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Date:
17 September 2013
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Questions for Oral Answer — Questions to Ministers

[Sitting date: 17 September 2013. Volume:693;Page:13365. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Mr Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.

Prayers.

Questions to Ministers

Telecommunications Infrastructure, Pricing—Commerce Commission Determination

1. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he still think that Chorus “will go broke” if his Government does not intervene to change the pricing for access to the old copper-based broadband network as proposed by the Commerce Commission; if so, why?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : I stand by my original statement, which is basically that the Commerce Commission ruling states there is a chance Chorus will go broke. I stand by my view for a number of reasons, not the least of which being Chorus’s own statement from last year, in which it indicated that the impact of the Commerce Commission’s draft determination could require Chorus to fundamentally rethink its business model and capital structure. Chorus also said that under the draft determination of the Commerce Commission, it could lose up to $160 million of annual earnings. To put this in some context, Chorus’s net profit for the 2013 financial year was a touch above that; $171 million. Given the flow-on effects that a reduction on earnings has on borrowings and Chorus’s investment grade, this would have significant impacts for any public company.

Hon David Cunliffe: Given that answer, was his advice based on any information not already in the public domain; if not, did he assess the risks of his observance of the Securities Act when making his forecast of Chorus’s profitability?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Advice was provided to Cabinet by officials based on commercial-in-confidence discussions between Chorus and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials. Unlike a Government that he was a member of under Helen Clark, we actually observe the laws—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon David Cunliffe: Was any of that “commercial-in-confidence information” conveyed in the phone call that he received from the chair of Chorus shortly after the commission’s decision was announced in December 2012?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Probably, yes; I mean, the chairman gave me an indication of her thinking about the impact that would take place, and that gave me some understanding of the issues that it would face. In the end, the Government chose to take the action of having a discussion document, because it believes that, fundamentally, the determination for copper pricing should be reached by considering all of the factors that the Government put into the 2011 legislation, and that includes section 18(2A), which the commission itself said it did not actually take into consideration because it was not sure how to interpret it.

Hon David Cunliffe: Why, following the call from the chair of caucus—Chorus—did he see it fit—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite the member to start his question again.

Hon David Cunliffe: Why, following the call from the chair of caucus, did he see fit—[Interruption] Why do we not take that a third time?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have called for a supplementary question from the Hon David Cunliffe.

Hon David Cunliffe: Why, following his call from the chair of Chorus—

Hon Members: Yay!

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon David Cunliffe: —we will see whether the National backbench will be as happy with the second half of the question—did he see fit to override the lawful regulatory process employed by the Commerce Commission, which requires them to issue a draft, then consult, and then issue a final recommendation before that is considered by Cabinet?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: There are two things. One thing is true: I do get a phone call from my caucus, but they all voted for me.

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I can only imagine what the phone call from Trevor is like in San Francisco at the moment.

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I have point of order from the Rt Hon Winston Peters. [Interruption] Order! This is a point of order; it will be heard in silence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Prime Minister on the first supplementary answer offended, and now he has started out with the offence before he even gets to answer any question—not just once; he has done it twice—and he was not stopped.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I thank the right honourable member for his advice.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Points of order are to be heard in silence if members want to stay to hear.

Grant Robertson: In two straightforward questions today the Prime Minister has taken political slaps. You in the past have said that that is unacceptable, and I would ask that you hold the Prime Minister to the standard that you have previously set.

Mr SPEAKER: I also thank the member for his advice. This is a robust debating chamber, and although the comments from the Prime Minister were not helpful to the order of the House, as soon as he embarked on that particular line of answering, I stood and called him to order.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Do you want me to answer?

Grant Robertson: Yes, we do want you to answer, so get on with it.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! It would be helpful—[Interruption]. Order! I now invite the Prime Minister to complete his answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: And the Labour Party members did get on with it, and they said they did not want you, Grant.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will simply rise and answer the question without adding any political connotations at the start of his answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government is not overruling the Commerce Commission. The Government has put out a discussion document, because it believes that it is important to understand at least the possible thinking on what could take place during this build period. In saying that, it is worth remembering this point: there was a submission—I think received today or in the last few days—from the former Telecommunications Commissioner, Dr Ross Patterson, who, I might add, was appointed by the then communications Minister David Cunliffe. I quote Mr Patterson when he said: “The Government has made it clear that it does not intend to provide a demand side subsidy to incentivise migration to fibre. Under those circumstances the only practical option is to adjust copper pricing along the lines proposed in the Discussion Document.”

Hon David Cunliffe: Speaking of submissions, does the Prime Minister agree with Vodafone that the unbundled bitstream access (UBA) pricing proposal delivers “unnecessary corporate welfare to Chorus, at the expense of all consumers who will pay more for telecommunications services,”; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No; because under every scenario, consumers will pay less.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. Is he concerned that artificially increasing the price of copper will increase the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots and will make even cheap and slow internet access completely unaffordable for many Māori and rural whānau?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, no, there is no increase in copper pricing. I say again: under every scenario proposed by the Government, copper pricing will be reduced. The question is the size of that and whether all of the factors that the Government intended for the commission to take into consideration should be, and are, taken into consideration. It is the view of the Government, and, actually, the Commerce Commission, that section 18(2A) of the Act has not been taken into consideration. The Rural Broadband Initiative is about creating competition, which will drive down prices over time as you get competition between new technologies.

