Parliament: Questions and Answers – May 22

Press Release – Hansard

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. 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): Yes. That was a firm yes.
Hon Simon Bridges: What extra funding did the Budget provide to fulfil her promise to pay early childhood education (ECE) centres more for employing 100 percent qualified staff?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As the member will know, Budget 2018 included a 45 percent increase in education funding. The fact that we could put 45 percent more into education—new funding—and still have additional needs that we need to meet demonstrates just how bad things were for the education sector.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was very specific about ECE funding, and the answer related to Vote Education overall. I don’t see how that could have been addressed.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, it was very clearly addressing the question. The member well knows that when a general primary is set down, there is considerable latitude and less expectation of specific responses on supplementaries. If members want Ministers to come prepared with specific details, then they’ll ask specific questions.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Speaking to that point—
Mr SPEAKER: I hope the member’s not going to relitigate that.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Not at all, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I’ll be seriously concerned if he does.
Hon Michael Woodhouse: Accepting that point, we are reaching something of a conundrum because a very specific question today, where the Minister would have been expected to answer it, at question No. 7, has been transferred to another Minister.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is the answer that there is no funding for ECE centres to employ 100 percent qualified staff?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I take this to mean that that side of the House now agrees with our policy on funding 100 percent qualified staff. Budget 2018 delivers the first universal cost adjustment for early learning centres since Labour was last in Government. We have made sure there’s also an additional 62.5 million early learning hours over the next four years. Early learning services had a huge number of priorities. We gave them the boost they waited 10 years for, and we have three Budgets, of course, to deliver on things like qualified staff, which, I take this to mean, the National Party now supports, because you didn’t fund it before.
Hon Simon Bridges: How many schools will be ending school donation requests to parents next year, as a result of last week’s Budget?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, I do come back to the point that if you spend an additional—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: An additional 45 percent increase in education’s funding demonstrates how much catch-up we had to do after the under-investment of that last Government, including an increase in operational funding for the compulsory sector, 1,500 new teachers, and new capital investment. It shows how much we have to do over the next three years.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is the answer “None. There’s no new funding to end school donations.”?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: There’s 45 percent more new funding in education, and we will, over the term of our time in office, also ease the costs of education on parents.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is there funding in the Budget to double the refugee quota?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: You’ll see in the Budget that we’ve increased the funding to support additional support for refugees through the migrant centres, and it is explicitly in the Budget.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why did she reject the recent comparison to President Trump, responding, “We are a party who at the same time were campaigning to double our refugee quota.”, and how is that campaign going, given that last week’s Budget had nothing on the refugee quota?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That is actually incorrect. First of all, you don’t put refugee quotas into a Budget; you do make sure that you’ve got money in a Budget to make sure you can house them and reintegrate them, and that was in the Budget.
Hon Simon Bridges: When she told me, the day before the Budget, that there would be 1,800 sworn police officers over three years delivered, has the Budget borne that out?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes; we’ve said that, over three years, we would be delivering on that. We’ve put $300 million into Police and over 900 new police officers as a result, and we’ve got another two years to finish it off.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does the Budget, in fact, show far fewer than 1,800 sworn police officers delivered over a much longer time frame than three years?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I just said, we have set ourselves a goal, over three years, to reach 1,800 police officers. We get roughly half out of our first Budget, and we’ve got two more to go. In fact, at this rate, I’d wager that we’ve got about nine more to go.
Hon Simon Bridges: Does she still maintain that DHBs are in a “crisis” and that “it’s worse than I thought, because coming in there was no suggestion that they were quite so underfunded”; if so, why is her Government putting only $2.9 billion of new operating money into health, compared to Budget 2017—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The question’s finished.
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, we’re putting $3.2 billion into health. We’re putting $2.2 billion into DHBs; it’s one of the largest investments they’ve seen in a decade. The only thing I would add to the comments that the member has quoted me on is that at first I said we didn’t quite see the extent of the issues the DHBs were facing; well, actually, the moment the mould and poo arrived, we all saw what the DHBs were facing—every single New Zealander.
