Parliament: Questions and Answers - May 23
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Question No. 1—Finance
1. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: Is the Government still committed to "reducing net debt to 20 percent of GDP" as outlined in the Speech from the Throne?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Yes, and I thank the member for the opportunity to reaffirm my announcement I made earlier today that we will meet this target and the other Budget responsibility rules in Budget 2019, as we did in Budget 2018.
Hon Amy Adams: Why has he changed his original commitment, which was to maintain that debt target for five years under this Government, but instead announced today that from next year's Budget the debt under his Government could actually be considerably higher?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: That's not correct.
Hon Amy Adams: It is correct.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: That is not correct. The commitment of this Government is that we would reduce net core Crown debt to 20 percent of GDP within five years of taking office. We are absolutely meeting that commitment.
Hon Amy Adams: Does he stand by the Prime Minister's statement last August that, and I quote, "These rules are not … nice to have[s]. … Some people have called for us to relax our borrowing rules or simply spend more. We won't."?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Absolutely, I stand by that comment. As I said, the member will be pleased to see that in Budget 2019, we are meeting our Budget responsibility rules around debt, in particular. So I think the member needs to reflect a little bit on the performance of her Government and, actually, might want to consider that the target that the previous Government set of 20 percent net debt was never ever met—not once—and they left us with 22.8 percent net debt.
Hon Amy Adams: Is the real reason he's broken his debt limitation promise to the people of New Zealand that he's realised—
Hon Amy Adams: —that this Government has overpromised and can't deliver?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Mr Speaker—you are calling me? Yep.
SPEAKER: Yes. I was contemplating, but if the member really wants to answer it, he can.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: That question from the member is completely and totally untrue. The member will see when the Budget is released that we are meeting our net debt target and that it will be 20 percent of GDP five years after taking office, and, actually, the member will see it will be below 20 percent in the sixth year and the seventh year and, actually, on the projections, out to 2032.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Foreign Minister, is he saying—
Hon Amy Adams: "Foreign Minister"?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Oh, sorry. Can I ask the finance Minister—[Interruption]
SPEAKER: Right. Now, come on, come on. It's not part of the 10-year plan.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the finance Minister—after consultation with the Foreign Minister—that despite all this necessary infrastructure and social spending being so neglected, the debt ratios are going to be inside the targets way before the time he originally said?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Absolutely. This Government has struck the right balance between increasing the amount of money that we're investing in fixing schools and hospitals and transport and housing and all of the critical public services we have, and we have balanced that with meeting our debt target. The member opposite is simply wrong in what she is saying today.
Hon Amy Adams: Isn't the real reason he's now being forced to rewrite his debt commitment because the economy has slowed under his watch, his revenues are falling, and he now cannot meet his spending commitments to New Zealand?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The member is completely wrong. Our debt target stands and we're meeting it in this Budget, as we met it in the last Budget, and the fiscal projections that the member will see on Budget day show that not only are we meeting it now but we're meeting it out to 2032. If the member's logic is to be followed, she's now endorsing a Government over here that will last until 2032. I'm not sure if I'll be there all the way through that, but I'll do my best to stick around.
Hon Amy Adams: Does he think it's responsible to burden future generations of New Zealanders with extra debt simply because the Government can't manage the books and is wasting billions of dollars on failed policies like the fees-free policy and KiwiBuild?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The member is continuing in each of her questions to represent a complete falsehood—a complete falsehood. The Budget responsibility rule debt target has been met.
Hon Amy Adams: You're rewriting it.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Ha, ha! The Budget debt responsibility target has been met. What we announced today was that after the end of the five-year Budget responsibility rule period, we were moving to a range. I can assure the member today that she probably should be grateful for that, given that her Government never actually made the 20 percent debt target and would have needed the range to be able to claim success.
Hon Amy Adams: Hasn't he today really just revealed the Government's real economic strategy, which is to tax more, spend more, and borrow more?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No, no, and I really do encourage the member to read what's in the speech today and to read what's in the Budget. What I have announced today is that this is a Government that has managed to keep to our Budget responsibility rules and balance that against investing in all of the issues that were let go by the previous Government to fix our schools and to fix our hospitals. Ms Adams, you need to read the document. It says we're going to meet the 20 percent target and, when you see the Budget, you'll see that we're meeting that target out to 2032, and the way they're going over there, we will definitely be here in 2032.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the—
Hon Amy Adams: The Foreign Minister again?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: —finance Minister, and not the Foreign Minister, again—he was the Treasurer at one time—has he read Liam Dann's comments about his speech today, that said, "But the Government has the upper-hand as it has just spent the past year and a half focused on bedding down its conservative credentials …"—with respect to the Opposition—"It's a classic Hollywood trope."?
SPEAKER: Order! Order! The—
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The first part?
SPEAKER: The first part only, yes, because that's what he's got responsibility for.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I have read the column by Liam Dann. I also noticed that it had been read by the Leader of the Opposition, who re-tweeted it and then quickly deleted the tweet when he saw what it said.
• Question No. 2—Housing and Urban Development
2. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: Is he confident none of the 58 KiwiBuild houses currently being marketed in Canterbury will have to be purchased by the Crown; if so, why?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): The underwrite enables builders to have certainty, to obtain finance, and to free up their investment in a reasonable time frame, which allows them to then go on and build more homes. The Government then continues to market these homes to KiwiBuild buyers. By sharing the burden of that risk with developers, the Government is getting affordable homes built. As I told the member in question time on Tuesday, the ministry has already acquired three homes in Canterbury that are currently on the market for eligible buyers. Therefore, the answer to the member's question is no.
Hon Judith Collins: Why would he think that these two-bedroom KiwiBuild homes being marketed for $500,000 are affordable when the median sale price for two-bedroom homes in Waimakariri is currently $330,000?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, we're talking about new homes that are being built, here. There are new Mike Greer homes, very nice two-bedroom homes, that are on the market for $360,000, which is a very good price not only in Canterbury but in any other market around the country.