Hon David Cunliffe: Why does the Prime Minister say that it would be cheaper than under every scenario when, relative to the scenario proposed by the regulator, Kiwi consumers will be paying up to $150 a year more per household?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Under every scenario proposed in the discussion document, there will be—

Hon Members: Oh!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, that is what we are talking about. Under every scenario proposed in the discussion document there will be a reduction in price to consumers. That will have an impact on Chorus of, somewhere over the 5-year period, between $100 million and $500 million. But it is worth remembering what the price is at the moment. It is $44.98. I go back to 2007 when the total copper price was $47.28, and I do not remember the Labour Government back then demanding—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is a sufficient answer.

Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was a very straight question, and it was about comparing it with the Commerce Commission proposal, not with the Government’s proposal, and the Prime Minister has refused to address the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That was not the question, as I understood it. The question asked why the Prime Minister is saying it is cheaper under every scenario, and the Prime Minister sought to answer that.

Hon David Cunliffe: Given that it was his Government that negotiated and signed the ultra-fast broadband contract with Chorus, and that he now says that under that contract Chorus will go broke, why did his Minister Steven Joyce get the ultra-fast broadband contract so wrong? The Government cannot have it both ways.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Under no scenario is the Government saying it got the contract wrong with Chorus. What the Government is saying is that the Commerce Commission should have taken into consideration, in our view, all parts of the determination or the indication that we gave. That included benchmarks with other alternatives, which is the standard practice, and Sweden and Denmark were the only two benchmarks that, in fact, actually the Commerce Commission believed it could get a similar view from. The Commerce Commission itself said that under section 18(2A) it was not sure how to interpret it, so it ignored it. Actually, section 18(2A) spells out very clearly the expectations of what the Government thought pricing should be.

Hon David Cunliffe: Given that the Prime Minister’s actions have overridden both the contract entered into by his Minister Steven Joyce and the regulatory process of the independent regulator to provide a $600 million subsidy to one of New Zealand’s most powerful corporates, would he agree that this smells and tastes of crony capitalism?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: On so many fronts the member is wrong; it is not funny. Firstly, the Government is not unhappy with the contract between Chorus and Crown Fibre Holdings, and nor is it actually seeking to make any adjustments there. Secondly, the Government has not overridden the Commerce Commission; it has put out a discussion document. Thirdly, under every scenario, consumers will pay less.

Hon Amy Adams: Has the Prime Minister seen any reports analysing the claims of the imposition of a so-called $600 million copper tax?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Funnily enough, I have. I have seen the reports issued by Covec, and let me run through a few of the interesting points in that. Firstly, the methodology is fundamentally flawed. Covec attributes $126 million transfer to Chorus in 2014 as a result of the Government’s proposal. Actually, it is a material error, because the current pricing prevails until the end of December 2014. Covec speculates what the final UBA price will be from the commission. None of us actually knows that, so how could we actually adopt that? Covec does not accept fibre as the modern equivalent asset for copper, which is completely out of step with the European Commission and others who have made statements on this matter. The Covec report misrepresents the proposal as a tax when in fact—

Hon Annette King: It’s a long answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, it is actually a very thorough answer to the best question I have had today, to be perfectly honest.

Hon David Cunliffe: Given his reliance upon reports, what reliance is he placing on media reports that this $600 million botch-up is the end of Minister Adams’ chances of succeeding him as Prime Minister?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I need to be honest. I really do not think our caucus is looking for a new leader right at the moment, but after question time today the Labour Party—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is sufficient.

Hawke’s Bay Water Management—Department of Conservation Submission on Plan Change Proposal

2. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Conservation: Did he discuss the Tukituki Catchment Proposal with any Department of Conservation senior management in the two months prior to 2 August 2013; if so, with whom?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation) : This proposal from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has been applied for because it believes it will benefit its community by increasing minimum river flows, improving water quality, and increasing the prosperity from irrigation in that region. Of course I discussed this proposal with officials, because I had important decisions to make with the Minister for the Environment, and Cabinet papers on whether it was a nationally significant proposal and on the appointment of a board of inquiry. These discussions were with the Director-General of Conservation and senior Department of Conservation staff. Frankly, I would have been negligent in my role as Minister if I had not discussed those important statutory decisions with my senior staff.

Dr Russel Norman: Did he give any indication to the Department of Conservation on the direction or content of its submission on the plan change proposal; if so, what was that direction?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The decision about the submission that was made to the board of inquiry by the Department of Conservation was made by the deputy director-general. I was informed of the debate that was going on within the department about the nature of its submission, but it was a decision for the department. The important real issue is that the board of inquiry has a broad range of views and technical expertise to make a good decision for Hawke’s Bay about what is best for its water management. I am perfectly confident that that board, with over 300 submissions, with a range of views, will make a good decision.

Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was very simple—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I agree with the point that the member is going to raise. Can I invite the member to ask that question again.

Dr Russel Norman: Did he give any indication to the Department of Conservation on the direction or content of its submission on the plan change proposal; if so, what was that indication?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: As I said, the department kept me informed of the debate that was going on within the department about the nature of its submission, but the decision about the submission was made by the deputy director-general.

Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister gave pretty much the same answer to pretty much the same question. The question was about what indication the Minister gave to the department, not about what the department said to the Minister. The Minister has not addressed that question at all.

Mr SPEAKER: And I agree. I am going to invite the member to ask the question for the third time.

Dr Russel Norman: Did he give any indication to the Department of Conservation on the direction or content of its submission on the plan change proposal; if so, what was that indication?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I say again that I was informed by the Department of Conservation about the internal debate that was going on within the department. The department then made its decision.

Dr David Clark: Answer the question.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I have—I have. The member is asking whether I made the decision. No, I did not. Did I give an indication? No, I did not. Did the department inform me of the range of views? Yes, it did.