Hon Simon Bridges: Is her Government putting less in operating funding into health this year than we did last year?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No. What the member continues to include is the $1.5 billion, from memory, for home care workers. Home care workers, yes, were something we all supported, but it is absolutely misleading to say that was general funding for health, which is why the investment we’ve put in outstrips anything that’s happened in the last 10 years on capital funding: $750 million; that last Government: $150 million.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it a fact that, in the last Budget, health, education, police, defence, infrastructure, and the environment, to name just a few, got massive injections of much-needed money?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That is absolutely correct, and it gives me the opportunity to also clarify—the members on the other side of the House seem to have a grievance with the fact—that we’re counting the investment for midwives in that as well. I am happy to acknowledge that, yes, we put an 8.9 percent increase for fees for midwives because that was neglected by that last Government, and we’re proud of it.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why did her Budget take $100 million out of mental health and put only $10 million back in?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m happy to clarify that the $100 million that the member is speaking about was actually not allocated to any specific project. It was a list of pilots, some of which didn’t happen. What we have funded is a project to enable under-25s to access free mental health care. We’ve extended nurses in schools for young people to decile 4. We’ve already funded mental health support in Canterbury and Kaikōura, and amongst the $750 million in capital for health it includes upgrade for mental health facilities.
Hon Simon Bridges: Why is $900 million for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade more important than $100 million for mental health?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m surprised that that member no longer supports New Zealand upholding its international obligations, and I take this as now being on record that, under National, there would be a cut in overseas aid and development. I look forward to that member joining the Minister of Foreign Affairs and me on our next Pacific mission, because they might have something to say to you.
Question No. 2—Finance
2. KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: What responses has he seen to Budget 2018?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Budget 2018 has been received positively by institutions ranging from the large banks to the UK The Guardian newspaper. Economists at the ANZ said Budget 2018 was “A pragmatic balance between aspirational goals and fiscal prudence.” Those at the ASB said, “the new Labour-NZ First Government has effectively passed its first fiscal credibility test. The Budget and healthy forecast show that the Government is on target to achieve its fiscal targets.”, and BNZ economists stated, “The fiscal numbers look good, with a string of reasonable surpluses causing the net debt to GDP ratio to slowly decline below … 20% … This leaves headroom for extra spending in future budgets as long as the economy stays strong.… There is nothing jumping out suggesting that announcements in the Budget will provide any impediment to the good growth outlook which we have.”
Kiritapu Allan: What responses has he seen in major financial markets?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The ASB reports that the overall market reaction was very muted, indicating financial markets are quite comfortable with the fiscal numbers. Matthew Circosta, sovereign analyst from Moody’s Investors Service said that “the budget projections of continued fiscal surpluses and a gradual reduction in debt highlights the government’s ongoing commitment to preserving strong public finances.” He also said,”sustained commitment to fiscal prudence provides the government room to buffer the economy from any potential future shocks, which could stem from another natural disaster or a sharp fall in global trade.”
Kiritapu Allan: What responses on Budget 2018 has he seen on increases to public sector funding?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I said on Budget day that this was a foundational Budget, and the first of three for this term. Social service providers and advocates, understandably, want to make up for years of underfunding, but have seen this Budget as a good start. For example, Trevor McGlinchey, executive officer of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services says more needs to be done, but noted—
Hon Judith Collins: Oh, for goodness sake—the completely independent commentators.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’ll tell him you said that, Judith. I’ll pass it on. In the social services sector we see a much needed boost in funding for community-based family violence services, which is fantastic news for this sector. The increasing funding going to community-based transitional housing and Housing First initiatives is what is needed to support those who are homeless, to be homed. Lyndon Keene, director of policy and research at the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, said, “the Government’s health budget revealed today offers some relief to the cash-strapped public health system but clearly more will be required to fix years of under-resourcing.”
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Goldsmith will stand, withdraw and apologise.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: I withdraw and apologise.