Hon Judith Collins: Is he aware that in the last 12 months, two-bedroom houses in Pegasus Town, where these KiwiBuild homes are being built, have taken, on average, 700 days to sell?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I know the member's obsessed with how long a place takes to sell, but the reality is that some homes—no matter whether they're new, old, KiwiBuild, or any other kind of homes—sell in days. I note that in Tauranga recently, in Ōmokoroa, four of the eight houses that went on sale had deposits put down on those houses in the first weekend that they were on the market. Other houses take a bit longer to sell, and that's perfectly natural and what happens in the market.
Hon Judith Collins: What will he do with the houses he has recently had to buy in Canterbury?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: They are already on the market and are available to KiwiBuild buyers. In fact, under the underwrite, we've acquired 12 across the entire KiwiBuild programme, and one of those has already been on-sold to first-home buyers.
Hon Judith Collins: Is this deal a bailout for property developers who at the height of the housing bubble, at an event hosted by the then Prime Minister Helen Clark in 2006, bought $122 million of property in Pegasus Town in just one day?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No, but I'll say this to the member: she makes a great noise about how we've supposedly spent $600 million on this across the KiwiBuild programme. That is not how much money's been spent; that is the value of the houses that have been built, that have been enabled, by this policy—affordable homes for first-home buyers that otherwise would not have been built and certainly wouldn't have been built under that party's policy for nine years.
• Question No. 3—Housing and Urban Development
3. PRIYANCA RADHAKRISHNAN (Labour) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: What announcements has the Government made about providing wrap around support and housing to homeless New Zealanders?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): ThePrime Minister has announced that the well-being Budget will expand Housing First to provide wraparound support and housing to more than 1,000 extra households, expanding the programme to 2,700 households. Housing First works with homeless New Zealanders to make street homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. It's been successful in Canada, the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom. The Housing First model recognises that it's easier for people to address issues, such as mental health and addiction, once they are securely housed.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan: How many households have been housed by the Housing First programme?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Seven hundred and forty-eight households have now been housed through the programme since it began. In Auckland alone, 452 children have now been housed under the Housing First programme.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan: What progress are Housing First providers reporting?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The providers are reporting extremely good progress. For example, Christchurch's Housing First provider said that more than 100 households had come through its doors since they opened in June, and 66 of their clients had been without a home for more than a year at that point. Among them is a man who lived on the streets in Christchurch for more than 11 years, and he's now been in his own home for more than 9 months.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan: What feedback has the Minister received from Housing First clients?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I've seen a number of stories of people who have been housed under this programme. One Christchurch resident said—and I quote—"It actually makes you feel good. It lifted my self-esteem." He said, "I was way down in the depths of Loch Ness for quite a while there. I was struggling to get myself out of that situation, and, emotionally, I was wrecked." He said he'd always wanted to work, but not having a home was a barrier to employment. In less than a month into living in his new home, he has already secured permanent work.
• Question No. 4—Economic Development
4. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister for Economic Development: What is his Government's economic development strategy?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Acting Minister for Economic Development): On behalf of the Minister for Economic Development, being aware of the way the Minister of Finance's question was curtailed yesterday, I will keep this brief. The economic strategy that the Government has is to grow and share New Zealand's prosperity more fairly, support thriving and sustainable regions, govern responsibly and develop broader measures of success, and transition to a clean, green carbon-neutral New Zealand. We want equality of opportunity and more equal outcomes, no matter who you are or where you live. We aim to diversify our export base, turning volume into value, and I note that exports as a percentage of GDP have risen from 26.8 percent to 28.8 percent, in contrast to the last Government. We also have a focus on a just transition to a low-carbon economy, meeting the future of work with confidence, building better and greater infrastructure, and improving the institutions that underpin economic development.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does it concern him that this is the fourth time I've asked this question and that is the fourth different answer I've received; and, if so, is he surprised that everyone is confused as to what the growth strategy is?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The economic development strategy of the Government is clear. The confused person in this case is the member asking the question.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Wouldn't a more accurate description of the Government's economic development strategy be spend more, borrow more, and hope for the best?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No. An accurate description is the one that I have given, which has turned around our export performance, which had consistently declined on trend under the last Government, despite their big bold claims. This is a Government that is getting alongside industries and communities right around New Zealand, to make sure that they grow sustainably through the Provincial Growth Fund and through the just transitions work we're doing. It's actually a model of active economic development, not sitting on the sidelines hoping for the best as the previous Government did.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Why does he think his strategy is working, when, as the Reserve Bank Governor put it, there has been a "sharp decline" in the economy and new job creation has dried up?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: On behalf of the Minister, the Reserve Bank Governor went on to say that the fiscal strategy is helping the economy at the moment. It's helping because the Government is prepared to get alongside communities and invest. If the member had been at the Just Transition Summit in New Plymouth, he would have seen a community that is now committed to the transition to a low-carbon economy, that sees massive opportunities for new energy and for the creation of new jobs in that region. He should take a leaf out of the book of the people of Taranaki and get on board. Jonathan Young loved the summit. I saw him there.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Foreign Minister saying that in much less than 18 months, a 30 towards 25 percent—
SPEAKER: Order! I'll just get the member to start the question again.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the finance Minister and economic development Minister saying that, in less than 18 months, the decline of exports from 30 percent down towards 25 percent—in that short time—has been turned around and that it's risen to 26.8 percent already?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: In fact—I thank the member for the question—it's actually up to 28.8 percent, from 26.8 percent. So it is moving in the right direction and, most certainly, the trend had been in the other direction under the previous Government. That was a result of a philosophical view that standing on the sidelines and hoping for the best is economic policy—
SPEAKER: Order! That's enough—not responsible for it.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Whatever happened to the Business Partnership Agenda that was announced with great fanfare by the Prime Minister in August last year?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The programmes that are within the Business Partnership Agenda continue, with one particular exception. That website—which the National Party went looking for some ideas on—has been updated since that time.
