Parliament: Questions and Answers - June 11
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Question No. 1—GCSB
1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Minister responsible for the GCSB: At what specific time on Tuesday, 28 May was he or his office first contacted by the GCSB telling him that they had told Treasury that the GCSB did not believe any hacking had taken place, and when did he relay that information to his ministerial colleagues or their offices?
Hon DAVID PARKER (Acting Minister responsible for the GCSB): On behalf of the Minister—
SPEAKER: No, I think the Minister is an Acting Minister.
Hon DAVID PARKER: I am. I disagree with the member's characterisation of what the GCSB said. However, to be helpful in terms of the timing of my contact with the GCSB and the relay of that information: at 8.02 p.m., Treasury issued its press release; at 8.43 p.m., my office first spoke to the GCSB; at 9.43 p.m., Minister Little spoke to the GCSB; at 9.52 p.m., Minister Little contacted the Prime Minister's office; and at 10.25 p.m., Minister Little contacted Minister Robertson by text.
Hon Tim Macindoe: It's not funny, Grant.
Hon Simon Bridges: How many—
SPEAKER: Order! Which member interjected?
Hon Tim Macindoe: I did.
SPEAKER: The member will withdraw and apologise.
Hon Tim Macindoe: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Why was there a period of hours between him finding out and passing it on to senior colleagues, in light of the fact that he's made clear that "I'm satisfied that I acted appropriately, in a timely way, with all the information I had."?
Hon DAVID PARKER: There wasn't a delay of hours. Immediately, upon the conversation between Minister Little and the GCSB, he put a call in to Minister Robertson. Minister Robertson was not available and did not pick up, so Minister Little immediately contacted the Prime Minister's office and spoke to the Prime Minister's deputy chief of staff.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister as to whether he's aware of the cyber-security one-stop shop, otherwise known as Computer Emergency Response Team New Zealand, established in April 2017 by one Simon Bridges, and does it not say "That in the event of a data breach, an individual should contact the relevant business organisation"?
SPEAKER: That question is not in order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you, sort of, clarify why it's not in order?
SPEAKER: Because it doesn't relate to the primary question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: But it should.
SPEAKER: The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise.
SPEAKER: He is on his last warning for this sitting session.
• 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 and actions in relation to the alleged unauthorised access of Budget 2019 material?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes, in the context in which they were made and given.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why has she over the last 24 hours variously said that GCSB advised Minister Little that there was no hack, or to that effect, at 9 p.m. on the Tuesday—several hours later—and what did she say the exact time is?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The same as what has been relayed, as has just been advised by Minister Little—at least on his behalf—that contact was made close to around 9 p.m. with Minister Little's office and that he had a direct conversation sometime thereafter. He was in a meeting at the time and there was a delay. So I think you'll find I said it was a couple of hours; it might have been maybe an hour and 45.
Hon Simon Bridges: When were she and Grant Robertson told the dispute wasn't a hack, and who specifically told them?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As Minister Little has advised—or at least on his behalf—his office was advised at close to 9 p.m. At about that same time, the chief executive of DPMC also made contact with the GCSB, and I was advised thereafter in close proximity. Then, contact was made, from that point, with various Ministers who needed to be kept informed, including Minister Robertson.
Hon Simon Bridges: So to be clear, did she know from 9 p.m. or thereabouts, on the Tuesday of the GCSB's quite different position to the press releases of Treasury and Minister Robertson?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: This is not new information. As we have pointed out a number of times, at the time that the statement went out by both the Secretary to the Treasury and then, subsequently, the statement by the Minister of Finance, no Minister had been advised of the GCSB's views around the use of the word "hack" versus "unauthorised access". We were advised around 9 p.m. that night that they would prefer the use of the word "unauthorised access". To be clear, we still did not know what had occurred and we did not know who was responsible. I note that the member asking the question knew the answers to both of those questions. He, however, chose not to say anything until Thursday morning.
Hon Simon Bridges: What did she know about the releases sent out by Treasury and Grant Robertson before they were sent out?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I've said already and as is on record, after the Secretary to the Treasury briefed the Minister of Finance, I was informed of the briefing. That was probably about 7.25. I did not know the exact content of the statement, but I only assumed it was similar to the briefing itself. So I actually saw neither statement, but I knew that both were based on the briefings that had been received.
Hon Simon Bridges: Did she know that they—that is, Treasury, and repeated in Minister Robertson's statement—alleged that there was sufficient evidence that the material obtained by the Opposition was obtained by "deliberate and systematic hacking"?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As has been relayed several times now, that was the information that was provided to the Minister of Finance, and that was the belief of the Secretary to the Treasury. As the member well knows, that's now the subject of a State Services Commission investigation. They're looking into those very matters, but, yes, that was the information provided to us at that time. We did not know who was responsible. I note that the member will have known that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Having regard to the primary question, which mentions her Government's statements and actions, is she aware that section 252 of the Crimes Act states that a crime is committed if someone "intentionally accesses, … any computer system without authorisation," and either knows that they are not authorised to access that computer system or are reckless as to whether they are authorised to do so? [Interruption] That's the fact of the matter.
