Press Release – Office of the Clerk
1. ALASTAIR SCOTT (NationalWairarapa) to the Minister of Finance : What international reports has he received on the state of the New Zealand economy?• ORAL QUESTIONS
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
1. ALASTAIR SCOTT (National—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Finance: What international reports has he received on the state of the New Zealand economy?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Last week Fitch Ratings affirmed New Zealand’s AA rating, which indicates “very strong capacity” for [honouring] our financial commitments” and confirmed the outlook as stable. Fitch pointed to improved growth prospects, sound public finances, and highlighted New Zealand’s strong macroeconomic policy framework. The report is international recognition for New Zealand as a safe and stable place to do business.
Alastair Scott: What else does Fitch Ratings say about the New Zealand economic outlook?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Fitch has lifted its forecasts for economic growth in New Zealand to around 2.7 percent over the next 2 years—a bit lower than recent Reserve Bank forecasts—but they all show moderate growth of 2 to 3 percent over the next 3 to 4 years, which compares favourably with most economies and shows prospects for more jobs and higher incomes. Fitch says that the positive outlook for the New Zealand economy is supported by the lift in services exports—that is mainly tourism—construction activity, and stronger than expected net migration flows, which have offset weaker global demand and the fall in dairy production.
Alastair Scott: What risks are there to this economic outlook?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: All credit rating agencies refer, as Fitch does, to New Zealand’s external finances. In that respect, New Zealand is making slow but persistent progress. The current account deficit is currently at 3 percent, when agencies just a year or two ago were forecasting it would be 5 or 6 percent of GDP. Our net external debt is now down from 83 percent of GDP when the Government took office, to 56 percent of GDP. Fitch also points to house prices as a source of risk—something the Government is addressing, along with our local councils, through its comprehensive housing plan.
Alastair Scott: What recent reports has he seen broadly supporting employment growth, as reported in yesterday’s labour market statistics report prepared by Statistics New Zealand, which is of course statutorily independent?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yesterday’s labour market statistics report, using a new method laid out in detail some months ago by the Government Statistician, showed that 105,000 jobs were added to the New Zealand economy in the last year. This has been greeted with some scepticism. Statistics New Zealand pointed to evidence broadly supporting employment growth. Today, the ANZ Job Ads lifted 1.4 percent in July, and they are now running 9.8 percent higher than a year ago. Job ads in the Auckland region are 12 percent up, year on year. Consistent with the reporting of low unemployment in Auckland, ANZ also reports strong regional growth in job advertising in Otago, Manawatū, Waikato, and Hawke’s Bay.
• Capital and Coast District Health Board—Performance
2. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Health: What is the total amount of efficiencies that Capital and Coast District Health Board have made in 2015/16?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (Acting Minister of Health): The theoretical savings for the 2016 year are estimated at around $40 million, or 3 to 4 percent. Of course, district health boards (DHBs) are always required to make efficiency savings, and it was no different under the previous Government. The context for this, of course, is that 8 years ago the deficit was $66 million within that district health board and it is now around $12 million. The important thing to note, though, is that the Capital and Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) at the same time has lifted its services across the board, including an increase in surgeries of over 50 percent, and hip and knee surgeries are up 76 percent.
Hon Annette King: I seek leave to table information from an Official Information Act request, which I received from the Capital and Coast District Health Board, dated 12 February 2016, which points out it is not a theoretical $40 million saving plan; it is $40 million.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table that particular Official Information Act information. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Annette King: Is it acceptable, in order to meet $40 million in efficiencies, that he requires of Capital and Coast District Health Board that funding be cut from primary healthcare in the region, which the largest primary health organisation (PHO) has said is unmanageable?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I cannot confirm the figure that the member just stated, but what I can say is that the funding for the district health board has gone up $198 million over 8 years. That is 34 percent—well ahead of inflation.
Hon Annette King: How can mental health services be “right at the top” of his priority list when funding for primary mental health services provided by GPs and NGOs in Capital and Coast District Health Board are to be cut to make the savings that he is demanding?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I again query the figures that that member presents, because the figures that I have to hand show an increase in mental health expenditure in that district health board area by $17 million, or 21 percent, in the last 7 years.
