Questions and Answers - August 25
Questions to Ministers
Workplace Health and Safety—Health and Safety Reform Bill
1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he have confidence in the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, given his decision not to include sheep, beef, and dairy farming in his Proposed Schedule of High Risk Industries?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.
Andrew Little : Given that the nationwide average death rate is four workers per 100,000, and dairy farming’s death rate is 16 workers per 100,000, why is farming not considered high risk?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Because we use an accepted standardised list of industries, shared by Australia and New Zealand, which is used for statistics and data collection. I am advised that businesses that carry the risk of a catastrophic event causing multiple fatalities, or industry with more than 25 fatalities per 100,000 workers or a serious injury rate of 25 per 1,000 workers, are deemed high risk.
Andrew Little : Given that ACC charges twice the levy on dairy farming that it does on lavender growing, why does he say that lavender growing is high risk but dairy farming is not?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : If the test was one against the other, I would probably tend to agree with the member, but the test is not. Lavender farming will be included in the “other” category. The Government is going through a consultation on those, and they may well be taken out.
Andrew Little : If the Government’s objective with this bill is to make workers safer, how can he possibly defend cutting out farming, which accounts for a third of all workplace deaths, from one of the most important protections?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member is showing his complete ignorance of the legislation, because, actually, every farm and every business in New Zealand will have an increased level of responsibility and care when it comes to workplace health and safety. Every business, including every farm, will have to deal with that, and the employers will have to be responsible for that. Every director of every business, large and small, will have greater responsibilities. Those contractors who work together will be persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs). In fact, the member himself, even though he probably does not know it, is about to become a PCBU for his electorate office. And Winston Peters would be, if he bothered to open—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! This is a point of order. I hope I will hear it from the Rt Hon Winston Peters.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister’s penchant is to end answers in the way that he just did. We have already got two offices going in Northland now.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! I thank the member for his contribution—[Interruption] Order! I am calling for order, particularly from this side at the moment. I thank the member for his contribution, but it was not a point of order.
Andrew Little : Does—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have now risen to my feet three times to try to get some order in this House. If members continue with interjections that are disrupting the order of the House, I will be asking somebody to leave the Chamber.
Andrew Little : Does the Prime Minister agree that the ridiculous situation where working with lavender and butterflies is “high risk” but working will bulls and explosives is not has undermined public confidence in his health and safety reforms; if not, why not?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No; because most people who have studied this legislation understand it. They understand that every single business in New Zealand, large or small, has much greater care and responsibility as a result of the law. What we are talking about is whether something is high risk or low risk for the matter of having a health and safety representative in the workplace. As the member knows, that is only one of a great many things that the legislation changes.
Andrew Little : If he thinks butterfly breeding is high risk but dairy farming is not, can he tell us the last time a rampaging butterfly had to be shot by police in the streets of Whanganui?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What I think is high risk is being leader of the Labour Party, because I have seen plenty of those come and go.
Andrew Little : Given that we have one chance to get it right to make Kiwis safer at work, but this bill is discredited and in disarray, will he take up my offer to work jointly to craft meaningful legislation that the whole country can support?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, I do not think that that is required. The legislation has gone through a complete process. The member is trying to say that because of one aspect of the regulations, somehow there is not a substantial change to workplaces—[Interruption] Well, that is what the member is trying to say, and that actually shows that the member is not taking the process seriously.
Andrew Little : I seek leave to table my letter to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Leave is sought to table that particular letter. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Economy—Impact of International Price Movements
2. JONO NAYLOR (National) to the Minister of Finance : How is the New Zealand economy placed to be resilient to international economic fluctuations?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The New Zealand economy is well placed. First, we have a floating exchange rate, which can assist to smooth the domestic implications of international volatility in global markets. Secondly, we have a clear monetary policy framework, which includes the Reserve Bank’s authority to adjust short-term interest rates as it judges appropriate. Thirdly, a programme of microeconomic reform over recent years means that our industries are in a better position to adjust quickly and to adapt to changes in international market conditions. Fourthly, New Zealand households have had a positive net savings rate for 5 years. Household bank deposits have doubled since 2007, and the Government is on track to surplus and keeping Government debt levels low.
Jono Naylor : How do New Zealand’s exchange rate policy settings support the resilience of the New Zealand economy?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : We see around the world, alongside fluctuations in sharemarkets, continuing decreases in commodity prices, and we know that there has recently been a substantial fall in dairy prices affecting New Zealand. The Global Dairy Trade index remains 39 percent below its March peak. However, there have been some offsetting factors. The exchange rate has fallen around 25 percent against the US dollar since mid-2014. This lower exchange rate will provide some cushioning for the effect of lower dairy prices, but, just as important, it will assist the profitability of other industries that have no connection to dairy at all, such as tourism, which is now our largest industry and which was forced to become more efficient when the exchange rate was US88c and, of course, is now able to expand and become profitable with the exchange rate being significantly lower.
Jono Naylor : What other factors support resilience in the New Zealand economy?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : Our households have in the last 6 or 7 years been through a considerable process of adjustment. Many of them have decreased their debt, many of them have been very careful about the new debt that they might incur, and they have increased their savings rates. They have also been dealing with relatively low costs of living, and they have been careful with their consumption. Alongside that, our businesses have seen quite high rates of business investment. In fact, there has been a 6 percent growth in business investment per annum over the past 4 years, which means firms are in a reasonable position now to take advantage of favourable factors such as the lower exchange rate.
