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Parliament: Questions and Answers - Oct 16

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Public Housing

1. MARAMA DAVIDSON (Co-Leader—Green) to the Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing): What actions has this Government taken for public housing in New Zealand?

Hon KRIS FAAFOI (Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing)): Faakalofa lahi atu, Mr Speaker. Can I thank the member for her question, particularly given that this Government has implemented the biggest State house building programme since the 1970s. On coming into office, we put an end to nine years of neglect around housing. It was characterised by State houses being boarded up, sold, or demolished. This Government, however, has made a very clear commitment to the importance of a far stronger public housing sector in New Zealand. In Budget 2018 we committed $234 million to securing an additional 6,400 public housing places nationwide by June 2022, or 1,600 places per year on average, fully funded in Budget 2018. Across New Zealand more families now have a place to call home, thanks to the delivery of an extra 2,178 public housing places in the year to June 2019, with a pipeline established to deliver well over 2,000 more places for the coming year.

Marama Davidson: How many public houses have been built under this Government?

Hon KRIS FAAFOI: Since this Government has come into office, we have delivered 2,535 new builds. We've also housed 754 individuals and whānau through the Housing First programme and we've increased transitional housing places by over 1,000 places to a total of 2,989 places altogether.

Marama Davidson: Is this Government committed to building at scale and pace—

Chris Bishop: Ho, ho, ho!

Marama Davidson: —until the need is met?

SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat. The member who made that noise will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Chris Bishop: I withdraw and apologise.

SPEAKER: And he's lost some supplementaries; I'll decide how many. Start again, please.

Marama Davidson: Is this Government committed to building at scale and pace until the need is met?

Hon KRIS FAAFOI: The Government build programme continues to pick up speed and deliver homes across our communities. For the year ended June this year, we exceeded the 1,600 target by 578 and delivered a total of 2,178 additional places. Kāinga Ora also currently has about 2,000 homes under construction or under contract. Kāinga Ora's stepped-up build programme is delivering more and more homes that are designed to be built to modern standards including double glazing, insulation, accessibility—

Hon Maggie Barry: Speech—speech!

Hon KRIS FAAFOI: —and affordable heating, such as heat pumps. Thank you very much.

Marama Davidson: How are new State houses meeting people's needs, especially around accessibility?

Hon KRIS FAAFOI: The Government has recognised that people on the housing register have different needs such as the size of family and, therefore, property; accessibility requirements for people who have disabilities; or proximity to employment or core services that the tenant may need. Kāinga Ora and the community housing providers are ensuring that the new housing provision better matches the unique needs of people on the housing register. Kāinga Ora also offers a community group housing service that specialises in providing suitable properties for community organisations to house and support people with physical or intellectual disabilities.

Marama Davidson: What steps has this Government taken to ensure that State houses provide a long-term home for people who are most in need?

Hon KRIS FAAFOI: The Minister for Social Development, the Hon Carmel Sepuloni, and I recently announced $54 million in Government funding for initiatives which will support at-risk individuals and whānau to stay in their existing tenancies. The funding will also provide additional wraparound services, strengthening ways to reduce homelessness and prevent it. It complements the Government's existing investment in the Housing First programme, which supports people with multiple high, complex needs who have experienced homelessness. We know that ensuring these people have stable tenancies will improve their overall outcomes.

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 policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Fakalofa lahi atu and happy Niue Language Week. In answer the question, yes, and I will continue to stand by them for all five of the National Party's Leader of the Opposition auditions today in this House.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why are more than three times the number of Kiwis leaving New Zealand under her Government's policies than did in 2017?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member's obviously referring to the net migration figures which came out yesterday, which actually show the numbers are fairly stable. They've come out at 53,810; a year ago, they were at 49,197. I note that that's coming off a high-water mark under the last Government, in which, I have to say, there was not enough work done to ensure the infrastructure was able to maintain that kind of population growth.

Hon Simon Bridges: Given that "high-water mark", when will net migration reach 20,000 people, as stated in the coalition agreement?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member is referring to the immigration policy that the Labour Party campaigned on, which included removing the exploitation of students that that last Government did absolutely nothing about. It was scandalous what was happening to vulnerable, particularly young, people coming to study in New Zealand. I'm proud that our immigration Minister has focussed squarely on ridding exploitation in the immigration sector; something the last Government did not do.

