Auckland Scoop

Questions & Answers – 12 April 2017

Press Release – Office of the Clerk



Economic Growth—Construction Sector’s Contribution

1. ALASTAIR SCOTT (National—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Finance: How is the construction sector contributing to New Zealand’s economic growth?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): In both Auckland and across New Zealand we are in the middle of our largest ever construction boom, and housing growth is a very big part of that story. Activity in the construction sector rose 1.8 percent last quarter and was up 10.5 percent for the year to December 2016. This annual rise in construction activity was the highest since 2004. Confidence in the construction industry remains strong, with a net 23 percent positive rating for commercial construction and a net 25 percent positive rating for residential construction. All signs indicate a heightened level of construction activity for some time into the future.

Alastair Scott: How is this heightened level of construction activity flowing through into consents and real estate listings?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Residential building consents posted their biggest monthly gain in 8 months in February. New housing permits jumped 14 percent, dwelling consents also rose 14 percent, and annual new house consents gained 9.1 percent in the year. There is also promising news for home buyers across New Zealand. Real estate listings for March were up 10 percent on the year before, and Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data showed Auckland’s median price was down 5 percent from 6 months ago and unchanged from 9 months ago. While we should not yet read too much into these figures, I again would underline that potential house buyers should think carefully about their price and interest rate expectations.

David Seymour: In what possible world would growth in the construction sector not be related to growth in consents in new house listings?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think that is exactly my point. The level of construction activity and ongoing levels of consent activity indicate a very large construction pipeline under way not just in Auckland, but across the country.

Grant Robertson: What is the latest advice he has on the shortfall of houses in Auckland? Is it closer to 30,000, 40,000, or 50,000?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It all depends on, for example, the number of people per dwelling and the level of activity in terms of construction, and it does change quite dramatically. For example, we have 2,770 apartments due to be completed this year, and a record-breaking 3,840 next year—that is according to Colliers. So people can debate all they like about shortages, but the reality is that the supply response is very strong.

Alastair Scott: How is the Government supporting councils to facilitate residential developments?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Government is continuing to support local councils to deliver the infrastructure required to service new residential developments, including through the $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, where assessments are currently being made in terms of projects that would qualify for support. Additional Government measures to speed up medium-term housing supply include fast-tracking the Auckland Unitary Plan, the new national policy statement on urban capacity, and the proposed urban development authorities legislation. That will ensure that the current record construction boom will continue.

Alastair Scott: What effect is access to credit having on new residential developments?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It is a very fair question. Banks and other lenders are experiencing strong demand for property development financing currently. Banks continue to manage their exposure across the sector. The Reserve Bank is expecting that current levels of bank funding will be sufficient to maintain construction activity at the present rate for some time. That level of construction is, of course, illustrated by a number of things, including the record 132 cranes operating across our main centres in construction sites. In Auckland alone, there are 72 cranes—

Phil Twyford: Where are the houses? Forget the cranes—can’t live in a crane.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: —working on residential and commercial projects, and, I think, Mr Twyford, you will find that the houses are under the cranes.

Police, Minister—Confidence

2. RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in his Minister of Police; if so, why?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes, because she is a competent Minister, assisting the Police in implementing a half-billion-dollar investment in the New Zealand Police, with over 1,100 new staff over the next 4 years, including 880 uniformed staff and, I note, a 19 percent increase scheduled for police numbers in Northland.

Ron Mark: Tell the House: when the Minister of Police asked for funding on 21 December that would “change the trajectory of rising crime”, why did he not accept that proposal and fund it? Did he not have confidence that she could deliver it?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It could have been the middle of the night. He’d need to wait for the morning.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do not remember precisely what time that proposal was put forward, but it would not have made any difference to how it was treated, because the Government, as always, weighs up the—[Interruption]

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! You have not been called yet.

Ron Mark: Oh. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.


Ron Mark: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Just to help the Prime Minister, I did not, in my question, ask the time. That was one of his colleagues who shouted that out. I asked why did he—

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order, and the Prime Minister had not finished answering the question. If the Prime Minister has got anything further to add, he may.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: All Ministers are enthusiastic about the amount of resource they think should be applied in their portfolio. It has to be balanced up with others, but, in this case, Cabinet did agree to the, I think, biggest ever expansion in police numbers and capacity but, more importantly, also to tight performance requirements that the police need to meet to ensure that we have safer communities.

Ron Mark: When the Police presented three options, one of which was to change the trajectory of rising crime and deliver to the nation a 10 percent reduction in serious crime—a proposal that asked for 1,430 extra staff—why did he not have the confidence to give those resources to his police Minister and to the Police?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the discussion developed we came to the view that the Police could achieve that kind of objective with a few hundred fewer staff, and the Minister of Police ensured that it is now subject to tight performance criteria, which, I would have to say, the Police did not initially propose but did, ultimately, agree to, to assure that the half-billion-dollar investment is used effectively for safer communities.

Ron Mark: Why did he—the Prime Minister—allow the police Minister to dismiss the needs of 271 communities and towns by ignoring their requests for 24/7 police coverage from their police stations?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The package significantly extends the 24/7 coverage by the police, as announced this morning. I think a very significant proportion of the population will now live within 25 kilometres of 24-hour police coverage.

Ron Mark: With alarming levels of criminal activity in Northland now, a drug pandemic, and renegade youths in this country, why did you not have the confidence in the Minister of Police to approve the 1,430 extra staff that the Police asked for?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I understand, it the Commissioner of Police announced, I think, yesterday that Northland will get 66 more police. I might say to the member that the police would be the first people to tell him that it is not just police that are a solution to some of the deeply embedded social problems in Northland, and, in fact, there is any number of different initiatives being taken by the community up there. I would hope the member would support those initiatives, as well as the increase in police, rather than continuing to regard them all as hopeless.

