Press Release – Office of the Clerk
1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement in his Budget speech last year, we are in surplus?
strong>Questions to Ministers
Prime Minister—Statements on Budget 2014
1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement in his Budget speech last year, “we are in surplus”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, because the Treasury forecasts then showed a small surplus for 2014-15.
Andrew Little : Why has he persisted in making that promise or that undertaking to New Zealanders, including after the election, when he knew he could not keep it?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not believe that that statement is at all accurate.
Andrew Little : Why does he or other Ministers in his Government persist in making excuses about milk prices and inflation when he knows that dairy prices began falling last February and inflation has been stagnant since 2013?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member may have such a lack of a grasp of economics that he does not realise the impact that inflation has on the Government’s books. We know that Grant Robertson has got his training wheels on, so he does not know what $15 billion worth of less expenditure means. By the way, during the entire election campaign, Labour got up and said that the Government should take no credit for higher dairy prices, because that is just a function of something else. But, apparently, with the—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have heard enough.
Andrew Little : Now that he is set to be the first Prime Minister since Robert Muldoon to deliver seven straight deficits, why should the public believe him when the Government promises a surplus next year?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What the New Zealand public have done, year after year after year, is judge this Government on its economic performance. They have seen the mess we inherited from Labour when it came to ACC, the massive build-up in expenditure, the failure to have a competitive tax system, and the fact that it left the books in such a shocking state, and they have actually seen us get that down, get debt down, and get growth up. That is why business confidence is high. That is why New Zealanders have voted for National in droves. Maybe the member needs to look in the mirror and ask himself why his messages are not getting through. Here is an idea: he does not have any messages. He has not—
Mr SPEAKER : Order!
Tim Macindoe : What reports has the Prime Minister received on getting back to surplus based on the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update forecasts before the election last year?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have seen one report from last year’s election campaign on the 2014-15 surplus: “Oh, look, absolutely stand by the numbers, calculated and checked on the same basis as the Government’s own numbers and absolutely verified, all banked, all paid for. We are still running a surplus every year. It is absolutely fantastic and people can have every confidence in it.” That was David Cunliffe claiming that Labour was running a surplus, even from Opposition.
Andrew Little : What other promises for Budget 2015 are now also under threat, and will the Budget show we are on track for the 150,000 extra jobs by 2016 and a $7,000 average wage rise by 2017, as promised in his open letter after last year’s election?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member will have to wait—only one more sleep, actually—until the Budget tomorrow. I am sure he will be able to do that. What he will see tomorrow in the Budget, though, are good growth numbers. He will see surpluses out in the years in front. He will see debt levels that are the envy of the Western World. That is why I can be absolutely sure that when New Zealanders look at this Government and its economic leadership they do not have buyers’ remorse; they are very happy that they dispatched Labour to Opposition for 3 more long years.
Tim Macindoe : How much can the fiscal numbers move around between Budget forecasts and the Government’s annual accounts being published the following year?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : According to that economic powerhouse Grant Robertson, not at all. But, actually, history shows that fiscal forecasts and out-turns move around quite substantially. For example, in Budget 2008 the then finance Minister was forecasting a $1.3 billion operating balance before gains and losses surplus in 2008-09. As it actually turned out, he left the Government’s books in deficit by $3.9 billion that year. I just say this one thing: why in this country do we have the Public Finance Act? I know—because Labour rorted the books so much that they could no longer be trusted. That is why.
Andrew Little : In light of that answer, and returning to reality, what happened to his promise to act on child poverty and make it the centrepiece of his third term?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : One more sleep.
Andrew Little : Is not the truth of it that this is a Government with a surplus of empty promises and a deficit of ideas, a Government that took credit for a short patch of economic golden days on the back on high dairy prices and the Canterbury rebuild but has no plan now that the storm clouds are gathering? Is that not the truth of this Government?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Here is the truth of this Government. Unlike the countries that we actually compare ourselves with, we have got on top of deficits despite the Christchurch earthquakes. We have got employment rates that are rising. Of the OECD countries, of which there are 36, only four have higher levels of employment than us, and 31 have lower levels of employment. We have low inflation and we have strong job creation. We have low levels of public sector debt, and we have high levels of consumer confidence. The record actually speaks for itself. It happens to be a record I am very proud of.
2. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.
Metiria Turei : How can he be “proud of the Government’s record in tackling child poverty” when he said this week that it is probably numerically correct that the number of children in poverty has grown under his watch?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : As we know with this, there are many, many measures, but what I can be absolutely sure of is that 42,000 fewer children have been living in benefit-based households over the last 3 years. I can be sure that we have done a great deal for those children who live with hardship, including free GP visits and prescriptions, including the work we have done with charitable organisations that provide breakfast in schools, including the work we have done with social workers, including the work we have done with children’s teams, and including the work we have done on insulating homes. During the worst of all times, this Government actually maintained benefits and entitlements for New Zealanders. There were plenty of people who wanted to slash them; this Government supported them.
Metiria Turei : How many, if any, of the 260,000 children currently in poverty will no longer be in poverty as a result of the Budget tomorrow?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not have an exact answer for that, and even if I did have, I would not give it to the member a day before the Budget. What I can say, though, is that the fastest way out of poverty is through work, and this Government is doing two things in that regard. One is it is underpinning, with its policies, strong economic growth and strong job creation. We know this because there are 42,000 fewer children living in benefit-based households than there were 3 years ago. The second thing that this Government is doing is invoking the investment approach when it comes to people who are on benefits, making sure that they have got skills, making sure that they have got training, and making sure that they have access to the opportunity to look after themselves. Again, I am actually very proud of what this Government is doing to help people to help themselves.
