Parliament: Questions and Answers – Feb 21

Press Release – Hansard

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all of her Government’s policies?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.
Hon Paula Bennett: Can she verify that the first project to be funded under its regional development fund—reported to be announced this Friday—has gone through the right cost-benefit analysis and probity checks, given that no funding approval process has been published yet?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Obviously, we’ll be making those announcements on Friday. I know the member will be as eager as, particularly, members of our local government community are, and I can assure the member an appropriate process has been applied.
Hon Paula Bennett: In light of her answer to oral question No. 1 yesterday regarding whether her Ministers have appropriately declared any conflicts of interest with the Cabinet Office in relation to charter schools that “Certainly, on every occasion that it’s been raised with me—a specific case—I’ve been assured by Ministers that the meetings they’ve undertaken have been specific to their portfolio”, what have been those instances and what declarations were made?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The instances in which they’ve been raised have predominantly been in this House, and in those cases the Ministers have talked about the subject matter that pertained to those meetings or, in the case of Mr Davis, he spoke about representing the Northland region as an MP at the time of the meetings that he had.
Hon Paula Bennett: Is she then satisfied that all of her Ministers have appropriately declared all conflicts of interest with the Cabinet Office in relation to charter schools and that there have been no other conflicts that have not been declared?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Certainly, that is my expectation of Ministers—as it will have been for every past Government—because, of course, we are all obliged to follow the Cabinet Manual.
Hon Paula Bennett: Given the Cabinet Manual makes it clear that perceived conflicts of interest should be managed in the same way as actual conflicts, is she satisfied that all of her Ministers have declared any perceived conflicts of interest to the Cabinet Office in relation to charter schools?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Our Ministers in question have spoken openly about the meetings they’ve had, the basis on which those meetings have been had, and the content of those meetings. They’ve made it public here, let alone being required to declare that with the Cabinet Office. They’ve made it public here in this House, which is incredibly important as well. I will point out that these are also Ministers who have been accused of not engaging with those schools, and then, on the flip side, have been accused for then engaging with them.
Hon Paula Bennett: Has she checked in the last two weeks around conflicts of interest with the Cabinet Office about her Ministers?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: My expectation is that every conflict of interest is advised. The very question implies that I don’t have confidence in my Ministers, and I do.
Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It’s the third question in a row that I’ve asked that hasn’t been answered. I did—very precise there.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and I’ve been listening very carefully to the questions. I’ve been looking very carefully at the primary question and thinking very carefully about the answer to that and the second supplementary, and I think I’ve been quite liberal in allowing any of them. They have been addressed.
Hon Paula Bennett: So does that mean that you’ll allow me to ask the questions, but the Prime Minister doesn’t actually have to answer them?
Mr SPEAKER: What it does mean is that the Prime Minister has more latitude in addressing the questions if they’re at the margins of being in order or not and—in this case, I think—slightly outside. I have been kind to the member in letting her ask them, but I’m not going to be tight on the Prime Minister when she clearly did address them, even if she did not supply an answer that satisfies that member.
Hon Paula Bennett: Has the Prime Minister checked with the Cabinet Office about conflicts of interest about her Ministers in the last two weeks?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve said, I’ve seen no need because they have spoken openly about the status in which they have engaged with those schools. None of the Ministers that they’ve questioned on the other side of the House have any responsibility for charter schools.
Hon Paula Bennett: In light of paragraph 2.60 of the Cabinet Manual, which states, “Ministers should avoid situations in which they or those close to them gain remuneration or other advantage from information acquired only by reason of their office.”, why has she allowed her Associate Minister of Education to continue to meet with partnership schools in their electorate?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That is an accusation that I would defend my Minister against. He has no direct responsibility for charter schools. He is not involved in the negotiation of charter schools, and the documents that have been asked about here are public.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! There were four interjections from the Opposition after I called the Deputy Prime Minister. They lose two supplementaries. They’re lucky to only lose two.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister assure the country that she takes these questions of conflict of interest very seriously, seeing their origins come from a party that has conflicted offshore, onshore, in the boardroom, and outside?
Mr SPEAKER: No. No, that’s—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What’s wrong with that?