• Question No. 5—Health
5. Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National) to the Minister of Health: How many adult New Zealanders reported an unmet need for GPs due to cost in the past 12 months according to the results of the 2017/18 New Zealand Health Survey, and how does that compare with the 2016/17 survey?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): I'm advised that an estimated 585,000 people did not access GP services due to cost in 2017/18, though I would note that the survey was completed before the start of the Government's cheaper doctor's visits policy in December last year—which reduced the cost of primary care for approximately 600,000 New Zealanders. Unmet need for GPs due to cost was an estimated 547,000 in 2016/17.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Well, does he believe that his policy goal of reduced barriers to access for all New Zealanders has been achieved when 38,000 more people have unmet needs for GPs due to cost last year, compared with the previous year?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I thank the member for his question and reiterate what I said in the response to the first one: that, of course, that result came in before the Government's policy change, which has reduced the cost of going to a doctor for around 600,000 New Zealanders—540,000 community service cardholders can now access cheaper doctors' visits that couldn't before. That is $20 to $30 dollars cheaper on average for those community service cardholders, for 540,000 more New Zealanders. It's great news for those people who were struggling to access a doctor. On top of that—and thanks to New Zealand First—we have free doctors' visits for 14-year-olds. So 600,000 New Zealanders can now access cheaper doctors visits than before the time that the member's highlighting.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: How does that figure of 540,000 adult New Zealanders compare with his lofty promise that every single adult New Zealander would be getting a reduction in fees, and when will that occur?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: It is true that we have an ambition of making sure more New Zealanders can access affordable primary care. That is something this Government is absolutely committed to. I'd also note that the Families Package is helping 384,000 New Zealanders, and when it's fully rolled out it will be $75 dollars a week in those households that they will benefit from. We're very clearly targeting a situation where more people can afford to go and get the primary care they need.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: When the GP fees changes were implemented, did his ministry tell general practices that they should increase the consultation fee for patients without a community services card, and has that resulted in an increased number of adults saying they avoid the GP because of cost?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I think it would be very difficult to trace all of that causality. The member knows, I'm sure, that increases in primary care visit fees are agreed with district health boards (DHBs) each year, and they are done within a range so that primary care providers cannot put up their fees by a dramatic amount from one year to the next. It's an incremental change as costs go up. The cost of visiting primary care can go up a little bit each year. That's the historic pattern; these are private businesses. But there is an agreement in place with DHBs to ensure that they don't rise rapidly.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Will he resign as Minister of Health if the next survey shows that the GP fees changes in Budget 2018 have not resulted in his expected reduction?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I think what is absolutely clear is that the New Zealand Health Survey has tracked a historic trend where people feel it has been unaffordable to get primary care. This Government is doing something about that. We are not afraid to tackle the big challenges that that Government sat on the sidelines and watched get worse for nine long years of neglect. Shame on them.
• Question No. 6—Health
6. ANAHILA KANONGATA'A-SUISUIKI (Labour) to the Minister of Health: What progress, if any, is being made to improve care and rehabilitation for Aucklanders who suffer a stroke?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Good news. High-quality care and rehabilitation for the 9,000 New Zealanders who suffer a stroke each year and support for their whānau is a priority for this Government. We're making progress in tackling the contributors to stroke, but there is a pressing need to expand care and rehabilitation services due to population growth and demographic changes. That's why I was very pleased to confirm $30 million in Crown funding for a new integrated stroke and rehabilitation unit at Auckland City Hospital last Thursday.
Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: How will this new facility make a difference to the lives of New Zealanders who have suffered a stroke?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Stroke care is currently delivered in different parts of Auckland City Hospital, with acute care split between two wards and rehabilitation provided elsewhere. Co-locating these services in a new, purpose-built, 41-bed unit will help to improve continuity of care for patients and reduce the overall time spent in hospital.
Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: How will this project help stroke victims outside of Auckland District Health Board (DHB)?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Well, Auckland DHB's stroke unit is led by the internationally renowned neurologist Professor Alan Barber, who perfected the game-changing clot retrieval technique, which is vastly improving outcomes for many stroke sufferers. The clot retrieval service at Auckland City Hospital takes patients from the northern and midland regions as well as from the Auckland area. All of these patients will benefit from improved care at the new unit. This new stroke care and rehabilitation unit is the final large project funded from the $750 million we set aside in Budget 2018 for long-overdue investment in our hospitals and other health infrastructure.
• Question No. 7—Land Information
7. Hon DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister for Land Information: Does she stand by all her statements, actions, and decisions?
Hon EUGENIE SAGE (Minister for Land Information): Yes, in the context in which they were made or given.
Hon David Bennett: Are all mining applications now unsustainable under the Minister's economic test in the OceanaGold case that an "investment in [a] non-renewable resource extraction is inherently unsustainable."?
Hon EUGENIE SAGE: No, and I have previously approved an application for quarrying in Otago and for extracting sand in the Auckland region—so no.
Hon David Bennett: Why did she make that test and that definition in the OceanaGold decision, then?
Hon EUGENIE SAGE: Because I was applying the Overseas Investment Act—the criteria in that Act where it is a privilege to buy land in New Zealand. Applicants have to show that they are providing a substantial and identifiable benefit. I did not consider that using 178 hectares of productive farmland to build a 60 hectare tailings impoundment to store 17 million tonnes of hazardous mining waste provided a substantial and identifiable benefit.
Hon David Bennett: Did the Minister receive any written advice to approve the OceanaGold application, and if so, from whom?
Hon EUGENIE SAGE: I received advice from the Overseas Investment Office. Their recommendation was to approve the application.
Jonathan Young: So when the Minister gave a negative weighting in her decision on OceanaGold's application, stating "The acquisition of the land will enable more mining, and therefore more emissions, which could encumber New Zealand's transition to a net-zero emissions economy,", what emissions was she referring to?
Hon EUGENIE SAGE: OceanaGold, in its own report in 2017, highlighted that mining in Waihī produced 5,892 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2016 alone.