Housing, Wellington—Supply

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that the Wellington housing shortage is a “problem of success”?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes I do, and, as I said to the member when he asked almost exactly the same question a month ago, I stand by my full statement, which went on to say that the demand for Wellington rental housing was “certainly concerning for people who are looking for accommodation”. I also said that I think this is pretty well understood by the council and that it is working towards enabling more housing. I hope the developments here are not going to be opposed by the Labour Party, as they have been in Auckland.

Andrew Little: What does he say to the Wellington families living in garages and motels because he knocked down the State houses and did not rebuild?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: Part of the reason there is a major change in the way we run State housing is precisely because of the problems in the Hutt Valley—that is, old stock that is unsuitable for being occupied, and slow response times for rebuilding it. That is why we are changing the system, but we are being held up in Auckland by the Labour Party opposing the Point England development, which would enable hundreds more social houses to be built.

Andrew Little: Putting aside the fact that building a house 5 years ago is not much different to building a house today, what does he say to the young families in Wellington struggling to pay the rent, let alone save for a house—people like Frances from Lower Hutt, who wrote to me to say: “Prices are out of reach, and my husband and I both work 50 hours a week.”?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: In respect of the individual families, we would need to make sure that they are receiving all the assistance they are eligible for, because we do spend $1.3 billion a year on accommodation supplement, and that family may or may not be eligible. If rents are rising, they are eligible for more support. Fortunately, the Wellington City Council recognises more houses are needed, because Wellington is now growing for the first time in a long time, and I hope that Labour will not oppose the developments in the way it is opposing new developments in Auckland.

Andrew Little: Has he been to the Hutt Valley and looked at all the land that has sat empty for years under his mismanagement of Housing New Zealand, while local families cannot afford an affordable place to live?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I know the Hutt Valley reasonably well. I have seen some of the empty sections that the member is referring to, and I have also seen the large stock of old, out-of-date Housing Corporation State houses, which are the product of the previous, lazy Government changing nothing. We are setting out to change it in the same way as we have got large-scale redevelopment going on in Auckland, but, as I have said to the member, I am quite sure that as soon as we start developing in the Hutt Valley, Labour will start opposing it.

Andrew Little: Given his knowledge of, and concern about, the empty spaces littered across the Hutt Valley, will he immediately build on that land a combination of good, affordable starter homes for young families to buy and State houses for Kiwis in need; if not, why not?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am advised that those plans are under way, and I would hope that the Labour Party will not organise community opposition to the developments, as it has done in Auckland for Three Kings, which it forced to the Environment Court, with a several-year delay. And now in this House it is going to vote against the Point England bill, which will allow hundreds of new social houses.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was very clearly about Wellington. That large, extended rant at the end of the Prime Minister’s answer had nothing to do with the question that was asked.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Well, of course, I am the judge of whether it is a large, extended rant, and I do not believe that making a comparison with a contemporary housing estate in a similar way is such.

Andrew Little: What about the current situation is it that the Prime Minister just does not get? There is a housing crisis now, families are struggling to make ends meet now, families are living in garages and motels now—is it not time to stop playing silly buggers and to get houses built now?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the Minister of Finance pointed out a bit earlier, we have got the largest construction boom New Zealand has seen for decades, and, in fact, some of the complaints now are that costs are escalating reasonably quickly and labour is hard to find. So New Zealand is building houses pretty much as fast as it can, except in Point England, where the Labour Party is opposing a large-scale development, and in Three Kings, where it is organising the community opposition to a large-scale development. That is why it has no credibility on this issue.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Question No. 4—[Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! You may think you will get away with a whole lot because you have got the relief teacher, but you will not.

Freshwater Management—Degradation of Waterways

4. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) to the Minister for the Environment: Does he agree with the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor that some of the country’s waterways have gone beyond a tipping point?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment): Yes. There are water bodies like Lake Forsyth in Canterbury and Lake Whangapē in the Waikato that have reached a tipping point, which makes their restoration very challenging, but none has crossed that point during this Government’s term. I was advised in 2008 that three significant water bodies had a risk of crossing tipping points in the next decade: Lake Rotoiti in the Bay of Plenty, the Wainono Lagoon in South Canterbury, and the Waituna Lagoon in Southland. This Government’s successful interventions in all three of those have resulted in that risk being averted and in marked improvements in the water quality being achieved.

Catherine Delahunty: Is the current intensive farming model exacerbating poor water quality?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: It is not as simplistic as Professor Gluckman’s report concludes—that, simply, intensification automatically results in water quality deterioration. For instance, well-designed water storage schemes like those that have occurred with the central plains can actually result in water quality improvements and increased agricultural production.

Catherine Delahunty: Does he think it is reasonable to continue to allow agricultural intensification when Sir Peter’s report shows that the effects of farming now will still be felt in 100 years or more, meaning future generations are left to foot the bill and fix the problem of dirty water?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The member is, firstly, incorrect in simply concentrating on agriculture. The member shows a blind spot in that the report shows our most polluted areas are actually in urban environments, and that is where this Government’s approach is that both urban and rural New Zealanders need to lift their game around water quality.

Catherine Delahunty: As the Minister for the Environment will he advocate on behalf of Aotearoa’s waterways and ensure their protection by calling for the Government to move away from its intensive farming model?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: This Government has introduced the first national policy statement and limits on nutrients and on ammonia, and has seen over 18 catchments—there were none when we became the Government—having limits on intensification. But where we differ from the Green Party is that a complete freeze on the growth of agriculture is not a sensible approach to this issue, and there are many water development schemes that can deliver both water quality improvements and jobs for rural communities.