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes, I am advised that that is the advice that is given when someone is able to gain unauthorised access, and, of course, that is the language that we were advised at that time. In fact, I can recall a time in Opposition when it was brought to our attention that unauthorised access to information was able to be gained via the Ministry of Justice website. When that was brought to then member Clare Curran's attention, she took it directly to the then Minister Judith Collins. But I just relay that as a form of comparison.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she think using a search bar is "unauthorised access" or "an attack", as she and her Ministers said repeatedly the Wednesday after she knew that wasn't so?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I think you'll find the language that we used was around unauthorised access, because, again, that was the advice that we were provided. Again, I note the member is taking that particular language quite personally. The member needs to remember that at that time, we did not, in fact, know it was him who was responsible.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she stand by her statements, made several times today, that on Tuesday, throughout the evening, she and her Ministers "had absolutely no idea what happened"?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes, we certainly were asking a number of questions, because we had been advised it was unauthorised access. Of course that led us to ask questions, but we did not know who was responsible or exactly how access was gained. That was something that we were advised of on Wednesday and then on Thursday, when the member himself confirmed it was the National Party.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Arising from the Prime Minister's answer about an example of what to do, is she aware that in Budget week, a political party was given the information about the National Party's spending, but rather than do it, sent it back to them?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, I think you'll find there will be a range of different responses from different members or political parties, and each of us holds our own responsibility with how we deal with those situations. I know the member argues he acted in a completely appropriate way. That's his call, not mine.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why does she believe her Government put out releases alleging "deliberate and systematic hacking" when from the top down it had "no idea what happened", as she confirmed today, and, in fact, by 9 p.m. that evening, it knew that wasn't true?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as I've said many times, the Secretary to the Treasury briefed that there had been a systematic hack. That was the information provided both to the Minister of Finance and to myself. The Minister of Finance, as you can imagine after Treasury put out a statement, was asked a number of questions by the media. He put out simply a statement using the language and the references made by Treasury because that was the information that we had.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why all of the next day, the Wednesday, when she and her Ministers knew what the GCSB had told them—that is, they didn't believe there was hacking—didn't they, that is, her Government, publicly correct that allegation of hacking?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, we followed the advice we were given and used the word "unauthorised access". Again, we still, at that point, did not know who was responsible. I know the member saw it as an allegation against him; we didn't necessarily see it that way at the time. But, again, we did use the word "unauthorised access". That's, at least, certainly my recollection.
Hon Simon Bridges: Didn't her Government sit on a fundamental mistruth all of Wednesday?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No, but again, I do raise that the member opposite actually knew the full story and could have enlightened all of us at any time.
Hon Simon Bridges: Didn't she know there was no criminal hacking and yet did nothing?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No. In fact, as I've said, we did not know whether or not the unauthorised access was legal or illegal. It was still a matter for the police, and that is where we left it. As the member will well know, when issues are referred to the police they do tend to be things that you then don't comment on beyond that point.
Hon Simon Bridges: Instead of changing her language why didn't she do the right thing and publicly make clear there was no criminal hacking?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Because—actually the member has just used the word "criminal"; we did not know whether what had occurred was criminal or not. We simply did not have that advice. Had we spoken to the police, that would have been direct interference in an operational issue. That member would have had a lot to say about that if we did. We waited for the police to conclude their work. I would acknowledge this is the first time the member's had a chance to question me about the Budget and I note his priority is that this is the only thing that he thinks matters to members of New Zealand. Again, these are all political calls and, clearly, this is his one and I wish him well.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she not like answering questions about incredibly false impressions she and her Government left?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Absolutely not. I just thought the member might like to listen to New Zealanders and where their interests lay. I was just trying to give him a little helpful tip.
Hon Simon Bridges: In light of the fact that, on Wednesday, the Treasury secretary continued to talk publicly of deliberate and systematic hacking and the Deputy Prime Minister that afternoon said National had done illegal activity, shouldn't she, or one of her Ministers, have corrected the incredibly false impression they left all of that day and into the next?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We did not know whether or not a criminal act had occurred. Again, including the fact, as I said in the House that day, we were making no accusations over who was involved. Secondly, the State Services Commission is looking into the issue around the agencies, and I'll leave that for them.
Hon Simon Bridges: When did she find out that the police had found no wrongdoing?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That was Wednesday evening, I believe. From recollection it was around early evening-ish, sometime after 6 p.m., I believe.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: In the Prime Minister's view, would 2,000 hits on the same website in one day look like an accident?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Certainly, that was one of the things that the Secretary to the Treasury brought to the table. I think that was the basis on which he used the word "systematic". Again, we're leaving that for the State Services Commission.
