Press Release – Office of the Clerk

1. CHRIS BISHOP (National) to the Minister of Finance : What reports has he received on the outlook for the New Zealand economy?1. Economic Outlook—Reports

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]

1. CHRIS BISHOP (National) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the outlook for the New Zealand economy?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Associate Minister of Finance) on behalf of the Minister of Finance: Yesterday the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) released its consensus forecasts. NZIER reports a lift in growth expectations on the back of a stronger outlook for household spending. Solid investment growth over the next few years is expected, reflecting improved business confidence and increased residential construction. Expectations for employment growth over 4 years have been revised up, and forecast unemployment revised down. Growth is expected to average 2.7 percent over 4 years, broadly in line with recent forecasts from Treasury and the Reserve Bank.

Chris Bishop: What reports has he received that show how solid momentum in the economy in the first half of 2016 is helping to deliver more jobs and higher wages for New Zealand families?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Treasury recently published its Monthly Economic Indicators report for May, which says: “The economy appears to have maintained solid momentum over the first half of the year. … Robust real wages, along with high migration and tourism inflows, supported retail spending in the March quarter. … On balance, the economy appears to be doing slightly better so far this year than anticipated in the Budget update.” Treasury also reports lifts in business confidence, property expectations, and employment and investment intentions among businesses.

Chris Bishop: How is continuing job growth, in particular the growth in full-time employment combined with low cost of living increases, helping families get ahead?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Monthly Economic Indicators reports a 1.2 percent increase in employment in the March quarter alone. That is 28,000 additional jobs, and 75 percent of this job growth was in full-time employment. Construction industry employment growth is being increasingly driven by Auckland as the residential component of the Canterbury rebuild levels off and Auckland building activity increases. Better job prospects are encouraging more people to look for work, leading to the labour force expanding a record 1.5 percent in the quarter. Inflation of 0.4 percent is supporting robust real wage growth, meaning higher spending power for households and families.

Chris Bishop: Supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

Hon Members: Again?

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Chris Bishop.

Chris Bishop: That is right, there is more—there is more. What steps is the Government taking to support growth, investment, and employment?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The Government does not create jobs, of course; businesses do. What the Government can do is create an environment where businesses have the confidence to invest another dollar and employ another person. The Government has taken many steps to support growth, investment, and jobs, including reducing income taxes to increase incentives to work, reducing ACC levies by around $2 billion since 2012, investing in new public infrastructure, and diversifying our exports by negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership alongside agreements with Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Korea.

David Seymour: If cutting taxes has previously been found to increase the incentives for work, savings, and investment, does the Government have any plans to repeat that?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: As the member knows, there were not any in 2016, and he has got a few more sleeps to wait until Budget 2017 to have the answer to that.

Grant Robertson: How is Westpac bank wrong when it describes the Budget as a “Fiscal mirage”, saying that “it’s clear that the improvement in the fiscal outlook has largely come from the economic projections … rather than [any] policy”?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: As I just said in answers to the primary question, when you are seeing growth that is coming out through the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research of 2.7 percent—Treasury forecasting 2.9 percent—on the world stage I think most people would see that as a positive story. That is why we disagree.

2. Ministers—Confidence

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:3. Text is subject to correction.]

2. JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

James Shaw: How can he have confidence in his Minister for Social Housing when on her watch the number of severely housing deprived Kiwis has increased 25 percent, meaning at least one in every hundred New Zealanders will go to bed tonight in an overcrowded house, a night shelter, or a car?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I take with a grain of salt the member’s numbers, but the reason I have confidence in the Minister for Social Housing is that she has been working hard in this area for a long period of time, including the stocktaking and review that was done in the early part of last year and the work that was announced as part of Budget 2016—the $41 million that will assist people in need of emergency support and the $200 million for social housing. She was also instrumental in getting agreement from the Minister of Finance to ensure that income-related rents would move to social housing providers as well as Housing New Zealand.

James Shaw: I seek leave to table Otago University research from 3 June 2016 that shows that homelessness in New Zealand has grown by 25 percent.

