Parliament: Questions and Answers - May 28
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Question No. 1—Finance
1. KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: What are the priorities for Budget 2019?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Budget 2019 is about tackling New Zealand's long-term challenges. This is reflected in our priorities for the Budget, which are taking mental health seriously, improving child well-being, supporting Māori and Pasifika aspirations, building a productive nation, and transforming the economy. These represent some of the biggest long-term challenges and opportunities that we face as a country. After nine years of these problems being ignored, we're proud to be getting on with the job of starting to fix the long-term challenges facing New Zealand.
Kiritapu Allan: How did the Government select these priorities?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: This year, the Budget priorities were developed on the basis of a well-being analysis. This involved looking at the evidence, to assess where we have the greatest opportunities to make a difference to New Zealanders' long-term well-being, and we have focused our efforts on those opportunities. To inform this analysis, we've drawn on demographic and other data from the Treasury's Living Standards Framework dashboard, as well as other evidence and advice from science advisers and other sector experts.
Kiritapu Allan: What are some examples of the evidence behind these priorities?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Well, for example, data from the Treasury's Living Standards Framework tells us that, in any 12-month period, about one in five New Zealanders will have a diagnosable mental illness, with three-quarters of lifetime cases starting by the age of 25. That is why we are taking mental health seriously in this Budget. Another example is that, according to the General Social Survey, the material standards of living for Pacific people is around half that of the general population and is a third lower for Māori. That is why we have prioritised supporting Māori and Pasifika aspirations in this Budget. A big difference in this year's Budget is that we have integrated evidence and a range of indicators of well-being at every stage of the Budget process. The well-being Budget means we will be able to track New Zealanders' success on all of the things that they value.
Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave for Simon Bridges to be able to answer questions about what's in this upcoming Budget.
SPEAKER: Order! I think I will just ignore the disorderly point of order.
• Question No. 2—Prime Minister
2. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government's statements, policies, and actions?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is she concerned that two days before the Budget is released, I, the Leader of the Opposition, received details of next year's appropriations across 18 Votes, including health and defence?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for reminding me that he does indeed still have that role. We are not announcing Budget 2019 today, but I also note that neither has the National Party?
Hon Simon Bridges: Nasty, nasty. With a bit of pressure on her Budget, has she already done away with the kindness?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No.
Hon Simon Bridges: Has she spoken to her Ministers—Winston Peters, Shane Jones, and Ron Mark—about the fact that National has obtained appropriation details for Votes Forestry, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Overseas Development Assistance, and Defence and Defence Force?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No, because I have absolutely no need to. Again, I reiterate that we're not announcing Budget 2019 today, but neither has the National Party. I also reflect the statements that have been made by the Minister of Finance. Our focus is on delivering the Budget in two days' time, but what I can assure you is that after that fact we'll deal with what's happened here today, but none of it relates to anyone in the Beehive.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why is more being invested in defence over the next year, through Budget 2019, than teachers' pay?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I've seen the statements made by the member in his press statement and he is just wrong.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why is it that tanks are more of a priority than teachers' pay and how does that fit with her well-being Budget themes?
SPEAKER: Order! No, I am going to ask the member to rephrase that. He's just been told very directly that—
Hon Simon Bridges: OK. Why is more being invested in forestry than dental care—which, in fact, gets nothing—through Budget 2019?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I've already said that the statements and assumptions being made by the member are absolutely wrong. If he wants to undermine his own credibility in this House, that is his decision, not ours. Again, for instance, there are no tanks in this Budget. He is misleading people. It's his credibility, not mine, so it's his call.
David Seymour: Will the figures, with regard to the Budget, published in the media this morning accurately reflect what is in the Budget?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I think the statement that's already been made by the Minister of Finance—in fact, some of the language that's been put out is from the 2018 Budget. Some of the figures are right; some of them are wrong. We're not going to get into that detail today. The members need to wait only another two days until they will see the 2019 Budget. I'm not announcing it today, but neither has that member.