Catherine Delahunty: Will he act urgently so that other rivers are not pushed beyond their tipping point, by putting a moratorium on new dairy conversions; advocating for higher value, not higher volume, in agriculture; and putting rivers first, not last?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The fact that this Government has increased the level of funding for freshwater clean-ups sixfold and committed $450 million; the fact that lakes like Lake Rotoiti, which deteriorated significantly under the last Government, have improved enormously under this Government; and the fact that we can look at sensible water storage programmes—whether it be the Central Plains scheme or whether it be the Lee scheme in my own area—show that this Government is capable of delivering improved water quality as well as increased primary production exports.

Catherine Delahunty: What new measures will he take on the issue of nitrates and the impact of cow numbers and dairy conversions, if any, as a result of this new report?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: We are the first Government to nationally put in place limits on nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates—

Hon David Parker: You haven’t. You haven’t.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Well, the member says we have not. When Mr Parker was in Government there was not a single catchment in New Zealand in which you required a resource consent for intensification. That is now true for 18 catchments in New Zealand. We are publicly consulting on specific tighter limits on nitrates. I also point out that our Government is putting in place national regulations for getting stock out of our rivers and lakes—something the previous Government never did and something that they voted against in Parliament last week.

Hon David Parker: I seek leave to table the Lake Taupō nutrient limit, which pre-dated this Government and was put in place under a prior Government by Judge Skelton, co-financed by the Labour Party budget of $70 million.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Well, the member seems to have made his point in seeking to table, so I see no point in putting the leave.

Catherine Delahunty: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: No. There is a point of order—I am just calling a point of order from Catherine Delahunty.

Catherine Delahunty: The Minister gave a very full answer but did not address what new measures he would take as a result of the report. That was my question—not what the Government is doing or says it is doing but what it is going to do as a result of this new report.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member may ask the question again.

Catherine Delahunty: Thank you. What new measures will he take on the issue of nitrates and the impact of cow numbers and dairy conversions, if any, as a result of this new report?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The Government is currently consulting on its clean water paper, which specifically tightens the limits around nitrates and also provides for the first national regulations on ensuring that we get our stock out of our rivers and lakes.


5. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Police: What updates can she give about what regions the new 880 police will go to?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister of Police): Today the police commissioner announced where the 880 new sworn police staff, who are part of our $503 million Safer Communities package, will be deployed. As we have been saying since the announcement in February, all 12 police districts will be getting more police. I can now confirm that all districts will be getting anywhere between a 7 percent and 19 percent increase in the number of police. On top of this, 20 regional police bases will go 24/7, resulting in 200,000 extra New Zealanders being covered by a 24/7 police presence.

Lindsay Tisch: How many new police will each new region be getting?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: All regions will be getting at least 24 new police. For example, that member will be pleased that Waikato will be getting 101 new cops. Northland will be getting 66, which is a 19 percent increase. The Bay of Plenty will be getting 69, Canterbury 70, Auckland City 72, and Waitematā 73, as an example, and another 80 will be deployed to deal with organised crime around the country.

Maureen Pugh: Which police bases are going 24/7?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: One of our key Safer Communities commitments is to ensure that 95 percent of New Zealanders are within 25 kilometres of a patrolling police base 24 hours a day. To reach this commitment the police commissioner has announced that 20 regional areas will now have a police presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they include—the member will be pleased—Motueka, Kaitāia, Matamata, Wairoa, Rolleston, Taumarunui, Te Kūiti, Thames, Balclutha, Stratford, Alexandra, and many more.

Heron Report—Allegations of Potential Conflicts of Interest

6. Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram) to the Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration: Will he be initiating further examinations of the alleged potential conflicts of interest suggested in paragraph 3.40 of the Heron Report; if not, why not?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration): The allegations mentioned in paragraph 3.40 of Mr Heron’s report came late in his investigations by the two gentlemen who have now been referred to the Serious Fraud Office. However, all allegations are taken seriously, and the Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as the successor agency to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), is currently looking into the matters raised in 3.40 of Mr Heron’s report. Should he discover anything of note or concern, then he would report back to the State Services Commissioner, who would have the responsibility to enact a further, more detailed investigation. I consider, at this point, that that is an appropriate course of action.

Dr Megan Woods: What are the specific allegations about the additional three former CERA employees who Andrew Kibblewhite today revealed are being investigated, and do the allegations relate to property transactions?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There are no specific allegations made that I have seen. There were allegations raised by the two gentlemen who have now been referred to the Serious Fraud Office, and when Mr Kibblewhite has completed his investigation, I expect he would report them to me.

Dr Megan Woods: Does he accept that these allegations and the referral to the Serious Fraud Office came about only because of an investigation by the media; if so, why were they not picked up and investigated further until the media reported on them?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: That is a very good question. Throughout the life of CERA, there were several agencies monitoring its performance. From the very outset, I engaged with the Auditor-General’s office to ensure that there was oversight of large amounts of public money in an environment that was hurriedly put together. I note that, through those years, CERA was in front of select committees on numerous occasions, and, quite clearly, had there been any widespread public concern about activities—in other words, systemic problems in the organisation—I am sure that members would have brought it up at those reviews.

Dr Megan Woods: Will he then give an assurance that these individuals, now six in total, are the only CERA and/or Ōtākaro employees who may have engaged in activities that may constitute a conflict of interest or fraud; if not, why not?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Given the many “may”s that were in that question, I would have to say it borders on the hypothetical. The reality is that there are investigations taking place because two gentlemen now referred to the Serious Fraud Office, in the later stages of the investigation they were under, spun around and pointed the finger at others. They will be investigated.

Dr Megan Woods: Has he read the Press editorial today that said that Cantabrians had been badly let down; if so, is this not justification enough to ensure that this is not the tip of the iceberg and launch a wide-ranging investigation?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I want to confirm for the House that it is many years since I read any editorial published in the Press.

