[Sitting date: 10 May 2012. Volume:679;Page:2168. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the
Prime Minister: Does he still have confidence in the Minister for Social Development and the Associate Ministers for Social Development; if so, why?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the
Prime Minister: Yes; they are both hard-working and competent Ministers who are working for a brighter future for all New Zealanders.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can he have confidence in Associate Minister Tariana Turia’s working for a brighter future, after it emerged today that a trust linked to the Mongrel Mob and arrests by the Dunedin police has been in receipt of Ministry of Social Development funding through Whānau Ora?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I understand that is a matter actually before the courts. I might say that Governments contract with literally thousands of organisations, and occasionally some of those organisations may transgress the law. If so, they are dealt with appropriately.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can he possibly have confidence in Mrs Turia when she has caused cuts of $700,000 in funding to Women’s Refuge, and has redirected that funding to groups and individuals who are clearly supporters of her Whānau Ora policies—
Hon Tariana Turia: Get it right!
Rt Hon Winston Peters: —such as the Mongrel Mob—and that is right.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am advised that, actually, Women’s Refuge has had significant increases in the time of this Government. Mrs Turia has been a strong advocate for improving family violence prevention programmes, and I am sure she will continue to look hard at how the money is spent. As I said before, the Government contracts with literally thousands of organisations. Where any of those organisations break the law, that will be dealt with appropriately, as this organisation appears to be.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the Mongrel Mob in this case was the anti-violence group, how can he have confidence in the Minister for Social Development when she allows Ministry of Social Development funding to be siphoned off by her Associate Minister to dodgy, lucrative ventures that the Mongrel Mob are, rubbishingly, associated with?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I think the member might have pointed out, this is a matter that is actually in a court hearing right now, and I am sure the details of whatever offending is alleged will come to light. But I will repeat what I said before: Governments contract with thousands of organisations. If one or two of those organisations break the law, they will be dealt with appropriately, and among those thousands of organisations at any given time there are probably one or two.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why did the Government not take heed of New Zealand First’s warning on this Whānau Ora policy, which was concocted without one piece of analytical evidence but purely from anecdotal evidence, and is he prepared to give anything to the Māori Party to keep it in his Government, no matter how embarrassing to the Māori people that party might be?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: We have learnt over the years to be a bit careful about New Zealand First’s warnings on oil spills, ferry-bottom scrapings, and all sorts of other conspiracies. The Government continues to support Ms Turia’s efforts to break the cycle of dependence and failure that is associated with government programmes for many of New Zealand’s disadvantaged families. Whānau Ora is an innovative way of looking at longstanding problems. It is showing some signs of success, and, frankly, we would rather try that than allow the perpetuation of dependency and dysfunction that blights too many of our families.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Seeing as he is putting it at issue, is he now saying that the BNZ bailout and the Adbro deal, which he supported, was all innocent, or that the wine box was all a case of innocence, despite all of his mates doing that, or that, for example, the ferry did not ground? Why does he not stop making it up as he goes along?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, I was not leaping to conclusions about those particular issues.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the Minister. The member cannot interject: “You said it, sunshine!”, because the member is saying to the Speaker “You said it, sunshine!”, and I am not sure the Speaker did say that. I ask the right honourable gentleman to desist from that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I apologise. You might be a ray of sunshine. Clearly, I have got the wrong person there.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Has the Minister finished his answer? He has.