Grant Robertson : In light of that answer, by how much has net Government debt grown since he became the Minister of Finance? If he does not know the exact answer, it begins with $60 million.
Hon BILL ENGLISH : Net Government debt has grown—and it has grown quite a bit—because the Government has taken a policy approach of adapting to the circumstances, rather than being paralysed by the notion that every week is a crisis. So when we had a global financial crisis, which was a real crisis, and major earthquakes in Canterbury, which were a crisis, we borrowed money to fund our way through that. The good news is that we are on track to surplus, and we will be able to stop borrowing more money.
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In light of the Minister’s answer—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Can I have the point of order.
Grant Robertson : I seek leave to table Statistics New Zealand figures showing that net—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume his seat. Statistics New Zealand figures are available to all members.
Jono Naylor : What reports has he seen on the outlook for the New Zealand economy?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : There are any number of reports by people who are looking out through the events of the last few days, including Treasury and the Reserve Bank, and their reports indicate economic growth is expected to be around 2 to 2.5 percent per year over the next few years. That is the sort of moderate, sustainable growth that translates into higher wages and more jobs for New Zealand families. We are yet to see whether news over the last week or so of decreases in stock markets around the world will make some difference to those growth forecasts. But it is not obvious that they will make a big difference, nor that it will make a difference soon, but we can only wait and see.
Economic Programme—Policies and Results
3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Can he tell us all again about the so-called rock star economy and his policies to maintain it?
Mr SPEAKER : Before I call the Prime Minister, my office has been advised that the answer may be slightly longer than normal.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): It sure will. I have never described the economy as a “rock star”. It was HSBC economist Paul Bloxham, who reaffirmed that view once again in March of this year. But I am happy to take the member through some of the policies in the economy, and, of course, the policies to maintain it, as he asked of me, so here we go. We have reformed labour laws, including introducing the 90-day probation period. That has helped contribute to 69,000 more jobs in the last year and 200,000 since 2011. That flexibility in the labour market has helped average wages go up now to over $57,000—$10,000 more than since National came into office in 2008. Every single year we have increased the minimum wage, and that has helped those workers in the workplace. On top of that, we have invested and got on top of public spending and increased public services. The books have gone from an $18.4 billion deficit—
Chris Hipkins : Point of order. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! In case the front bench of the National caucus had not noticed, a point of order has been called.
Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like some further clarification from you. The Standing Orders require that answers are terse and to the point, and that you can vary that where there is a technical answer that does require a more detailed explanation. I would perhaps like you to elaborate to the House as to why you feel that that is something that is actually technical or detailed in nature that requires that level of attention of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I hate to differentiate my point of order from that of my colleague from the Labour Party, but I am moving an extension of time because that cannot be it. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I want to comment on the point raised by Chris Hipkins. It is a situation where I looked at the question—and it is almost asking us to say it again—and I accepted the call from the Prime Minister that the answer would be longer than normal. It is getting to the stage very shortly where I intend to curtail the answer—[Interruption] Order! I will give the Prime Minister a brief opportunity to conclude his answer.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I have three pages of material and I am only halfway through page 1, but let us please carry on—for as long as the Speaker deems fits, of course. So, yes, we have got public spending in order, going from an $18.4 billion deficit to, hopefully, a surplus very soon. In my own portfolio, we have invested more in tourism. Last week we welcomed the three millionth—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Now I have heard enough.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I seek leave to table all these wonderful policies, if Mr Peters would like to have them.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Leave is—[Interruption] Order! On the basis that the Prime Minister advised he had a longer answer than normal and there has been objection to the length of it, and I think it has gone on for long enough, I am going to put the leave and it will be over to the House to decide.
Hon Member : What’s the source?
Mr SPEAKER : The source—I should just check with the Prime Minister.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The source is my office.
Mr SPEAKER : Leave is put. It is over to the House. Leave is sought to table the rest of the answer. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Can he tell the House about his record-breaking performance in regard to debt, where he has taken net Government debt from $10 billion up almost to seven times that figure, or $70 billion, and still rising?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am actually glad the member raised the issue of debt, because when we came into office the advice we had from Treasury was that if we carried on with all of the policies we were inheriting from the previous Labour Government that were unfunded, then by the early 2020s debt to GDP would be 60 percent. We know from the last Budget that it is approximately 26 percent. Under the economic leadership of this Government, New Zealanders have $100 billion less debt than they otherwise would have. No wonder that member is in Opposition.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Can the Prime Minister tell this House which of his Budget deficits was his rock star favourite: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, or 2015?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : We will have to wait and see whether the Budget for the last financial year actually produces a surplus or a deficit. Yes, actually, the Government has borrowed money, and that has been to get New Zealanders through those very difficult conditions we inherited with the global financial crisis and to stand behind the people of Christchurch. I did not see a single political party after the Christchurch earthquakes get up and say “Abandon the people of Christchurch.”, but it has cost about $16.5 billion to not do that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Would the Prime Minister tell us how satisfied he is with his performance, since under his watch there are now 54,000 more people unemployed than there were when he took power, and whether, like debt, he intends to set a new record there too?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Since early 2011 over 200,000 New Zealanders are in work who were not in that case. Yes, the population is slightly higher, but I think that if you go and ask any Australian whether they think the New Zealand economy is doing pretty well, you might find that they say it is. One of the reasons the member could do that, if he wanted to get out of his office, is that, actually, there are lots and lots of Australians coming over to New Zealand because they see that the economic fortunes of New Zealand are stronger than Australia’s. I reckon that is testament of a pretty good economic performance.
Tim Macindoe : Why don’t you try the green parakeet?
