[Sitting date: 10 May 2012. Volume:679;Page:2170. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Su’a WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere) to the
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: Does he stand by all his answers to Oral Question No 2 on 3 May 2012 on employment matters?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development)
on behalf of the
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: Yes.
Su’a William Sio: When will he stop using the Canterbury earthquakes and the financial crisis as scapegoats, and accept that this Government’s economic failures in response to those challenges have failed to provide jobs for the underemployed, the unemployed, and the 273,300 people who are jobless and who would take a job if there was one?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I think that indicates why Labour lost the Christchurch Central seat if they do not think that the Canterbury earthquakes have had a significant impact on not just Christchurch but, actually, New Zealand. What I would point out is that we have seen dramatic increases. They peaked in January 2010. Since then we have seen, for example, the unemployment benefit figures reducing, and reasonably significantly. In April—just last month—we saw them go down by 2,000. We have seen the youth unemployment benefit figures also reduce. The household labour force survey itself peaked at 7.1 percent. It is 6.7 percent now—not as low as we would like it, but certainly things are improving.
Su’a William Sio: Given that in the last 6 months full-time work has fallen by 16,000, and part-time work has risen substantially, what proof is there that 170,000 jobs will be created, given that the 36,000 jobs that were supposed to be created by March of this year were not?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: That is the best modelling from Treasury: that it believes there will be 170,000 jobs. We certainly think that we are on track. I think what the member needs to see as well, though, is that, as I pointed out, we have seen that increase particularly due to the global recession, but what we have seen is it tracking down over time and we do believe that it will continue to get better.
Su’a William Sio: Does he agree that employment is the barometer of New Zealand’s economic health; if so, will he accept that last week’s household labour force survey at 6.7 percent unemployment—7.1 percent for women, 13.9 percent for Māori, 9.4 percent for Asian, 16 percent for Pacific, and 18 percent for youth—reveals that we have a very sick economy under this Government’s watch?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: There is absolutely no doubt about it—especially for youth, Māori, and Pacific—that we are seeing too many who are unemployed, but we have been seeing things improve as well. We are seeing more jobs coming on, we are seeing more people get them, and I think the focus is in the right place.
Su’a William Sio: Given Treasury’s job growth projections since the 2011 Budget were that the unemployment rate would be 5.7 percent in March, when, in fact, it rose to 6.7 percent, does he have confidence in Treasury, and the Minister in charge of that department, who said “A government can’t have a lot of impact on the job market. It is what it is.”?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes.