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Volume 677, Week 1 - Wednesday, 21 December 2011
[Sitting date: 21 December 2011. Volume:677;Page:7. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Election of Speaker
May it please Your Excellency:
In obedience to Your Excellency’s request, the House of Representatives, in the exercise of its undoubted rights and privileges, has proceeded to the election of a Speaker, and, as the subject of its choice, I now present myself to you and submit myself for Your Excellency’s confirmation.
To which His Excellency replied as follows:
Mr Speaker, it is with much pleasure that I approve the choice by the House of Representatives of you as its Speaker.
I congratulate you on your election to this distinguished office, marking as it does the appreciation of the House of Representatives of your impartiality and ability.
I have further to report that I also addressed His Excellency as follows:
I humbly thank Your Excellency for your confirmation of the choice made by the House of Representatives of me to be its Speaker.
I have now, on behalf of the House, to lay claim to all its privileges, and especially to freedom of speech in debate, to free access to Your Excellency whenever occasion may require it, and to the most favourable construction being put on all its proceedings.
To which His Excellency replied as follows:
Mr Speaker, I confirm all the rights and privileges of the House of Representatives which have ever been granted. I assure you that the House of Representatives shall always have ready access to me, and that I will at all times place the most favourable construction upon its proceedings.
Honourable members, I desire to repeat my respectful acknowledgment to the House of the high honour it has done in electing me to be its Speaker.
Authority to Administer Oath
Pursuant to section 11 of the Constitution Act 1986, I, Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor-General of New Zealand, hereby authorise you,
Dr The Right Honourable Alexander Lockwood Smith
Speaker of the House of Representatives
to administer to members of Parliament the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen required to be taken or made by every such member before that member shall be permitted to sit or vote in the House of Representatives.
JOHN KEY, Prime Minister
Jerry Mateparae, Governor-General
20 December 2011
Allan Frederick Peachey
Robert Linfield Bell
Manu Alamein Kopu
Mr SPEAKER: Honourable members, I regret to inform the House of the death on 6 November 2011 of Allan Frederick Peachey, who represented the electorate of Tāmaki from 2005 to 2011, and of the death on 16 November 2011 of Robert Linfield Bell, who represented the electorate of Gisborne from 1975 to 1984, and of the death on 4 December 2011 of Manu Alamein Kopu, who was a member of the House from 1996 to 1999. I desire on behalf of this House to express our sense of the loss we have sustained and of our sympathy with the relatives of the late Allan Peachey, the late Robert Bell, and the late Manu Alamein Kopu. I now ask members to stand with me and observe a period of silence as a mark of respect to their memory.
- Honourable members stood as a mark of respect.
Mr SPEAKER: I now call on the longest-serving Māori member to give a mihi.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Labour—Ikaroa-Rāwhiti) : E te Kaiwhakahaere, e mihi kau ana i a koe mō tō hoki ki te tūru teitei pērā tonu. Ki te Whakahaere o te Kāwana, Hone Key, e mihi kau ana. Ki ngā tokorua nei a Banks rāua ko Dunne, e mihi atu. Ki a koutou ngā hoa, e Pita, Tariana, ka nui te mihi. Metiria, e mihi kau ana, i a koe Russel. Ki a koe Winitana, te matua, hoki mai. Hoki mai ki te Whare nei. Ngenge atu tātou, kāre e rongo atu ki te kaha rawe i roto i a koe. Nō reira, tēnā koe. Pai ana mō tō hoki mai. Ki tō tātou kaiwhakahaere hōu, e Rāwiri Shearer, tēnā koe. Kia kaha, kia māia. E mōhio atu tātou ko wēnei ngā tau e toru e hipa atu e mau kaha atu tātou mō te pai o te whenua, mō ngā tangata katoa. Nō reira, e mihi atu i a koe.
Mō ngā rere haere, mōhio atu tātou te pā pōuri i roto i wētahi o ngā whānau o te Whare nei nā ngā mate. Inā tata nei, i hinga atu a Pae Rūhā, wētahi o ngā tino kuia Māori e whai atu i Te Ātaarangi, Te Kōhanga Reo, Te Rōpū Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora, e rere atu. Pērā i tō tātou tino rangatira, koroua o te kāinga, a Tā Hēnare Ngata, te tama a Tā Apirana Ngata, tētahi o ngā mema o te Whare nei, e hinga atu. Nō reira, e tangi hoki te ngākau mō ngā hinga katoa, engari mō tātou e ora ana, i roto i a tātou te kaha, te pai mō te mahi i te Whare nei. Nō reira, tēnā tātou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.
[Mr Speaker, I congratulate you wholeheartedly on being returned to the high Chair of office, just like before. To the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge you. I greet you, as well, the two seated before me, the Hon John Banks and the Hon Peter Dunne. Huge greetings, as well, to fellow colleagues Pita and Tariana. Metiria, and you too, Russel, greetings. Welcome back to you, Winston, father figure, return to this House. It has been quite tiresome for us not to hear about the great virtues that you have in you. So thank you. Things can only get better because you have returned. Acknowledgments to our new leader, David Shearer. Be strong, be bold. We know that in the past 3 years we have worked hard for the betterment of the country and everyone. We thank you for that.
But flying about are circumstances that we know bring about sadness to some families of this House because of the loss of life. Just recently Pae Rūhā, one of the great Māori women elders of Te Ataarangi, Te Kōhanga Reo, and the Māori Women’s Welfare League passed away, died. Similarly, a great chief and elder from back home, Sir Hēnare Ngata, died. He was the son of Sir Apirana Ngata, a former member of this House. So the heart grieves, indeed, for all those who have passed away; but for those of us who are still alive, our innermost strength will ensure that we will do well in this House. So to us, to you collectively, and indeed to all of us, salutations. ]
- A message from His Excellency the Governor-General desiring the immediate attendance of honourable members in the Legislative Council Chamber was delivered by Mr David Baguley, Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.
Accordingly, Mr Speaker and honourable members, preceded by the Serjeant-at-Arms, proceeded to the Legislative Council Chamber, and, after a short absence, returned.
Mr SPEAKER: Honourable members, I desire to report that when the House did attend His Excellency the Governor-General this day in the Legislative Council Chamber, His Excellency was pleased to make a speech, the text of which was handed to me by His Excellency, and I now lay such text upon the Table of the House. The text of the speech is:
Honourable Members of the House of Representatives. It is my privilege to exercise the prerogative of Her Majesty the Queen and open the 50th Parliament.
E nga Mema o te Whare Paremata o Aotearoa, tenei aku mihi mahana ki a koutou, tena koutou katoa.
Following the General Election in November, negotiations between political parties have resulted in the formation of a National-led Government with a majority in the House on confidence and supply.
Confidence and supply agreements have been signed between the National Party and, respectively, the ACT Party, the Maori Party, and the United Future Party.
These agreements will enable the Government to operate in an effective, stable and inclusive manner.
Beyond these agreements, my Government anticipates co-operating with other parties in Parliament on issues of mutual interest.
Honourable Members. The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.
A strong economy in turn provides the resources necessary to protect the vulnerable in society, maintain the rule of law, provide high-quality public services, look after the environment, and provide opportunities for young people.
Good progress has been made already, despite some very testing times. New Zealand has experienced three challenging years, including a major recession, the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression, and a devastating series of earthquakes that destroyed whole parts of Christchurch.
But in the worst of times we have seen the best of New Zealanders, as they have risen to these challenges.
The economy is recovering, having grown in eight of the past nine quarters, and 63,000 more people are employed now compared to two years ago. This recovery is forecast to continue.
Looking forward, the biggest risk to the New Zealand economy is from the European debt crisis. The outcome of this crisis is uncertain and, as a result, the economic outlook for the whole world has deteriorated.
However, New Zealand is in a relatively good position to deal with any fall-out in the near term, and my Government is firmly focused on improving New Zealand’s longer-term productivity and competitiveness.
Honourable Members. My Government has a comprehensive policy agenda, and a substantial legislative programme that it intends to put before the House in the forthcoming session.
My Government intends to return to an operating surplus in the 2014/15 financial year and start to reduce net core Crown debt as a proportion of GDP. This will be achieved through tight fiscal discipline, including new operating allowances of only $800 million in each of the next two Budgets.
As agreed with the ACT Party, legislation will be introduced to limit the growth in core Crown operating spending, with some adjustments, to a rate no faster than the combination of population growth and inflation.
Once in surplus, a KiwiSaver auto-enrolment exercise will be initiated.
My Government will maintain a new, lower cap on the number of staff in core government administration. It will be focused on achieving results, seeking new and better ways to deliver public services, and continuing to contain and reduce costs. Particular attention will be paid to the recommendations of the Better Public Services Advisory Group.
My Government will extend the mixed ownership model under which Air New Zealand currently operates to four State-owned enterprises – Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power and Solid Energy – and will reduce its stake in Air New Zealand.
In each case, the Crown will retain at least 51 per cent of the company, and New Zealanders will be at the front of the queue for shares.
Proceeds from extending the mixed ownership model will go into a new fund – the Future Investment Fund – to pay for capital projects that help grow the economy and improve public services.
As agreed with the United Future Party, legislation will be introduced to limit any sale of public assets – that is, of State-owned enterprises and Air New Zealand – to no more than 49 per cent of the shares in the company, together with a limit on ownership by a single entity.
Honourable Members. My Government believes in a more active welfare system which supports people who can work, back into work, and does not trap them in a life of limited income and limited choices.
Legislation will be introduced to reform the current system of benefits. New benefit categories will be created, and a greater proportion of beneficiaries will be required to make themselves available for work. Changes will also be made to clamp down on beneficiaries whose recreational use of drugs affects their ability to work, and those who commit benefit fraud.
As agreed with the Maori Party, a separate appropriation and governance structure will be established for Whanau Ora.
The Government will introduce changes to support disengaged young people back into education or training. It will also have a more hands-on approach with 16- and 17-year-old beneficiaries, and with 18-year-old teen parents, including wrap-around support from third parties, and an expectation that they will be in some form of education or training.
As agreed with the Maori Party, a Ministerial committee on poverty will be established to improve the co-ordination of government activity in alleviating the effects of poverty.
Honourable Members. My Government believes that high-quality education is vitally important. It provides the opportunity for children from all backgrounds to make the most of their lives, and is an essential requirement for a skilled and productive workforce.
The Government’s focus will be squarely on raising achievement, in particular for those groups of students who have historically underperformed.
The Government will work to lift participation rates in early childhood education, with a target of 98 per cent of new entrants in school having previously attended an early childhood centre.
Performance measurement and accountability in schools will be strengthened. In addition, the Government will work to improve the quality of initial teacher education, introduce more effective appraisals of teachers and principals, and reform and strengthen the Teachers Council.
$1 billion from the Future Investment Fund will be invested over the next five years to build new schools and modernise existing buildings, including with new, 21st Century teaching spaces. It will be easier for schools to employ trades specialists to deliver courses, and to set up trades or service academies.
As agreed with the ACT Party, the Government will allow for the formation of charter schools in areas where educational underachievement is most entrenched.
Tertiary education providers will be funded in a way that takes into account their performance against indicators of achievement. It will continue to drive better value for taxpayers from the interest-free student loan scheme, including an expanded campaign to recover overdue debt from borrowers living overseas.
Honourable Members. My Government believes that a competitive economy, trading successfully with the world, is the best way to build sustainable economic growth that creates jobs and grows incomes.
The Government will restructure and expand Industrial Research Ltd into an advanced technology institute to work alongside the high-tech manufacturing and services sector. It will also invest in a series of national science challenges, in areas where science can address some of the most important longer-term challenges to New Zealand’s development.
The Government will continue its programme of investment in modern infrastructure. On current forecasts, $12 billion will be invested over the next 10 years in new State highways. The most immediate priorities will be the construction of the Waterview Connection and the completion of Auckland’s Western Ring Route.
KiwiRail’s Turnaround Plan will continue to be supported and there will be an investigation into the use of Clifford Bay as a new sea freight terminal.
Ultra-fast broadband and the Rural Broadband Initiative will continue to be rolled out. A Crown-owned company will be established to invest in irrigation and water storage, drawing on the Future Investment Fund.
The Government has set aside $5.5 billion in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund to pay for its share of rebuilding essential local infrastructure in Christchurch and its surrounds.
It will provide certainty to affected homeowners in Canterbury by finishing the red zone classification process. It will continue to release land for residential subdivision and ensure there is an adequate supply of land to rebuild on.
