Parliament: Questions and Answers – March 20

Press Release – Hansard



Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her statements?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes, in the context in which they were given.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she stand by her statement that “we have set a high bar” for spending taxpayers’ money; and, if so, did the fact that eight Ministers flew to the Chathams to open a wharf last week meet that bar?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The Hon Chris Finlayson would be very disappointed to see you relegating the importance of the Chatham Islands. I think you’ll find it makes more sense to have a group of Ministers undertaking work at the same time. Each of them undertook their own work while they were there for the opening of the wharf, and so it was a productive day for each of them.
Hon Simon Bridges: Can she confirm that all eight Ministers voted against the new wharf when National put aside funding for it in the Budget last year?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I think you’ll find they voted against giving $400 million to the top 10 percent of earners and would stand by that.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she consider as meeting her high bar the defence Minister’s use of Air Force helicopters as a taxi service to take him from Masterson to Waiōuru—a trip that would take just three hours by car?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Every single one of those trips was a part of the work that he does as defence Minister, and, in fact, that particular trip, as I understand, had additional aerial work attached to it, as well. And I’d point out that he’s never done anything like take it to a golf game, for instance.
Hon Simon Bridges: Well, has she given the advice to Jenny Salesa that one way to reduce her spending on Crown cars is simply to ring “Ron Air” and get them to pick her up from her place?
Mr SPEAKER: That was a question that’s been used and ruled out.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she stand by the statement that the Government is committed to a planting programme of “100 million trees a year”, and, if so, how many trees have been planted to date, given that 41 million would have needed to be planted already—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I want to remind the Leader of the Opposition that he asks a question. When he asks a question he doesn’t add on extra “givens”, or anything like that.
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would hope the member would know enough to know that planting in the middle of summer is not a good idea.
Hon Simon Bridges: Given her statements about her ambitious housing programme, how many KiwiBuild houses have been built, almost 6 months after taking office?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Actually, I have to say one of the priorities has been preparing for winter, and some of that is not going to be delivered by KiwiBuild, because we won’t be able to build homes in time for that cold season. So that’s our immediate focus, and we’ll have more to say on that soon. When it comes to KiwiBuild, we’ll have announcements that are imminent.
Hon Simon Bridges: Given her statements, how many KiwiBuild houses have been built, almost 6 months after taking office?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve just said, KiwiBuild obviously takes time to ramp up. We’ve got a goal of 16,000 within the first three years, but the one thing I’m committed to is making sure we don’t have people sleeping on the streets in winter, unlike under that Government.
Hon Simon Bridges: So when will the first KiwiBuild house that wasn’t already planned and funded by the previous Government actually get built?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I said, announcements on that will be imminent.
Hon Simon Bridges: With all the statements that the Prime Minister’s made on Russia last week, why did her Government not feel able to take a definitive statement sheeting home responsibility for the Salisbury nerve agent attack to the Kremlin until 41 hours after Theresa May addressed the Commons, 40 hours after the United States and Canada issued statements holding Vladimir Putin’s Government responsible, and 26 hours after the Australian Government made its statement?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That is because we were actually first—before. We put out a statement on Tuesday, before the UK produced further information. Every partner made a subsequent statement, so we put out a subsequent statement too, and Theresa May has since then thanked this Government for our support on this issue.
Question No. 2—Finance
2. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: Is he committed to an operating allowance in Budget 2018 of $2.6 billion, and does he agree with the Prime Minister’s answer on The Nation from the weekend when asked whether the Government has extra money to reduce child poverty, “We don’t”?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): In answer to the first part of the question, final decisions on the Budget are still to be taken, but I can confirm the member will know the exact operating allowance in just 58 more sleeps. In answer to the second part of the question, I agree with the totality of what the Prime Minister said, not the paraphrased interpretation of the member.
Hon Amy Adams: So how does the Government plan to achieve further progress on reducing child poverty over the forecast period, given the Prime Minister’s weekend comments that no further funding will be available this term?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: That is not what the Prime Minister said. What the Prime Minister said was that this Government has put $5.5 billion into a Families Package that will lift 384,000 families’ incomes by an average of $75 a week, twice—twice—the level that the previous Government was going to do.