Metiria Turei : Why did the Prime Minister abandon the thousands of children who turn up to school hungry every day by voting against my bill to feed them lunch at school, and even stood in this House and denied that those children existed?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I reject the last part of the member’s question. I think she overexaggerated those numbers, and I think we demonstrated that on the day.
Metiria Turei : Why is the Prime Minister abandoning young New Zealanders in their 30s, for whom homeownership has plummeted under his watch faster than it has for any other age group?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Again, I reject that proposition. If the member cares about young people in their 30s getting a home, why did the member not support the HomeStart package that we have? Why does the member not support Resource Management Act reform? Why does the member not actually support the work we are doing with special housing areas? I know: because the member likes to jump up and down and complain, but when it comes to actually doing anything, she has never done anything because she has never been in Government.
Metiria Turei : Why is the Prime Minister abandoning young parents by refusing to fix Working for Families so that young parents who lose work hours or who fall on hard times do not also lose the $60-a-week in-work tax credit lifeline that they rely on?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : As the member knows, that policy, which was introduced by Labour—and I think, in this instance, was correctly positioned that way—ensured that there was always a gap between welfare and work. And if there are not those incentives, all of the academic evidence shows you, actually, that there will be less incentive for people to move off welfare into work. I think that if you have a welfare system in New Zealand, it is a sign of a decent society that looks after people. But it is also a system based on obligation, and, actually, we owe it to the millions of New Zealand taxpayers who work hard to pay their taxes that people who are on welfare feel the obligation that they should go out and work if they possibly can.
Metiria Turei : Will the Prime Minister at least agree—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Would the member ask her supplementary question.
Metiria Turei : Would the Prime Minister at least agree that an economy that is not working for everyone—that includes young New Zealanders under 40 who are struggling to buy a home, who are struggling to get decent paid work, who are trying to raise their children in increasing financial insecurity—is an economy that is simply not working?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Far from not working, the economic credentials and performance of this Government over the last 7 years, even in contrast to like-minded countries, demonstrate that this Government has been performing well. We live in the real world, and in the real world there has been a global financial crisis and many other issues. Actually, some of these issues, when it comes to either people on benefits or children living in benefit-based households, have been very longstanding, complex issues. They will not actually be resolved overnight, but the work that this Government is doing, breaking down the silos and the barriers that are there, is working pretty well. I think the member actually speaks with great ignorance when she rejects what the Government is doing there.
Budget 2015—Impact on Public Services
3. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany) to the Minister of Finance : How will the Government’s responsible fiscal management support better public services for New Zealanders in Budget 2015?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Government has managed the finances that are paid for by the taxpayer by being careful with new spending and focusing consistently on reprioritising—that is, shifting money from programmes that either do not work or are low priority to new, more effective spending. For instance, over the previous six Budgets the total new discretionary spend of this Government has been around $3 billion. Over the last six Budgets of the previous Labour Government the total new spending was $20 billion. The Government has, over the last six Budgets, been able to shift around $15 billion of spending from ineffective or low-priority programmes to more effective programmes, and that has been at least as important as the new spending.
Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wanted to wait until the Minister had finished his answer before raising this, because he had already begun his answer. I was expecting that you may have had a comment on the primary question set down because of the assertion that it contains within it and your previous rulings on our questions that contain such assertions. If it is acceptable for the Government members to ask about “responsible” fiscal management, can we ask about “irresponsible” fiscal management?
Mr SPEAKER : I certainly examined the questions and did not pick up that at 11.30. It was accepted and tabled into the House. It was only when an interjection came from my left during the question that I really focused on the meaning of that word. I think it would have been a better question without that word there. I should have picked it up at 11.30, but I did not.
Jami-Lee Ross : How is the Government using capital reprioritisation to improve public services and avoid further overseas borrowing?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : The main tool the Government is using is the Future Investment Fund. The sale of electricity assets raised $4.7 billion, which was allocated to the Future Investment Fund, and we are now able to use that money to invest in other public assets. So far the Government has invested around $700 million in health, nearly $400 million of the fund in education, and $1.9 billion in other public assets. That means we have not had to go to foreign lenders for more money. We have been able to use the savings of New Zealanders who bought the shares to invest in New Zealand assets. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The level of barrage I am getting from two or three members on this side means they can take this as their final warning. If it continues at that volume, I will be asking those members to leave the Chamber.
Jami-Lee Ross : How have dividends paid by mixed ownership companies to the Government increased since the part sale of those companies?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : At the time there was some suggestion the Government would be giving up dividends if it sold down the shares, but I can inform the House that the Government, as a 51 percent owner, is now receiving more dividends than it did when it was, on average, a 100 percent owner of the companies. For instance, the highest annual dividend received from Genesis Energy at any time in the previous 10 years was $57 million. The average dividend was $32 million when we were the 100 percent owner over those 10 years. This year we will receive $76 million in dividends. As a 51 percent owner, we will get more than twice the dividend we got on average from Genesis Energy. We can apply that to more high-priority Government social programmes.
Jami-Lee Ross : How will Budget 2015 continue the Government’s ongoing programme to improve public services for New Zealanders while helping to support more jobs and higher wages through careful fiscal management?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : In many ways that will be talked about in detail in the House tomorrow, but it will be against the background of growth over the next 4 years forecast to deliver more jobs through to 2019, in addition to the 194,000 jobs that have been added to the economy since 2011. Wages are expected to continue increasing ahead of the cost of living. Budget 2015 will be a responsible Budget from a responsible Government.
