Questions and Answers - November 6
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Job Creation—Reports 1. DAVID BENNETT (National - Hamilton East) to the Minister for Economic Development: What reports has he received on job growth in the New Zealand economy?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): Yesterday the household labour force survey for the September quarter was released. It shows steady job growth over the quarter. There are 18,000 more people in employment than 3 months ago, and there are 72,000 more than 12 months ago. New Zealand’s unemployment rate is now down to 5.4 percent. It is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. Even with more Kiwis voting with their feet and staying home, we are matching the influx of new people with more jobs. A growing economy is getting more New Zealanders into work, and we are going to keep focusing on creating the conditions for the economy to grow through our consistent macro-economic policies and the Government’s Business Growth Agenda.
David Bennett: How many new jobs have been created in recent years compared with previous forecasts, and how do the latest average wage increases compare with cost of living changes?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: As some members of the House will recall, in Budget 2011 Treasury forecast 171,000 jobs to be added to the economy by mid-2015. The latest household labour force survey confirms there have been 159,000 new jobs created since Budget 2011. That is actually 12,000 jobs ahead of Treasury’s projections, which is great for New Zealand. In terms of average wage increases, the quarterly employment survey released yesterday, which is the official measure of wage movements, shows average hourly wages rose 2.3 percent over the last year. That is 2.3 percent over the last year. It also shows that average weekly wages grew by about 1.8 percent compared with inflation of 1 percent, so on average New Zealanders are receiving wage rises ahead of the cost of living, which is helping them get ahead.
David Bennett: How does the employment picture vary across New Zealand?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: What is really pleasing about the data released yesterday is that in the year to September unemployment is down in all regions but one. However, there are some interesting regional variations. For example, of the 72,000 more people in employment across New Zealand in the last year, 41,000 of them, over half, are in the South Island. In fact, the North Island’s unemployment rate is significantly higher than the South Island rate. The North Island is at 6.2 percent and the South Island is down 1 percent to 3.4 percent. It is not just the Christchurch rebuild. I am pleased to advise some of the members opposite who are concerned about a particular region that unemployment in Otago continues to be in the threes—3.8 percent, down 1 percent from a year ago, and in Southland it is 3.3 percent, down from 5.4 percent a year ago.
David Bennett: What other reports has he seen on unemployment? (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: A couple of reports. This afternoon Australia released its unemployment data. It shows an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent across the Tasman, as compared with 5.4 percent in this country. Our comparative strong economic performance and, as a result, emerging skill shortages is one of the reasons why we are planning a series of job fairs across a number of key Australian cities to attract Kiwis back, and also to attract skilled Aussies to support New Zealand’s growing economy.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that there is no ministerial responsibility in this House for a report out of Australia.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. The question asked: “What other reports”, and the Minister has every right to address that in his capacity as Minister.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I have also seen a second report from a new-generation commentator with strong links to the Wellington beltway, who said: “While it is good news that unemployment overall has fallen, it only benefits those lucky enough to find jobs.” Let us think about that for a minute.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just complete the answer.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It is a reasonably self-evident point, but I think it is a very insightful comment from Mr Robertson.
Dr David Clark: Six years on, how long does he think it will take unemployment to fall from 5.4 percent now to the 4.5 percent he inherited from Labour?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I thank the member for drawing attention to what we had to deal with that we inherited from Labour, including a domestic recession ahead of the global financial crisis, which of course arrived—Dr Clark might have missed it. He also may have missed the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes on our second-largest city. My understanding is that Treasury expects unemployment to be around 4.4 percent at the end of the current forecast period, and of course we will be working hard to get it below that. It is one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the OECD today.
Dr David Clark: Given that answer, is he sticking to his target of reducing unemployment below 4 percent by 2025, 14 years after the earthquake and 14 years after the end of the global financial crisis, or does he think it is time to be a little more ambitious?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Certainly I as Minister have no target that the member has described. I would be interested to see it. I have a sneaking suspicion he is talking about an ongoing Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment target. He can feel free to tell us a bit more about it if he would like.
Building and Housing, Minister—Statements on National Construction Pipeline Report 2. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour - Te Atatū) to the Minister for Building and Housing: Does he stand by his statement on the National Construction Pipeline report on residential construction that “in Auckland it equates to about 30,000 houses over the course of the three years”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Minister for Building and Housing: Yes, and I presume the member is going to compare it with the target set for the Auckland Housing Accord, which was 39,000 sections. One is a measure of sections; the other is a measure of houses built.
