Parliament: Questions and Answers – June 14

Press Release – Hansard



Question No. 1—Finance

1. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements and policies?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Associate Minister of Finance) on behalf of the Minister of Finance: On behalf of the Minister, yes, in the context in which they were given and undertaken. However, I would like to correct a statement the Minister made yesterday regarding the household living cost price indexes. Due to a transcription error, he referred to the increase in living costs since June 2008, when in fact the numbers used were for September 2008.
Hon Amy Adams: Does he stand by his statement that he plans to grow New Zealand’s prosperity when forecast average GDP growth over the next two years has been revised downward from 3.5 percent in Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update 2017 to just 3 percent in Budget 2018, and ANZ Bank today is saying that growth momentum has clearly slowed?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: As with any growth forecast, there are a range of views out there. Treasury is historically one of the best forecasters, and I am confident in their Budget Economic and Fiscal Update projections of continued solid growth. The Government does not believe that buying and selling houses to each other until we can’t afford them any more is a sustainable economic strategy. For too many New Zealanders, we’ve seen that this kind of growth has not actually translated into improved living standards. We’ve got a plan—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!
Hon Amy Adams: How can he be so dismissive of these significant growth revisions when a 0.5 percent decline in average GDP growth over the next 2 years is equivalent to around $2.3 billion in lost income for the economy at approximately $500 per New Zealander?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I repeat that Treasury projections are for solid economic growth. We enjoy good forecasts and we have good times ahead. I think the Minister should stop trying to talk the economy down.
Hon Amy Adams: Has he now given up all hope of continuing to close New Zealand’s after-tax wage gap with Australia, that reduced by a third over the past decade, with the removal of National’s tax bracket adjustments, imminent further tax reductions in Australia, and the slowing domestic real and per capita GDP growth trajectory under this Government?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: We are planning to transition to an economy that’s more productive, more sustainable, and more inclusive. We want to see New Zealanders prosper socially and economically. This Government has a plan and we’re sticking with it.
Hon Amy Adams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was very much around closing the wage gap, the after-tax wage gap with Australia. He didn’t even reference that in his answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I think the member’s problem is that she had a list of other things and added on to it. There was certainly an attempt to answer at least one of those.
Hon Amy Adams: Does the Minister agree with Jacinda Ardern when she said that public-private partnerships (PPPs) in corrections “just don’t work and on that we’ve been very clear”, and Phil Twyford, who said that PPPs for prisons would be “a no-go for this Government”?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: There is clear evidence around the Government’s prior experimentation with PPPs that they did not work. There are a number of perverse outcomes, and this Government has steered clear thus far of any such foolishness.
Hon Amy Adams: So why is a PPP now being used to fund Waikeria Prison when the use of PPPs for prisons has been clearly and repeatedly ruled out?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Well, I don’t have the detail on that in front of me. But I understand they sold the contract—
Hon Andrew Little: They signed it and it cost $34 million.
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: They signed the contract and it cost $34 million.
Hon Chris Hipkins: Can the Minister of Finance confirm that there’s a difference between honouring a PPP agreement entered by the previous Government to build a new prison versus having a PPP for the operation of a new prison?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I’m absolutely delighted to confirm that. There’s a huge difference between honouring contracts and creating a stable environment for the country, and entering into agreements which have a whole lot of hooks, fishhooks, attached, which that prior Government was prone to doing.
Question No. 2—Tourism
2. Hon TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua) to the Minister of Tourism: Does he stand by all the statements he made to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee last week?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Tourism): I stand by the statements I made regarding the tourism portfolio.
Hon Todd McClay: Following his statements at the committee last week, what does he say to taxpayers who expect him to be on top of the detail of the $170 million allocated to tourism in this year’s Budget, or would he rather continue to be known as the “vacant” tourism Minister?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That’s not a properly worded question. The member knows that.
Hon Todd McClay: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That’s been widely reported in newspapers—
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member should know that there is more than a slight difference in the standards required in newspapers and the standards required in this House.
Hon Todd McClay: What does he say to tourism operators who have seen his select committee comments that his $75 million of new money previously promised for tourism for this year’s Budget has, in fact, been replaced by a $6 million cut—that’s an $81 million tourism broken promise?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: The member is sort of fudging the figures there. The advice that I received from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) was that the 5 percent cut in funding to Tourism New Zealand would have no discernible impact on tourism numbers. In fact, by 2024, we’re going to have 1.4 million extra visitors to New Zealand. So I’m not concerned about tourism destination marketing, per se. It’s more about destination management now.