Hon Annette King: How can his concern about mental health services be taken seriously when the following cuts have been made in funding: $118,500 from Compass Health, a PHO; $260,000 from Te Awakairangi Health Network, a PHO; and $150,000 from Newtown and Porirua services—both very low cost access services—and when cuts have been made to community health services in the region?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: Well, again, I would dispute the relevance of that, given that we have increased mental health services, not just in the last year but across the board—
Hon Annette King: They’re cuts.
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: They are not cuts. They are in proportion to the total funding that the district health board makes, and that has gone up $200 million in the last 8 years.
Hon Annette King: Will he rule out, in the House today, that there is absolutely no impact on mental health services in Capital and Coast Health District Health Board?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I refer to my previous answer, which states that mental health expenditure has gone up year on year, ahead of inflation, in the last 8 years.
Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked whether he would rule that there would be any cuts. I do not care what funding has gone in; will there be any cuts?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, the member cannot demand a yes or no answer. I accept that she can be dissatisfied with that particular answer, and I will allow the member one additional supplementary question.
Hon Annette King: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I did happen to have a fifth one here that I did not think I would ever get the chance to do.
Mr SPEAKER: We will move on, then.
Hon Annette King: Why would the chief executive of Lower Hutt district health board say publicly that he has had to cut funding for mental health services this financial year?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I cannot speak for the Lower Hutt district health board—in fact, there is no Lower Hutt district health board. There is Hutt Valley District Health Board, where the funding has actually gone up $415 million over the last 8 years, and that member knows that spending has gone up.
Kris Faafoi: Does he think it is acceptable that, to make his savings, the Capital and Coast District Health Board is considering closing the overnight GP service at Kenepuru Hospital, which could see some families in Kāpiti and Porirua travel 50 kilometres—much further than they do now—to see a GP in the small hours of the morning?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: What I can say about this district health board is that there are over 176 more doctors who are on the front line, and there are more than 387 more nurses on the front line, and that is better than anything that Labour Government did in its 9 years.
Kris Faafoi: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I will allow the member to repeat the question. The Minister may not have heard it.
Kris Faafoi: Does he think it is acceptable that, to make his savings, Capital and Coast District Health Board is considering closing the overnight GP service at Kenepuru Hospital, which could see some families in Kāpiti and Porirua travel 50 kilometres—much further than they do now—to see a GP in the small hours of the morning; or is that an example of the CCDHB lifting services?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: As I have said to that member, the spending has gone up on GPs and nurses in terms of primary healthcare. We know there are more front-line doctors and we know there are more nurses.
• Prime Minister—Statements
3. TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes, in the context in which they were made.
Tracey Martin: How does he stand by his statement that “the bulk of the 71,000 net migration number is made up of New Zealanders returning …” when the quarterly labour market statistics show that eight out of 10 working-age migrant arrivals are not returning New Zealanders?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: We would have to look in detail at the numbers the member is quoting, but I think you will find that the net flow of New Zealanders has changed significantly, from minus 39,000—that is, 4 years ago 39,000 New Zealanders net left New Zealand, and in the last year it was about plus 2,000. That is a reversal of over 40,000 Kiwis deciding to stay home or come home.
Tracey Martin: Does he stand by his statement made as Prime Minister to The Migrant Times: “If migrants want to see continuation of an open, diverse, accepting country, I think our Government is the only political party which voices that message. That is why it is important that when we have elections, migrants come out and vote for us.”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, and I think there is some clear evidence for that from the member’s party, which has traditionally always advocated an opposition to migration into New Zealand and against immigrants, and the Labour Party, which runs political campaigns based on people’s Chinese-sounding names. We have not done either of those things, and that is why migrant communities are increasing friendly and interested in our policy. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am not going to continue to ask for less interjection from a couple of people I have got my eye on, on the far right-hand side.
Tracey Martin: Can he confirm that part of his Government’s strategic plan for election 2017 is to import its voters?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, but New Zealand First should try it. It might get its vote up a bit.