Hon Simon Bridges: In the week before the Budget would it be so unusual to see 2,000 hits on a very popular website?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As the member well knows, the Budget actually hadn't been released at that point, and that's probably the point, isn't it?
Hon Simon Bridges: Why is it that on the Tuesday, having found out information, her senior Minister Grant Robertson could put a press release out a bit after 8 p.m., but when she found out the police had found no wrongdoing, at around 7 p.m. on the Wednesday, she didn't think to correct the fundamentally misleading position she left New Zealand with about the National Party?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I said the day after on Wednesday, we were not making an accusation about the National Party. We did not know that the National Party was responsible. As it turns out, they were.
• Question No. 3—Finance
3. KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: What reactions has he seen to Budget 2019?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): The coalition Government has received an overwhelming response from the people of New Zealand to the well-being Budget. There's been a vast amount of correspondence, but in the interest of a concise answer, one person with a background—
SPEAKER: Chance would be a fine thing.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: —in mental health work emailed us to say, "For years I have desired a greater prevention approach to well-being, especially through mental health education for our rangatahi in primary and intermediate schools. I am impressed and relieved by the prevention focus of this Budget, particularly for mental health and justice, and utterly delighted to see that resilience will be taught to our tamariki through our schools. I am immensely grateful for your commitment to the people of Aotearoa". I'm proud to be part of a Government that has put the well-being of New Zealanders at the heart of everything we do.
Kiritapu Allan: What international reactions has he seen to the well-being Budget?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: In its report on the well-being Budget, credits rating agency Moody's said that, "[the] budget highlights [this Government's high] fiscal flexibility, demonstrating its ability to raise spending while maintaining its commitment to preserving budgetary surpluses and reducing debt further over the next five years. This underpins the government's very high fiscal strength and supports the broader credit profile." Meanwhile, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, one global business leader Richard Branson called this year's Budget "A brilliant blueprint for the rest of the world." It is pleasing to see international recognition that this Government can make significant investments in the well-being of New Zealanders, while managing the books responsibly.
Kiritapu Allan: What responses has he seen from social sector organisations to the well-being Budget?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Just to choose a couple, the Salvation Army said that, "This wellbeing Budget, with its greater socioeconomic approach, is a step on the path towards lifting New Zealanders out of poverty. We welcome the Government's focus on our most vulnerable communities, including those with mental health and addiction issues, children and families in challenging situations, and Māori." Meanwhile, the Children's Commissioner said that the well-being Budget "takes seriously the need for a step-change in the way we support the wellbeing of New Zealand children". What is clear is that avowedly and explicitly, this is a Budget prepared through the lens of children, something unheard of previously. I repeat: I am very proud of this Budget.
Hon Amy Adams: Has he seen reaction to Budget 2019 that describes cancer patients, the hearing impaired, and maternity services as big losers in this Budget, and calling the Budget disappointing, or doesn't he read those stories?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I know that every Minister of Finance gets both positive and negative reactions. We're working very hard in the area of the Ministry of Health's work across all of the areas that the member mentions, but it is somewhat reflective on the Opposition that they are so negative about such a great Budget.
• Question No. 4—Finance
4. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: What evidence did he ask for or receive before his press release at 8.18 p.m. on Tuesday, 28 May to substantiate the claim "the material is a result of a systematic hack"?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): My full quote indicates that I was basing this on Treasury's statement and advice. As with all of my interactions with the Treasury, there were questions asked, but those matters are part of the State Services Commission investigation. I do not want to prejudice that inquiry any further than the comment that I've already made.
Hon Amy Adams: Did he obtain legal advice before making his statement, and if not, why not?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No; my statement simply repeated the advice that the Treasury secretary had given.
Hon Amy Adams: So when his own statement recorded that this was "extremely serious", why did he not seek legal advice or corroborating evidence to back up the claim of systematic hacking before issuing his press statement linking illegal behaviour to the Opposition?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The matter had been referred to the police. That was the state of the situation. My words in the statement echoed what Treasury had already said.
Hon Amy Adams: Is it his usual pattern to simply parrot what he's told by officials?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: It's a mixed bag on that count.
Hon Amy Adams: Did he at any time before 8 p.m. on 28 May warn the Secretary to the Treasury of the seriousness of making a criminal complaint involving a New Zealand political party and making public statements to that effect without him having clear and compelling evidence to do so?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The Treasury secretary had already referred the matter of the access to the Treasury system to the police before he met with me. Other matters beyond that are the subject of the investigation.
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern: Was he aware of who was responsible for the access to that Budget information at that time?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No.
Hon Amy Adams: Was the Secretary to the Treasury made aware of the advice from the GCSB prior to his appearances on numerous television programmes on Wednesday morning?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: That would be a matter that would need to be answered by the Secretary to the Treasury. I do note that the question of his advice and actions is the subject of the State Services Commission investigation.