Hon Simon Bridges: Given the 13,500 net who left New Zealand for good, does she agree with Helen Clark, who said the main reason people choose to move overseas is the state of the economy?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I remember the days when there were comparisons between Australia and New Zealand, and I'm happy for those comparisons to occur. We have lower unemployment. We have better growth rates. We of course have opportunities in New Zealand that, of course, mean that New Zealanders—yes, when they look to overseas opportunities—think about travel and the experiences that our young people seek, but, ultimately, our economy, relative to others, is doing very, very well.

SPEAKER: Order! Before the member goes, can I just ask the members, especially those immediately behind the Prime Minister, to turn down their responses, because we're getting their interjections through her mike and my mike.

Hon Simon Bridges: What does it say about her Government that in just two years Kiwis feel like they have more opportunities overseas than when National was in power?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I absolutely reject that member's question.

Hon Simon Bridges: Has any other export from New Zealand, other than our people, grown more than 3½ times in size since the end of 2017?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, I reject the premise of that member's question, but the value of our exports is doing very, very well.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I wonder if the Prime Minister, in response to those questions, could reflect upon the IMF's latest World Economic Outlook, which shows New Zealand ahead of Australia, the UK, Canada, United States, Japan, EU, Norway, Finland, Singapore, and all advanced economies by miles?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I absolutely can confirm that. The IMF demonstrates what we have been saying for some time: New Zealand is in good shape. Not only have we delivered a surplus; we also have wages up, unemployment at 3.9 percent, and our growth rates are solid. Ultimately, the only one talking down the economy is that member and his Opposition.

David Seymour: Does the Prime Minister stand by the Government's policy of deciding how to implement the Tomorrow's Schools independent task force review by the middle of this year?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I understand that the Minister of Education will have more to say on that very soon.

David Seymour: When will the Prime Minister be able to tell the public what the Government's policy is on implementing the recommendations from the Tomorrow's Schools independent task force review?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As we always do: when Cabinet has made its final decisions. But I stand by the fact that we've engaged the education sector and those with the most at stake fully in this process.

Question No. 3—Prime Minister

3. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government's policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes, in particular the progress we are making against some long-term challenges facing New Zealand, including recruiting 1,800 new police officers to help crack down on gangs; banning semi-automatic weapons to help keep our communities safe; increasing funding to combat organised crime trafficking drugs in the Pacific; more funding for police and customs, which has helped with the 2019 record meth seizures—more than 1.5 tonnes has been either stopped at the border or seized—and, of course, fog cannons: over 500 installed since we changed the criteria; previously, there were only three.

Hon Paula Bennett: Is one of the reasons she is supporting legalising recreational marijuana because she wants to see the black market for marijuana eradicated?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I reject the premise of that question.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does the Prime Minister want to see the black market for marijuana eradicated?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member will reflect, of course, that she could speak either to the status quo we have at the moment—

Hon Simon Bridges: Answer the question.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: —which, of course, is that all forms of drugs are currently on the black market.

Hon Simon Bridges: Ducking and diving.

SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We are the ones that as a Government have increased—

Hon Simon Bridges: Answer the question.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: —the penalties for synthetics, and—

SPEAKER: I called the member to order four times. He reflected on my chairing on four occasions.

Hon Simon Bridges: No, I didn't.

SPEAKER: Yes, the member did. He's been here a long time. If he doesn't understand that by now, I don't have a lot of hope for him. He will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Simon Bridges: I withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I was saying, currently all drugs are peddled through a black market, and that is why we have increased the number of police officers to deal directly with those issues. We are bringing in 1,800 new police officers; 700 are earmarked for organised crime. We have increased the funding available to Customs to try and ensure that we have more drug busts for what is increasingly an offshore market. That is the status quo for our legislation, and we are boosting our activity to stamp it out.

Hon Paula Bennett: Are the number of gang members increasing faster than police?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Oh, if the member wanted to talk about the history of gangs growing, she'd do well to look at 2011—2011—where the Rebel motorcycle gang, under her watch, is where the growth really started.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can she confirm that the right price point and availability of a product in a legal market is what is required to get rid of the black market in drugs?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the member might reflect on the fact that growth in gangs started in, roughly, 2011—according to some of the research—and, yes, that connection has been made at that time to a growth in methamphetamine. So if the member wants to reflect on whether or not these two issues are connected, yes, they are, and that started under the last Government.