My Government will allow for choice in accident insurance covered through the Work Account, including an expansion of the Accredited Employer Scheme. It will consider the feasibility of introducing choice into accident insurance covered through the Motor Vehicle Account and the Earners’ Account.
Legislation will be introduced to implement a new “starting-out wage”, set at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage, to ensure young people are not priced out of the job market. Legislation will also be introduced to extend flexible working arrangements and to improve collective bargaining.
The Government will progress legislation to overhaul securities law and to criminalise anti-competitive behaviour. It will introduce tougher consumer credit legislation to target loan sharks and protect consumers.
Honourable Members. My Government believes that balanced and sensible management of our resources will protect the environment while promoting stronger economic growth.
The Government will continue to advance the Fresh Start for Fresh Water programme, and will introduce new environmental reporting systems. Legislation will be introduced to set a six-month time limit for the consenting of medium-sized projects, and to improve the Resource Management Act as part of the second phase of reforms.
As agreed with the ACT Party, legislation will be introduced to ensure there is only one resource management plan in each district.
The Government will also introduce legislation to amend the Emissions Trading Scheme. This will include moving to full obligation in three equal steps for the energy, transport and industrial sectors. It will also introduce offsetting for pre-1990 forest land owners to enable greater flexibility of land use.
My Government will encourage oil and gas exploration with a competitive new system for processing permits. It will also progress legislation to better manage the environmental effects of activities in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and will introduce legislation to reflect the updated Liability for Maritime Claims Protocol.
As agreed with the United Future Party, legislation will be introduced to stop helicopter hunting on the conservation estate involving the shooting of game animals from helicopters and the herding and hazing of game animals as part of the hunt. The Game Animal Council Bill will be progressed.
Honourable Members. My Government will continue to maintain an independent and bipartisan foreign policy. It will further focus New Zealand’s aid efforts on the Pacific, and will campaign to win New Zealand a seat on the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term starting in 2015.
The Defence White Paper and Capability Plan initiatives will be implemented, and legislation will be introduced to ensure the three services of the Defence Force are able to work together more effectively.
The Government will continue to pursue high-quality trade agreements, ensuring as it does that New Zealand’s best interests are always served. There will be a comprehensive programme of Government-led trade delegations to China, India, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Honourable Members. My Government will continue to deliver high-quality public services.
It will work with local primary care networks throughout the country to provide free after-hours general practitioner visits to children under six. A comprehensive after-hours telephone health advice service will be developed.
The Government’s target is that 95 per cent of all eight-month-old children will be fully immunised with three scheduled vaccinations. It will also roll out a nation-wide rheumatic fever programme targeting vulnerable communities. Alcohol and drug treatment services for young people will be expanded, as will specialist mental health services for young offenders. The Voluntary Bonding Scheme will be extended.
More people will get elective surgery, and waiting times will be reduced for cancer treatment, first specialist appointments, diagnostic tests, elective surgery, and for people waiting in emergency departments.
As agreed with the Maori Party, further work will be done on plain packaging and other anti-smoking initiatives.
My Government will continue to ensure that State houses are located in the areas of greatest need, and are going to families who need them most, for the duration of their need. It will work to increase the supply of social housing, including progressing options for iwi housing providers.
The current home insulation and clean heating programme will continue, with a specific focus on low-income households, as agreed with the Maori Party. Every State house built before 1978 that can be insulated, will be insulated.
My Government will introduce legislation to strengthen sentencing, parole and bail laws. It will be harder for those accused of the most serious offences to get bail, the penalties for child pornography will be increased, and Civil Detention Orders will be introduced.
The Search and Surveillance Bill will be progressed, as will the Victims of Crime Reform Bill. The penalties for breaching a protection order will be doubled, and funding will be available for security improvements in the homes of family violence victims.
My Government will continue to progress the review of constitutional arrangements.
It will also continue to make the full and final settlement of historical Treaty of Waitangi claims a priority.
Over the course of the forthcoming Parliamentary session, other measures will be laid before you.
Honourable Members. The fact that this is the 50th Parliament gives us cause to celebrate. New Zealand can boast of an unbroken parliamentary democracy stretching back to the 1850s and universal suffrage from 1893.
My Government is privileged to have won the trust and goodwill of New Zealanders for a second Parliamentary term.
It will seek to earn anew that trust and goodwill every day over the next three years.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : I move, That Eric Wilbur Roy be appointed Deputy Speaker. Mr Roy is no stranger to anyone in this House, I am sure—apart from new members, of course, who I am sure will have seen him in the role of presiding officer if they have studied Parliament in the lead-up to the election. He brings to the role considerable experience as a parliamentarian. He has experience as both a list and a constituency member of Parliament, and I think anyone who has observed his management of the House will agree that he is a very impartial Speaker who offers everybody the sort of opportunity that we would expect. I am delighted to move this recommendation, and I look forward to supporting the motion.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : On behalf of the Labour Party I would like to endorse the nomination of Eric Roy as Deputy Speaker. I think it is fair to say we have known each other for a long time. He is seen as someone of the utmost integrity in the House. I think it is also fair to say that while you, Mr Speaker, played on the right wing of the Parliamentary Rugby Team and showed some sidesteps and subtlety, Mr Roy, both on the rugby field and in the House, has not been known for that. He and I have played in the tight forwards, and I do not think I have ever seen him do a sidestep or avoid taking on a hard issue directly.
I have the feeling that this might be somewhat of a trial for Mr Roy. Whether it is a 90-day trial or something slightly longer than that, we are yet to see. I think we will all look forward to Mr Roy being in the Chair and to testing him out, and when you seek new accommodation offshore, Mr Speaker, we will have another discussion about this. Thank you.
- Motion agreed to.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : I move, That William Lindsay Tisch be appointed Assistant Speaker. Like Mr Roy, Mr Tisch has been a presiding officer for quite some time and has a reputation for fairness in the way in which he deals with all concerned in the House. Unlike Mr Roy, he is unlikely to have been a front-row forward, but none the less he has managed to avoid any obvious confrontations in his time as a presiding officer.
If there was one disappointment I might personally express about all of this, it is that Mr Tisch has been the chair of the parliamentary catering committee, and I have to suggest that there have been relatively few improvements under his watch, but then again I do have an extra couple of notches pulled in on my belt. So I congratulate him on that. I look forward to supporting this nomination and to the continuing work that Lindsay Tisch has been offering in this House.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : Again, it is the Labour Party’s view that Lindsay Tisch is the appropriate person to fill this role. We want to congratulate him on it, and say that we would have been equally happy if he were doing the role that he had been previously, because, again, he is someone who has acted in this House with integrity. He has also made himself available to explain his rulings and to work through issues with members, notwithstanding which side of the House they come from. This is one bit of advice that I should give to new members, and it is that when something unusual happens in the House, something that is unexpected, it is worth sometime after the event going and having a discussion with the Leader of the House, me, or—probably with more expertise—one of the three or four presiding officers, because they are able to explain the rules of the place, which I think it is fair to say are on occasion slightly hard to follow. But congratulations, Lindsay.
- Motion agreed to.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : I move, That Harold Valentine Ross Robertson be appointed Assistant Speaker. Ross Robertson is in his 25th year as a member of this House, and has served in this House for, I think, about 12 years in the role of presiding officer, so he is a man of great experience. I am sure new members will come to enjoy, just as those who have returned enjoy, the hearty afternoon greeting “Good afternoon, and kia ora to you all.”, which regularly comes from Ross when he takes the Chair. It will also be interesting to see over this term whether or not he can come up with some interesting new fashion combinations. We have enjoyed over the years the array of scarves that he has managed to produce and wear with a certain fetching panache. But overall I think it is the way in which he has conducted himself as a Speaker that gives us great confidence in supporting this nomination today. He has a great saying, and I am sure we will hear it again: courtesy is contagious. He always shows great courtesy to all members of the House. We look forward to supporting his nomination.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : I somewhat reluctantly rise to support this nomination, because I think members opposite will understand that occasionally Mr Robertson feels that it is really important to show his independence from his party. Sometimes he is harder—sometimes much harder—on the Opposition than he is on the Government. Mr Speaker, Ross has been around for a long time. He does test every now and again your definition of business attire. I am not sure that the multicoloured scarves are normal business attire, but you give him the flexibility to do that. He is someone who does know his Standing Orders really well. He has the office next to mine; I see him studying them. He comes to the House prepared to rule on matters. Those matters quite often arise, and as a result he is well prepared.
Although the expression that the Leader of the House has used is one that has been commonly used in the House by Ross Robertson, it is not his most memorable one. There are few members of our caucus who are left from the period when he was first a member, when the caucus was in some trouble or disarray; 1987 to 1990 was not the best of times. I think it is long enough ago now to let members know his classic expression when the Government was running into trouble. He said: “This Government has too many balls in the fire.”
- Motion agreed to.
H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour—Manukau East) :Kia ora tātou, nō reira e te Whare, e ngā iwi, e ngā reo, e ngā hau e whā. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. It is with humility that I gratefully accept the honour that you, my parliamentary colleagues, have offered me: to serve this House as one of your presiding officers. Mr Brownlee, you are right: it is not my first time; in fact, it is my fourth—an unprecedented occurrence for an Assistant Speaker in an MMP Parliament.
I consider it both an honour and a privilege to serve this 50th New Zealand Parliament, blessed as it is with many new talents alongside seasoned politicians who are accustomed to the delicate difference of opinion in this place. I will ensure that every member has the fullest opportunity to define, defend, and deliver his or her visions according to the letter of the Standing Orders and Speakers’ rulings and in the spirit of engagement that our public expect. For this is a robust Parliament, a place for full and vigorous debate, but contributions will be made with respect for the traditions of the House as enshrined in the Standing Orders. This is a place where continuous streams of ideas are tested. It is like a river that flows from bank to bank so that its true potential is realised for all. This House is a symbol of integrity, and the integrity of all honourable members is to be upheld and every voice shall be heard, in accordance with our Standing Orders. All members are honourable, and that is it. We refer to each other as honourable, despite what we may think otherwise, because we are aspirational. We call the member what we would want them all to become.