Budget 2015—Job Creation
4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment : What plans does the Government have in the Budget tomorrow to get the 146,000 officially unemployed New Zealanders, as measured by the Labour Market Statistics, into work?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment): The Government will continue to operate the same sensible economic and fiscal policies that have delivered 194,000 jobs to New Zealanders in 4¼ years, and 23,000 more jobs than the 171,000 jobs forecast by Treasury in Budget 2011, with more than one quarter to run. In fact, this Government and businesses around the country have delivered job growth in 16 out of the last 17 quarters, and I am confident that the Budget tomorrow will project further job growth. I thank the member for his question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : What are the Government’s plans in tomorrow’s Budget for Māori and Pacific youth, where unemployment under this National-led Government has increased by over 40 percent for Māori youth—
Hon Dr Nick Smith : Rubbish!
Rt Hon Winston Peters : —and almost 50 percent for Pacific youth—no, no, I am not dealing with your speciality: rubbish; I am talking facts.
Mr SPEAKER : Order!
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : I am not sure about the member’s figures, but I certainly would agree with him that Māori and Pasifika youth unemployment is too high. I agree with him. We have got a number of measures under way alongside the Ministry of Māori Development to improve that situation, including, of course, the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Initiative, which is a programme that is delivering great opportunities for young Māori and Pasifika in the trades around New Zealand. And there may or may not be more information about that in the Budget tomorrow.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : How is his Government going to be able to claim to be working for New Zealanders when we have tens of thousands of youth who are currently unemployed, yet, his Government has approved over 47,200 international student visas with work rights in our current financial year?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : The member may not be excited about international education, and I am reasonably confident from all his past statements that he is not, but international education creates for this country around $2.85 billion worth of value a year and some 33,000 jobs, and a relatively small number of international students actually participate in the employment market. But I thank the member for his question and say that international education is very important for New Zealand’s future.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not ask about international education, did I?
Mr SPEAKER : Yes. [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. If he wants to go back and look, he included in his question the 47,200 people here on student visas. That is the part the Minister chose to address.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I specifically said “student visas with work rights”—those are the critical words.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The answer has certainly addressed the question. If it is not to the member’s satisfaction, then that may be so. The way forward is to ask concise supplementary questions.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : How will tomorrow’s Budget reduce the rate of “neets”—those not in education, employment, or training—among youth in Northland, where the rate has now increased to one in five youths not in employment, education, or training, since National became the Government?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : If I was the member I would be very, very careful about the regional numbers for a small demographic. But, nevertheless, I agree with him that those numbers are too high, and that is why the Government has a comprehensive programme to develop economic opportunities that positively affect Northland—for example, the New Zealand – Korea free-trade agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership—and we would welcome, obviously, the member’s support in that regard. [Interruption] He may scoff, but that is very important for the kiwifruit farmers and to the meat farmers and dairy farmers of Northland. Also, we are encouraging tourism investment, including, of course, the projected investment by the Chinese investor in the Carrington Resort—and I look forward to the member endorsing that because I understand that they plan to train up young Northland youth. And also, of course, there is the Ngāpuhi settlement, and we look forward to the member’s positive report of that as well.
Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that he is not answering the question. My real point is—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! The member, when I rise to my feet, should resume his seat immediately. That question, again, was addressed. If the member wants a further supplementary question, then he should ask it.
Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is not that the question was not in some way addressed—we know what the rules are—but you heard a long tirade and ramble that did not address the question.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! If the member knows what the rules are, I suggest he has a look at them. If he can make his questions more concise, I can help him get an answer that might satisfy him. Does the member have a further supplementary question? Otherwise we will—
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Yes, I do, as good as the last one. Why is the Government not filling the 5,000 job vacancies in Christchurch with young trained Kiwi workers, given that we have 76,000 youth who are unemployed and that we are now in our fifth year since the Christchurch earthquake—instead of getting all the skilled people from offshore?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : The member just needs to come and get a bit of information, because there is actually a lot going on in Christchurch, including, for example, the $3K to Christchurch which gives people the opportunity to shift to Christchurch. If the member wants to participate in that scheme, I am sure we could line him up with the Ministry of Social Development and get him down to Christchurch so he can wield a hammer. We are also doing a huge amount of trades training in Christchurch. The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation, for example, has record numbers of trainees and, actually, we would welcome more young New Zealanders to take the opportunity to head to Christchurch and, in fact, to the whole South Island, which currently has very low levels of unemployment.
Finance, Minister—Statements on Return to Surplus
5. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance : Does his Budget 2015 speech include the statement, “there will be a small surplus this year and increasing surpluses forecast over time”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The member will just have to wait one more sleep to find out.
Grant Robertson : Why should New Zealanders believe his making a promise for a surplus for next year and forecast surpluses for the following years tomorrow, given that he made that exact promise last year and will break it tomorrow?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : Well, I am quite confident that New Zealanders will make up their own minds about that, regardless of what that member says. In fact, if that member criticises the Budget and our economic management, most of them will conclude that we are probably doing the right thing.
Grant Robertson : Is it correct that Treasury advised him that the surplus he will promise tomorrow for next year is possible only if there is a significant rebound in global dairy prices?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : The member will just have to wait until tomorrow, but I hope tomorrow he uses the term “fiscal crisis”, because—
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am going to invite the member to ask that question again.
Grant Robertson : Is it correct that Treasury advised him that the surplus he will promise tomorrow for next year is possible only if there is a significant rebound in global dairy prices?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : The member will have to wait until tomorrow, but I hope he uses the term “fiscal crisis” tomorrow.
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member is saying that question has not been addressed, on this occasion, it has. He talked about the surplus that will be promised tomorrow in his question. It has been addressed.
Grant Robertson : Is it correct that Treasury advised him that a surplus for 2015-16 is possible only with a significant rebound in global dairy prices?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : The member will have to wait until tomorrow.
Hon Members : No, no.
Hon BILL ENGLISH : Well, he will have to wait until tomorrow.
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is the third time I have asked a straight question to the Minister—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. That is not the same question he has asked three times. On the second occasion he repeated the question he had asked the first time, and on that occasion I ruled that, because of the way it was framed, that question had definitely been answered. Does the member have a further supplementary question? [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet, and I am going to warn that member that if he interjects like that again while I am on my feet, I will be asking him to leave the Chamber.
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are you telling me that the Minister addressed the question I just asked?
Mr SPEAKER : No, I am not. I am saying that when you rose and took a point of order and said you had asked the same question three times, you are—[Interruption] I have a very good mind to do it. The point I was making was that the member was wrong with his first point of order, when he said he had asked the same question three times. He had not. We are moving forward, if the member wishes to ask—[Interruption] I am not entertaining further questions on my—[Interruption] Order! I am not entertaining any further adjudication on that matter. If the member has further supplementary questions, I will hear them.
Ron Mark : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am trying to be helpful, as an independent observer.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will simply raise his point of order.
Ron Mark : The point of order, Mr Speaker, to assist you, is that he—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order, I hope, but it will be heard in silence. It will be heard in silence.
Ron Mark : I am not challenging you at all, but—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Would the member simply raise his point of order.
Ron Mark : I am trying to. The point I want to raise with you is that he did not actually say those words. His words were “This is the third straight question I have asked.”, not “I have asked the same question”—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member may not have heard me, but I said that as far as I was concerned I had adjudicated on the matter and that was the end of the matter. The member may not have heard that.
Grant Robertson : Is it correct that Treasury advised him that a surplus for 2015-16 is possible only if there is a significant rebound in global dairy prices?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : The member will have to wait until tomorrow.
Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How is that an answer addressing that question? It is about advice he has received. He cannot tell me to wait until tomorrow. Amazingly enough, Treasury do give him advice. He ignores it—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! We have had a similar line of questions now on four occasions. It is not the way I would have hoped the Minister would have answered the question, but—[Interruption] Order! Grant Robertson will leave the House. I warned the member that—[Interruption] Order! The member will leave the Chamber. Grant Robertson withdrew from the Chamber.
Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! We have a point of order that I will hear from Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins : Repeatedly during question time today, when there have been points of order from either side of the House, you have admonished members on this side of the House for their interjections during points of order or when you were on your feet. I would like to know whether the same ruling is going to apply to Mr Brownlee, Ms Parata, and a variety—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have heard enough from that member. There were occasions when there were interjections from this side of the House when I called for order, particularly when Mr Mark was attempting to raise a point of order. I could not identify the particular person who made those interjections. Frankly, they were coming from a large number of people. On this occasion I specifically warned Mr Robertson that if he was to interject again when I was on my feet, I would have no choice but to ask him to leave. He did not heed that warning. He gave me no choice but to deal with him severely. I say to all members that when I am on my feet and I call for silence and then a member specifically, after being warned not to interject, does so, he leaves me no choice but to be severe.
Hon David Cunliffe : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The colleague Mr Robertson in front of me used four supplementary questions to ask the same question, as you have previously advised members to do when Ministers are not giving a straight answer. You have ejected a member who had absolutely understandable frustration. My point of order is to ask you what sanction will apply equally to Ministers who are deliberately thwarting the intent, if not the letter, of the Standing Orders and denying the people of New Zealand the opportunity to have a proper question answered in a proper manner.
Mr SPEAKER : I will hear from the Hon Gerry Brownlee.
Hon Gerry Brownlee : I think that question might be reasonable if it were about a range of topics that any Minister should be able to answer about their portfolio. But 24 hours before a Budget is delivered being asked to give a commentary on what will be in a Budget text is completely unreasonable. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I can understand the sense of frustration on this side. I have agreed with that. But that was not the reason Mr Robertson was ejected from the Chamber. I hope I do not have to point it out again to members. The reason was that he was given a very specific warning. He ignored that warning.
Hon David Cunliffe : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : Is it a fresh point of order?
Hon David Cunliffe : It is, because I did not question your ruling that you ejected a member for questioning your judgment. My point of order was, given the circumstances and the understandable frustration on this side of the House and the thwarting deliberately of the intent of the Standing Orders, at what point would any sanction be applied to any Minister who continued to make those types of tactics plain? That was nothing to do with the ejection of Mr Robertson.
Mr SPEAKER : I accept that point. Ministers are responsible for their own answers and those answers are then judged not only by this House but by the public. On one occasion when I did not think that the Minister had answered the question correctly I asked Grant Robertson to repeat the question. That is a tactic I frequently use. [Interruption] The member now interjects and says that it was on four occasions. As I have pointed out to the House, those questions were different. In one he quite specifically talked about a matter that would be addressed in tomorrow’s speech, and that gave the Minister a perfect out to say he would have to wait for the Budget. As to the last question about Treasury advice, it would have been a more satisfactory answer if it had been answered directly by the Minister, but at the end of the day I am not responsible for the answers that are given by any Minister in this House. Ministers themselves are responsible for—[Interruption] Order! Ministers themselves are responsible. They will be judged both by this House and by the public.
Hon David Cunliffe : Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER : No, I have dealt with that matter from the Hon David Cunliffe.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Just a minute. I just want to be clear to Mr Cunliffe that I have dealt with that matter. I have made a ruling. I do not intend to relitigate it here today, but if it is a fresh point of order—
Hon David Cunliffe : It is, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : A fresh point of order—the Hon David Cunliffe.