• Tertiary Education—Enrolment in Engineering and ICT Degrees
4. STUART SMITH (National—Kaikōura) to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: What reports has he received on the growth in the number of tertiary students enrolling in engineering and ICT degrees?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): Recently I received a report called What are they doing? The field of study of domestic students/learners 2008-2015, which analyses the fields of study of domestic students in the tertiary system over the last 8 years. It shows that last year, students enrolled in engineering and related technologies at Bachelor’s level or higher reached an all-time high of over 11,500—an increase of more than 3,500 or 44 percent from 2008. The number of students enrolled in information technology at Bachelor’s level or higher last year also grew by 33 percent since 2008 to reach just under 11,500. It is very good to see so many students engaged in areas where they are likely to head into a solid, well-paying career where demand is high and likely to continue to grow.
STUART SMITH: How is the Government encouraging more students to study STEM subjects, including engineering and ICT?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Ensuring industries have the skills that they need is a key priority of the tertiary education strategy, and this has included a strong focus on boosting the number of students studying STEM subjects. Initiatives under way include: rebalancing tuition subsidies to more accurately reflect the cost of provision, which has encouraged universities to invest in growing places in some of these more expensive areas—also providing better and more accurate careers information is encouraging young people to choose these subjects; introducing the new ICT graduate schools, which will boost the number of ICT graduates; and introducing the ‘Make the World’ Engineering to Employment campaign to encourage more young people into a career in engineering.
Stuart Smith: Why is it important to grow the number of students studying STEM subjects such as engineering and ICT?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Graduates in STEM subjects like engineering and ICT are crucial for building a growing and high-tech 21st century economy. In particular, New Zealand’s ICT sector is thriving, with the most recent ICT sector report showing that our services in the software industry are growing rapidly with the number of employed in the sector up around 3,000 a year and exports from the sector having grown from less than half a billion dollars in 2008 to nearly a billion dollars in 2014, which is a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent. The sector needs skilled staff to maintain this growth, and this growth in enrolments we are seeing at our universities will help meet this need.
• Housing, Auckland—Homelessness and Access to Housing
5. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) to the Minister for Social Housing: Does she think there is sufficient accommodation for the homeless in Auckland given that there are now people advertising for “driveway and shower” rentals?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister): on behalf of the Minister for Social Housing: There is certainly a need for more accommodation in Auckland of all types—that is, affordable family accommodation, social housing, and emergency accommodation. That is why it is so positive that the Auckland Council has signed off a unitary plan that will allow for twice as many houses to be built. In respect of emergency accommodation, the Government announced $41 million in the Budget to pay for more emergency housing places and new, non-recoverable special needs grants to pay for emergency accommodation. This is the first time any Government has directly funded emergency housing, and there is intensive work that has been going on for 18 months with social agencies to improve the availability and sustainability of emergency housing.
Phil Twyford: Is this the brighter future that John Key promised, when a 25-year-old construction worker on the minimum wage cannot find affordable rental housing, and is advertising to sleep in his car in someone’s garden while paying rent to use the kitchen and bathroom facilities? After 8 years in Government, is he really going to blame that on Auckland Council?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The construction worker has shown up to the biggest construction boom, the biggest house building programme, that New Zealand has ever seen, and, at the age of 25, he might be one of the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation’s 10,000 apprentices. Yes, he may find it a bit tough finding accommodation in Auckland, but he will stick with it because the opportunity for him is enormous.
Phil Twyford: Is it ambitious for New Zealand that property speculators got tax breaks of $650 million last year, while more than 42,000 people are homeless on his watch?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: There are a large number of people investing in new houses in Auckland. That is why Auckland is building more houses than ever, and will for the next few years. Of course, what the member did not point out is that the Government abolishing depreciation in the 2010 tax package meant that it was an increase in revenue of about a billion dollars that came from that measure.