Phil Twyford: Is the reason the National Construction Pipeline report boosts the value of residential construction by a factor of 1.82—and he is reduced to counting empty sections to meet his Auckland Housing Accord targets—that he is so depressed at the failure to achieve a housing boom that he feels he has to artificially inflate the numbers?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, the member is completely wrong about that. In fact, the Auckland Council report itself shows that we are in for the most sustained construction activity for 40 years. That is the longest period of the highest rates of growth in construction, and that is because we have (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing) to catch up from all the damage done under the previous Labour Government where housing consenting slowed right down in Auckland, and that is what has forced up rents and house prices.
Phil Twyford: How does he explain that Labour consented over 30,000 houses a year a decade ago under the same regulatory settings that he now blames for the collapse of his own 6-year housing programme, which consented only 7,300 houses in Auckland last year—4 years after he declared that the recession was over?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is talking nonsense. The Government set out to undo the problem created by Auckland Council limiting the amount of land available for new growth, not for previous growth. The impact of that member’s policies is that almost no lower-value housing was consented in Auckland up until a couple of years ago. That is the real problem we need to fix—that is, the access of lower-income New Zealanders to housing they can afford in New Zealand’s biggest city.
Phil Twyford: Is he aware that the head of Auckland Council’s housing project office confirmed this week that only five houses have been completed under his accord, and only 18 are expected by the end of the year; and is he proud of this spectacular achievement when people are living in cars and garages and caravans in Auckland?
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Bill English—either of those two supplementary questions.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: We are aware of the report of the Auckland Council on where the pipeline is up to, bearing in mind special housing areas were put in place by agreement with the Auckland Council, so we could not go faster than the Auckland Council—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am sorry to interrupt the member, but the level of barracking coming from the member who is asking the questions is unacceptable. I ask the Minister to resume.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The combined efforts of the Government and the Auckland Council in dealing with the very tricky planning environment are that we are heading into the most sustained period of growth in house building that New Zealand has seen in 40 years. That will be of great assistance to New Zealanders who have found that under the previous Labour Government house prices doubled, their debt went way up, and interest rates reached 10 percent. That certainly will not be happening on our watch.
Phil Twyford: Has he considered approaching TV3’s The Block NZ for help to fix the Auckland housing crisis given that they have built and completed more houses in two seasons than he has built in 1 year of his housing accords?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The houses are more than a million dollars apiece, and I know that is the bit of the market that Labour is interested in, but we are interested in what normal households can afford. Secondly, they were built on land that had already been made available. We had to actually make 39,000 sections available that did not previously exist. We are very proud of the fact that in the next 5 or 6 years tens of thousands of new houses will be built in New Zealand that would not otherwise have occurred.
Electricity—Generation from Renewable Resources 3. GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Is solar energy part of his plan to reach the “ambitious but achievable target of 90 percent of electricity generation from renewables by 2025”?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development) on behalf of the Minister of Energy and Resources: Of course there is a place for solar energy in New Zealand, but we have to remember that solar generation is, at this stage anyway, a lot more expensive than other forms of generation—about three times the cost of grid-scale geothermal or wind generation, which of course are also renewable.
Gareth Hughes: Does he support decisions made in the last week by Contact and Meridian Energy to cut buy-back rates for new solar by between 50 and 72 percent? (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Of course, that is something for the companies to determine, but I note that the Greens and others are on the one hand encouraging energy companies to lower their prices and, in fact, at one stage were proposing regulation to lower their prices, and now they seem to be concerned that they are not paying enough for the prices of electricity coming into them. You cannot have it both ways. My understanding is that Meridian Energy, for example, is saying that its input prices that it is paying for solar is roughly equivalent to what it pays for other renewable resources.
Gareth Hughes: Does the Minister think it is fair that families in small businesses who invested in solar to escape rising power bills are dependent on the power companies, which can and do keep changing the rules on them?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I do have some trouble with the member’s logic, because if he is concerned about rising power prices, then saying that power companies should pay more for the electricity that they buy to sell on to consumers is a little contradictory to say the least, especially in the case of Meridian, which is 100 percent renewable electricity. So the member seems to be saying that Meridian should go out and deliberately pay more for more renewable electricity and then go out and sell it somehow cheaper to consumers. I would argue that it should be doing its best to keep its costs down and keeping the costs down for consumers.