Rt Hon Winston Peters : That guy would get drunk on a wine biscuit. Can I ask the Prime Minister how satisfied he is with his performance since, under his watch, manufacturing as against GDP has gone from 33 percent and is now heading towards 26 percent on all forecasts, and exports against GDP are declining as well?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am happy with the performance of the manufacturing sector. The Government does not take credit for all of that, but the BNZ-Business New Zealand Performance of Manufacturing Index has expanded 34 months in a row. My performance is OK. The performance I am worried about is that of the member for Northland, who promised four offices—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Would the Prime Minister resume his seat.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know this is a very sensitive issue, but the Prime Minister began in that vein in his first answer today. He is back to it again and he has not been admonished or told to apologise or leave the House. No, no—he keeps on doing it, and he is telling porkies.
Mr SPEAKER : That is not a point of order, nor is it helpful for the order of the House, and nor is it helpful—[Interruption] Order! Nor is it helpful for the Prime Minister to continue in his vein with his answers. As soon as he has, I have shut him up on both occasions.
Hon Paula Bennett : Get back on your bus.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Yeah, well, I can fit in it.
Hon Members : Oh!
Rt Hon Winston Peters : If you cannot take it, do not dish it out.
Mr SPEAKER : Just ask your supplementary question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : This of the Prime Minister—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will—I now have a point of order from the Rt Hon Prime Minister.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that comment by Mr Peters cannot go left unchecked in Parliament. If we are going to start getting into calling people names like 3-year-olds, I really think that we are losing the plot in this House.
Mr SPEAKER : I did not hear the interjection from the Rt Hon Winston Peters. He was certainly responding to interjections that were coming from my right-hand side. The House needs to settle, otherwise I will be asking some members to leave question time today.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why does he think that flooding New Zealand—
Hon Members : “Donald Trump”.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Yeah, well, Donald has got hair like you. Why does he think that flooding New Zealand with net immigration—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is the very last warning I am giving to two members on the front bench, Mr Brownlee and Mr Joyce. Would the member please start his question again.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Thank you, Mr Speaker. You are most kind. To the Prime Minister: why does he think that flooding New Zealand with net immigration now at almost 60,000 per annum in some sort of consumptive binge is going to help New Zealand’s productive export economy?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member started question time today basically trying to say that the HSBC analysis of the New Zealand economy was somehow wrong. One of the reasons why the New Zealand economy has performed well over last 7 years is that this Government has actually taken an international view of the way the economy should operate and function. That has included making sure that we actually do welcome tourists to New Zealand. We do welcome people who want to come and study in New Zealand. We do want to welcome migrants to New Zealand. We do want to have free-trade agreements with other countries. The member seems to want a high-growing economy, but he wants to put a massive wall around New Zealand and have no one coming and no one going. What a joke!
4. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance : Does he stand by his statement that “risks arising from Greece and China have receded somewhat and that there has been an improvement in the outlook for our trading partners. That is positive for the New Zealand outlook”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): I stand by my full statement at the time it was made, and I will alert the member to what that statement was, although he already knows. In response to a question about Treasury’s advice on global risks, I said: “Overall, Treasury concludes that risks arising from Greece and China have receded somewhat and that there has been an improvement in the outlook for our trading partners.” Of course, there have been some indications in the last week or two that the risk associated with China may, in fact, be growing rather than shrinking. We are reliant on the Chinese Government’s track record of being able to manage pretty difficult and challenging financial and economic circumstances. We are yet to see whether it can, for instance, push against the tide of a falling stock market. Then we will find out whether that makes any difference to New Zealand.
Grant Robertson : Did he challenge that advice from Treasury, given that he provided it to the House less than 2 weeks ago, on the same day that China had the largest devaluation of its currency since its modern exchange rate system was introduced and in the same week that it was confirmed that around 30 percent of the value of the Chinese sharemarket had been lost?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : We are always debating these issues, and not just with Treasury. In fact, I have had the opportunity to discuss them with the Chinese Minister of Finance, Mr Lou Jiwei, who indicated his own challenges in trying to understand exactly what was happening in the Chinese economy. The Chinese Government has, like many other Governments, taken extraordinary monetary and financial measures to keep growth going in its economy. At some stage, those measures will start to unwind. Who knows—it might be this week. But the markets may flatten out in the next few weeks and it may be 6 months before it happens again. No one really knows.
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked a specific question—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! No, I listened very carefully to the answer. I think that the question was addressed on this occasion. The member has further supplementary questions; he can use them.
Jami-Lee Ross : What reports of alternative strategies for the New Zealand economy has the Minister seen?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : Unfortunately, I see two regular reports from a particular group, which on each headline that might be negative for the economy panics, declares a crisis, and demands that all previous plans be changed and replaced. I could give the House a clue as to whom that particular—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! This answer is not going to help the order of the House.
Grant Robertson : Why did he make the comments about China’s outlook being “reasonably positive” when data released the same week that he made those comments saw an 8 percent drop year on year on exports from China and an 8 percent drop year on year on imports into China?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : As I said in my answer to an earlier question, I was asked what reports we had seen about these risks and I quoted Treasury’s most recent advice—granted, it may not update it 2 hours ahead of every Chinese Government data release. These things seem to have been moving pretty quickly recently. So I am happy to provide the member with an updated risk assessment on China. But, as I said, having talked to the finance Minister for China and having listened to his concerns about how to assess exactly what is going on in that vast and complex economy, I am somewhat sceptical that we will be able to predict what is going to happen there.