Jonathan Young: If she is aware that 25 percent of OceanaGold's Waihī operation is already powered by electricity off the grid, with investigations well under way to increase that percentage, why is she so sure that they won't reduce their emissions any further?
Hon EUGENIE SAGE: Applications that the Minister for Land Information makes in relation to the Overseas Investment Act are about the purchase of land. It was the land purchase and the applicant's proposal to convert productive farmland into a 60 hectare tailings impoundment to store toxic mining waste which was what I took into account.
Jonathan Young: If that's the case, then why did the Minister refer to emissions and give a negative weighting to that, and out of the other applications, the four out of the 35 that she has declined, in which of those applications was use of diesel or petrol vehicles a consideration for her decision?
Hon EUGENIE SAGE: In all of the applications, they are considered on a case by case basis. I take a sustainable, economic perspective when evaluating whether benefits are substantial and identifiable. If the Opposition doesn't want to consider contribution to climate change, perhaps they should consider the future of the planet.
• Question No. 8—Education
8. NICOLA WILLIS (National) to the Associate Minister of Education: Can she confirm that despite the Prime Minister's announcement in May 2018 that 1,750 additional children would receive early intervention support in the next year, only 626 did; if so, does she take responsibility for failing to deliver on the Prime Minister's commitment?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Associate Minister of Education): In answer to the second part of the question, I take responsibility for underestimating the devastating condition of early intervention support left to us by the previous Government after nine years of neglect. In answer to the first part of the question, yes.
Nicola Willis: Can she confirm that, in every region of New Zealand, waiting times for early intervention support are greater now than they were in National's final year of office?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: While I have those figures in front of me, it would take me some time to find the exact page with the exact year that the member is asking about, because region by region there have been variations in waiting time over the period of years the member has asked for in her written questions. So I would assume that she's picked a particular year and a particular region that she's asking for, and I cannot be that specific without referring to the report.
SPEAKER: The member will ask the question again.
Nicola Willis: The question was: can she confirm that, in every region of New Zealand, waiting times for early intervention support are greater now than they were in National's final year of office?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Mr Speaker, if you'd give me a moment. [Interruption]
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
SPEAKER: Which member did that? Which member called out when the point of order had been called? The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Andrew Bayly: I withdraw and apologise.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: There's always room for reasonable banter at question time, but what we're hearing from over there by way of that cacophony of sound is just simply unacceptable, and I'm sure it's so for the public out there as well as anybody inside this Parliament right now who's got a conscientious need to hear what the Minister's got to answer.
SPEAKER: Well, I don't often absolutely agree with the Deputy Prime—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I would if I was you.
SPEAKER: Well, the member will stand, withdraw, and apologise now.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I apologise for saying "I would if I was you."
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Mr Speaker—
SPEAKER: No, no, no, I'm not finished yet.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I apologise, Mr Speaker. I shouldn't have said that.
SPEAKER: Right. As I was about to rule, I asked the member to ask the question again in a way which was probably requiring more detail than would normally be expected with a question of this generality. I was being generous to the member, I was supporting the member, and I don't expect colleagues to guffaw while the Minister's trying to find the information—frankly, more information than the vast majority of Ministers would've brought down for this sort of question in the past. I think the normal reply to this from Ministers previously where we're talking about detailed regional figures by year would be a request to ask a specific question, and that would've been reasonable. The member didn't do it. I'm now going to ask Tracey Martin if she's found the correct page.
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: I believe I have, Mr Speaker. I am advised that the tables that have been provided to the member show the waiting list data the ministry holds for early intervention services between 2012 and now are variable because there was a different system and a different format; so it's not 100 percent comparable. However, I believe the member is specifically asking about the 2016-17 year, and, therefore, my understanding is that the early intervention support waiting list numbers were at 2,849. In the 2018-19 year, they were at 2,721, according to the table provided to the member under her written question No. 16803.
Nicola Willis: So does the Minister stand by her answer to written question No. 16745, which shows that, in every region of New Zealand, average waiting times for early intervention support are greater in the 2018-19 financial year than they were in the 2016-17 financial year, and what does that say about the year of delivery?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: I thank the member for actually identifying the written question she wants me to answer on, because that is helpful.
Nicola Willis: You've already answered it. You should know what's in it.
SPEAKER: Order! I haven't.
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: So, in answer to the member's question "Do you stand by the answer to written question No. 16745?", yes, I do now that she has been clear about what she is addressing. In the 2016-17 financial year, the average was 71.34 days. In the 2018-19 year, the average is 105.91 days. I would, however, point out the increases that I've mentioned previously, for which there was no planning under that member's Government, and also that even though the wait times are greater, because more staff have been employed, there has actually been an increase in the number of children seen even though certain wait times have increased.
Nicola Willis: What does the Minister say to the family in the Waikato region that was forced to wait 462 days for early intervention support, and will the Minister act to ensure that never happens again?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: I would like that member to send to my office the specific family she's talking about. If she is referring to the average length of time that was in the written answer sent to her about one particular family, then, again, I answered that question. There was a family in Wellington, for example—remembering that I don't know the family this member is talking about—who were on record: their child was waiting for 438 days. Why was that? It was because, when the referral had been put forward, the parent then contacted the service and asked us to put it on hold. It remains open as a referral. By the time the ministry went back to the family, the family said, "We no longer need the service, because we have had other supports." So, without the specific detail of that specific family, I cannot confirm whether this family's situation is the same as the one in Wellington or not.
Nicola Willis: Why did the Government make such a specific commitment to children needing early intervention support if it did not have an achievable plan for delivering that and if it is clear that waiting times and lists have only grown since that commitment was made?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: The Government made a commitment because we want to make a difference for these family, and we underestimated how much the Public Service cap had affected the workforce. These are public servants that the previous Government put a cap on so that no more could be hired even though, in that period of time, there was an increase in the need.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Stop making it up.
Hon Chris Hipkins: Supplementary question?