Question No. 3—Finance
3. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement, “It’s a perfect Budget I knew it was”?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): In keeping with my well-deserved reputation for modesty, I made that comment in jest at the end of my post-Budget speech on Friday when there were no questions from the audience, indicating that all 600 of them were happy with the Budget.
Hon Amy Adams: Well, if that comment was made in jest, were the tax deductions only available to “good-looking horses” also meant to be a joke?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Absolutely not. The bloodstock tax initiative actually puts in place a policy that was first put forward between 2005 and 2008, that that Government failed to deliver on.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Could the member resume his seat? The only reason that there are not a substantial number of deductions from the National Party for those interjections was the fact that there were a significant number from my right as well. I know the House is excited, but I think it can just settle down.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Now that the subject has been raised by the Opposition, is the Government’s intention in its bloodstock policy, with respect to races, to pay the money out to horses that can look good or run fast?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The intention here is that horses that can breed other horses than can both look good and run fast will be supported.
Hon Amy Adams: Does the Minister think it’s perfect to be increasing Crown debt by billions of dollars in nominal terms during a period of rising surpluses and solid economic growth, and under what economic conditions would he actually pay off debt?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: We are beginning to pay off debt at the end of this forecast period, which will indeed be the economic conditions we talked about. But as I’ve been going around talking about the Budget, it’s actually members of the business community who’ve been saying, “We think you should borrow more because we’ve got a desperate need for infrastructure that wasn’t funded by the previous Government.”
Hon Amy Adams: Is it perfect that he’s planning to have 14 out of the next 15 years with residual cash deficits, as shown in Treasury’s Fiscal Strategy Model, despite the solid economic conditions that he inherited?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Well, the previous Government also had some residual cash deficits in their forecast as well. But I just repeat: there is a desperate need in New Zealand to invest in quality infrastructure, all the way from housing to education to health to our transport system, and we’re getting on with the job.
Hon Amy Adams: Does he consider it perfect that the Government offers nothing for the squeezed middle in the Budget, with increased taxes, no action on ending school donations, no action on their early childhood education promises, no universal cheaper GP visits, and the Government already having taken $1,000 a year off the average worker in cancelling tax cuts?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’m interested in the member’s recent conversion to universalism in the provision of social services and look forward to seeing some more policies in that regard. What I can say is that the Families Package reaches middle-income New Zealanders because we are actually restoring the funding for Working for Families that was undermined for years by the previous Government.
Hon Amy Adams: Is he confident of the accuracy of Treasury’s economic forecasts given that his future operating allowances and debt to GDP track rely heavily on those numbers, or does he consider that Treasury are, in the words of his colleague Phil Twyford, “completely disconnected from reality”?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I think, in general, Treasury do good forecasting about the big GDP numbers. We’ll always have differences of opinion with them from time to time, but I’d also say to the member that every Budget that’s been produced since the Public Finance Act was created is based on future Budget forecasts.
Kiritapu Allan: Noting the various feedback that the Minister has had, what negative responses has he seen to Budget 2019 announcements?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’m sure the member means Budget 2018, as we haven’t had the opportunity to do that. Naturally, not all commentators are positive or well informed. I’ve received some commentary that Pharmac will be losing $200 million from its budget. Pharmac themselves announced that the combined pharmaceutical budget will be increased to a record level of $985 million, an increase of just under $114 million. I’ve also heard reports that this Government will be reducing the level of services available to stop child exploitation material. The Department of Internal Affairs instead states that it’s boosting the workforce from 15 to 27.5. I’ve further heard reports that instead of targeting spending on middle and low income families, we should instead be offering to “return $1,000 a week to the average worker”, and early—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That’s enough.
Question No. 4—Housing and Urban Development
4. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: Does he stand by all his reported statements regarding Budget 2018?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Yes—except my description of Treasury officials; I accept the Prime Minister’s advice that this went a little too far. But I agree with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance that Treasury’s forecast is wrong.