Hon Paula Bennett: If marijuana is legalised, does she believe that there is a price point and an availability of cannabis that will mean that it will help eradicate the black market? It's not a trick question.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: It is a hypothetical question, because that is not our law.

Hon Paula Bennett: Has the Government considered what excise tax they will put on marijuana if it's legalised?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: This will ultimately be a question for the New Zealand public. There will be a full bill that they will be able to consider when they make that decision, and that will be made public before the referendum.

Hon Paula Bennett: Why has the Prime Minister called for a referendum on legalising recreational marijuana?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: So that New Zealanders can determine whether or not that's what they would like to see happen in New Zealand. It is called democracy, and we're not afraid of it.

Chlöe Swarbrick: Can the Prime Minister confirm that the Green-Labour confidence and supply agreement includes a commitment to—and I quote—"[increasing] funding for alcohol and drug addiction services and [ensuring] drug use is treated as a health issue, and [having] a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the 2020 general election."?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I can confirm that. I also want to reflect again, as the member has helpfully pointed out, that members opposite seem to think these things are mutually exclusive. Unlike them, we have not ignored the harm of drug and alcohol use in this country. The last Budget had a considerable investment, including $200 million in capital investment for drug and alcohol treatment. These are issues that the last Government, frankly, ignored.

Question No. 4—Finance

4. Dr DUNCAN WEBB (Labour—Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he seen on the New Zealand economy?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Acting Minister of Finance): Mr Speaker, fakaalofa lahi atu. Overnight, the IMF released its latest World Economic Outlook, showing New Zealand's economic growth outlook remains steady against the backdrop of further slowing global growth. New Zealand's economy is forecast to grow 2.5 percent in 2019, rising to 2.7 percent in 2020—well above other advanced economies. Unemployment is expected to remain close to its current level, and below other countries such as Australia and Canada.

Dr Duncan Webb: What does the IMF say about the global context for the New Zealand economy?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The IMF report shows a reduced global growth forecast over the next two years as issues like the US - China trade war and Brexit take hold. The IMF forecasts advanced economies to grow by 1.7 percent across both years, which is down from six months ago. According to the IMF, New Zealand is forecast to grow faster in 2019 and 2020 than Australia, the UK, Canada, the US, Japan, the EU, and the average across all advanced economies. It is always refreshing to see an international perspective on the New Zealand economy which can cut through some of the political negativity and see the solid fundamentals of the New Zealand economy.

Dr Duncan Webb: What reports has he seen on the cost of living in the New Zealand economy?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: This morning, Statistics New Zealand released Consumers Price Index inflation data for the September quarter. It showed annual inflation of 1.5 percent, down from 1.7 percent in June. This follows Statistics New Zealand figures showing average wages rising above 4 percent over the last year. This shows that working New Zealanders are taking home more pay in their back pockets and are benefiting from higher wage growth and low inflation under the coalition Government.

Hon Todd McClay: Is he aware the IMF has also predicted that unemployment would increase in New Zealand next year, and, if so, does he think that that means more New Zealanders will join the 13,500 that have voted with their feet and left to go to Australia?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Unemployment in New Zealand is at an 11-year low. It is extraordinary just how low unemployment is in this country. That shows the dedication of a Government devoted to raising wages, lowering unemployment, and cleaning up the mess of years of economic neglect by that previous Government.