David Seymour: How did the media come to have correct figures about the Budget two days early?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I've said publicly to the media, my focus at the moment is delivering the Budget itself. That should be the focus of everyone in this House, because that is what New Zealanders care about. In the aftermath of that, we will deal with those issues. New Zealanders are not interested in the internal workings of this place; they are interested in whether or not we are taking mental health seriously, whether or not we're investing in children living in poverty, whether or not we're investing in family and sexual violence, and whether or not we're transitioning our economy to be a low-emissions economy—that is what this side of the House is focused on, not petty politics.
David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister gave a very long answer but at no point did she come remotely close to addressing the simple question: how did the media get the figures?
SPEAKER: Yeah, and I think right at the beginning she did. I probably should have stopped her at that point.
Hon Simon Bridges: Will she come back and correct her answer if there is $1.3 billion or more in this Budget on Thursday for defence?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as I've said, the member's assumptions about the Budget, and the statements he's made about teachers and tanks, are just wrong. Again, as well, we have acknowledged that also some of the texts he's released are from 2018. Some numbers are right; some are wrong. He has not released the Budget today.
Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked if she would correct if there was $1.3 billion or more in the Budget on Thursday for defence, and given that she said I've misled the House, I think she should answer it.
SPEAKER: I listened to the question and I listened to the answer, probably both of them skirted outside the strict Standing Orders requirements. I'll just leave it at one-all.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is there $1.3 billion or more in the 2019/20 year for defence?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No numbers in this Budget will be confirmed in this House by this side of the House today. We have not released the Budget today. Once the Budget is released, I am happy to debate it with the member. I fear, though, that the member may have peaked too early.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister confirm that she's been told by one of her Cabinet colleagues that every figure in this press statement—by way of a release from the National Party—on a supposed leak, is wrong?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I've already said, the member has—
Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Speakers' Rulings—you know well—make clear she has no responsibility for that.
SPEAKER: I'm going to ask the Deputy Prime Minister to repeat the question because, as I heard it, it was in order. Repeat the question, please.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I ask the Prime Minister, with respect to the statements which relate to these figures on this page—a press statement alleging that a leaked document is in the possession of the National Party—has she been told by one of her Cabinet colleagues that every figure, with regard to the statement on this document, is wrong?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I've said, there are a number of statements I've seen by that member, and assumptions that he has made, that I absolutely refute.
Hon Simon Bridges: Has her finance Minister offered his resignation, given the significance—[Interruption]
SPEAKER: Order! Now, the member will resume his seat. Can I just ask members on my right to behave themselves. There will be a number of extra supplementaries as a result of their lack of control, and there's about five of them, all of whom I've eyed who are on a last warning. No, not you, Mr Henare.
Hon Simon Bridges: Well, I haven't finished the question. Has the finance Minister offered his resignation, given that Ministers in the last three Governments have for much less significant Budget irregularities?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No.
• Question No. 3—Finance
3. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: Is he satisfied that the Government has properly managed its financial resources to meet the commitments made to the people of New Zealand?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Yes.
Hon Amy Adams: Was it a resourcing failure that led to sensitive Budget information, including annual appropriation information for 18 votes, being obtained and released by the National Party three days before Budget?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No, I don't believe so.
Hon Amy Adams: Will he, then, offer his resignation to the Prime Minister, as the then Minister of Finance, Roger Douglas, did in 1986 when sensitive Budget information was leaked before the Budget?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: In my life, I have made it my ambition not to follow what Roger Douglas does.
Hon Amy Adams: Why won't he offer his resignation as other Ministers of Finance have done, when he's today confirmed that confidential and accurate Budget information has found its way to the Opposition three days before the Budget?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I reject the premise in that member's question. The Budget will be released on Thursday.
Hon Amy Adams: Has he today confirmed to the media that some of the numbers released by the National Party today from Budget 2019 are, in fact, accurate?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The Prime Minister and myself have confirmed to the media several times—and the Prime Minister just did in this House—that some of the information that has come out today is right and some of it is wrong. The Budget will be released on Thursday, and New Zealanders will be very pleased to see that, at least on this side of the House, we are focused on mental health, child well-being, improving Māori and Pasifika, and transforming the economy—unlike the members on that side of the House who are focused, squarely, internally.