I want to thank those from the last Parliament who understood when the need arose to make firm but fair decisions, and I serve this House as Parliament’s person. My commitment is to continue to serve with the same values and vision that I have served before—firm, fair, and impartial. Tihei mauri ora! Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Reinstatement of Business
Administration of Community Sentences and Orders Bill
Airports (Cost Recovery for Processing of International Travellers) Bill
Alcohol Reform Bill
Antarctica (Environmental Protection: Liability Annex) Amendment Bill
Arms Amendment Bill (No 3)
Arms (Military Style Semi-automatic Firearms and Import Controls) Amendment Bill
Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill
Biosecurity Law Reform Bill
Building Amendment Bill (No 3)
Building Amendment Bill (No 4)
Child Support Amendment Bill
Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Amendment Bill (No 6)
Citizenship Amendment Bill
Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill
Commerce Commission (International Co-operation, and Fees) Bill
Companies and Limited Partnerships Amendment Bill
Consumer Guarantees Amendment Bill
Consumer Law Reform Bill
Corrections Amendment Bill
Crown Entities Reform Bill
Crown Minerals (Protection of Public Conservation Land Listed in the Fourth Schedule) Amendment Bill
Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill
Cultural Property (Protection in Armed Conflict) Bill
Customs and Excise (Joint Border Management Information Sharing and Other Matters) Amendment Bill
Defence Amendment Bill
Depleted Uranium (Prohibition) Bill
Domestic Violence Reform Bill
Electronic Identity Verification Bill
Employment Relations (Rest Breaks and Meal Breaks) Amendment Bill
Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill
Environment Canterbury (Democracy Restoration) Amendment Bill
Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill
Fair Trading (Soliciting on Behalf of Charities) Amendment Bill
Financial Markets Conduct Bill
Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill
Gambling Amendment Bill (No 2)
Game Animal Council Bill
Geneva Conventions (Third Protocol—Red Crystal Emblem) Amendment Bill
Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill (No 2)
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill
Housing Corporation Amendment Bill
Human Rights Amendment Bill
Hutt City Council (Graffiti Removal) Bill
Identity Information Confirmation Bill
Insolvency Practitioners Bill
International Finance Agreements Amendment Bill
Juries (Jury Service and Protection of Particulars of Jury List Information) Amendment Bill
Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill
Legal Assistance (Sustainability) Amendment Bill
Local Electoral Amendment Bill
Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill
Māori Trustee and Māori Development Amendment Bill
Marine Reserves (Consultation with Stakeholders) Amendment Bill
Marine Reserves Bill
Medicines Amendment Bill
Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Bill
Military Manoeuvres Act Repeal Bill
Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill
National Animal Identification and Tracing Bill
Natural Health Products Bill
New Zealand Geographic Board (Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa) Amendment Bill
Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou Bill
Nga Wai o Maniapoto (Waipa River) Bill
Ngai Tāmanuhiri Claims Settlement Bill
Ngāti Mākino Claims Settlement Bill
Ngāti Manawa and Ngāti Whare Claims Settlement Bill
Ngāti Pāhauwera Treaty Claims Settlement Bill
Ngati Porou Claims Settlement Bill
Non-bank Deposit Takers Bill
Patent Attorneys Bill
Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims (Redirecting Prisoner Compensation) Amendment Bill
Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill
Public Health Bill
Radio New Zealand Amendment Bill
Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill
Regulatory Reform Bill
Regulatory Reform (Repeals) Bill
Regulatory Standards Bill
Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill
Road User Charges Bill
Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill
Search and Surveillance Bill
Sentencing (Aggravating Factors) Amendment Bill
Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill
Smoke-free Environments (Removing Tobacco Displays) Amendment Bill
Social Assistance (Living Alone Payments) Amendment Bill
Social Security Amendment Bill (No 3)
South Taranaki District Council (Cold Creek Rural Water Supply) Bill
Southland District Council (Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy) Empowering Bill
Spending Cap (People’s Veto) Bill
Standards and Accreditation Bill
Statutes Amendment Bill (No 2)
Statutes Amendment Bill (No 3)
Student Loan Scheme Amendment Bill
Subantarctic Islands Marine Reserves Bill
Sustainable Biofuel Bill
Taxation (Annual Rates, Returns Filing, and Remedial Matters) Bill
Taxation (Income-sharing Tax Credit) Bill
Taxation (International Investment and Remedial Matters) Bill
Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill
Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill
Trustee Amendment Bill
Victims of Crime Reform Bill
2008/128Deborah Harcus on behalf of the Eden Terrace Business Association Inc
2008/132Genevieve McClean on behalf of the Save the Grey Lynn Post Office Working Group
2008/142Johannes Jozef Rikkerink
2008/143Lois Griffiths and 382 others
Education and Science Committee
2008/139Judy Taligalu McFall-McCaffery and John McCaffery and 6,686 others
Finance and Expenditure Committee
2008/145Vaughan Gunson and 38,297 others
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee
2008/129Helen Kelly on behalf of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
Government Administration Committee
2008/119Donald James Rowlands and 891 others
2008/148Geoff Annals on behalf of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and the Service and Food Workers Union Ngā Ringa Tota
Local Government and Environment Committee
Primary Production Committee
2008/45David Mark Wills
2008/117Neville Donaldson on behalf of SFWU Ngā Ringa Tota
Social Services Committee
2008/116Moana Jean Karika Rule
Transport and Industrial Relations Committee
2008/140George William Stanley King and 40 others
2008/141Norman Harvey Wilkins
2008/149Darryl Monteith on behalf of the Gisborne Rail Action Group
2008/151Loretia Pomare on behalf of Save Kapiti and the Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti
2010/11 financial reviews referred to committees
Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Limited
Genesis Power Limited
Government Superannuation Fund Authority
Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation
Kordia Group Limited
Meridian Energy Limited
Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited
Mighty River Power Limited
Ministry of Economic Development
New Zealand Post Limited
Solid Energy New Zealand Limited
Television New Zealand Limited
Testing Laboratory Registration Council
Transpower New Zealand Limited
Education and Science Committee
Education Review Office
Industrial Research Limited
Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited
Landcare Research New Zealand Limited
Learning Media Limited
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Science and Innovation
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited
New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited
New Zealand Qualifications Authority
The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited
Finance and Expenditure Committee
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Financial statements of the Government of New Zealand for the year ended 30 June 2011
Inland Revenue Department
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Agriculture and Forestry
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Biosecurity
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Conservation
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Economic Development
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Education
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Energy
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Environment
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Health
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Housing
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Justice
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Labour
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Māori Affairs
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Māori Affairs (Whānau Ora)
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Official Development Assistance
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Research, Science and Technology
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Social Development
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Tourism
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Transport
Non-departmental appropriations for Vote Youth Development
Office of the Controller and Auditor-General
Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee
Ministry of Defence
New Zealand Customs Service
New Zealand Defence Force
Government Administration Committee
Archives New Zealand
Drug Free Sport New Zealand
Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
Ministry of Women’s Affairs
National Library of New Zealand
New Zealand Lotteries Commission
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Limited
Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives
Office of the Ombudsmen
State Services Commission
Statistics New Zealand
Ministry of Health
New Zealand Blood Service
Pharmaceutical Management Agency
Justice and Electoral Committee
Ministry of Justice
Parliamentary Counsel Office
Law and Order Committee
Department of Corrections
New Zealand Police
Serious Fraud Office
Local Government and Environment Committee
Department of Conservation
Ministry for the Environment
New Zealand Walking Access Commission
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Mā ori Affairs Committee
Ministry of Maori Development
Primary Production Committee
Animal Control Products Limited
Land Information New Zealand
Landcorp Farming Limited
Quotable Value Limited
Social Services Committee
Department of Building and Housing
Housing New Zealand Corporation
Ministry of Social Development
Transport and Industrial Relations Committee
Accident Compensation Corporation
Airways Corporation of New Zealand Limited
Department of Labour
Ministry of Transport
New Zealand Railways Corporation
New Zealand Transport Agency
International treaty examinations referred to committees
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee
International treaty examination of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption
Reports of Officers of Parliament referred to committees
Education and Science Committee
Report from an Ombudsman on Complaints Arising out of bullying at Hutt Valley High School in December 2007
Finance and Expenditure Committee
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Local government: Improving the usefulness of annual reports
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Managing freshwater quality: Challenges for regional councils
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on the New Zealand Transport Agency: Delivering maintenance and renewal work on the state highway network
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on The Treasury: Implementing and managing the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Transpower New Zealand Limited: Managing risks to transmission assets
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on New Zealand Defence Force: Progress with the Defence Sustainability Initiative
Mā ori Affairs Committee
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Government planning and support for housing on Māori land, August 2011
Social Services Committee
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Home-based support services for older people
Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Inquiry into the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board
Other matters referred to committees
Question of privilege concerning the defamation action Attorney-General and Gow v Leigh
Orders of the day for the consideration of the following:
Government Notice of Motion No 3 (Misuse of Drugs (Classification of Tapentadol) Order 2011 and report of Health Committee)
Special Report of the Māori Affairs Committee providing te reo Māori translation for the Nga Wai o Maniapoto (Waipa River) Bill
Special report of the Justice and Electoral Committee providing the uncorrected transcripts from the hearings of evidence on the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill
Report of the Justice and Electoral Committee on the Inquiry into the 2010 local authority elections
Report of the Health Committee on the Inquiry into improving New Zealand’s environment to support innovation through clinical trials
Report of the Health Committee on the Inquiry into early detection and treatment of prostate cancer
Report of the Health Committee on the Briefing on the vision screening programme
Report of the Social Services Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Ministry of Social Development: Managing the recovery of debt
Report of the Local Government and Environment Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Guidance for members of local authorities about the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968
Report of the Local Government and Environment Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Final audits of Auckland’s dissolved councils, and managing leaky home liabilities
Report of the Local Government and Environment Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Matters arising from Auckland Council’s planning document
Report of the Local Government and Environment Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Local Government: Results of the 2009/10 audits
Report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the International treaty examination of the Agreement between the Government of Hong Kong and the Government of New Zealand for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income
Report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on the International treaty examination of the Protocol of Amendments to the Convention on the International Hydrographic Organization
Report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on New Zealand Customs Service: Providing assurance about revenue
Report of the Social Services Committee on the Visit of the Social Services Committee to Australia, 23–27 May 2011
Report of the Education and Science Committee on the Briefing on the review of special education services
Report of the Local Government and Environment Committee on the Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on Evaluating the use of 1080: Predators, poisons and silent forests, Petition 2008/47 of Mr P Findlay on behalf of the Thames Landcare Group and 3,107 others, and Petition 2008/81 of Maureen Pugh
Report of the Health Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Progress in delivering publicly funded scheduled services to patients
Report of the Local Government and Environment Committee on the Report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on How clean is New Zealand: Measuring and reporting on the health of our environment
Report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Inland Revenue: Making it easy to comply
Report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Public entities’ progress in implementing the Auditor-General’s recommendations
Report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Proposed changes to the format of Estimates and other information presented with Appropriation bills
Report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General on Central government: Cost-effectiveness and improving annual reports
Report of the Primary Production Committee on the Briefing on the 2011 Ballance farm environment awards
Report of the Local Government and Environment Committee on the Report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on Lignite and climate change: The high cost of low grade coal
Report of the Regulations Review Committee on the Report by the New Zealand delegation to the Australia-New Zealand Scrutiny of Legislation Conference, Brisbane, 26–28 July 2011
Report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s monetary policy statement, September 2011
Report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Eleventh biennial conference of the Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committees (ACPAC), Perth, Australia, 27 to 30 April 2011
Report of the Standing Orders Committee on the Review of the Standing Orders
Report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on the Briefing on Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal
Report of the Health Committee on the Briefing from the National Health IT Board
Report of the Primary Production Committee on the Briefing on the Walking Access Commission’s public access mapping system
Interim report of the Social Services Committee on inquiry into boarding houses in New Zealand
Report of the Commerce Committee on the Report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on Smart electricity meters: How households and the environment can benefit
Report of the Regulations Review Committee on the Complaint regarding the Resource Management (Forms, Fees, and Procedure) Amendment Regulations 2009 (SR 2009/73)
Report of the Regulations Review Committee on the Orders in Council made under the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011
Report of the Regulations Review Committee on the Activities of the Regulations Review Committee in 2011
Report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on the Inquiry into New Zealand’s relationship with India
Report of the Commerce Committee on the Inquiry into finance company failures
There has been some comment in recent days about the size of the current Order Paper. It does have a lot of legislation on it. It is important legislation and the Government does intend to progress most of it, although some will obviously come under review, but we want to take some time in order that all opinions might be sought about that. The only two bits of business that are not reinstated are two notices of motion that have been picked up in the new Standing Orders. One of those relates to the privilege of the House, and it would be my advice to all members to consult the new Standing Orders to become familiar with what the new conditions are around that particular aspect of privilege.
Further, the second notice of motion deals with extended sitting hours. The House, as members will know, sits for about 17 hours a week but you lose an hour for question time, which is a valuable contribution and should be seen as such, and then a further hour for the general debate. So the legislation time, all going well, is around about 13½ hours a week. It is not a long time to advance the work that accumulates on the Order Paper. So this provision, which was previously noted in a notice of motion, has been modified somewhat and put into the Standing Orders so that the House may claim extra hours in order to conduct its business, largely by agreement with the Business Committee. I think that is a very, very positive step forward. With those few comments, I am happy to move this motion.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : We again will be supporting this motion. I endorse the comments that the Leader of the House has made on the extended hours and the ability, which is the Government’s and one that of course we hope to use at some stage in the not too distant future, to do Government business in a way that is important but not urgent. I think there has been considerable misuse of urgency, or it may be that urgency is a misnomer for a system of getting through the job—
Hon Ruth Dyson: Overtime.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Overtime, as my colleague Ruth Dyson says, is a good way of putting it. The way that it works is that if there is substantial agreement at the Business Committee, then it can happen on a Friday. Otherwise it will happen on a Wednesday and Thursday, and the Government will lose the select committees as a result of that, which seems fair.
The only other point that I would like to make is a request to the select committees to look very carefully at the business before them that was not referred from the House and is not picked up as a result of this, and to ensure that the good work that was done by previous select committees is brought to its conclusion and brought back here.
- Motion agreed to.
- Sitting suspended from 12.05 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Address in Reply
Taku manu nui
Taku manu rai
Taku manu e rere
Ta iti iti ki Tonga e Tokerau
O’ora i to peau
Tamaru ia toou iti tangata
Ki te marumaru o te au
O Great Bird
O Little Bird
Fly to the four corners of the Earth
Spread your wings and shelter your people with a divine blessing.
But come back home, come back home, come back home.