Electricity Market—Industry Prices

7. FLETCHER TABUTEAU (NZ First) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: If she will not initiate an inquiry into retail electricity prices, does she at least agree with the PWC report which recommends completely changing The Lines Company pricing model in the Taranaki/King Country?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Energy and Resources): I am aware that there have been issues with the pricing methodology that The Lines Company has in place. In fact, as the member will be aware, the Commerce Committee has considered petitions on the matter. The Lines Company makes its own decisions on pricing within the regulatory framework administered by the Commerce Commission; however, I can also advise the member that the Electricity Authority is currently reviewing aspects of The Line Company’s pricing, specifically the related load control practices, the incentives it places on customers, and the outcomes it influences. The review is due to be completed in May or June of this year. It will be publicly released, and I will be sure to get the member a copy.

Fletcher Tabuteau: Why have the Minister and her Government done nothing in their 9-year reign to help the people of Taranaki – King Country who have literally lost their lives, lost their dignity, and lost their livelihoods under the current pricing model?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, I do not think we would ever call ourselves so regal that we would have to have a “reign”, but I would refer the member to the Commerce Committee, of which his colleague Ria Bond was a member, which in 2015, when looking at this very issue, said in a unanimous report “We found no evidence that the pricing model is incorrect or being incorrectly applied by TLC.”—being, of course, The Lines Company. “We are satisfied that TLC’s pricing methodology is legal, and in many circumstances has delivered savings to consumers. Furthermore, we are satisfied that the Electricity Authority and the Commerce Commission have thoroughly and fairly investigated all the complaints they have received about the company.” So to say that we have done nothing is quite wrong. In fact, Parliament has taken this issue very seriously.

Fletcher Tabuteau: When she is told “My family and I live and sleep in our lounge during the winter. We’re too afraid to turn the heater on in case our lines charges double in the next year.”, why has she not acted previously, or does she think that her Government has no role to play in these people’s lives?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think the member should review what I just told him in answer to his previous supplementary question. In fact, Parliament has acted. In fact, I was a member of the Commerce Committee, as was his colleague Ria Bond. We listened to those submissions very carefully. I would also remind him that board of The Lines Company are the people who actually instigated the PricewaterhouseCoopers report to which he is referring.

Fletcher Tabuteau: When she was told “We’ve had to shut down accommodation in the district as tourists turn on the heaters because it’s cold, which sends the cost of electricity supply to our businesses through the roof in the following year.”, did she not think the Government should have intervened at least 9 years ago, or is this Government not interested in regional New Zealand business?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think the member really does need to actually go back and listen to what I have already told him, and to go back to the excellent report from the Commerce Committee, which is the response to the 2014/0001 petition, and, actually, also consider that the Electricity Authority is already considering this very matter, as it should do under the law—because unlike that member, I think we should always follow the law.

Fletcher Tabuteau: What assurances can the Minister give that this large and critical region of New Zealand, where farmers, homeowners, fixed-income earners, and elderly, and even our small-to-medium enterprises have been ignored by the Minister and her predecessors? What assurances will she give that these people will actually have the support of her Government in the 5 months that it has left in office?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: No one is ignoring that excellent region of New Zealand, from which so much of my family hails.

Mental Health and Addiction Services—Staffing

8. IAN McKELVIE (National—Rangitīkei) to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm that the number of registered nurses working in mental health and addiction services has increased from 3,583 to 4,206 over the last 5 years—an increase of 17 percent?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Yes, I can. The number of registered nurses working in mental health and addiction services has increased at a higher rate than for any other level of nursing. This includes an increase of 23 percent for nurses in addiction services, 22 percent in community mental health, and those working in hospital-based mental health services have increased by 12 percent. There is always more we can do, and the Government continues to work on improving mental health services. Having a dedicated workforce is an important part of our wider plan.

Ian McKelvie: What other steps is the Government taking to address mental health issues, including the suicide rate?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The suicide rate remains too high, particularly the rates for young Māori and Pasifika people. Today I am releasing the draft Suicide Prevention Strategy that goes out for consultation. This strategy will provide an opportunity for individuals and organisations to give feedback to help guide suicide prevention activities. Health services, particularly mental health services, and Government agencies cannot do this work alone. That is why the draft strategy acknowledges the need for input and engagement right across New Zealand society. Although the overall rate has improved in recent years, there is more to do.

Dr David Clark: Can he confirm that the number of people accessing mental health services has increased over the same time period by 26.5 percent—far greater than the increase in the number of registered nurses—and, as a result of a lack of safe staffing and funding, that among other incidents a mental health nurse in Hillmorton Hospital was beaten to the ground last year by an acutely psychotic patient and was off work for 5 weeks?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Well, what I can confirm is that assaults are way too high for our mental health workers, and, unfortunately, it is a risk of working in what is a very difficult field. Funding in mental health has grown faster than population growth and inflation, but, of course—

Dr David Clark: Not as fast as need is growing.

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: —just listen for a second, Dr Clark—we have faced a massively increasing demand. We are treating 164,000 people per year. That is up from 96,000 people per year a decade ago. That is a huge increase of 68,000 people, but we are focusing on making sure that people get the services that they need, and we are going that.

Education, Minister—Statements on School Funding Review

9. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister of Education: Does she stand by her statement regarding the school funding review that “we will not be interested in how we stigmatise children, rather what we are trying to do is get the right resource to the right kid at the right time in the right places”?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. As it appears that the Opposition is simply recycling questions it asked a year ago, I give the answer that I consistently give and provided to this House over a year ago, on 16 March 2016: “I have been consistent in stating that I do not believe that stigmatising children either through their school decile or individually leads to good educational outcomes, ….”

