Questions and Answers - Nov 14
• ORAL QUESTIONS
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
1. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by the statement made on her behalf in the House on Thursday, 9 November that the Government "will make decisions on appropriate targets in due course"?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Acting Prime Minister): Yes.
Rt Hon Bill English: Is it her Government's policy to target "building 100,000 affordable homes over 10 years", as stated by the Minister of Housing and Urban Development in the House?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Yes.
Rt Hon Bill English: Mr Speaker—[Interruption]—does the Prime Minister, therefore, also stand by—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Mr Bridges just lost his side a supplementary question.
Rt Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister also stand by the statements made by the housing Minister that there are three ways the Government would implement KiwiBuild: first, by stepping into already under way building developments, like Hobsonville Point, and securing a large number of new residences there; secondly, by buying off-the-plan units in planned developments, like new high-rise CBD apartment blocks; and, thirdly, by creating its own development sites?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Yes, and no.
Rt Hon Bill English: So does that mean the Prime Minister does not stand by the statements made by the housing Minister that part of KiwiBuild is not building new houses but to buy existing houses?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No. I stand by the Minister's statement, to build 100,000 affordable homes.
Rt Hon Bill English: With respect to the setting of appropriate targets, will the Government be counting, as part of the 100,000, buying units that are bought off the plan or already planned new residences in Hobsonville Point that are purchased by the Government?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Decisions on interim targets to achieve these housing policies will be made in due course.
Rt Hon Bill English: In the statements made by the Government, does the word "build" mean "build" or does it mean "buy"?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: It means "build".
Rt Hon Bill English: Will the Prime Minister then correct the housing Minister, who has said publicly that one of the ways they will achieve 100,000 houses is not to build some of those houses but to buy off-the-plan units in high-rise CBD apartment blocks already planned, or to buy houses already under way, being built at Hobsonville Point and other places?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Off-the-plan houses haven't been built.
Rt Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister, therefore, agree with the statement by the Reserve Bank indicating that, in their view, about half of the 100,000 houses will be offset by reduced private sector development, and, therefore, not only will the Government not be building 100,000 new houses, but there will be a net gain of maybe 50,000?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No, we respectfully disagree.
Rt Hon Bill English: Does the same kind of tricky wording apply to the goal of 1,800 extra sworn-in police, or is it simply an aspirational goal, as stated by the police Minister?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Decisions on targets such as the 1,800 new police will be made in due course, but we will work towards that goal over the three years.
Rt Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister stand by her statement on 24 October that the additional police resource will cost "an extra $40 million"?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Yes, those costs have been finalised.
Rt Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister aware that the likely cost is around $200 million, and does that affect the likelihood of achieving 1,800 sworn-in police, as the Government said is its target?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: I would have to check the member's figures.
• Women, Minister—Statements on Quotas for Women on Boards
2. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister for Women: Does she stand by her statement regarding quotas for women on boards that "I think that there's evidence that it's effective, and if we can't achieve it otherwise, then I think that we should be exploring it"; if so, why?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER (Minister for Women): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Tēnā koutou e Te Whare. Yes, I do stand by my statement, and I can share with that member that evidence from countries that have introduced quotas on boards has shown a significant increase in women's representation, and also improved quality and transparency of board appointment processes. I agree with that member on her prior press release, in which she stated, on 8 May 2017: "Research shows the benefits of gender diversity on boards. … The boards of NZX-listed companies still only have 17 per cent women and that's quite frankly not good enough."
Hon Paula Bennett: How will she continue to increase the number of women on State sector boards, given the record increase under the previous Government from 43.4 percent in 2015 to 45.3 percent in 2016?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am very ambitious for what we can achieve. I note that the previous Government dropped the target on public sector boards from 50 percent to 45 percent, and perhaps that made it easier to achieve the target. But I think that we should be quite ambitious. We will continue to work towards a target of 45 percent or more, and we do that, quite simply, by using the information that's available from the Ministry for Women. There are a large number of high-quality, competent, capable women who are willing to and able to serve on boards, and we'll be appointing them.