Hon Amy Adams: If the Government already doesn’t have any money left for its so-called centrepiece policy, how will he fund upcoming fiscal pressures, such as promised teachers’ pay rises, nurses’ pay rises, or even the promised 1,800 extra police officers?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: This Budget contains $5.5 billion for a Families Package that will deliver to low and middle income families. What this Government is confident of is that with the operating allowance that was in the half yearly update, of $2.6 billion, that’s actually more than the $1.8 billion operating allowance the previous Government had put aside. So if she’s concerned now about teacher pay, why wasn’t she concerned about it when she was in Government?
Hon Amy Adams: How many more of the 51 new spending commitments contained in the Speech from the Throne is there now no money left to fund?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As I’ve said to the member, she’ll see the detail in the Budget, but this Government has an ambitious programme, and those 51 commitments represent us making up for nine years of neglect from that previous Government.
Hon Amy Adams: Can the public expect the Minister to fund the 51 new spending commitments contained in the Speech from the Throne by increasing taxes, by increasing debt, by reneging on Labour’s pre-election promises, or all of the above?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: It’s sad to see a member who was once ambitious for New Zealand rejecting the programme that’s in the Speech from the Throne. You know what we will be doing? We will be growing the economy, we will be increasing the prosperity of New Zealanders, and we’ll be making sure they get a fair share, unlike the previous Government.
Question No. 3—Finance
3. WILLOW-JEAN PRIME (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: How much is the coalition Government planning to invest in new capital over the next five years according to the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update, and how does that compare to the previous Government’s plans?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): The Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU) shows that the Government plans to invest $42 billion in new capital over the next five years, compared to the $30.5 billion that the previous Government had planned to spend. Of course, we will continue to keep that $42 billion under review as we go through the Budget process.
Willow-Jean Prime: What reaction has he seen to his comment on 9 March that the $42 billion might not be enough to fix the infrastructure funding deficit the Government inherited?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Well, for the most part, there is a shared understanding, particularly in Auckland, of the need to find more creative solutions to the funding of infrastructure. This Government is actively engaged in continuing and building on the work of the previous Government on measures such as value capture benefits. I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his support for those ideas.
Willow-Jean Prime: What expert advice has the Government received on this work?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Well, we are working with Treasury and other Government agencies to develop models that facilitate the use of private capital and ensure that those who directly benefit from ratepayer and taxpayer funded infrastructure projects make a contribution. I can confirm that I will not be taking the advice of one self-proclaimed expert, who said that these ideas, that are supported by the Leader of the Opposition, amount to tax, tax, tax—or another self-proclaimed expert who said that they were about the politics of envy. In this instance, I prefer to listen to the wisdom of Simon Bridges rather than the knee-jerk reactions of Judith Collins and Amy Adams.
Hon Amy Adams: Can the Minister confirm that more than half the additional infrastructure funding he has outlined between what was in the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update under the previous Government and HYEFU under this Government is in fact funded by increasing the debt burden on future generations?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As I’ve said many times in this House, we have a slower debt repayment track because we believe the time has come to invest in our housing and build up our infrastructure. I have said also in this House before that that party on the other side cannot lecture anybody about the growth in debt, given the $50 billion they added to debt while they were in Government.
Question No. 4—Foreign Affairs
4. Hon TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Does he stand by all his statements?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Yes, in their context.
Hon Todd McClay: Does he stand by his statement on The Nation that there is no evidence Russia was involved in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 and that there was no Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2016?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Both those statements are palpably and demonstrably false, and I’m asking the member to read the transcript with accuracy.
Hon Todd McClay: Why has he not joined almost every other Western Foreign Minister and publicly criticised Russia for their involvement in the nerve agent attack on British soil?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: We have done that on countless occasions, so much that the Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, contacted us to thank us for our support—and other members of her Cabinet as well.
Hon Todd McClay: I seek leave to table a statement from Friday of last week that has only quotations from the Prime Minister in it, not the Minister of Foreign Affairs, criticising the Russian Government.
Mr SPEAKER: Is the member seriously suggesting that he wants to table a Government press statement?