Hon David Cunliffe : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What is the definition of “addressing the question”?
Mr SPEAKER : Now the member is attempting to relitigate the matter. I judge that on every occasion depending on the context and content of the question, the context and the content of the answer. I am the one who makes that judgment.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER : I am sorry—is this a fresh point of order?
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Yes, it is.
Mr SPEAKER : The Rt Hon Winston Peters.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If one of the four questions with additional words gave the Minister of Finance an out, what was the redeeming feature for the first three answers that did not give him a way out?
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member is now relitigating a matter that we have already ruled on in the House today. He is not raising a fresh point of order.
Tracey Martin : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : Again, I want to give the same warning to Tracey Martin, to be fair to her. If she is raising an absolutely fresh point of order, I am happy to hear it, but if it in any way relitigates the discussion we have now had for the last 10 minutes, then I will be asking that member to leave the Chamber.
Tracey Martin : Thank you, Mr Speaker. I appreciate your warning and I hope that I do not transgress, but I seek your clarification on the last question asked by Mr Robertson—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member now—
Tracey Martin : —not the content of the question, not the content of the question, but I am asking whether you could give a ruling later on about when it is appropriate, if we ask a direct question about a report, for a Minister to say we have to wait until tomorrow—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member is now very dangerously—should be about to leave the Chamber. She is relitigating the decision I have made. I have explained to Mr Cunliffe that I have got to judge every answer given, as to whether it addresses the question. Mr Cunliffe sought more definition on that. I said it depends on the context of the question, the content of the question, the content of the answer, and the context. There is no specific ruling I can give as to whether any question in the future will be addressed or not. I make a judgment to all; that is my responsibility in this House.
New Zealand Defence Force—Defence White Paper 2015
6. MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Defence : What is the Government doing to engage the New Zealand public on the future of the Defence Force?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Defence): I recently announced the beginning of a public consultation process on the 2015 defence white paper. We are asking the views of New Zealanders on the future capabilities of the New Zealand Defence Force. A series of public meetings will be held around the country to better inform the consultation process. The meeting schedule and the information on the submissions process can be found at www.defence.govt.nz.
Mark Mitchell : Why is the Government undertaking the 2015 defence white paper?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : The white paper, which is intended to be published before the end of the year, will be a blueprint for how the Government plans to address the security threats, challenges, and opportunities facing New Zealand over a 25-year period. Recognising that matters affecting our security can change rapidly, it is my view that a 5-yearly cycle for white papers is desirable. The white paper 2015, therefore, will review and build on the 2010 white paper while outlining the roles and tasks that the Defence Force should undertake in responding to challenges as well as the capabilities and resources that it needs to carry out its roles and tasks effectively.
Hon Phil Goff : Is the Minister prepared to engage the public and Defence Force families on the more immediate issue of his assessment of the risks posed to New Zealand soldiers in Taji, just over 100 kilometres away from Ramadi, which has just fallen to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : The Government has been very cautious about its commitment to building partner capacity in Iraq, and therefore it is very concerned always, and has been from the outset, about the security of soldiers who are participating in that programme at Taji. That will continue.
Hon Phil Goff : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will recall that I asked the Minister for his assessment of the risk. I do not think he touched on that at all.
Mr SPEAKER : Again, that question, in my mind, was addressed. It is marginal as to whether the question should be allowed in. The member cunningly used the words about whether he will engage with the public, and on that basis I allowed it through.
Hon Phil Goff : In engaging the public will he ensure, then, that soldiers deployed to Taji for the non-combat role of training will not soon be engaged in a major fire fight and attack?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : As we have said right from the start, it is not our intention that New Zealand troops in Iraq for the training mission will be engaged in front-line combat. What we have said is that there is a force protection—
Hon David Parker : You’re teaching them how to retreat!
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : It is not the sort of matter that people should be joking about, frankly, Mr Parker. The point I would make is that we have always said that we would review New Zealand’s commitment depending on the circumstances that existed, and, of course, that if they come under fire we would expect them to protect themselves.
Finance, Minister—Statements on Return to Surplus
7. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Finance : Does he stand by his statement that “the surplus target is important”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, I stand by the full statement, which was that “The surplus target is important. It has imposed a discipline on us and on Government agencies to work hard on achieving value for money and providing new spending only where we can get better results.”
Julie Anne Genter : Is he aware that in the last year, his public statements about returning to surplus were at the lowest level since 2010, and does he accept that the National Government reached peak surplus talk 3 years ago in May 2012?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : No, I was not aware of that particular statistical artefact but I can reassure the member that the amount of work and focus within the Government on achieving better value for money is higher than ever.
Julie Anne Genter : Can he explain why from 2012 onwards his public statements about returning to surplus have decreased, first gradually and then suddenly by almost 50 percent from 2013 to 2014?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I can only surmise that it is because of the rapid progress the Government has made towards surplus, and I am gratified to see that the Greens are at least counting all my statements. I wish they would read them and take a bit more notice of them.
Julie Anne Genter : Is he concerned that forward predictions of his public statements about returning to surplus are tracking upwards for the current year, and therefore, if historical trends continue, the likelihood of actually returning to surplus will decrease in the near future?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : No, but I can say that the commentary by the Greens on the surplus makes a lot more sense than the commentary by the Labour Party.
Child Poverty—Minister’s Statements
8. JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development : Does she stand by her statement in December last year in relation to child poverty that the Government is “working on a comprehensive plan” and it is “shaping up to be a really big piece of work”; if so, will that big piece of work be in Budget 2015?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): Yes, and the member will have to wait until tomorrow.