Chris Hipkins: Which does she think will create the greatest stigma for schools and children: a socioeconomic decile ranking, as we have now, or a release of a detailed breakdown of the number of pupils with parents who have been in prison or rely on a benefit, the number of children who have male caregivers who are not their father, or the number of children who have been the subject of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) notifications, all of which would be obtainable under the Official Information Act?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I know not of the second part of the member’s question in relation to the primary question that was asked. There is no intention to release individual data of the kind the member is speaking of. What I do know is that the current decile system does indeed stigmatise schools.

Chris Hipkins: Are all of the criteria I just mentioned proposed for inclusion in the new profiling exercise the Government is intending to do as a replacement for school decile funding?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: The Government has made no decision as to what it might do in terms of supporting students who are at risk of underachievement due to disadvantage.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not ask whether the Government had made decisions. The Minister has put a proposal out in public. I asked whether the criteria that I had listed were included in that proposal.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member may ask the question again.

Chris Hipkins: Were all of the criteria that I just listed in my prior supplementary question included in the proposed system that the Government is looking at to replace decile funding?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: No criteria have been proposed.

Chris Hipkins: Does this Cabinet paper that she released late last year include on page 10 a list of the possible criteria that might be included in the new funding system, including the proportion of time spent supported by benefits since birth, the father’s offending and sentencing history, and all of the other criteria, including CYF notifications?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I would invite the member to table that paper, which has indeed been online since November last year. What it does is traverse the integrated data infrastructure (IDI) that has been publicly available as part of Statistics New Zealand’s work. They are not criteria; they are an index of possible risk. [Interruption] Oh!

Chris Hipkins: If that data is compiled on a school-by-school basis, how will the Government prevent that data from being released and, therefore, stigmatising the schools and children in a far worse way than the decile funding system does?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: The IDI is not compiled school by school; it provides a backdrop to the data that we draw from for social investment. To quell the anxiety that the member is expressing, in Budget 2016 we decided as a Government to provide a targeted operations grant to schools based on one factor, long-term benefit-dependent homes. That was an anonymised set of data. It was provided to schools without identifying who the children were. In fact, the Ministry of Education has no knowledge of who specifically the children were, and 99.4 percent of schools received a share of that funding. No stigmatising has gone on. Schools are operating. They have the extra funding. No child has been identified.

Chris Hipkins: If that data is not going to be compiled on a school-by-school basis, how will the Government allocate funding to schools based on those criteria?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: When the Government has made a decision, then the member will know.

Crown Minerals Act—Application

10. GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she agree with Dr Russel Norman, who said that section 101B(1)(c) of the Crown Minerals Act 1991, known as the Anadarko Amendment, was “put in place by the Government to protect the interest of big oil and to stifle dissent”?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Energy and Resources): Surprisingly, no. It is about keeping people safe and balancing the right to protest with the petroleum operators’ right to carry out their lawful and permitted work. I certainly do not agree with any tactics that put people’s lives at risk. Health and safety is something that this Government takes very seriously.

Gareth Hughes: If the “Anadarko Amendment” is all about protecting people’s safety, why does it apply only to the oil and mining industries, and is this simply a case of one law for us and one law for oil?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, of course there is no such thing as an Anadarko amendment; that is simply a figment of that member’s imagination. If, however, he wants to say that there should be the rule of law and it should be complied with, then yes, I agree with that one.

Gareth Hughes: Can the Minister confirm that that 2013 amendment, used to charge Dr Norman, was passed under urgency with no consultation and received no New Zealand Bill of Rights Act check, and that polls at the time showed 79 percent of Kiwis wanted to see it withdrawn or sent back to committee?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The matter was a matter for Parliament. Parliament made the law, and the law is something that needs to be upheld.

Gareth Hughes: Has the Royal New Zealand Navy ever been used to detain oil drilling protestors; if so, is it right for the State to be used as the private security of the oil industry?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: That would be an entirely hypothetical question, because, of course, the State is not used as a private security company for anybody.

Gareth Hughes: Given that her department and the Government have opened up the Māui’s dolphin sanctuary for oil drilling, give tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies to the oil industry, and are now threatening to lock up oil protesters, is it not time that this country had a separation of oil and State?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Many points for a dramatic turn of phrase, but, really, the State does not lock people up. That is a matter for the courts, and the courts actually look at—these matters are put before them, and, of course, in relation to Mr Norman, I make no comment, because I do not interfere in the courts’ business.

Question No. 4 to Minister

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment): I seek leave of the House to table the Environment Court decision of 7 July 2011 putting the nutrient limits in place in Lake Taupō.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave is put for that purpose. Is there any objection? There appears to be none.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You did not let me get to my leave application in respect of the earlier decision of Judge Skelton that was under appeal in the decision that has just been tabled.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: So I take it that that is advice rather than a point of order?

Hon DAVID PARKER: No, no—I seek leave to table the first ever nutrient limit on a New Zealand catchment for nitrate limits, which was the decision of Judge Skelton in the Taupō catchment, accompanied by $70 million in funding from the then Labour Government.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: OK. I believe the document has been adequately described. Leave is put for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Freshwater Management—Farming Practices and Water Quality

11. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister for the Environment: Does he believe his Government’s failure to properly control increases in farm intensity close to waterways has caused much of the river degradation identified in Professor Sir Peter Gluckman’s report on New Zealand’s fresh water?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment): No, for three reasons. Firstly, Professor Gluckman’s report makes plain that this degradation of waterways has occurred over a time frame of many decades, going back to early land clearance a century ago. Secondly, this Government is the first to put in place legal limits on intensification, through the national policy statement (NPS) that has now seen regional councils put limits in 18 catchments. Thirdly, the pace of intensification has actually slowed under this Government. There was a 33 percent increase in the size of the dairy herd between 1999 and 2008. Since then, the increase over the next 9 years was half that, or 17 percent—that is, today’s growth is substantially smaller and of course there is far tighter regulation of that intensification.