Hon Paula Bennett: In light of her beliefs that quotas are effective and that she'll "start with a conversation", will that conversation include discussions with Jacinda Ardern on how she can increase the number of women in her Government's Cabinet from 35 percent, down from a record high of 40 percent under Bill English?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: I believe that question is best directed to the Prime Minister, who I am quite—[Interruption]. Mr Speaker, I'm trying to answer, and they're interjecting.
Mr SPEAKER: I can hear the Minister, so she can just keep going.
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: OK, great—great. I'm quite pleased to note that we do, again, have a female Prime Minister, and I'm sure she will be a considerable ally to all women in New Zealand.
Hon Paula Bennett: So does she believe that an organisation with 45 percent of women in its caucus but only 33 percent of women in their executive is one that is demonstrating leadership in increasing the number of women on boards and—as the Minister herself was just previously saying—is great gender diversity that leads to better decision making?
Mr SPEAKER: I'm going to rule out—this Minister does not have responsibility for percentages in the Labour Party caucus.
Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: A point of order—one crack at convincing me.
Hon Paula Bennett: Yep. I think I was very clear in saying :does she believe that an organisation that has a certain membership then has representation in their executive? I could reword that for you, sir, if it would make you feel more comfortable.
Mr SPEAKER: I'll be kind to the member and ask the Minister to answer.
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: For the sake of the member, I would say that what we're focused on is increasing female representation on private sector boards, and the way that I will address that is by opening up a conversation. The representation on private sector boards is less than 20 percent—17 percent—and so there's considerable room for improvement in that, and I'm going to be opening up a conversation about women's representations with private sector leaders later today.
Jan Logie: Is the Minister satisfied with progress towards gender equality on State boards and committees?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: No. I believe the previous Government let women and the State sector down when they dropped the target for State boards from 50 percent down to 45 percent, and I believe they've failed to seize the opportunity to lead the conversation with New Zealanders about the effectiveness of specific policies to increase female representation in governance.
Jan Logie: Has she seen any reports on progress towards gender equality and leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: Yes, I have. The New Zealand Census of Women on Boards published this year, in 2017, says, and I quote, "… a quarter of the top 100 companies still have no women on their boards despite decades of political, business and public concern about women's representation." Unlike the previous Government, I don't believe this is a cause for celebration. I'll be a champion of women to change this.
• Superannuation Funds—Government Contributions
3. KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: When does he plan to restart contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): As indicated during the Speech from the Throne, this Government intends to resume contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to help safeguard the provision of universal superannuation at age 65. These contributions will be starting in this calendar year, as part of the Government's 100-day plan. This will be a welcome change after nine years of no Government contributions.
Kiritapu Allan: What estimates has he received of the cost of the fund—of withholding contributions over the past nine years?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As at 30 June 2017, the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation estimated that the fund was $21.3 billion smaller than it would otherwise have been. After allowing for borrowing costs, the fund would've been $8.3 billion higher if contributions had been retained—the equivalent of $4,800 per household.
David Seymour: Does the Minister believe that the past performance of investment funds always guarantees their future performance?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: One can never make such guarantees, but the super fund is one of the best-performing sovereign wealth funds in the world.
Kiritapu Allan: Over the next three years, what is the value of the contributions that the Minister proposes to make to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The Government is proposing that in addition to the zero dollars that the previous administration provided for in the pre-election fiscal update, we will be providing $3 billion of additional capital to be invested with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. This Government believes that making investments for the long term is in the interests of the shared prosperity of New Zealanders.
• Earthquake, Kaikōura—Cost
4. Hon STEVEN JOYCE (National) to the Minister of Finance: What is the cost to date and the expected total cost, including EQC costs, to the Government and taxpayers of the relief and reconstruction efforts following the Kaikōura earthquake one year ago today?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): I am advised that the cost to date of Government expenditure on the relief and reconstruction efforts is $705 million. The expected cost to the Government is still to be determined. However, I am advised that the total estimated cost of relief and reconstruction efforts, including insurance payments and other non-core Crown expenses, is likely to be in the order of $2 billion.