Question No. 5—Prime Minister

5. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government's policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Welcome to contestant number three! Yes, the Government is making progress on the long-term challenges facing New Zealand, and that includes helping to break the cycle of educational underachievement by providing lunches in schools to 20,000 children and 120 schools by the start of 2021. We are scrapping school donations and removing NCEA fees. We've invested $1.2 billion in building new schools and classrooms for 100,000 students in over 10 years. We've improved our skilled workforce through reforming vocational education and training. We're expanding our Mana in Mahi places by 2,000, and we're rolling out the first tranche of learning support coordinators for children in more than 1,000 schools and kura.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Can she confirm that she received advice regarding the Government's free lunch policy to use well-established providers such as KidsCan and KickStart and that she ignored that advice?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Actually, my recollection is in the conversations that were had with officials, we discussed the dual benefit of enabling schools to determine for themselves how they would roll out these programmes. This is about autonomy and choice. Some schools may choose to use providers, some may choose to use their own community and provide it within kitchens if they have it, or they may choose to work with local marae—it's about giving schools the choice around how they provide this. We're starting small so we can work through those choices with them.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Can she confirm that more than 60 schools had to be approached to take part in her Kiwi lunch programme because the original 30 have not come on board?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Can she confirm that the Government's had to change its Kiwi lunch policy just weeks after she announced the initiatives, due to schools' concerns about the infrastructure funding being inadequate?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No. We've always acknowledged in the funding of the programme that there would be room available for small capital needs that might be needed to be able to ensure the provision of the lunches in schools programme, but there was never funding made, for instance, for full commercial kitchens. This is about utilising the resource around the school community and what's available within the school. If the member stands opposed to the idea of feeding kids in schools in some of our most deprived parts of the country, that is absolutely her and her party's prerogative. This is a programme that we are immensely proud of. We are starting with a number of schools to get the design right, and I'm confident we will. I reflect on the Sunset Primary School, where the primary school principal there said they were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to feed their kids every day, and that's what this is about.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Is she aware that local bakeries and a marae have been approached to provide the lunches but they have declined because they do not have capacity, and is it true that local Pita Pit and Subway have also raised issues regarding a Kiwi lunch programme?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The idea that we can't muster together a nutritious lunch for school children in a small part of the country is absolutely ridiculous. We're not starting the roll-out until the beginning of next year. We're working closely with schools to design this in a way that meets their community needs, in a way that supports their community, offers the win-win of an extra boost in employment in the area, and also feeds kids. Yes, we've had one school of 70 students say that they would rather use KidsCan, but that's a matter for them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is this the first time she's heard of the suggestion of propping up a foreign-owned franchise called Subway?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: In the briefings that I've had, I've been advised that schools are wholeheartedly behind this programme. I've acknowledged the one case where one kura is choosing to continue to use KidsCan on a limited basis, and that's their call. We are working in consultation with schools.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Is the Prime Minister concerned that the delivery of school lunches by schools might result in a smaller market share for Subway, Pita Pit, McDonald's, KFC, and all of the other fast-food providers?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No, but I also want to acknowledge that in some of the areas that we're looking to work in, there are no such franchises.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will she guarantee she will not roll out her free lunch policy to 2,500 schools at an estimated cost of about a billion dollars, given the issues of capacity, infrastructure, and the fact that a number of schools don't want to be part of her pilot?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: What I can guarantee is we're not going to stand by and let kids be hungry while we have the possibility to roll out a programme like this.

Question No. 6—Education

6. MARJA LUBECK (Labour) to the Minister of Education: What action is the Government taking to reduce schooling costs to New Zealand families?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Yesterday, Parliament passed the Education (School Donations) Amendment Bill, that supports the implementation of the school donations scheme to start at the beginning of next year. This means that for decile 1 to 7 schools who choose to take part in the scheme, they will receive up to an extra $150 per student in funding if they do not ask parents directly for donations. This will take financial pressure off a large number of New Zealand families who'd like to give a donation to their school but struggle to do so. The scheme will also take pressure off schools themselves who ask parents and communities for donations but know that it will be difficult for them to pay.

Marja Lubeck: What reports has he seen on the schools who have already decided to take up the funding so that they don't have to ask parents for donations?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I have seen a recent report from one school who says that the funding is going to alleviate a lot of pressure for him and his staff, for his kura of just over 100 students. He says that "For us, that's $15,000 every year, and that goes a long way in our neck of the woods . . . . It will take a lot of financial pressure off the school, off me to find funds to be able to do things that we want to do [for the] children." This is a scheme that's going to make a huge difference for many schools who were getting little in donations. It will give them opportunities to put more resources into their kids.

Marja Lubeck: What other reports has he seen from principals who have taken up the $150 per student funding?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I have seen a recent media comment from the principal of Hora Hora primary school, Pat Newman, who says that "he's grateful for the $60,000 his school of 400 students will receive". He said that he's "not a person who always agrees with government decisions", but he said, "a huge thank you to the Government for this [funding]".

Marja Lubeck: Have the rules changed around payments by parents of students in State and State-integrated schools generally?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No. In fact, those rules have not changed, and, in fact, I have a copy of the 2013 circular issued under the previous Government that restates that section 3 of the Education Act of 1989 provides for the free right to enrolment and free education. Donation payments are entirely voluntary. Boards of trustees can only demand payment for non-curriculum things where there has been a clear agreement to accept the good or service in question. Parents have always contributed to their schools and their school communities in various ways, including the giving of their own time and through fund-raising activities. For people to say that this would suddenly end altogether, including for those schools who don't want to go into the scheme, is simply scaremongering, negative, and confusing for schools.