Gareth Hughes: Does the Minister agree that a reliable, non-subsidised buyback price between electricity companies and solar homes that does not keep changing at the whim of electricity companies would assist in providing greater certainty for all participants?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I would not agree necessarily that companies should be forced to pay more for one form of renewable generation than they would pay for another form of renewable generation. If we are excited about renewable generation—I think we should be—then saying to Meridian Energy that it should pay more for a particular type of renewable generation because Gareth Hughes says so seems to me a slightly strange way of going about keeping the price of electricity down for New Zealand consumers.
Gareth Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Under Speaker’s ruling 153/6 the Minister has no responsibility for the Opposition. He seems to be putting words into my mouth, and, to clarify, I am not arguing for subsidies or higher prices; I am arguing for certainty and a fair go between the company and the participant.
Mr SPEAKER: I invite the member, when he gets a chance, to reflect on the question that has been asked and then on the answer that has been given. On this occasion the Minister has addressed that question. I accept it may not be the answer the member was expecting, but the question has certainly been addressed.
Gareth Hughes: So why is the Minister leaving up to the market, which is so imbalanced and sees the big power companies exercise dominant power over Kiwis with solar panels on their roofs, to set the price, the terms, and the length of contract; and why did the Government not apply the same principle to Rio Tinto and Meridian Energy?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, let us just go through this for the member. It does not make any sense, except, perhaps, in the Greens’ view, to say to electricity companies: “You should pay more for some element of your electricity.” and try to consider that that is some way of keeping the price down for consumers. Meridian Energy, for example, is 100 percent renewable energy, and if you are suggesting that it should go out there and pay more for one type of renewable over another because of a policy whim, well, that is fine, but it can lead to only one thing and that is higher prices for consumers.
Gareth Hughes: Will the Minister consider empowering an independent umpire such as the Electricity Authority to set a fair, reasonable, and non-subsidised buy-back rate, which would increase certainty for solar homes and small businesses investing in clean energy like solar energy?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No. I think we have an independent arbiter now, which is called consumers, who want to keep their energy prices down, and I would note that the energy component (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing) of electricity decreased by 0.7 percent in the last quarter because of the competition that the member decries. Solar does have a place, but there is no doubt that currently it is more expensive than other forms of renewable energy, and I just cannot see why the member wants to promote that at the expense of, say, geothermal or hydro. I mean, he may have his views on that, but, actually, at this stage anyway, it is fine for some people to go out and do it if they want to, but, actually, it is more cost-effective to do things like changing some incandescent light bulbs for some cheaper light bulbs, which will reduce the cost of the energy in your house.
Marama Fox: Is the Minister aware of the impact of the solar power installation at theWaikaraka Marae in Kaihu, which has had dual benefits of saving costs and being environmentally responsible; and what support is available for other marae to take up solar energy as part of the push for renewables?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am not aware at this stage of any Government involvement in the installation at Waikaraka Marae. But, again, I think we have got to be careful in pushing consumers into solar energy at this stage, because other forms of renewable energy are less expensive at this time. So I am not sure that it would be an appropriate policy solution at this point to be further subsidising solar when, actually, we are seeing increased used of hydro and geothermal, which are at considerably lower prices currently. In the future that may change—the cost of voltaic cells is coming down—but right now it is not necessarily something that the Government would want to encourage further.
Conservation, Minister—Statements 4. RICHARD PROSSER (NZ First) to the Minister of Conservation: Does she stand by all her statements?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY (Minister of Conservation): Yes, in the context in which they were made.
Richard Prosser: Will she provide the House with the credible evidence that she has seen supporting her statement in answer to question No. 8 on 23 October that “Early monitoring has shown that numbers of rats, which had been up to 25 million, have now been knocked down to zero in places where 1080 has been used,”; if not, why not?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: If the member is asking whether the update that we gave on the 1080 aerial drop in the Battle for Our Birds has proved effective in bringing rat rates down to zero proportions, the answer is yes.
Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. No, I was not asking that. The question was: will she provide the House with the evidence?
Mr SPEAKER: I will invite the member to ask the question again.