Hon Jacqui Dean: How many meetings did he have with the Hon Nanaia Mahuta where freedom camping was discussed, when he said at the Estimates hearing that “We talk about the issue all the time.”?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: My colleague the Hon Nanaia Mahuta and I have a number of meetings, both formally and informally. In fact, that’s what happens, actually, when you’re related. We actually also talk as cousins, for the member’s information. So colleagues and I—all of us colleagues—discuss a whole heap of issues all the time.
Hon Jacqui Dean: When he said at the Estimates that he “Just took the local government portfolio responsibility for dealing with freedom camping work off the Hon Nanaia Mahuta”, did he tell her first?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: If I recall the conversation correctly, the member asked me, “Who is responsible for freedom camping?”, and I said, “Myself.” And she said, “Why isn’t the Minister of Local Government in charge of freedom camping?”, and I said, “Because I am.” Now, I can’t be any more straightforward than that.
Question No. 3—Corrections
3. Hon DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by all of his statements and actions in relation to Waikeria Prison?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Corrections): Yes, in the context they were made.
Hon David Bennett: If he stands by his statement that New Zealand prisons are super-sized factories for low-level criminals, what is his definition of a low-level criminal?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: The member is right that our prisons are factories for criminals. In fact, that party’s plans for a mega-prison are, quite frankly, wrong. American-style mega-prisons swallow up young people and churn out hardened criminals. That’s the matter here. That party there, even though they had access to all the research and the best evidence—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m sure the Minister’s opinions about the previous Government are interesting to him, but they aren’t particularly apposite to the question that he’s been asked, which was—
Mr SPEAKER: That is a matter for my responsibility, Mr Brownlee, and I’m waiting to see if he gets to it.
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: I’ll give an actual case. There is a person who is in prison for stealing a $1,000 cellphone. That person was in prison on remand at Waikeria for a matter of days before he started self-harming by stabbing himself in the groin and was sent to the at-risk unit. Those are low-level criminals who should never ever be in prison in the first place simply for shoplifting a cellphone.
Hon David Bennett: If he stands by his statement that the 1,500 bed build at Waikeria is an American-style mega-prison, what is the biggest American prison by bed count?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: I have no responsibility for American prisons.
Hon David Bennett: If he stands by that previous statement, then what is the average size of an American prison?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister said it before and probably anticipated the ruling that I should have made. This Minister has no responsibility for American prisons.
Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Which one?
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker, while he may have no responsibility for any prison system in the United States, he most certainly has responsibility for his own statements, and for a Minister to make a comparative statement about an American prison, he must of course know exactly what he was comparing, otherwise it’s just one of those in-the-wind statements that means nothing.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, Mr Brownlee, I heard quotes made about mega-prisons; I’ve heard nothing quoted from this Minister about average American prisons, and it certainly wasn’t in the question.
Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: It’s not going to be relitigating that again, is it?
Hon David Bennett: No, in the Minister’s first answer he mentioned American-style prisons—
Mr SPEAKER: Mega-prisons. He didn’t say average prisons.
Hon David Bennett: —and so I’m asking him to reflect on that and define that.
Mr SPEAKER: What’s the member asking me to do?
Hon David Bennett: Well, to get the member to answer the question, because he referred to American-style prisons in his first response—
Mr SPEAKER: So the member’s now relitigating my ruling, is that right?
Hon David Bennett: No, I’m seeking for the Minister to answer his question.
Mr SPEAKER: I think I’m going to be kind to the member and let him continue to have a supplementary—not an extra one; just his next one.
Hon David Bennett: How does his claim that his Government is focused on rehabilitation match up with the fact that he admitted yesterday that prisoners will have to sleep on mattresses on the ground because the Government haven’t built enough beds to keep up with demand?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: The member’s misquoting me. I was asked the question, “What happens if there is a lack of bed space?”, and I said, “Well, every corrections system in the world has a contingency plan for just that event.” So if there was an earthquake today and we had to move prisoners into another prison and there weren’t enough spare beds, they have to have a contingency plan. That contingency plan is the very same contingency plan that the previous Government had, and now they’re criticising us for having a contingency plan—the very same one.
Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the member about rehabilitation. He never mentioned rehabilitation once in that answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member should—I mean, I think he even read the question. He should think about what he said.
Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister was asked about—
Mr SPEAKER: No. If the member argues again, he’s going to be terminated from asking supplementaries. If he wants a further supplementary, he can ask one. He doesn’t—all right.
Question No. 4—Education (Māori Education)
4. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Associate Minister of Education (Māori Education): What progress has he made to strengthen the capability of the education system to raise educational achievement for young Māori?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Associate Minister of Education):
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Mr SPEAKER: I am now going to ask the Minister to repeat his comments and to speak a little bit more slowly so I can either keep up with it personally or through interpretation. So the Minister can choose either to translate or to repeat.
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Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker, a number of desks on this side of the House don’t have ear pieces to be able to hear the interpretation.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, that is members’ responsibility. If they’ve lost their ear—[Interruption]. Well, every—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker, it is not a member’s responsibility to provide the facilities in here. That’s a ridiculous thing to say.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. Every member at the beginning of the Parliament was provided with an ear piece which plugs in to the thing between himself and the honourable QC beside him—
Hon Christopher Finlayson: No need to be a smart alec. That’s totally offensive, and the tone in which you used it.
Mr SPEAKER: —the honourable member beside him, and it is a matter of plugging it in and using it.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: We don’t have them. They’re not here.
Mr SPEAKER: I mean, is it my responsibility for members losing them out of their desks?
Hon Members: Yes!
Mr SPEAKER: Right. [Interruption] Right, I just want to say to the Deputy Prime Minister, that is not helpful, and I think he should practise being kind for when he is the Acting Prime Minister. We’re now going to go back ,and I’m going to ask Mr Davis to start again, and I’m going to say to members that it is their responsibility either to leave the things plugged in, as members always used to do, so that they can use them immediately, or to keep them—[Interruption] Order! It’s a matter of turning it on.
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Hon Nikki Kaye: What is the number of young Māori in the 10 partnership schools whose contracts have been terminated by this Government?
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Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the member’s delegation, he is certainly responsible for lifting achievement of young Māori, and so he should know what is the young Māori that have no certain future, in terms of partnership schools, whose contracts have been terminated?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister answered the question. He answered it absolutely.
Hon Nikki Kaye: No, he didn’t. He said he has no responsibility. That’s what he said.
Mr SPEAKER: That’s right. That is an answer.
Hon Nikki Kaye: He has responsibility for young Māori.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member’s been a Minister. She knows that responsibilities within the education portfolio are divided. And, in this particular case, it’s been made very clear in the House this Minister does not have responsibility for decisions around partnership schools. And the idea that any Minister should have the list of ethnicities of children in particular schools is—well, some people might know, but it’s not a reasonable expectation on a Minister. Now, does the member have a further supplementary?
Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Speaker knows that the reality is there may be specific responsibility around decisions on partnership schools, but this Minister has a specific delegation around the achievement of young Māori and what’s happening with young Māori in State schools in New Zealand. It’s written into the delegation. This is a situation whereby—
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, Ms Kaye, I have had enough now. I have ruled on this matter. If the member wanted that specific information as it related to Māori children, she may have been able to develop a primary question within the Minister’s responsibilities. She’s not getting it this way.
Hon Nikki Kaye: What has he done to ensure the welfare of the more than 800 young Māori that he is responsible for that have had their school closure confirmed and have no clarity as to what school they’ll be attending next year?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: I have said in this House that I have a conflict of interest around charter schools and I also have no responsibility for charter schools. She is referring to students of charter schools.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Quite apart from the extraordinary situation of a Minister with a delegation laid on the Table of the Parliament to have some responsibility for young Māori students’ educational achievement stating in the House today that he has no responsibility for that, he certainly, surely, has some idea to be able to indicate to the House what will happen to young Māori students who are unable to attend their schools currently or from the end of this year, and what is his plan to assist them, given his specific delegation to be responsible for their educational achievement, stated in the document laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Chris Hipkins: Even in areas where Ministers have ministerial responsibility, where they have a conflict, it is not unusual—and, in fact, it’s expected—that Ministers will declare that and not comment on the matter, because they have declared a conflict. I am the Minister responsible for partnership schools. I’m happy to answer any question on it.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It’s not actually been public, because I have asked a range of parliamentary questions—written—around whether Ministers have declared conflicts. This is the first time that we’ve heard this. Am I able—that’s the question I have for you, as Speaker—to ask the Minister to table the conflict? Because it’s not public information at the moment. It’s with the Cabinet Office, but if he’s declared a conflict, then I think that should be available to this Parliament if I can’t ask questions about it.