Hon Steven Joyce: What has been the cost of the Canterbury earthquakes to the Government, including Earthquake Commission costs?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I don't have that information with me today.
Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. To assist the Minister, could I please table the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2015, which shows about $17 billion—
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member can't. It's already been tabled. It's a publicly available document.
Hon Steven Joyce: As a result of the Canterbury earthquakes and the global financial crisis, what was the Government's net debt, in dollar terms, as at 30 June 2017?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I don't have the exact information with me, but I recall that it was around about the $60 billion mark.
Hon Steven Joyce: Given that number and the unfortunate regularity of natural disasters in New Zealand, and also the potential for other shocks, would the Minister not think it would be prudent at this stage of the economic cycle for the Government to be reducing net debt so that we are ready for the next rainy day, as we've been able to be ready for Christchurch and for Kaikōura?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: It is the policy of this Government to reduce net debt to 20 percent of GDP within five years of taking office.
Hon Steven Joyce: Under what circumstances would he consider reducing the Government's debt in dollar terms, given that he has inherited a growing economy, record levels of employment—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! Those are unnecessary additions to the question. If the member wants to look at Speakers' rulings very carefully and ask only what is necessary—you don't need a pile of givens.
Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. These are descriptions of the stage of the economic cycle that we're in, and—
Mr SPEAKER: And are unnecessary for answering the question.
Hon Steven Joyce: Well, OK. Under what circumstances would he ever consider reducing the Government debt, in dollar terms, given that he still wants to increase borrowing by at least $11 billion compared to the pre-election fiscal update over the next five years?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I'd be very wary of that member's use of the phrase "$11 billion", but what I can say to the House is that this Government wants to continue to reduce debt as a percentage of GDP, but what we're not prepared to put up with is a situation where we do not have enough affordable homes, where we have not made contributions to the super fund, and where an enormous social deficit is growing. In those circumstances, a slower debt repayment track is totally appropriate.
• Regional Economic Development, Minister—Reports of Growth
5. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Has he received any reports on the benefit of market access to economic growth in the regions?
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): Yes. I've received a host of reports dealing with market access and the benefits of improved market access for economic growth in the regions.
Hon Simon Bridges: How beneficial does he believe the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement would be for regional economic development?
Hon SHANE JONES: Well, whilst it's not directly in my province of responsibility, the reality is that an approved set of trade arrangements, which themselves are still a state of flux, will inevitably bring upside to the provinces, especially those in the business of agricultural products.
Hon Simon Bridges: Well, can I ask the Minister straight: does he support the signing of the CPTPP agreement?
Mr SPEAKER: That's not the Minister's responsibility. There is another Minister—
Hon Simon Bridges: Given its—
Mr SPEAKER: No, no. The member's had his question and I've ruled it out.
Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, you can have another question—if the member wants it.
Hon Simon Bridges: Well, it's a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Point of order, the Hon Simon Bridges.
Hon Simon Bridges: You see the primary question, which is clearly about trade access and regional development. That's because regional development, which this Minister is responsible for, and trade access are intrinsically linked. So I think implicit in my question is—
Mr SPEAKER: The member might think the link's intrinsic, but this Minister is in charge of regional economic development. He is not in charge of trade negotiations, and while there might be some advantages, as I think members agree, to the regions, of that sort of arrangement, whether or not this Minister supports it is not within his responsibilities in that ministerial portfolio. Does the member want to have another crack?
Hon Simon Bridges: Well, it's a new question; I take it I've lost that one.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, you have.
Hon Members: Ha, ha!
Mr SPEAKER: But you've just got it back, all right?
Hon Simon Bridges: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In terms of regional development, does the Minister think there are any regions of New Zealand that would not benefit from the kind of agreement we may well see, in terms of the CPTPP agreement in New Zealand?
Hon SHANE JONES: Without knowing what the final outcome would be, obviously those who are in the business of exporting from the regions' forestry resources, beef resources, and fish resources—you'd have to imagine there is considerable upside.