Hon Judith Collins: If he no longer believes he should have called Treasury “kids” who were “fresh out of university and … completely disconnected from reality”, then why did he do it?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I accept the Prime Minister’s advice that that choice of words went a little too far.
Mr SPEAKER: No, no, the Minister will answer the question—at least, address it.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Repeat the question.
Hon Judith Collins: Essentially, why did he call them that?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Because I was frustrated at forecasts that had been made by Treasury that were blatantly wrong.
Hon Judith Collins: Has he received ministerial advice that some of the Treasury analysts are completely disconnected from reality when they have said that there is a “high degree of uncertainty” regarding impact of KiwiBuild policies?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Look, I think everyone should take a turn at being wrong. I got the price points wrong last week; that member is wrong almost every week. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that with a policy that’s as big and complex as KiwiBuild, different Government agencies will end up with different views.
Hon Judith Collins: When he told the media last Friday that in relation to KiwiBuild and Budget 2018 “Treasury have made a number of highly questionable assumptions”, what are those highly questionable assumptions?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, Treasury previously assumed that the $2 billion appropriation would be spent in two halves over the next two years and recycled thereafter. They changed that assumption, and they now think that it will happen over three years. That assumption is wrong. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), on the other hand, estimate that KiwiBuild will generate between $4.8 billion and $11.6 billion in additional residential construction investment over that period. MBIE, who are implementing this policy, have pointed out that Treasury’s assumption excludes the fact that the KiwiBuild capital investment will be recycled repeatedly. They’ve included those homes that will be paid for on completion or built because of the KiwiBuild underwrite, and they’ve ignored the actual expenditure plan of KiwiBuild.
Hon Judith Collins: What does he know as a Minister that means he is better qualified than Treasury analysts to make assumptions as to the economic impact of KiwiBuild in Budget 2018 and on the economy of New Zealand?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: When Government officials give advice, it is just that; it’s advice, and in this case, I believe that MBIE’s advice is better grounded in the reality of the policy.
Question No. 5—Housing and Urban Development
5. MARJA LUBECK (Labour) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: How will the initiatives in Budget 2018 and the Government’s 100-day plan build more homes for Kiwi families?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Through Budget 2018, the Government will build 6,400 more public homes for families in need and expand the Housing First programme. As a result of this measure, 6,400 more families will have stable and secure homes and 1,472 more Kiwis will be participating in Housing First. That comes on top of our commitment to provide shelter to 1,500 more families by the end of winter through our winter 2018 package, and build 100,000 affordable homes through KiwiBuild.
Marja Lubeck: How many new houses will be built under these plans?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) estimate that at least 5,800 of the 6,400 new public homes will be new builds, depending on the plans of individual community housing providers. This is on top of KiwiBuild, which may deliver up to $11 billion in additional residential construction over the next four years, as we build 100,000 homes for first-home buyers by 2028.
Marja Lubeck: How will the initiatives in Budget 2018 help reduce the public housing register?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, we’ve known for some time that the national housing crisis and hidden homelessness was worse than we thought, and it will get worse before it gets better. But Budget 2018 is the first step in tackling the national housing crisis right across the housing continuum. We’re investing in Housing First, providing short-term transitional housing for 34,000 households, building more public houses, building affordable homes for 100,000 first-home buyers, and increasing the supply of market housing.
Question No. 6—Education
6. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Minister of Education: Does he stand by all his promises in education; and if so, does he agree with Labour’s Education spokesperson, Chris Hipkins, who said on the morning of 26 October 2017, that the end of school donations will be in his first Budget?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): In answer to the first part of the question, yes. In answer to the second part of the question, as Minister of Education I’ve been clear that the commitments in the Speech from the Throne, the coalition agreement, and the confidence and supply agreement would all be considered as part of the first and subsequent Budget processes. Budget 2018 marks the biggest increase in education spending in over a decade. However, it will take some time to deal with the nine years of neglect we inherited.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Is he telling this House that on the morning that he was sworn in as a Minister, where he committed to end school donations, it’s not valid because he hadn’t signed his ministerial warrant; if so, are all promises that he made prior to signing this warrant invalid?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Budget 2018 had to accommodate the largest cost pressures due to population growth in several decades. We are not happy to leave kids in corridors, libraries, and gymnasiums because their schools don’t have classrooms to put them in and because we cannot recruit teachers to put in their classrooms because of the neglect that we inherited from the previous Government. That does not mean that we are not going to deliver on those commitments. To quote Rachel Hunter, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.”