Hon Amy Adams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand that the State Services Commission is investigating. None the less, the Minister is responsible to this House to answer questions about the behaviour of officials. The Prime Minister has made it clear that the Government will expect to answer oral questions on this matter. With those two caveats, I don't think that can be regarded as addressing the question. He simply said he won't answer.
SPEAKER: I anticipated the possibility of this one coming up, and, therefore, I did do a little bit of homework before. I think in this particular case there is a very clear ruling from someone we're all quite familiar with, Mr Speaker Smith from 2012: "Where there is an independent inquiry by a statutory authority, I have to respect an assertion of it not being in the public interest to comment while that inquiry is under way." There are a number of similar Speakers' rulings, and it's also clear in McGee, that, in the end, I cannot overrule the view of a Minister with regard to the public interest.
Hon Amy Adams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I'm just seeking to clarify, sir—I totally accept your ruling. It's been made very clear, repeatedly, by the Government that the State Services Commission inquiry won't investigate what Ministers have done. My question wasn't about what officials had done; it was about whether the Minister had warned or, effectively, passed on what we now know is the GCSB advice. The State Services Commission won't look at that—we know that—and so I would argue that that ruling doesn't apply and that the question was very much around what the Minister had done, not what the officials were doing amongst themselves.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Speaking to the point of order, the member's last supplementary question was directly about what the Treasury secretary did or hadn't done with the—
Hon Amy Adams: No, no.
SPEAKER: Order! Order!
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: —GCSB. Actually, it was precisely about questions regarding the secretary and the GCSB, not about the actions of Ministers.
SPEAKER: Now, what I'm first of all going to do is warn the Hon Amy Adams that she must not interject during a point of order. I'm now going to ask her, because I think time has passed on a little bit, to read exactly the same question again so it can be answered again.
Hon Amy Adams: Certainly, sir. Was the Secretary to the Treasury made aware of the GCSB advice the Ministers had received prior to making his television appearances on numerous programmes on Wednesday morning?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I simply do not know the answer to that question.
Hon Amy Adams: Why did the Minister not immediately publicly correct his statement after receiving advice from his colleague the Hon Andrew Little of the advice from GCSB?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As I have previously stated, the matter had been referred to the police. I did not use the words that are upsetting the member after that time; I simply referred to the advice that I'd had by Treasury that the police were then investigating the matter.
• Question No. 5—Housing and Urban Development
5. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: How many unique applications have successfully pre-qualified as eligible KiwiBuild buyers, and how many of these occurred in the last three months?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Five hundred and twenty-six unique applications have had their eligibility as KiwiBuild buyers confirmed; 145 of these occurred in the three months to 31 May.
Hon Judith Collins: Does the criteria for KiwiBuild pre-qualification reflect his statement that "this Government is committed to providing the opportunity for home ownership to families who are currently locked out of purchasing their first home."?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Yes.
Hon Judith Collins: Is he concerned that official documents show that five of the pre-qualified KiwiBuild buyers had deposits of between $500,000 to $650,000—effectively, meaning they could buy their KiwiBuild house with cash?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No. The data the member is referring to is raw data, unchecked. It's very clear that, for a number of the entries, the data had been entered into the online form on the KiwiBuild website by prospective KiwiBuild buyers incorrectly. In fact, Radio New Zealand, who first reported this story, was told by the KiwiBuild unit that a number of the examples where people had entered what seemed to be a large deposit were cases where, in fact, people had assumed they were supposed to enter the total budget for the house. So, for the purposes that the member is trying to use it, the data is quite unreliable.
Marja Lubeck: What is the average household income for people who have bought a KiwiBuild home so far?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The average household income of a KiwiBuild buyer is $104,000 a year, and 56 percent of families who are KiwiBuild buyers are below that income level, with a quarter of KiwiBuild families below $80,000. The majority of KiwiBuild buyers have individual income of below $65,000, and this is important because homeownership has fallen 13 percent for families earning between $97,000 and $117,000 since 2007. These people are exactly who the KiwiBuild policy is for.
Hon Judith Collins: So how robust is the KiwiBuild qualification process if people can simply qualify with incorrect information?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: They don't qualify on the basis of that information. All people who complete pre-qualification have all of that information vetted individually by staff of the KiwiBuild unit.
Hon Judith Collins: What concern does he have that documents show that 150 of the pre-qualified KiwiBuild buyers were not New Zealand citizens—the very people he said before he wanted to help?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I have no concern at all. Those rules are very clearly laid out for prospective KiwiBuild buyers, and their applications are all subject to a detailed vetting by staff from the KiwiBuild unit.