Phil Twyford: When an independent study by Otago University found that more than 4,000 people are living in cars, on the street, or in improvised dwellings, does she think her funding of 800 places is anywhere near enough emergency housing to deal with the problem?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the member knows, if the Government put a billion dollars into emergency housing it cannot create houses just by writing out a cheque. The houses are being built rapidly now, and, actually, it is the responsibility of the council to ensure enough houses are built. That is what the Auckland Unitary Plan was all about, and it is unfortunate for that member that the council’s decision on the unitary plan showed he had been misleading the public that somehow the Government decided how many houses are being built. Actually, it is the council, and we support the decisions they have made, because they are now enabling the biggest construction boom Auckland and the country have ever seen.
Phil Twyford: Will he confirm that the independent hearings panel estimates that a shortfall of dwellings in Auckland of 42,000 has accumulated since his Government has been in office, and that Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) officials project that the shortfall in building will not be eliminated until 2030?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I cannot confirm the first number, and, just for the member’s benefit, officials’ projections about what would happen in Christchurch proved to be wrong—very wrong. They had a very negative view about what was possible, and how long it would take. Due to the enormous efforts of my colleague the Hon Gerry Brownlee and thousands of construction workers in Christchurch, Christchurch house prices are now flat to falling, because of an extraordinary effort to build houses. I suspect that things will unfold more rapidly in Auckland than MBIE officials believe is the case.
Phil Twyford: That’s right—everybody else is wrong.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, just you.
• KiwiSaver—Fund Providers and Investment
6. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: How many default KiwiSaver fund providers currently invest in companies that manufacture cluster bombs?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs): Ministers are not directly responsible for the investment decisions of these independent fund providers, but I have seen media reports about five default KiwiSaver fund providers who may have investments in the areas described by the member. I am unable to verify that figure because Ministers are not directly responsible for these investment decisions.
Julie Anne Genter: Why are Ministers not directly responsible, given that it is the Government-directed savings of half a million New Zealanders that may be going into companies that produce illegal weapons of war?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: It is because New Zealanders with KiwiSaver accounts have a choice about which scheme to join, and can find out what that scheme invests in.
Julie Anne Genter: Does he accept that it is far simpler and easier for his Government to verify whether funds are legally and ethically compliant, rather than leaving it to half a million New Zealanders who may not have that information available and it is not that easy to get from the KiwiSaver fund providers?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: In so far as there are specific legal requirements, our expectations are that KiwiSaver providers will obey the law; but in so far as there are moral judgments to require, then we believe individual investors are best placed to make those judgments. The KiwiSaver (Periodic Disclosure) Regulations require providers to disclose the investments that they have made, and the system has worked effectively in this case so that those investments have been outlined in public, and providers will have to make a decision about how they respond.
Julie Anne Genter: So is he saying that his Government thinks it is up for debate whether or not it is ethical for companies to produce weapons like landmines that kill 15,000 to 20,000 people every year—most of them children, women, and the elderly—and severely maim many more?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: I am not saying that; I am saying that in so far as there are specific legal requirements, we expect KiwiSaver providers to obey the law. But where there are moral judgments to be made, we believe that individual investors are best placed to make those moral judgments.
Julie Anne Genter: What advice has he received or requested on the legality of New Zealand companies investing directly or indirectly in companies that produce cluster bombs?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: If there is a legal requirement, then it is up for the appropriate enforcement agencies to enforce the law.
Julie Anne Genter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I will allow the member to repeat the question. It may not have been understood.
Julie Anne Genter: Sure. Thank you, Mr Speaker. What advice has he received or requested on the legality of New Zealand companies investing directly or indirectly in companies that produce cluster bombs?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: I have asked for advice on that, and there is some indication that the law relating to the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act may apply—but that is up to the appropriate enforcement authority to decide whether or not there has been a breach of the law.
Julie Anne Genter: When did he receive the advice and who is the relevant enforcement authority?
Mr SPEAKER: Either of those two supplementary questions—the Hon Paul Goldsmith.
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: This morning.
Julie Anne Genter: Will he, at the very least, commit to bringing default KiwiSaver providers’ investments in line with the Superannuation Fund’s exclusion list in ensuring that they are legally and ethically invested?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: In so far as there are moral judgments required, it is our belief that there are two choices: you can have the Government deciding those moral questions by banning particular things, or you can trust the New Zealand investors to make those moral judgments based on quality advice. The scheme that we have in place insists and expects that KiwiSaver providers disclose the investments that they make. Those are publicly available. They can be searched and analysed—as they have been—and made public. The KiwiSaver providers will need to make a judgment about how comfortable they are with their offerings, and individual KiwiSaver investors can make a decision.