Jacinda Ardern : How many times have Ministers met to discuss the child poverty plans in the 2015 Budget, given that in December she claimed that they were meeting weekly?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY : Heaps.
Jacinda Ardern : Given she has called children living in hardship “a priority”, on what date did Cabinet consider what she referred to as a “comprehensive plan for this year’s Budget.”?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY : The member will have to wait until tomorrow.
Jacinda Ardern : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked nothing about the content of the announcement. This was a question around process. I asked—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The way forward, I think, is that I will allow the member to ask the question again. The member can ask that question again.
Jacinda Ardern : Given she has called children living in hardship “a priority”, on what date did Cabinet consider what she referred to as her “comprehensive plan for this year’s Budget.”?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY : The member will have to wait until Budget 2015 is announced.
Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Jacinda Ardern : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : Well, which one?
Chris Hipkins : I’ll let Jacinda go first.
Mr SPEAKER : OK.
Jacinda Ardern : It is the same point of order that I raised initially. The question to the Minister—
Mr SPEAKER : No—[Interruption] Order! No, it was not—it was not. The question also included “Given … [it is] ‘a priority’ ”, and the Minister has then taken the opportunity to refer to that part in the answer and has decided that that is something that can wait to be announced tomorrow in the Budget.
Jacinda Ardern : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My reference to it being a priority was simply to highlight the fact that you would assume she would know the date, if it is so important.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! That is the point. As soon as the member puts that into the question, it gives the Minister the chance to address that part of the question.
Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Speakers’ rulings and Standing Orders provide only one out for Ministers, and that is to say that giving an answer is not in the public interest. The Budget does not actually provide an out. If the Ministers are indicating that it is not in the public interest, they should say so. But simply saying: “Wait until a certain date.” is not an answer.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have been in this House on many occasions in the week leading up to the Budget, and many Ministers of Finance—I can think of one called Dr Michael Cullen—on many occasions, to many questions asked by the Opposition, said: “You will have to wait until the Budget is delivered.”
Jacinda Ardern : Which Ministers have been meeting weekly with the Prime Minister, who, she stated 6 months ago, was the one “ … leading a big piece of work right across Government, aimed to address those thousands and thousands of children who are experiencing hardship.”?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY : Without doubt, all members of this Government’s Cabinet and caucus are focused on getting the very best outcomes for New Zealand’s children.
Jacinda Ardern : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Again, it was a very explicit question. The question was about which Ministers were meeting weekly on the piece of work—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! And the answer that I heard, in addressing the question, was: “All Ministers.”
Jacinda Ardern : Will the families of the hundreds and thousands of children living in poverty feel tomorrow like the priority she called them, or is she a member of a Government more inclined to spend money on a flag than on children?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY : Instead of making speeches, can I say to the member that she will have to wait until tomorrow.
9. Dr JIAN YANG (National) to the Minister of Science and Innovation : What research is the Government undertaking to strengthen the forestry sector?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Science and Innovation): Yesterday I announced that the Government will invest $5 million over 7 years in a $10 million research partnership to help increase the competitiveness of the forestry sector. This research will focus on developing a broader range of high-value, better-performing wood products from tree species such as eucalyptus, Douglas fir, and cypresses, which provides an alternative to our predominant tree species, radiata pine. The new partnership is led by Future Forests Research, an industry-operated entity, in collaboration with Scion, the University of Canterbury, and the New Zealand Drylands Forests Initiative, and will operate on a dollar for dollar basis, matched by the industry.
Dr Jian Yang : Why is the Government investing more in forestry sector research and development?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : This investment aims to strengthen the ties between research organisations and the industry, building on our existing forestry strength and moving up the value chain by developing high-value specialty wood products while retaining a strong focus on sustainability. It complements other research work we are supporting in the forestry sector. [Interruption] You would think they would ask a question rather than just talk all afternoon. The Primary Growth Partnership project on steep land harvesting is designed to increase the safety of forestry workers on steep and sloping land, while reducing the cost of harvest by 25 percent. Forestry is New Zealand’s third-largest export earner, behind dairy and meat. It contributes around $5 billion to our exports, and we are committed to growing that further with investments such as this.
Stuart Nash : Is he aware that since his party has been in Government, the volume of logs exported without a cent of value being added has gone from 6 million cubic metres, or 30 percent of all logs cut, to 17 million cubic metres, or 56 percent of all logs cut; and how will this initiative come even close to addressing this disparity?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : The number of logs cut has grown dramatically over that period, and the amount that is processed here is approximately the same. [Interruption] Mr Speaker, do they want an answer to the question they asked me?
Mr SPEAKER : Would the Minister give his answer.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : The good news for the member in this subject is actually the significant investment going on in the wood processing sector as we speak. Oji, for example, which lives just up the road from his city, has made a big investment in forestry in Hawke’s Bay and has made a billion-dollar investment around the country with the purchase of Carter Holt Harvey assets in Taupō—
Stuart Nash : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I tried to direct this question towards the primary question by asking how the initiative that the Minister announced was going to reduce that disparity.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! If you had shown some courtesy—
Hon Gerry Brownlee : Speaking to that point of order—
Mr SPEAKER : No, I do not need assistance. If you had shown some courtesy to allow the Minister to finish his answer, and if you could ask for a bit of courtesy from your own bench mates to us so we could hear the answer, I think you will get the answer.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : The point I was making was that there is good news for the member in this regard. There is significant investment in the processing sector, such as by Oji, which I mentioned; also, in Rotorua, Red Stag Timber is constructing a big super mill there, which will be the largest in the southern hemisphere—despite the fact that it did not get Labour’s policy—and in Taupō, Pacific T & R is building a new high-tech processing plant. Research initiatives such as these being done in partnership with the sector will help the forestry sector develop further.