Richard Prosser: Again? Thank you, Mr Speaker. Will she provide the House with the credible evidence that she has seen supporting her statement in answer to question No. 8 on 23 October that “Early monitoring has shown that numbers of rats, which had been up to 25 million, have now been knocked down to zero in places where 1080 has been used,”; if not, why not?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: The answer to that question and the proof that it is true lies in the results that the Department of Conservation has now come up with as of yesterday. Over 600,000 hectares of aerial spray of 1080 have been dropped. In the areas where rats had been measured to be at 77 percent, they are now at levels that we would consider very acceptable, at around 2 percent. So that evidence has been in the evaluation of monitoring traps where rats have been found and the numbers have dropped significantly, and those are the figures that the Department of Conservation has used.
Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Not to labour the point, but the question is still: will she provide the House with evidence?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The point is now being laboured. The member has asked the question twice. He may not be satisfied with the answer, and I can understand why that may be the case. The (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing) way forward is that I will allow the member an additional supplementary question if he continues with his line of questioning.
Richard Prosser: Why was her assurance about the safety of eating trout based on a misleading assessment of the pathway to 1080 toxicity?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: I refute the implication behind that question. It was not misleading at all, and the Cawthron Institute has provided evidence, which is contained within a report, that backs that up.
Richard Prosser: Why did she give the House an assurance about the safety of eating trout that had eaten mice that had eaten 1080 based on a test that at the time had not been done?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: In fact, the data and the evidence had been gathered at that time. It has not changed. The Ministry for Primary Industries has analysed the data that was put together by the Cawthron Institute and has found that the findings are accurate. The use of 1080 has not harmed the trout—they survived—and the amounts of 1080 within the trout are not harmful to human beings. That was the conclusion of the Ministry for Primary Industries when it analysed the data of the Cawthron Institute.
Richard Prosser: Given that the test on trout that have eaten mice that have eaten 1080 has still not been done, is she still prepared to stand by her statement that an average adult would have to eat in one sitting many times their body weight in trout that had ingested mice that had ingested 1080 in order to experience any health ill-effects whatsoever?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: I go back to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ assessment that was released last month, which indicated that at the peak levels of 1080 that were temporarily recorded in the force-fed laboratory trout—it was not some kind of bush experiment; this was a scientifically conducted experiment in a laboratory situation where trout were force-fed extreme amounts of 1080—there were no ill-effects on the trout and there were no residues. This evidence was examined and interpreted by the Ministry for Primary Industries, which is the expert toxicologist, as meaning that it has no harm or risk to human life. I am happy to provide the member with the Cawthron Institute’s uptake, and if the member would choose to go on the website, you can certainly see the Ministry for Primary Industries’ conclusions contained there.
Richard Prosser: Is the Minister maintaining the position that the tests were done on trout that had eaten mice that had eaten 1080 rather than on trout that had eaten 1080 directly?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: The mice in a laboratory situation were force-fed extreme amounts of 1080—far more than they would ever have been likely to find in a field situation. The amounts of 1080 that they were fed—vastly more than they would find in the field—did not affect the health of the trout and nor were the amounts of 1080 in the trout, which dispersed over time, deemed to be at any level that was a risk to human life.
Richard Prosser: Given her statement that “there is more 1080 in a cup of tea”, will the Minister give the House an assurance that she is just as happy and willing to eat a 1080 poison bait as she is to drink a cup of tea; if not, why not?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: The claim that 1080 poisons our waterways is not true, and I used the cup of tea example to really try to make that apparent to the member of your party who asked me this question a few weeks ago. Let us be very clear on this. The fact is that 1080 breaks down very quickly when exposed to water. Five hundred water samples have been taken from 1080 aerial operations over the past 5 years. No trace of 1080 has been found in the samples taken from drinking water catchments. Only 2 percent of other samples had any detectable level, and all were less than one-tenth of the tolerable exposure limit of 3.5 parts per billion. To put this in perspective, which is what I was trying to do for the member, 1080 naturally occurs in your everyday cup of tea at levels above 10 parts per billion. So if the member wants to call for a moratorium on 1080, perhaps the member might also like to call for a moratorium on cups of tea. (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Schools—KickStart Breakfast Programme 5. TODD BARCLAY (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister for Social Development: What impact has the Government’s KickStart Breakfast programme had on improving the lives of New Zealand kids?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): Since the Government began partnering with Fonterra and Sanitarium last year, 3 million additional breakfasts have been served through the KickStart Breakfast programme. Schools report that KickStart Breakfast is having a major impact on the well-being of their children. Seventy-three percent of schools surveyed have seen improvements in general health and well-being, 72 percent reported better concentration amongst students, 59 percent saw behaviour improvements, and 37 percent believe it has improved academic performance. KickStart Breakfast is a brilliant example of partnership between the Government, the private sector, schools, and communities, and is delivering practical help directly to children so they can focus on their education and have a brighter future.