SPEAKER: No, no, I'm going to ask Mr Brownlee to withdraw and apologise.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon Chris Hipkins: Can the Minister confirm that the trend for a number of years has been for the wait times for all forms of learning support to be increasing, and that one of the biggest constraints to dealing with that increase in wait times for those services—
Nicola Willis: That is not true.
Hon Chris Hipkins: —has been the lack of specialist staff to undertake the necessary assessments.
SPEAKER: Right, before the member answers, Nicola Willis will stand, withdraw and apologise.
Nicola Willis: I stand, withdraw, and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
SPEAKER: No, you can't have a point of order. We're going to have this question answered. If the member has a further one after that, we'll take it.
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: As I have informed the House previously under this line of questioning, we have had large percentage increases in the children that need this support. There was not the workforce developed to address that need under the previous Government, so it will take us some time to address the issues left behind.
Nicola Willis: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance; I'm a new member—[Interruption]
SPEAKER: Order! Now, whoever made that noise will stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Hon Shane Jones: I stand, withdraw, and apologise.
SPEAKER: No, the member knows how to do it. He's had plenty of experience. Do it properly.
Hon Shane Jones: I withdraw and apologise, sir.
SPEAKER: Thank you. Now, Ms Willis, if you have a specific point of order, you should make it, but I do want to warn the member that prefaces like that don't go down very well with someone who's been so long in the buildings.
Nicola Willis: Understood. My point of order is this: the Minister of Education just said in the House that the trend is for waiting times to be increasing across areas of early intervention support. I have, in the supplementary questions and in written questions, referred to specific data that shows that the trend, under National, was that those waiting times were reducing, and yet, under Labour, they have increased. The point of guidance I am seeking from you is how can it be that the Minister of Education is allowed to make such a false statement in this House when I have in front of me written question data which demonstrates that the statement he made is incorrect?
SPEAKER: And the member has a very important and valid point, and that is that assertions should not be made as part of supplementary questions unless members are absolutely certain that they are accurate, because we do have a degree of trust on all of us, and, as the member knows, as all members know, as questions are submitted in writing, for the primary questions there's a lot of work that goes on to make sure that they are properly authenticated. If the member has a view that something has been misleading, then she's probably already indicated to the Minister that it is, and it's incumbent on him to do some fact checking now. But I do want to warn members that there are a lot more questions which happen from my left, and a lot more supplementaries occur from my left, and if we have a very tight system, it won't necessarily help those who want to make detailed inquiries of the Government if they have to provide authentication for supplementary questions.
Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I'm absolutely confident on the supplementary question that I asked; however, the point of order that you just allowed Nicola Willis to raise at some length was completely out of order. If a member is concerned that a member has misled the House, there is only one course of action they can do in order to raise that, and it is not by point of order.
SPEAKER: That is the case if a member is convinced that a member is deliberately misleading the House. I don't think, at any stage, Ms Willis suggested that. That is a breach of privilege. I was working on the basis that Ms Willis thought that the Minister had made a mistake, and, in that case, that's not a breach of privilege, but if it's a mistake it's still something that, if it's found to be the case, has to be corrected.
Nicola Willis: Speaking to the point of order.
SPEAKER: I have dealt with the point of order. Is there a further supplementary?
Nicola Willis: Will she share with the Minister of Education her answer to written question No. 16745, which shows that, in the years between 2013-14 and 2016-17, waiting times for early intervention support were declining but that, in the financial year 2018-19, waiting times had increased from 71 days to 106 days?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: I always share with the Minister of Education whenever he seeks me to do so. I would note, however, that between 2014-15 in Te Tai Tokerau and 2016-17 there had been an increase.
• Question No. 9—Police
9. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Police: Does he stand by all statements, policies, and actions of the Police in relation to the theft of 11 guns from the Palmerston North police station?
Hon STUART NASH (Minister of Police): As I said yesterday to a very similar question, yes, I expect the commissioner to ensure the law is followed. The role of the Minister and the role of police are very clearly defined in section 16 of the Policing Act. Enforcement, investigation, and prosecution are quite properly the responsibility of the commissioner, and this includes information-gathering methods. In regard to the Palmerston North burglary, that is clearly within the domain of the commissioner. As I also said yesterday, there is an active criminal investigation, and the matter is before the courts. Speaker's ruling 177/1 and 177/2 reinforce that it is not in the public interest for me to comment while that investigation is under way and risk compromising what is before the court.
Chris Bishop: Is it correct that the person who stole the firearms from Palmerston North police station moved a skip bin next to the side gate at the rear of the station, jumped the fence, walked in an open garage door, and stole the firearms from a poorly secured exhibit room, then exited the station and loaded the firearms into his car?
Hon STUART NASH: I'm not too sure if the member heard my answer to the primary. I have a very clear expectation that the Commissioner of Police will follow the law and will ensure that the operational integrity of his force is maintained. This is not my responsibility.
Chris Bishop: Why were the 11 firearms stolen from Palmerston North police station contained in an exhibit room rather than the secure firearms safe in the firearms room upstairs next to the front counter?
Hon STUART NASH: If I was to comment on every single live investigation, we would open a Pandora's Box. Does that member wish me to know the details of, for example, social media investigations against MPs, etc.? I do not know—nor is it acceptable, nor is it right or proper for me to know—the details of every single police investigation.
Chris Bishop: Has he asked police if they paid for the return of some or all of the eight firearms recovered from those stolen from Palmerston North police station; if not, why not?
Hon STUART NASH: Actually, in preparation for this question, I sought advice from police on this case. They came back with the following: "It is not in the public interest to disclose the specifics of some information-gathering methods, as that could put public safety at risk. Now, in any investigation, whether or not payment has been made, I would not discuss details in the House—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Buyback plus!
Hon STUART NASH: —as it would be reckless and irresponsible, Mr Brownlee, and could put lives at risk. I do not know, nor should I know, this type of detail. As I said yesterday to this question, it is up to the Commissioner of Police.