Mr SPEAKER: If the Minister wants to table the conflict, he certainly can. If the member wants to ask the Prime Minister about conflicts that have been declared to the Cabinet Office, that can also be the subject of parliamentary questions.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’ve actually already asked that question of the Prime Minister in written questions, and I haven’t been able to get this information. So I seek leave for the Minister to table his conflict.
Mr SPEAKER: You can’t seek leave for another member.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That member and her colleagues have been repeatedly alleging that my colleague has a conflict of interest. Now she doesn’t know about it.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was not an allegation made by this side of the House; it was accepting the word of the Minister of Education by this side of the House. You just said there is a conflict of interest, and, therefore, he has the delegation. I know that the Deputy Prime Minister—soon to be Acting Prime Minister—has got a lot on his plate, but try and keep up with it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Now, can I say to the Deputy Prime Minister that through that point of order, he repeatedly interjected. Can I say to the Opposition that twice when I’ve been on my feet, there’s been raucous behaviour. My view is that we should move on to see if Nikki Kaye has a further supplementary that she would like to ask. But we also—I make it very clear—have to take the word of Ministers when they indicate that they do have a conflict, and I will also say that it is not the first time in this House that I’ve heard the suggestion that Mr Davis had a conflict. I think it might have come from my left in the past.
Hon Nikki Kaye: What is his conflict of interest that means that he does not feel that he can answer whether he has done anything to support the 800 young Māori whose future is uncertain because of contract termination in partnership schools?
Mr SPEAKER: Before the Minister answers the question, I actually need to ask the Clerk.
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: I believe I recall that it was actually the member over there that claimed that I had a conflict of interest earlier in the year, but let me just reassure her that if any Māori student in the State system will benefit from—
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Mr SPEAKER: No. Order! Order! This is very specific question that was asked by the Hon Nikki Kaye, and it goes to a very clear answer that the Minister had given previously. I want him to answer it.
Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that this is a matter that you just clarified with the Clerk, because I could read you lips while you were doing it. Once a Minister has declared a conflict of interest, surely it is then up to the Prime Minister to answer questions on that conflict. Otherwise, a Minister declaring a conflict is put in this position, where they have to talk about it and explain it, which partly defeats the point of declaring the conflict in the first place.
Mr SPEAKER: Yeah, and I understand the point that’s made, but—
Hon Nikki Kaye: But, Mr Speaker, speaking to the—
Mr SPEAKER: No, sorry. I’m going to rule, if the member doesn’t mind. There are two sets of responsibilities here. There’s the responsibility on the part of the Prime Minister to receive and be involved in the management of conflicts. The other part is a responsibility on individual Ministers where there are conflicts within their portfolios or delegations to declare them. I have just ruled, by asking the Hon Kelvin Davis to respond, that if he has made a declaration that precludes him from doing some of the work that might otherwise be part of his delegation, then it is appropriate for that to be—at least, in summary—made public. It’s something that I myself did on one occasion as Associate Minister of Finance where there was a familial conflict.
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: To answer, the accusation was made that I had a conflict of interest because I know the leaders of the charter school Te Kāpehu Whetū in Whangarei. As a result, I thought it was best just to step back from any decisions, any commenting, on charter schools in total, because of those allegations.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I seek leave to table a document. It’s by the Auditor-General, but it actually has a paragraph in there that confirms that it is the Minister’s responsibility to declare conflicts in this area. But supplementary—
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, which document is it?
Hon Nikki Kaye: It’s the Auditor-General’s letter to me on these particular issues.
Mr SPEAKER: So it’s a personal letter to the member?
Hon Nikki Kaye: It’s a personal letter to me. I’m not sure how publicly available it is, but it’s a personal letter to me.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I—the member seeks leave for that document to be tabled. Is there any objection? No, there’s not. It may be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Nikki Kaye: On what date did he declare the conflict of interest, ruling himself out of supporting young Māori in partnership schools?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: When it was discussed. To be honest, if she had wanted that information directly, she could have asked a written—
Hon Amy Adams: We didn’t know until now.
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No, I can reply in written form, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Sure. I mean there’s—well, I don’t. No one can be expected to know the exact—carry around the exact date of something like that.
Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Well no, this cuts to the heart of whether the Minister was acting inappropriately on the time line as to when he declared that conflict of interest, and the date really matters. So if he doesn’t know—
Mr SPEAKER: Well, if the date matters, then—if the date is really important, the member, I’m sure, will put down a question.
Question No. 5—Corrections
5. GREG O’CONNOR (Labour—Ōhāriu) to the Minister of Corrections: What recent announcements has he made to address the growing prison population?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Corrections): Good news. Yesterday, I was proud to announce that this Government is setting a new direction for prisons in New Zealand. We are building a 500-bed, high-security replacement prison at Waikeria and, alongside it, we will be building a 100-bed mental health facility, which will be the first of its kind—adding an extra 1,500 beds to the system. Our commitment to reform our broken justice system and this Government’s commitment to social investment will help to stop the growing number of people entering through our prison gates.
Greg O’Connor: Why did he decide to build a small-scale prison over a mega-prison?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: American-style mega-prisons are crime-breeding factories. They swallow up young offenders and spit out hardened criminals—sometimes a fully patched gang member. They do not keep communities safe. We have chosen to build a smaller prison because international evidence shows smaller prisons work, while mega-prisons—
Hon David Bennett: How much protection does he need?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: —favoured by the Opposition—create better criminals, not better people.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. David Bennett will stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Hon David Bennett: I withdraw and apologise.
Greg O’Connor: How will his recent announcement address reoffending rates?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We know smaller prisons are more effective in providing real rehabilitation, and the 500-bed facility at Waikeria will be one of the smallest prisons in New Zealand. From the outset, it was blindingly obvious that there is a massive problem with mental health issues in our prisons. What I can’t understand is why no Government took serious action to address this until now. We need to address the underlying issues facing prisoners, like mental health, through the specialised mental health facility; otherwise, we will always struggle to address reoffending.
Question No. 6—Justice
6. Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Justice: Does he stand by all of his Government’s justice policies and decisions?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE (Minister of Justice): Yes.
Hon Mark Mitchell: Does the Minister still agree with the Prime Minister’s comments that we’re filling our prisons with low-level criminals?
Hon Mark Mitchell: How many people are in prison for possession of cannabis?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: I don’t have that particular figure on me. What I can say is that we know that more than 50 percent of those who enter the prison system in any one year are convicted of crimes that do not entail violence or are not otherwise serious.
Hon Mark Mitchell: What is an example of a non-violent assault?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: The member may well be aware that earlier this year, a High Court judge in Auckland was dealing with an offender charged with indecent assault—in fact, convicted of indecent assault. The actions comprising that offence were pinching the bottom of a prison officer, and the judge was having to face the fact that the prisoner, because of the operation of other law, was facing a mandatory maximum sentence of seven years. The judge said he was not going to sentence anybody to seven years for pinching somebody else’s bottom.
Hon Mark Mitchell: Could the Minister just clarify for me that he just stood in the House and told us that an indecent assault is an example of a non-violent assault?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: No, that member is deliberately misrepresenting what was said—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! [Interruption] Order! The Minister should know that he cannot make that accusation, which is, effectively, a breach of privilege. The Minister will withdraw and apologise.
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: I withdraw and apologise. The member has misunderstood what I have said. The charge that that particular offender faced was one of indecent assault. That was the name of the charge. The action which that charge related to was pinching a prison officer’s bottom. Now, that is a world of difference from other actions that result in a charge of indecent assault that are genuinely more offensive, are violent, and that is why the High Court judge grappled with the idea that he should sentence that offender to seven years, and he declined to do so.
Hon Mark Mitchell: How many people, under your definition of non-violent assaults—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!
Hon Mark Mitchell: —sorry, the Minister’s definition of non-violent assaults—are currently in prison?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: Again, I don’t have that detailed figure, but I repeat: what we do know is that 50 percent of offenders entering the prison system in any one year are convicted of offences that do not entail violence and are not otherwise serious offences. That member will know that we have a Sentencing Act and a sentencing regime that distinguishes between different categories of offence. There is more serious offending and there is less serious offending.
Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 7—
Hon Mark Mitchell: Sorry, Mr Speaker—just one more supplementary. Does he stand by the definition of a low-level criminal, as given to the House yesterday, as “not committing violent crimes … [only] committing … ‘street crimes’, … younger offenders, young male offenders, those with mental health issues, those with addiction issues, those with literacy problems—[actually] all people who have problems”?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: That is one of the more ridiculous questions asked in this House for a long period of time. The—
Hon Mark Mitchell: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I can’t at the moment see what the question can be. The member’s asked, “Does he stand by his statement made in the House yesterday?”, and I think what we’re going to do is we’re going to hear the Minister’s reply.