Hon Todd McClay: Speaking to the point of order—
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member will—[Interruption] No, the member will resume his seat. The member knows that that’s out of order and unacceptable to the House, and if he tries it again I’ll regard him as trifling with the Chair.
Hon Todd McClay: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a new point of order. I seek leave to table a statement that’s on the Government website that has been changed since the Prime Minister released it on Friday of last week.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The difficulty with the proposition being put by Mr McClay is that the press statement was a joint press statement between the Prime Minister and myself.
Mr SPEAKER: Any further supplementaries?
Hon Todd McClay: Yes. [Interruption] I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You’re not putting leave.
Mr SPEAKER: No, it was turned down.
Hon Todd McClay: It was turned down—thank you. Does he stand by his public statement that Russia and Australia are the same?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Ha, ha! Again, words do matter, and, again, if that member reads the transcript and strives to at least get to form 6 English language, he’ll understand I said nothing of the sort. What I said was that we have differences, and a range of differences, with countries all over the world, and if we would take them to the extremes we would not be trading with anyone and our people would be so much poorer off. All I ask to be, by others, is to be quoted properly.
Hon Todd McClay: Can he explain to the House his preoccupation—in fact, his infatuation—with Russia?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member—
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I’m happy to do that.
Mr SPEAKER: No, the question is out of order.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I just say, Mr Speaker—
Mr SPEAKER: No—well, is it a point of order?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It is a point of order. Well, if you want me to protest about those statements, I want to just say this: on March 27 last year—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Sorry, I’m going to interrupt the Deputy Prime Minister for a minute to remind members on my left that points of order are heard in silence. If they think that they aren’t points of order, when they are completed they can say so, but not during them.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: When this was said last year in March: “Do we want to do a deal with Russia? Yes, we do.”, or “National will push for greater access for Kiwi business to Russia”—that’s August 22, just before the election. That is hardly being in love with any country but trade itself.
Hon Todd McClay: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I’ve got a point of order to rule on first, I think, and I am going to rule that there’s not a point of order there. The member might have put—
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Point of clarification.
Mr SPEAKER: There’s no such thing, as the right honourable gentleman knows well.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Ms Bennett, would you like to stand up and say that out loud?
Hon Paula Bennett: If you’d like me to, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I’m just trying to make clear whether the member has a point she’d like to make or whether she’ll just, sort of, contribute by interjection in front of the shadow Leader of the House.
Hon Paula Bennett: My point would have been that we’re shut down pretty quickly if you think it’s not a point of order—in fact, very quickly—on this side of this House.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I thank the member for her advice, and if she’d been quieter to start with, it would have been shut down earlier. The Rt—the Hon Gerry Brownlee. Sorry, I promoted the member.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: That’s all right. Well, it’s an unusual thing for me these days, so I thank you. Now, look, you’ve just ruled out the question by the Hon Todd McClay and said that it was out of order, but how can it be out of order to ask a Minister of Foreign Affairs about the emphasis that they put on a particular nation—
Mr SPEAKER: The member—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: You haven’t heard—
Mr SPEAKER: No. Well—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, this is a perfect example of what Ms Bennett was just talking about; the deputy leader. It would seem to me that when it is a subject that is particularly written into a coalition agreement that has a certain amount of obligation on the collective Government to deal with this country, then it’s not unreasonable to question the Minister of Foreign Affairs about, one, lack of statements and, two, what appears to be quite a preoccupation in changing New Zealand’s position with regard to Russia.
Mr SPEAKER: I’m going to remind the member of Standing Order 380 and suggest that he have a good look at it and I—[Interruption] The National Party will have an additional two supplementaries now because of the interjection from my right. But I think Mr Brownlee knows as well as Mr McClay that that supplementary question was out of order. Are there any further supplementaries, Mr McClay? Right.
Question No. 5—Regional Economic Development
5. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he stand by his Cabinet paper statement that “Regional economic development is an essential component of the Government’s economic strategy”?
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): Yes.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: What are the other components of the Government’s economic strategy?
Hon SHANE JONES: The move slightly to the left, so I can see him. The other components of our economic strategy are human capital development, unleashing the potential of Māori resources, and also going into the areas where the last Government squandered opportunities by stacking everything up with red tape. In relation to the provincial growth fund contributing to the economic narrative, we are actually going to fund infrastructure. I’ve started to do it in the north, unlike the “10” Bridges.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does the Minister think ceasing all oil and gas exploration would help New Zealand’s regions?