Grant Robertson : Does he share the view of the Prime Minister that the slowdown in China is more of an issue for Australia than it is for New Zealand; if so, does he not think that a slowdown in our biggest export market, which is bad news for our second-biggest export market, might also be bad news for us?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I think yes and yes.
Grant Robertson : Given that First NZ Capital’s assessment that the risk of a recession in New Zealand has been heightened by slowing growth in China, the dairy price slump, and stalling business confidence, does he still believe that he does not need a plan B for the New Zealand economy?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : In the first place, I do not necessarily agree with First NZ Capital’s assessment of the probability of recession, but that is a matter for debate. As I have pointed out to the member, the Government is following a plan, at the heart of which is our ability to adapt to changing global circumstances. The country is not going to change its plans every single day that the Labour Party says there is a crisis. Like most people in New Zealand, the Government takes a medium-term view of our economic prospects and behaves consistently to maximise those prospects. That is what many households and businesses today are doing, despite the fact that they have read headlines in the paper that the Labour Party is calling a crisis and everyone else sees as volatility in financial markets, which may or may not affect their business.
Grant Robertson : In light of that answer, why is he ignoring the calls of 75 percent of chief executive officers who responded to the “Mood of the Boardroom” survey, bank economists, and Federated Farmers, who are all calling for a plan B for the economy; or is he just so arrogant that he thinks he has got it all right?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : As I said—I think it was in the House last week—having chatted to one or two of the people claimed to be calling for a plan B, none of them could actually tell me what plan B was. The Government’s plan is that if circumstances change significantly, then it would alter some policy settings, as appropriate. So we are monitoring what is happening in the global economy, but we are not losing sight of the fundamental stability required for this economy to thrive and to deliver jobs and more income to New Zealand households.
Prime Minister—Government Policies
5. JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his Government’s policies?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.
James Shaw : Does he stand by his Government’s policy of giving taxpayers’ money to a handful of big companies to pay for their carbon pollution?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : If the member is referring to our ensuring that there is some support for companies that face competition in export markets because they do not have an emissions trading scheme like we do, then, yes, I support some protection for them.
James Shaw : Does he stand by his Government’s 2014 policy of giving $5.3 million worth of taxpayer-funded carbon credits to Methanex when that company made over $100 million in after-tax profits that year?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think the member is misrepresenting the position. We have assisted industries that are competing internationally against overseas manufacturers who do not face emissions trading scheme costs. These industries still face some costs, but we think that it is fair that they are on a level playing field.
James Shaw : Does he stand by his Government’s policy in 2014 of giving $7.3 million worth of taxpayer-funded carbon credits to New Zealand Steel when its parent company made over $110 million in after-tax profits that year?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think that if the member wanted to join the analysis of the previous question to this question about New Zealand Steel, he would be making the case that we would be giving them a lot more.
James Shaw : Given that the profit margins of these companies exceed the value of the taxpayer-funded pollution credits by a factor of 15, how can he justify using taxpayers’ money to subsidise their carbon pollution?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : We are not. Companies are in the emissions trading scheme. Some of the large companies that face international competition are put on a more level playing field, but, in the end, they all pay some emissions trading scheme charges along the way. The question is how quickly they can transition, but if we were to adopt what the member is saying, these companies would simply go out of business, relocate to another part of the world, Kiwis would lose their jobs, and it would be no better for the planet. So it is a rather Neanderthal way of thinking about economics—if that is what the member wants to do.
James Shaw : Given that many New Zealand households and businesses are already doing their bit to reduce their carbon emissions, how does he justify using their taxpayer money to subsidise pollution from big industrial polluters?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : We are not doing that, and the “their” he talks about are the very people who work in those companies, who would lose their jobs if we followed his policies.
James Shaw : Given that the purpose of an emissions trading scheme is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions have increased 13 percent since he took office, will he admit that his emissions trading scheme policy has failed?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No.
Roading, Tauranga—Eastern Link
6. TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Transport : What update can he provide on the Tauranga Eastern Link, which is one of the Government’s Roads of National Significance?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Transport): It was my absolute pleasure to stand alongside the Prime Minister recently and open the $455 million Tauranga Eastern Link. This new 21 kilometre, seven-bridge, four-lane highway is one of seven roads of national significance identified by the Government as being crucial to build New Zealand’s economy, and is the second only to be completed. The new highway was the Bay of Plenty’s biggest-ever roading project. This new piece of lead infrastructure brings the region closer together, and, in doing so, will significantly boost growth through trade and travel in the region.
Todd Muller : How will the recently completed Tauranga Eastern Link road of national significance benefit road users?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES : This new high-specification highway is a game-changer for the Bay of Plenty. It will support economic development and growth, boost industry and jobs, and improve road safety. The Tauranga Eastern Link will also shorten journey times by as much as 24 minutes for a return journey. It will also provide a safer and more efficient route to the Port of Tauranga, driving down the cost of moving freight, which improves the international competitiveness of the region and also the national economy.
Todd Muller : How does the Tauranga Eastern Link demonstrate the Government’s support for the regions?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES : By building this important piece of lead infrastructure, the Government has proved yet again that we are delivering on our commitment that regional New Zealand has the transport infrastructure that it needs and it deserves. The new highway will support regional growth by opening up parts of the Western Bay of Plenty to residential and commercial development, and it will also ensure that the Eastern Bay of Plenty is better connected to the city and the wider region. The new Tauranga Eastern Link highway is a prime example of the Government’s focus on funding infrastructure that will drive New Zealand’s economic and social success in our regions.