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: I did not define less serious offending in those terms. That member has taken a number of statements made at different times in the House yesterday to—
Hon Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I need to address that because—
Mr SPEAKER: No, is the member disagreeing with the answer?
Hon Mark Mitchell: I am. I’ve got the Hansard here—
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member can’t.
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: As I said before, our criminal justice regime recognises a difference between more serious offending and less serious offending. That’s why we have a Sentencing Act. That’s why we have different lengths of custodial sentence prescribed for different crimes—
Hon David Bennett: I’d hate to see if someone pinched you, whether they’d get in prison.
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: —and, in fact, we have sentencing that doesn’t even involve custodial sentences because the offending is at the less serious end and can be dealt with by non-custodial sentences, including with fines and other financial penalties.
Mr SPEAKER: I just want to deal with Mr Bennett now. Mr Bennett, can you just please hold your tongue and especially not refer to people pinching me while that happens. It hasn’t happened for a very long time and it certainly shouldn’t result in a prison sentence.
Hon Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I just bring to your attention that the Minister just intentionally misled the House in that answer?
Mr SPEAKER: If you think that, then there’s an appropriate action to take, and that wasn’t it.
Question No. 7—Transport
7. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany) to the Minister of Transport: Does he stand by all his statements and actions?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): Yes, including my action of putting before the House the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill, which passed its second reading in the House unanimously.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That’s enough. The question is well and truly answered.
Jami-Lee Ross: Did he advise the Prime Minister to assure the public that the Ōtaki to Levin expressway would continue as planned, a statement which is now false?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I advised the Prime Minister to say that, at the time she was asked that question, nothing had changed in relation to that highway project.
Jami-Lee Ross: Does he agree with the Prime Minister when she stated, in relation to Labour’s Government policy statement, that “Ōtaki is continuing in the same way. If we hadn’t done anything last week, Ōtaki would be in exactly the same position as it is now and will continue to be.”?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: At the time the Prime Minister made that statement, the exploratory work, the public consultation around the future alignment of that roading project, was continuing. The Prime Minister was correct.
Jami-Lee Ross: When will he tell the Prime Minister that her statement in April is now false, given that NZTA is re-evaluating the Ōtaki to Levin expressway?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The NZTA is now re-evaluating that expressway. It’s re-evaluating and re-scoping dozens and dozens of roading projects around the country. In light of the Government policy statement on land transport, which prioritises safety, which prioritises access, reducing carbon emissions, and resilience, it’s a great transport policy and it’s going to deliver a fantastic transport system.
Jamie Strange: How has the Government updated its policy on light rail?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Both this Government and the previous one had plans for light rail. The previous Government began work on route protection but wanted to wait to start construction until 2047. This Government believes that three decades is a little too long to leave Aucklanders stuck in worsening congestion. So we’ve made light rail a priority and we’ve begun the process to start building it.
Jami-Lee Ross: Does he agree with the NZTA representative who said in the Dominion Post this morning that the Ōtaki to Levin expressway was being re-evaluated “to better align with the new Labour-led Government’s transport policy”, something the Prime Minister said would not happen?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I do agree with that NZTA staffer because she just articulated something that’s almost exactly the same as the answer I just gave in the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister as to whether or not the successful passage of his bill through the House with the support of all sides of Parliament is an example of being a lion in the electorate and a lamb in Parliament?
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: What’s wrong with that?
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the Minister has no responsibility for other members’ behaviour inside or outside of the Parliament.
Question No. 8—Health
8. ANAHILA KANONGATA’A-SUISUIKI (Labour) to the Minister of Health: What is the Government doing to increase the number of alcohol and drug detoxification beds in Auckland?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Yesterday, the Government announced a one-off $16.7 million investment to build two floors at the Auckland City Mission’s new home ground facility. When construction is complete in two years’ time, it will house 30 studio units for alcohol and drug detoxification. It’s a 50 percent increase on the current 20 beds that are funded in Auckland.
Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki: How is this investment being funded?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The funding will be drawn from funding recovered under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act. As the Prime Minister said, it feels entirely appropriate that we use the money that has been accumulated, through misery, to end misery.
Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki: Why is this investment important?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: We know that demand for detox and treatment programmes is high. Too often people are waiting too long to get the help they need. Programmes like the one at Auckland City Mission make a significant difference—it is tried and true. This investment will help turn lives around.
Question No. 9—Regional Economic Development
9. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he stand by his reported statement that “as the CEO leaves Fonterra, the chairman should in quick order catch the next cab out of town”?
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): Yes.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Did he accept the Prime Minister’s judgment the last time he called for the sacking or resignation of a board member of a company “Calling for the sacking of any board member is a step too far, and I have told him that.”
Hon SHANE JONES: A little bit of context around this issue: I originally gave those remarks in the context of an event that was bound by Chatham House rules. Members in that audience, either with Fonterra or a National Party member, chose to leak them, so I simply stood up and have got no compunction to repeat what I said to the face of said man, the soon to be departed leader of Fonterra.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Then why is he defying the Prime Minister by doing it again?
Hon SHANE JONES: The Prime Minister and I have a very warm and respectful relationship, and I have an extraordinarily high level of admiration, and that admiration will stretch even to a higher level in several weeks’ time. There has been nothing said by me, there has been nothing articulated in this small episode, other than to stand up and show that whilst I am a friend of business, unlike that member I am no sycophant.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Since making those comments, what has the Prime Minister or her office said to him about his comments?
Hon SHANE JONES: I don’t have much to do with the Prime Minister’s office; I have a great deal to do with the Deputy Prime Minister’s office. In terms of what remarks may have passed between my good self and the Prime Minister, they lie within the context of our relationship. But I can assure you, I stand by my remarks in terms of accountability that should be shown by a failing corporate governance culture at the highest levels of our largest company, and if a cab doesn’t suit then shanks’s pony is just as good.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Minister saying that if the farmers of this country have sadly and alas taken a haircut of over $700 million, no one in politics should respond to that?
Hon SHANE JONES: I have been overwhelmed by the number of responses supporting my overdue criticism of so said company and its corporate culture. Many of the farmers have said to me that at long last we’ve got someone who will speak truth to corporate power and who will show that that particular corporate emperor definitely has no clothes.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: When he accused the leadership of Fonterra of being full of their own importance, did he look into his own heart and acknowledge his own failings in that area?
Hon SHANE JONES: I think the whole House knows that I am a very hearty politician, and any suggestion that those comments directed at that particular board do not enjoy support amongst the hoi polloi of the provincial community shows how out of contact that particular member is. And, look, Fonterra cannot wander around making advertisements, such as they did this year, drawing on the countryside and the personalities of country people and not expect the “Champion of the Country” to hold them accountable.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: In other words, is the Minister saying that someone from the provinces should be defending the farmers of this country and not somebody from Epsom?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! It’s not an area for which Mr Jones has responsibility.
Question No. 10—Energy and Resources
10. JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Has she developed comprehensive and tested contingencies to replace gas’s role in New Zealand’s total energy demand, with MBIE having recently downgraded the reserves of the country’s largest gas field, Pohokura, by 27.2 percent?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): The Government has set itself the goal—
Mr SPEAKER: On behalf of.
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: on behalf of the Minister of Energy and Resources: The Government has set itself a goal of having 100 percent renewable electricity in a normal hydrological year by 2035 and the Interim Climate Change Committee has been given the task of planning for that transition. Officials across a range of agencies are working at wider energy demand issues. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s latest gas reserve figures also noted that Mangahewa reserves have increased 44.5 percent. The important point to note here is that these figures do fluctuate year to year, and we currently have 10.5 years of reserves remaining, which is broadly in line with the figures published every year for the past decade. Finally, it’s important to point out that the Government has not ended exploration for gas—31 exploration permits covering 100,000 square kilometres remain active. And we’ve also announced that a block offer for further onshore acreage in Taranaki is proceeding.
Jonathan Young: Considering that those gas reserves are the lowest they have been in 15 years, what is her plan for security of electricity supply for retail customers and commercial users as domestic gas supply does run out?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I’ve been very clear in my original answer—in my primary answer—that we still have 10.5 years of reserves remaining, which is broadly in line with the figures published every year for the past decade. That situation was not changed from the day before the Government made the announcement to the day after.
Jonathan Young: Considering the Minister has created a potential end date for exploration, knowing that there’s no new offshore permits and it’s going to be reviewed for onshore in three years’ time, can she be more specific, please, about what her plan for security of electricity supply will be for those users of domestic gas when that supply does run out?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I reject the assertion in the first part of the member’s question. The Government has a clear plan to ensure that we have a diversified electricity supply network. Just over 82 percent of our electricity currently comes from renewable sources. And, of course, we want to do better than that.
