[Sitting date: 26 July 2012. Volume:682;Page:4018. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the
Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by her statement that “if we are going to make a difference for the families who are struggling, we need to be able to invest in interventions that we know will work”; if so, what are her methods for developing policies that she knows will work?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS (Associate Minister for Social Development) on behalf of the
Minister for Social Development: The Minister stands by her full statement that was made with regard to the new Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit in the restructured Families Commission, where she said: “If we are going to make a difference for the families who are struggling, we need to be able to invest in interventions that we know will work and that have had full evaluations. This new unit will build a body of evidence that will allow policy makers, non-governmental organisations, and anyone wanting to invest in social services to make informed decisions about which programmes are effective for New Zealand families.” The establishment of this unit is a key part of this Government’s focus to ensure we are investing in what works.
Jacinda Ardern: Can she provide to the House the evaluation or evidence showing that the policy that she announced on Michael Laws’ show on the court ordering unfit parents not to have further children will work, when the Ministry of Justice denies any involvement in this policy and her own green paper reference group had not been involved?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS: The primary question was directed towards the Families Commission. I have not been briefed in respect of an answer that I could provide to that supplementary question.
Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister in answering the primary question said that the policies through this unit should have full evaluations. It is quite in order for the Minister to say he cannot answer the question because it has not been provided for, but he should not deny the relevance of the question.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the point is a fair point. The Minister is perfectly at liberty to say that he does not have the information to answer the question, but I think the point the Hon David Parker makes is correct. The primary question is not focused on the Families Commission; it does not mention it. But the Minister’s answer is still perfectly legitimate, unless he wishes to add anything further to it. He does not.
Jacinda Ardern: Can she provide to the House any advice or evaluation to show that the policy she announced on Michael Laws’ show on drug-testing beneficiaries will
work, when a Government department is rumoured to have provided evidence to the Ministry of Social Development strongly criticising the plan?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS: I have not been briefed in respect of comments she made in respect of drug testing.
Le’aufa’amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. E rau rangatira mā, tēnā tatou koutou. What evidence has she seen that her military activity camps are working for troubled youth, given that the idea has been discredited internationally and her own camps have a reoffending rate of 53 percent?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS: In respect of the military-style activity camps, they have not been commented on internationally. Although they were incorrectly represented in the previous term as boot camps, there has been international evidence in respect of boot camps. In respect of military-style activity camps, there is currently an evaluation that is going on at the moment, and we look forward to the results, as they appear to be positive in the interim.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call Jacinda Ardern, I say that when a member from another party asks a supplementary question, they deserve to be able to hear the answer. There was too much interjection then.
Jacinda Ardern: Can she provide to the House advice or evidence she has used to support the policy of contraception for beneficiaries rather than for all low-income women, which Michael Laws called “a policy position I’ve always advocated”, given she claimed to have received medical advice but an Official Information Act request later revealed she had received absolutely none?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS: I am afraid I cannot answer that question as it is targeted towards comments in respect of contraception. I would suggest that if the member has that particular question, she should direct it in writing or ask the Minister on another occasion.
Jacinda Ardern: Can she provide to the House the advice or evidence she has to show that the policy she announced at the National Party conference to turn food hardship grants into food parcels to save the taxpayer money would save more than the alternative policy of having an actual plan for job creation and growth so people are not in hardship in the first place?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS: Unfortunately I have not been briefed in respect of that, but I am sure that such a hard-working, creative Minister will welcome the opportunity to answer that question should she be asked in person.