Stuart Nash : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister’s information is most interesting, but the initiative—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat straight away. There is no doubt in my mind that that question was addressed.
Trans-Pacific Partnership—Minister’s Statements
10. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister of Trade : Does he stand by his description, during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, of the Canadian dairy industry as belonging “in the former Soviet Union”?
Hon TIM GROSER (Minister of Trade): Yes, because, Mr Parker, it is called a negotiation, and to use one of Tana Umaga’s memorable phrases: “We ain’t here to play tiddlywinks.”
Hon David Parker : Has he seen the international media reports that say that his abrasive and arrogant negotiating approach has spawned, in Washington DC, a new urban slang term for “counter-productive, undiplomatic sledging”—that term being “grossing”? And how does he think that slagging off the Canadians, using derogatory terms, is going to result in a good outcome for those negotiations?
Hon TIM GROSER : Unfortunately, I have not seen those allegations but I am really interested in having a look at them. At least it might mean that we are making a mark.
Hon David Parker : I seek leave to table a document by Delaware-based policy analyst Mary Bates, dated Thursday, 14 May—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order. The member is seeking to table a document, and I expect it to be heard in silence, particularly from my right-hand side.
Hon David Parker :—saying that such incendiary fighting words clearly do nothing to assist Canadian diplomats to help New Zealand help itself.
Mr SPEAKER : The document has been described. I think it was dated, was it?
Hon David Parker : 14 May.
Mr SPEAKER : 14 May. Leave is sought to table that particular document. Is there any objection? [Interruption] Order! Is there any objection? There is not. It will be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon David Parker : Will he accept responsibility and admit that he has poisoned the negotiations if it transpires that the Trans-Pacific Partnership terms do not reduce tariffs on dairy products to Canada to levels similar to those that were achieved in the Chinese free-trade agreement?
Hon TIM GROSER : I am prepared to make an offer to the member. If this negotiation is concluded successfully, I will introduce him to the adult world of New Zealand and Canadian dairy over the last 30 years, where Canada has pitched its interests diametrically opposed to New Zealand’s, and it takes just a little bit of spine to stand up to it.
Hon David Parker : Is the reason he does not think his insult of Canada has further damaged New Zealand’s reputation in trade negotiations that he has already trashed it by using the Government Communications Security Bureau to spy on his rivals for the World Trade Organization job?
Hon TIM GROSER : As far as damaging Canadian sensitivities goes, I have come across an article by a very senior Canadian political leader called Martha Hall Findlay, who is senior enough, I believe, to contest the leadership of the Liberal Party. It would not mean much in the Labour Party context—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Just answer the question.
Hon TIM GROSER : The article is entitled: “Why the dairy industry’s defence of supply management is so flawed”. So this is a matter for debate within and outside of Canada, and it is in the middle of a negotiation.
Hon David Parker : I seek leave to table the Reuters report of the insult. It is dated Friday, 18 April 2015.
Mr SPEAKER : It is probably relatively freely available. On the basis that it will be over to the House to decide, leave is sought to table that particular media report, dated 18 April. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Gerry Brownlee : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Just hearing a little bit from Mr Parker about the content of the news items that he is now tabling is, I think, particularly interesting. I am wondering whether he might be so good as to bundle them all up and circulate them to members so that we might all enjoy them.
Mr SPEAKER : The purpose of tabling the documents is to make sure that they are then available to all members. It is over to members to get them from the Table Office.
Hon David Parker : Given growing international opposition to investor-State enforcement provisions in countries like Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and the USA, and the litigious nature of US companies, would his Government agree to the Trans-Pacific Partnership without investor-State dispute settlement clauses if this outcome were available?
Hon TIM GROSER : We would take a position very similar to that of the previous Labour Government, which inserted these investor-State dispute settlement clauses into a number of the agreements that it successfully negotiated, including the China deal. The answer is that there will not be a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership without investor-State dispute settlement clauses, so we are negotiating with great care to ensure that there are adequate disciplines over that policy, and adequate safeguards.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : In the interests of introducing Mr Parker to the adult world, when will the Minister take himself out of rumoured talk about being the next ambassador to Washington, given his totally inappropriate use of the Government Communications Security Bureau to spy on international associates of ours in the advancement of his own egotistical and narrow career?
Hon Gerry Brownlee : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That might be a very entertaining question for Mr Peters and his colleagues but it is so wide of the mark that it is unacceptable as a supplementary question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : He did refer to—and he put it into the question—the issue of being part of the adult world. And that is what I am hanging my question on. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! I think the question is certainly—[Interruption] Order! The first part of the question is certainly completely out of order; there is no Ministerial responsibility. If the Minister wants to address the second part of the question, he can do so, and that was the bit about—
Hon TIM GROSER : Mr Speaker, I am happy to address the second part of the question. We have a process for investigating all of these issues; we will wait and see what the inspector-general has to say on the matter.
Battle of Ōrākau—Protection of Wāhi Tapu
11. BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki – King Country) to the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations : What has the Government done to protect the site of one of the most significant battles in the New Zealand Wars?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations): I am pleased to advise that the Government has purchased the property where the Battle of Ōrākau took place. The battle, in which 300 Māori defenders faced 1,500 Crown troops, is considered by many to be the decisive battle of the New Zealand Wars. Māori sustained heavy casualties and the Crown subsequently confiscated the land. The property is going to be held in the land bank in the Office of Treaty Settlements while the Government engages with relevant iwi about future possibilities for the site.