Marja Lubeck: How does the KiwiBuild buyer criteria compare to other programmes such as HomeStart or the Welcome Home Loan?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I thank the member for that question, because the KiwiBuild eligibility criteria treat assets in exactly the same way as the Axis Series programme, the HomeStart deposit assistance, and the Welcome Home Loan policies, that have been operating for much of the last decade. Those policies provide direct financial assistance to buyers and do not contain an asset test and do not try to prevent families or parents helping their children into their homes. I've seen reports that the lack of an asset test for KiwiBuild is unfair, and I'd say to Ms Collins that she should have raised that issue around the Cabinet table in 2014.
• Question No. 6—Education
6. JAN TINETTI (Labour) to the Minister of Education: How will eligible decile 1-7 schools benefit from the Government's additional funding to replace parental donations?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): There are around 1,703 schools that could receive additional funding through their operations grant of $150 per student if they choose to forgo asking parents for donations. As an example, a decile 2 school with around 500 students could be getting around $3,000 per year from parental donations presently. If they opt out of gaining that $3,000, they could gain an additional $75,000 in Government funding that the teachers and staff can then use to support children's learning. I'm very pleased to say that this year's Budget takes a major step towards making school education free again.
Jan Tinetti: Will decile 1-7 State integrated schools be eligible to opt in to the scheme?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: More good news: yes, I'm very pleased to say that parents in State integrated schools can also benefit from this policy, although I should be very clear that the proprietors can still charge compulsory attendance dues and request donations to cover the property and insurance costs that the Government does not pay for.
Jan Tinetti: What are the next steps for eligible schools to participate in this scheme?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Details of the opt-in process will be made available to schools in July. Boards of trustees will need to opt in to the scheme by 14 November in order to start receiving their funding in January 2020. I encourage them to consult with their school communities and to reflect their views when they make the decision about whether to opt in to the scheme or not.
Jan Tinetti: What does the funding to replace school donations for decile 1-7 schools mean for parents?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I'm aware that many parents feel enormous pressure to pay donations to school, even though they are supposed to be just that—voluntary donations. In fact, some parents feel that if they are unable to make those contributions, they feel shamed by their local community, even where the school goes to some great lengths to ensure that doesn't happen. I've had feedback from principals around the country saying that this will be a huge relief. It will remove a lot of pressure from parents who simply cannot afford to pay.
• Question No. 7—Transport
7. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Transport: What is the expected increase in National Land Transport Fund revenue over the next two financial years as a result of increases in fuel excise duty on 1 July 2019 and 1 July 2020 and accompanying increases in road-user charges?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): The increase in fuel excise and road-user charges is funding road safety improvements to save lives and much-needed infrastructure to get our cities and our regions moving. The funding this provides will allow $537 million more investment over the next two financial years. The alternative is gridlock in our cities, lost productivity in the regions, and more deaths on our roads.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Can he confirm that when the Government's petrol and road-user charge increases from last year and the Auckland fuel tax are added to the total that he's just given us, the total new taxes over three years are around $1.5 billion plus GST?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I'd have to go back and check the member's numbers, but I'll take him at his word. The transport system relies on $4.5 billion of expenditure every year to keep it moving, and, since 1927, every New Zealand Government has used fuel excise and road-user charges to generate the revenue to keep the transport system moving. Our Government is no different from that and nor was the former Government.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: What will motorists get for all this additional tax in terms of major new roads?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, what they're getting, for the first time in a decade, is a balanced approach to transport. We're investing in roads, motorways, rail, public transport, walking, and cycling, and not just the eye-watering expensive motorways that carried only 4 percent of vehicle journeys that that Government spent 40 percent of the transport budget on.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think the Waterview Tunnel in Auckland was a bad idea?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: It was another excellent policy achievement by the last Labour-led Government.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Then why, with all the extra taxes, does he have no new plans to increase capacity in our key motorway networks in our growing cities?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: We're investing more than ever before across the entire transport network. We're investing more in regional roads, outside of the six urban centres, than that Government did over the last three years that it was in office. We are investing in a modern, multi-modal transport system to give Kiwis the transport choices that they want.
Kieran McAnulty: Are the excise increases in line with past practice?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I note that the previous Government raised petrol excise six times while it was in office and increased it by 17c on the litre, and this raised a total of $4.9 billion while it was in Government.
Hon Julie Anne Genter: Can he confirm that the best way to invest in capacity for our motorway networks is to invest in the complementary alternatives so that commuters don't have to sit in traffic and can take faster trains and frequent public transport services?
SPEAKER: Order! There were multiple interjections on that occasion—five separate members interjected.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The answer to the member's question is yes. This Government is the first in New Zealand in a long time to put at the centre of its transport policy the insight that cities of any scale—if they only have roads and motorways to give mobility around the city—will be permanently condemned to gridlock. We need to invest in integrated transport systems that include walking and cycling and public transport alongside the roads and motorways, so that when the motorways get clogged, a certain number of people will choose to leave their cars at home and take public transport, allowing the roads to move more freely for everybody else.