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member will resume his seat. The Deputy Prime Minister’s asked what’s wrong with it. It involves an area that has no responsibility. The questions from the Opposition are not the responsibility of the Prime Minister.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You took two supplementaries off us for some response that you observed from us the moment the Rt Hon Winston Peters stood up to ask a question of the Prime Minister.
Mr SPEAKER: No, when he started asking it.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I beg your pardon?
Mr SPEAKER: When he started asking it.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, I’m not sure that that was the timing, but I’m not disputing the decision you made. I’m simply asking you to accept that that type of reaction is likely when it’s easy to anticipate that the Deputy Prime Minister is going to offer some complete irrelevance, trying to distract from the situation the Prime Minister’s in.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I just ask the member to try and control himself and his team.
David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You know, and the Deputy Prime Minister well knows, that under Standing Order 120 it’s unparliamentary to make an improper reflection on the motives of a member, which he clearly did in that question. I ask that he be required to withdraw and apologise for that question.
Mr SPEAKER: And that’s a matter of judgment for me, and my judgment is he did not.
Hon Tim Macindoe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given that the barracking from the New Zealand First benches was louder when the Rt Hon Winston Peters asked his question, did you take that into account when you made your decision about the National Party’s supplementary allocation?
Mr SPEAKER: Well, as the member knows, my hearing is much better in my right ear than my left ear, and I heard a lot of barracking from the left, and saw at least four members barracking from my left. As I indicated, I thought the National Party were relatively lucky to lose only two supplementaries. And I did not hear the noise from my right.
David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I accept your ruling that Standing Order 120 was not engaged. However, I do take offence at the inference, and, on that basis, ask that the Deputy Prime Minister be required to withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! No. The member cannot take offence on behalf of others. And I do want to remind David Seymour that his points of order in the last couple of weeks—or this week and last week—have come very close to trifling with the chair. He’s suffered some punishment for it. I just hope that he could learn from his lessons.
David Seymour: I’m sorry, but I have to be clear that I’m taking personal offence, not on behalf of anybody else.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, to take personal offence, the member has to be mentioned, and he wasn’t.
Question No. 2—Finance
2. Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National) to the Minister of Finance: Does he have confidence in the policy advice he receives?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Acting Minister of Finance): I do have confidence in the advice provided by officials, although it will not surprise the member that I do not always agree with that advice.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Does he stand by his answer to a supplementary question to question 3 yesterday when he said, “The irony of that member raising it—because it’s the same advice that was provided to that party opposite when they introduced the two-year brightline test.”?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Extension of the previous Government’s brightline test was an election commitment and was not the result of policy advice since the Government was formed. I would note that Treasury did provide advice that the longer the period that the brightline test applies, the easier it will be for the Inland Revenue Department to collect revenue from property speculators. The longer the brightline test also means that it is easier for taxpayers to know whether a particular residential property sale is taxable. I would finally also note, and to the member’s point, that in 2010 Treasury provided advice on a brightline test for residential property with a minimum of a five-year period, as a base-broadening option for Budget 2010.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. A fascinating answer, but it didn’t address the question. My question was simply this: did he stand by his answer to yesterday’s question?
Mr SPEAKER: I certainly got that impression from the answer.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Was he aware that that advice expressly stated a three- to five-year brightline option had the greatest risk of capturing sales that were acquired without an intention of resale, and was emphatically not officials’ preferred option; and, if so, isn’t that the greater irony?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Treasury provided advice suggesting that a minimum of a five-year period was the best response.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Is he concerned that all the advice provided to him from officials—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I ask Ms Genter and Mr Bishop to stop their private conversation and let Mr Woodhouse ask the question.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Is he concerned that all the advice provided to him from officials indicates that KiwiBuild may simply substitute the effort from the existing construction pipeline at high fiscal cost to the Crown but only of marginal benefit to housing supply?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: We have outlined a policy to cope with the constraints on ramping up home building that we inherited from the previous Government. I’m confident that we can deliver on our promises. As to when the capital will be drawn down, when and how it’s going to be drawn down, I’d refer the member to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development if he wants that detail.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Why have both Treasury and the Inland Revenue Department advised the Government that policies such as the five-year brightline test, the healthy homes legislation, and proposed negative gearing will make life more expensive for renters at the very time when house prices, particularly in Auckland, are stable or declining?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I don’t think the member characterised that advice correctly, but I’ll state again that I do have confidence that officials strive to provide the best policy advice they can, given constraints such as time and the quality of data available, and that policy advice can evolve over time, as new and better information comes to light. However, I will not necessarily always agree with that advice.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Is he concerned about the negative advice piling up against the Government’s policies: the Inland Revenue Department saying a five-year brightline test is too long; the Reserve Bank saying KiwiBuild will add only a quarter of the houses promised; residential construction slowing; and Government policies leading to higher rents—or does he know better than his officials?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I disagree fundamentally with the member’s characterisation of the advice we’re receiving.