Question No. 7—Prime Minister

7. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government's policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Contestant number four—I'm not sure if you're auditioning for the role or Judith's role. Yes.

SPEAKER: Order! I think Ms Collins' role.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Sorry, Judith Collins. Forgive me, Mr Speaker. Yes, the Government is making progress on the long-term challenges facing New Zealand—in particular, our actions to make low-emissions and electric vehicles more affordable; reduce congestion in our major cities by investing in public transport; making safety improvements to 3,300 kilometres of our State highways; and upgrading our rail network, including to boost our regional economies, something New Zealand First in particular are strong advocates for. Also, after neglecting its regulatory role for years, New Zealand Transport Agency are refocused on ensuring the cars on our roads are safe.

Chris Bishop: Has the Hon Shane Jones apologised to her for his remarks to the Northland Forestry Awards, which were likened by one attendee as an inducement to bribery, and another as buying votes?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I've acknowledged this in the public domain several times. The Minister and I had a conversation. He acknowledged my view that he had sailed too close to the wind with his comments. The Minister has reflected, and agreed, of course, to stay in line with the Cabinet Manual.

Chris Bishop: Does she agree with the Hon Phil Twyford that the 12 roading projects that have either been cancelled or delayed by her Government because of re-evaluations caused by the Government policy statement on transport are of "very low economic value."?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If that's a reference to the East-West Link in Auckland—which is the most expensive roading project per kilometre in the world—then, yes.

Chris Bishop: Will she ask the Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter to release her secret letter to the transport Minister, Phil Twyford, given her Government's commitment to openness and transparency?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: This is a matter that, obviously, that member's party is engaged with ours over. We've simply reflected the fact that this was conversations between party members in a decision-making process. Obviously, the matter's with the Ombudsman, and we're completely comfortable with that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can it be a cancellation when—just two examples—the North Tauranga to Katikati so-called four-lane highway did not have one cent assigned to it, and neither did the Warkworth to Whangarei have one cent assigned to it, as well?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member is correct. There were a number of projects announced by the last Government that were not funded, and, in fact, hadn't started designation or consenting. As has been pointed out to me, you can't drive on a press release.

Chris Bishop: Can she confirm that the same person telling her the Government's transport plan for Wellington is a good idea is the same person telling her the Government could build 100,000 houses in 10 years?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If the member is referring, even locally, to things like Wellington's Let's Get Wellington Moving project, that's a project that's also been endorsed locally, unanimously, by the council, and I have to say it is a project focused on doing just that: reducing the congestion that that side of the House never addressed when they were in Government.

Hon Phil Twyford: What did you do in nine years?

SPEAKER: Order! Order! I did quite a lot, Mr Twyford.

Question No. 8—Prime Minister

8. Hon SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government's policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Welcome. Yes, this Government is making progress on the long-term issues and challenges facing New Zealand, including in the area of climate and environment, introducing the zero carbon bill; investing in heavy rail, trains, buses, walking, cycling, and other alternative infrastructure; the planting of 1 billion trees; creating a $229 million sustainable land package to support our farmers, improve water quality, and reduce emissions; and, of course, our aspiration of 100 percent renewable electricity.

Hon Scott Simpson: Does she stand by her statement that the $100 million Green Investment Fund is "a central plank in the Government's plan to transition to a clean, green, carbon-neutral New Zealand"; and, if so, how much has been invested from the fund?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That fund is running exactly as the timetable we set out when we established it. The member may not be aware that when you establish a Government-owned investment fund there is some rigour required in establishing such a fund. The roadshow with the fund managers will be beginning next month—I know the member will be listening to that with interest.

Hon Scott Simpson: Why, when the Green Investment Fund is a central plank of the Government's policy and was allocated $100 million of taxpayers' money in May of last year, has it failed to invest a single dollar in the 17 months since?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member will do well to reflect on the time line we set out at that time; it wasn't due to yet, either.