• Question No. 8—Health
8. ANGIE WARREN-CLARK (Labour) to the Minister of Health: What recent announcements has he made about investment into mental health and addiction facilities?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Good news. Last week, I visited Gisborne, which currently has no dedicated residential addiction treatment beds, meaning some people in Tai Rāwhiti have to travel to get the help they need. That will change as a result of the well-being Budget. Last Thursday, I announced funding of $15 million to $20 million to develop an innovative new inpatient unit combining both mental health and addiction services. It is part of the $200 million set aside for capital investment in mental health and addiction facilities over the next two years.
Angie Warren-Clark: Why did the Government decide to dedicate $200 million of investment into mental health and addiction facilities?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The report of the inquiry into mental health and addiction confirmed what, I think, most members of this House will have heard from their constituents: our mental health and addiction facilities are often run down and out of date. Chapter 2 of that report described the frequent complaints about shabby and depressing facilities. It also highlighted the need for more rehabilitative and detoxification facilities, such as the project announced last week in Tai Rāwhiti. We've heard those concerns from the community, and that's why Budget 2019 set aside $200 million to tackle the legacy of under-investment in mental health and addiction facilities.
Angie Warren-Clark: How does investment into mental health and addiction facilities fit into the wider capital investment programme in health?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Budget 2019 included a capital investment of $1.7 billion over the next two years in our hospitals and other health facilities, including mental health and addiction. This will result in better, more modern facilities for both patients and staff. All of this comes on top of $750 million in Budget 2018, meaning a total of $2.45 billion has been allocated to the Government's first two Budgets to start making up for years of neglect. By comparison, a total capital investment in health in the nine Budgets from 2009 to 2017 totalled less than half the amount we have already set aside in our first two Budgets, even including $290 million funded from insurance following the Canterbury earthquakes. And, most egregiously, in Budgets 2015 and 2016, there was no capital investment in our health system.
• Question No. 9—Education
9. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Minister of Education: Does he stand by all of his promises in education?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Yes, I stand by the promises this coalition Government has made, which include ending charter schools, making the first year of tertiary education free, increasing student allowances and living cost payments, scrapping national standards, funding schools to stop asking for parental donations, the largest ever increase in property funding for New Zealand schools by a Government, restarting Te Kotahitanga, developing a 30-year strategic plan for New Zealand education, support for gifted learners, and developing a school leavers' toolkit, among many others. We've also removed NCEA exam fees, provided over half a billion dollars in funding for learning support, including 600 learning support coordinators, and provided the largest amount of increase in funding for teacher supply initiatives in a decade.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Does he stand by his promise to ensure that schooling is genuinely free, given his decision that disadvantaged families in deciles 8, 9, and 10 schools are excluded from the donations bill and are being denied an opportunity to have reduced costs?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes. When the Labour Party costed the policy, in Opposition, we were clear that we had costed for uptake of the policy by all decile 1 to 7 schools. We had to start somewhere and, of course, we targeted the policy deliberately at those schools that had the highest concentration of disadvantaged students, which are the lower decile schools.
Hon Nikki Kaye: In light of his promise, what does he say to the New Zealand Principals Federation, who have said that schools feel "short-changed" by being excluded from the donations policy, and why has he proposed such an inequitable policy in legislation?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Once upon a time, the National Party were decrying this Government for not targeting additional funding enough. This policy is targeted at the schools that have the highest concentrations of students who are disadvantaged and whose parents can't afford to pay. A cursory analysis of the amount of locally raised funds that schools generate suggests that deciles 8, 9, and 10 schools raise significantly more funding through locally raised funds than lower decile schools are able to.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Will he admit that he has broken his promise to provide incentive payments for all State and State integrated schools in exchange for their agreement not to ask for parental donations?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I don't think the member listened to my original answer. If she listened when we announced the policy, we were very clear that the policy costings were based on decile 1 to 7 schools taking that policy up. In the future, it may well be that we're in a position to extend it to other schools. That's, of course, a decision for another day.
Hon Nikki Kaye: How can parents rely on his promise to modernise school buildings in New Zealand, given he's overseeing the largest ever underspend in school property and shown he can't even deliver on projects announced by him and the last Government?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: They can rely on us to deliver on that, because we're getting serious about dealing with the critical skills shortages we face in the building and construction industry, which has been one of the major constraints to Government building projects across the board. We are actually tackling that problem so that we can be certain that we can deliver on school property projects. One of the things that we've done in this year's budget is move to a four-year allocation for school property so that we can better plan the pipeline of property projects, which will allow the building and construction industry more certainty so that they can be more certain of being able to deliver.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Why has he failed to deliver on promises including all students having access to digital devices, the uncapping of Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme (ORRS) funding for children with complex needs, reduced teacher-child ratios in early learning, free driver-training in schools, personalised career advice for—
SPEAKER: Order! I just want to check that these are all commitments that the Minister of Education has made—[Interruption]—not the Opposition spokesperson on education.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that is being slightly pedantic, because he's actually—
SPEAKER: No, not—[Interruption] Order! Not at all pedantic. It's what the Minister has responsibility for.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. An interesting intervention from you, but surely it would be for the Minister to make the distinction, when it comes to answering the question, in which case his answer might be a very short answer.