Grant Robertson: As the Minister responsible for appointing default KiwiSaver providers under section 132 of the KiwiSaver Act, why has he not taken more action to assess whether the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 makes it a criminal offence to invest in cluster munitions, with a maximum penalty of 7 years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $500,000?
Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: Because if there has been any breach of the law, it is up to the appropriate enforcement authorities to investigate.
• Trade—Relationship with China
7. RICHARD PROSSER (NZ First) to the Minister of Trade: What advice has he received on the current status of New Zealand’s trade relationship with China?
Hon TODD McCLAY (Minister of Trade): I regularly receive advice on our trade relationships with a range of countries, including China, which shows that New Zealand exports to China have quadrupled since the New Zealand – China free-trade agreement entered into force. It has been an incredible success story. But although China is an important market for New Zealand, I would note that less than 20 percent of our goods exports go to China. The Government continues to actively work on a diverse trade agenda, which includes the recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement; the ASEAN Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiation, which is currently under way; the Trade in Services Agreement; the Environmental Goods Agreement; an agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council; an agreement with India; and PACER-Plus. We are also on track to begin negotiations with the EU, a market that is worth $20.6 billion in two-way trade in goods and services.
Richard Prosser: Can he give New Zealand exporters an assurance that the latest example of China moving the goalposts and requiring a new registration system, in spite of our free-trade agreement, will not disadvantage our honey and wine producers, as happened to exporters of infant milk formula 2 years ago?
Hon TODD McCLAY: Yes, I do not think there is reason for concern here. China has signalled these plans, which will apply to imports from all countries, for some time. We have navigated such requirements for other export sectors in the past. I have every confidence that the New Zealand and Chinese officials will work constructively again to do so for wine and honey, and work alongside New Zealand industry.
Richard Prosser: Is he concerned that the upcoming and overdue European Union audit of New Zealand’s honey exports might be influenced by New Zealand failing China’s latest audit, or is he satisfied that our failing of the Chinese honey audit is merely another example of bullying trade tactics on the part of the Chinese?
Hon TODD McCLAY: No, I have great confidence in the New Zealand honey industry. It is actually a stand-out industry. It increases exports and delivers important jobs to many of our regions. So far as audits are concerned, that is an issue for the Ministry for Primary Industries, but the New Zealand Government takes its obligations extremely seriously in this area.
Richard Prosser: Given China’s stated concerns regarding fake and counterfeited wine and honey being sold in China, will he be raising the subject of China taking responsibility for Chinese counterfeiting with his Chinese counterpart; if not, why not?
Hon TODD McCLAY: Our trading relationship with China is worth around $20 billion. It is clear that issues will come up from time to time in such a significant relationship. We have a very strong and constructive relationship with the Chinese Government. I sought assurances from it on a number of occasions, as far as that trading relationship is concerned, and received them. Where there are industry-specific concerns, we have pathways to continue to seek those assurances.
• Rural Veterinary Bonding Scheme—Reports
8. DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister for Primary Industries: What recent reports has he received on Government support encouraging veterinary graduates to work in rural practices?
Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister for Primary Industries): The voluntary bonding scheme for veterinarians was launched in 2009 to encourage new vet graduates to work in hard-to-staff rural practices. The scheme provides a taxable payment of $11,000 each year for 3 to 5 years for 30 eligible vet graduates a year. A recent report shows the Government has invested a total of $11.4 million in the scheme to date. This has seen a total of 226 graduates move to work in the regions over the last 7 years.
David Bennett: What impact has the scheme had on our primary industries, such as those in the Waikato?
Hon NATHAN GUY: Good question. Around $22 billion of our exports are derived from animals per year. Vets, therefore, play a crucial role in the success of our primary industries and the wider New Zealand economy by maintaining and improving animal health and well-being. A total of 52 graduates have been staffed in practices in the Waikato region since this scheme began. A recent meeting with industry organisations confirmed strong appreciation and ongoing support for the scheme in our regions.