Todd Barclay: How has the Government assisted with the expansion of the KickStart Breakfast programme?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Budget 2013 set aside $9.5 million over 5 years to expand the KickStart Breakfast programme. This additional funding has seen the programme expand from 2 to 5 mornings per week, and includes all primary and secondary schools that want and need it, regardless of their decile. As a result, there has been a 37 percent increase in the number of schools taking up the programme, from 573 to 783. Of these schools, 79 percent are now providing breakfasts for more than 2 days a week, and 54 percent are operating the KickStart Breakfast programme for 5 days a week. The programme now reaches more than 26,000 children throughout the country, improving the lives of these students and making a real difference where it is needed.
Islamic State Conflict—Prime Minister’s Statement 6. Hon PHIL GOFF (Labour—Mt Roskill) to the Prime Minister: When he says “I am ruling out New Zealand sending SAS or any troops into combat roles in Iraq”, for how long can New Zealanders rely on him to stick to this guarantee?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yesterday I ruled out sending SAS or any troops into combat roles in Iraq, and I do not see that changing.
Hon Phil Goff: Will this guarantee be more permanent than his last guarantee, when, on 16 June of this year, he ruled out the SAS going to Iraq in any capacity, only to reverse that position on 20 October, after the election, saying that the SAS going there was definitely an option?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Cabinet determined on Monday of this week a decision that we would engage in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on four aspects: diplomacy, intelligence, humanitarian aid, and capacity building for Iraqi forces if requested by the Iraqi Government.
Hon Phil Goff: When, on 16 June of this year, he ruled out New Zealand special force soldiers being deployed to Iraq, even, in his words, “in an advisory capacity”, does he stand by that promise, or is that promise already past its use-by date?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There are no SAS troops planned for deployment in Iraq.
Hon Phil Goff: When he said yesterday that New Zealand military personnel deployed in Iraq would be “behind the wire” and limited to training local forces, did he not previously use exactly those words about New Zealand troops in Afghanistan, when we know that the training and mentoring role of the SAS actually involved combat roles in which two special force soldiers were killed in action?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There are two very distinct situations here that are not alike. In Afghanistan our troops were involved in roles to advise, assist, and accompany. We are not intending that they will be involved in any of those aspects in Iraq. (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Hon Phil Goff: Prior to the Cabinet decision on Monday, did the Government send any New Zealand Defence Force personnel or members of the SAS to the Middle East in relation to the campaign against ISISin any capacity; if so, when and in what capacity?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The New Zealand Defence Force is engaged in a number of posts in the Middle East, as the member well knows, and has been for many, many years. We have, for example, been, for I think 34 years, involved in peacekeeping in the Sinai. The real point here is that some of those personnel will likely be involved in the exploratory work that the military has now been asked to do. They were in that area beforehand but they were not authorised to do that beforehand.
Hon Phil Goff: Why does he imagine that a small group of New Zealand Defence Force trainers will make any difference to the quality of the Iraq army when more than 10 years of intense efforts on a massive scale by the United States in training that army failed to produce anything like a quality army?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No decision has been made about the capacity-building exercise that we may consider. That is why we have personnel there at the moment looking into what may be done. We are setting our own conditions around that, and when we get all of that we will be able to make that decision.
Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was very carefully worded, and you will note that the Government has said that sending trainers there is an option. My question was not about whether it had made the decision but about why he would imagine making that decision would make any difference. That is quite precise. It was not answered at all.
Mr SPEAKER: The honourable Minister wants to further his answer.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I say, as the Leader of the House, that the Prime Minister does not go around doing things based on imagination. He does it on clear facts, and that is what he has the group to go and find for him.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister confirm that members of the SAS are in Iraq now and have been for some time—yes or no?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: That is not my information.
Financial Markets—Announcements 7. BRETT HUDSON (National) to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: What recent announcements has the Government made regarding financial markets?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs): I recently announced that the second phase of regulations for the Financial Markets Conduct Act will come into force in December of this year. The National Government passed the Act better to regulate how financial products are offered, promoted, issued, and sold, to support confidence and inform market participation. This helps New Zealand businesses to fund growth and helps Kiwis to reach their financial goals. The approval of these regulations is the last major step in a once-in-a-generation reform of our financial markets.