Clayton Mitchell : Given the Government would have funded the Tauranga Eastern Link, the nationally significant road, itself in 7 to 10 years, how can it justify bringing the project forward and tolling the people of Tauranga for 35 years—35 years?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES : The member is quite incorrect. The project has been brought forward by a number of years by the tolling. I am happy to tell the member, who I know, like me, lives in Tauranga, that after years of neglect this Government is delivering hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure projects to the people of the Bay of Plenty.
Prisons, Private Management—Mt Eden Corrections Facility
7. KELVIN DAVIS (Labour—Te Tai Tokerau) to the Minister of Corrections : What was the date of the CCTV footage that led to a Serco staff member’s suspension for fighting an inmate at Mt Eden Corrections Facility?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (Minister of Corrections): I believe that the date of the footage that the member is referring to is 23 June 2015. However, I reject the member’s assertion that the staff member was fighting an inmate.
Kelvin Davis : Will he admit that Serco’s management is systematically broken; if not, why not?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA : Well, I will not admit that. What I will say is that there is currently a review going on around Mt Eden prison. I have said this time and time again in this House: until we get all the facts around the running of Mt Eden prison, decisions cannot be made around its future.
Kelvin Davis : Given that Serco advised him on 23 July that there were no other undisclosed issues with Mt Eden, which was not true, how can anyone trust Serco’s word?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA : Well, the incident that that member refers to—I was notified on 6 August. I have not personally seen the footage, but I have been advised that it shows a prison guard on closed-circuit television footage approaching a group of prisoners who were sparring. He then gives them some coaching on their technique. Sparring is a banned activity, and Serco was shown the footage on 6 August. Serco has suspended the staff member while the investigation proceeds.
Kelvin Davis : Is the Minister saying—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! I have not called the member yet.
Kelvin Davis : Is the Minister saying that guards are now training the inmates how to fight?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA : This case has been the subject of a lot of hearsay and misreporting. What I am saying is that it is currently under investigation by the chief inspectorate, and we should await the findings of his review.
Kelvin Davis : If phase one of the chief inspector’s review finds systematic issues of violence and mismanagement at Mt Eden, will the Minister at least give Serco a final warning; if not, why on earth not?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA : I have said time and time again that it is premature to make any decisions or conclusions around the review that is currently in place. I suggest that that member, along with me and the New Zealand public, waits for the findings of that review.
Kelvin Davis : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was asking: “if” the review finds systematic issues of violence, will he give Serco a final—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! And the Minister addressed that question.
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In one of the Minister’s supplementary answers he read out a description of the incident. I think that might have been from an official document, so if he could table that—
Mr SPEAKER : It can be easily ascertained—was the Minister quoting from an official document? [Interruption] He was not, so therefore there is nothing to table.
8. TODD BARCLAY (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister for Primary Industries : What reports has he received on Government support for diversification in the dairy industry?
Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister for Primary Industries): I have received numerous reports that outline how the Government is supporting diversification in the dairy industry, from inside the farm gate right through to overseas markets. This includes investment partnerships through the Sustainable Farming Fund, a $170 million transforming the dairy value chain Primary Growth Partnership programme, reports outlining opportunities for New Zealand dairy products in overseas markets, and, of course, much, much more. This support is helping to create new dairy products, increase on-farm productivity, reduce environmental impacts, and open up new markets for trade.
Todd Barclay : What are some examples of ways in which this support is helping to diversify our dairy industry?
Hon NATHAN GUY : Over the past 15 years the Government has invested, through the Sustainable Farming Fund, around $48 million in over 250 grassroots dairy projects. This includes projects covering the responsible use of antibiotics through to the conversion of dairy waste into a food source for land-based aquaculture—as I mentioned previously, transforming the dairy value chain. A joint industry and Government Primary Growth Partnership programme has allowed new products to evolve, including the development of world-leading technology that allows mozzarella cheese to be made in 1 day instead of 2 months. Also, Minister Joyce and I recently released Opportunities for New Zealand dairy products in South East Asia 2014, a report that highlights opportunities for our dairy industry to increase its exports of consumer-ready products into this important region.
Hon Damien O’Connor : I seek leave to table a report from the Office of the Auditor-General—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume his seat. That is a report that was tabled in this House.
Trans-Pacific Partnership—Release of Information
9. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Green) to the Minister of Trade : Which stakeholder groups have been briefed as to the draft content of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement since the completion of the last round of negotiations in July; and which groups have been briefed as to the process going forward for the agreement?
Hon TODD McCLAY (Associate Minister of Trade): on behalf of the Minister of Trade : The Minister has made a number of public comments on the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, including this week from Kuala Lumpur. New Zealand’s position on the release of the draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has not changed. The text is not being shared with stakeholders as negotiations are still continuing, and it and other negotiating proposals are subject to confidentiality undertakings agreed on by all Trans-Pacific Partnership countries. The Government continues to meet with and brief stakeholders about the specific areas of interest in the negotiation. Since the Maui meetings, this has included meetings with representatives from business groups, agricultural exporters, and the IT sector.
Dr Russel Norman : Does one of the groups that have been briefed as to the process going forward for the Trans-Pacific Partnership include National Party MPs; and, if so, can he explain why Dr Shane Reti, the deputy chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, told the Northern Advocate that “the agreement comes before Parliament and Opposition parties and select committees for debate and modification.”
Mr SPEAKER : The Hon Todd McClay—either of those two supplementary questions.