Hon David Parker: Well then, does he believe the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment who just last year said: “[There is a] clear link between expanding dairy farming and increasing stress on water quality. Even with best practice mitigation, the large-scale conversion of more land to dairy farming will generally result in more degraded fresh water.”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Yes, and I would ask the question as to why that member, when a Minister, when there was a 33 percent increase in the dairy herd, did absolutely nothing and why this Government has had a very aggressive programme of tightening the regulation on improvements in water quality.

Hon David Parker: Did he warn his Cabinet colleagues of the dangers to our rivers of allowing cow numbers to increase from 5½ million in 2008 to 6½ million now, and why did they ignore him?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Because Cabinet does not actually determine stock numbers. We determine environmental rules, and this Cabinet has done more in setting environmental rules around water quality than any Government in New Zealand’s history.

Todd Muller: What support is there for the Government’s freshwater programme in today’s report from Sir Peter Gluckman?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: This science report supports the Government programme in three respects. Firstly, it puts to bed the criticisms of the Government’s swimmability standard and negates the extravagant claims about risk that were applied to those rules. Secondly, it makes plain that the Government’s timetable of 90 percent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040 is realistic, given the time frames of New Zealand’s hydrological systems. Thirdly, it confirms that the Government’s measures of nationally regulating for stock out of waterways, as confirmed by the passage last week of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, actually is the next logical and important step for improving water quality.

Todd Muller: What advice has he received on the average levels of E. coli, measured in waterways adjacent to indigenous forests, exotic forest farmland, and urban land uses, and what do these say about New Zealand’s water quality challenges?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The average E. coli level in waterways adjacent to indigenous forests is 20 E. coli per 100 mls, in exotic forestry it is 67, in pastoral farming areas it has an average of 190, but in urban areas in New Zealand it has an average of 440. This reinforces that to constantly target farmers and ignore the greater level of pollution in urban waterways is allowing politics and not science to colour our response, and that both urban and rural New Zealand need to lift our game if we are to take better care of our waterways.

Hon David Parker: Given that the OECD, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and now Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, all say our rivers are still getting more polluted, why cannot he just fess up and admit that after 8 years he has failed New Zealand?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Because the member misquotes exactly the professor and Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. I directly quote from the report: “The Government’s interventions for clean-up programmes are progressing well and showing real results. The levels of phosphorous over the last 8 years have actually improved, and it is the issue with nitrates that is the greatest challenge.”, and that is actually the area where the Government is tightening both the national rules and, at long last, has some limits in those catchments that are sensitive.

Hon David Parker: Does he now accept that he was wrong to spike the Judge Sheppard NPS, which would have stopped increases in farming intensity being a permitted activity, given that his weak substitute has allowed an extra million cows and more farmers to treat our rivers as drains?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I will draw the honourable member’s attention—the size of the dairy herd in New Zealand under the last Labour-Green Government increased by 33 percent over 9 years. In the 9 years of this Government, the level of dairy herd has grown by 17 percent, roughly half, and that is partly because this Government has actually put rules in place, whereas in Labour’s 9 years it did absolutely zippo about water quality.

Hon David Parker: Does he accept the relationship between the high number of freshwater invertebrate species now considered nationally vulnerable or endangered and his policy on their protection, which is also spineless?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I would point out to the member that in the clean water document the Government launched just a couple of weeks ago, we for the first time are going to require that the macroinvertebrate community index—the measurement of the species that live in our water—is actually going to be a compulsory requirement in the national policy statement on freshwater. I would draw to the member’s attention that in their 9 years, they did not even bother to put any national environment standard or any national policy statement in place.

Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister—Announcements on Community and Voluntary Group Funding

12. MATT DOOCEY (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector: What recent announcements has he made about community and voluntary group funding in New Zealand?

Hon ALFRED NGARO (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector): Today I announced that $12.5 million of grant funding is now available for NGOs looking for funding that will have an impact in their local community, up and down the country.

Matt Doocey: What are some examples of the benefits that this funding can provide?

Hon ALFRED NGARO: The funding is unique in that it is decided on and distributed by local distribution committees. That means that we have locals deciding on what matters most to them and what will have the most impact on their own communities. Last year 4,223 organisations received funding for a range of community projects, such as the running or operational costs of organisations that provide community based social services; community development costs such as training, planning, evaluation, and facilitation fees; and community projects or even costs that encourage participation in communities, promote community leadership, and promote social, economic, and cultural equity.


Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is the right of members to ask questions to other members who are responsible for bills. Those questions are more tightly constrained by Speakers’ rulings but are also very much constrained by the Standing Orders. When a question is put, it has to deal specifically with matters that relate to the House. The first question could not possibly relate to the House, because the question on the bill has not at this point been put to the House. If you go through the rest of these questions, there are many occasions where they fall short of the Standing Orders, but I would particularly suggest that question No. 5 is a very deliberate breach of Standing Order 380(1)(c). I think that while we would not at all want to impede people asking questions of someone who is responsible for a bill, we would like to see that adherence to the Standing Orders. The other point I would make is that it is somewhat ironic that we are unlikely to get to this bill today, because of the time we are going to spend on members’ questions.