Brett Hudson: What key changes will be implemented as a result of these regulations?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: The phase two regulations cover a range of governance issues for financial products, including licensing requirements and conduct obligations. A key change is the introduction of a new disclosure regime. This will mean that disclosure documents, such as a prospectus for a share offer, will be shorter, clearer, and more tailored to investors’ needs. We are also creating a new online register that will allow investors easy access to greater information on financial products and managed investment services. Our growing economy needs strong capital markets to maintain momentum and support growth. (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Islamic State Conflict—Prime Minister’s Statements 8. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “Should New Zealand military personnel be deployed in Iraq, they would be behind the wire and limited to training local forces in order to counter ISIL and legitimately protect innocent people”; if so, why?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes; because that is the Government’s position.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Will he rule out any possibility that military training by New Zealand forces in Iraq will escalate into active combat there?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Consideration of what that sort of capacity-building deployment may look like is clearly being done at the moment. We will need to get all of that information, consider how it comes together as a mission, and then make decisions about whether or not we are there.
Dr Kennedy Graham: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question did not pertain to the considerations relating to a decision to deploy—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite the member to ask that question again.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Will he rule out any possibility that military training by New Zealand forces in Iraq, in the event that it occurs, will escalate into active combat there?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Given that the Government has not make its decision yet about what type of capacity building, if any, we may engage in, the question put by the member is entirely hypothetical.
Dr Kennedy Graham: In light of the likely deployment of military trainers, on what evidence did the Prime Minister base his claim that the risk of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) becoming stronger is greater than the increased risk New Zealand will face by becoming part of the coalition in that event?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I would have thought that it would have been evident, even to the peaceable Green Party, that if the world is going to be confronted by a terrorist State that respects no boundaries and no other position than its own, then that is a threat to every country that values freedom.
Dr Kennedy Graham: In light of the illegal and disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was basically supported by this National Government at the time, does he consider that there is a political case for avoiding military action against ISIL now?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I note that it was the Green Party propping up the Labour Party in 2003 that saw New Zealand’s involvement ratified by the Government at that time.
Dr Kennedy Graham: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand the difference between points of order and debating points, but that reply stretched, I think, the Standing Orders—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I can assist the member. In actual fact, the question asked, and the connotations of the question asked, in itself stretched the Standing Orders.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Given the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday that New Zealand supports coalition air strikes because “we believe that is a legitimate way of seeing a containment and, hopefully, the long-term destruction of a threat from ISIL.”, will he ask the Attorney-General to table a written opinion affirming that there is a sound basis in international law for that action?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Firstly, I think it is disappointing that, having gone out yesterday and laid out very clearly the sort of threat that New Zealand could face, we get questions in the House today attempting to deny that circumstance. This is a terrorist organisation—
Dr Kennedy Graham: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I am answering his question, but he is fairly upset by the answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member has a right to raise a point of order, but I will be disappointed if it is another attempt by the member to say he is not happy with the answer. (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Dr Kennedy Graham: My question did not pertain to the degree of threat; it pertained to whether the response to it was consistent with international law. He is misdescribing my question.
Mr SPEAKER: The question was not as clear as that, at all. There was a lead-in to the question. [Interruption] Order! The question then asked whether the Prime Minister will be asking the Attorney-General to table a legal opinion, from memory. The question was not a clear question, in my mind; it may have been in the member’s mind. The Minister is attempting to address it, and I would be grateful if the House would allow the Minister to complete his answer.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Post the clarification by way of point of order, can I suggest that the member looks at article 51 of the United Nations Charter to come to his own understanding that the airstrikes are, in fact, legal.
Dr Kennedy Graham: I seek leave to table a Security Council document recording the statement of one of the permanent members that Resolution 2170 cannot be seen as approval of the use of military action.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table a United Nations document—I think it is Resolution 2170. Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is not. It can be tabled.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given the Minister’s comments on the question of risks to New Zealand, how many of the 30 to 40 people of concern in the foreign fighter context that the Prime Minister referred to in his ministerial statement yesterday fit a certain profile, and what are the main features of that profile?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I am not giving that information this afternoon.