Hon SHANE JONES: The extractive sector is an important part of the provincial economy. However, it along with a whole a host of other industries are about to enter the transition phase as this Government leads New Zealand towards a 2050 position of carbon neutrality.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he still hold the view that parts of Northland are commercially barren, not unlike the minds that conceived the rhetoric opposed to further oil and gas exploration?
Hon SHANE JONES: Yes, to the extent that I understand that came from Greenpeace, I absolutely stand by my words.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Why doesn’t he upbraid the Prime Minister with the same vigour he upbraids Air New Zealand, given that her actions will hurt the regions far more?
Mr SPEAKER: No—no, no.
Jami-Lee Ross: Why not?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister for Regional Development has no responsibility whatsoever for the Prime Minister’s statements.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That wasn’t the question. The question was “Why is it that the Minister can be so free with his criticisms of anybody else around this particular issue when he hasn’t conveyed that message also to the Prime Minister?” That’s quite a reasonable question.
Mr SPEAKER: And if it had been phrased that way, it might have got through.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, could he have another go?
Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Speaker’s rulings 155/3: “Members are able to ask Ministers whether they agree with the views of other people, as long as that view that is being expressed is about a matter that is very much the Minister’s responsibility.” So I’d ask respectfully how your ruling fits with that Speaker’s ruling.
Mr SPEAKER: Because the tone of the question, the wording of the question, and the area of responsibility—I think it failed on three counts. Paul Goldsmith, do you have any further supplementaries?
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Yep. [Interruption] I’ll work my tune. A different question—if he were to visit the region of Taranaki, would he repeat what he said in 2013, “I’m keen to defang the misrepresentations that are abounding that somehow the oil and gas sector has disappeared from our purview. Nothing could be further from the truth, and if my visit provides the opportunity to reinforce the centrality of jobs, the importance of industry, and the need for a future Labour-led Government to assuage whatever anxieties might be in the minds of employers or future investors, then I am up for the task.”?
Hon SHANE JONES: I think it’s fair to say that political rhetoric isn’t static.
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern: Can the Minister confirm that this Government has never proposed retrospective decisions and, therefore, won’t impact on the current oil and gas industry jobs that exist today, and that he has seen the statements by the Leader of the Opposition on 3 March stating that New Zealand needed to transition away from fossil fuels?
Hon Paula Bennett: That was a bad tone.
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Yes, I thoroughly agree with everything the Prime Minister has said—
Hon Simon Bridges: Well, you’re allowed to now.
Hon SHANE JONES: —and I myself was quite—
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The reality is that we’ve heard a flowering, an opening of ideas from the new Opposition leader about the transition economy.
Mr SPEAKER: Just to make it clear, because I had been asked by a senior member of the Opposition to identify people who result in the Opposition losing questions: two of those were Dr Nick Smith and one was someone unidentified but down that way as well. So there were three. There was minus three out of that.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think the taxpayer investment he is sprinkling around the regions will make up for the reduced foreign investment likely to result from his Government’s proposed overseas investment rules?
Hon SHANE JONES: The final shape and form of the overseas investment legislation lies still with the House. The small interventions to date that have been made are a monstrous improvement on the barren promises of the last Minister in the north for 10 bridges. In fact, everywhere I go, National former politicians are congratulating me.
Question No. 6—Regional Economic Development
6. MARK PATTERSON (NZ First) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Can he confirm that projects in Northland only receive Provincial Growth Fund support because he lives in Kerikeri?
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): A scurrilous and false allegation. As I recall the term, 4.5 kilometres was used. As should be evident to anyone, I have walked that distance on a regular basis. Kororāreka, Paihia, and Ōpua are well beyond 4.5 kilometres and it may only be as far as that Epsom-based member can see, but the provinces are far more lively than that.
Mark Patterson: Could he elaborate on why these projects were so desperately needed?