SPEAKER: It could well be. It's one of the problems that you have when you have someone in the Chair who is vaguely familiar with education policy. If I—I mean, I don't want to get back to the way that some previous Speakers ended up as coaches, but there's a pretty simple way of doing the question, and that is: "Does the Minister agree with …".
Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister, in his previous answers, actually addressed, in my view—he was given a long leniency at the outset to list a range of promises, and from my perspective, he's already addressed some of his promises that have been made as Opposition spokesperson. So he's already gone there.
SPEAKER: Right, OK. We're now getting to the last chance. I think I've given the member, who is now a relatively senior member, some advice as to how to phrase her question to make it in order, which is "Does the Minister agree with X, Y, and Z, which was said by the Hon Chris Hipkins before the election?"—that would be in order.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Does the Minister agree with Chris Hipkins, who promised all students having access to digital devices, the uncapping of ORRS funding for children with complex needs, reduced teacher-child ratios in early learning, free driver training in schools, personalised career advice for high school students, additional funding for 100 percent qualified teachers in early learning, restoring postgraduate students' eligibility to student allowances, and the more than 40 promises not delivered so far?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The member that the member is quoting is, in fact, very visionary when it comes to education, and so I do agree with the commitments that he has made. I note that we're only halfway through the parliamentary term and that many of the initiatives that the member raises are currently being worked on, and progress is being made on some of them. I did, of course, notice the uncharacteristically petty statements that the member who was asking the question made about the—
• Question No. 10—Economic Development
10. JO LUXTON (Labour) to the Minister for Economic Development: What is the Government doing to enable more innovative, knowledge-intensive, high-value firms and start-ups to grow and scale within New Zealand?
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister for Economic Development): The Productivity Commission has highlighted that the development of innovative new products and services and jobs is currently inhibited by low per capita investment in our productive businesses. There is a particular gap in our early stage capital markets beyond seed or angel investment where companies are looking to scale up, and that's why in the Budget we announced the creation of a $300 million pool of capital to support New Zealand's venture capital markets through a new fund of funds model, which will also attract private sector contributions. This Government recognises the importance of lifting New Zealand's productivity.
Jo Luxton: What are the objectives of the new venture capital fund?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Helping to fill this hole in the capital cycle has three main objectives. The first is to increase the number of start-ups that can progress and develop into successful companies, and so employ New Zealanders; the second is to increase the volume of technology that's commercialised, which has the benefit of increasing productivity across the economy; and the third is to build capacity in the sector so that institutional and other investors, over time, better service this part of the capital cycle. The effect of this will be that more start-ups in New Zealand stay for longer and grow, which will produce wider productivity benefits.
Jo Luxton: How will the new fund operate?
Hon DAVID PARKER: The new fund will be administered by the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation via a separate fund to be legislated. It will be invested via the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund by private sector capital managers. It's expected that the addition of $300 million to this market will be leveraged by investors from private sector players. Two-to-one matching by investors would see a total investment of around $1 billion. Most of the funds will be invested within five years, enabling more of New Zealand's high-potential businesses to thrive and grow. After 15 years, the funds are wound up and all of the money is returned to the Crown for the future pre-funding of superannuation.
• Question No. 11—Defence
11. MARK PATTERSON (NZ First) to the Minister of Defence: What announcements has he made regarding defence capability?
Hon RON MARK (Minister of Defence): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Today, I released the coalition Government's Defence Capability Plan 2019. Re-examining the defence procurement programme was a key plank in the coalition agreement, and today we have fulfilled that commitment. The plan includes priority investments to meet the challenges identified in the Strategic Defence Policy Statement of 2018 and to support the coalition Government's foreign policy objectives relating to Pacific reset and the impacts of the climate crisis that we are facing. At its heart, the new capability plan is a humanitarian plan. It readies New Zealand to be well-positioned for the future, allowing the defence force to contribute to the security of our friends in the Pacific and maintain awareness of our vast maritime domain.
Mark Patterson: What planned capability investments are included to support the Pacific reset?
Hon RON MARK: In order to increase the capacity of the defence force to respond to events in the South Pacific, an enhanced sealift vessel will be introduced in the late-2020s to compliment HMNZS Canterbury, with an additional vessel being scheduled to replace Canterbury in the mid-2030s; maintaining a two-vessel sealift fleet. New Zealand Army personnel numbers are targeted to grow to 6,000 by 2035 to allow for the sustainment of concurrent operations in the Pacific while maintaining efforts at home and globally.
Mark Patterson: What other investments are included in the plan?