Pacific Peoples, Minister—Statements 9. Su’a WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere)Su’a WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere)SIO, Su’a WILLIAM to the Minister for Pacific Peoples: Does he stand by his statement “that Pacific people are attaining success and achievement under this Government”? Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (Minister for Pacific Peoples)LOTU-IIGA, Hon Peseta SAM20141106 14:47:44Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (Minister for Pacific Peoples): Yes, I definitely do. Su’a William SioSu’a William Sio: Why is he trying to bury the fact that Pacific unemployment was 7.8 percent when his Government took office and is now 11.7 percent, a more than 50 percent increase; that Pacific youth unemployment is now at 26.7 percent, the highest of any ethnic group; and that Pacific unemployment is rising again because the recovery has already come and gone for most Pacific people, and that this is all happening under his Government’s watch? Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGAHon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: It is true that Pacific unemployment is 11.7 percent, but it is also true that in quarter 1 of 2009 the Pacific unemployment rate was 13.1 percent. So I say to that member that Pacific people are doing better under this National Government than they were under Labour, at quarter 1 of 2013. Furthermore, in the last year alone 10,100 more Pacific people have been employed, so they are better able to look after their children, their families, and their communities.
Hon Members: Shame!
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGAHon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: Those members may say shame to the 113,000 Pacific people who are currently employed today, but I say shame on them as a Labour Government. Su'a William SioSu'a William Sio: How can he claim Pacific people are attaining success and achievement under his Government when median incomes for Pacific people, adjusted for inflation, have fallen by $52 a week, from $512 in 2008 to $460 in 2014?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I do not have those figures to hand, but what I can say—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. If I get that level of barracking from members to my left-hand side, they will immediately be leaving the Chamber. (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: What I can say, and I—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise. I have a—well, I hope I have a point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: You have a point of order, and it is this. If that was a fair warning to this side of the House, why was there no admonition to that side of the House when he finished his last answer?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. The level of interjection coming from a particular member here was totally unacceptable to me and to this House. I have made my ruling. I hope it is clear even to the senior member.
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: The figures I have to hand say that average hourly wages rose 2.3 percent over the last year and average weekly wages rose 1.8 percent, compared with inflation of only 1 percent. Pacific people are beneficiaries of that increase in average wages.
Su’a William Sio: I wish to table a document that shows Pacific median weekly income—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just describe—[Interruption] Order! The member has described the document enough. I now just need to know where it is from and the date, and I will put the leave. It is not an opportunity to make a political statement.
Su’a William Sio: I was about to.
Mr SPEAKER: I am pleased the member is getting on to it.
Su’a William Sio: The source is a 2014 New Zealand income survey from Statistics New Zealand, and it is not readily available. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going to accept the member’s word that it is not readily available. I will therefore put the leave and the House can decide. Leave is sought to table that particular, hard-to-find Statistics New Zealand information dated 2014. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is none. It can be tabled.
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I would like to table a document that shows that the unemployment rate—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I, equally, need to know the source of the document.
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: Oh, it is Statistics New Zealand, but it has gone down under our Government.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not think the Minister is going to claim that it is hard to get hold of that information.
Su’a William Sio: I tabled it because he did not know the answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Throughout this week we have had very unhelpful starts to some supplementary questions from a number of members to my left. I have warned that in future, if it continues, I will just cease that line of questioning. Since it is Thursday and we are about to embark on an adjournment, I will give the member the benefit of the doubt on this occasion.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I acknowledge the ruling that you have just made. I will certainly be talking to my colleagues about ensuring that that is complied with. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order.
Chris Hipkins: What I would like to suggest to you, Mr Speaker, is that you apply a similar ruling to Ministers who begin their answers with an insult to the member who has asked the question.
Mr SPEAKER: And I do.
Su’a William Sio: Does the Minister’s definition of success and achievement for Pacific peoples include the 30 percent of Pacific children living in poverty under his Government’s watch?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: My definition of success for Pacific children includes the increase in the number of Pacific children participating in early childhood education from 84.4 percent in 2008 to 89.9 percent in 2014. My definition of success includes National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2 achievement, which under Labour was 51.3 percent and under (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing) National is now 71.4 percent. I go further. I go further. One more please, Mr Speaker—one more. I have got a long list here, but I just want one more.
Mr SPEAKER: Just quickly finish.
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: The number of Pasifika students enrolled in qualifications at bachelor level or higher has increased 41 percent, from 8,935 to 12,650. Clearly—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The answer was long enough.
Su’a William Sio: How will outsourcing Pasifika programmes and making about 40 Pasifika broadcasters redundant from Television New Zealand (TVNZ) attain success and achievement for Pasifika broadcasting?
Mr SPEAKER: In so far as the Minister has ministerial responsibility.