• Corrections, Department—Child Sex Offender Management
9. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Minister of Corrections: Is she satisfied with her department’s system of contracting providers and approving residences for offenders with a pervasive pattern of serious sexual offending against children, who the High Court has found are a high risk of further sexual offending?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Corrections): Yes, I have full confidence in the Department of Corrections to undertake its duties under the law.
Su’a William Sio: What process and criteria were used by her department to determine that it was OK for a child sex offender to be placed near a school like Jean Batten School in Māngere, despite her department being aware that the offender had raped a 13-year-old girl and is at high risk of reoffending?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, given that section 7(3) of the Corrections Act means that I am not able to “give directions about the exercise of powers and functions in relation to a particular person.”, it does make it a bit difficult to deal with that particular question, but I am happy to help the member by advising the House of the criteria that the department looks at when it approves residences for placements, and I hope that that will help him with his answer. The public’s safety is obviously the primary priority for the Department of Corrections. It considers proximity to schools and preschools. It notes that, as a guide, a child sex offender should not live within 1 kilometre of such facilities, but in cities, 500 metres may be more realistic. It looks at proximity to playgrounds, parks, reserves, public swimming pools, churches, thoroughfares or residences with young families, other places frequented by children, shared driveways or facilities; proximity to victims; proximity to counselling and support services and availability of transport to these; any evidence of children under 16 residing at the address; and suitability of other occupants and neighbours and whether they have children and are aware of the offending. Community Corrections also checks with the other involved professionals, such as mental health teams, Child, Youth and Family, and police, to determine whether they approve of the proposed address.
Su’a William Sio: Is it correct that under an extended supervision order there can be intensive monitoring for only 12 months, and that this monitoring cannot be renewed; if so, is she satisfied that electronic bracelets alone will protect young women or children from these sexual predators, who are at high risk of reoffending?
Mr SPEAKER: Again, there are two supplementary questions. The Hon Judith Collins can answer one.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I understand that the member may be misinformed on that. I understand that there is a particular person who has been on intensive monitoring for 10 years and has still got intensive monitoring now, so quite clearly people do, in fact, have monitoring that is extended.
Mahesh Bindra: If this Government claims to protect New Zealanders from disgusting sexual predators, how on earth does a sexual offender end up on a bracelet and not locked up, as they should be?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I would have thought it was obvious—they have finished their sentence.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Is a property just over 500 metres from a school, with 31 children living in the immediate vicinity, a suitable place to house Robert John McCorkindale, who has three sets of convictions dating back to 1987 for sexual offences on girls as young as 4—including abduction with the intent to have sexual intercourse—and whom the High Court found in April this year is at high risk of further serious sexual offending?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: It would be outside of the Corrections Act and of the law for me to comment about a particular matter and whether or not the placement was suitable. I would, however, note that the Department of Corrections always reviews these sorts of placements, particularly where there is concern expressed by the public.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does she agree with the corrections regional director that the 1-kilometre or 500-metre distance from schools special condition should be measured by a circuitous route around roads, when this paedophile can jump the back fence at his place of detention and be in the local school’s new-entrants’ playground in less than 3 minutes?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I am concerned that the member obviously has not heard that I am not able to make comment about particular placements, given the Corrections Act, but I am, however, happy to say to him, and the concern that he has—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! This is a very serious matter. I do not want interjection.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The person he has named, I understand, has already spent 10 years in the community under intensive supervision, and I am assured that in that time he has not reoffended. I think it would also be helpful to the member if he knew that intensive supervision—or intensive monitoring, rather, in this case—means that someone is with him 24 hours, 7 days a week, as well as GPS monitoring, and that, as I have just said, he has been in the community for 10 years without offending.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does the Minister agree with advice given by corrections to the neighbouring parents of 5- and 6-year-old girls, who for years have had a paddling pool on their deck—now overlooked on by this paedophile—that they should modify their parenting and have their girls play on the other side of their house?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: If that report is accurate, then that would seem to be an inappropriate comment.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Is the corrections’ system of approving residences robust when this paedophile has a shower in a room with clear windows overlooking the street, and what does she say to the parents of passing preschool girls, who will be the stimulation for his masturbation?