Mr SPEAKER: Not for me, it won’t.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Does he stand by his statement on 12 February 2018 as a Minister, when he refused to talk about the cost of his Government’s donation policy because it was “Budget sensitive”; and does he think that he misled parents who had an expectation that school donation funding would be in this Budget?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Budget matters are considered over several Budget cycles, as the former Minister should be well aware. It was considered as part of this year’s Budget. It didn’t make it up in this year’s Budget. It will be considered as part of subsequent Budgets.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Does he stand by promises he made to increase teacher pay after Budget 2018 slashed $47 million in potential salary payments for teachers and principals, making him one of the only education Ministers—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That’s an unnecessary part of a question. I’m not going to rule it out, but I’m going to ask the Minister to answer the first part.
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I’m unclear where the member gets her fiction that we’ve cut funding for teacher salaries from. It certainly wasn’t in this year’s Budget. I don’t know where she possibly could have made that up from.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will now stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I hope the Minister’s not going to litigate my ruling. He should know very well that members cannot indicate that other members have made something up, because if they’ve made it up they would know it’s not true and they would be breaching the Standing Orders in a number of ways.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Why should parents and teachers be able to rely on promises that he makes when he’s broken more than 18 education promises, including providing funding to end school donations, to provide devices for all students, increasing postgraduate allowances—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member’s not going to go through the list.
Hon Nikki Kaye: —providing vocational excellence awards, $20,000 grants for young entrepreneurs?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: There’s a clear difference between a broken promise and one that is yet to be delivered upon. For example, if we’d promised to lower teacher-child ratios in early childhood services and nine years later failed to deliver on that, that would be a broken promise. If we’d promised to lift the daily cap on the number of hours for children in early childhood services and nine years later failed to deliver it, that would be a broken promise. Those are just two examples of the countless broken promises of the previous Government. Unlike them, this Government will deliver on the promises we made.
Question No. 7—Finance
7. MATT DOOCEY (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Finance: How much new funding is there for mental health in Budget 2018, and what unsuccessful bids did the Minister of Health make, if any?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): I have been advised that increased funding to district health boards (DHBs) in Budget 2018 will see a minimum expected extra $50 million per year for four years going to mental health services. On top of that, Budget 2018 also provided for $17 million for more nurses in secondary schools, $10.5 million for an integrated therapies pilot for 18 to 25-year-olds. In addition, this Government has already allocated $22 million for mental health services in Christchurch and Kaikōura schools. In answer to the second part of the question, all Budget bids were carefully considered, and in keeping with the practice of previous Ministers of Finance, I will not be revealing the details of them in the House.
Matt Doocey: So is the Minister saying that the Minister of Health did not bid for free mental health GP visits or mental health coordinators in primary care, as promised in November?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No.
Matt Doocey: Does his new funding for mental health in Budget 2018 match the $100 million contingency fund his Government inherited from Budget 2017; if not, why not?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The $25 million per year that was promised but not detailed by the previous Government is, in fact, eclipsed by the additional $50 million per year that will be coming via DHBs.
Matt Doocey: What does he say to the New Zealand Drug Foundation, who said in reference to Budget 2018 funding, “So it looks like we all have to wait until the mental health and addictions inquiry for any new money for treatment. That’s really disappointing.”?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As I said in my primary answer, we expect to have an additional $50 million per year going to mental health services. I’d also note that the feedback that we’ve had is that people who are affected by mental health issues and their families are very pleased that we are taking the time to do an inquiry and come up with the right responses rather than band-aid election year ideas.