Hon SHANE JONES: The projects that have been identified by the Mayor of the Far North District Council, Mr John Carter, and the recently appointed director, Mr Murray McCully, are of high quality—maybe in contrast to how we may view those personalities in another world, but they came through a regional economic policy development process, and not wanting to be capricious to the people of the north, I have supported them and that has improved my popularity.
Mark Patterson: Will the Minister have to move to other parts of the country before they can feel the benefits of provincial growth fund funding?
Hon SHANE JONES: I hope to move with more efficiency after my observations about Air New Zealand, but more on that at a later stage. I have recently come through the Murihiku, the Southland area, and there’s a sense that the regional development fund will do great things there. The reality, however, is that they’ve heard a great deal of rhetoric and promise, but I am a man of my word and I’ll deliver to the deep south.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Can he understand why—given he rolls around the country climbing in and out of helicopters, handing out cash like Pablo Escobar, and emphasising his local region particularly—people are asking questions?
Mr SPEAKER: No. I mean, I think, the member—do I need to explain to the member?
Hon Members: Yeah.
Mr SPEAKER: Right. We’ll start with irony, expressions of opinion—both of which are ruled out as part of questions, both of which were involved in that question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I wonder whether the Minister could tell us exactly how he has been received around the country, and particularly up north, by the people up there with respect to projects for which they have waited sometimes three decades?
Hon SHANE JONES: Across the cold concrete of the Paihia wharf, a literal red carpet was rolled out by John Carter.
Question No. 7—Energy and Resources
7. JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she stand by her reported comments in Energy News on 13 March this year?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Energy and Resources): Yes, in the context in which they were given.
Jonathan Young: Does she stand by her reported comments that “The Government understands the need to maintain peaking capacity in the power market as it works towards its environmental goals.”—capacity which is currently delivered through gas-fired generation?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: Yes, I do, and that is why this Government has made one of the first two tasks of the interim independent climate commission the job to chart our path to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035. We understand very clearly that there are three fundamental parts of our energy system that we need to get right: security of supply, affordability, and sustainability. That is why we will be doing the work to put in place carbon budgets so that we have a clear transition plan to 2035.
Jonathan Young: Is she expecting households to carry the extra costs of overbuilding generation in order to meet her straight 100 percent renewable goal by 2035—costs which potentially will double the power prices in New Zealand, as has been the case in Germany?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: One of the things that this Government is absolutely committed to is making sure that we have an affordable electricity system for New Zealanders. One of the key areas for the review into electricity pricing is around what future technology means for electricity pricing for consumers. It’s also one of the reasons why this Government wasn’t prepared to sit around saying, like the Leader of the Opposition did, that we need to transition to a fossil-free future but not put in place a transition plan. We will not let New Zealanders be left high and dry by not adequately planning for our future, and that is what this Government is committed to doing.
Jonathan Young: If New Zealand bans gas generation backup, as she has foreshadowed and as the Prime Minister foreshadowed yesterday, will New Zealand experience power blackouts, as South Australia have faced, when the sun isn’t shining, when the lakes are low, and when the wind doesn’t blow?
Hon David Parker: You sound like Gerry Brownlee.
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I reject the premise of that question. The Prime Minister made very clear yesterday that we are currently doing some work that is required around the future, and what the member asks simply isn’t what was said yesterday.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call James Shaw, I want to remind the Minister for the Environment that he should not insult Mr Brownlee by describing me in that way.
Hon James Shaw: Does the New Zealand energy market operate in the same way as Germany and South Australia?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: A very good question. No, it does not, and one of the things that we are utterly committed to doing in the review of electricity pricing is looking to the future—something the previous Government did not do—and considering how coming technologies are going to impact on pricing.
Question No. 8—Climate Change
8. TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister for Climate Change: Does he agree with the Prime Minister when she said that the world has already made the decision to transition out of fossil fuels?
Hon JAMES SHAW (Minister for Climate Change): Yes, I do—strongly. When the previous Minister for Climate Change Issues, the Hon Paula Bennett, signed the Paris Agreement on behalf of the National Government, she committed New Zealand, alongside 195 other countries around the world, to achieving a net zero emissions economy in the second half of this century. It is technically not possible to achieve a net zero emissions economy and at the same time continue the use of fossil fuels. Therefore, every country in the world has already made the decision to transition away from fossil fuels, and I thank the former National Government for their part in that decision.