Mr SPEAKER: There are two questions there; the Hon Judith Collins can choose to answer either one.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have a great deal of sympathy for members of the public and parents, who know that, unfortunately, there are, in fact, many sex offenders living in our communities. In this particular case, we know where he is. He is under 24-hour, 7-day-a-week individual monitoring—he has someone with him all that time—and I am sure that this matter, as I have been advised by the Department of Corrections, is being reviewed, as are all of its placements when there are any concerns raised by members of the public.
• Community Leadership—Announcements
10. MAUREEN PUGH (National) to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector: What recent announcements has she made regarding community leadership organisations?
Hon JO GOODHEW (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector): Last week I announced the results of the inaugural funding round for the Community Leadership Fund – Hapori Whakatipu. I am pleased to report to the House that the $500,000 fund has been fully committed in its first year, with six diverse applicants to receive grants. The successful applicants are: Ara Taiohi Incorporated, Hui E! Community Aotearoa, Ākina Foundation, the Inspiring Communities trust, the Volunteer Army Foundation, and Volunteering New Zealand.
Maureen Pugh: What contribution will the fund make to social enterprises in New Zealand?
Hon JO GOODHEW: The Ākina Foundation has been granted $85,000 to continue its work as the lead organisation for the social enterprise sector. The Ākina Foundation will be able to enhance its support for emerging social enterprises throughout New Zealand, enabling people with good ideas across the country to be supported in their efforts to bring about social or environmental goals through the successful running of a self-sustaining business. The first round of the community leadership fund has shown us that there is an exciting range of ways in which organisations are working to build the leadership and capability of a huge range of different groups and enterprises throughout New Zealand.
• Māori Development—Safe Sleep Programme
11. MARAMA DAVIDSON (Green) to the Minister of Health: Ka kī taurangi a ia, ka noho te rautaki Māori whāia e kōkirihia ana e āna āpiha, tae atu ki te whakamahinga o te wahakura harakeke, hai mahi tuatahi i roto i te Hōtaka Safe Sleep o te motu?
[Will he guarantee that a targeted Māori strategy, including the use of flax wahakura, is prioritised in the national safe sleep programme that his officials are working on?]
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (Acting Minister of Health): I can confirm that the safe sleep programme is being developed by the Ministry of Health and will include strategies for Māori in the use of safe sleeping devices such as wahakura.
Marama Davidson: Kei te mōhio tātau, neke atu i te 60 ōrau o ngā pēpi i mate i te Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) hē Māori nā reira, he aha te rahi o te pūtea taunaki mā ngā rautaki Māori whāia pērā i te wahakura harakeke?
[We know that more than 60 percent of Māori babies die as a result of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI); how much funding will she commit for targeted Māori strategies like flax wahakura?]
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: Details of how this will be run and the exact funding streams are still to be worked out, but what is important is that we need to ensure that there are strong and clear guidelines in place for services to assess vulnerability across the board and to ensure that any family offered a safe sleep space is also supported to use it consistently and safely.
Marama Davidson: Ka kī taurangi a ia ki te tuku pūtea, rauemi hoki mā ngā rautaki Māori nā te tokomaha o te iwi Māori, te tokomaha rānei o ngā pēpi Māori i mate i te SUDI?
[Will he commit funding and resources as well to Māori strategies because of the vast number of Māori people, or the vast number of Māori babies, dying as a consequence of SUDI?]
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: As I have already answered, the ministry is working alongside experts such as Professor Mitchell to devise a national safe sleep programme where these wahakura will be assessed as to whether they are appropriate. I am advised that the ministry is also working alongside other Māori, in particular Whakawhetū, a Māori organisation connected to the University of Auckland that will provide advice.
Marama Davidson: Menā ka haumarutia ngā pēpi piripoho, ka taurangihia e Te Minita me noho ngā wahakura hei kōwhiringa mā ia whānau o ngā pēpi piripoho puta noa i Aotearoa nei?