Matt Doocey: So is the Minister satisfied a mental health inquiry that costs $6.5 million allows only 15 days for the public to make oral submissions?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I believe that the inquiry will provide significantly more—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! No, I’ve just reflected on the question—no responsibility whatsoever.
Matt Doocey: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In response to supplementary question three, the Minister brought up the mental health inquiry.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and just because it’s referred to doesn’t mean that the Minister has responsibility for it. The Minister said funding would occur after the inquiry. The details of the inquiry are not this Minister’s responsibility.
Matt Doocey: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This question was originally for the Minister of Health, as you know. If he wasn’t in hiding, it would be helpful to ask him that.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The National Party just lost five supplementary questions.
Question No. 8—Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media
8. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media: Does she stand by all her policy commitments?
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, before the Minister answers, I’m also going to require Matt Doocey to withdraw and apologise.
Matt Doocey: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon CLARE CURRAN (Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media): Yes, in the context they were given.
Melissa Lee: Does she consider it a broken promise that she only managed to obtain funding of $15 million in Budget 2018, given that in a Cabinet paper released on 25 February 2018, she sought $152 million over four years to deliver on the Labour Party election promise?
Hon CLARE CURRAN: First of all, I reject the premise of that question. Secondly, $15 million is the largest increase in public broadcasting in more than a decade. The Minister of Finance has described this as a down payment. It is part of a foundation Budget. It’s going to take more than one Budget to fix the starvation of public media by the previous Government. We have three years to implement this policy, and a Budget bid in the next year will address the long-term needs of the public media sector.
Melissa Lee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I didn’t want to disturb the Minister when she was speaking, but if it is actually in the Cabinet paper, can she actually dispute it?
Mr SPEAKER: I think the member has addressed the question. Members mightn’t like the answer or might question the accuracy of it. I think the best way of sorting it out is by the member asking a more detailed supplementary on that question. The trouble was she had two legs, and therefore it was easier to address.
Melissa Lee: Plenty of time. Does she agree with the chair of Better Public Media, Dr Peter Thompson, that “It is doubtful that $15m will be sufficient to develop RNZ+ into a non-commercial television service” and that RNZ+ needs somewhere between $25 million and $30 million to have a chance of success?
Hon CLARE CURRAN: At the risk of repeating the whole of the previous answer, I would say that $15 million is significantly more than the measly $2.84 million that the previous Government allocated last year, after nearly a decade of funding freezes. I have said it’s going to take more than one Budget to fix the starvation of the public media sector under her Government, and that’s why we’ve got three years to implement this policy.
Mr SPEAKER: I’m going to ask the member to repeat the question.
Melissa Lee: Does she agree with the chair of Better Public Media, Dr Peter Thompson, that “It is doubtful that $15m will be sufficient to develop RNZ+ into a non-commercial television service” and that RNZ+ needs somewhere between $25 million and $30 million to have a chance of success? Simple question.
Hon CLARE CURRAN: I understand the frustration of Better Public Media because this sector has been so—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon CLARE CURRAN: —chronically underfunded, so I agree with his frustration. We cannot deliver—every single Minister has had to make compromises in this Budget. We will deliver. We have three years to do that.
Question No. 9—Education
9. JAN TINETTI (Labour) to the Minister of Education: How does Budget 2018 support quality and affordable education and care for children aged six and below?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): This year’s Budget commits $105 million over four years to increase funding rates for early childhood education (ECE) centres and kōhanga reo. This is the first universal, full inflation adjustment to subsidies for ECE centres and kōhanga reo in 10 years. It will assist them to manage increasing costs of provision and maintain the quality and affordability for parents and families. For a two-year-old enrolled in full-time education and care, this could add up to an additional support of around $100 per year.