Hon Scott Simpson: Is she aware that the Green Investment Fund has operating costs of $5 million a year, and yet is expected to return $3 million a year; and, if so, does she think that a fund expected to lose $2 million a year is a good investment of taxpayer money?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The Green Investment Fund is running according to all of our expectations around early establishment. Nothing has changed from the time that it was established.

Hon Scott Simpson: Does she think it is appropriate that, despite failing to invest a single dollar in 17 months, the Green Investment Fund is holding a glamourous cocktail party function next month at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, which will be at taxpayers' expense of thousands of dollars?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, this is a fund that is amongst a raft of things that this Government is doing in the climate space, and that includes reducing the emissions profile of our vehicles, introducing a process of carbon budgeting through the zero carbon bill, the land use package designed to support our agricultural community to transition to being sustainable food producers, and, of course, moving to a low emissions future with our energy generation through things like hydrogen. That side of the House did nothing. They signed us up to a Paris Agreement. They've had empty words. They have done nothing to demonstrate they even support any efforts to reduce climate emissions in New Zealand and it's shameful.

Hon Scott Simpson: Does she accept then that the Green Investment Fund has been a failure, considering it hasn't invested a single dollar in 17 months, its operating costs are higher than its expected returns—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member's asked one part of a question. He cannot add a whole pile of allegations. If he wants a second leg to a question he will ask it now.

Hon Scott Simpson: Does she accept the Green Investment Fund has been a failure, considering that all it has to show for itself after 17 months is a taxpayer-funded cocktail function for the rich and well-connected?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No, and I would question whether or not the member—given that that Government never established any form of investment fund like this in this area—would expect the kind of rigour we have applied to this process. It is running exactly to time.

Question No. 9—Arts, Culture, and Heritage

9. ANAHILA KANONGATA'A-SUISUIKI (Labour) to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage: What upcoming events supported by the Government celebrate Pacific arts and artists?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage): Fakaalofa lahi atu, Mr Speaker. I have the privilege of hosting the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards here at Parliament tonight. New Zealand is a Pacific nation and Pacific people are a significant part of New Zealand's history and future. Our arts and culture make an important contribution to the richness and diversity of our multicultural Pasifika nation. This Government is committed to supporting the aspirations of Pacific people and recognising the value they bring to New Zealand. The Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards is a great opportunity to come together to celebrate this.

Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: What else is the Government doing to support Pacific arts?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Since the implementation of Creative New Zealand's Pacific Arts Strategy last year, there have been a number of exciting announcements. Creative New Zealand has increased the prize money for these awards so the prize money is in line with similar awards. Yuki Kihara has been selected as the first Pasifika artist to represent New Zealand at the 2021 Venice Biennale. We recently had the first national Pacific festival directors' fono bringing together representatives from eight festivals across New Zealand to discuss the future of Pacific festivals and what support the Government could potentially provide. Funding for Pasifika-led arts organisations is set to rise 68 percent by 2020. Creative New Zealand is also supporting paid Pacific arts internships and Pasifika artists' residencies and are working on increasing these opportunities. These initiatives—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! It's getting very long.

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Nearly finished.

SPEAKER: Just finish quickly.

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: OK. These initiatives support the Government's priority to build a better, more inclusive New Zealand that we can be proud of and aligns with our focus on developing sustainable career pathways in the arts sector.

Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: What is special about tonight's awards ceremony?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Tonight, I'm excited to be presenting the new Pacific Toa Artist Award, which recognises the valuable contribution a Pasifika artist living with a disability is making to the New Zealand arts sector. This is the first time we've had a category for a Pacific artist with a disability, and I'm thrilled to see this award going to Pati Umaga. Pati Umaga is an experienced adviser, programme leader, and change facilitator. He is a disability advocate and the former chair of the Enabling Good Lives leadership group. He played in the New Zealand band The Holidaymakers, co-founded the contemporary music programme at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua, organised a tsunami benefit concert, and has been awarded the Queen's Service Medal for his work in the Pacific Island community. Through this new Pacific Toa Award, we can celebrate all that Pati Umaga has contributed to New Zealand and our arts scene.

Question No. 10—Police

10. BRETT HUDSON (National) to the Minister of Police: Was the Prime Minister correct yesterday when she said her Government would make the 1,800 target of new police this term, and, if so, on current projections, in what month is that likely to occur?

Hon STUART NASH (Minister of Police): Of course the Prime Minister was correct. We're on track to deliver 1,800 new police next month.