Hon Amy Adams: Given that he has confirmed to the media and to the House that accurate information has been released, are we to take it that this is what the Government meant when it promised to be the most transparent ever?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No, I believe other things were meant by that.
• Question No. 4—Children
4. JENNY MARCROFT (NZ First) to the Minister for Children: What announcements has she recently made regarding young people in State care?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister for Children): On Sunday, I announced that the well-being Budget will fund a service to help young people who have been in care to make the transition to independence and adulthood. When most young people grow up and leave home they're lucky enough to do so when they feel ready, and knowing that they have support and a home to go back to. But for young people who leave State care, or the youth justice system, until now all too often their transition to the adult world has come too early, been too abrupt, and lacked support. If they've done well, they've done it all on their own. Too many have struggled, and that is wrong. That transition service, which has been sadly lacking, will start on 1 July and I'm proud that we, the Government, are doing right by these young people.
Jenny Marcroft: How will the transition service work?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: The heart of the new service sits around what young people said they wanted, the key thing being for someone to count on and who will listen and support and advise. So a new role—transition support worker—has been established. There will be 175 transition workers, largely employed by NGO and iwi providers, by the end of the four years. The other key area is that many young people in care build up really strong, loving family relationships with their caregivers. They often want to stay with those caregivers beyond their 18th birthday, and caregivers want them to. At the moment, the State does not support these arrangements to carry on. That will change in July. They can stay until they are 21, as part of this new service. There will also be 60 independent accommodation units for those that need a stepping stone between care placements and full independence, and, finally, we will create an advice and support service available to these young people up until the age of 25.
Jenny Marcroft: Where did this idea for this service come from?
Hon TRACEY MARTIN: From the care-experienced young people themselves, and based on their voice, established stronger transition support was a core recommendation of the Modernising Child, Youth and Family expert panel established in 2015. I'm proud that this coalition Government took this recommendation and turned it into a reality. Oranga Tamariki has worked alongside care-experienced young people to design and plan a service to best meet the needs of young people just like them to transition successfully out of care. This work has been done over the last 18 months, but I acknowledge the work of the Hon Paula Bennett and the Hon Anne Tolley in the years prior to this, in setting the direction so that this Government can carry on now, with the funding required and the operating model that needed to be put into place.
• Question No. 5—Housing and Urban Development
5. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: How many KiwiBuild houses are either already completed or contracted and scheduled to be completed by 1 July 2019, and how many are already completed or contracted and scheduled to be completed by 1 October 2020?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Two hundred and sixty-six, and 1,535 by July 2020, hence the reset.
Hon Judith Collins: Why did he announce within a month of becoming Minister that the Government would deliver 16,000 houses before the next election?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I think as the member knows, we've made it very clear that we share everyone's disappointment with the disappointing numbers that KiwiBuild has achieved in the first year and half of the programme. We wished that those numbers were better, and that's why we're doing the reset. We are committed to improving the KiwiBuild policy, and we do not step away from our commitment to get more affordable homes built and to help young Kiwi families get into their own homes.
Hon Judith Collins: Did Cabinet agree to the target of 1,000 houses in the first year, 5,000 the next, and 10,000 the year after that?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Those targets were set in the very, very early weeks of the Government, and I'm pretty sure they were included in documents that were run by Cabinet, and Cabinet has been seized of those numbers and the progress of the KiwiBuild programme all the way along.
Paul Eagle: How many homes are under construction across the Government build programme, including KiwiBuild?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: There are approximately 2,500 State houses currently under construction, as well as nearly 400 KiwiBuild homes under construction. Consent data shows that across the build programme, Government agencies are now responsible for more new homes than at any time since the 1970s, and we make no apology for backing builders to build affordable homes.
Hon Judith Collins: Is he responsible for on the one hand suggesting the Government can deliver thousands of houses per year, and on the other hand now only being in a position to deliver around 1,500 during this term of Government?
3Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, these policies, like all policies of the Government, are the collective responsibility of our Government, but as Minister I take responsibility for the programme.