Mr SPEAKER: I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table that particular University of Otago research. Is there any objection to it being tabled? [Interruption] Is that an objection? There is objection.

James Shaw: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your advice in this situation, and several others like it. It is becoming an increasing tactic of the Prime Minister and the Government to answer questions simply by quibbling the numbers in the Opposition’s questions, knowing full well that we are not able to table the data afterwards. I am just wondering whether you think that is an adequate way of responding to questions.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It is the prerogative of the House to choose. Any member, in fact, can decide that they do not want to support the tabling of information. This particular information is not reliable, we do know about it, and it has, for example, people living with relatives being recorded as homeless.

Mr SPEAKER: I was ever hopeful that it might have been a helpful point of order. Once a member, in putting forward a supplementary question, decides to include some figures, then it is always the option of a Minister or a Prime Minister to then dispute the question, so my advice to the member is to think whether he could tighten questions up. Do not include such statistics unless they are essential to the question, and at least then it does not give the opportunity for a Minister, in responding, to dispute the questions. On the final point raised by Mr Brownlee, he is quite right. I decide whether to put the leave, I put the leave, and it is the prerogative of any member to then decide to decline that leave.

James Shaw: How can he have confidence in his Minister for Social Housing when the number of people sleeping rough within a 3-kilometre radius of the Sky Tower has increased by 135 percent over the course of the last 3 years alone?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government is aware that when the Auckland City Mission did its annual stocktaking those numbers were higher, and that is why the Government has been having extra work done to try to support those people, including greater work occurring from Ministry of Social Development officials.

James Shaw: When was the last time that the Prime Minister walked down Queen Street or Lambton Quay or Colombo Street and noticed the growing number of people sleeping in shop doorways and thought to himself: “This is the brighter future I promised 8 years ago.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As I go around New Zealand, what I do see is a country that is a lot more confident in itself. I see high growth around the country and I see a lot of optimism and people benefiting from the National-led Government. I think that is why this Government has enjoyed the kind of electoral support we have. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the member wants to continue with his questions, I suggest he do so.

James Shaw: What is the financial cost of homelessness to the taxpayer, and why has the Minister for Social Housing not done any work to quantify this?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member needs to direct that question to the Minister for Social Housing.

James Shaw: When the Prime Minister told me yesterday in question time that his “Government has a comprehensive plan [on] housing, and that plan is working”, was Paula Bennett’s sudden announcement of a $5,000 payment to homeless people to move out of Auckland part of that comprehensive plan, and is it working?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The $5,000 payment has not started yet; it starts next week, as I understand it. That would be one very, very small piece in terms of support for social housing, but the anecdotal feedback I have had from the Minister is that there is some encouraging evidence that people might be interested in taking up the $5,000.

James Shaw: Why does he say that his Government’s comprehensive plan on housing is working when the numbers of people who are homeless or who live in constant fear of becoming homeless has risen by 25 percent over the 8 years of his Government?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As I said earlier, the research that the member is relying on is quite interesting research in the sense that it lists, amongst other things, someone who is homeless as someone who is living with a relative. I do not think that most New Zealanders would say that that is the definition of “homeless”.

3. Prime Minister—Statements

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “I expect high standards from my Ministers and I hope they maintain those standards … if they don’t, then obviously I will take action if necessary”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, I do.

Andrew Little: Does Paula Bennett’s failure to ensure that families have houses to live in meet with his high standards?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I reject the proposition.

Andrew Little: Was it in keeping with his standards for Paula Bennett’s office to smear a marae for doing what she has failed to do, namely, helping homeless families?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government has made it quite clear—the Minister and myself—that we do not condone the actions of the staff member, but we are also aware that the Minister was not aware that the staff member had spoken to a journalist. As soon as she became aware of that, she apologised.

Andrew Little: Was it in keeping with his standards for Paula Bennet to mislead the media by saying: “The homeless don’t want help.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have not seen that quote, and I would need to see the context in which it was made.