Hon Grant Robertson: Has the Minister received any advice on how many times Ministers of Police in previous Governments have used the phrase "That is an operational matter and I can't answer" during his time in Parliament?
Hon STUART NASH: If I was to list every single date that previous Ministers of Police in the last Government used that, I would pulled up by the Speaker for an out of order answer that was too long.
Chris Bishop: Why did he say yesterday, "You know what? I have no idea, and I don't really want to know."—regarding police payment for firearms stolen from them—and why does he think that is an acceptable attitude from the Minister of Police given the significant public interest in this matter?
Hon STUART NASH: In any investigation into whether or not payment has been made, I would not discuss details in the House or with the media as it would be reckless and irresponsible—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Rubbish! It's called accountability for public money.
Hon STUART NASH: —and it could put lives at risk, Dr Smith. I do not know, nor should I know, this type of detail, and, as I said yesterday, this is a question for the Commissioner of Police.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it the position that he's taken that the separation of powers—that is, in this case, between the police and their Minister—is essential for a democratic Government but not a fascist Government?
Hon STUART NASH: That is a very good point. Not only is it essential but it is actually outlined in section 16 of the Policing Act.
• Question No. 10—Police
10. GREG O'CONNOR (Labour—Ōhāriu) to the Minister of Police: What recent announcements has he made about making it easier for the public to get in touch with Police for non-emergency events?
Hon STUART NASH (Minister of Police): I am happy to inform him that, since the concept was first floated in 2005, New Zealand now has a 24/7 non-emergency number—105. Since it was launched 13 days ago, police have answered more than 14,000 calls to 105—on average, 85 percent caller satisfaction. With the 105 non-emergency number and the 105 online reporting, we're hoping to build trust and confidence in police by giving New Zealanders a simple new way—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: What about a gun price list?
Hon STUART NASH: —to report situations that don't require an urgent or immediate response. Fantastic news, Mr Brownlee.
Greg O'Connor: What events would warrant a call to 105 rather than 111?
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Oh, hang on, that's a bit operational!
Hon STUART NASH: The easiest way to break it down—[Interruption] Does the Opposition want to know?
SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Oh, look. Order! Is there something in the Christchurch water at the moment? Those two members should settle down.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is indeed chlorine in the Christchurch water at the moment. It's an utter disgrace. It shouldn't be there, and the council should move to get rid of it as quickly as possible.
SPEAKER: Well, we'll have to look at Mr Yule and see what it's like up there.
Hon STUART NASH: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. For the first time ever, I agree with that member. There's chlorine in the Napier water. It should never be there, and it should be removed immediately.
Greg O'Connor: Can the Minister provide other examples of emergency or non-emergency situations where help might be needed?
Melissa Lee: When the guns are stolen from police stations!
Hon STUART NASH: Settle down. If it's happening now, call 111. If it's a non-emergency event, call 105. Or you could try other methods to defuse a heated situation, as two members of the Opposition did last week by shifting the blame on to others by saying they had "little choice" but to vote with their party on gun reform and then stating that police were "bullying people."—despicable.
Chris Bishop: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just seek your guidance because the Minister, not five minutes ago, was making it very clear he wouldn't comment on operational matters, and we've now had a series of supplementary questions from Government members in which the Minister's gone into quite some detail about the operation of the 105 and 111 police response lines—
SPEAKER: No, the member will resume his seat. In this particular case, the Minister is not revealing operational details of cases but the policy as to which line should be used by the public. I think it's in the region of a public service announcement, not an operational detail, and I think the member is well enough across the portfolio area to know the difference. Any furthers on that?
• Question No. 11—Police
11. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Police: Did he make the statement on TVNZ One News in December in response to the launch of Matthew's Petition urgently seeking the introduction of random roadside drug testing so as to reduce the escalating road toll from drugged drivers, "There's a discussion document that's been approved by Cabinet"; if so, was the statement correct at that time?
Hon STUART NASH (Minister of Police): Yes. Cabinet had approved public consultation via a discussion document in relation to drug-driving. Subsequent to that, officials drafted a document. Cabinet signed off the document in February this year for release in March, subject to final editorial changes. All of this information has been proactively released and, as the member knows, it is available on the transport website. I am not sure, however, if the previous Government has proactively released their Cabinet decisions from April and November 2016 where they rejected proposals around drug-driving off the back of a review in 2014.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: How can he stand by a statement saying there's a discussion document that's been approved by Cabinet, a statement made in December 2018, when the document is referred in January as a draft and when Cabinet only approved it in late February?
Hon STUART NASH: I suggest the member listens to my words: Cabinet had approved public consultation via a discussion document in relation to drug-driving.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Had Cabinet in December approved the discussion document?
Hon STUART NASH: I'll say again: Cabinet had approved public consultation via a discussion document in relation to drug-driving. Subsequent to that—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Hon STUART NASH: —officials drafted a document—
SPEAKER: No, resume your seat.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I have now used, on a previous occasion and on this occasion, five questions to ask a simple question: was the discussion document approved? What the Minister keeps doing is saying "a consultation process". Now, this is the same Minister that's told my colleague Chris Bishop that he needs to be accurate with words. I am being accurate with words; I ask the Minister to do the same.
SPEAKER: Yes, and the member has been here long enough to know that that may well be an appropriate point of order to make at the completion of the supplementary answer, not by way of interrupting it. I mean, the member might consider it a bit of a miracle if he's satisfied with an answer, but we've got to give the Minister a chance.
Hon STUART NASH: As I mentioned, Cabinet had approved public consultation via a discussion document in relation to drug-driving. I would say that I do find the line of questioning from that member rather rich, considering the previous National Government knew this was a problem in 2009—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Hon STUART NASH: —and rejected Labour's initiative—
SPEAKER: Order! Order!