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: My learned colleague the Hon Amy Adams answered this question last week, but for the member’s benefit today: TVNZ has made assurances that staff jobs are not on the line. It is an operational decision. Independent production shows that this is an excellent opportunity for our talented Pacific producers to maintain and grow content for Pacific audiences. I also understand, and the member knows this, that New Zealand On Air funding is still available for these types of programmes. The member knows that production is possible by Pacific producers. We know that funding is available. We know there is talent out there, and Pacific television production companies can deliver the content.
Su’a William Sio: How will empowering employers to legally opt out of bargaining and not negotiate in good faith, and removing smoko breaks, attain success and achievement for Pacific women who are in casual, part-time jobs and earning the minimum wage?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I fundamentally disagree with the assertion made by the member in that question. But what I can say about Pacific women is that the unemployment rate for Pacific women fell 6.2 percentage points, from 24.5 percent to 14.3 percent, and 3,700 fewer Pacific women are now unemployed. That is what this National Government is doing for Pacific women.
Cricket World Cup—Government Support 10. SARAH DOWIE (National—Invercargill) to the Minister for Sport and Recreation: How does the Government plan to support the Cricket World Cup?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister for Sport and Recreation): Today marks 100 days to go until the start of the Cricket World Cup. The Government is providing comprehensive support to ensure the success of the tournament, with 23 games in New Zealand at seven venues, over 6 weeks. A number of Government agencies, including Sport New Zealand, the New Zealand Police, the Customs Service, and the Immigration Service, are working closely with the local organising committee to ensure coordinated delivery of essential services and support. The Government will provide $5 million of funding to support regional hosting of the tournament. This funding will be applied to a range of other initiatives around the other host cities. It is going to be great.
Sarah Dowie: What are the wider opportunities for New Zealand that the Cricket World Cup presents?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The Cricket World Cup is a huge opportunity to showcase New Zealand. It is the third-largest sporting event in the world, with an estimated global reach of 1.6 billion people and with 3,500 media personnel covering the event. The opening ceremony and first game of the Cricket World Cup will be the first global sporting events that Christchurch has hosted since the Canterbury earthquakes. Christchurch will be a key focal point of the tournament, domestically and internationally, and we are expecting a huge turnout there for the opening ceremony and the games at the new Hagley Oval. (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Māori Development, Minister—Statements 11. RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga) to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he stand by his statement “I am also determined that we uphold the momentum and the priority of some key strategic statements established by my predecessors”?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Associate Minister for Māori Development) on behalf of the Minister for Māori Development: Yes.
Rino Tirikatene: Does he agree that strategic statements made by his predecessors have done nothing to bring down Māori unemployment, which is now rising and near double the national rate?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: No.
Rino Tirikatene: Does he agree with his predecessor as Minister for Whānau Ora, the Hon Tariana Turia, when she said: “I think that it was just very poor, it was a poor rolling out of Whānau Ora and a lack of understanding or belief that Whānau Ora could work, actually.”; if not, why not?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Yes.
Rino Tirikatene: How will the $1 million grant for the Xin and Tāne stage production get more Māori into decent employment and assist whānau into warm, dry homes?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Well, it will not, but it will do a lot to advance arts and culture for Māori.
Rino Tirikatene: Does he support the target of his colleague Steven Joyce to raise median incomes for Māori to that of the overall population by 2040; if so, does he think that 200 years since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi is an acceptable time frame for Māori to achieve parity in this country?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Yes, I support the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment target that has been outlined.
Dairy Products, Whey Protein—Contamination Incident and Government Inquiry Recommendations 12. JONO NAYLOR (National) to the Minister for Food Safety: What recent announcements have been made regarding the recommendations from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Incident?
Hon JO GOODHEW (Minister for Food Safety): Last week the Minister of Science and Innovation and I jointly announced that Massey University has been selected to host the new Food Safety Science and Research Centre, which is expected to open in mid-2015. The centre was a key recommendation from the inquiry and is part of an overall Government package of improvements to ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remains amongst the best in the world.
Jono Naylor: What is the Food Safety Science and Research Centre expected to deliver?
Hon JO GOODHEW: The centre will promote and coordinate food safety research across New Zealand leading to less duplication and more efficient investment in research between Government, industry, and research providers. The centre will enhance New Zealand’s international visibility for food safety science and research capabilities. It will support the scientific expertise we rely on to uphold our international reputation and ensure we can meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of New Zealand.