Todd Muller: Does he stand by his statement of 18 December that “the transition will take decades.”; if so, does he see natural gas as a critical transition fuel for developing countries?
Hon JAMES SHAW: We have committed ourselves in New Zealand to a net zero emissions economy by the year 2050, so by definition that transition will be three decades to get to that point. We are asking the interim climate committee to take a good look at the energy system and what we need to do to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation by the year 2035. We are also doing other pieces of work to look at the use of fossil fuels—for example, in industrial heat processing and in our transport energy mix as well.
Todd Muller: Does he support exporting our natural gas resources to assist other fossil fuel economies to move away from coal?
Hon JAMES SHAW: Ultimately, 195 countries have made that commitment to hit net zero emissions in the second half of this century, and so every country, ultimately, is committed to phasing out the use of fossil fuels. More than 50 countries, from Sweden to Ethiopia, including New Zealand—several US states even—have signed up to the Powering Past Coal Alliance. France is not granting any new permits and has set an end date for oil and gas exploration when current permits expire.
Todd Muller: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I specifically asked: “Does he support exporting our natural gas resources to assist other economies to move away from coal?”, and I got a—
Mr SPEAKER: It is fair to say that the question wasn’t properly addressed. The Hon James Shaw, have another go.
Hon JAMES SHAW: Ultimately, that market is going to dry up because other countries are as committed as New Zealand—195 other countries are as committed to phasing out the use of fossil fuels as New Zealand is—
Brett Hudson: What a load of rubbish.
Hon JAMES SHAW: Well, they have signed up to the Paris Agreement, and that does say that they want to get to net zero, and, in fact, other countries are moving far more rapidly than New Zealand on this front. So if investors are looking for a kind of guaranteed bet—if they’re actually looking for predictability about where to invest their money over the course of the coming decades—I would recommend that they put their money into renewable energy, which needs to grow as a sector and which has, I would say, a very long and very happy future ahead of it.
Todd Muller: Should New Zealand end oil and gas exploration?
Hon JAMES SHAW: I have said on a number of occasions that it is inconsistent with a net zero emissions economy target to look for new oil and gas when your current reserves will actually get you to that point. So my advice has always been that we need to phase it out as fast as possible. Ultimately, it is a matter for the Minister of Energy and Resources to decide on what happens between now and then, in terms of new exploration. But I do think that if you look at the global situation, we know that 80 percent of all existing oil and gas reserves around the world simply cannot be burned if we are to live within the 1.5 to 2 degree temperature target that’s outlined in the Paris Agreement. I want to reinforce that point: it is completely inconsistent with trying to hit the Paris Agreement targets, to continue to look for new oil and gas exploration. It just doesn’t make sense.
Question No. 9—Housing and Urban Development
9. MARJA LUBECK (Labour) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: What response has he seen to Government initiatives that are intended to boost the supply of affordable housing in Auckland?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): I’ve seen an encouragingly positive response from the building industry and property developers to the Government’s ambitious plans to build affordable housing in Auckland to deal with the national housing crisis. KiwiBuild will deliver affordable homes for Kiwi families by working with the private sector, with iwi, and with councils and other investors to establish major urban development projects across Auckland and across the country.
Marja Lubeck: How important are urban development opportunities within Auckland to increasing the supply of affordable housing?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Building high-quality affordable townhouses, terraces, and apartments in medium-density developments will help meet demand in the city. Building large-scale urban development projects around transport connections is the sensible way to alleviate both the national housing crisis and Auckland’s chronic traffic gridlock.
Marja Lubeck: Is there any resistance to Government programmes intended to boost the supply of affordable housing in Auckland?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: There will often be a small group opposing new housing developments.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Only Labour MPs.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: On the North Shore currently, a proposed apartment development in one of the former Government’s special housing areas, permitted under the unitary plan produced under the last Government’s law, is currently drawing some local criticism—surprisingly, from someone who actually voted for both of those laws: Jonathan Coleman.
Mr SPEAKER: I want to remind the Government that using Government supplementaries to attack the Opposition in that way is not permitted. As a result of that, the Opposition will be granted two additional supplementaries.