Hon Simon Bridges: So does he accept the upside from trade agreements and disagree with the comments made in this House about what a bad deal the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is?
Hon SHANE JONES: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have no idea what he is talking about. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I was struggling a little myself and I thought it might be a fine point that I didn't understand. I'll ask the member to repeat his question.
Hon Simon Bridges: Well, to the Minister: in light of his answers about the benefits, in the regions, of trade, does he disagree with comments made in this House about what a bad deal the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is and what it would mean for the regions?
Hon SHANE JONES: Given that it is probably a historical remark unlikely to relate to what I concede to be a new deal still in flux, but unless he puts more specific context, I think there is considerable upside in the regions for an imaginative and clever trade deal.
• Police—Young People Held in Cells
6. JENNY MARCROFT (NZ First) to the Minister for Children: What information has she received about the number of young people being held in police cells?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister for Children): The latest reports I have seen show that the number of young people detained in police cells for more than 24 hours in the September quarter has reduced by 40 percent. While we will continue to work to reduce these numbers further, it is an excellent start. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member just needs to get started, and then I can control the other side. So away you go.
Jenny Marcroft: What factors are behind this reduction?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Since Oranga Tamariki was created there has been an enormous amount of work to create more options for those young people on remand, with both Oranga Tamariki and the police working collaboratively on this issue, and I acknowledge the Hon Anne Tolley. Oranga Tamariki has opened four new community-based remand homes over the six months of its existence, in recognition that keeping young people connected to their communities has the downstream effect of helping them to become more resilient and less likely to reoffend. As mentioned in the primary answer, our target is to reduce the number of young people held in cells for longer than 24 hours, to zero. This will take time and investment, but this is an excellent beginning.
• Health, Minister—Policies
7. Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote) to the Minister of Health: What quantifiable health service improvements, if any, will his policies deliver?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): This Government is committed to providing affordable access to quality healthcare for all New Zealanders. This will happen in many ways; there are too many examples to list. However, to pick just one, I can tell the member that more people will be able to access affordable primary healthcare.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: By exactly how much will he lift the number of elective surgeries above the 174,000 delivered in the past year, given his commitment to increase access to elective surgery?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I will not be rushed into committing to specific targets. I want a health system that is honest and transparent with targets not like the previous Government's one, which was pumping statistics by performing Avastin injections and skin legion removals that could have been done in primary care.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a very direct question. If he doesn't have an answer, he should just say so.
Mr SPEAKER: No. I probably was a bit slack letting him go on after he answered the question in the first sentence.
Matt Doocey: By how much will he reduce the suicide rate over the next three years now that his Government has taken responsibility for the rate, as reported in the New Zealand Herald yesterday in the article entitled "… New Health Minister pledges change on youth suicide"?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: One suicide is one suicide too many. I do not believe it will be possible to eliminate suicide in the first term of this Government, but we are committed to lowering the rate of suicide in New Zealand, and I am looking forward to beginning the mental health inquiry.
Dr Shane Reti: What did he mean exactly by his statement to the New Zealand Herald yesterday that addressing colonisation will be an important part of his mental health inquiry?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: That is one factor that I said to the New Zealand Herald I expect will come up in the inquiry.
Jo Luxton: What advice has the Minister—
Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, point of—
Hon Simon Bridges: He was asked a very clear question as to what he meant. He hasn't answered that, remotely.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I beg to differ.
Jo Luxton: What advice has the Minister received on the financial state and viability of the health sector he has inherited?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Bad news: as the incoming health Minister I've been advised that, a third of the way into the current financial year, not one district health board (DHB) annual plan has been signed off. Furthermore, I've learned that under the previous Government's watch, DHB deficits have been increasing at an unsustainable rate.