Hon TODD McCLAY : The Minister has briefed a number of different groups, including arranging for negotiators from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to brief the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee of Parliament. I note that the member is speaking of a member of that committee. I am not aware of what information was provided to that committee.
Dr Russel Norman : Will Parliament be able to modify the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement after the Government has signed it?
Hon TODD McCLAY : The member needs to be careful not to get ahead of himself. There is still a negotiation under way, and the Government has been clear that we will sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement only if it is for the overall good of New Zealand and the New Zealand economy. What I can confirm is that should we be successful in negotiating a high-quality agreement that is good for New Zealand, it will follow the same parliamentary process as other similar agreements.
Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a very simple—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I can anticipate the point of order. I am going to invite the member to ask that question again.
Dr Russel Norman : Thank you. Will Parliament be able to modify the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement after the Government has signed the agreement?
Hon TODD McCLAY : The member needs to be careful not to get ahead of himself. There is no agreement under the Trans-Pacific Partnership yet. Should there be an agreement it would have to be in the overall best interests of New Zealand for the Government to sign it, and the process will be the same as every other trade agreement that is put before Parliament.
Mr SPEAKER : I will allow the member an additional supplementary question.
Dr Russel Norman : Will Parliament be able to modify the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement after the Government signs it?
Hon TODD McCLAY : The process that will be followed for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, should it be successfully negotiated and concluded, will include a national-interest assessment, followed by enacting legislation. That is the normal process that we follow in this House with all agreements, including the New Zealand - Korea free-trade agreement, the New Zealand - China free-trade agreement, and all other agreements that have been negotiated successfully in the interests of New Zealand.
Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a very simple question. The Minister is not answering a very simple question.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! It is a very simple question that has now been repeated twice. I see little point in repeating the question a third time, but the member certainly has an additional supplementary question, if he wants to use it.
Dr Russel Norman : Will Parliament be able to modify the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement after the Government signs it—yes or no?
Hon TODD McCLAY : I refer the member to my previous answer. This agreement, should it be concluded, will follow all other agreements that have come through this House. The agreement will go before the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, which will be able to put a report back to Parliament.
Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your clarification and direction. What can the Opposition do when a Minister simply refuses to answer a question?
Mr SPEAKER : The Minister did not refuse; he gave an answer that did not answer the question—I agree with that. There is nothing I can do. It is the responsibility of the Minister to answer questions in this House. I judge whether the question has been answered. On either occasion, I did not think it had been satisfactorily addressed, so I gave the member additional questions to use. It will be now for the public and this House to judge the quality of the answer that has been given by the Minister.
Dr Russel Norman : I seek leave to table a statement from Dr Shane Reti with regard to the process for ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, dated—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Is it a statement by Dr Shane Reti, or a newspaper article?
Dr Russel Norman : It is a press release released to the Northern Advocate, and nobody else, by Dr Shane Reti, dated 15 August 2015.
Mr SPEAKER : On the basis that the member has informed me correctly that it was released through a particular provincial newspaper and not released more widely, I will put the leave and it will be over to the House to decide. Leave is sought to table that particular statement. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Health Targets—Emergency Departments
10. BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki - King Country) to the Minister of Health : Can he confirm that the health target for emergency departments has been met for the second consecutive quarter, meaning that 95 percent of people attending our emergency departments are treated, admitted, or discharged within 6 hours?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Yes, I can. Over a quarter of a million patients were successfully admitted, discharged, or transferred from an emergency department within 6 hours in the last quarter. This is an excellent result, and represents the first time our hospitals have achieved the 95 percent target for two quarters in a row. The Government is continuing to provide better care for patients by delivering better and faster access to important health services.
Barbara Kuriger : What is the Government doing to drive sustained achievement of the emergency department health target?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : In Budget 2015 the Government again made health funding the No. 1 priority, delivering an extra $1.7 billion over the next 4 years into public health services. The winter season is always tough on our emergency departments, and I want to thank our emergency department staff across the country for their dedication and excellent performance during these very busy months.
Hon Annette King : In light of the report today from Dunedin Hospital, how many patients are currently sitting in corridors under fluorescent lights because they cannot get into the emergency department because of overcrowding, something he said was a measure of a poorly operating health system?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I am very surprised that the former Minister of Health has the gall to ask that question. But what I can tell her—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order!
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I was talking to Carol Heatly—[Interruption] Do you want to listen? I can—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am wanting the answer.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : Yes, sure. I was talking to Carol Heatly, the chief executive of the Southern District Health Board, during the last hour. She was saying that yesterday between Dunedin and Invercargill there were fewer than 10 people waiting briefly, having been seen, before they were transferred into the wards. So it is a very different situation than Mrs King’s failed tenure as health Minister.
Foreign Affairs, Minister—Al-Khalaf and Agri-hub
11. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs : Did he approve officials’ recommendation on 19 April 2012 to commence work on “finding an appropriate mechanism to meet Al Khalaf’s concern for ‘compensation’ (possibly through the joint venture)”; and was the $4 million payment to Al Khalaf the adopted mechanism, given Cabinet noted part of that payment was for “the settlement of the long-running dispute”?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (Minister of Foreign Affairs): No, none of the six recommendations in the paper contained the quotation the member refers to.
Hon David Parker : Why was no tender process run in respect of the first $4 million payment to Mr Khalaf?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY : I am advised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that the tender processes followed in relation to this matter followed all of the public sector guidelines. As the member will be aware, the Auditor-General is conducting an inquiry that will include the matters that he has referred to. The Government welcomes the inquiry as a means of resolving the questions that the member refers to.