Hon Judith Collins: Does he still say "Some of these kids at Treasury are fresh out of university and they're completely disconnected from reality.", as he did when they said that his targets weren't doable?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: They didn't actually say the targets weren't doable.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has he received any reports or evidence on how the figures that he is using compare with the number of affordable homes built under the last Government?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Yes. I thank the member for that question, and as I said before, 1,535 homes are contracted to be delivered by July 2020. By coincidence, that happens to be the same number of homes that were not built under the former Government.
Hon Judith Collins: How does his figure of around, now, 1,500 homes built in this term of Government compare to the around 45,200 homes built by the private sector in the last 18 months, very similar to what they did in the 18 months before that?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Actually, I think the member will find that under our Government and under our policies, the private sector has been building more homes than at any time since 2007.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Nope—you're making that up.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The key difference between then and now is that we're not privatising thousands of State houses; we're building thousands of new ones. We've increased the investment in tackling homelessness, and we're building affordable houses.
SPEAKER: Order! I just want to ask Mr Brownlee to reflect on Speakers' ruling 42/1 before he makes that interjection again. I think he has been warned on it before.
• Question No. 6—Transport
6. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Transport: Did Hon Shane Jones discuss with him the potential appointment of Mr Stan Semenoff to the New Zealand Transport Agency board; if so, when?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): Talofa lava, Mr Speaker. Last June, at an event in Whangarei, Minister Jones introduced me to Mr Semenoff and suggested that Mr Semenoff was interested in being on the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) board. I had a brief informal chat with the NZTA chair about it, and the matter wasn't taken any further or given any more consideration.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There were two parts to that question: if so, when?
SPEAKER: He said in June.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Oh, sorry. Fair enough—OK. I got too excited. Can he give the House categorical assurance that this was the only time he or someone from his office discussed the potential appointment of Stan Semenoff with either the Hon Shane Jones or someone from his office?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Yes.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does the fact that he went on to discuss the potential appointment with the chair of NZTA indicate that he thought it was an appropriate suggestion from the Hon Shane Jones and an option worth investigating?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Then why did he raise the matter with the chair of the NZTA?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I think it's always prudent to pass on information like that to the chair of the board when there are members who've expressed interest in joining the board.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister: is Mr Semenoff on the New Zealand Transport Agency board?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: On what date did he discuss the potential appointment with the chair of the NZTA board?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, there was no potential appointment. I don't have that date to hand, but if the member wants to put down a written question, I'll try and find it.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think it's appropriate for a Minister to involve himself in an active NZTA investigation either by questioning the prosecution methods with the CEO or by seeking to have someone under investigation—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
SPEAKER: No. We'll wait till the question's finished. If it's a question of whether a question's in order or not—it's a ruling I've made a number of times—I want to hear the question first. So, starting again, please, Mr Goldsmith.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think it appropriate for a Minister to involve himself in an active NZTA investigation either by questioning the prosecution methods with the CEO or by seeking to have someone under investigation put on to the board?
SPEAKER: I just want a level of assurance that the member has authentication—I don't want it now—of the fact that the individual was under investigation and the Minister knew it at the time.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, we don't have any clarity on that. That's what I'm trying to get.
SPEAKER: Well, the trouble is that the member has made an assumption in his question. I'll give him a chance to reword it.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Would he think it appropriate for a Minister to involve himself in an active NZTA investigation either by questioning the prosecution methods with the CEO or by seeking to have someone under investigation put on to the NZTA board?
SPEAKER: The member can answer the first and last bit of the question but not the intermediate bit.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: It's entirely hypothetical.
• Question No. 7—Education
7. PRIYANCA RADHAKRISHNAN (Labour) to the Minister of Education: Has the building of new classrooms in Auckland matched student roll growth?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): No. The combined peak rolls of the Auckland schools grew by 10,500 students between 2013 and 2017, but classrooms for only 9,000 additional student places were delivered over this time period. Our Government is committed to turning that around and ensuring we plan for population growth so that kids don't end up in overcrowded schools.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan: How many years does it take to build a school?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: It can take five to six years to deliver a new school, from acquiring the land, designing the school, procuring the construction, through to the build process itself. Unfortunately, the past practice of budgeting for only one year of new capital spending at a time has exacerbated this problem, and that's one of the reasons why this Government is moving towards a longer-term approach for planning for and funding school property works—to get ahead of demand.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan: How many more children are estimated to be in schooling by 2030 in Auckland?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: In Auckland alone, at the end of 2017 when we came into Government, we were advised that we needed an extra 60,000 student places for Auckland's education system by 2030. That's one of the reasons that the Government has developed and will shortly be announcing a comprehensive growth plan not just for Auckland but for all of the other parts of the country where population growth has not been adequately planned for in the past.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I seek leave to table a Cabinet paper called the Auckland Education Growth Plan from 2017, that sets out the long-term planning for Auckland, which he sat on.