Dr Russel Norman: So is the Minister saying that he gave no indication whatsoever to the Department of Conservation on his views on the direction or content of its submission on the plan change proposal?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The decision about the submission that was made by the Department of Conservation was made by the deputy director-general. I did not give the department an indication of what that submission would be.

Dr Russel Norman: In any of his meetings with the Department of Conservation around its submission on the plan change proposal, did he make any mention of his and the Government’s objective of facilitating water storage, outlined in his 2010 speech “Better Water Management”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: My best recollection—because I meet with the department staff every week—is that there were five meetings in which the issue of my role in the board of inquiry was raised. In four of those, the only issue that was discussed was whether the matter met a national significance test and, secondly, who should be on the board of inquiry. There was only one meeting and it was simply a matter of the department informing me of its submission.

Dr Russel Norman: So is the Minister now saying that he had knowledge of the Department of Conservation’s submission but he made no comment whatsoever as to his views on that submission?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I meet with my department staff every single week. At those meetings we typically cover 20 issues. At one of those meetings I was informed of the department’s approach in its submission on the irrigation proposal. No, I did not at any stage say to the department officials “Hey, look, this Government thinks that irrigation needs to be expanded.”, as much as I said to the department—and in my discussions with the Minister for the Environment—that we need to make sure that the board of inquiry process was robust, to ensure that the right decision will be made for the community of Hawke’s Bay.

Dr Russel Norman: In his discussion with officials around the board of inquiry process, did he tell them that he did not expect them to make a submission that would put him in a difficult position—as the final decision-maker—after the board of inquiry process, and hence they should make a submission that did not take strong views one way or the other?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Let me make clear that earlier in the year, when I first became Minister of Conservation, I did have a very direct conversation with the director-general about boards of inquiry, and in that discussion I said that it put the Minister in a very difficult position if when appointing a board of inquiry it was then making recommendations to you as the final decision-maker—for instance, in the King Salmon case—but at the same time you were making decisions advocating a particular view. And I said to the director-general that in those circumstances, the department needed to be very cautious about its submissions.

Dr Russel Norman: Does he accept that the effect of that conversation is that the Department of Conservation is unable to do its statutory job, which is to advocate for the environment, because its Minister is telling it not to make submissions that take a strong stand to protect the rivers of this country—something that he is supposed to be protecting?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Firstly, the member is confused. Primary responsibility for water quality rests with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, and that member will remember many occasions when I held that portfolio when questions on water quality were directed in that way. In respect of the department’s responsibilities, they are for public conservation land, they are for fresh water, and they are for New Zealand’s special species. It is not the department’s role—and nor is the best expertise in Government on freshwater quality within the Department of Conservation.

Dr Russel Norman: I seek leave to table the 32-page suppressed submission that the Minister prevented the department from submitting.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am going to object because the document was not suppressed; it is a draft—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! Then the way forward is that I will put the leave and any member can so object.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That is not the point. The point is that the member has asked to release a document that has a certain description on it that is inaccurate. It might be up to the House to say “No, you can’t release it.”, but no such document exists, and therefore it puts us in a position of looking like we are blocking something.

Grant Robertson: How do you know that?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Because this is a departmental draft, Grant, not a suppressed document.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Every member of this House has a right to seek leave to table a document. Clearly, Dr Norman does not believe it is in the public domain. Having these speeches from the Government does not help the order of the House.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not need any more help from the honourable member. Every member has a right to seek leave to table a document. It is absolutely paramount that the member who seeks that leave describes the document with absolute accuracy. I am inviting the member Dr Russel Norman to stand, to describe it accurately, and then I will determine whether to put leave to the House.

Dr Russel Norman: I am seeking leave. This is a two-part document: the departmental submission document dated 31 July 2013, which went to the Minister, and the document that goes with it called Attachment to Plan Change 6: Hawke’s Bay Regional Plan Reasons for Submission, which is the draft that was not submitted, even though it was written by his department.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I think both documents have been adequately explained. Leave is sought to table those two documents. Is there any objection? There is none. They can be so tabled.

  • Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Dr Russel Norman: I seek leave to table the final submission made by the Department of Conservation on the plan change, which is one paragraph repeated twice, submitted with the permission, no doubt, of—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Leave is sought to table that. That is all that is—

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I seek leave to table the full submission that the Department of Conservation made, which is a lot more than what the previous member referred to—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is so sought for the Minister to table the full submission. Is there any objection to that course of action? There appears to be none. It can be so tabled.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Economy—Monetary Policy Statement, September 2013