Question No. 3—Education
3. JAN TINETTI (Labour) to the Minister of Education: How does the Government propose to go about making changes to the education system?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): The broad and ambitious education portfolio work programme that I released today will champion a high-quality public education system for all New Zealanders. Education is a portfolio where success depends on broad engagement and shared ownership, and achieving successful change will not happen by dictating what ought to be done—at least, not most of the time. We will work in a way that respects and engages, and draws in educators, together with parents, whānau, iwi, employers, and the wider community.
Jan Tinetti: Why has he seen the need for such an extensive programme of change?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: New Zealand has an education system that we can be very proud of, but the way that we work and live continues to rapidly change, and therefore the demands that we have of our education system also need to change. Too many of the current educational policies are focused on the accountability and compliance mind-set rooted in the 20th century, not the current one.
Jan Tinetti: How does he intend to involve the wider public in these changes?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: A whole-of-portfolio education summit will be held in May. It will be the keystone national conversation about what New Zealanders want their education system to look like in the future. I want children, young people, adult learners, their parents, their families, their communities, teachers, researchers, and education leaders at all levels, including employers and industry, to participate in these events, and the summit will provide that opportunity.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: What consultation, if any, did he have with the tertiary sector about the Government’s decision to devote $2.8 billion entirely to student support?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Every one of them got a vote in the last election.
Question No. 4—Health
4. Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote) to the Minister of Health: Does he stand by his answer in the House yesterday to a question regarding a third medical school specialising in rural medicine that “I don’t think it’s in the public interest to give further information on that matter”?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): I appreciate the high level of interest in ensuring that we have the workforce required to deliver the health services New Zealanders expect and deserve. However, it is not in the public interest to explore, in this House, the proposals currently under consideration.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: What criteria does he use to determine whether a matter widely and extensively reported in the Waikato Times and through other national media outlets is in the public interest or not?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I use the usual considerations that Ministers apply.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: What possible issues of national security or individual privacy would cause him to answer a question on a third medical school by saying, “I don’t think it’s in the public interest to give further information on that matter.”?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I note that the member skipped over some of the usual reasons, such as privacy and commercial sensitivity, that occur in the list of reasons that a Minister may look to declare something not to be in the public interest. In fact, it is not required that a Minister declare exactly why, but I note that the member has carefully avoided those that are most likely.
Dr Shane Reti: Does he agree with Derek Wright, acting CEO of Waikato District Health Board, who told the Health Committee this morning that there is a lot of public interest in a rural medical school.
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: We have had an issue with producing enough GPs in this country, and particularly getting them in rural placements. That is an established fact. The previous Government failed miserably to address this in any way. We have pledged to increase the number of GP training places. We’re doing something about this issue, unlike the previous regime.
Dr Shane Reti: Does he deny telling Otago Medical School and Otago University that this Government will not support a third medical school?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Yes.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: OK, we’ll check that one.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Sorry—just under my breath. I withdraw and apologise, OK? Pre-emptively—all right?
Mr SPEAKER: Lucky.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Have his advisers pointed out to him that it’s not a good idea to dodge legitimate questions in the House by pulling the first thing out of your brain that comes—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. That question’s gone.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Could I rephrase it?
Mr SPEAKER: No. The member is a very senior member, a long-term frontbencher, and he should know better.