[If newborn babies are given the best possible start in life, will the Minister guarantee that wahakura will remain an option for each family of newborn babies throughout New Zealand?]
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: As I have said, the programme is being worked through with experts and with the sector. It will be developed and include strategies for Māori, given the high risk for young Māori infants, as well as the use of such devices as wahakura.
• Captioning—Summer Olympics 2016
12. POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East) to the Minister for Disability Issues: Did she or her office contact the Minister of Broadcasting or her office to correct their joint press release of 9 August 2016, regarding captioning of televised coverage of the Olympics, as requested by the National Foundation for the Deaf; if not, why not?
Hon NICKY WAGNER (Minister for Disability Issues): Last week’s joint press release was about recognising and celebrating the fact that captioning on parliamentary television will mean that more New Zealanders can access democracy. Minister Adams and I reviewed the press release and agreed that it was factually correct. We reject that there is any suggestion that the Government is taking credit for the foundation’s work. I am very happy to acknowledge that the National Foundation for the Deaf has underwritten captioning for the Rio Olympics for $200,000.
Poto Williams: How much funding did her Government give to fund captioning at the Olympics?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: The Olympics funding is going to be done by the National Foundation for the Deaf. Attitude Pictures is doing captioning for the Paralympics.
Poto Williams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The best way forward is if the member could just repeat that question.
Poto Williams: How much funding did her Government give to fund captioning at the Olympics?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: As I have already said, it will be covered by private organisations, but New Zealand On Air funds captioning services of up to $2.8 billion a year. That is 265 hours each week, and 35 hours of audio description. One hundred percent of prime time content on Television New Zealand channels is now captioned, and the addition of captioning of Prime Television in November 2015 shows that more captioning is available for all New Zealanders.
Poto Williams: Can she confirm that the National Foundation for the Deaf paid $200,000 to provide captioning for the Olympics?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: Yes. I appreciate what it has done, and I salute it.
Poto Williams: Did the National Foundation for the Deaf ask her to correct her claim about Government funding of captioning at the Olympics?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: Yes, but I stand by my original statement that the press release is factually correct. We reject the suggestion that the Government is taking credit for the foundation’s work. We are always pleased to support more captioning options.
Poto Williams: Will she now apologise to the National Foundation for the Deaf, after being caught taking credit for its funding?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: I stand by my original statement that the press release is factually correct. It is unfortunate that the quote by Minister Adams has been misinterpreted. We are very supportive of all efforts to enhance captioning accessibility. That is why we put the press release out last week to congratulate the Office of the Clerk on increasing captioning.
• URGENT QUESTIONS
Drinking-water Contamination—Havelock North
1. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Health: Will he now declare a drinking-water emergency, under the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2007, in light of reports that E. coli has been discovered in a water tanker from a Hastings water supply, parked at a school in Havelock North?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (Acting Minister of Health): No. I am advised that the local council is taking action, and that the water supplies for Hastings and Flaxmere are now being chlorinated. The daily tests for those supplies have been clear. I can also advise that the Minister Jonathan Coleman has confirmed there will be a Government-initiated independent inquiry into the Havelock North water contamination issue. This will be a wide-ranging inquiry to ensure that all New Zealanders can feel confident about the quality of drinking-water supplies.
Hon Annette King: So what would it take for the Minister of Health to declare a drinking-water emergency, given that over 3,200 people have now been affected by gastric illness and that the Mayor Lawrence Yule is saying that this latest result “is a significant development we cannot explain.”?
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I continue to be disgusted by the attitude of that member, who is playing politics with this issue—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise for interrupting the Minister. I need to deal with a point of order.
Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was a straight question. The Minister started his answer by being disgusted by the fact that I have raised this issue in this House, when he did not.
Mr SPEAKER: We will now allow the Minister to complete his answer.
Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: I am still disgusted, because this member plays politics when what is at issue here is the health and safety of those people in Havelock North and Hawke’s Bay. I visited Hawke’s Bay yesterday, and what the local people told me was that they wanted their health services provided and they wanted accountability. That is what this Government is offering through this inquiry and the support that we are giving the local district council.