Andrew Little: Does Nick Smith’s failure to do anything to stabilise house prices and arrest the fall in homeownership meet with his high standards?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If I contrast the actions of Nick Smith as Minister of Building and Housing with the Ministers of housing in the previous Labour Government, then I have great pride in the work he is doing, because at least he is doing things. Although I am a little reluctant to read too much into 1 month’s data, we can see even today that Auckland house prices are going up a little less than the rest of the country.

Andrew Little: Was it in keeping with his standards for Nick Smith to blame the housing crisis on Kiwis for not being educated enough, while protecting foreign speculators that Minister Smith says do “diddly-squat”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is just making it up.

Andrew Little: Does anyone in his Government take responsibility for anything anymore, or is it just an endless exercise in passing the buck?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Of course the Government takes responsibility. We take responsibility for the fact that the country is growing strongly. We take responsibility for the fact that the books are back in order. We take responsibility for the fact that we are the first Government in decades to raise benefits. We take responsibility for the fact that under this Government the refugee quota will be raised. We take responsibility for the fact that through the worst of times we stood behind the most vulnerable New Zealanders. We take responsibility for the fact that we stood behind the people of Christchurch. We take responsibility for the fact that we have undertaken more elective—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

4. Refugees—Support

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:5. Text is subject to correction.]

4. JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the Minister of Immigration: What recent announcements has the Government made to support refugees?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister of Immigration): The Government recently announced the first increase in nearly 30 years to the refugee quota, from 750 places to 1,000 places annually from 2018-19. The Government is presently providing 500 places to Syrian refugees over the next 2 years. On top of this, New Zealand provides 300 places under the refugee family support category, and considers and approves nearly 175 asylum cases every year. Combined, these numbers comprise nearly 1,500 places for the world’s most vulnerable people to be settled into New Zealand.

Jonathan Young: What else is the Government doing to support refugees?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: This Saturday the Prime Minister will officially open the new facility at the Māngere Refugee Resettlement Centre—a $25 million investment in refugee resettlement. That centre has been the first stop for refugees coming to New Zealand for the last 70 years, and the upgrades to the centre have transformed it into a state-of-the-art facility that will give all future refugees the best possible start in New Zealand. We know it is the people providing support to the refugees who matter, but the building will be a fantastic environment within which to make their home for the first 6 weeks.

Iain Lees-Galloway: Why will he not simply follow the advice of Amnesty International and the Red Cross, and double the quota? When the Prime Minister says that we have got $3 billion for tax cuts and that we have got $20 billion for the Defence Force, why can he not find the resources to double the quota?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I think that is a question that he could ask of his own party when it was in Government for 9 years and did absolutely nothing. I am very proud of the response that this Government makes to refugee—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! A question was asked—it was a relatively political question—and the answer should then be able to be heard by everybody, including myself. I cannot hear it above the barrage I am picking up from my left-hand side. Does the Minister wish to continue?

5. Refugees—Quota

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:5. Text is subject to correction.]

5. DENISE ROCHE (Green) to the Minister of Immigration: Does he stand by his statement that “we take our international humanitarian obligations and responsibilities seriously”, given that the Government will not make any permanent increase to the refugee quota for another 2 years, at a time when we are facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister of Immigration): Yes.

Denise Roche: Given that the refugee quota has not increased since 1987, and our population has increased by 43 percent over these three decades, would he agree that we could be more ambitious than being in the 90th place in the world for the number of refugees we accept?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: When the member refers to the 90th place, she is moving away from the prefacing statement in her question, which is about quota. This Government has made a significant investment into the quality of the settlement outcomes for the refugees we do take, which, by any measure, are not as good as they could be. But if one was to ask the Syrian refugees, whom we are taking right now, whether they care that they are not called “quota refugees”, they would say they do not; they are just very happy to be welcomed into this country.