Question No. 10—Housing and Urban Development
10. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: How many KiwiBuild houses have been built in the 145 days he has been in Government?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): The KiwiBuild programme kicks in on 1 July this year, with an appropriation of $2 billion and the ambition to build 100,000 affordable homes in response to the national housing crisis. The first houses will begin to reverse the deficit of over 71,000 houses, inherited from her Government. The number of houses built so far is the same as the number of cars that she crushed. But don’t worry, there are thousands more on the way.
Hon Judith Collins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister did not answer or address a very straight question, which was: how many? If the answer is none, which is not what we could have got from what he said, he needs to say it, I suggest.
Mr SPEAKER: I’m not sure that the answer was accurate, but the Minister did address the question.
Hon Judith Collins: When he said on The AM Show last Friday that he was confident of meeting his KiwiBuild targets from 1 July this year, did he include in his estimates any of the developments that were already consented prior to the change of Government?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The number of houses that have been set out in the KiwiBuild pipeline is far, far greater than the number of affordable houses that the former Government could say that they built over nine years, and that was none.
Hon Judith Collins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not believe that the Minister has addressed that question. He’s talking about pipelines. No one is suggesting people should be living in pipelines.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the member can ask her question again.
Hon Judith Collins: Thank you, Mr Speaker. When he said on The AM Show last Friday that he was confident at meeting his KiwiBuild targets from 1 July this year, did he include in his estimates any of the developments that were already consented prior to the change of Government?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Firstly, the number of houses consented is irrelevant because everybody knows you can’t live in a consent. Secondly, the former Government did not plan to build any affordable houses. This Government is committed to building houses that young Kiwi families can afford to buy and live in.
Hon Judith Collins: Has he discussed with developers how he plans to convert existing consented housing land into KiwiBuild land?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The task is not to actually convert existing consented housing into KiwiBuild land. We’re working with the private sector on plans to buy and underwrite KiwBuild properties off the plan. Our land for housing programme is working with third-party developers to develop vacant Crown land and private land that’s been acquired for that purpose, and we’re building KiwiBuild homes on Housing New Zealand land that’s been developed, and we’ve got large-scale urban development projects under way that will include thousands of KiwiBuild houses.
Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki: How many KiwiBuild houses will be built in the first three years of the programme?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Once the KiwiBuild programme’s up and running from July 1, we expect around 1,000 KiwiBuild homes in the first year, 5,000 in the second year, and 10,000 in the third year, delivering the promised 100,000 affordable homes by mid-2028.
Hon Judith Collins: Why is he proposing to count houses from 1 July 2018, when by that date he will have been the Minister for a whole 248 days?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Because that’s when the $2 billion Budget appropriation for KiwiBuild kicks in.
Hon Judith Collins: When he became the Minister of Housing and he said he would begin the KiwiBuild programme within his first 100 days, does he now mean that 100 days equals 248 days?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I said that because that’s exactly what I have done and exactly what this Government is doing.
Question No. 11—Social Development
11. Hon LOUISE UPSTON (National—Taupō) to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by all her statements?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Yes, in the context in which they were given.
Hon Louise Upston: Is it correct that there are over a thousand job vacancies registered on the Work The Seasons website that she launched on Friday?
Hon Louise Upston: With the website operating for more than one month, why are only 44 vacancies listed on the website?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: My understanding is that there are over a thousand vacancies on the website.
Hon Louise Upston: Is the Minister not sure that she’s confusing the thousand training places with the number of job vacancies?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: My understanding is that there are a thousand vacancies on the website.
Hon Louise Upston: When will the Minister figure out, based on the interview she had with Radio Live, that if she’s going to claim credit for the work done by the previous Government, at a minimum she should do her homework and get her facts straight?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: We’re really proud of the Work The Seasons website that’s been launched, which I launched with the Minister of Employment, Willie Jackson, last week. Can I just say that this Government is committed to working with businesses to ensure that we provide options for New Zealanders, opportunities for employment, and that’s what we’re working hard towards.