3. Hon KATE WILKINSON (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he received about the outlook for the New Zealand economy?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Acting Minister of Finance) : The Reserve Bank last week issued its Monetary Policy Statement for September. In that statement the Reserve Bank Governor confirmed that the official cash rate was unchanged at 2.5 percent. He noted that inflation remains subdued, with the consumer price index increasing by just 0.7 percent in the year to June. However, inflation is expected to rise gradually towards the midpoint of the Reserve Bank’s 1 to 3 percent target band as economic growth strengthens over the coming year.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: What did the Reserve Bank say about the expected growth of the New Zealand economy?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Reserve Bank said that the strengthening of the New Zealand economy that occurred from late 2012 has continued through the first half of 2013. The economy is estimated to have grown 3 percent in the year to the September quarter. However, I would note that the effect of the severe drought earlier this year is likely to show up in the GDP figure for the June quarter, which is due out this Thursday. For example, Treasury is in fact expecting a decline in GDP of 0.2 percent for the June quarter. Despite that, the gradual underlying recovery continues, and the Reserve Bank is expecting annual GDP growth to increase to about 3.5 percent by the middle of 2014.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: How does the New Zealand economy’s expected performance over the next few years compare with forecasts for other developed economies, and what global issues are expected to come into play?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: As the Reserve Bank Governor said in a speech last month, New Zealand is now one of the world’s fastest-growing developed economies. The growth is expected to remain strong and become more broad-based over the next 2 years. However, the governor has also noted a number of global risks that could affect New Zealand. For example, speculation about future Federal Reserve policy has put substantial downward pressure on emerging market currencies, and, in addition, recent unrest in Syria has seen oil prices move higher. The Reserve Bank says that it is of some concern that potential exchange rate depreciation and higher oil prices could cause deterioration in the economies of New Zealand’s Asian trading partners.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: What did the Reserve Bank say in its latest Monetary Policy Statement about new restrictions on high loan-to-value ratio mortgage lending, and what impact are these measures expected to have on the housing market?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Reserve Bank noted that it expects the new loan-to-value ratio speed limits, which come into force on 1 October, to contribute to a fall in demand for housing. It will lead to lower house price inflation than would have otherwise been the case. The Reserve Bank estimates that loan-to-value ratio speed limits are likely to reduce annual house price inflation by about 1 to 4 percentage points over the next year. In addition, it estimates the new loan-to-value ratio rules are likely to lower household credit growth by 1 to 3 percentage points over the next year. This lower house price inflation is projected to dampen household consumption expenditure over the coming year or so and reduce the expected 90-day interest rate by about 30 basis points.

Businesses—Financial Support from Government and Treasury Advice

4. Hon DAVID PARKER (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Finance: Did the Treasury provide advice as to whether he should support or oppose overruling the Commerce Commission’s draft determination on copper broadband pricing given that the Treasury has previously advised against subsidising big business such as the $30 million Tīwai subsidy which has “no economic justification”?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Acting Minister of Finance) : I am advised that Treasury has provided advice on a range of options regarding the Commerce Commission’s draft determination but has not provided advice to support or oppose the matter raised in the member’s question. Treasury has supported the Government’s decision to bring forward the legislative review of the Telecommunications Act and has set the implementation date for the unbundled bitstream access price to November 2015.

Hon David Parker: Why did Treasury say there was “no economic justification” for paying taxpayer subsidies to the owners of the Tīwai smelter?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I am not sure that that question actually fits with the primary question, but, nevertheless, Treasury does provide advice on different matters from time to time, and the Government sometimes accepts that advice and sometimes operates under different advice.

Hon David Parker: Well, then, why did he ignore Treasury advice that there was “no economic justification” for paying a $30 million taxpayer subsidy to the Rio Tinto - owned smelter?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It was the Government’s judgment that in terms of the potential dislocation to the New Zealand power market, and in terms of the potential dislocation to the Southland economy, it was a sensible decision to provide the payment to Tīwai Point. I bet money that when the new Leader of the Opposition goes to Invercargill he will be singing—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That last part is unhelpful.

Hon David Parker: Did the Government’s deal giving a $30 million subsidy to the smelter, which overrode Treasury advice that said it had no economic justification, come before or after a telephone call between the Prime Minister and the smelter boss?

Hon David Cunliffe: Another phone call.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It is outrageous that people use telephones! I am not aware of that particular time line, but I can tell the member that if he wants to back Treasury advice, then he should see Treasury’s advice on his NZ Power proposal.

Hon David Parker: Did the Minister for Economic Development seek the approval of the Minister of Finance before he pressured Vodafone, Federated Farmers, and 2degrees not to join the “Axe the Copper Tax” campaign; if so, is that the same Steven Joyce who refused a base price for copper when the ultra-fast broadband contract was tendered to Chorus, and now wants to put in place a base price, which economists say is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Chorus?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I do talk with the Minister for Economic Development from time to time. I find him particularly agreeable. We tend to agree, particularly today, on most things. I disagree with the member’s characterisation of my friend the Minister for Economic Development and his conversations with those three parties. The Minister for Economic Development explained to those three parties what was actually involved, because the “Axe the Copper Tax” campaign is actually not honest, there is no subsidy proposed for Chorus, the Chorus contract is not being changed to increase its revenues, and the Government is not introducing a copper tax.

Accident Compensation—Levies

5. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National) to the Minister for ACC: What announcements has she made today about ACC levies?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister for ACC) : Today I announced my support for ACC’s consultation on significant reductions to average levies for businesses, for motor vehicle owners, and for workers being a 17 percent reduction in the combined average work levy, a 15 percent reduction in the combined average motor vehicle levy, and a 15 percent reduction in the earners levy.

Chris Auchinvole: What factors of ACC’s performance have enabled this?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The combination of effective rehabilitation, prudent cost management, and exceptional investment performance has enabled the consideration of substantial levy reductions. ACC runs the system. It is the envy of many countries in the world, and I would like to thank the board—

Grant Robertson: There’s no one left on the board.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: —and ACC staff for their hard work, which has contributed to the possibility of levy reductions—an excellent board, by the way, appointed by me.

Hawke’s Bay Water Management—Regional Council Plan Change Proposal

6. Hon MARYAN STREET (Labour) to the Minister for the Environment: Has she ever received any advice that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Plan Change 6, which paves the way for the Ruataniwha Dam proposal, in its current form, does not meet the requirements of the Resource Management Act 1993 for plan changes, and would not achieve the requirements of Part 2 of that Act?

Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister for the Environment) : I am advised that none of the advice I have received makes those statements. Furthermore, I note that the advice on which I based my decision is publicly available on the Environmental Protection Authority website. I also note that questions of whether the proposal meets the requirements of the Resource Management Act, including Part 2, is a matter for the independent board of inquiry considering the proposal. The board operates independently of Ministers and is tasked with considering the full range of Resource Management Act matters, including technical matters raised in submissions to it.

Hon Maryan Street: Has she received any advice that plan change 6 in its current form does not give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010, or section 67 of the Resource Management Act, which requires regional plans to give effect to the regional policy statement?

Hon AMY ADAMS: To the best of my recollection, no. But what I can tell the member is that those matters she has raised are not matters that the Minister is properly able to take into account. The decision that has to be made by the Minister, and in this case joint Ministers, is consideration of the matter set out in section 142 of the Resource Management Act, which is very specifically related to whether the matter is one of national significance, and whether it should be called in and the appropriate body hear it. The matters that the member referred to in her question are matters for the independent board of inquiry hearing the proposal to turn their minds to.

Hon Maryan Street: Does she think that her colleague the Minister of Conservation, who was appraised of this information, should have shared the advice he had received about this plan change with her, given her responsibilities for the Resource Management Act?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member has claimed in the question that I had access to a report, which I did not, until I heard it on Radio New Zealand National this morning.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order. It is very much a debating matter, but it is certainly within the hands of the Minister to now answer the question.

Hon AMY ADAMS: Well, I have no ministerial responsibility for what advice or information my colleague had, but what I can tell the member is that both myself and the Minister of Conservation properly turned our minds to all of the appropriate matters under section 142 of the Resource Management Act when we made our joint decision that it was a matter of national significance and that it should be referred to an independent board of inquiry.

Hon Maryan Street: Given that the advice has just been tabled today in the House by Russel Norman, in considering that information—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: A draft submission. A draft.

Hon Maryan Street: —draft or otherwise—is it her purpose, in proposing to change Part 2 of the Resource Management Act and prioritise development over environmental protections, to allow such plan changes as this one to go through more easily with fewer legal objections regardless of environmental impacts?

Hon AMY ADAMS: No.

Hon Maryan Street: I seek leave to table, in addition to the other material I was going to table, which has been tabled, a report from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser called The role of evidence in policy

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is a document that is available to all members.

Child Protection—Legislative Reform

7. Hon PHIL HEATLEY (National—Whangarei) to the Minister for Social Development: How will the Vulnerable Children Bill make a difference for those children most at risk of abuse and neglect?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development) : This bill is first and foremost about protecting vulnerable children. We are putting the children first. The bill introduces joint Government accountability, requires agencies working with children to have child protection policies and new standard safety checks in place, and creates tougher orders for offenders who pose a high risk of abusing or neglecting children into the future. This work is being driven not just by my own and this Government’s passion to better protect children but also the determination of a number of New Zealanders who have contributed to this process. I am hoping that there is cross-party support across this House for this work.

Hon Phil Heatley: How will the child harm prevention orders better protect children from adults who may harm them?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The child harm prevention orders will apply to people who have been convicted of, or found on the balance of probabilities to have committed, a qualifying offence against a child and pose a high risk of harming children in the future. I have heard that other parties have concerns around some of the checks and balances, so we want to outline a few of them. Each order needs two health assessments, from a clinical psychologist and a health assessor nominated by the respondent. They will be reviewed annually by the review panel and may be discharged if the person can demonstrate that they are no longer a risk. The orders will also be in line with the level of risk of reoffending or offending against a child. It will be for that period of time, and, as I say, it may not be that they all cannot be at a park; it might be that they are just banned from a particular house and restricted from being there.

Hon Phil Heatley: What role does the Government, community organisations, and the public have to play in the Children’s Action Plan?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Without a doubt, all three are the answer to some of these issues. When it comes to New Zealand’s record on child abuse, it is, quite frankly, appalling. More than 50 children have died in the last 5 years because of extreme abuse. A child under 2 is hospitalised every 5 days because of abuse. Every year Child, Youth and Family substantiates around 22,000 cases of physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect, and those are just the ones that we know about. We all have a role to play in better protecting children from abuse and neglect. The legislation that will be introduced into the House shortly plays a very significant, but only one, part of that.

Housing, Affordable—Auckland Property Market and Commentary

8. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) to the Minister of Housing: Does he believe there is a housing affordability crisis in Auckland?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Housing) : The best measure is the Roost Mortgage Brokers affordability index, published monthly for each region, which measures the proportion of income needed for a person earning the median income to pay the mortgage on a median-priced house. The least affordable time on record was in Auckland in December 2007, when it hit 101 percent. The Minister of Housing at the time, Maryan Street, said that that was not a crisis. It is currently at 76 percent in Auckland. This drop reflects the increase in incomes and the lowering of interest rates since December 2007. I actually believe that at over 100 percent it would be a crisis. At 76 percent it is very challenging, and that is why this Government has so much work under way to make housing more affordable.

Phil Twyford: I seek leave to table analysis from Quotable Value that shows that the price of the average home in Auckland has risen by 38 percent since December 2008.

Mr SPEAKER: Where have you sourced the document?

Phil Twyford: I have sourced this from Quotable Value. It is analysis that it has done.

Mr SPEAKER: I will put the leave. That is the easiest way of sorting it out. Leave is sought to table such analysis from Quotable Value. Is there any objection to that course of action? There appears to be none. It can be so tabled.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I seek leave of the House to table the Roost Mortgage Brokers house affordability index that shows that it was at 101 percent in December 2007 in Auckland—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is a satisfactory explanation. Leave is sought to table the affordability index. Is there any objection to that course of action? There is none. It can be so tabled.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Phil Twyford: Does he agree with the Government’s spokesperson on TV3’s The Vote programme when he said that a $130,000 deposit is not out of reach for the average first-home buyer?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: It would be helpful if the member correctly and fully quoted my colleague, who made it plain that it would be a stretch. I also note that this Government has trebled the number of Welcome Home Loans and KiwiSaver home deposit subsidies to help families in that member’s electorate.