Hon STUART NASH: —to deal with this 10 years ago.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I stand by the point that you asked me to make and that was: my question five times now and in the question on notice was about a discussion document. The Minister has not addressed the question of the timing of the discussion document being approved by Cabinet.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Speaking to the point of order—look, can I just say that if you read what was said in December, there's a discussion document that's been approved by Cabinet. Then ask yourself: is there such a record of an agreement for there to be a discussion document and is that itself the document? There are many ways to answer this question and he's being pedantic and stupidly semantic, if I might suggest.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
SPEAKER: We'll stay with this point of order rather than a new one, can we?
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, this is the same point of order.
SPEAKER: The same point that Dr Smith has raised?
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, I simply want to make it clear to the Rt Hon Winston Peters that the question here really goes to the heart of whether a document existed at the time it was claimed to exist.
SPEAKER: And I'm going to go right back to the ruling that I made the last time Dr Smith interrupted a question, and that is that we've got to give the Minister a chance to finish. Continue, Mr Nash.
Hon STUART NASH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Look, I'm going to repeat what I've said about three or four times, and I hope I make this clear. Cabinet had approved public consultation via a discussion document in relation to drug-driving. Subsequent to that, officials drafted a document. Cabinet signed off the document in February this year for release in March, subject to final editorial changes. So, yes, Cabinet had approved public consultation via a discussion document.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why did the proposals for introducing random roadside drug-testing from police and transport officials sit on Ministers' desks for 17 months before being approved—a period in which another 100 New Zealanders died from drug-driving?
Hon STUART NASH: I'm not too sure if the member is referring to the Cabinet documents drafted and presented to the Cabinet in which that member sat twice in 2016 and rejected, or if he is referring to a discussion document which I had a look at, which was woefully incomplete and inadequate. So is it the Cabinet papers that your Cabinet rejected, Dr Smith?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does he stand by the statement in the Cabinet paper he signed, which says, "The technology of roadside drug testing has improved markedly since Cabinet last considered the issue in 2016." and that "fatalities have since sharply escalated"; if so, why is he now saying that the previous Cabinet had it wrong?
Hon STUART NASH: I am saying the previous Government had it wrong in 2009, when it rejected a fantastic Labour initiative, which, in fact, would have made the introduction of roadside drug testing much more streamlined than it is today.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Has he seen the research in the New Zealand Listener that road fatalities from cannabis-impaired drivers increased by 145 percent in Colorado following legalisation; if so, how is legalisation of cannabis consistent with the police goal of a zero road toll?
SPEAKER: I'm not sure the Listener is a research document, but I get into trouble if I say too much about that!
Hon STUART NASH: Yeah, I don't know what the member is talking about when he's talking about the legalisation of cannabis. This Government has not proposed the legalisation of cannabis, so it's hypothetical.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Will he give an assurance that random roadside drug-testing will be introduced prior to any of the Government's moves to liberalise access to recreational drugs taking effect—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
SPEAKER: No. We'll wait until the end of the question.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I'll start again.
SPEAKER: No, just keep going from where the member interrupted.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I am going to start again, because—
SPEAKER: The member, if he wants to have the supplementary, will continue from the—and the member will sit down while I'm standing up. If the member wants to continue with the supplementary, which might well yet be ruled out of order if he doesn't get it order, the member will continue. He won't start again.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: —such as the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act, which removes the capacity to prosecute for the possession of drugs such as meth and cannabis?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member prefaced his question by saying it was a Government move. The fact of the matter is that such a matter is a condition subsequent to a referendum. It is for the people to decide. It is not a Government move, and, therefore, the question should be ruled out.
SPEAKER: Speaking to the point of order, the Hon Dr Nick Smith.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: My question specifically referred to the amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act. That is an amendment that is before the House. It is a Government bill. It is separate to the question of the referendum, and both the Police Association as well as the New Zealand Law Society say that it amounts to decriminalisation of possession.
SPEAKER: Answering the question.
Hon STUART NASH: I do not consider what we are proposing under the Misuse of Drugs Act to be a liberalisation of drugs whatsoever. What we are doing is we are taking synthetic cannabinoids and actually putting them into class A under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which will allow the police to go a hell of lot harder against those who are dealing, supplying, and importing synthetic cannabis into our community.
Chlöe Swarbrick: Can the Minister confirm that the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act, which is currently before the Health Committee, still allows for the prosecution of those who are using or who are in possession of drugs but provides and formalises that police discretion?
SPEAKER: Order! While it comes close to one of the previous supplementaries, it's not within the range of the primary question or the other ones.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister stand by his statement that the introduction of roadside drug-testing is urgent and "needs to be rushed"; if so, why did the discussion document prepared by police and transport officials sit on his desk for 17 months?
Hon STUART NASH: It did not sit on my desk for 17 months. There was a discussion document, which was woefully inadequate, but what I would say is we do take this very seriously. The previous Government blocked a move in 2009 to deal with this. In 2016, the previous National Government rejected two Cabinet papers. We take this very seriously. That is why this Government is doing something about it when that Government had nine years and did nothing.
Chlöe Swarbrick: Can the Minister confirm the difference between the impairment of somebody on a substance and the presence of a substance in somebody's system?
Hon STUART NASH: Well, what I would say is that the New Zealand Police already undertakes a compulsory impairment test when they suspect that someone is driving under the influence of drugs, so to say that there is no drug testing at the moment is, in fact, incorrect. What this Government is looking to do is use technology in a way that will allow us to be a lot more accurate in testing impairment.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why did his office tell Newshub that I had refused to work with him on the introduction of random roadside drug-testing when I had repeatedly stated publicly that National would support any of our bills or Government bills to achieve that, and the only communication between our offices was my invitation for him to meet with affected families and his reply, refusing to do so?
Hon STUART NASH: What I can say is we take this so seriously that when the member Alastair Scott had a member's bill—
Kieran McAnulty: Who?