Denise Roche: What does he say to New Zealand Red Cross, Amnesty International, the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church, and the tens of thousands of ordinary, fair-minded Kiwis, who say we can and should support 1,500 of the millions of women, men, and children who are fleeing terrible circumstances into a safe haven in New Zealand?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I do not need to answer that question in the hypothetical. I can tell the member that Catholic bishops, Caritas, and Red Cross have all congratulated the Government on the announcement this week. Amnesty International has expressed disappointment in that, and that is completely understandable given that it led the call to double the quota. But I am very satisfied that we do a number of things to fulfil our international obligations, firstly, in the refugee space, but not only that. We have increased our financial aid to countries like Iraq and Syria and the countries around them. We have been building schools in southern Turkey, and our defence force response into Afghanistan through provincial reconstruction and training in Iraq all contributes to stability in the regions, and I am very proud of that.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question, the Rt Hon Winston Peters—the Rt Hon Prime Minister—the Rt Hon Prime Minister.

Rt Hon John Key: I know both of us have been booted out of the House this year, but, anyway, there we go.

Mr SPEAKER: Just ask the question.

Rt Hon John Key: Does the Minister think that, if political parties feel amazingly strongly about doubling the quota for refugees, they should have that as an absolute bottom line, and not form a Government with another party that might one day say it is not prepared to do that?

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I do not need any assistance from the member. That question is designed for nothing else but to attack another member. [Interruption] Order!

Denise Roche: Why are we risking our reputation as a responsible global citizen and member of the United Nations Security Council by delaying this small increase to the refugee quota until 2018, when even Australia is accepting around three times more than we do, on a per capita basis?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I reject the implication that this country’s reputation is at risk. It is quite the opposite. We are held up for the quality of our settlement outcomes and for the support that we have provided, not only to refugees but also to other parts of the globe.

6. Police—Release of Information

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:6. Text is subject to correction.]

6. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) to the Minister for Social Housing: What time and date was she first aware that her staff member had released or was going to release information about a Police investigation into Te Puea Marae Chairman, Hurimoana Dennis?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Housing): At just before 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 14 June, I was stopped on the bridge and asked questions about whether a staff member had leaked information about Mr Dennis to the media. After 2 p.m. I asked my staff to investigate whether there was anything in the allegations. I had two questions in the House and concentrated on them, while leaving my senior staff to investigate. At approximately 3.20 p.m. yesterday one of my staff confirmed to me that they had spoken to a Television New Zealand journalist about it the week before.

Phil Twyford: Why did her staff member want the journalist to know about the police investigation?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The staff member has informed me that she was talking to the journalist in light of a meeting that I had on Friday morning with Mr Dennis. She informed me that as an aside, at the end, she did discuss those issues with him, as has been canvassed. She assures me that it was not the intention for it to be a smear campaign against Mr Dennis or the marae.

Phil Twyford: Did she talk to her staff about the information that came up in the meeting with Hurimoana Dennis; if so, why?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I had a full brief with three or four of my political staff members on the meeting that I had with Mr Dennis. Yes, it did come up, about the investigation.

Phil Twyford: Why did she discuss the information about the police investigation with her staff?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: It was just in the context of the whole meeting. I had gone through the meeting from start to finish, and, as a consequence of that, that is why it was raised—in that context.

Phil Twyford: Was the staff member who joined her for the meeting with Hurimoana Dennis at a Mount Eden cafe the same staff member who passed the information about the police investigation to the journalist?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I am unwilling to confirm or deny whether or not it was the same staff member because I think it might identify them, and I do not think that is fair.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: A point of order has been raised, and I need to hear it in silence.

Grant Robertson: The Minister did not invoke a public interest clause there. Mr Twyford is not asking for the name of a person—simply whether or not the person who was in the meeting with Ms Bennett was the same person who spoke to a journalist. I do not see how that could identify a particular person, one way or the other.

Mr SPEAKER: I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 193/3, which talks about an issue of commercial sensitivity, national security, and privacy. In this case I think that test has been met.

Phil Twyford: Will she take responsibility for the culture in her office that allowed a staff member to think it was OK to leak details of a police investigation to a private citizen?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: There is not a culture. As I have said, it is unacceptable and it should not have happened.

7. Tax System—Fairness

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:7. Text is subject to correction.]

7. DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT) to the Minister of Revenue: Does he think the tax system for New Zealand businesses is fair and equitable?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister of Revenue): Yes, and we are making it even fairer, more equitable, and easier through the business transformation project funding and the small business tax package announced in Budget 2016.