Brett Hudson: What will the total number of recruits be that police need to train to ensure the 1,800 target of new police is made, in light of his answer to written questions which said the 1,800 target accounts for attrition?

Hon STUART NASH: We need about 1,800 new recruits to meet a figure of 1,800 new police.

Brett Hudson: Did he give the Prime Minister information which led her to categorically claim yesterday that the Government would make the 1,800 target of new police this term, and, if so, what was that advice?

Hon STUART NASH: The Prime Minister is well aware that we are going to meet the 1,800 new police target next month.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister of Police confirm that what the Government, in this coalition agreement, promised was adding 1,800 new police officers over three years—that means newly-trained, and that's the target we're going to meet very shortly?

Hon STUART NASH: I can indeed confirm that, and I will also confirm that we've done it in under three years—in fact, just over two years.

Brett Hudson: Does the Minister stand by his response to a written question which confirmed that the measurement of the 1,800 new police includes attrition, and is currently running at well under 900?

Hon STUART NASH: Attrition is about 3.8 percent, and Police is one of the lowest in the State sector.

Question No. 11—Immigration

11. Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Immigration: Does he stand by his decision to grant residency to a person with six convictions for driving with excess breath alcohol and two convictions for driving without a licence?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of State Services) on behalf of the Minister of Immigration: On behalf of the Minister of Immigration, yes.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Was the Minister required to grant a recidivist drunk-driver residency?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The Minister considered the case on its merits. The individual concerned was already staying in New Zealand indefinitely.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Was the Minister required to grant a recidivist drunk-driver residency?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: It was an exercise of the Minister's discretion.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Is it acceptable that his excuse for granting a recidivist drunk-driver residency was to save on paperwork?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I think there are other advantages to it but I think that is a legitimate answer. The individual concerned was granted, by the Hon Michael Woodhouse, a three-year, renewable on an ongoing basis, work visa. In fact, many of the complaints that the Opposition have made about the case—that the individual was given the keys to the kingdom—were, in fact, a reflection of when the person gained a protected status they gained access to the welfare system, they gained access to the health system and to the education system. Those things happened, not when the person was given residency but when they became a protected person.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Was it not a fact that it was the National Party that gave this man access to this country in a way where he could never be sent out of this country again?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I don't actually have responsibility for decisions made by the previous Government.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Did the National—[Interruption]

SPEAKER: Order! I won't take questions off because I think the Leader of the Opposition's probably had not a good week from me this week, but we'll just have a bit of quiet.

Hon MARK MITCHELL: Did the National Minister of Immigration grant residency to a recidivist drunk-driver?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I think the member wasn't listening to my earlier answer. The previous National Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse gave a person a three-year work visa that had renewal rights effectively in perpetuity.

Question No. 12—Pacific Peoples

12. ANAHILA KANONGATA'A-SUISUIKI (Labour) to the Minister for Pacific Peoples: What progress has been made regarding opportunities for Pacific people in the regions?

Hon AUPITO WILLIAM SIO (Minister for Pacific Peoples): Last week I announced that four providers had been selected by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to deliver the Tupu Aotearoa programme in the Hawke's Bay, Southland, and Otago regions. The regional initiative of Tupu Aotearoa is about supporting Pacific peoples aged 15 to 39 years into employment, education, and training pathways so that they can build confidence for their future, connect up with employers or educational providers, support themselves and their families, and reach their fullest potential in the regional communities they live in.

Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: Which providers have been selected to deliver services in the Hawke's Bay, Southland, and Otago regions?

Hon AUPITO WILLIAM SIO: This is more good news. In the Hawke's Bay region we have the SENZ Charitable Trust and the Kings Force Health Charitable Trust. For Otago we have the Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group and the Pacific Trust Otago; and, finally, the Pacific Trust Otago has been selected to deliver services in Southland.

Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki: What other regions in New Zealand are currently benefiting from the Tupu Aotearoa programme?

Hon AUPITO WILLIAM SIO: In July this year I announced that seven providers had been selected to deliver the Tupu Aotearoa programme, which covers the greater Waikato, Manawatu, Whanganui, and Bay of Plenty regions. The new providers I announced last week complete the list of providers that will deliver the regional Tupu Aotearoa programme. This regional initiative wouldn't have been possible without the support of Minister Shane Jones, "First Citizen of the Regions", and the "Father of the Provincial Growth Fund".

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