RICHARD PROSSER (NZ First): With regard to the Leader of the House’s first point about a question, in fact, the bill has been through a certain number of stages, and the question is about indications of support, not the votes in the House. The other point about question No. 5 and the reference that I presume the Minister is referring to—calling it “communist”—and referencing Standing Order 380(1)(c),”discreditable references to the House or any member of Parliament or any offensive or unparliamentary expression.”, is that whereas many people might disagree with the notion of communism, it is actually a valid political viewpoint.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: The last part of his point of order was not really a point of order, but I rule that—I am just quoting the Standing Orders—a question to a member must relate to business before the House of which he or she has charge. There is no requirement that a motion has to have been moved in respect of the business before questions may be asked about it, and the question asks for an opinion or a policy in respect of a bill—that is a matter for the MP—that they are in charge of. We will go to—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is an interesting ruling, but there is also a Standing Order that makes it quite clear that you cannot pre-empt a decision of the House. So a question that asks for what support there is for the bill, in the context of the question being allowed in the House, clearly invites the member to pre-empt the business of the House, and that is in breach of the Standing Orders.

Chris Hipkins: Speaking to the point of order, the Standing Order that the Minister refers to extends to all business before the House and not specifically questions to members. If the Minister wants that question to be the standard for question time, that would also preclude Government members from asking patsy questions about the likely decisions of the House with regard to Government bills.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: OK. Members, in respect of the—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Speaking to the point of order, that is completely unreasonable for you to be asked to rule on that, because the Government does not ask itself questions about bills; it asks itself questions about policy. That is the point of having a question time. This, of course, is a situation where a member is being asked to pre-empt the House’s decision by trying to coerce a degree of support from his own scant knowledge of how the vote is likely to go.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. I appreciate the advice from all sides of the House, and speaking of pre-emption, this exact word content has been asked on a number of other occasions with respect to members’ bills—questions to members. The question is in order, and I will call on Ria Bond to ask it.

Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill—Indications of Support

1. RIA BOND (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill: What indications of support has he received for the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill?

CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First): That is a great question. Without gazing into the Minister’s crystal ball that he referred to, I have to say that we have had overwhelming support for this bill. In one online poll we had 84 percent of the participants in that poll supporting this bill going through the House. I have to say, that is a huge indication that people see this moving forward. Also, speaking to a number of broadcasters—other than Sky, of course—they also have support for this bill and would like to see it progress through the stages.

Ria Bond: Are there any other signs of support, aside from the public, for this bill?

CLAYTON MITCHELL: We were encouraged, initially, by comments made by Clare Curran in 2013 about the Labour Party’s position with regard to the bill and the regulations with regard to Sky Television, but we see yet again it has made another U-turn and has flip-flopped like a dead fish on board a fishing boat. We are waiting to see how the vote is cast this afternoon. [Interruption]

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! In respect of questions to members, there is only one supplementary question available to the member who asks the primary question.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Well, sorry, the first point of order came from David Seymour.

David Seymour: I seek leave of the House to ask an additional supplementary question of the member.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave is put for that purpose, is there any objection? Yes, there appears to be objection.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given that today is members’ day and the time of the House belongs to members and we are dealing with a member’s question, I would seek leave of the House for any member who wants to ask any question on any of the members’ questions today to be able to do so.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I will just note that that particular member has used up quite a bit of the time already in respect of his points of order, which he would seem to be complaining about. I will put that leave in the spirit in which it was given. Is there any objection?

Hon Members: Yes.

Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill—Ability to Increase Viewership of Domestic Sporting Events

2. RIA BOND (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill: Will the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill enable about 2.7 million taxpayers who do not have Sky, the ability to watch major domestic sporting events free and on live to air television?

CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First): I am sure the Minister will know the answer to this already, after having gazed into his crystal ball. This is the very purpose of this bill and the intent of why we have brought this to the House. We absolutely stress that our bill focuses upon major sporting events held domestically, where ratepayers and taxpayers have contributed already. The exceptions are global events, such as the Olympics, the trans-Tasman finals, and Rugby World Cup matches involving New Zealand teams. If people like Mr Mallard want to watch wrestling in Kazakhstan, as he so evidently does, then I confirm that he will still need to pay for his Sky Sport subscription to carry on doing so.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your advice and clarification. You ruled earlier that there is one supplementary question on a question to a member. Are you now saying that that supplementary question can only be asked by the member who asked the primary question?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: You got it.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question that I ask you is: is that a new ruling that you are now making? That is certainly not a ruling that has applied in the past. The Speaker has absolute discretion as to how many supplementary questions may be asked. Generally, the convention has been that the Speaker will only allow one supplementary question from the member asking the question. But, as far as I know, this is the first time in which members on the other side of the House have sought to ask a supplementary question on a question to a member. There has certainly been no ruling by a Speaker in the past preventing that from happening.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Well, I may have—

David Seymour: Speaking to the point of order—

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, I do not need any further advice. I may have misled the House by referring to there being a ruling. However, it is a convention, and I am sticking to the convention. I invite Ria Bond to ask her supplementary question.

Ria Bond: How much will it cost?

CLAYTON MITCHELL: What a great question. Look, this is talking about regulation before we actually talk about the legislation, and it has got to go through the House so that we can actually have that discussion. But if you look at adopting what they have got in Australia, with its anti-ciphering laws, this will not cost New Zealand taxpayers a single cent more than what they are already contributing to Sport and Recreation, which is around about a billion dollars a year.

Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill—Fairness to Ratepayers and Taxpayers

3. RIA BOND (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill: Is the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill fair on ratepayers and taxpayers?

CLAYTON MITCHELL (Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill): Another great question; they are coming in thick and fast.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: You do not have to rate the question. Just give an answer to it.