David Seymour: Does he think taxpaying New Zealand businesses would be comfortable knowing that neither Sanitarium nor Mission Estate Winery pay company tax due to their advancement of religion being categorised as a charitable purpose, and will the measures he just alluded to address that question?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: As the former chief executive of an organisation led by a religious order, and a non-taxpaying entity, I am very aware of the issues that they raise. Many of those organisations distribute profits for charitable work, particularly that proportion that they would otherwise pay in tax. It was reviewed by the previous Government, and it was found that there was no case for changing the status quo.

David Seymour: Does he think it is fair on typical taxpaying New Zealand businesses when we have examples like the failed French company Gameloft, of My Little Pony fame, having its corporate tax rate—which, presumably, was nothing—offset by a $2.9 million Government grant funded by other taxpayers?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I have knowledge, I am sorry to say, of that issue. But I would be very happy to address it if the member puts it down in writing.

David Seymour: Would it not be fairer and more equitable to simply cut the company tax rate for all New Zealand businesses, rather than have these various transfers, grants, and loopholes?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: The Government is committed to a broad based – low rate tax system, and it is being held up as just that. I am satisfied that we have a tax framework that creates the right incentives for growth and profit.

David Seymour: How can the Minister say he is satisfied with our company taxation system when the OECD says we have the fourth-highest effective tax rate on capital in the developed world?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: The member refers in his question to capital, and, obviously, that is an issue that is a live one—one that the Tax Working Group looked at in detail in 2009. The Government did make some changes to the way in which the tax framework worked, but we are satisfied with the place that we have got to.

8. National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Results

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:8. Text is subject to correction.]

8. Dr JIAN YANG (National) to the Minister of Education: What reports has she received on the final NCEA results?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. I was pleased to announce this morning the best-ever results for National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Final results for 2015 show roll-based level 1, 2, and 3 NCEA achievement rates rose by between 1.5 and 3.2 percentage points last year to, respectively, 74.4 percent, 76.4 percent, and 62.7 percent. The proportion of students gaining university entrance also increased by 3.1 percentage points.

Dr David Clark: Standards are dropping.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: It is clear that the—actually, standards are going up. It is clear that the hard work of our teachers, principals, and kids is paying dividends. I congratulate them all on their efforts—well, certainly this side of the House congratulates them all on their efforts.

Dr Jian Yang: How does more young people with NCEA benefit New Zealand?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: Achieving NCEA level 2, in particular, is the passport to success. Since this Government took office in 2008 level 2 achievement rates have risen 16.6 percent. That means thousands more kids every year are gaining the skills and qualifications they need to undertake further training, education, or enter the workforce. However, we will not be satisfied until all young people are getting the start they need in life.

9. Social Development, Minister—Statements

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:8. Text is subject to correction.]

9. CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston) to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by all her statements?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): Yes, in the context in which they were made.

Carmel Sepuloni: Why did she claim that Work and Income does not record the housing status of clients, when the Prime Minister was quoted on 16 May 2016 using a Work and Income homeless figure of 428 and her colleague Paula Bennett stated last week that the Government does know how many people are sleeping rough and do not have places to go?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: That question was asked in the estimates hearing today and it was adequately explained to the member that there are different categories that Work and Information collect information under. One is homelessness and one is insecure housing. The member was also told that—although it is not my responsibility as a Minister; it is the Minister for Social Housing’s responsibility—the criteria under which we take that information is being reviewed.

Carmel Sepuloni: On what basis did her Government determine the additional $9 million for the special-needs grant for a 7-day subsidy, given that she says she does not have data on the average stay in emergency motel accommodation and does not know how much Work and Income has spent on assistance for this to date?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Again, as was discussed at the estimates hearing this morning, we have done some work to determine the $9 million injection into emergency housing, but we are also making changes to the way we collect data, not the least being that by having a special-needs grant for emergency housing be non-recoverable we will be able to get better information on how much and how many times it is accessed by clients. That will mean we will be in a much better position come Budget 2017 to know exactly whether that $9 million is going to be sufficient, whether it is too much, or whether we need more.

