduce rheumatic fever rates is easy access local drop-in clinics. These are very important to local families whose children do not attend schools that have the throat-swabbing services, and for out-of-time access for all at-risk kids. We can announce today that eight sore throat drop-in clinics have opened this week, as part of the Government’s $45 million campaign to reduce rheumatic fever rates, and at least 60 more will open in Greater Auckland and Porirua over the next few months. This is the first time a health system anywhere in the world has sought to reduce rheumatic fever incidence, and we are trying numerous innovative ways to achieve this.

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: What particular steps are being taken in Pacific communities to address unacceptable rheumatic fever rates?

Hon TONY RYALL: As the member will know, Pacific children are up to 44 times more likely to contract rheumatic fever than their non-Pacific classmates. Several specific strategies are being implemented to turn this round. This afternoon Mrs Turia will announce that the fight against rheumatic fever is now going door-to-door in the high-risk areas of Ōtara, Onehunga, Manurewa, Massey, Rānui, and Henderson. Eighty-two community health workers have already been trained, as part of the Pacific Engagement Strategy, with 23 more due shortly. These health workers will visit around 11,000 at-risk Pacific families in their own homes and in the community in the Greater Auckland region. Members will be surprised to know that reducing rheumatic fever rates has been a national priority since 2001 and it has only taken this Government to invest $45 million in this very important programme.

Businesses, Small—Impact of Fraud, Corruption, and Dishonesty

11. Dr DAVID CLARK (Labour—Dunedin North) to the Minister for Small Business: What advice, if any, has he received on the impact of fraud, corruption and dishonesty on small business and what has he done about it?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Acting Minister for Small Business): No specific advice as yet. However, when reading the member’s question this morning, it did give me pause for thought. I can think of some examples over the last several years that might fit into the categories the member—

Dr David Clark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think he has answered the question.

Mr SPEAKER: The difficulty is that the Minister certainly answered the first part of the question—no reports have been received. What he has done about that has not really yet been addressed. I will allow the Minister to continue, but I will be listening very carefully—

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is quite clear, in a primary question such as that, that the second part of the question has to relate to the first part of the question, and the first part of the question is about advice. The Minister told us he had not had any advice; therefore, he cannot be doing anything about it.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I was making the point that I had not had any advice, and this is what I was about to do about it. If the member gave me the opportunity to answer the rest of the question, I would be happy to do that.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the fact there is—

Iain Lees-Galloway: I think we should move on.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the point is that what he has done about it might relate to advice, but it could equally relate to the impact of fraud, corruption, and dishonesty on small business. On this occasion, I have got to allow the Minister to continue his answer, but I will be listening very carefully to see that the answer is in order.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, quite genuinely, when the member gave me the question, I thought I had better have a look at what he might be referring to, so I tried to figure some examples in recent years that might fit into the categories the member raises and, therefore, whether I should be acting on them. There was apparently a tiling outfit in South Auckland, a Thai tiling outfit, that had a little bit of difficulty—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That answer is not going to be helpful to the order of the House.

Dr David Clark: Has he received any briefings from the former Minister for Small Business, the Hon John Banks, given his intimate knowledge of fraud, corruption, and dishonesty?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will invite the member to read the first part of the question, which is in order, but the rest is a direct accusation against a member—a personal reflection on a member.

Dr David Clark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, I am asking—

Mr SPEAKER: Is the member now raising a point of order?

Dr David Clark: Yes.

Mr SPEAKER: I will hear from the member.

Dr David Clark: The former Minister for Small Business is a former Minister of Police, and I would assume that he has knowledge of these activities. It is within his experience.

Mr SPEAKER: No, we are talking about the Minister—[Interruption] Order! I do not need assistance from 60 or 70 members on my right-hand side. The member has asked a question of the Minister for Small Business. I will allow the question to be asked if it is just the first part of the question.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Every member has a right to raise a point of order.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: There is a very clear Standing Order, which members opposite have referred to in respect of the Labour candidate Mr Daljit Singh, who is before the courts on fraud charges, that matters before the courts should not be referred to in Parliament while they are there, or any evidence about them.

Mr SPEAKER: That is true—[Interruption] Order! Would the House please settle down. I invite David Clark to ask his supplementary question with the first part only.

Dr David Clark: I will ask a different one.

Mr SPEAKER: OK, he is going to ask a different question. [Interruption] Order!

Dr David Clark: Has he received any advice from the previous Minister on exempting small business from prosecution if they sign a tax return without reading it?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I do not believe that I have received that at this point. There may be some advice, but I have not yet had the opportunity to receive the large package of advice.