These are words spoken by our tūpuna and our leaders as they set out on a journey of challenge and change. They were given the mantle of responsibility, with the hope of providing for the needs or inspiring them to take action. This pe’e, or chant, is part of the ongoing legacy of our people, and I stand in their shadows today.
Nō reira, e ngā rangatira, e ngā waka, e ngā karanga maha, tēnā koutou. Tēnā koutou i runga i te painga o tō tātou Matua Nui i te Rangi. Ahakoa he tangata nō Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa, nō Rarotonga ki Aitutaki, ki Mangaia, ki Pukapuka, ki ahau, e mihi tonu atu ki a koutou rā. Nō reira, tēnā koutou.
Greetings to the leaders, their canoes, and the many callings; greetings under the goodness of our Great Father in Heaven. Even though I am a person who comes from the oceans of the Pacific and the motus of Aitutaki, Mangaia, and Pukapuka, I acknowledge you with great respect.
Firstly, Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your reappointment to the prestigious role of Speaker of this Parliament. I look forward to being under your guidance and leadership in this Chamber. I can remember fondly the W3 show that you hosted where you would ask questions of students that started with the letter W: the when, the where, the what, the why, and the who. How fitting it is that you now find yourself the host as the contest of ideals is battled out in the debating halls of this Chamber. And though the three-piece suits have given way to the two-piece, you are looking as sharp and suave as ever. If these comments endear me to your favour of indulgence in the House within the next 3 years, then so be it.
So, with this nostalgic view of the W3 show in mind, I would like to base my maiden speech on the Why for 40 points, the What for 30, and the When for 20.
Why for 40. Why am I here today as a member of Parliament? I am here today because of my late grandmother Mama Rite Tepaki Goldstein, who had a dream that one day her grandchildren, her mokopuna, would walk in the ways of their ancestors and lead the people. I hold one of the many letters she wrote that made me believe. She never dwelt on the things I could not do; she just kept reminding me of my future potential. Granny, your dreams are realised in me today.
I am here today to represent part of the growing diversity of our country. I am a Kiwi kid, born in 1966 at the old St Helen’s Hospital in Pitt Street, Auckland. I went to Richmond Road Primary School, and then off to West Auckland at 8 years of age, to be schooled in Te Atatū South and Henderson—just an ordinary kid with a State education.
But I am a New Zealander of Pacific descent. My parents both come from the Cook Islands, from Mangaia, Aitutaki, and Pukapuka. We were initially raised in the inner-city streets of Ponsonby, and we attended the Pacific Island church in Newton, Auckland—first generation, New Zealand born. There have been a number of commentators who have talked on the “browning of Auckland and our nation”, and yet our leaders do not reflect in proportion our populations’ rapid growth in numbers. I am here today to fill that gap as the first Cook Islander to enter the New Zealand Parliament and proud of it, over 60,000 instant voters, and as the Tui ad says: “No pressure mate. Yeah, right!”.
I am here today because my parents, Taniela Ngaro and Toko Kirianu Ngaro, worked hard as Pacific migrants for long hours, low wages, and often in more than one job, just to make ends meet and to give us a better life. Meitakimaata e toku mama e papa.
I am here today because my wife told me to do something. She challenged me that it was about time to stop mucking around in the sandpit and to start to play on a bigger field to make a greater difference. Thank you, Mokauina Fuemana, for those kind, nurturing words of support. You have truly been my inspiration and soul mate, and I do love you.
To my children Rocxie, Winona, Aquila, and Shalom, and my daughter-in-law Esther and grand-daughter Skyla, I am here today so that you will be encouraged and challenged to be the best that you can be, and to extend your reach above the stars. I love you dearly.
I am here today because the National Party executive gave me a ticket on the bus, but truly believe I can make a real contribution to the nation through this party. I want to acknowledge our party president, Peter Goodfellow, and the other members of the executive board. I am also here today because of my good friend Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, who encouraged and challenged me to consider stepping into politics. Thank you, my friend. Thanks also to the Maungakiekie electorate and campaign team for your support. I want to acknowledge the boys at the 4 p.m. group, Hamish and Frank, and all my dear friends and family. Apparently, there are some people left in Rarotonga. Even though some of you sat on the other side of the political divide, you supported me because you believed in me.
I am here today because my faith in God has had me believe that I have a purpose in this life to understand what the gift is that I have and to serve the world. There is an ancient saying that declares: “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house …”. My faith and my family have taught me to serve faithfully, to serve wisely, and to serve wholeheartedly. So I stand here today ready to serve our communities and our nation as a member of this National Party caucus team, and its leadership, especially that of our Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key.
The What for 30 points. What do I want to do as a member of Parliament? I want to bring to this House of Representatives a pragmatic, relevant, and connected approach to Government policies and legislation, based on my experience as a tradesman electrician, the most honourable of trades. May I say that even though I debate with my good friend and brother, Daniel the builder, who says that Jesus was a carpenter, I keep reminding him that Jesus’ Father was a sparky, because when it was dark he turned on the light. I come here as a pastor, an NGO manager, a senior Government adviser, and a community development business consultant having to deal with the complexity of stakeholder relationships—in other words, making policy and legislation that work for the people, by the people, and with the people.
I want to bring the teachings of our humble beginnings where we were taught to work hard for everything that we had. I can still remember my brother Danny and I as kids cleaning with mum at her second job at the Newton post office on K Road at night. Mum, you told me off once for not emptying the bins properly. You said it does not matter what job you are doing; you should always do your best. You taught me a lesson for life, and that is that attitude is the key to success. Education with the right attitude can achieve anything, and I endorse the view of the Prime Minister that equity of opportunities of training and learning and mentoring deserves our greatest focus, and that the outcomes of successful employment, business development, and growth will follow. Great examples are the Ōtorohanga youth employment scheme, where the local council has taken the lead with a can-do attitude of reducing youth unemployment by providing training opportunities for all its young people. Or the Manaiakalani project in Tāmaki, where a blended approach with e-learning tools and multi-stakeholder support has seen a rapid rise in our literacy rates.
Our communities and society have become truly consumerised, where often the value of what I can get is greater than what I can give. I want to contribute my experiences in working with communities to find their own solutions by using transformative processes as the way forward, so that there is more community and less Government. That is why I support the work of Whānau Ora, where we put the responsibility back in the hands of whānau and families. This is not just a Māori thing but a truly indigenous, Kiwi approach to caring for families and whānau. I have worked with philanthropic entrepreneurs like Stephen Tindall and the Tindall Foundation to support the development of organisations like Inspiring Communities, a home-grown Kiwi approach to sharing the learning stories that have inspired community innovative solutions up and down this country.
I want to declare on this day—the 21st of December—that I am committed to being a strong advocate for fathering in this nation, to encouraging those who are, and respectfully but intentionally challenging those who are not. The effects of fatherlessness on boys are well documented. Boys without dads are four times as likely to drop out of school and are many more times as likely to end up involved in crime and drugs.
I am particularly proud of the work that we did with the SKIP team and the Ministry of Social Development around fathering with the Warehouse distribution centre in Manukau, where we addressed the issues of fathering by sharing and learning from each other and then wrote our own book. What was truly remarkable was that not only did we increase knowledge and confidence of fathering and parenting, but connectivity amongst the staff and management went up 90 percent, productivity went up 30 percent, and absenteeism went down 2 full days for every employee. In fact, we even won the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust supreme award for employee well-being and company profit and production. When asked what the magic was that made this happen, I said there is no magic; we simply brought the dignity of humanity back into the workplace, and people felt like they belonged. They became a family. This is strong evidence that great community-led development combines both social and economic development. You can have your cake and eat it.
I want to bring my experiences from a big, ambitious community renewal project called Tāmaki Transformation, where a vision was cast with this statement: “What if we could leverage the assets of the Crown to create a better future for this community.” We set out to engage the whole of the community so that everyone had something to give and people could aspire more than what they could in their current reality. The most effective development is long term, so although there are lessons to learn, there are many more opportunities for us to take.
Finally, the When for 20 points. When will we know that we are truly making a difference? When people are inspired by the things we say and do. At the tender age of 45, I now know more than ever before the gift I have and what it brings into this House of Representatives. And it is simply this: the gift of inspiration. I have learnt that inspiration is birthed when the process is equal to the outcome. The greater the process, the greater the outcome. If we want to change a culture, then we must learn to ask a powerful question: “How do we stop our babies from being killed in this country?”. I have seen that inspiration gains substance when we are not afraid to hold the space for robust and even difficult conversation. I learnt this lesson from Dame Whina Cooper when she challenged her leaders by saying: “Don’t get hōhā, stamp your fists, and then leave the room, because when you’re gone they make decisions for you. Stay in the room.”
I have witnessed inspiration come alive when people have owned the outcome and simply said: “Look what we have done.” I have felt the power of inspiration when people are restored in their brokenness, and find the pathway to their dreams. This quote from a fathering workshop: “We’ve all got a hard luck story of how we were fathered, but it’s our time to rewrite the script.”
I was approached by a leader in our community recently who said: “Do you know that by you standing you have made our dreams that much more possible?”. When we stand we give people permission and confidence to give it a go. We have been chosen, whether by electoral vote or party vote, to be leaders in this nation, to inspire our people in the hope of change and the reality of a dream. I am proud to be a Kiwi of Cook Islands descent. I am proud to be a member of this Parliament serving under the leadership of the National Party. I came here to make a difference and I intend to do so.
I finish with this pe’e:
Ko ai ia Atua i runga nei
Mou’ria to tangata
Ki to rima
Who is this God that we seek wisdom and guidance?
Hold your people, hold them in your hands.
PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) : I second the motion that a respectful address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General in reply to His Excellency’s speech. I begin by joining my colleague Alfred Ngaro in congratulating you, Mr Speaker, on your election to the Chair. You bring honour to your office.
Nō reira, e ngā rangatira, e ngā waka, e ngā karanga maha, tēnā koutou.
The first member of my family to reach New Zealand was Charles George Goldsmith, who settled in Poverty Bay in the mid-1840s. He was a typical big-hearted pioneer, and a trader, and over the 50 years or so he lived in New Zealand he had four wives—two Ngāti Porou and two Pākehā—and 16 children. That is the sort of spirit that built this nation. But it was not easy for Charles George Goldsmith. Two of his children—Maria, aged 15, and Albert, who was just 4—were executed on the orders of Te Kooti during the Matawhero massacre of November 1868.
On my mother’s side, her great-grandfather Edward Turner came to New Zealand in 1883. Like many migrants he was fleeing trouble at home and looking for a fresh start in a new land. He went on to found the great enterprise Turners and Growers, which amongst other things pioneered the export kiwifruit industry. One hundred years later as a schoolboy I worked down at the markets in the holidays and was inspired by my family’s enterprise. It feels fitting on a day like this to pay tribute to my forebears; their lives and their struggles bind me to this land.
My parents, Lawrence and Margaret, are here today. As a maths teacher and a palliative care nurse they did not have to navigate such a precarious existence as the early pioneers, but they made sacrifices and laid a strong foundation of love and a set of values that have guided my brother, my sister, and me, and for which I am truly grateful.
My history does not begin with the generation who chose to come to New Zealand or in 1840. It stretches back into the culture of the British Isles and includes the formation of this institution, through which we all serve our community today. I am proud of that heritage of representative democracy and the rule of law, which, although by no means perfect, has been Britain’s greatest gift to the world. Equally, I value the unique blended culture that has evolved in New Zealand and that continues to evolve today.
This is my only home, for although I celebrate my English and Scottish roots, those countries have long since turned their backs on my family; I have no special rights to return. New Zealand is my only home, and what a wonderful home it is.
I am very conscious of the honour, the privilege, and the burden granted to me to serve as a member of this Parliament. I am honoured to be a member of a team led so positively by John Key—a team that includes such a talented group of New Zealanders with a broad set of views and outlooks.
As some members may remember, my primary focus during the campaign was the party vote. As for the electorate vote, that was up to the people of Epsom to decide, and I congratulate my new colleague and old friend John Banks on his victory. I arrive courtesy of the National Party list, and thereby as a result of men and women all around the country voting for National, although I am bound to say that it is gratifying to have received such strong personal support from the Labour and Green voters of Epsom. I do look forward to continuing that spirit of bipartisanship.