Carmel Sepuloni: I seek leave to table an Official Information Act (OIA) response from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), which is not publicly available, dated 13 January 2016 that states the average length of stay in emergency motel accommodation using MSD payments is 10 days?

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular OIA response. Is there any objection to it being tabled? [Interruption] Order! I put the leave; the leave has been denied. That is the end of that matter.

Carmel Sepuloni: Does she disagree with the social housing Minister’s decision to invest $9 million in the special-needs grant for emergency housing, given that she said to the Social Services Committee today she does not recognise an increase in the need for emergency housing?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I do not believe that I ever stated that. I do agree with the Minister for Social Housing in having that special-needs grant be non-recoverable.

Carmel Sepuloni: Has she asked Cabinet to forgive debt for emergency accommodation through the special-needs grants, given that she stated at the select committee meeting today that it is unfair that Work and Income clients are forced to pay this back?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Again, the member must quote accurately if she is going to try to put words in my mouth. I never said that at any stage.

Carmel Sepuloni: You said it was unfair.

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: No, I will repeat what I said. We have hard-working people in New Zealand who are paying their debt back to Work and Income, and it would be most unfair if we then decided that for a certain group of people we would write off their debt.

10. Health and Safety—Asbestos

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:9. Text is subject to correction.]

10. TODD BARCLAY (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister for the Environment: What steps is the Government taking to reduce the risk of New Zealanders being exposed to asbestos-containing products?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment): Cabinet has made a decision to ban the importation of asbestos-containing products. This regulation is required because the risk to the health of workers and the environment is not just from raw asbestos, which is currently banned, but also from products containing it. Asbestos is the No. 1 occupational health killer in New Zealand, relating to 170 deaths per year. This measure will reduce that risk in future.

Todd Barclay: What evidential basis did the Government use to make its decision to ban asbestos-containing products?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Last year the Royal Society of New Zealand published its report on asbestos risks beyond the workplace and concluded that it would be prudent for New Zealand to ban those products that contain asbestos. The new prohibition will come into effect on 1 October and arises from the inventory that my ministry did, where we are now satisfied that there are alternatives. The regulations will provide a narrow range of exemptions, as is similar in other countries, for areas like vintage aircraft, where there is no alternative and where there are proper safety systems around the asbestos that is provided.

Todd Barclay: What steps is the Government taking to reduce the risk from asbestos products already here, particularly in buildings that may be in the process of being demolished or upgraded?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: New health and safety in work regulations were put in place by this Government in April this year in respect of asbestos. They specifically require and detail the management of asbestos to ensure that it is disposed of safely. The combination of these regulations that ban the importation of new asbestos-containing products, as well as the new regulations for dealing with the asbestos that is here, will help reduce the appalling toll of 170 deaths per year in future.

11. Aviation—Civil Aviation Authority Charges

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:10. Text is subject to correction.]

11. DENIS O’ROURKE (NZ First) to the Minister of Transport: Will the Civil Aviation Authority reduce its charges to its general aviation customers for the 2016-17 year?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Transport): As the member is aware, the funding changes for the 2016-17 year were set back in 2012. The authority is currently undertaking a review of its cost recovery framework for its regulatory activities. This is being consulted on, and proposals will be considered and decisions made by Cabinet later this year.

Denis O’Rourke: Does he stand by the reported statement made during the 2012-13 review of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) charges by the then Minister: “For the period for the next funding review, that is 2015-18, the Civil Aviation Authority will look to decrease costs so that fees and charges reflect full cost recovery from 2015-16, and the need for further increases is reduced or removed.”?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Well, I cannot say for certain that the Hon Gerry Brownlee said that, just like I cannot say for certain who collects the member’s mail. I just think there are some things we may never know the truth on.

Denis O’Rourke: We certainly will not know the truth of anything that Minister says.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member is in danger of me just moving to the next question. Let us just have the supplementary question.

Denis O’Rourke: Is it true that the full cost recovery rate now is $466 per hour, compared with the rate at the time the then Minister made his reported statement of $288—an increase of 62 percent?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I do not think that is true, Mr O’Rourke.