Mr SPEAKER: All right. Order! Again, I probably should've stopped the member earlier. The supplementary question might be an interesting one, and it could be a very good primary question, but its relationship to the first question, or even to the subsequent answers, is too tenuous and we're not going to continue with it.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Can he explain the improvements his policies will have on the link that he believes exists between colonisation and youth suicide?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: This Government will commit to a mental health review—an inquiry, a ministerial inquiry—and that inquiry I have asked to be broad. It will cover a variety of topics, including the one the former Minister has raised, and I expect it to provide answers that will help us to provide mental health services that New Zealanders need.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I seek leave to table an article from the New Zealand Herald dated 13 November entitled—
Mr SPEAKER: Not a chance. Stop now. Sit down.
• Education, National Standards—Replacement System
8. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Minister of Education: Will National Standards be scrapped within the next 12 months, and will he guarantee that any new replacement system will be in place for all schools prior to removing National Standards?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): The new Government intends to honour the commitments made by the Labour Party, the New Zealand First Party, and the Green Party to scrap national standards and replace them with a requirement for schools to report progress to parents against all levels of the New Zealand curriculum. The timetable for that is yet to be confirmed by Cabinet.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Will schools that want to keep national standards rather than shift to a new system be forced to remove them by the Government; if so, why?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: In answer to the first part of the question, no.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Will he commit to ensuring the current national standards requirement of at least twice yearly reporting to parents will remain?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: We've been clear that we won't be proceeding with national standards, but we will still require regular reporting to parents—I would think at least twice a year.
Hon Nikki Kaye: How can New Zealanders have confidence in this Minister when he said that national standards will be gone quickly, he has no time line, he doesn't know the costs according to other comments that he's made, he hasn't developed the detailed system—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! To the question, please.
Hon Nikki Kaye: So why can New Zealanders have confidence, given that he doesn't know the detail of what he's replacing national standards with?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I do have a time line. The member didn't listen to my answer. Cabinet is yet to sign it off.
Raymond Huo: Why does the Government intend to abolish national standards?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Because they are neither national nor standard. Analysis by the Ministry of Education found that they incorrectly measure the achievements of four out of every 10 students. Less than a third of children who were judged to have met the maths standard for their age had actually met that standard.
Clayton Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the answer that we've just had by the Minister, we had a constant barrage coming over here from your left-hand side, and it didn't get picked up by the Speaker. I was just wondering what the ruling is with regards to that barraging from the Opposition side.
Mr SPEAKER: People are allowed to interject during answers. That's OK, you know, and I thought it wasn't nearly as loud as some other times that I might've been involved myself.
Hon Tracey Martin: Can he confirm that prior to the introduction of national standards in 2009, parents received report cards at least twice a year based on the curriculum and the educational advancement of their children?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, I can confirm that. In fact, schools have had a range of resources and tools available to them over an extended period of time to report progress to parents that were significantly more reliable than national standards.
• Housing, Rental—Improvement of Quality
9. GREG O'CONNOR (Labour—Ōhāriu) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: What steps has he taken to improve the quality of rental properties?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): I'm advised that around 1,600 mainly older New Zealanders are dying prematurely each winter, and around 40,000 New Zealand children are hospitalised with illnesses linked to cold, damp homes. The Government intends to set modern minimum standards for heating and ventilation, draft stopping, drainage, and moisture for rental properties, to help reduce the negative health effects of living in cold, damp homes.
Greg O'Connor: Will these measures place a burden on landlords and put up rents?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The Government will support landlords to make sure their properties are up to scratch, with grants of up to $2,000 per property for retrofitting, and will embark on a comprehensive consultation process with landlords next year, alongside other stakeholders and the public, in this designing of the new standards. Many factors influence private sector rents, not least supply and demand. The Government will work with landlords to ensure that providing warm, dry homes is both cost-effective and practical, and, at the same time, deals with the shocking health effects of substandard housing.
Greg O'Connor: How long will it take to implement these changes?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Once the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) is passed, there will be an 18-month period during which time the standards will be met. There will be—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Continue.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: There will be an additional grace period, so that landlords have the time to prepare to meet the new standards. Then, every time a new tenancy turns over, it must meet the standards, and after five years, every rental property must comply.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Does he intend to table draft regulations in advance of the consideration of the bill in the committee of the whole House, as is customary when primary legislation prescribes for secondary legislation?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No.