Epsom has been at the sharp end of MMP politics for several elections now, but it is also my home. It is a superb part of Auckland, a series of villages—Remuera, Parnell, and Mount Eden—circling around the busy hub of Newmarket. It is my intention to base myself there and to be Epsom’s voice within the National caucus—to listen and, with my family, to be active in the community. Although I am not the member for Epsom, I do want to acknowledge the efforts of its recent MPs: Rodney Hide, Richard Worth, Chris Fletcher, and Sir Douglas Graham.
My goal in coming to Parliament, as I am sure it is for all members, is to make a serious contribution to a Government that through wise reform and new initiatives helps this country to grow and to prosper. I will be pleased if after my time here I have been part of a team that has advanced, in practical terms, those core National Party principles of valuing the importance of enterprise, individual freedom, and choice, and its flip side, personal responsibility. I will not measure my success by the number of new laws I have introduced. In fact, I would be happier if we could thin out the statute book. The State’s powers of coercion, it seems to me, should be used sparingly, and as legislators I believe we should resist the temptation to take too many decisions out of the hands of New Zealanders. The liberty to decide and responsibility go hand and hand. If we chip away at the former, we inevitably weaken the latter.
I want to talk briefly about the big issues that I anticipate our cohort will need to confront in the next decade or so, if given the opportunity by the voters. Of course, the economy is centre stage. While some members of the House suggest that all this focus on economic growth and material things is misplaced, I do not doubt its central importance. The reality is we live in a competitive world. Young New Zealanders are mostly well educated and ambitious. They want to be part of an economy that is dynamic. Most want to live in cities that are exciting, and to have the opportunity to do well. They will not be satisfied with a future wearing hand-me-downs from our Australian cousins. So we absolutely need a strong economy.
Fundamentally, that comes down to producing things or offering services that the world wants to buy. We create wealth by figuring out how to deliver those goods and services more cheaply than our competitors, or, preferably, by commanding a premium in the market place. We can also increase our wealth by unlocking more of the potential stored in the human and natural capital available to us.
I have been fortunate to spend much of the past 10 years writing the histories of many New Zealand businesses and business folk, several of whom have succeeded as manufacturing exporters. The overwhelming theme is that it is hard. It is very hard. The hurdles are high and the competition relentless. Over the decades Governments have tried to help in various ways through export incentives, subsidies, and encouragement for research and development, but I firmly believe that the best thing Government can do is ensure that we have good physical, technological, and intellectual infrastructure; sound laws that are policed; low inflation; and an educated and willing workforce—and then get out of the way. I have no desire to follow the political tradition of talking grandly about helping but at the same time stripping cash from struggling companies through taxes, and piling on the costs to comply with all manner of “nice-to-have” regulation.
It feels to me as if we have reached the end of an era. All around the Western World the big-spending welfare States are being forced to face reality. Our way of life is being challenged by too much Government spending, too much debt, and too much drift as we fall behind other more dynamic countries. It falls to this generation to stand up and draw the country back to a more sustainable way of life. We do not need to turn the world upside down, but we do need to get greater productivity out of the public sector. We need to make it easier for entrepreneurs to do their thing, and, above all, to inject some realism into the big areas of Government spending. I believe that the National-led Government has made good progress in difficult conditions in the past 3 years, and I look forward to being part of the team to carry on the work.
The second defining issue, it seems to me, is welfare reform. When Michael Joseph Savage introduced welfare in 1938 he said it would do two things: end poverty, and bring about the kingdom of God on earth. Sadly, neither of those visions has been realised. Instead, we now face entrenched multigenerational dependency. We have to change the system, not because we do not care about human suffering, but precisely because we do care. The “no questions asked”, “as long as you like” welfare mentality is rightly being challenged, and in my view change must surely accelerate to target assistance to those who really need it and to restore a strong sense of accountability to the rest of society.
When we look at education, it is worth remembering that when my parents were young, a man could leave school with only his muscles to offer the market and still provide for his family relatively well. That is not the case today, and it certainly will not be the case in 20 years’ time. In a rapidly globalising world, the premium put on internationally transferable skills is rising. The big challenge, in order to maintain a cohesive society, is to find ways to engage everyone in meaningful education. It does not mean that everyone should have to go to an expensive university or polytechnic course, but at the least we should insist that all, or nearly all, people emerge from their schooling sufficiently numerate and literate to engage in the modern world.
I was fortunate to attend Auckland Grammar School, where we were encouraged to strive for excellence in whatever we set our minds to. I refuse to believe that that attitude is appropriate only in some parts of the country. Life is full of successes and failures, and I would have thought that a good education prepares children to face up to that honestly, and shows them what it takes to succeed.
Finally, I suspect we will be talking a lot more about New Zealand’s view of itself and its place in the world. During the past few decades we have moved away from the Fortress New Zealand of pre-1984 to become a more outward-looking country that is part of the global mainstream. The transformation caused heartache, but the outcome has been for the better.
At the same time, we have concentrated more on what makes us unique, particularly the special place of Māori within our culture. Again, this has been much for the better and has enriched us. As a historian whose first job was at the Waitangi Tribunal, I have had the opportunity to contribute, in a small way, to that re-examination of our past. I do worry, however, that along the way, and always with the best of intentions, there has been a tendency to elevate the importance of ethnicity in our political and legal arrangements. It seems to me there is a danger, if we are not careful, that we allow ourselves to become increasingly drawn to focusing on internal differences. I see myself as standing for an open, outward-looking, multicultural, dynamic, and democratic New Zealand, where our institutions are based on equality and accountability.
I would like to finish by thanking a few people: my teachers in politics, the three Ministers for whom I was a press secretary in the 1990s: John Banks, Simon Upton, and Phil Goff. Each, in their own way, inspired me, as did my colleagues on the Auckland City Council, led by David Hay. Michael Bassett introduced me to politics when I was a post-graduate student.
Some of my biographical subjects helped shape me, such as Alan Gibbs, who once told me to stop living vicariously by writing about other people, and to get out and do something myself. National Party leaders have also encouraged me, led by Peter Goodfellow, Alan Towers, Peter Kiely, and Alastair Bell in Auckland. I want to thank my wonderful campaign helpers in Epsom, some of whom are here today, who willingly gave up so much of their time for the cause. There are too many to name them all, but I especially want to mention Tom Bowden, Grant Plimmer, Lesley Going, Beth O’Loughlan, Elizabeth and Roley Rackley, and Tim Woolfield.
Finally, my family: my parents, Margaret and Lawrence; David and Jenny, my elder siblings, who through their achievements prompted me to compete; and my wife, Melissa, without whom nothing would be possible. The thing I am most nervous about, standing here today, is the possible effect of a parliamentary career on our family. I hope it will open many opportunities for our children and expand their horizons, but I do worry about my absences. I dare to try only because I know Melissa’s strength.
This is a proud day for me and my family. I pledge to work constructively with my colleagues on all sides of the House as we try to do our best for the people of New Zealand. Thank you very much.
DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition) : First of all, Mr Speaker, I would like to acknowledge you once again and congratulate you on your role as Speaker. I would also like to congratulate Alfred Ngaro and Paul Goldsmith, new members of Parliament, and I wish them very well in this House.
I want to start by congratulating the new Ministers in the Government and in Cabinet. I acknowledge the work of the Canterbury MPs—of course my Labour colleagues included—whose efforts in adversity have made us proud. The devastation in Christchurch demands of this House a realisation that as New Zealanders we have far more to unite us than divide us. We will, of course, keep a vigilant eye on things happening in Canterbury, but we would never wish for anything more, or any greater success, than the Government would like to have in its work there.
Just over 3 weeks ago the National Government and the Labour Opposition put our ideas in front of the people of New Zealand, and our side did not win. Therefore, Labour will be different in the coming 3 years. We will turn a page. We have a new, fresh, energised team, which I am immensely proud of. But it is a bigger change than these fresh faces before us. Labour will listen, we will learn, and we will act—that much I can promise you. I acknowledge that we must earn the right to lead this country in Government in 2014, and that is exactly what we are going to do. To do this, we will change our focus and put our energies into our vision for a New Zealand that we can all aspire to. Labour will support good ideas wherever they come from. We will not, however, shirk from doing our job of scrutinising this Government and holding it to account. We will stand up and fight whatever we think is wrong, and wherever we think our values are being threatened, and I have no doubt that over the next 3 years there will be some very rich pickings.
But I aim to be constructive, too. I reached out to this Government on its ministerial committee on poverty because I believe that it is a good idea. The other day a woman came into my office. She was educated, she was motivated for a job, but, for a variety of reasons, she had fallen on hard times. She was hungry—she was hungry. She did not have enough food to eat. She did not have enough money to go out there and buy food. That is something I do not think we should ever see in New Zealand. That is not what we expect in New Zealand. So I believe that the Māori Party is right to force poverty into the Government’s line of sight, and today I repeat my invitation to the Government to make that committee a committee of this House. The Prime Minister should know that this is not an issue that we want to play politics over. I have witnessed poverty, horrific poverty, in my life and, believe me, there is no excuse for poverty in New Zealand. So this is a sincere offer and I hope the Government sees it right to review its position.
Just as Labour will embrace good ideas when we see them, I urge the Government to do the same. It is what New Zealanders want from us. They showed that by endorsing MMP overwhelmingly. It is also how I have lived my life—finding constructive solutions to difficult problems. Time and again New Zealanders have told me they are sick of the political point-scoring. New Zealanders want us to get on with the real problems that they face. Recovering from a financial crisis and the impact on our people and, most particularly, on our businesses—that is what we are here for. Rebuilding our houses and our infrastructure as well as the dreams and aspirations for all those in Canterbury—that is what we are here to do. Facing up to the environmental threats and facing up to the growing inequality, which is growing faster in our country than it is in any other Western nation—that is what we are here to do. Getting our books under control—that is what New Zealand expects of us. And tackling the 20,000 teenage New Zealanders who have left school and who are not in work, not in training, and not going anywhere but headed for trouble—that is what we need to be doing. New Zealanders expect us to apply ourselves as a Parliament to make New Zealand a better place to work, to live, and to raise a family. That is the deal. That is why we are elected. That is why we are here. Under my leadership I can promise you that Labour will work tirelessly to play its part, because Labour is turning a page.
Labour will put growing the pie for all New Zealanders at the front of its agenda. We cannot be content with an ever-shrinking pie. It means growing the nation’s wealth. Labour will grasp the mantle of economic leadership and will look to expand opportunity for all New Zealanders, wherever they are born or whomever they are born to. We must build an economy that produces good jobs and decent incomes, and generates wealth and opportunity without sacrificing our natural assets, our lifestyles, and our communities. That is why I am taking on the portfolio of science and innovation. That is why I am giving to our most senior spokespeople the roles of economic development, small business, regional development, skills and training, environment, and education. They are all here on the front bench. All of them are here on the front bench because they are all part of the same vision: to create the growing New Zealand we want that is clean, that is green, and that is innovative.
Our agriculture and our primary industries are the backbone of our economy; they have been for generations and they will continue to be central. But we cannot multiply our dairy industry five times to catch up with Australia, nor can we rely on our tourism industry. Yet our economy is declining in relation to others. We all know that. Forty years ago our meat exports paid for our pharmaceutical bill 18 times over. Today they pay for less than seven. The Government’s strategies go something along the lines of this: as China and Asia grow richer, they will demand a higher-protein diet. We grow protein; therefore, we are ideally positioned. Well, that is not a strategy; that is just a hope. That is a hope. It is a hope that we will not have to change anything and that we can keep on doing and saying more or less the same things as we have since the 1960s. I want to unleash New Zealand’s innovation and see New Zealand grow global businesses.
A couple of years ago I bumped into a guy called Sean Simpson, a person who was in my own electorate, who founded the company called LanzaTech. It had developed, he said, some pretty clever technology for turning steel mill smokestacks into liquid fuel. He said that its potential was huge. If China converts just half of its steel mills to use Sean’s technology, it will generate 20 percent of China’s liquid fuel needs. That means billions of dollars for New Zealand—billions. That science and research expertise is not just in our manufacturing areas; it is also in our agriculture. The potential is among us, but we just do not recognise it.
Other countries have made big changes before us. Less than 20 years ago Finland was in a similar position to New Zealand. It is a narrowly based economy with high unemployment and a tanking stock market, and its economic future was looking pretty dire. They elected a new Prime Minister, who told them that only the Finnish people could fix their own problems. Only their own brains and talents were going to be able to take them forward. From there they started setting out a pattern of change. They took bold decisions. They created global, world-beating businesses through their own innovation and talent, and today they sit near the top of the OECD. No prizes for guessing where we are and where we are headed. But the most important change they made was their attitude. New Zealand faces a more glacial decline than Finland did, but a decline nevertheless. If they can change it, so can we.