CLAYTON MITCHELL: I will give it a 10—right. I alluded to that in my answer to the first question. Taxpayers and ratepayers in this country are spending around about a billion dollars a year already. So for them to not have to fork out an extra thousand dollars a year to subscribe to Sky to ensure that they can actually see those games of national significance live, they will be saving themselves a lot of money, and that will hugely benefit the ratepayers and taxpayers, who are already paying. This will simply stop them being charged for a third time. We should not have to pay three times for our sports.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would ask you to reconsider your decision. I am going to ask for leave again, because it is quite clear that when you are dealing with a question that talks about games of national significance, that does not mean it is confined entirely to the views of one small party in the House. I get the sense from the questions that have been answered so far that Mr Mitchell might think he knows quite a bit about this. For those of us on this side who are floundering in the dark about the benefits of this bill being passed, I would seek leave for this House to allow those members who want to question this member on the games of national significance to do so.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: No—[Interruption] Sorry, I do not need any further assistance, and I will not be putting leave for that question. It may well be in the Leader of the House’s best intentions to extend this part of the House’s business so that we do not get to the general debate, which I am sure he is just rehearsing his speech for.

Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill—Potential Benefits

4. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill: What benefits are likely to come from the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill if enacted?

CLAYTON MITCHELL (Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill): There are huge benefits to New Zealanders, particularly around sports making up a huge part of our culture. If we consider the importance that we have put on, for example, Māori Television, we have spent $55 million a year on that because we absolutely hold in high regard our culture, and that certainly goes some way to addressing our cultural issue with sports and engagement with people.

Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill—Commentary

5. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill: Does he believe that the bill is “communist”, as a member of Parliament has charged?

CLAYTON MITCHELL (Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill): This question has certainly raised some suspicion from one member on the other side. But I think those members saying such ridiculous things should stop reading Tintin comics and conspiracy theory novels. If this was in any way true, then they would be calling Australia, the UK, and Canada communist countries too, because all those countries have anti-siphoning laws and regulations that allow their people to see games of national significance live and free to air.

Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill—Potential Impact on Sporting Venues and Sporting Codes

6. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill: Will the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill empty stadiums of paying patrons and deny sporting codes revenue?

CLAYTON MITCHELL (Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill): I would love to give you a short answer. The short answer is no, but I am going to extend on that a little bit further. [Interruption] You are just so insightful. International experience in respect of stadium attendances is the reverse. I am just saying that the streaming of Adele, for example, did not stop people—even though they could see Adele live on TV, they still went to those concerts. In terms of participation and viewing the games of national significance, people feel more encouraged to in fact attend at the stadium so that they can see their players live, and up close and personal. That is the evidence.

Darroch Ball: Can the member address the question of revenue in regard to this bill?

CLAYTON MITCHELL: I have seen reports of some codes complaining that if this bill went through the House, they would lose revenue. In response, we could point to Sky’s falling subscriber base, which means the good old days are fast going. The fact is that free-to-air broadcasters have access to 3.6 million New Zealanders, who are paying their taxes, versus 860,000 for Sky subscribers. You only have to do the maths to work out that it is better to go and put those games on live and free to air.

Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill—Impact of the Declining of Sky and Vodafone Merging on

7. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill: What are the implications of the Commerce Commission’s recent refusal of the Sky-Vodafone merger on the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill?

CLAYTON MITCHELL (Member in charge of the Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill): That is a good question. Two weeks ago Sky lodged an appeal against the Commerce Commission’s rejection of the Vodafone New Zealand purchase. This is ironic because a substantive reason cited by the Commerce Commission for rejecting this proposed merger was that Sky Sport gave Sky-Vodafone an unfair competitive advantage. Enabling this bill to go through the House would in some way go towards remedying that problem.

Youth Employment Training and Education Bill—Benefits

8. CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill: Who will potentially benefit from the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill?

DARROCH BALL (Member in charge of the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill): If the bill passes, those youth aged 15 to 17 who are eligible to apply to the employment programme run by the New Zealand Defence Force and funded by the Ministry of Social Development will benefit. By taking just a fraction of the future costs and proactively investing and getting these youth employed and skilled within a controlled environment, it makes both social and economic long-term sense for this country.

Clayton Mitchell: What is the Youth Employment Training and Education (YETE) Bill aiming to achieve?

DARROCH BALL: The YETE Bill aims to provide an employment option for those increasing number of youth who are unemployed and disengaged. Currently, there are 91,000 youths who are not in employment, education, or training and who run the risk of incurring high social and fiscal costs to themselves and the country. This bill aims to invest in the front end and give these kids a fair chance.

Youth Employment Training and Education Bill—Funding

9. CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill: How will the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill be funded?

DARROCH BALL (Member in charge of the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill): If the bill is passed, the Youth Employment Training and Education (YETE) programme will be funded by the Ministry of Social Development and run by the New Zealand Defence Force. This is similar to how the current, highly successful Limited Service Volunteer scheme is currently funded and run.

Clayton Mitchell: What are the potential financial costs of the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill?

DARROCH BALL: Currently, those youth who are disengaged from society and are part of the young people not in education, employment, or training rates are costing the country millions of dollars a year through lost earnings, mental health, justice, and social services costs. The YETE programme aims to take just a fraction of those long-term costs and invest it in the front end to get these young people engaged in employment.

Youth Employment Training and Education Bill—Potential Outcomes

10. CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First) to the Member in charge of the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill: What are the potential outcomes for young people who participate in the work scheme introduced by the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill?

DARROCH BALL (Member in charge of the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill): If the bill passes, young people who complete the 3-year contract will leave with a minimum NCEA level 2 in numeracy and literacy, trade training, car and trailer licences, and first aid qualifications, as well as life skills instilled in them in the army environment. They will be work ready at 18.

Clayton Mitchell: What existing successful schemes is the Youth Employment Training and Education Bill based on?

DARROCH BALL: The Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) scheme is a highly successful army-run, 6-week course for young people and has proven to change young people’s lives and get them off State dependence. The Youth Employment Training and Education programme is based on the LSV programme but is wider in scope; introduces trade training, skills training, and education; and is a 3-year residential programme.

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