Question No. 5—Trade and Export Growth
5. Hon TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua) to the Minister for Trade and Export Growth: What additional market access gains has his Government achieved in the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister for Trade and Export Growth): I presume the member is referring to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which is a different agreement from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I know there’s been some debate about this matter, but I think we’d like to hear the answer to the question.
Hon DAVID PARKER: Thank you. I presume the member is referring to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a different agreement from the TPP and, for example, doesn’t include the USA. Changes to market access were not on the table, but during negotiations there were repeated attempts by larger countries to pare back our market access. We strongly rebuffed those attempts and emerged with market access intact, while making significant improvements in other areas. We’ve narrowed the ability of overseas corporates to sue the New Zealand Government in overseas tribunals. Perhaps the most significant changes that we have ensured, this Government and any future Government retain the right to restrict the sale of homes to overseas buyers.
Hon Todd McClay: Does he still agree with Andrew Little when he said, “The deal on dairy is hopeless … and the rest amounts to not much”; and, if not, why didn’t he try harder to improve market access for New Zealand exporters?
Hon DAVID PARKER: It is true that the prior Government were limited only in their excess in their efforts to improve dairy access, a view that I think is not just the view of Mr Little but is the view of Fonterra. Unfortunately, by the late time that we became involved in these negotiations, market access issues had already been closed. What we were successful in doing was doing a far better job than the prior Government in respect of investor-State dispute settlement clauses and protecting the right of New Zealanders to control who owns our homes.
Hon Todd McClay: Given that New Zealand market access remains exactly the same in the revised TPP as in the original agreement, does he agree with the Prime Minister when she said yesterday, “We pushed hard and made good gains—massive gains”?
Hon DAVID PARKER: The member is quite incorrect in that. For an obvious point of clarification, the new agreement doesn’t include the USA.
Hon Todd McClay: Does he agree with the Prime Minister—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder if you would allow Mr McClay to ask the question again, because, clearly, the answer given by David Parker was not the answer intended for that question. To simply say that market access has been expanded by the removal of the US is an absolute nonsense, and even he wouldn’t agree with that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: You’ll recall the meeting at Skycity where all 12 parties signed an agreement where the United States was included. That apparently has escaped Mr Brownlee’s knowledge.
Mr SPEAKER: I think we’ll just carry on with supplementaries.
Hon Todd McClay: Does he agree with the Prime Minister that the TPP has the highest level of environmental protection of any trade deal New Zealand has signed?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Yes. I acknowledge the former Minister’s solid efforts at advancing the CPTPP, but I also note his failure to address New Zealanders’ concerns about overseas buyers of homes, which he was happy to waive and sign away for ever—we’re not willing to do that.
Hon Todd McClay: Why then did he agree to water down environmental provisions in the revised TPP in Vietnam in November—in particular, in the trafficking of endangered species.
Hon DAVID PARKER: This agreement makes absolutely no derogation from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the other agreements in respect of trade in endangered species. In respect of other aspects of environment, it has the first enforceability mechanisms that we’ve ever had in a trade agreement—for example, against illegal fishing and subsidies of unreported fishing.
Hon Todd McClay: Does he agree with his co-protester and trade expert Professor Jane Kelsey that, “There is virtually nothing I can find that”—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. The member will ask a question that does not have extraneous matter in it, and I think the member knows what part of that did.
Hon Todd McClay: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Does the Minister agree with trade expert Professor Jane Kelsey that, and I quote, “There is virtually nothing I can find that is a significant concession. Basically it’s the same deal. Labour has, effectively, agreed to a text that it said initially it would not support the ratification of.”?
Mr SPEAKER: I’m going to let the Minister answer it, but I am going to say to the member that he should be careful about including matters that are the subject of debate or argument as a fact at the beginning of his question.
Hon DAVID PARKER: If it was the same agreement, there wouldn’t be a full treaty examination process nor new legislation nor a new national interest analysis. The member is being disingenuous.