SPEAKER: Is it publicly available?
Hon Nikki Kaye: Well, it—
SPEAKER: Is it on a website?
Hon Nikki Kaye: I don't believe it is.
SPEAKER: You don't believe it is?
Hon Nikki Kaye: I don't believe it is. It's been reported, but I don't believe it's on a website.
SPEAKER: And it's not been issued under the Official Information Act or anything like that? Well, it's simple—I'll just put it. Is there any objection to that document being tabled? There appears to be none.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
• Question No. 8—Transport
8. JAMI-LEE ROSS (MP—Botany) to the Minister of Transport: What progress is being made to improve transport services in East Auckland, and will he commit to extending the Eastern Busway to Manukau via Te Irirangi Drive?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): Talofa lava, Mr Speaker. Improving public transport both in Auckland and around our urban centres is a top priority of this Government. East Auckland has benefited already from Auckland Transport's new and improved bus network and has received two new bus services. I was also pleased to kick off construction of the Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) Eastern Busway with Mayor Goff recently. It will be a dedicated, congestion-free busway that when completed will connected Panmure, Pakuranga, and Botany town centres through better connections, faster journey times, and giving people extra travel choices. I'm also advised that Auckland Transport is currently undertaking the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project business case for a new link between the airport, Manukau, and Botany. The business case is expected to be completed at the end of the year. As for extending the Eastern Busway to Manukau via Te Irirangi Drive, Auckland Transport has identified Te Irirangi Drive as the best and most direct route between Botany and Manukau, and I agree that it is the logical rapid transit corridor.
Jami-Lee Ross: Will he ensure that the planning for a rapid transit corridor from Botany to the airport is prioritised so we don't have a repeat of the Eastern Busway situation, which will have taken 20 years from first being planned to its completion?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: This Government is absolutely committed to extending the rapid transit network off which the entire public transport system in Auckland connects. So putting in place additional lines, including the city centre to Māngere, city centre to the north-west, and airport to Botany, are really important priorities, and we're going to do everything we can to expedite them.
Jami-Lee Ross: Will he support a construction start date of 2025 for a Botany to airport rapid transit link, which is when the Eastern Busway project is expected to reach Botany and be completed?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I appreciate the member's concern on behalf of his electorate in this matter, but I think it would jumping the gun to make a commitment of that sort before the business case has been completed.
Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: What impact will the AMETI busway have on congestion in east Auckland?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: East Auckland is the worst-served part of the Auckland region for public transport, making projects like the AMETI busway absolutely critical. The busway will make journeys around east Auckland faster and more reliable, journeys between Botany and Panmure 15 minutes faster, and allow peak-hour travel by bus and train between Botany and Britomart in less than 38 minutes. It will result in a congestion-free, high-frequency busway that will carry more than 7,500 passengers during peak hours.
• Question No.9—Education
9. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Minister of Education: Does he stand by his statement, "For the vast majority of teachers, that amounts to a $10,000 pay increase over two years, and that is a significant pay increase."; if so, why?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Yes. There are around 30,000 primary school teachers; 9,580 of them are on step 12, which is the maximum step for those with a subject degree and a teaching qualification. They'll get an increase of $9,532 over the term of the agreement. There are 8,724 teachers on step 11, which is the maximum step for a teacher with a teaching degree. Their pay will increase by $11,101 over the term of the agreement. This represents a pay increase, on average, of over $10,000 for the vast majority of primary school teachers. There are around 25,000 secondary school teachers; 15,172 of them are on the top step for those with a degree and a teaching qualification. They get an increase of $9,790 over the term of the agreement. There are 3,014 secondary teachers on the top step for those with a teaching degree, and they'll get an increase of $11,583. This represents a pay increase in the vicinity of $10,000 for the vast majority of secondary school teachers.