• Education, Minister—Statements
10. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Education: Does he stand by all of his statements?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Yes, in the context in which they were made.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he stand by his answer to my oral question last Thursday: "Will Australians have access to free fees in 2018?"?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is the Minister telling the House that in the next six weeks, he will unilaterally change the trans-Tasman arrangements currently in place that treat Australians as domestic students for the purposes of fees from the time they arrive?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just need to clarify or get some—
Mr SPEAKER: No, no. You can't clarify anything by way of point of order.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Right. Well, so under Speaker's ruling 183/5, I thought the practice was that if a Minister makes an incorrect statement to the House, he has the opportunity to clear it—
Mr SPEAKER: I'll just make it very clear: if a Minister makes an incorrect statement to the House, he has an obligation to come back and correct it. It is not a matter to be raised by the member in the House. If the member is very concerned about it, he might want to write me a note.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Why did he say—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The National Party just lost a supplementary.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Why did he say Australians would have to meet a three-year residence requirement before they have access to free fees.
Mr SPEAKER: I'm assuming you mean "Why did the Minister", but we'll go with that.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Yes.
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Because those are the rules that already apply to the forms of student support such as access to interest-free student loans and student allowances.
• Corrections Facilities—Accommodation of Prisoners
11. SIMON O'CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by the comments reported that he is looking at ways to exit a deal under which the Government is to build a 1,500 bed facility at Waikeria; if so, how does he intend to accommodate the forecast increase in prisoners?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Corrections): My preferred option is not to have to build more prisons. I'm aware that the previous Government had committed to the build, but this Government will be looking at all the options available before making a decision.
Simon O'Connor: What specific and measurable targets for prison capacity reduction has he set for next three years, given the forecast growing prison population?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Any decisions around targets will be made in due course.
Simon O'Connor: In light of that answer, is the Minister signalling that he will be releasing violent offenders into the community, given that over 75 percent of all those in prison are there for violent offences, and the Minister has been quoted as talking about reducing the prison population by 30 percent?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No, that's just ridiculous.
Simon O'Connor: Is the Minister saying that his previous quotes are ridiculous?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No, I'm saying that the member's previous question was ridiculous.
Simon O'Connor: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If quoting a member's, in this case, a Minister's, own comments back at him are then being reflected back at the member—it seems to be an inconsistency.
Mr SPEAKER: I think it probably doesn't add much to the tone of the place, especially when the member's maths are being questioned like that. But I think it's not a point of order.
Barbara Kuriger: What advice has he received about the impact any exit plan would have on the rural communities of Ōtorohanga and Waipā, in particular related to any commitments made by the local councils to the project?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We haven't made any decisions, but, when we do, we'll take all of those interests into account.
Barbara Kuriger: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked if the Minister had received any advice.
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No.
• Trade Negotiations—Protection of the Rights of New Zealanders
12. WILLOW-JEAN PRIME (Labour) to the Minister for Trade and Export Growth: How has the Government protected the rights of New Zealanders in international trade negotiations?
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, which member made that noise? Which member made that noise? It was sort of a guffaw-type noise. Well, a member on my left made it.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I might have made a noise.
Mr SPEAKER: Right, well that's another—
Hon Simon Bridges: Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry?
Hon Simon Bridges: Point of order
Mr SPEAKER: Well, let me rule first, and then you might want to take your point of order. That is another question from the National Party, and I must say, given the time that was taken for the member to own up, I was tempted to make it a more serious punishment. Is there a further point of order?
Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I suppose the issue is, Mr Speaker, that one man's "guffaw" may simply be an "ahem", and it's very difficult to know who had caused that. We do know—
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member will resume his seat. I've pleaded guilty to being slightly deaf in my left ear, and if it was a quiet "ahem" I wouldn't have heard it.
Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given the time delay, because of that point of order, for listeners, it would be helpful, I suggest, for the question to be asked again.