Question No. 6—Finance
6. Dr DEBORAH RUSSELL (Labour—New Lynn) to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he seen on New Zealand’s Sovereign credit rating?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Acting Minister of Finance): Last week Fitch Ratings released its latest credit rating outlook for New Zealand, which reaffirmed New Zealand’s AA+ local currency and AA foreign currency long-term credit ratings, both with a stable outlook. Fitch said, “New Zealand’s ratings are underpinned by very high governance standards, a strong policy framework and institutions, and a commitment to prudent fiscal management.” Fitch was the third of the three major international credit ratings agencies to reaffirm their sovereign ratings for New Zealand following the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update from Treasury and the coalition Government’s Budget Policy Statement on 14 December.
Dr Deborah Russell: And what did Fitch say about the Government’s financial position?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Fitch noted that the Government’s “Adherence to prudent medium-term fiscal management continues despite the near-term expansionary fiscal policy.” It also said it is important that the Government is continuing to maintain fiscal discipline while focusing on a policy programme to address social issues. Under our Budget responsibility rules, the Government will reduce net core Crown debt to 20 percent of GDP within five years of taking office.
Dr Deborah Russell: And how did Fitch factor the Government’s policy programme into its review?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Fitch noted the Government’s policy programme to address social issues, including the families package, KiwiBuild, lifting the minimum wage, and restarting contributions to the Superannuation Fund. It said that, as a result of these initiatives and others, fiscal policy will turn more expansionary and bolster growth. Fitch said GDP growth is expected to remain solid over the next few years and above that of similarly rated countries.
Question No. 7—Agriculture
7. Hon NATHAN GUY (National—Ōtaki) to the Minister of Agriculture: Does he stand by all of his statements?
Hon MEKA WHAITIRI (Associate Minister of Agriculture) on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture: Yes, in the context in which they were given.
Barbara Kuriger: When he stated yesterday at question time that “at each occasion I’ve been to Cabinet to request funding for biosecurity, … my colleagues have looked very positively towards that.”, on how many occasions has he been to Cabinet asking for biosecurity funding?
Hon MEKA WHAITIRI: I’d like to remind the member that in December 2017, $9.3 million was approved for the ongoing Mycoplasma bovis response to address this issue. That’s the result of his approach to Cabinet.
Barbara Kuriger: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was not my question. My question was on how many occasions he has been to Cabinet.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the member got more than she asked for.
Hon Member: For once.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member has been informed of one, and how much was got. If there’d been other approaches the answer would be incomplete, wouldn’t it?
Barbara Kuriger: When he stated, “I have confidence in my colleagues to fund this system properly”, what funding, if any, other than that quoted by the Associate Minister then, had his colleagues agreed to fund to tackle the stink bug issue?
Hon MEKA WHAITIRI: As I said in the previous response, $9.3 million was secured. Can I remind the member that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is under pressure, and people are working hard, due to several large biosecurity responses. The Government has committed as part of the coalition agreement to ensure the biosecurity net is working well, and we thank our hard-working team for that.
Barbara Kuriger: Can he explain what his colleague the Rt Hon Winston Peters meant by “the confidence of the funding and the firepower to get on top of these biosecurity incursions”?
Hon MEKA WHAITIRI: Unfortunately, I have no ministerial responsibility for the Deputy Prime Minister’s statements.
Barbara Kuriger: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked if the colleague could explain what was meant.
Mr SPEAKER: Well—[Interruption] One of us stands up at a time. The member certainly got that question addressed. The answer could have easily been yes or no, and it was certainly addressed in more detail than that.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The whole issue of this latest incursion, the stink bug, is quite a problem, potentially a very big problem for the New Zealand economy. So when we got the answer first up that there’s only been one application to Cabinet for money that was about the current problem in the dairy industry, unrelated to the stink bug, and then no answers, really, about what might have been discussed by Cabinet around the prevention or the spread of the stink bug, I think it would be unreasonable to say that that question was addressed.