Hon Nikki Kaye: What is the exact number of teachers being offered $10,000 or more through collective bargaining?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I don't think the member listened to the answer to the primary question, where I stepped all of that out in great detail.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked a very specific question. There is an issue here of the Minister misleading the public, saying that teachers are getting $10,000 when they're getting under $10,000, and they have to pay tax on that and I'm asking the Minister a very specific question about how many are getting $10,000.
SPEAKER: And the Minister answered it.
Hon Nikki Kaye: What is the exact number of teachers getting $10,000 under the collective bargaining offer?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I'll happily run through the numbers again: 9,580 primary school teachers are on step 12. They will get an increase of $9,532. There are 8,724 primary teachers on step 11. They'll get a pay increase of $11,101. In terms of the 25,000 secondary school teachers, 15,172 of those teachers are on the top step for those with a degree and a teaching qualification; they get $9,790, and 3,014 of those secondary school teachers will get an increase of $11,583.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Can he confirm that when he said the vast majority of teachers were getting $10,000, he was misleading the public, and there are more than 24,000 teachers that are not?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No, I think I've stepped through those numbers in great detail.
Hon Nikki Kaye: What does he say to the parents of secondary school teachers that are facing more than three days of potential strikes over the next five weeks, given that he has been misleading the public around what they're getting paid?
Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The issue that I have here is we have 50,000 teachers out there—
SPEAKER: No, no. That's not a point of order. If the member's not satisfied—I didn't rule the question out. The Minister has to answer it, but I'm not going to be responsible for her satisfaction with his answers. I mean that would place me in an impossible position.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Point of order.
SPEAKER: No, no, hang on. The member can't have a point of order until the Minister's had an answer. The member's asked a question, a Minister is to answer it, and we'll see how we go.
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I utterly reject the notion that I'm misleading the public. I think that the answers that I've just given the member demonstrate very clearly that what I've been saying is absolutely, factually correct.
Hon Nikki Kaye: What is the time period for which teachers—particularly primary school teachers—have not had a pay rise, given the gridlock there has been in collective bargaining?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: That depends, of course, whether it's primary or secondary school teachers, because their collective agreements expired at different times. They've not had a pay increase since the last instalment of the last pay offer that they received. Their collective agreements expired last year, and they've not had any further pay rises during that time.
Hon Grant Robertson: How does the offer to primary and secondary school teachers compare with previous offers made over the last nine years?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Very good question. For the vast majority of teachers, of course, the offer is worth more than all of the settlements that were reached under the nine years of the last Government put together—[interruption]
SPEAKER: Order! Order! Even with hearing aids, I had trouble hearing it. So I'm going to—no I'm not because it'll—[Interruption] We'll just—Nikki Kaye.
Hon Nikki Kaye: In light of his statement that he will not shift the envelope for around 50,000 teachers with regard to pay, when will he commit to significant additional funds to reduce teacher workload?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Teacher workload isn't just about the amount of money that they get paid, of course. Many of the things that have contributed to teacher workload are things that this Government is addressing. We've abolished national standards, for example, which the previous Government were advised would result in a significant increase in workload for no real increase in student achievement—which is exactly what happened. The review of NCEA has made some quite concrete recommendations that will significantly benefit secondary school teachers' workload, particularly when it comes to assessment. I do acknowledge that it will take another couple of years before they see the advantages of that flowing through into their workload. There are a number of other areas of teacher workload which the Government is looking very closely at. For example, we acknowledge that there are more children in classrooms who have additional learning needs, or what we used to call special needs. It's one of the reasons why we committed last year to funding 600 additional learning support coordinators as a first instalment on the Government's overall commitment to put learning support coordinators in every school around the country. There are many things the Government is doing to address the workload that teachers are raising—they don't all involve paying teachers more.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I seek leave to table information that demonstrates that the Minister's previous answer was incorrect. Actually, the collective agreement—
SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member knows that she describes the document, and that's all, without the commentary.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I seek leave to table the previous collective agreement from 2015, which indicates that the expiration was actually in 2017, not last year as he previously quoted.