Phil Twyford: Are there “plenty” of affordable homes in the electorate of Maungakiekie, as stated by the Government’s spokesperson on that programme; if so, will his Government policy to ration mortgages help or hinder first-home buyers to buy those affordable homes?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: In the first instance, this Government, on 1 October, will treble—treble—the number of Welcome Home Loans, and particularly increase them in the city of Auckland, because we have real policies that will make a positive difference. I also note that last week the Auckland Council unanimously adopted the Auckland Housing Accord after that member said that it never would.

Phil Twyford: Is he surprised that 72 percent of those who voted on that television programme supported the Opposition’s housing policies, and only 28 percent voted for the Government’s housing policies; if so, does he take such an overwhelming, crushing rejection of his policies personally, or is it that people just do not understand him?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The most telling part of the programme was the press release the day before it went to air from the Green Party saying that actually it was not really part of its policy to wreck the equity that most New Zealanders have in their home, and apologising for the mistake.

Schools, Partnership—Successful Applicants and Non-registered Teaching Staff

9. MIKE SABIN (National—Northland) to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made on partnership schools?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education) :Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Today I was really pleased to join the Prime Minister and the Hon John Banks, the Associate Minister of Education, in announcing five partnership schools kura hourua. They are The Rise UP Academy, Māngere East; South Auckland Middle School, South Auckland; Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei TerengaParaoa, Whangarei; Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru, Whangaruru, Northland; and Vanguard Military School, Albany, North Shore. I welcome these schools as another model in our already diverse range of schooling options aimed at raising achievement for all our children and young people. I thank all those who have contributed—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise for interrupting the Minister, but the level of interjection now is at a stage where I am having trouble listening to the Minister. I apologise to the Minister.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I should like to thank all those who have contributed so constructively to the process to date, unwilling as we are on this side of the House to condone the status quo of failure for specific groups of children and young people.

Mike Sabin: How will partnership schools raise achievement?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: The schools will have greater freedom and flexibility to innovate and engage with their students, in return for stronger accountability for improving educational outcomes. These schools will particularly focus on the children and young people who are not being successful in our mainstream system. Partnership schools kura hourua will be accountable to the Government for raising achievement through a contract to deliver specific school-level targets.

Chris Hipkins: What proportion of those teaching in the approved partnership schools will be required to be registered teachers?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: All five schools are going to be delivering the New Zealand curriculum and/or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. In the delivery of the core curriculum, registered teachers will be delivering those, together with those who hold limited authority to teach that provide co-curricular activities, together with some who are not registered teachers but who are skilled, for instance, in equine husbandry, defence force preparation, engineering, carving, and so forth.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was actually a very specific, straightforward question, asking her what proportion of those teaching in partnership schools were required to be registered teachers.

Mr SPEAKER: I heard the question. I think that, to be fair to the Minister, it was actually difficult to hear the question because of the level of noise, particularly from the Government side. Can I ask the member to repeat the question.

Chris Hipkins: What proportion of those teaching in the approved partnership schools will be required to be registered teachers?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: We have accepted contracts with the proposed sponsors and they are different across each of the schools. For The Rise UP Academy, it will be 100 percent registered teachers. For Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei TerengaParaoa, it will be 79 percent. For the other three schools, it will depend on the division between core curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and co-curricular activity.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I appreciate the answer that the Minister gave there, but I am struggling to understand why she was unable to give that answer to my colleague when he asked—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order. I explained when I rose to accept a repeat of the question from your colleague Chris Hipkins that it was possibly because of the level of noise that it was difficult to hear the question. When the Minister heard the question, I think she made a very adequate response to the question.

Resource Management Act Reforms—Environmental Protection and Commentary

10. EUGENIE SAGE (Green) to the Minister for the Environment: Will she ditch the Government’s proposal to remove references to the “ethic of stewardship”, the “maintenance and enhancement of amenity values”, the “maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment” and the “intrinsic value of ecosystems” from the Resource Management Act 1993; if not, why not?

Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister for the Environment) : Firstly, it appears the member may not have read the proposals, because it has been proposed that the reference to ecosystems be not only retained but in fact elevated, with the clause clarified to state that the effective functioning of ecosystems be raised to be a matter of national importance. On the other matters the member raises, the Government has indicated that it is our view that those matters are already adequately provided for in Part 2 of the Act, and this remains our position.

Eugenie Sage: Was the Hon Tariana Turia wrong when she said the Resource Management Act was designed to ensure that our use of natural resources is sustainable, and that the Government’s proposed changes to Part 2 undermine the whole purpose of the Act?

Hon AMY ADAMS: Minister Turia was certainly correct in her statement on the purpose of the Act, and the Government has no intention—and never has had—of amending the purpose of the Act. In respect of her characterisation of our changes, she is, of course, entitled to her opinion.

Eugenie Sage: Was the Hon Peter Dunne wrong when he said that the Government’s proposed changes to the Resource Management Act will make matters worse for the environment?

Hon AMY ADAMS: Again, Mr Dunne is certainly entitled to his opinion.

Eugenie Sage: Will her proposed Resource Management Act amendment bill now retain the hierarchy of matters of national importance and other matters in the current Act to avoid creating considerable uncertainty and losing 20 years of case law on the meaning of sustainable management?