Dr David Clark: Can he list the ways that small business representation at the Cabinet table has suffered in light of police evidence that the former Minister received donations from big business before filing a false election return? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The fact that it is a matter before the courts is public knowledge. We cannot discuss the details of that case. That question is able to be answered by the Minister.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think the member misunderstands that the Minister was a Minister outside of Cabinet, so that rather mucks up the premise of his whole question. Actually, I know that the Minister for Small Business took a great interest—a great interest—in the activities of small businesses, and the member knows that I know that there are lots of small enterprises, some of which members on the other side of the House know a lot about, that may have misbehaved over the years. I am more than happy to investigate them and actually talk about them in the House if the member wants me to.

Dr David Clark: I seek leave to table a graph prepared by the Parliamentary Library depicting Cabinet papers submitted by the Minister for Small Business between April and August 2013.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, it is a graph that shows nothing, so it is a blank piece of paper. I am not— [Interruption] The member has made his point and it will not be tabled.

Dr David Clark: Did the former Minister for Small Business implement any specific small business policies or provide any Cabinet papers regarding small business; if not, is that not because he has been a lame duck Minister?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I think the member is a fine one to call anybody a lame duck. He has been a parrot the entire time he has been in Parliament. He has had nothing to say, and that is the reality of it. He is possibly the least productive member in this House. He got thrown out of the economic development portfolio about 3 months after he got the gig, and he is criticising the Minister for Small Business.

Dr David Clark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order has been called.

Dr David Clark: I appreciate the Minister’s intense interest in my activities, but surely that is beyond his responsibility.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, it is a classic case. If you ask a question that is loaded about a lame duck Minister, you will get an answer back that is relatively loaded.

Grant Robertson: I’m glad we’ve clarified he is.

Mr SPEAKER: Let me clarify: I am not saying that; I am just repeating what the member said.

Dr David Clark: I seek leave to table a fraud, bribery, and corruption survey, which found that the largest number of respondents believe—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The source of the document?

Dr David Clark: It is from KPMG. I have copied a hard copy.

Mr SPEAKER: Is it freely available on the internet?

Dr David Clark: I am not sure whether it is available.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member is saying he is not sure. [Interruption] Order! We have had enough of an explanation. I will put the leave. It is a fraud report prepared by KPMG. Leave is sought to table it. Is there any objection? There is.

Corrections, Department—Staff Safety

12. SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel) to the Minister of Corrections: What recent announcements has she made on improving the safety of Corrections staff?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Corrections): Last week I announced plans to reduce assaults on corrections staff by 50 percent by 2015. This follows the development of a staff safety plan reviewed by an expert panel chaired by former Police Commissioner Howard Broad. Changes include increasing training and mentoring of new custodial staff, piloting a mental health awareness programme for staff working in high-risk areas, a safety training package for community-based staff, and improving accessibility of handcuffs for custodial staff working in high-risk areas. Offenders can often be dangerous and unpredictable, and this Government is committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety of staff working in the corrections environment.

Scott Simpson: What steps has the Government already taken to improve the safety of staff working with prisoners?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: This Government has supported a number of new measures to boost the safety of staff working in prisons. Last year the Sentencing (Aggravated Factors) Amendment Act 2012 was passed, which made offending against a corrections officer a mandatory aggravating factor at sentencing. We have also introduced batons, spit-hoods, and stab-resistant vests for staff working in high-risk situations, and we have given corrections officers access to pepper spray to use if required. Corrections has also invested in tactical communications and de-escalation training for all frontline prison staff to give them the skills they need to manage a volatile prisoner. Although it is impossible to eliminate all risks in prison, this Government is making sure that staff have the skills to stay safe at work. I seek leave to table two documents that are not available publicly. These are internal documents. The first is a document entitled Keeping Each Other Safe: Staff Safety Plan 2013-2014—

Mr SPEAKER: And the second document?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The second is entitled Ensuring Personal Safety: A Guide for Corrections Staff.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those two documents. Is there any objection? There is none. They can be tabled. Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Le’aufa’amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor.

Hon Member: Oh, no!

Le’aufa’amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor: Oh, yes. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! All members have a right to ask a supplementary question.

Le’aufa’amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor: How can the Minister claim that the safety of corrections staff is being improved when there has been turnover of approximately over 65 percent in rehabilitation and reintegration case management staff in a central region prison since September last year, as a result of bullying?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I am not aware of those figures, but I am aware that we have been increasingly concerned about staff safety over the last couple of years. That is why we have invested heavily in extra training last year, and why the chief executive and I convened an expert panel to work with unions and staff throughout New Zealand to develop the staff safety plan. It is an important issue for our staff, and we are determined to reduce those assaults by 50 percent over the next 2 years.

ENDS

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