And a further point would be that when you’ve got the Deputy Prime Minister saying, “Look, there’s no problem with funding—plenty of money for all this sort of stuff.”, and we note that there is no money, because it would have been mentioned here today in the answers to the questions, it is not unreasonable to say, “Well, what do you mean when you say that there’s plenty of resource?”, while we note that there is actually none being applied particularly to this problem.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: In an endeavour to sort this matter out, I seek leave to be able to answer that question put by that member, because I was the one she was quoting. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member is effectively seeking leave for another member to ask the question again. It’s already been answered. The member might want to—if the National Party would like to re-ask the supplementary question and have the Rt Hon Mr Peters answer it, then I’m happy for that to be put to the House. Is there any—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: There’s a difficulty here—I shouldn’t be speaking now, obviously, because were in the middle of a point of order, but I’m trying to be helpful, because I know that the Deputy Prime Minister’s eager to answer this. But the problem here, of course, is that we are in short supply of supplementaries today because—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: All right. OK. First of all, I’ll deal with the member’s point of order. The first is that if members expect to have detailed responses in very specific areas, then general primary questions don’t help that. I think it’s fair to say that it is pretty hard for an Associate Minister outside Cabinet to be across all of the details of a particular Minister’s responsibility without notice. So in this case—does Nathan Guy feel all right?
Hon Nathan Guy: Yep.
Mr SPEAKER: Good. The next point that I would make is that people need to be very careful when they ask supplementary questions with regard to other Minister’s statements, asking whether they could explain, or whatever, because it’s a very general question, and, as I indicated earlier, it could have been answered by the member saying yes or no. It wasn’t asking the Minister to give the explanation; it was just a request as to whether they could or not, so it’s a matter of getting the wording for that right as well.
Now, having said that, what I’m going to do is I’m going to put leave to the House for Barbara Kuriger to be granted an extra supplementary in order to ask a supplementary to the primary question along the lines she did earlier, to be answered by the Rt Hon Winston Peters. Is there any objection to that? There appears to be none.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is this: this was a question set down for the Minister of Agriculture. There are two major incursions into New Zealand at the moment that it would be reasonable for the public to expect the Minister of Agriculture knew a great deal about. One of them has been well discussed in the House in days prior to yesterday, and the other one was brought up yesterday. I don’t think it needs to be further expanded when it comes to a question that you have made very clear when those questions are asked about Ministers standing by their statements—they must relate to statements made as a Minister. So it is not unreasonable for us to expect that the Minister of Agriculture would be all over the virus affecting the dairy herd, and the stink bug, which could have a huge detrimental effect on the New Zealand economy, and to have got the sort of answers that we’ve got today is unacceptable. To turn round and say now we have one extra supplementary for the Deputy Prime Minister to explain why he said there’d be lots of money available when there isn’t, I think is a little unreasonable.
Mr SPEAKER: OK, well, that’s very good of the member, but I think to characterise the statements of the Minister of Agriculture, since he’s been Minister, as only being on two subjects is unreasonable. I have heard him make lots of comments, some of them right at the margin of his responsibility.
Barbara Kuriger: To the Deputy Prime Minister: Yesterday in question time when he said, “the confidence of the funding and the firepower to get on top of these biosecurity incursions” when he asked his supplementary question to the Minister, I want to know: how many times has he been made aware of papers that have been brought to Cabinet on this issue?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Since my colleague has become responsible for biosecurity issues, he has thought of nothing else, knowing full well that we inherited a regime of 171 biosecurity incursions. As a consequence, I can ensure that member that all my Cabinet colleagues and myself are witness to the level of commitment that he is making to ensure he has the funding come the next Budget.
Barbara Kuriger: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was: how many times has the Deputy Prime Minister had Cabinet—
Mr SPEAKER: I sought leave on the member’s behalf to ask a question similar, and that one was “could the Minister explain the attitude or the statements of the Deputy Prime Minister?”, and that has certainly been addressed.
Question No. 8—Education
8. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Associate Minister of Education: What recent discussions or meetings has he had to progress opportunities for young Māori in our education system?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Associate Minister of Education): I met with officials as recently as yesterday to talk about our Māori education work programme, which, for the first time in nine years, is focused on ensuring young Māori succeed as Māori.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Did he attend a meeting to help progress young Māori with the Minister of Education and representatives from He Puna Mārama Trust at Waitangi?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No.
Hon Nikki Kaye: When he said, on 13 February, that “I’ve been working closely with He Puna Mārama Trust, the CEO and the senior manager there and we’re very confident that together we’ll make sure this transition happens very easily with very little fuss.”, can he confirm that he’s had several conversations with the trust, including helping them out with fundraisers?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: I can confirm that I have had a conversation around the publicly available information that the Minister of Education proactively released.