Hon STUART NASH: —Alastair Scott—I met with Mr Scott and offered to work closely with him to ensure that his bill was fit for purpose. But the advice that I received—which I handed on to Mr Scott—from the New Zealand Police was that his bill was too narrow to make a difference. I offered to work with him to widen the scope of the bill so we could work together on this, and he said no.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister of Police: if this is the case, was the 17-month document, that it is claimed he left lying unread on his desk, the one refused by the previous administration—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: No it wasn't.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: —and for the same reasons he was not reading it himself?
SPEAKER: Order! Who interjected then?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: He did.
SPEAKER: It happened again. Who interjected?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
SPEAKER: Did the member interject?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Yes, I did.
SPEAKER: The member will withdraw and apologise.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Why is it acceptable for the Deputy Prime Minister to interrupt my questions but not the other way round?
SPEAKER: I ruled against the Deputy Prime Minister when he interrupted the member. I repeatedly ruled against that member for interrupting questions that were out of order, and I'm not sure whether he is being deliberately—
Hon Member: Obtuse.
SPEAKER: No, I can't think of an appropriate word. It's not that one.
Hon Member: Provocative.
SPEAKER: Provocative, that's a good word. Thank you—and the fact that I wasn't standing means that you can interrupt to support me. I can't work out if the member's being deliberately provocative, but I'll give him the generosity of thinking that he wasn't.
Hon Member: Supplementary.
SPEAKER: No, sorry. We've got an answer to give here.
Hon STUART NASH: Look, I just want to reiterate yet again, the previous National Government knew this was a problem in 2009—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Hon STUART NASH: —they did nothing about it then.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Mr Speaker
Hon STUART NASH: There were two Cabinet documents—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
SPEAKER: Order! Order!
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There's a long set of Speakers' rulings that say it's not appropriate for questions to be asked to give the opportunity for a Minister to have a whack at a previous Government or the Opposition. We have now had three questions on this subject in which false claims have been made about the steps that were made by the previous Government, as evidenced by the quote that I made of the Minister's own Cabinet paper.
SPEAKER: OK. I was getting pretty close to agreeing with the member when he accused one of the two Ministers of making a false claim. At that point, he lost it. The Minister will answer.
Hon STUART NASH: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like that member to let me know which claim I have made is false.
SPEAKER: No, no, no. The member will answer the question.
Hon Stuart Nash: I've forgotten the question.
SPEAKER: I'm going to ask the Deputy Prime Minister to remind the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: To the Minister of Police, just to make it clear: the document that sat there for 17 long months was because it was utterly deficient and he began to work on something that would be worthwhile into the future?
SPEAKER: That wasn't quite it, but it was close.
Hon STUART NASH: The Deputy Speaker is dead-right; the document that—[Interruption] The Deputy Prime Minister is dead-right; the document that we inherited from the previous Government was woefully inadequate.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why will the Minister not release the original discussion document drafted by police and transport, that the Deputy Prime Minister now says is deficient?
Hon STUART NASH: I'm confused. This member has said that I inherited a document from his Government, and now he's asked me to release it. Goodness me, Dr Smith! I am sure that you had something to do with that—it's probably why it was so deficient.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a very serious issue involving 70 lives that are lost per year. This Government received a discussion document from transport and police officials in December 2017. The Minister has refused to release that. My question, which I asked him to answer, was, "Why would he not release that discussion document prepared by police and transport?" That's a reasonable question.
SPEAKER: I want to just get an assurance to make sure that we're completely online. The member has asked for its release under the Official Information Act (OIA)and it has been refused?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: It has not yet been answered.
SPEAKER: It's out of time?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I would need to check with my—[Interruption] I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question of whether the document has been released or not—the fact is that the Deputy Prime Minister has made claims about the deficiency of that document that was prepared by police and by transport. So it's a perfectly reasonable question to say to the Government, "Well, release it."
SPEAKER: The member said, "Why had he not released it" and to me it sounded like the Minister had actually refused to release it, as opposed to—or made a decision about it. Given the description of it and my experience of the Act, I'm sure it will be forthcoming. If it's been studied so closely for its inadequacy, it must be in the Minister's office and I expect it to be delivered under the Official Information Act, of course which I have no responsibility for. But I'm sure if it's been properly requested, it will be over in the next couple of days.
Hon STUART NASH: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to reiterate that there are no OIAs sitting in my office that are overdue.
Hon Julie Anne Genter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It just might be helpful for the House to say that the discussion document and all of the documents that were related to that were released under the Official Information Act by my office over a year ago, in fact, to his colleague Chris Bishop as well as some journalists.
SPEAKER: OK. Well, that was not a point of order. Now, a supplementary question?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The final discussion document has been publicly released; the draft that the Deputy Prime Minister referred to has not.
SPEAKER: There's a very clear difference, and I hope the House has been given accurate information.
• Personal Explanation—Question No. 9 to Minister
CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South): I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
SPEAKER: Relating to?
CHRIS BISHOP: Relating to an answer given by Mr Nash yesterday and today.
SPEAKER: That affects the member personally?
CHRIS BISHOP: Yes—an accusation. Yes.
SPEAKER: I'm putting that leave to the House. Is there any objection? There is not.
CHRIS BISHOP: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Both yesterday and today, the Minister of Police has said that at a meeting in Te Awamutu last Monday, I publicly said that the police were bullying people, in particular licensed firearm owners. I let that go yesterday when that accusation was made. It was repeated again in question time today. There is no record of me saying that, and I utterly reject the accusation that I said that. Thank you.
Hon Stuart Nash: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
SPEAKER: Speaking—well, a point of order.
Hon Stuart Nash: Well, can I speak—
SPEAKER: No, no. The member has given his word to the House. It's not something the member can argue with. It's a very serious matter if it's inaccurate, but the member doesn't bring it up now if he's disagreeing.
Hon STUART NASH (Minister of Police): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take these matters very seriously as well. That member has put down my source in a written question, and my office is in the process of replying to that written question in a way which may, in fact, enlighten him as to where this came from.
SPEAKER: Well, that's not a point of order, and it's not appropriate. I'm getting a bit sick of it.