Jan Tinetti: How is the coalition Government working with the early childhood sector to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, learning needs, or disability, receive early learning that enables them to learn and thrive in all aspects of their life?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: We’re working with parents, teachers, stakeholders, and communities to develop a new 10-year strategic plan for early childhood education, building on the previous strategic plan for early childhood education discontinued by the last Government. We want to ensure that increasing participation in early childhood education is accompanied by an increase in the quality of early childhood education being received. We understand the importance of early learning and getting children off to a great start with their learning, and we do know that the sector has been under significant pressure over the last decade.
Jan Tinetti: What is the coalition Government doing to address the long waiting lists for early intervention services for children before they start school?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Budget 2018 has provided funding to halve the current waiting list for early intervention services for children before they start school. The $21.5 million being spent over the next four years will help over 7,600 more children get the support that they need.
Question No. 10—Corrections
10. Hon DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by all his recent decisions and statements relating to the corrections portfolio?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Corrections): Yes, in the context they were made.
Hon David Bennett: When did the Minister first take a paper to Cabinet regarding plans over Waikeria, and how many has he taken since then?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: I can’t remember the exact date, but I have taken a couple of papers to Cabinet.
Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister certainly would be able to remember a date—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question around the quality of the answer is one for me to judge, and the Minister very clearly addressed the question and indicated that he could not remember the exact date. That’s addressing the question.
Hon David Bennett: How will the Minister guarantee the safety of corrections staff without the Waikeria Prison build, when Public Services Association spokesperson Willie Cochrane has asked, “If [the] expansion isn’t going ahead, we want to hear what … he’ll do to expand the capacity of our prisons in the short term and keep our members safe in the workplace.”?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We’re aware of the concerns of corrections officers and the unions, and take their feedback into account when making decisions.
Mr SPEAKER: Question No.12—
Hon David Bennett: Supplementary question?
Mr SPEAKER: No, you’ve had all the supplementaries.
Question No. 12—Māori Development
12. RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga) to the Minister for Māori Development: What initiatives in Budget 2018 and the Government’s 100-day plan will benefit Māori?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Minister for Māori Development): There are so many—so, so many—which will give Māori an assurance that as we turn this waka around, we’re looking to improve the well-being in a number of ways, such as the Families Package, which will see a transfer of approximately $1.2 billion to Māori whānau. But let’s go to the 100-day plan, because that’s where we see the real gains. We’ve raised the minimum wage to $16.50 since April. We’ve set child poverty targets, and we know this is an area that crucially hurts a number of Māori children. We’ve stopped State house sell-offs, which had a huge impact on a number of our whānau in our communities—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! When I stand up, the Minister sits down. She’s had a fair crack.
Rino Tirikatene: How will the Families Package benefit Māori whānau?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: This Budget is focused on whānau, and the Families Package will transfer approximately $1.2 billion directly into the pockets of Māori families in a number of ways. But let’s speak to the real impact that it could have—the winter energy payment, for example. That will make a huge impact for a number of families, including Māori, and people can turn on their heater when they need it most. The other thing is that in terms of the Best Start tax credit, approximately 17,000 Māori babies will receive that, and how much of a difference it will make to families who need it most. There’s so much—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rino Tirikatene: How will the other initiatives help improve the lives of Māori?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: Well, there are a number of specific initiatives that really align with the priorities that the Government has set. For example, we want to make sure that the young people who are disengaged from education, employment, and training will actually benefit. That’s why we’ve set aside $15 million, of which Minister Willie Jackson will be stewarding through $7 million, around the Whenua Māori Fund, because we know that Māori land owners need support to develop their land and, potentially, plug into other opportunities around regional development. But, more importantly, what we do in the space of papakāinga will not be just about building houses. It will be creating communities, encouraging social enterprise, and doing a lot of good for a lot of people.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I ask the Minister as to whether or not she’s had representations on the improvement of Māori housing and health from the Leader of the Opposition, who’s discovered his Māoridom somewhat the way Columbus discovered America—purely by accident?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That question is ruled out, and because we’re at a point in question time where rebalancing is somewhat ineffectual, I think there’ll be a number of extra questions tomorrow which I’ll communicate to the Opposition.

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