Mr SPEAKER: Oh, I think people can stay with it. I am sure the member could include it in his answer. He is nimble enough to get the facts in.
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister for Trade and Export Growth): The new Government believes that if you've got the right to live in New Zealand, you've got the right to buy a home here. Overseas wealthy people should not be able to outbid New Zealanders for our homes. The new Government will be bringing legislation before this House to ban foreign buyers of existing New Zealand homes. If done swiftly, our ban on foreign house buyers is fully compatible with the Korean free-trade agreement, the China free-trade agreement, and the renegotiated—
Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you've rightly pulled people up on the length of their answers today—and some of the questions, in fact. This is turning into a speech, I would suggest.
Mr SPEAKER: I think it's an enthusiastic reply, but I think the Minister might just have, at long last, got to answering the question.
Hon DAVID PARKER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. If done swiftly, our ban on foreign buyers is fully compatible with the Korean free-trade agreement, the China free-trade agreement, and the renegotiated Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). New Zealanders were at risk of losing that right to ban foreign buyers, under the process that the last Government had set forth.
Willow-Jean Prime: What gains has he made for New Zealanders on the CPTPP?
Hon DAVID PARKER: The new Government has worked hard to improve the agreement whilst protecting access to several important markets, including the third-largest economy in the world, Japan. Although we didn't get everything we want, we have not just protected the land issue; we have also made gains on investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses and the protection of Pharmac from increased costs of medicines, and it shows what a good Government can do in just three weeks if they work hard.
Willow-Jean Prime: Has he seen any reports that it is not possible to ban the sale of existing homes to foreigners because of existing free-trade agreements?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Yes, I have. I have seen, for example, the report that says a ban on foreign buyers would rip up trade deals and cost thousands of jobs that New Zealand relies upon, would cut across a range of existing free-trade agreements like those with Australia and Korea, and would cause difficulty with China. This has proven to be wholly incorrect. Of course, those comments came from the National Party, and were wrong.
Hon Todd McClay: Can the Minister tell the House, when the Prime Minister has claimed to have made significant changes over just three weeks to a 5,000-page agreement—the TPP—with just two pages of amendments, how many of these changes were discussed or agreed by officials or Ministers in the six TPP meetings held in Chile, Australia, Japan, Canada, and Vietnam since March of this year?
Hon DAVID PARKER: The Minister—sorry, the member and former Minister—is wrong that there are just two pages of amendments. It is true that some of the amendments to the CPTPP were negotiated by officials and Ministers, including that Minister, before the recent round. It is also true that it is the efforts of this Government that have further narrowed the effect of ISDS clauses, including further bilateral agreements with other countries, the total effect of which is that of the foreign direct investment coming into New Zealand from Trans-Pacific Partnership 11 countries, more than 80 percent of that foreign direct investment is no longer covered by ISDS clauses.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the member, I am granting the National Party a further supplementary question because of an interjection from Tracey Martin during the last one.
Hon Todd McClay: Did the Minister inform the Prime Minister, when she claimed that the rebranded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was better because 80 percent of foreign direct investment into New Zealand was now not covered by ISDS because of a side letter agreed last week with Australia, that, in fact, we already have a side letter with Australia signed in 2016, which exempts all Australian investment from ISDS under TPP?
Hon DAVID PARKER: The member is referring to the side letter in respect of the former TPP agreement, not the current one. I am advised that a new side agreement was required because this is a new and better agreement. Secondly, other side letters have been sought with a range of other countries, and they are in play, and it is something that the gormless former Government didn't even try to achieve.
Hon Todd McClay: I seek leave to table copies of the side letters exchanged between New Zealand and Australia signed in Auckland on 4 February 2016, exempting ISDS under TPP between our two countries—in case the Minister needs to copy them for the rebranded agreement.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection? There appears to be none. They may be tabled.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Mr SPEAKER: That concludes—
Hon Todd McClay: Are there more supplementaries? You gave one back to us.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I'm informed that the one you just had was your last one.