SPEAKER: Is there any objection—no, hang on. The collective agreement's on a whole pile of websites, so I'm not going to put it.
• Question No. 10—Justice
10. GINNY ANDERSEN (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Justice: What recent announcement has he made regarding the Human Rights Review Tribunal?
Hon AUPITO WILLIAM SIO (Associate Minister of Justice): Talofa i lau Afioga, Mr Speaker. Last week, I announced the appointment of five deputy chairpersons to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, which aims to reduce the case backlog in waiting times before the tribunal. All of the five appointees have extensive litigation and public law experience and, collectively, bring together a strong set of skills to the tribunal. The five deputy chairs are Katherine Anderson and Gillian Goodwin of Auckland, and Martha Coleman, Sarah Eyre, and Jane Foster of Wellington.
Ginny Andersen: Why was it necessary to appoint deputy chairpersons?
Hon AUPITO WILLIAM SIO: Under the previous National Government, we know that between the 2015 and 2016-17 financial years, the number of new cases received by the tribunal grew by 92 percent. This led to the backlog of cases growing by 144 percent, and means that people are waiting two years for a hearing and up to three years for a decision. This Government has taken action and has listened to the concerns of the public by making law changes to enable deputy chairs to be appointed, which will ease the case backlog of the tribunal and provide the public with greater access to justice.
Ginny Andersen: How will this change work in practice at the tribunal?
Hon AUPITO WILLIAM SIO: Lau Afioga ile Fofoga Fetalai. Previously, the chairpersons were required to preside at all Human Rights Review Tribunal sittings and had all the responsibility for writing decisions. The changes this Government made will enable deputy chairpersons to share the decision-making and decision-writing duties of the tribunal. The additional improvements we've now made to the operational work of the tribunal give me confidence that we can improve the experience of people using the tribunal and ensure that justice is not denied by a lack of judicial resources.
• Question No. 11—Health
11. Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National) to the Minister of Health: Does he agree with Dunedin North MP David Clark, who said in 2017, "District Health Boards this year needed at least $650 million to stand still but they are over $200 million short of what they need"; if not, why not?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Talofa lava. Because the previous Government systematically underfunded health and left behind it a legacy of overstretched services struggling to cope with a growing and ageing population; of underpaid and undervalued doctors, nurses, and allied health workers; and of ageing hospital infrastructure, including leaky buildings and facilities that are no longer fit for purpose, the answer is yes. This Government has begun the long process of rebuilding our health services, but we have always said it will take more than one Budget.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Was he, therefore, disappointed that the $744 million he succeeded in securing for district health board (DHB) cost pressures in Budget 2019 comprises just $94 million more than Dr Clark said was needed two years ago?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The member will have to wait till Budget day for the real picture.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Does he accept that, with DHBs heading for combined deficits of $500 million or more, the Budget 2019 appropriation of $744 million for DHB cost pressures will fail to keep most DHBs out of deficit next year?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The current combined forecast deficit of the DHBs is $372 million and is a direct legacy of years of under-investment in health by the previous Government. I can't give the member any forecasts for the year ahead, because, of course, annual planning processes are still in train, but it's my clear expectation that DHBs demonstrate that they have a plan to return to financial stability while, at the same time, continuing to deliver the services that New Zealanders expect and deserve.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Is it expected that the $744 million for DHBs will cover the coalition agreement's commitments on a free annual health check for seniors, given that the Budget 2019 information does not have that as a separate initiative?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The member will have to wait for Budget day for the real picture, but what I can tell him is that, since we took office, there are 1,300 more nurses in this country working in our DHB system. We have reduced the cost of visiting the doctor for community services cardholders by an average of $20 to $30 for 540,000 people. We have rolled out nurses in schools to decile—
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Has he heard today from New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) economist Bill Rosenberg, who called for our operating expenditure to increase by nearly double the $744 million, expressing his disappointment?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I have not looked in detail at the CTU's most recent analysis. However, I do know that it has consistently shown that health has been underfunded over the last decade. This Government is committed to better resourcing sustainably funded health services, but, as I have said many times, it will take time to make up for nine long years of neglect.