Question No. 12—Trade and Export Growth
12. PAUL EAGLE (Labour—Rongotai) to the Minister for Trade and Export Growth: What progress has the Government made on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister for Trade and Export Growth): Recently, in Santiago, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was signed on behalf of the Crown. This was a historic moment for New Zealand, securing greatly improved market access with Japan, Canada, and Mexico—the 3rd, 10th, and 12th largest economies in the world.
Hon Simon Bridges: Iron your shirt before you come down, David.
Hon DAVID PARKER: With the rules-based trading system increasingly under threat, the CPTPP has increasing importance to the more than 600,000 New Zealanders whose jobs depend on trade. This coalition Government has continued to take more of the rough edges off CPTPP, agreeing bilaterally with Australia, Peru, Brunei, Vietnam, and Malaysia not to use investor-State dispute settlement provisions.
Mr SPEAKER: OK. Before we have the next supplementary, I’m going to ask the Leader of the Opposition to cease commenting on my ironing skills.
Paul Eagle: How will the public get to have their say on the agreement? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, there was sort of like one each then, so we’ll just leave it. But Judith Collins and—I’m not sure who it was who was going the other way, David Parker—are not to interject during supplementary questions.
Hon DAVID PARKER: Last week the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee announced a two-week period for public submissions on the committee examination of CPTPP. I’ve since written to the committee asking for the time frame for submissions to be extended. The committee has since agreed to extend public submissions by three weeks to 18 April—a total of five weeks. I expect public hearings to be held. In my view, it’s important that the public are allowed to have their say.
Paul Eagle: What is the expected time frame for the Government to ratify the CPTPP?
PAUL EAGLE: Should the Government decide to ratify CPTPP, we expect the enabling legislation to come to the House in June, with the expectation of completing passage of the bill or bills by the end of 2018. Again, we expect the select committee to call for public submissions and to provide adequate opportunity for public submission and consideration. While we may not agree with every opinion expressed on the agreement, this coalition Government is willing to listen.
Hon Todd McClay: Can the Minister confirm that the side letter he signed with Australia has the same effect as the side letter signed by the last Government with Australia in the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and that the four new side letters with Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei represent less than half of 1 percent of all foreign direct investment in New Zealand?
Hon DAVID PARKER: I can confirm that the form of agreement is the same as it was with Australia, as I’ve previously done in this House. It is true, though, that of the 10 other countries that are in CPTPP, we now have side letters with half of them.
Hon Todd McClay: Supplementary. So in claiming—
Mr SPEAKER: No. Order! Order! The National Party has no further supplementaries.
Hon Todd McClay: You gave two back to us.
Mr SPEAKER: I am advised that the National Party has—if the shadow Leader of the House is willing, we will go back into account and take it off tomorrow, if in fact I’m wrong.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’d never have the temerity to refer to you as being wrong. But if, by a chance, the count doesn’t add up, then we’ll take the extra one tomorrow.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, whichever way it breaks, we’ll work it out for tomorrow—and maybe the Greens could help you.
Hon Todd McClay: In claiming that he has fixed TPP, does he remember saying to the House that market access between the two agreements remains the same, that the labour provisions chapters are the same, that the US is still mentioned all the way through the text, and that investor-State dispute settlement provisions are still there, that the four additional—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Question please.
Hon Todd McClay: —side letters he signed is responsible for just half of 1 percent of foreign direct investment in New Zealand? My question is: after all his hard work, does he think he needs a lie down?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No. No. The member will just resume his seat.
Mr SPEAKER: No. There’s a pile of irony in that, which was just not acceptable. The member will resume his seat.
Hon DAVID PARKER: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m left in the position that left on record are the ridiculous assertions that this is the same agreement as the prior one.
Mr SPEAKER: No. I have ruled the question out. All right?
Hon Iain Lees-Galloway: I seek leave for Mr Parker to be able to answer the question, despite its egregious breaches of the Standing Orders.
Mr SPEAKER: No. If Mr Parker seeks leave he can—
Hon DAVID PARKER: I so seek leave.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to David Parker being able to answer the out of order question? There is.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister for Trade and Export Growth as to whether this is a fact: that he inherited a larder and turned it into a Rolls-Royce.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: No. Well, I’ve ruled it out. I hope the—right. Is there any—the National Party’s not having any further?

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