Hon David Parker : I seek leave to table the tender documents, which were in respect of the $6 million agrihub, not the $4 million payment.
Mr SPEAKER : Have those documents not been tabled before?
Hon David Parker : I have not tabled that one. I believe—
Mr SPEAKER : OK, I will put the leave to table those particular tender documents. Is there any objection? There is none. They can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon David Parker : Does he agree with the Prime Minister that Cabinet’s view was “there was a case the investor had put up, that we may have to fight that in court and there was probably a faster way of trying to resolve that …”; if so, why does he now say it is not about compensation, when the Prime Minister admitted it was?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY : All wise Ministers agree with the Prime Minister.
Hon David Parker : Why did he repeatedly refer to avoiding litigation in this House in early answers to questions, saying the deal was needed to resolve that prospect, given that his new view is that the payment was not compensation?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY : Despite the member’s attempts to distort the responses I have given on that question, that question is very fully answered by both the Cabinet paper I have tabled in this House and other responses to exactly that question.
Hon David Parker : If the chief executive officer of a company paid off a businessman getting in the way of a deal, that would be a bribe—what is different in this case?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY : I am well aware that the member chooses to adopt an uncharitable view of this matter, but I want to refer to the fact that the Auditor-General is now inquiring into the very matters that he has raised in his question. The Government welcomes that inquiry as a basis for resolving this matter. Officials advise me that the decisions that have been made within the appropriation were lawful and in New Zealand’s foreign policy interests, and that remains my position.
Hon David Parker : Is the Minister saying that a tender process was run in respect of the first $4 million payment to Mr Khalaf?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY : I am saying that the appropriate processes were followed, both in respect of the $6 million payment and the $4 million payment.
12. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance : Does he stand by all his statements; if so, why?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, in the context in which they were made.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Does he stand by his statement in a response letter to my Official Information Act request dated 17 August 2015 that “The documents alleged to contain the information requested do not exist.”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I cannot respond on the specific statement, because I do not know what he is referring to, but generally we would stand by the statements that I make in letters in response to the Official Information Act.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : If that is the case, then why do I have a copy of a letter, signed by him on 26 March 2013, to Federated Farmers that contradicts his statement that the documents do not exist and makes a mockery of the Official Information Act process?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I do not know the answer to that question. We endeavour to comply at all times with the Official Information Act. In fact, in my office and in Treasury we are probably among the more proactive releasers of public information in the whole Public Service.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I seek leave to table three letters. One is dated 26 March 2013, from Bruce Wills of Federated Farmers. The second one is a letter—sorry, 13 March 2013, rather, from Bill English as well, to—I will rephrase this. Mr Wills’ letter of 13 February 2013 to Bill English, Mr English’s reply on 26 March 2013, and then his reply to me dated 17 August 2015—that is, three letters.
Mr SPEAKER : Leave is sought to table those three particular letters. Is there any objection to them being tabled? There is none. They can be tabled.
No. 8 to Minister, 20 August
SUE MORONEY (Labour) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is my understanding that in questions to Ministers, as soon as Ministers become aware that they have given an incorrect answer in Parliament, they should raise that at the earliest opportunity. I have waited until the end of question time to hear a correction from Michael Woodhouse to question No. 8 last—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member is in danger of creating disorder. That is not an appropriate use of the point of order. If the member feels that there has been misrepresentation made in this House, she knows the appropriate course. If she does not, she needs to refer to the Standing Orders.
Point of Order—Verification of Questions
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have waited until the end of questions to Ministers. There were two questions today that I would ask you to have a look at the verification for—question No. 4 and question No. 11—where the questions were based on quotes allegedly made by the Ministers, but both quotes were refuted by the Ministers. It would be interesting to know why the Clerk’s Office accepted those when, clearly, they were not quotes attributable to the Ministers.
Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I can assist—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] No, just a minute. I am calling the Hon David Parker to respond to that point of order.
Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour): I can assist, because we provided documentary proof in support of those quotes. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I will have a look at—[Interruption] Order! I will have a look at the information used to justify both of those questions. I cannot answer it, obviously, at the moment. Often those quotes are not particularly attributed to a member, but they still may be a quote attributed to somebody, and that is sufficient verification for a question to be asked. [Interruption] Order! But I will look at it more deeply before I respond to the member.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Could I just—
Mr SPEAKER : Is this a fresh point of order?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : It is in addition to the point of order; it is not a challenge—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have ruled that I will look into the matter. If there is a fresh point of order—
Hon Gerry Brownlee : Well, you listened to something that I think was quite unreasonable—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume his seat. The member raised a point of order. I allowed the Hon David Parker to respond to it, to help me in making up my mind. I will have a look at further information to see whether those two questions submitted were satisfactorily verified.
Questions to Members
Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill—Intention
1. POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East) to the Member in charge of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill : Why did she draft the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill?
SUE MORONEY (Member in charge of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill): I drafted the bill because of the overwhelming research that shows the important brain development and other milestones that occur in the first 6 months of life. The evidence shows that if we are prepared to invest in supporting bonding between parent and baby and supporting breastfeeding to 6 months, then, as a country, we will save more money on funding the services needed for bad outcomes.
Poto Williams : What parliamentary support is she expecting to receive for her Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am receiving some interjection from my right-hand side. I am going to ask that member to ask that question again to ascertain whether I think it is in order.
Poto Williams : What parliamentary support is she expecting to receive for her Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill?
Mr SPEAKER : I do not see that question being out of order. It can be answered.