So the reason I profoundly disagree with this Government’s direction is that it is just drifting along. It is not about creating the clean, green, clever New Zealand I am talking about. There are no good ideas out there. There is no plan for New Zealand. People have become so disillusioned that as a result they are leaving New Zealand in record numbers. It does not have a vision for changing New Zealand, for growing our economy, or for investing in our people. Therefore we end up without the money we need for the services that our people deserve. Therefore New Zealand does not have a future that can create decent wages. You know, one-quarter of the people who go to the Salvation Army are actually working New Zealanders who are being paid. They are being paid but their wages are so low that they are living in poverty. That is what we have to change—that is what we have to change. When two-thirds of all businesses do not know what our plan is and do not believe we have a direction, there is something seriously wrong. We are a proud nation of hard-working people. I think of those people I have met out on the streets—people with two jobs, shift workers, or the self-employed. Often many of those people are working for less than the minimum wage. They are looking to us to get behind them, to bring them in, and to give them a break.
We are an inventive people. We have great ideas but too often we are failing to commercialise those ideas, or we sell out to commercial, big global interests and let overseas investors reap the rewards of our good ideas. The economy Labour wants to build is going to leverage our global advantages. It will leverage off our environment first, and I have mentioned that, but also it will leverage off our education. This is an area I am particularly passionate about. We need a school system that gives our children the confidence and skills to be leaders in a new economy. It is too easy for a school-leaver to drift out of school and get lost. But we need them. The pathway between school and tertiary education is broken for too many of our young people, and they are falling through the cracks. When more than one-third of our Māori and Pasifika kids leave school without any qualification, then something is seriously wrong. Lifting those kids back into training, we know, is hugely expensive and takes a massive effort. We cannot let them fail in the first place.
That part of our education system needs an overhaul. Education is the best plan that exists anywhere in the world to open opportunities and offer new chances. I want to unleash New Zealand’s innovative drive and determination, to help Kiwi companies make the most of every opportunity to make New Zealand the global leader it should be but is not at the moment. But if I look at the Speech from the Throne, where do I find the ideas? There are no ideas to create the smart, innovative economy that I am talking about. There are no ideas to help prevent future generations of Kiwis from simply packing up and taking their skills, their qualifications, and, most important, their energy elsewhere.
It turns out that National’s big idea boils down to three short words: sell it off. That is it; that is the big idea—sell it off. I say to this House that New Zealanders know in their heart of hearts that sell it off is the last resort of a Government that has simply run out of ideas. We cannot get richer by selling our inheritance. It only leaves us worse off. And once those assets are gone, they are gone. The Government does not even know how much it will get for them, but it is happy to pay $100 million or perhaps even more in fees to foreign advisers, lawyers, and accountants who are helping to sell them.
Well, I can think of a whole lot of better things to do with $100 million than that. I am thinking about getting more sick kids to the doctor. I am thinking about putting new technology and extra teachers in our schools. I am thinking about more science investment to tackle our agricultural carbon emissions. Spending $100 million for advice on selling assets we should not sell is not a plan. That is simply not a plan.
And how much is New Zealand going to get for these assets when we do sell them? Well, the Government says the assets are somewhere in the region of $5 billion to $7 billion. That is a $2 billion difference. That is a lot of money. That could buy the rail link in Auckland, Mr Joyce. You could pay for the difference by buying us a rail link. It might be chump change for the National Party, but it represents what it is happy to risk at the bottom, selling our assets at the bottom of a market. We are in, just to remind you, one of the most unstable economic environments since the Great Depression. None of us have lived in more testing times than these. The economic forecast is dire, and in the midst of that we want to sell off our assets. Would anybody here want to sell their house at the bottom of the market when they do not have to? Of course not.
Before the election National said it would delay the asset sales if the conditions were not right. But the day after the Ministers were signed in, it announced that Mighty River Power was on the block—the day after. The global conditions are now worse than they were before, but we are plunging ahead. Selling Mighty River Power will not create a cleaner, greener New Zealand. It will not help families and communities. It will not help to make us a more inclusive New Zealand, and that is why Labour will lead a campaign up and down this country against the sale of our assets. It is just ideology. It is not going to change New Zealand or make it a better place. This is no vision, and it is no vision to help the 157,000 people who are out of work at the moment and who could be in productive employment and paying taxes. They could be paying taxes and playing a real part in their own communities, but they do not have the opportunity. This Government has no vision. On Treasury’s own figures more people will be out of work in 2014 than when National took office. That is a searing indictment. Six years on, and unemployment will be up, not down. There will be more people on the dole, not fewer.
I would like to make this clear pledge. If officials ever presented me with a set of projections that showed unemployment to be worse in 6 years, I would change my policies; I would change my policies. Six years and it gets worse. That is failure, and that is what failure looks like. That is a testament to a lack of ideas and the lack of a plan.
I want to remind this House of some profound words I heard here recently about why we are in Parliament: “Once in office you have to do something, and that is why having a plan matters.” It is very sage advice, and it came from that side of the House. It came from Simon Power as he signed off from here. Those words are, and they were, words of warning to this Government. It is wrong just to drift. It is wrong just to drift, as this country is doing at the moment under this Government. It is wrong to think you can take New Zealand forward without a vision for the New Zealand you are trying to create, and therefore the Opposition has no confidence in the programme the Government has outlined. That is why I move an amendment as follows: That the following words be added to the motion: “and the National-led Government will sell New Zealand’s assets against the will of the public; the Government has no ideas to create jobs or a clean and innovative New Zealand; that the Government is widening the gap between the very rich and the rest and therefore this House has no confidence in the National-led government.”
The National-led Government used to talk about its aspirations for New Zealand, but those aspirations are now frail and feeble and I do not actually get to hear them much, any more. Now what it aspires to is a low-wage New Zealand where opportunity goes to just a few. It used to say that our best and brightest would no longer need to leave New Zealand, but people are leaving faster today than ever before. It used to talk about a step change, but we have had a step back, and that has been recognised because we have just been downgraded.
We have never owed more as a country in our history and we have never had a Government ready to do less and create less than ever before. We must change. We must change. Labour, as I said before, will listen to good ideas. We will get behind policies that are right for New Zealand, no matter who puts them forward. We will be constructive, but we will oppose with all our energy those policies that will undermine a clean, clever future and that weaken our families and our communities.
We are all about to go on holiday, and I sincerely wish you all the very best. Personally, I will be spending much of that time hooking up with people in the pubs and the clubs and the camping grounds around the country. But I am planning a few days to head north to a beach that is very special to us for some fishing and some surfing. Sitting on a board waiting for that perfect wave to come—or probably in my case missing that perfect wave when it does come—and looking down into that clear water or back to those white beaches is magic. It is magic. I believe that there are places in New Zealand that everybody feels the same attachment to. We can all think of places that are special for us.
But our beautiful places are not enough to hold our young people here. They are not enough to bring our talented people to come and live here. Yes, they will visit, but they will not stay. They need reward for hard work and creativity. Imagine a New Zealand that is not only green and unspoiled but home to creative ideas and world-leading technologies. Imagine a New Zealand known all over the world for smart thinking and for really smart businesses taking the world by storm. Imagine a New Zealand that is compassionate towards those who need a hand up, that is independent, and that makes up its own mind on global issues according to its values. That is the country that I want to live in. That is the country I would love to lead as the head of a Labour Government. That is why we need change. That is why we need to turn a new page. That is the change that the Labour Party stands for. Thank you.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : Mr Speaker, I start, firstly, just by taking this opportunity also to congratulate you once again on your role of Speaker of this House. I also offer my congratulations to the Deputy Speaker, Eric Roy, and the Assistant Speakers Lindsay Tisch and Ross Robertson. I know that they will guide this House wisely over the course of the next 3 years, and we look forward to their rulings and judgments.
Can I take this moment to acknowledge the mover and the seconder for making two outstanding speeches. I think Alfred Ngaro’s speech as the mover was a tremendous speech and a great example of the diversity that the National Government is bringing into office. We are the party that has brought in the first Cook Islands member of Parliament, the first Chinese member of Parliament, the first Korean member of Parliament, and the first Indian member of Parliament.
Hon Bill English: That’s right.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: That is right. We are the party of ethnic diversity. Then there was Mr Goldsmith. What an outstanding speech that was. The man who did such a wonderful job of coming second! Sometimes, losing is winning, and what a great result that was and a great speech.
There are 26 members joining the House for the 50th Parliament—26 new members for the first time. If I could offer them some advice, it would be simply this: for most of you, you will have worked incredibly hard to get here. Make sure you enjoy your time here, because in my experience far too many members of Parliament spend a long time trying to get here, moan the entire time when they are here, and then try to come back when they have left—one or two, on occasion, will make a request. I particularly acknowledge the new members on the National side: Maggie Barry, who will be representing the people of North Shore and filling those big shoes that Wayne Mapp had before her; Ian McKelvie, of course, who takes over in Rangitīkei from Simon Power; Mark Mitchell, who takes over the seat of Rodney from your good self, Mr Speaker, and I am sure he will do his very best; Simon O’Connor in Tāmaki, and I pass my condolences to the Peachey family and say how much we will miss him and his remarkable contribution in this Parliament; Mike Sabin, who is representing the great people of Northland, and representing John Carter, who these days is our representative to the good people of the Cook Islands; Scott Simpson, who is in Coromandel, replacing Sandra Goudie, our famous “Orange Roughy”; and Jian Yang, who is with us. I also take this moment to thank our support parties that formed this Government—United Future, ACT, and the Māori Party. We campaigned on providing strong and stable Government, and I am sure we will do that.
Finally, I take this opportunity to congratulate very sincerely the new Leader of the Opposition, David Shearer. It is always a difficult task being the Leader of the Opposition. I have been there, I know what it is like, and it is not always a lot of fun. But I have to say that I listened very carefully to that speech, and there were two things that came through pretty strongly. The first thing was that the new Leader of the Opposition promised change, and then he delivered a speech that Phil Goff would have been proud to have written. There was absolutely no change in that speech. I am sorry, but selling the assets was the speech Phil Goff delivered, and it delivered a 27 percent result for the Labour Party. My only advice, when he said he is going to go up and down the country and campaign on it, is that is what Phil Goff said about the tax changes. So Mr Shearer, be careful when your chief of staff says: “Let’s get a bus and go up and down the country.”; just be a little bit careful. That was the first thing.
The second thing, though, that came through in that speech loud and clear was something that took me 25 minutes to cotton on to what it was, because it took a long time. It was slow but it was there. It was the quiet sound of David Cunliffe plotting, seething away and plotting, and meticulously going through the list of 22 people, of which Trevor is right up the top, in the “ABC” club—“Anyone But Cunliffe”. They are in that club. You see, and this is the problem for the Labour Party—[Interruption] Well, they do not want to hear it, but this is the problem for the Labour Party: David Cunliffe does not like David Parker. We know that. David Parker does not like Grant Robertson. Grant Robertson does not like Clayton Cosgrove. [Interruption] Well, he knows I am right. Clayton Cosgrove no longer likes the people of Waimakariri. You see, he is not really fond of Andrew Little. Andrew Little does not like Shane Jones. Shane Jones does not like anybody in the Labour Party, I am sorry. Phil Goff, we know, does not like David Cunliffe, and Annette King does not like anyone whom Phil Goff does not like. So I say to myself, honestly, it is not hard to see why they chose someone who has spent his life in war-torn places like Somalia and Bosnia, because that is the Labour Party as we know it. I have to admit that when I was watching this season’s version of Labour’s The X Factor during the campaign, I thought to myself: “They don’t need David Shearer, or David Cunliffe, or David Parker. These people need David Copperfield. They need a magician over there to go and sort out their problems.”
Because there was nothing new from the Leader of the Opposition, let us talk about what the Government is going to do over the course of the next 3 years. You see, we are going to deal with the reality of the global financial crisis—
Grant Robertson: Well, that’d be a start.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: —and the issues that will be presented to ourselves. Well, I will tell you what the start was, Mr Robertson. It was when we inherited 10 years of deficits from the Labour Government. It was when we inherited debt going to 60 percent of GDP, and in 3 years we turned that round. In 3 to 4 more years we will be back in surplus. That is what will happen with this country. We will get out there and continue to create jobs, as we have the 63,000 new jobs we created over the last 2 years alone.