Hon Nikki Kaye: In his capacity as Associate Minister of Education, has he had any discussions or made any declarations with the Cabinet Office about potential perceived conflicts of interest?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No, because there are no conflicts of interest. I have no delegation—no ministerial responsibility—for charter schools. As the local MP, I am responsible for ensuring that constituents in the Tai Tokerau, who are bombarded with misinformation from the Opposition, are provided publicly available information to dispel the mistruths.
Hon Nikki Kaye: If there is proof that, in his discussions about young Māori, he either engaged in negotiations around partnership schools or provided perceived preferential treatment, will he resign as Minister?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: The member needs to provide evidence. Put up or shut up.
Question No. 9—Regional Economic Development
9. CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: What progress has been made on the provincial growth fund?
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): The rate of progress is best described as blistering. The Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund is a cornerstone policy of the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First, and more will be announced in Gisborne when Poverty Bay feels the love on Friday.
Clayton Mitchell: How will the provincial growth fund benefit New Zealand provinces?
Hon SHANE JONES: For many of the provinces moving from a historically comatose state under the last regime, they—in particular, Tai Tokerau, Tai Rāwhiti, Manawatū, Whanganui, and West Coast—will be early recipients of well-thought-out, well-tested project financing options to address historical infrastructure neglect and a host of other projects that have been gathering mould on the shelves over the last nine years.
Clayton Mitchell: Will the fund be available to all provinces?
Hon SHANE JONES: Whilst there are some surge areas—such as the west, the east, the south, and the north—Christchurch, Auckland, and Wellington, at this stage, are not conceived to be target provinces. But every other province is more than welcome to make an application, and they will find a great deal, in contrast to the last nine years: friendliness and finance.
Question No. 10—Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media
MELISSA LEE (National): I seek leave for this question to be held over until the next question time when the Hon Clare Curran is available to answer this question.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that? Yes, there is.
10. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media: Does she believe it is important for State-owned broadcasters to be independent?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House) on behalf of the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media: Yes.
Melissa Lee: Does she agree that maintaining the independence of Radio New Zealand includes full disclosure of any meetings the Minister has with RNZ’s head of content?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, and the Minister has corrected the written answer that she gave, which was referred to in the questions yesterday.
Melissa Lee: If she does believe it is important for State-owned enterprises to be seen as independent, why did she have secret breakfasts with the RNZ head of news that she did not include in her answer to written question No. 19129 last year, when it was asked?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: If it was a secret breakfast, it wouldn’t have been in a particular cafe in Wellington that is known to be frequented by half of the parliamentary press gallery and lobbyists. It may be quite a revelation to the members opposite that, occasionally, Ministers meet with journalists and those involved in the news media.
Melissa Lee: Did she discuss the need to correct her answer to written question No. 19129 with the Prime Minister prior to her correcting the answer this morning, after wrongly answering the question yesterday?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I’m not sure whether she discussed it with the Prime Minister; I do know she discussed it with the Leader of the House.
Question No. 11—Employment
11. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Employment: Does he still stand by all of his statements?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): on behalf of the Minister of Employment: Yes, in the context in which they were made.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he stand by his statement in the Manukau Courier that there is a “crisis” in New Zealand employment?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: How many jobs has the New Zealand economy created in the past year while it has been in crisis?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I don’t have those figures with me.
Question No. 12—Trade and Export Growth
12. RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga) to the Minister for Trade and Export Growth: What announcements has the Government made regarding trade and export growth?
Mr SPEAKER: Just before the member answers, National just lost two supplementaries, thanks to Nathan Guy, from tomorrow.
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister for Trade and Export Growth): Today the Government published the full text and the national interest analysis for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (CPTPPA). It will deliver significant benefits for New Zealand workers and exporters, particularly in meat, kiwifruit, and wine sectors, as well as small business. It’s conservatively estimated the agreement will boost New Zealand’s real GDP by between $1.2 billion and $4 billion annually, whereas if New Zealand does not sign up, we’ll suffer a net GDP loss. The national interest analysis finds there will be a net positive outcome for employment and no negative impact on social regulation, health, human rights, the environment, or the Treaty of Waitangi. This is a progressive agreement that’s good for New Zealand, and I thank our trade negotiators who have worked so hard on the agreement, as well as the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for their leadership in critical aspects closing the deal.