Hon AMY ADAMS: Every time that this Parliament creates or changes law it always creates a period of time in which people have to adjust to those new provisions. If we were to not do anything, on the basis that any change would create uncertainty, we might as well all pack up and go home now. Our proposal is about creating far more certainty in the system over time, and it would be wrong and foolhardy to pull out one aspect of the proposals and focus on whether that single aspect of change creates more or less uncertainty. The proposal is a package. The objective of the package is to create more certainty, less time, less cost, and far better outcomes for communities. That is still the intention.

Te Ururoa Flavell: What advice has she had from iwi and Māori groups regarding the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment and any effects the proposed changes will have on their role as kaitiaki, or guardians?

Hon AMY ADAMS: We have certainly had considerable feedback from iwi and Māori groups on the changes to sections 6 and 7, and as a result of that feedback we have made a number of changes to the draft provisions. Kaitiakitanga is, of course, to be elevated from a matter that the decision makers must have regard to, to becoming a matter of national importance, which must be recognised and provided for. Of course, the role of iwi in planning is one of the key ways in which iwi exercise their role as kaitiaki, and those provisions around planning and iwi involvement in it received considerable support from iwi and Māori groups.

Hon Peter Dunne: Is it the Minister’s position that the changes to Part 2 of the Act are necessary for the process changes that she is proposing to other parts of the Act to have any impact—in other words, that you cannot make the second set of changes without making the first set?

Hon AMY ADAMS: Well, it is certainly my view that the proposal is a package and has to be viewed as such. Part 2 is a critical part of the Act, and that is the reason it has attracted so much attention and debate. It is fundamental to the way that the whole of the rest of the Act is read and applied.

Intelligence Agencies—Legality of Operations

11. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Why did he say in regard to the raid on the Fiji Democracy and Freedom movement, “I stand 100 percent by what I said before: any actions that the SIS or the GCSB take in my opinion are legal …”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : Because I believe that to be the case. I do think it is important to repeat the full statement I gave at the time, which is that I said: “I stand 100 percent by what I said before: any actions that the SIS or the GCSB take in my opinion are legal with the exception of the case of Mr Dotcom.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If that is true, why did the SIS officer leading the raid on Mr Singh fail to identify herself and fail to produce a search warrant when questioned, claiming that it was classified, both of which failings are a breach of section 131 of the Search and Surveillance Act?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not in a position to comment on that. I do not have those details, but I will say that I understand that there has been a radio report—at least, I have been advised that Mr Singh said that he complained to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. I am advised that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service has no record of a formal complaint to the inspector-general in relation to what the member is talking about. If Mr Singh feels there is a problem, he should follow his legal rights and make a complaint to the inspector-general.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a letter from the Office of the Ombudsmen, setting out Mr Singh’s right to have the matter referred on to the inspector-general by the Office of the Ombudsmen, which he requested of them and which they did do.

Mr SPEAKER: So it is a letter from the Office of the Ombudsmen that the member is seeking to table. Is there any objection to that being tabled? There appears to be none. It can be tabled.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How does he explain Colonel MoseseTikoitoga’stexting Mr Rajesh Singh, alerting him to the SIS raid already taking place in Mr Singh’s home, if the Fiji military did not receive advice in advance; and, as Minister, how does he explain that?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not have any of the details that the member is talking about. I stand by the statement I said earlier, which is that in my opinion any actions—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a most serious matter to do with the rights of people who live in this country legally. The Prime Minister was giving all sorts of answers up in Majura in the Marshall Islands on this a week ago, and now he comes with no evidence whatsoever.

Mr SPEAKER: The member asked a question about how the Prime Minister explained the texting to Mr Singh, etc. The Prime Minister was halfway through that answer—and he may not have the details; that is a legitimate answer—before the member was jumping to his feet claiming that this is a most important matter. That is not a legitimate use of a point of order. If the member is unhappy with the answer and if he has further supplementary questions to use, he should so use them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That would be the case if the Prime Minister could generally say it about that, but up in the Marshall Islands just the other day he was making all sorts of statements and slurs about the evidence before this House—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That is why—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard quite enough from the member. If he wants to stay to complete his question, I advise him to start asking supplementary questions. If he is going to raise points of order that are not valid, and if he persists with that, I will have no choice but to ask the member to leave the Chamber. Supplementary—does the member want to complete his answer?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes. It would probably be a good idea. I should complete my answer, which is that I do not have details. I have never had details about the text messages that the member speaks of. Secondly, I stand by the statement that in my opinion in all instances the SIS and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) have acted legally, with the exception of the case of Mr Dotcom. And I repeat what I actually said in the Marshall Islands, which was that if the member has some evidence and he believes there has been unlawful activity, then he should feel free to take that to the inspector-general or the police or bring it to me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why would one go to the inspector-general when the inspector-general had this matter referred to him by no less a body than the Office of the Ombudsmen, and, secondly, the Prime Minister has not even responded to the complainant for all these months since then, or come to his office, and then, when he is pushed on it in the House, he claims to have no knowledge whatsoever?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, it will not get scarier because the member raises his voice. I am advised that the office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has no record of a complaint by anyone named Rajesh Singh. If Mr Singh wants to make a complaint, he is free to do so. The letter that the member spoke of before—I am guessing, but I am pretty sure I will be right—would have been laying out the rights of Mr Singh under the law to make a complaint to the inspector-general, if he wants to.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I tabled a document because that document specifically was an offer by the Office of the Ombudsmen to pass on Mr Singh’s information for him if he so desired, which he did request in a telephone call. Now we are being treated to more information from the Prime Minister, or disinformation, when it is simply not relevant to the information that the House needs by way of answer.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I am not sure what that point of order is, either. Again, the member asked a—[Interruption] Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will take it through for you very slowly. The Prime Minister said—

Mr SPEAKER: I will give the right honourable member the chance to do so.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Prime Minister’s inference in two answers today is that the inspector-general’s office was never advised of Mr Singh’s complaint. That tabling of those documents was to prove that the document from Mr Singh by way of complaint went off to the inspector-general. So why is the Prime Minister repeating disinformation and obfuscating in his answers?