Mr Shearer said in his speech that he is going to support good ideas. He is going to support good ideas. So is Mr Shearer going to support Resource Management Act reform? This country needs it. Is Mr Shearer going to support employment reform, which this country needs? Is Mr Shearer going to support the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband? He talked about the knowledge economy. Is he going to support the $1.5 billion this Government is putting into ultra-fast broadband? If you want a knowledge economy and you want to connect with the world, Mr Shearer, you are going to support it—$1.5 billion. Is Mr Shearer going to support the $400 million we put in to irrigate those parts of New Zealand that can lift our economy? Is he going to support the sensible changes this Government will make to the emissions trading scheme?
Hon Members: Good ideas.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Is the Labour Party—because it will support good ideas—going to support the changes to ACC and the need for competition?
Grant Robertson: No, no, no.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, those members are not—OK. So they want change, but they do not want to support ultra-fast broadband or irrigation or Resource Management Act reform or emissions trading scheme reform or changes to ACC or more competition. No, they will not do that.
Mr Shearer said that he is going to grow the pie. OK, so is he going to campaign on a capital gains tax on every single business in New Zealand, every farm in New Zealand, and every share in New Zealand? Do you grow the pie when you do that? Do you grow the pie when you lift the top personal tax rate and leave a yawning gap between the top rate and the trust rate? Mark my words—you can put a ring round it—those members will not be campaigning on a capital gains tax in 2014; they will not. He will roll his finance spokesman, whether he wants to do it or not, because that will not grow the pie, and Mr Shearer knows that. When he talks about the young couples who walk into his electorate office, when he talks about those people who want opportunities and jobs, go and ask the 500,000 businesses across New Zealand whether slapping more taxes on them will encourage them to employ people. [Interruption] You see, this is what I was looking for—those members have got more to say now than they did in David Shearer’s speech. That is OK. You see, when Mr Shearer said that he was going to change, I thought he was going to get up and say well done to the National Government for bringing in the 90-day probationary period and giving New Zealanders a chance.
Hon Member: No surprises.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, you see, it did not surprise me, but that is what change is all about.
Let us talk for a moment about welfare reform. That will be a significant part of this Government’s agenda over the next 3 years, and Paul Goldsmith got it absolutely right. Michael Joseph Savage also, in 1938, said that welfare would not be an armchair ride to prosperity. Well, he was right, but he was wrong about one thing. It was not going to be a fraction of the New Zealand population; one in eight New Zealanders are now trapped on welfare—328,000 New Zealanders of working age.
Grant Robertson: It went up under you.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, if you want to do something about it, then we need to reform the system. And there will be fundamental change in the welfare system, for very good reason. My view is that if you can work, you should work. It is a fundamental tenet of mutual obligation—of mutual obligation. Yes, it will cost money. Yes, there will be an investment approach out there. It will involve more money on childcare and it will involve more money on job training, but there will be a fundamental change to the way that we administer welfare in New Zealand. My view is that it will very much help those families, because the way out of poverty is through work. That is the simple way forward. They may well be some of the very people who will be supported by Resource Management Act reform, because businesses can start going out there and building new plants and doing new things. They will be the people supported by a tax system that is fair. They will be the people supported by a 90-day probationary period. They will be the people who will be supported by the capital investment this Government will have.
Mr Shearer talked about science and innovation, and then said he was going to go up and down the country and get rid of the plan that National has, to have the mixed-ownership model. Maybe he should have just taken one moment, because he also talked about education and the need to liberate our New Zealand kids. Well, I agree with him about education and I agree with him about science and innovation—which is why I have given it to Mr Joyce, with tertiary education and economic development—but go and have a look at what is happening to the mixed-ownership model. Under Labour there would be no money going into the advanced technological institute; there would be no new campus in Christchurch and Auckland.
Hon David Parker: Oh, that’s just rubbish.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, that is absolutely right. There would be no $1 billion for next-generation schools. There would be no money going in. Under Labour we would continue to have New Zealand kids being educated in buildings that were built in 1950 and 1960. Forget about a smart board or the internet; these are schools that barely have a chalk board. The answer—
Hon David Parker: You don’t need to sell assets to do that.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, you can borrow more money, Mr Parker. We had that debate in the election campaign. We had that debate about whether this country wants more debt.
Let us go and talk a little bit about Christchurch, because Christchurch is critically important. Firstly, I want to acknowledge the politician of the year for his amazing work in Christchurch. Gerry Brownlee did an outstanding job with the Christchurch MPs to make a plan possible and to give hope back to the people of Christchurch. This Government, for every day it is in office, will remain committed to the people of Christchurch and to making sure we rebuild their city. There will be a lot of work to be done, and that commitment will mean that we have to be totally determined and eliminate any roadblocks that are there. I simply say this to the people of Christchurch in all seriousness, and that is that this Government will make sure those roadblocks are eliminated. If those roadblocks remain, we will get rid of them, because we have to get out there; we have to get out there and rebuild Christchurch.
A lot of different things have occurred in Christchurch. The demolition work has begun: 898 of the 1,297 buildings set for demolition in Christchurch have been demolished. More than 92 percent of all homeowners in the residential red zone have returned their consent forms to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and over 48 percent of those in homes in the red zone have indicated they will be formally accepting either of the offers from the Government. But this is a Government that has stepped up for the people of Christchurch. This is a Government that has stood behind the people of Christchurch. This is a Government that on the campaign trail said we will build a 17,000-seat temporary stadium for the Crusaders. And Trevor Mallard said no. Trevor Mallard said no to the home of the Crusaders in the place where the test matches—
Hon Trevor Mallard: No, I want a decent one!
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Oh, well. He wants a decent one. He said no. So next year, in March, when the Crusaders run out and play their games in front of the Canterbury crowds, remember that Trevor Mallard said no. Well, our Government said yes.
There will be a huge amount of work in terms of training, and this Government has committed tens of millions of dollars to training places, to make sure that we bring in the right skills, that we give young New Zealanders the opportunities, and that we encourage people to take up those opportunities so that they can be part of the Christchurch rebuild. We will, where required, use immigration to fill the gaps but we hope that will be used sparingly, because we hope we can get out there and continue to train New Zealanders.
Next year the Government will embark on the mixed-ownership model and we will start with Mighty River Power. We will start with Mighty River Power. You see, it is an interesting thing, is it not: the entire Labour campaign was to not sell assets and Labour went well below the 51 percent we want to keep, as a result of that campaign; they were nearly half of 51 percent. What the New Zealand public said is we want you to keep 51 percent, but we want you to put that money in a fund and we want you to get out there and invest.
Hon Member: A majority voted against it.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: They did; through their actions they did. This is what I say to New Zealanders. We can go out there and will go out there and invest in the future fund. We are going to put a billion dollars into next-generation schools. We are going to put more money into science and technology. We may well put a considerable amount of more money into health. We are going to put more money into a number of other areas, like irrigation. What we are going to do is grow the balance sheet of New Zealand. The second thing I say to New Zealanders is we are going to give you an opportunity to invest in a decent product and a decent share so that your only investment opportunities are not failed finance companies.
Lastly I say this: those companies will perform better. They will have better guidance and a better overall view of their overall assets. Companies like Mighty River Power will expand globally. They have that world-class innovation and technology that David Shearer is theoretically thinking about. Let us let them go and take that to the world. We know that this is a good model because not one political party—and Phil Goff never answered the question and David Cunliffe never answered it on the entire campaign trail—out there was saying it was going to buy back the bit of Air New Zealand we did not own. The model worked; the model worked. So we will be pursuing our agenda of the mixed-ownership model but we will, with the help of United Future and others, be legislating for 51 percent as an absolute minimum that the Crown will own, and we will be legislating for a 10 percent cap.
In the area of education there is a big difference between us and Labour. We do stuff and Labour just lets the problems pile up. You see, if you cannot read and write or do maths, you actually cannot carry out a job in the smart economy that David Shearer wants. Yet that Labour Government sat back for 9 years and did not care about the 20 percent of New Zealanders who left school hopelessly ill-equipped. Well, the Minister of Education will be following national standards and I hope that Mr Shearer will take a moment, as the new leader of Labour supporting change, and say to those teacher unions: “Actually, what is more important is the kids rather than the unions.” That is change they can write about. If Labour members want to go out there and get change they can write about, go out there and support national standards. Go out there and tell the parents of New Zealand you care about how those kids are performing, you care about how those schools are performing, you care about whether you know if the kids are succeeding or not, and you will do something about it. If you believe in change and if you believe in things you are going to support, you will be out there doing that.
It is not just national standards; it is also young kids who are going to early childhood education facilities. We are committed by 2015 to see 98 percent of young New Zealanders in that position. We will be rolling out a charter school or schools and they will succeed and they will provide opportunities. They are a good idea, and if Mr Shearer believes in change, maybe he can come with me, as he supports charter schools. If he supports change, if he supports opportunities for poor kids in parts of New Zealand, let us go together with a big New Zealand corporation, let us put in half a million bucks, let us let them hire the best principals around the country, they can hire the best teachers around the country, and let us see whether those kids perform. Because I tell you what makes a difference: the best principals and the best teachers in front of those kids are the things that are going to make a difference. If we want to make a difference to those kids in underperforming areas, let us give them the best teachers and the best principals. But I bet you this: David Shearer will not come out and support that change. Labour’s change is a cosmetic change, it is veneer-thin. When you cut below the surface it is just Phil Goff, David Cunliffe, and David Parker writing the same old speech.
Let me just finish with these comments. The year 2011 has been a pretty challenging year for New Zealand. I know that this House would want to extend—
Grant Robertson: Go back to the jokes. They were better.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, the joke is the Labour Party and the way that you were doing things, but we will leave that to you. The year 2011 has been very challenging for New Zealand. What will happen in 2012 is that all of us will reflect on the challenges that a lot of families in New Zealand have faced. They have faced some significant challenges, but what we can say is we are all very proud of the way that our fellow New Zealanders have responded to those challenges. Whether it was the Christchurch earthquakes, whether it was other situations like the Rena, New Zealanders across the country have come out and supported their communities, supported one another, and I for one am very proud of the way New Zealanders have extended their hand of friendship, or whatever it may have been or required, to make New Zealand a better place. We have a huge number of challenges in front of us in 2012, but this Government is committed to making those changes, to making New Zealand a stronger country, to ensuring that we as a nation do better, and that we are not only ambitious but successful. If the Labour Party wants to work with us on those changes, on the things that really make a difference, then it is going to be a very interesting 2012, but I suspect from the speech from Mr Shearer there will not be a lot of support coming for the very good ideas that are coming out of the National Government.
Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) : In a few days we are about to break for Christmas. Christmas is a time for family, sleeping in, barbecues, trips to the beach, and spending time with our mates and families. Our Christmas holiday has its roots firmly in the Jewish and Christian traditions. It is based on a pretty amazing story about the birth of Jesus Christ—God in the flesh, as many Christians believe.
The story of the incarnation of God in a baby born in a stable is remarkable even to me, an atheist, because it is a story about the distant God of heavens coming down to live amongst us on earth. It is a story about that God decreeing that tyranny on earth and utopia in the afterlife is not acceptable, and that freedom and equality must characterise life here on earth as well as the afterlife in heaven. It is the story about the birth of new hope.
The Christmas story tells us that a saviour of humanity came not as some great warrior or prince, but wrapped instead in swaddling cloth, a baby born amongst farm animals and in absolute poverty. You know the rest: the shepherds in the field saw a bright star and followed it; three wise men turned up with expensive-sounding gifts. The baby grew up a carpenter in ancient Palestine. He stirred up a lot of trouble later as a young man, and was executed by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, as legend has it, sometime around 30 AD.
But the story does not end there. After his death, the new hope that sprang from the stable in Bethlehem started to gather steam. Religious and political elites were threatened by the wild growth of a new religious sect committed to living out, here on earth, the values of their God, once worshipped from afar.
The early Christians shared their resources and lived with greater equality amongst themselves than had earlier been known. They believed that the world here on earth could be a better place for ordinary people. Countless Christians were martyred for their faith, such was the threat that they posed to the ruling political and religious elites. By 112 AD even the farmers cursed Christ’s influence. Christian beliefs on idolatry were causing a slump in agricultural markets as people challenged the need to buy animals for ritual sacrifice to Roman emperors and gods.