Rino Tirikatene: Why did the Government publish the national interest analysis before the CPTPPA is signed?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Governments are not required to publish the national interest analysis until after a trade agreement is signed and tabled in Parliament, but this Government believes it’s critical the public are informed about the impact of the agreement as soon as possible. It’s been less than a month since the negotiations were concluded, and officials have worked day and night to get the national interest analysis completed and out to the public. There will be a rigorous treaty examination process before we ratify the agreement, with multiple opportunities for the public to have their say, as well as debates within this House.
Rino Tirikatene: What significant improvements has the Government made in the CPTPPA compared to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPPA)?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Under the CPTPPA, Pharmac is fully protected. We’ve narrowed the ability of overseas corporates to sue the Government in overseas tribunals. We would have liked to remove investor-State dispute settlement clauses completely but we couldn’t, given the late stage in which we took over negotiations.
Hon Steven Joyce: Did nothing. Come on, Sir Humphrey, sit down! Sit down, Sir Humphrey!
Hon DAVID PARKER: Perhaps the most significant change is that we have ensured—
Hon Steven Joyce: You’re not convincing anybody. Come on, Sir Humphrey, sit down!
Hon DAVID PARKER: —that New Zealanders have the ability to control the sale of their homes to overseas buyers now, Mr Joyce—
Hon Steven Joyce: Sit down, Sir Humphrey! Sit down!
Hon DAVID PARKER: —and into the future, and compared with where that Government was leading us, we have secured the outcome for New Zealand.
David Seymour: Supplementary.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Before that member has a supplementary—and I will give him one—I do want to say to the Hon Steven Joyce that this is an important issue, and to suggest that Ministers don’t have the right to answer and to address them in the terms that he did is unparliamentary and it’s not becoming of a member as senior as he is. [Steven Joyce rises] No, I’m not going to entertain discussion on that. David Seymour.
David Seymour: Can the Minister confirm that the so-called CPTPPA is simply the exact original text of the TPPA plus a four-page cover letter?
Hon DAVID PARKER: There are 22 changes from the TPPA and we have protected the right of New Zealand to control who owns our homes. We pressed strongly for these changes that were made because they’re important to New Zealanders. If the member cannot comprehend the difference between the two agreements and why we sought to gain the changes that we’ve made, particularly around homeownership, it demonstrates that he’s really out of touch with what New Zealanders want.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister, is it not a fact that since the substantial changes have been made, the Americans who were opposed to the original deal, the TPPA, are now expressing interest in coming back in; and is that not some evidence of a substantial change that was concerning both their country and our country on issues of sovereignty?
Hon DAVID PARKER: I think that the Deputy Prime Minister has hit the nub of the issue. New Zealanders and Americans were concerned that the prior form of the agreement unduly encroached on the ability of future Governments to do what was in the interests of their people. I think the most obvious example of that was that as the deal was proceeding, New Zealand was going to lose the right to control who buys New Zealand homes. We’ve fixed that.
David Seymour: Is it not the case that because the original TPPA text is all still completely intact under the CPTPPA, if the Americans were to try and re-enter the deal, as the Deputy Prime Minister has hinted, they would be able to reactivate perhaps all of the conditions that were struck out?
Hon DAVID PARKER: No, the member is completely wrong.
Ian McKelvie: I seek leave to table evidence that we are neither comatose nor Māori in the Manawatū.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I think the member might want to be a little bit more specific in the form of the documentation he proposes to table. I presume he’s not going to sit on the Table.
Ian McKelvie: I was going to table myself, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: The experience from a very long time ago, is that that’s not helpful. Does the member want a point of order, or is he just standing up?
Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I just confirm that the term “Sir Humphrey” is now an unparliamentary term?
Mr SPEAKER: I think it’s a matter of context and during question time when a serious matter is being addressed, continued interjection, and the interjection—it was partly the term used but more the suggestion, I think made five times by the member, that the Minister should sit down is an indication that he is not showing due respect to a Minister answering a question.

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