Hon RON MARK: To improve awareness across our vast maritime domain, the plan includes an enhanced maritime awareness capability to compliment the P-8s: maritime satellite surveillance in the mid-2020s and long-range unmanned aerial vehicles after 2030. Planned investment is retained for a dedicated Southern Ocean patrol vessel, and replacements are planned for the maritime helicopter and offshore patrol vessel fleets. As technology rapidly advances in the information domain, the plan includes an uplift in defence intelligence personnel and cyber-security and the support capabilities required to meet that.
Mark Patterson: What announcements have been made about the Hercules fleet?
Hon RON MARK: The highest priority project within the plan is the replacement of the Hercules fleet. The current Hercules' have served us well since the 1960s, but they have reached the end of the road. Today, I announced the selection of the C-130J-30 Super Hercules as the preferred option for the replacement of our ageing Hercs. We need a proven performer. This aircraft is tried and tested and proven—actually, there are about 400 in service over 21 nations. We cannot take risks with what is one of the most critical military capabilities for operating at home, in the Pacific, and around the world. Detailed costing information will be sought through the United States foreign military sale process for the Super Hercules, with the final business case scheduled to come to Cabinet next year.
• Question No. 12—Transport
12. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Associate Minister of Transport: Does she stand by all of her statements, policies, and actions on road safety?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER (Associate Minister of Transport): Yes. In particular, I stand by this Government's policy to invest $4.3 billion in road safety over the next three years, including $1.4 billion to upgrade thousands of kilometres of unsafe roads across New Zealand, and increased funding for road police to fill the 110 vacancies left unfilled by the last National Government.
Chris Bishop: Has she had a conversation with her colleague Stuart Nash, the Minister of Police, about why Vote Police in Budget 2019 contains only $331 million for the road safety programme—a cut of $10 million, down from $341 million the year before?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: Yes, I can understand the member's confusion and concern. I have discussed it with my colleague. The figure used by the police is simply a placeholder figure only.
Hon Members: Oh!
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: The $331 million figure, if members are interested in hearing—and I think member's opposite will be quite interested to hear that the New Zealand Transport Agency and police are currently finalising the development of a new road safety partnership programme which will confirm the investment levels in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 financial years. So the Government has already approved an indicative road policing funding allocation of $1.045 billion over three years. That an $85 million increase on the last National Government's road policing budget.
Chris Bishop: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was not related to the answer. The question was about whether or not the Minister had a conversation with her colleague the Minister of Police. I didn't hear that addressed in the answer at all.
SPEAKER: Well, it was addressed right at the beginning.
Chris Bishop: OK. I missed it. Will she commit to more breath tests being conducted in 2019, compared with 2018, which was only 1.4 million?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: It does take time to rebuild after years of neglect—[Interruption]
SPEAKER: Order! I'll just ask the member to sit down for a second. [Minister continues]. No, I'm going to ask the member to sit down. Mr Brown, you're not normally one of the noisier members but you are just behind an open microphone, so we're hearing you especially, as well as a number of other members. So can we please just settle down a bit.
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: So police have already invested an additional $2.8 million to purchase 2,700 new breath-testing devices, which will be phased into use in 2019-20 after, of course, the underfunding meant there was a significant reduction in road policing and enforcement under the last National Government.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I ask the Minister, is this information available on a computer site?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: Yes, the information for the Estimates is available on a computer site. The member could access that.
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Can she also confirm that Winston Peters will also be saying that that's a serious criminal activity as well?
SPEAKER: The member will now stand, withdraw, and apologise. He knew that question was out of order.
Hon Simon Bridges: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon Stuart Nash: Is it true that, under the last Government, road policing numbers were cut by 111, but by July of last year, under this Government, road policing numbers were up to full muster again?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: That is absolutely correct.
Chris Bishop: Does she stand by her tweet about car fascists, and what is the definition of a car fascist?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: I think the member will find that I admitted that was over the top. It was not the right language to use. But the way the member and many of his colleagues have been misleading about what I meant in that tweet I think is also unhelpful. I think that it's very important that all New Zealanders have a right to get around safely, especially our young people. They should have a right to walk and cycle safely, and anyone who opposes safe infrastructure is opposing that choice.
Chris Bishop: Does she stand by her statement that "a huge percentage of the community are much more comfortable travelling at the safe and appropriate speed…and would be quite happy to not be under pressure to drive at 100km/h"; and is it correct that the basis for the statement is a survey of the Aro Valley Green Party transport subcommittee?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: In fact, it is not. When it comes to the targeted safety reviews that we are progressing on the most dangerous roads in New Zealand, there has been overwhelmingly strong community support for the safer speed. In fact, I receive a large number of letters and correspondence from communities around New Zealand who would like to see safer speeds. But I want to emphasise that this Government has at no time had any policy of blanket speed reductions. What we are talking about is targeted speed reductions on the most dangerous roads—the top 10 percent—and that is where people are dying.