Barbara Kuriger : Why was it important for the Government to purchase the Battle of Ōrākau site?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON : The Government has been very keen to purchase this important site for a number of years, as it is of great significance to several iwi and to New Zealand’s history. The opportunity recently arose for the Government to carry out the purchase when the owners of the property offered to sell it. The site contains the remains of Māori who were killed during the battle and buried where they lay. It has been recorded by Heritage New Zealand as a wāhi tapu area, and the Crown and iwi agree that only certain uses of the property are going to be appropriate in the future.
Roading—Tauranga Central Corridor
12. CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First) to the Minister of Transport : What is the Government doing about the Tauranga Central Corridor?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Transport): A lot, and that is because we committed to the Tauranga Central Corridor and are going to invest over $100 million in the project. The member may be aware that enabling works have started, and construction of the Maungatapu-Hairini underpass will start a little later this year. If the member is a really good boy, I might even invite him to the opening. If he is really, really good, he might get a cucumber sandwich.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! That will not help the order of this House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. A lot of things are said in this House, but those would be some of the most insulting words I have ever heard. To refer to a member of Parliament—who has had a real man’s background, not like his—as a boy is just unacceptable—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! It certainly was not going to bring order to the House, and that is why I asked the Minister to conclude his answer. If the member took offence at it—
Clayton Mitchell : Yes, I did. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member has taken offence at that remark. I require the Minister to withdraw the remark.
Hon SIMON BRIDGES : I withdraw and apologise.
Ron Mark : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! If the member wishes to join his colleague?
Ron Mark : Mr Speaker, my question is to you.
Mr SPEAKER : If it is a point of order, would you—
Ron Mark : You are the last—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! Would the member simply raise his point of order immediately.
Ron Mark : Why should the Opposition have to ask you to deal with that sort of behaviour?
Mr SPEAKER : What is—
Ron Mark : Why should we have to ask—
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will sit down. [Interruption] Order! If the member would go back and study the Hansard, he will see that as soon as the remark was made I told the Minister to cease. I was surprised that a member then took offence at it, but if a member takes offence, the process is that I ask the Minister to withdraw. That has been the process for as long as I have been here, and that is considerably longer than Ron Mark.
Hon Gerry Brownlee : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER : Is this a fresh point of order?
Hon Gerry Brownlee : It is a fresh point of order.
Mr SPEAKER : Fresh point of order, the Hon Gerry Brownlee.
Hon Gerry Brownlee : From time to time things are said in the House that may be offensive to members. There are other times when things are said in the House that are so offensive to members that there is a consideration as to whether or not that matter should be raised at all. I would suggest, Mr Speaker, that when you get back to your office you have a look at the Twitter feeds, so that we could see that some of the hypocrisy that is being offered by the New Zealand First Party today is a complete disgrace.
Clayton Mitchell : Does the Minister acknowledge National’s commitment to create a four-lane State highway—not a local road—to run from the Welcome Bay underpass across the Turret Road bridge and along Fifteenth Avenue by 2015?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES : Of course, what we are doing is, in substance, keeping the announcement. That is why we are spending over $100 million on this area. But it is a staged project. That is why at the moment stages one and two—the early stages—worth some $20 million of work, are occurring. That is why stage four—where the member, as I say, if he is lucky can have a cucumber sandwich—is about to occur and it is worth some $68 million of underpass. Then, as required, we will look at the third stage.
Clayton Mitchell : What is the Minister doing to prevent the Fifteenth Avenue State Highway 2A from becoming part of the local road network and putting half of the cost of the upgrade on Tauranga ratepayers, against National’s original commitment?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES : Whether it is a State highway or a local road, it is of some significance to the agencies involved but, in a sense, from the Government’s perspective it is neither here nor there. Unlike New Zealand First, we are in Government and we can make these projects happen.
Clayton Mitchell : Does the Minister understand that for the Welcome Bay underpass to be effective, the widening of Turret Road and Fifteenth Avenue needs to happen at the same time?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES : I thank the member for his opinion. I understand what is required in relation to that underpass and project and also what is required in Tauranga. That is why we have spent some $800 million in the last 3 years and achieved much more in transport than the New Zealand First – Labour Government ever did.
Point of Order—Speaker’s Ruling
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Today has been a very interesting question time, and I am sure that there will be some commentary that runs on from it. I am wondering if you might consider whether Speaker’s ruling 167/6 still applies, and suggest that that may be something that our opponents in the Opposition want to have a look at. It is a ruling delivered by Margaret Wilson in 2007.
Mr SPEAKER : I will certainly have a look at that.
RON MARK (NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to take the opportunity to withdraw and apologise to the House for making a comment that some people may have been offended by or that would have brought the House into disrepute. Thank you.
Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Speaking to the Hon Gerry Brownlee’s point of order, the ruling to which he refers says: “A member cannot require a specific or particular answer to a question. The Minister is just required to address the question.” This is the very point we were making. We want an answer that addresses the question.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member ought to become more familiar with both the Standing Orders and Speakers’ rulings. The Opposition cannot demand an answer that it requires. My job is to judge whether the question was addressed. On this occasion I did so. That is the end of that matter. [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I just want to be clear: I have ruled on this matter. If the member is now relitigating, that in itself brings this House into disorder. Has the member got a fresh point of order? If he has I will listen to it.
Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was addressing the Hon Gerry Brownlee’s point to you, which you have not ruled on. I did not disagree with the Speaker’s ruling; I merely read it out and said our point was we just wanted questions to be addressed.
Mr SPEAKER : Order! That does not help the order of the House at all