[Sitting date: 27 November 2012. Volume:686;Page:6759. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the
Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that the Household Labour Force Survey shows that “over the last four years, the number of jobs in manufacturing is roughly about the same”, given that the survey shows employment in manufacturing has declined by 31,600 in the four years to September 2012?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister)
: Yes. In September 2009 it was 244,700, in September 2010 it was 245,000, in September 2011 it was 244,700, and in September 2012 it was 240,400.
Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister began his recitation of the figures, but he went back only 3 years. The quote was about 4 years.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister has, in his view, answered the question. He certainly gave some figures to back his answer. The member has got further supplementary questions to dig further into that answer if it was deficient. He cannot use a point of order to challenge the quality of the answer.
Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was “Does he stand by his statement …” la la la, and that over the last 4 years it had been roughly the same number. He did not answer the question, because he talked about the numbers over 3 years.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: It was on notice.
Dr Russel Norman: This was a question on notice. I want to hear about 4 years. That is the question.
Mr SPEAKER: The member has further supplementary questions. The Prime Minister gave figures going back to 2009 and gave 2009, 2010, and 2011 figures. OK, the question did ask whether or not he stood by his statement. It sought an opinion. The member did not ask how many people were unemployed under the household labour force survey. It sought an opinion. Where members seek opinions in questions on notice, and where a reasonable answer is given, I am not going to pin the Minister down any further. The member has further supplementary questions.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, the question “Does he stand by his statement” is not about an opinion. It is about whether it is a fact, or not, and that he stands behind it. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! This will cease. I invite the member to reflect on what he has just said. The question did not ask whether the two sets of figures were identical. The question asked the Prime Minister’s opinion—whether he stood by his statement. The Prime Minister can stand by his statement for all number of reasons. So this nonsense will stop. I commend the member’s own question that is coming up on the day’s Order Paper, because it actually asks for some information.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the reason that the Prime Minister gave in his answer to the primary question statistics going back only 3 years that the household labour force survey shows that in the 4 years to September 2012 there are 31,600 fewer people employed in manufacturing?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What the household labour force survey shows is very similar to what the linked employer-employee data survey shows and what the quarterly employment survey shows, and that is that there has been a gradual decline over 20 years in manufacturing. What is true is that manufacturing was hit in the economic crisis that we inherited from Labour in 2008, and over the last 3-odd years that has been pretty constant. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I want to hear this question.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the Prime Minister disputing the fact that the household labour force survey shows that there are 31,600 fewer people employed in manufacturing today than when he came to power 4 years ago?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is certainly true that the difference between 272,000 and 240,400 is 31,600. I was not the Prime Minister of New Zealand in September 2008.
Dr Russel Norman: Is he aware that the September 2008 figures are the last household labour force survey figures before he became Prime Minister; and is he disputing that the household labour force survey shows that there is a decline in manufacturing employment over those 4 years of 31,600 fewer jobs?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I am saying is that, broadly speaking, the numbers have been quite consistent in the period of time we have been in office. What is true is that there was a global financial crisis that we inherited from Labour, and that had a big impact on the economy.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the Prime Minister saying he inherited the global financial crisis from the Labour Government?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In part of it, yes, because after 5 years of increasing Government expenditure by 50 percent, interest rates were 8.25 percent in this country. But—this is the good bit of the news; this is the good bit of the story—if Labour are now accepting that there is a global financial crisis, then they will stop all that talk about Greece not having any impact on New Zealand. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Now that we have let off a bit of steam, let us have a little more order.
Dr Russel Norman: Which of these figures does he dispute: that the household labour force survey shows a 31,600 decline in the number of people employed in manufacturing in the past 4 years; that the quarterly employment survey shows a 31,300 decline in the number of jobs in manufacturing in the past 4 years; or that the linked employer-employee data set shows a decline in the number of filled jobs in manufacturing of 20,000 in the 3 years to September 2011?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, no, in the past 4 years.
Dr Russel Norman: Does it not all boil down to the fact that whichever way you cut it, whichever statistics you care to choose, the Government has failed on jobs, unemployment has grown in New Zealand, and the number of jobs in the manufacturing sector has not grown; and is it not time he just admitted it and figured out what to do about it?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, what it shows is that the Green Party, along with the Labour Party and New Zealand First—
Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is nothing about the Green Party. It was a simple question about the Prime Minister.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! National front-benchers do not need to interject. I invite the member to reflect back on the question he asked if he is not happy with the way the Prime Minister is answering it. I think that question left plenty of room for the Prime Minister to answer in almost any way he liked.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The answer is no. What it shows is that the Green Party, supported by the Labour Party and New Zealand First, has been running around saying—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, he cannot draw New Zealand First into his answer to this question. We were not responsible for the question, and we are surely entitled for him to be terse and to the point, and it does not include the magnificent policies of New Zealand First.
Mr SPEAKER: We have had enough of this. If members ask such loose questions there is a lot of scope in the answer. If he attributes any specific policies to New
Zealand First I will stop him, but the Prime Minister has a fairly wide licence in answering that kind of question.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I was going to go on to say is that the talk of those three parties that there is a manufacturing crisis in New Zealand is wrong. If you go and have a look at the comments of Craig Ebert from the BNZ, he said: “So, all things considered, we can see enough positivism emanating from New Zealand’s manufacturing sector to take the signs of recent weakness as more turbulence than tragedy. Talk that the industry is in crisis is overblown.” If one looks at Rob Hosking’s comments, he says: “In a dose of reality aimed at the recently politically generated posturing around manufacturing …”, and he goes on and on and on. I was simply quoting that three parties—New Zealand First, the Greens, and Labour—went to what they quoted was a manufacturing crisis, Mr Peters. That is why I said that. I should point out that I deal in the facts. All I am interested in is the facts.