Jonathan Young: Will she guarantee that during her Government’s transition to 100 percent renewable electricity, New Zealand will at no time burn more coal than it presently does to ensure security of electricity supply?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No Government can give that guarantee, because we can’t control how much it rains.
Jonathan Young: Will wind play a significant role in the transition to 100 percent renewable energy; and, if so, how much more investment will be required, given that this past Sunday evening the country’s 17 wind farms contributed only one-hundredth of 1 percent of New Zealand’s electricity?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, wind will continue to play an important role in the future security of New Zealand’s electricity supply, as will geothermal, as will hydro, as will a number of other potential sources—solar is another one, more distributed generation is another potential source to secure greater security of supply.
Jonathan Young: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the question how much more investment would be required, and if the Minister could elaborate on that, that would be appreciated.
Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The first part of the member’s question asked whether or not wind would continue to be a part of the security of supply and I said yes.
Question No. 11—Customs
11. RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga) to the Minister of Customs: What initiatives has the Government taken to curb the smuggling of methamphetamines into New Zealand?
Hon MEKA WHAITIRI (Minister of Customs): This coalition Government is committed to stopping meth and other illegal drugs from coming across our borders. In Budget 2018, I secured an additional $58.1 million to help protect our borders, which includes an extra 127 customs staff over the next few years.
Rino Tirikatene: Why is the Government spending so much money on stopping the smuggling of meth?
Hon MEKA WHAITIRI: The damage to our communities and our whānau is immense. The use of illicit drugs costs us $1.8 billion in social harm every single year. It impacts on our employment, our productivity, and weakens the fabric of our society across all our regions. The extra $58.1 million will go a long way to addressing this matter.
Rino Tirikatene: Is the Minister taking a cross-agency approach to preventing the importation of meth into New Zealand; and, if so, why?
Hon MEKA WHAITIRI: Yes, absolutely. We will continue building on the success of our joint work with police, immigration, and other agencies across Government and overseas by enhancing outreach campaigns, sharing intelligence, and increasing community engagement. Why? Because it’s the smart thing to do.
Question No. 12—Health
12. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Health: Does he stand by all his decisions and actions regarding the National Oracle Solution (NOS) programme?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Yes, in their context.
Dr Shane Reti: Why did the ministry proceed with commissioning Deloitte as independent reviewers, when Official Information Act (OIA) documents show the first words of Deloitte’s own conflict of interest declaration state, “Deloitte has been involved in the National Oracle Solution”, meaning they will be reviewing their own work?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I can’t speak for why the ministry made that decision. The procurement process originally was done under the Government procurement rules that that Government set up, and the conflicts, perceived or real, were declared in that piece of work, as the member knows—the member’s got the OIA release now. The ministry did, though, subsequently commission Audit New Zealand to undertake an assurance process on the process followed by the ministry in its engagement of a consultant to review the National Oracle Solution programme.
Dr Shane Reti: Why did the ministry proceed with commissioning Deloitte as independent reviewers, when OIA documents now show Deloitte and Deloitte-related entities provided 28 consultation services to the project from 2011 to 2017?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The project didn’t exist in 2011.
Dr Shane Reti: When was the Minister made aware that Deloitte or Deloitte-related entities have been “materially involved” in the majority of their services provided to the project since 2013, and what steps did he take?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I haven’t been advised of that.
Dr Shane Reti: Why did the Minister deny reviewer Thorsten Engel’s 2011 conflict of interest in oral question No. 9 yesterday, when it is now clear that Deloitte were providing significant services to the project in 2011?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The project didn’t exist in 2011.
Dr Shane Reti: I seek leave to table Deloitte’s conflict of interest declaration for the independent NOS review and Deloitte’s additional conflict of information statement for the independent review.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that? There appears to be none. They can be tabled.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Dr Shane Reti: I seek leave to table a 4 April 2017 email from Deloitte confirming that they have been materially involved in the project. It comes to me as an OIA.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that document being tabled? There is an objection.
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I seek leave to table all of the OIA correspondence received by Mr Reti to provide the full context for all of those things and to provide a clear view of the history of this issue. There’s one from 23 May—
Mr SPEAKER: No, no—is there any objection to those documents being tabled? There appears to be none.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

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