SUE MORONEY : The bill has the full backing of my Labour colleagues. I have also been informed of valuable support from the Green Party, from New Zealand First, and from the Māori—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Just answer the question.
Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill—Support
2. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North) to the Member in charge of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill : What indication of support has she received for putting forward the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill?
SUE MORONEY (Member in charge of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill): In another stroke of luck, the bill—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Just answer the question.
SUE MORONEY : The bill was drawn from the ballot the week prior to World Breastfeeding Week, and it immediately drew the support of the New Zealand Breastfeeding Authority, the New Zealand Educational Institute, and Plunket. They have been joined by 24 other community organisations, collectively known as 26 for Babies. This coalition involves organisations as diverse as the Maternity Services Consumer Council—
Mr SPEAKER : Order!
Iain Lees-Galloway : What has changed since she last had a bill before Parliament proposing 6 months’ paid parental leave for families and their babies?
Mr SPEAKER : Very briefly, Sue Moroney.
SUE MORONEY : This bill now requires just an additional 8 weeks’ paid leave as opposed to the 12 weeks with my previous bill. It is being debated during more favourable economic times and, importantly, since it was defeated on a 60:60 vote, National has lost the Northland—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume her seat.
Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill—Intention
3. POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East) to the Member in charge of the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill : Why did she draft the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill?
CARMEL SEPULONI (Member in charge of the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill): Currently, anyone can call themselves a social worker without having any qualifications or being registered with the Social Workers Registration Board. At the 2013 Census, over 18,000 people classified themselves as social workers; however, there are currently only 4,700 registered social workers. This bill will provide New Zealanders with the assurance that anyone working as a social worker in their schools and communities, with their children and families, has the relevant qualifications and experience—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! Answers must be brief.
Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier today I raised a point of order with you about whether the Prime Minister’s answers were, in fact, succinct, as required. Not only did he give a very long answer but you then invited him to continue the answer after that point—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume his seat. These are questions to members, and the way that I see them being used, I can see a discussion occurring at the Standing Orders Committee before too much longer about whether they are necessary. If they are simply a means of raising publicity on a bill that is placed on the Order Paper, I can see that being questioned by members. [Interruption] I do not need assistance from the member. The question has been answered. I will allow one short supplementary question from Poto Williams and an equally short answer.
Chris Hipkins : Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : Can I just clarify: I have given a ruling on this matter. If it is a new, fresh point of order, I will hear it.
Chris Hipkins : It is a point of clarification.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am not interested in a point of clarification. I have ruled.
Chris Hipkins : Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : If it is a fresh point of order—[Interruption] The member will just resume his seat. I am not interested in a point of clarification. If it is a fresh point of order, I am happy to hear it, but if I deem that it is not a fresh point of order, I will be asking the member to leave the Chamber.
Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Does the ruling that questions cannot be used to promote bills apply to Government bills as well?
Mr SPEAKER : I cannot see what that point of order is, apart from seeking to clarify the answer that I have just given. [Interruption] Order!
Poto Williams : What concerns—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! If I get another interjection from Chris Hipkins, he will be leaving the Chamber for the balance of the day.
Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Does your ruling in respect of members’ questions not being able to ask about support for bills—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume his seat. I clarified earlier that in my mind, when we are seeing a number of times these questions being asked, which are simply a means of promoting a member’s bill, I think that we are in danger of the Standing Orders Committee reconsidering the value of such questions. I am perfectly entitled to make that statement. It does not change the fact that these four questions are on the Order Paper. They can be asked, but they are to be asked in accordance with the Standing Orders.
Hon David Parker : Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume his seat. I just want to give him the same warning that I am giving other members in this House. I have ruled on this matter. If the member attempts in any way to relitigate my question or to seek further clarification when I have been absolutely clear, then I will equally be asking the Hon David Parker to leave the Chamber.
Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was not challenging your ruling; I accepted that ruling. I put a different question, and that was whether the same rule applies to Government questions in respect of Government bills. That was a different point of order, which you have not addressed.
Mr SPEAKER : No, clearly the same rules would not apply.
Poto Williams : What concerns were raised with her during the drafting of the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am going to ask the member to repeat the question because I could not hear it.
Poto Williams : What concerns were raised with her during the drafting of the Social Workers Registration—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Carmel Sepuloni—what concerns.
CARMEL SEPULONI : I will outline just two. One of the concerns raised was that the instances of misconduct were significantly higher amongst unregistered social workers. Parliamentary Library research compiled on this issue showed that of the 17 cases of misconduct reported in the media over the past 10 years, 16 of those 17 cases involving social workers involved unregistered social workers. Also, there was a concern raised that the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Education do not collect information on whether or not the social workers delivering the Social Workers in Schools programme operating in low decile schools—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The answer is too long.
Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill—Support
4. POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East) to the Member in charge of the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill : What indications of support has she received for putting forward the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill?
CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston): Support from the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers, the Tangata Whenua Social Workers Association, the Social Workers Registration Board, and numerous NGOs. It was even recommended in the 2014 White Paper for Vulnerable Children but the Government decided not to accept this recommendation—
Mr SPEAKER : Order!
Poto Williams : What other indications of support for the mandatory registration of social workers have come to her notice?
Mr SPEAKER : Briefly, Carmel Sepuloni.
CARMEL SEPULONI : In 2001 a National MP by the name of Anne Tolley was supportive of the registration of social workers and was upset at the delay of the original bill. At that time, she said: “It will be 6 years before—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! The question has been answered. The member will resume her seat.