Mr SPEAKER: That is certainly not a point of order. The member needs to go back and look at the question that he asked. It was a question about why anybody would go to the inspector-general, or to the Prime Minister either, and he gave you a reason for doing so. The Prime Minister adequately addressed that. If the member has a further supplementary question, he is welcome to use it, but to continue to relitigate an answer that is given, by using a point of order, will lead to disorder in this House. I will not warn that member again today.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why should anybody in New Zealand follow the Prime Minister’s advice and trust him, as we heard him say time after time in the GCSB debate, when there are scores of text messages confirming the Fiji military Government’s clear prior knowledge of the SIS raid and associated actions, including the Government of New Zealand working closely with the Government in Fiji, as the Prime Minister hinted in a One News item on 19 July 2012?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not believe it is in the national interest for me to go through all of the details of this particular case, but let me state once again that in my opinion any actions taken by the SIS or the Government Communications Security Bureau have always been lawful with the one exception of Mr Dotcom. If anybody believes their actions are not lawful, they should follow their legal rights and take them to the police or the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, or they are welcome to bring them to me. The fact that they have not taken those steps probably speaks volumes. But what I can say to the member is this: I know a lot more about this issue than he ever will, and he is wrong.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Point of order, Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have not called the member yet.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Perhaps, Mr Speaker, you can explain to me how the last part of that answer was remotely relevant, given your decisions in respect of questions I have asked?

Mr SPEAKER: Again, I invite the member to go back and look at the tone of the question he asked. I thought he was given a very adequate answer.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a number of documents—first of all, a complaint from Rajesh Singh dated 19 July to the Office of the Ombudsmen, the Office of the Ombudsmen’s reply dated 20 July, a further letter dated 24 July from Rajesh Singh to the Office of the Ombudsmen, and a 24 July letter from the Office of the Ombudsmen back to him offering to pass on the information to the inspector-general. In fact, one, two, three—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We do not need that information.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, wait on—it is all here.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Keep going.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: It is all here. Plus there are 16 texts that were sent on the cellphone of Colonel Tikoitoga, the Commander, Land Force in Fiji, to Mr Rajesh Singh; and a further 41 texts also sent by the commander of the Fiji forces on this matter; and further, a receipt document from the SIS as to the computers and technology machinery they took away from Mr Singh at the time of this illegal raid.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table a number of documents. If I can summarise them quickly, they are correspondence between a complainant and the Office of the Ombudsmen. Does anybody have any objection to that detailed information being tabled? There is none. It can be so tabled.

  • Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

New Zealand Defence Force—External Safety Management Review

12. Hon PHIL GOFF (Labour—Mt Roskill) to the Minister of Defence: Does he accept all of the conclusions of the New Zealand Defence Force External Safety Management Review; if not, why not?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Defence) : Yes. The independent review panel makes a number of observations throughout the report and there are 20 detailed recommendations. The New Zealand Defence Force has accepted and welcomed these recommendations.

Hon Phil Goff: When this report says that the Government has failed for more than 2 years to implement any of the key recommendations of the previous 2011 Cosman review on safety in the Defence Force, does he as Minister accept responsibility for that, or is it his intention—unannounced, as yet—to sack the Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, and make him the scapegoat for the Government’s failures in defence?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: No. The report does not actually say that. The previous review was in the process of being implemented, but it actually covers a narrower set of circumstances than this current review. I would also point out that when that man, Phil Goff, was the Minister of Defence, he did nothing to address defence safety, and, indeed, the accident rate was the same under Labour’s tenure.

Hon Phil Goff: Given the Minister’s denial that this report says that, I seek leave of the House to table the report to show that I am right and that the Minister is wrong.

Mr SPEAKER: Is it a report that is freely available to members?

Hon Phil Goff: It is on the net, but it is not widely available.

Mr SPEAKER: If it is on the net, then they can go and search for it if they want to.

Hon Phil Goff: Why did the Minister repeatedly deny in Parliament that cost cutting, restructuring, high attrition, and low morale had anything to do with the accident rate in the Defence Force, when this report points out very clearly that all of those factors do have an impact and have had an impact on having more accidents in the Defence Force than we needed or that we should have had?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Actually the report says nothing of the sort. The fact is that Vote Defence was the same this year as the year before, and there has not been a cut in the vote.

Hon Phil Goff: When the report found that up to 5 percent of all navy life jackets did not have, as they should have, an inflation device attached to them, and that that was the key cause of the death of Private Michael Ross, what does that say about the state of the Defence Force under this National Government?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Well, what it says is that there were issues with life jackets that the National Government has addressed but that in 9 years Labour never did anything about.

Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you explain to me what remedy a member asking a question has, and who cannot table a report, when the Minister simply says things that are untrue about what is in it?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member is now using the point of order system to again disagree with the answer he has been given. He asked what response the Government was taking, and the Minister said he is taking a lot more action than the previous Government did. That is a legitimate answer.

Hon Phil Goff: He said things in the report, Mr Speaker, that are not there.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the member wants to raise a breach of privilege, he knows the procedure to do so.