Denis O’Rourke: What actions has he taken to ensure that the CAA has taken genuine, robust, and disciplined measures to ensure that the costs passed on to civil aviation customers are driven down and not increased? And try telling the truth again!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If I hear that sort of interjection again from that member, he will be leaving the Chamber.

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I think there has been a very full consultation, and there have been, I think, at least two proposals by the Civil Aviation Authority, and two rounds of consultation. As I say, at this stage they are just consultations; decisions have not been made. I suggest the member chills and waits for the Government’s decision.

Denis O’Rourke: Will the Minister assure general aviation customers that CAA charges for next year will either be reduced, or at least be no greater than they were as a result of the 2012-13 review; if not, why not? And let us have a meaningful answer!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I gave the member full warning. I told him to sit down after asking his supplementary question, and not interject across the House like that. We are moving immediately to question No. 12.

12. Police—Resources

[Sitting date: 15 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:10. Text is subject to correction.]

12. STUART NASH (Labour—Napier) to the Minister of Police: Does she believe the Police have sufficient resources to deliver on the community’s expectations around law and order?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Police): Yes, and I always back the police to deliver, unlike that member.

Stuart Nash: Does she believe that the road safety budget being cut by 8 percent in real terms since 2010 has anything to do with the increase in deaths on the road; if not, why not?

Mr SPEAKER: Either of those two supplementary questions, the Hon Judith Collins.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Clearly, it has not been cut. In fact, it has gone up 6.7 percent in the last 3 years. But I would also say to that member that if he is going to blame the police and the Budget for the road toll, what is he going to say about the fact that no one died on the roads last weekend?

Stuart Nash: Is the increasing road toll to do with the decrease in road police resources, or does she think it is more to do with the Clyde Road maintenance budget?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Neither.

Stuart Nash: What are her views on the police research that shows that for every drop in speed of 1 kilometre an hour five lives are saved?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I would find that very interesting.

Stuart Nash: In light of her statements last week, could she please clarify exactly how far over the speed limit she believes it is OK to drive?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: It is entirely dependent on the conditions as well as the speed limit, and I would say to that member, as I have said many times, that just sticking to the speed limit is not always safe, as we have seen with people who drive 100 kilometres an hour around country roads.

Stuart Nash: As the Minister of Police, are there any other laws that she believes it is OK to break?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I would say to that member that the unwritten rule about not attacking public servants should be one that he should not breach as he did just last week when he attacked the district commander of police for the eastern district.

Stuart Nash: Does she believe that the falling resolution rates for burglaries had any connection with the fact that her Government has cut the police investigations budget by 15 percent in real terms since 2010?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: No, any more than I think the fact that this Government putting 600 extra front-line police on the beat actually was something that was very helpful to the resolution rates.

Ron Mark: How can police resourcing in Upper Hutt be adequate when a respected businessman and National Party supporter says parked cars have been vandalised, shoplifting is at levels not experienced before, security guards are being assaulted, and burglaries and robberies—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can we bring the question to a conclusion quickly.

Ron Mark: —are on the increase, and police are not responding?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: If that member would like to provide me with the details, I can assure him that they will be given to police in—absolutely, very quickly, really.

Ron Mark: Why is the police presence shrinking in Dannevirke as Tararua mayor Roly Ellis has been reported as saying by the New Zealand Herald?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The matters of where police put their resources is entirely an operational matter, and they tend to put people where they are needed.

Ron Mark: How can police resourcing be adequate when the president of Local Government New Zealand, Mr Lawrence Yule, and the mayors of 18 councils have joined a backlash against police restructuring, saying ratepayers have been left to foot the bill in the wake of a shrinking front-line police resource in their community?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I, like that member, am a great supporter of local government. I would also remind him that there is a local government election going on this year, that local government has always worked in partnership with police, that police cannot always be everywhere all the time, and that, actually, local government needs to take some responsibility, and the vast majority of the mayors do.

Ron Mark: Is the Minister aware that criminologists have long recognised burglary as an entry level-level crime that eventually leads to assaults, rape, and murder, and that it is on that basis that resolution of burglaries is fundamental to serious crime prevention?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The member is quite correct.

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