• Question No. 12—Health
12. HAMISH WALKER (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Health: Is he satisfied an appropriate standard of maternity care is available to keep mothers and new babies safe in northern Southland following a region-wide review of maternity services?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Given the strength of community feeling on this matter, I asked the Ministry of Health experts to review the Southern District Health Board's (DHB's) decisions, to provide me with assurance that mothers and babies will continue to receive the high-quality care that they deserve. I received that assurance. I'm aware of concerns from the community that Southern DHB has yet to fully implement the new model of care, as promised. I've discussed these concerns with DHB leadership and made my expectations clear that where there is evidence the standard of care is falling short, the DHB must take action. It's my intention to discuss these matters further with the DHB until I'm satisfied they are delivering the high-quality maternity care expected.
Hamish Walker: What actions, if any, did he take after my letter, dated 9 May 2019, outlining my grave concerns regarding the incredibly high risks to the northern Southland community, as the Lumsden and Te Ānau maternal hubs weren't up and running nearly a month after they were promised?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: This is a matter that I have been interested in and following closely for some time. I am very keen make sure—have been keen to make sure—that I had the reassurance that mothers and babies would continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve. I have received representations from Mark Patterson and Liz Craig, concerned local MPs. In respect of his particular letter, I have taken no action whatsoever because it has not raised anything new for me. There was some degree of hyperbole in it, but I have taken the concerns seriously, as they have been raised with me. I've discussed those concerns with the DHB leadership and made my expectations clear that where there is evidence the standard of care is falling short, the DHB must take action. If the member is suggesting that the new model of care being rolled out across Clutha-Southland and the Waitaki, which is indeed delivering more services to more people, should be rolled back and that, indeed, we should return to the situation under the National Government where there were fewer services for those constituencies, I wish him well at the next election.
Hamish Walker: Does the Minister agree with the chief executive of the Southern DHB that it is quite acceptable for rural mums to have their babies in an ambulance on the side of the road?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I am advised by the Southern District Health Board that a mother safely gave birth in the excellent care of a midwife and a St John ambulance crew member in a well-equipped ambulance en route to Southland Hospital. I'm pleased the mother and baby are doing well. It would seem that the system of care worked appropriately in this circumstance, but I'm pleased that the DHB is reviewing the incident.
Hamish Walker: Will the Government commit to reopening the Lumsden maternity hospital after the close call at the weekend, with a mum giving birth on the side of the road, in this week's Budget focused on well-being?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I do reject the assertions in that member's question. The Ministry of Health has assured me that the Southern DHB has met the requirements of the service coverage schedule for maternity care. In designing Southern DHB's integrated primary maternity care system of care and maternal and child hubs, I'm confident that the Southern DHB has designed a good system of maternity care across its district. The result is five maternal and child hubs, including new services in Te Ānau and Wānaka, six birthing units, and two tertiary and secondary services. I'm disappointed that not all of the new services have been fully rolled out yet. I've made that disappointment clear to the DHB, and I've asked them to provide me with assurances that those services will be fully in place soon and a detailed time line. The chief executive has assured me that they are continuously monitoring the implementation of this service and are working closely with the Ministry of Health on the matter. I will be holding the chair of the DHB or the commissioner accountable for delivering what has been promised.
Hamish Walker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was very, very simple: will this Government reopen the Lumsden maternity hospital—yes or no?
SPEAKER: Well, the member's a relatively new but not absolutely new member, and he should know that members can't insist on yes or no answers to questions. As to whether the question was addressed or not, then I think—it's a bit like an earlier one—it could well have been over-addressed. Speakers' ruling 171/4 is the Speakers' ruling that he should have a look at to educate himself.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Just to clear up the details, Minister: was the birth in question on the side of the road or in an ambulance?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I'm advised that the birth took place in an ambulance with support, as appropriate. Clearly, the midwife herself had chosen to go to a secondary facility beyond the Lumsden suite, because she had made a clinical decision. I support her clinical decision. She had, clearly, the best interests of the mother at heart, and it's pleasing to see that the right decisions were taken and that the mother and baby are safe.