Two thousand years later, the story of the brief life of Jesus Christ still resonates. That is why Christmas is such an enduring part of our culture. Christmas was the start of some very unlikely trouble and the start of new hope.
I am not a Christian, and there is not historical certainty about the records in the Christian Bible, but what I admire about the Christmas story is that it speaks to values that I share, including some that make me a little uneasy when speaking from this place of privilege and power. I think you will agree that we are pretty far away from a Palestinian stable. But like all parents, particularly those newly acquainted with the role, the story of change arriving in the form of a baby has resonance in my life. Whether we are parents, grandparents, aunties, or friends, in our children we find our own awe at the beauty of the planet. They show us what it is to be truly open-minded, and in their ferocious capacity to learn and grow and change, we see that things could truly change and things could truly be better.
This Christmas we wish for all our babies to have their unquestioning need for love generously met. We wish that all our children be treated with patience and understanding, trust and commitment, and we wish that all our parents have the time, support, and resources necessary to give our children the best start in life. For us here in Parliament, I wish that we have the intelligence and compassion to choose to make things better for those who depend on us to make the right calls.
Mahatma Gandhi said this about Jesus Christ: “I believe that Jesus belongs not solely to Christianity, but to the entire world, to all races and all people.” Gandhi was right: the hopes and values Jesus Christ articulated during the course of his short life are too important to belong only to Christians. They belong to us all, believers and non-believers alike. They live within us; they are embedded in our culture. They are reflected in most of the world’s major religions. These are the values that helped lay down the essential nature of what it means to be human, and guide us to live a good life—good to ourselves, good to one another, and good to the world in which we make our livelihoods.
I identify with the Christianity that teaches love and compassion towards each other, especially the most vulnerable: the widows, the orphans, the sick, those in prison. Those values inspired some of the world’s first hospitals, orphanages, universities, and reforms to the way that we treat those who have broken the law.
I also identify with the Christianity that demands that we live with truth and justice between one another. Those values challenged the status quo on slavery in Great Britain, and moved Martin Luther King to march for equal rights for African-Americans. Here in our home it was through applying those same values that Michael Joseph Savage turned the State on its head in an attempt to provide cradle-to-grave security from poverty and despair. In fact, the very first act of the new Savage Government was to grant a special Christmas bonus payment to the unemployed. Now, there was a true moment of Christmas in the New Zealand Parliament. It gave birth to new hope that our political economy could be bent to protect the vulnerable. That was applied Christianity.
Finally, I identify with the Christianity that teaches an awe and respect for the natural world—the Christianity that says to tread sacredly through nature, because God incarnated himself in the world through the person of Jesus Christ. St Francis of Assisi wrote sermons for the birds, and taught us to live simply and value nature for its own sake. Listen to the dying words of Father Zosima, a character in the last work of Dostoevsky, the great Christian novelist. He said: “Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything … you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”
Those values of love, generosity, and a reverence for nature should not sound so out of place in this Parliament, but talk in here is dominated by a different kind of worship: one of economic growth at all costs. We heard this mantra yet again today in the Speech from the Throne. Today the Government said that “A strong economy in turn provides the resources necessary to protect the vulnerable …” and the environment. But compassion and sustainability cannot be conditional. The protection of the vulnerable and the environment are necessary preconditions for a successful, fair, and sustainable economy. The economic and political agenda announced today undermines some of those values that we celebrate so much at this time of year.
What is worse, we still have a virtually universal agreement in this House that mindless economic growth is the overriding purpose of Government, if not the purpose of society itself. There is little discussion about the quality of that growth, the costs of that growth, or how we might share the benefits and costs more fairly. There is precious little discussion of how we could possibly have never-ending growth in resource use and the production of pollution on a planet that is ultimately finite.
Other parties in this House continue to represent the elite economic and social consensus of the 1980s and 1990s Labour and National Governments, in which we aimed to maximise GDP growth and hoped that trickle-down would mean that those at the bottom got a few crumbs. But 30 years later, many of our families are still waiting for the trickle-down.
Even our private banking system can bring the world to its knees and escape largely unchanged from the meltdown. The Westpac chief executive officer earned a $5.4 million salary this year, which included a $260,000 tax cut—an early Christmas present from the Government. Why is this Government giving taxpayer-funded Christmas bonuses to the obscenely wealthy and not the poor? Is that not an agenda turned on its head? Is that not the Christian values turned on their head? Christ did not accept that gross inequality is inevitable, and neither should we. Is it not time we turned the money tables over in the temple once again?
Our current political and business world view has become so focused on endless growth that it has to conveniently ignore the increasing social and environmental collateral damage that comes from mindless growth without values. This Parliament has for the last 30 years conveniently ignored things like runaway climate change, increasing inequality, declining water quality, and growing debt. The unqualified pursuit of growth of any kind is no longer delivering the kinds of advantages it once did—at least not to most people. We need to grow renewable energy, not inequality, greenhouse emissions, and polluted rivers, but that is what we are doing. And international organisations like the OECD, the IMF, and the United Nations are starting to reflect this change of heart as they increasingly document and question the environmental sustainability of economic growth at any cost, and the growing inequality within developed societies as wealth is further concentrated, even as our economies grow.
We know that better outcomes in health, education, happiness, and social trust are no longer correlated with growing levels of GDP in developed countries. If the Government’s measure of progress was expanded from simple changes in GDP to include social and environmental indicators, it would be pretty clear that in nearly every other measure of progress we as a society have gone backwards. Our problem is not so much about earning more; it is about sharing more fairly what we do earn. We could earn more as a country but still be poorer. We could be poorer even though we are earning more, because if the wealth is not shared around, many of us will be poorer. The evidence is striking. A less unequal society means that we tend to live longer, healthier, safer lives. And that is true for all of us, not just for those at the bottom of the heap. More sharing—the Christian sharing—is actually good for everyone. It is the big differences in wealth within our society that drive many of the major problems that now bedevil us. It is not just about equality of opportunity, although that is important; it is actually also about equality of outcomes.
It is not surprising that societies that allow their economic systems to produce great inequality are socially dysfunctional. How could a society be anything other than dysfunctional when our society and our social values are so deeply at odds with the outcomes that we are getting from our economic system? On the one hand our economic system is producing vast differences of wealth and massive inequality; on the other hand the holiday we are just about to celebrate is a holiday all about sharing and looking after each other, and compassion. When those at the very top earn closer to what those at the very bottom earn, suddenly everyone is better off. We live longer, we suffer less from mental illness, we are less violent, we trust more, we lock up fewer people, we have better health, and we have higher levels of social mobility. There is an extraordinary fact: societies that are more equal have more social mobility than highly stratified societies, and we live with less fear. I would like to live in a society with less fear. I believe in a society like that—one where we trust one another and look after one another; a society where we are our brother’s keeper, not their bitter rival.
Societies with low inequality have simply found ways to share wealth more fairly. It is as simple as that, and their economies do better. It is something we have implicitly understood before. The post-war consensus from the 1940s to the 1970s was a time when New Zealand enjoyed some of the lowest rates of inequality in the world. The neo-liberal agenda of the 1980s and 1990s largely destroyed that.
This Christmas the Government could help turn growing inequality on its head by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Such a gift would help 275,000 New Zealanders currently trapped in very low-wage jobs. The Government could extend family payments to families out of work instead of punishing them. The Government could offer new hope at Christmas to hundreds of thousands of New Zealand kids.
That is what a Green Government would do. Our plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is one of a number of costed initiatives we laid out before the election as part of our plan to address child poverty. All up, we could raise about 100,000 children out of poverty by committing around $680 million of additional Government spending to this endeavour, and we costed how we would pay for that. One-quarter of all New Zealand children are growing up in poverty—that is one in every four children—through no fault of their own. They are living in poverty in New Zealand right now. That is a quarter of a million kids who will go without this Christmas.
Given the scale of the problem, is a poverty committee all the Government can do about it? When there are already practical, effective solutions to child poverty supported by a wide consensus amongst those who work with kids, why would you waste another 3 years of our children’s lives talking about it on a poverty committee? Will the poverty committee for kids be what the Job Summit was to the unemployed? The Green Party promises to keep standing beside our kids, promoting practical, principled solutions for eliminating child poverty. We will offer new hope based on some very old values of caring and compassion that date back at least two millennia.
One group in New Zealand enjoying boom times is the dairy industry. The dairy industry makes an important contribution to the wealth of the New Zealand economy, but it has come with significant cost. Our sparkling rivers and lakes are a key part of what makes New Zealand such a beautiful place to live. We love to swim and fish in our rivers, kayak on them, or just picnic nearby. Rivers are a vital component of Māori whakapapa and are important to the identity of all New Zealanders.
Healthy rivers are also essential to a healthy economy. Our primary sector relies on access to clean water. Our clean and green brand underpins our tourism sector and our agricultural exports. Our prosperity depends on protecting our natural environment—no environment, no economy. But outside of our national parks, our rivers and lakes are under threat. Over half of our monitored rivers are unsafe for swimming, one-third of our lakes are unhealthy, and two-thirds of our native freshwater fish species are at risk or threatened with extinction. Some waterways suffer toxic algal blooms, others are choking on sediment and faecal contamination, while others are drying up from over-extraction for irrigation. Our rivers are dying before our very eyes.
The way we have treated our rivers and lakes betrays another poverty of values when it comes to modern industrial farming and its methods. Most farmers love the land, but those dairy corporations that pollute our rivers and streams have lost the love of the land that gives them their livelihood. Their indefensible practices continue to be protected by powerful lobby groups, and no Government to date has been courageous enough to stand up against these destructive practices that are killing our rivers.
New Zealanders value clean water. Surveys show that water quality is our No. 1 environmental concern. We want healthy waterways that we can swim in and fish in. It is possible. All it takes is political courage. This Christmas the Government could start the clean-up of our rivers and lakes by raising a levy on the commercial use of water and introducing some basic minimum standards for water quality and intensive farming practice. A levy would promote the wise use of our precious water resources while raising money to contribute towards riparian fencing and planting programmes and a contestable fund for councils to improve their sewerage. Instead of a fair charge on the commercial use of water, the Government intends to massively subsidise further irrigation schemes that will lead to further dairy intensification and water quality reductions. Today’s speech from the Government highlights its plan to degrade our water even further. In contrast, the Greens offer new hope based on an old value of love of the natural world in our quest to clean up our rivers.
I want now to talk about the Green economy. We need a strong, resilient economy, and no society is socially or environmentally sustainable if it is not economically sustainable, as well. The Greens spent a lot of time this year designing an economic strategy that offers both a clear vision to navigate through these uncertain times and a vision that faces the immediate challenges we face. In response to the devastating Christchurch earthquakes we designed a way to pay for the rebuild that did not put us further into debt, which would increase the chances of a credit downgrade—that actually happened. A temporary levy on income would have been the fairest way to pay for the Christchurch rebuild without adding further to record Government debt.
Labour’s adoption of our capital gains tax policy this year was another welcome step towards its eventual introduction. A comprehensive tax on capital gains, excluding the family home, would raise revenue to help balance the books but, more important, it would close the largest remaining loophole in our tax system. A comprehensive tax on capital gains will start to address the growing inequality in New Zealand and make homes more affordable for first-time home buyers. It would also give the productive sector a much-needed injection of capital, seeking out better returns once the tax advantages of property investment are neutralised.
We have proposed a job-rich alternative to the National Government’s plan to sell off the last of our best State assets. By partnering our State-owned energy companies with cleantech entrepreneurs they could become large-scale exporters of renewable energy technology. Our plan would keep our State-owned enterprises in public ownership, ensuring that their profits, their headquarters, and their research and development all stay right here in New Zealand.
Instead of steering our economy towards a sustainable, prosperous, and job-rich future, the agenda set out today by the Government keeps us trapped in a failing past. We are to relive the problems of privatisation all over again. Instead of embracing clean-energy production and then putting our State-owned power companies to work by exporting our know-how to the rest of the world, the Government is selling our best chance of having a slice of the clean-energy future.
New Zealand needs a pragmatic economic strategy to help us succeed in a competitive global economy—a global economy that is increasingly turning green. The sale of our State-owned power companies is wrong for many reasons, but for the Greens the closing of the door on a coordinated clean-energy future, driven by assets owned by all of us and delivering benefits to everyone, is the worst offence. If the assets are allowed to be sold, we kill off the best chance of a place in the new clean, green global economy that is beckoning on our doorstep. For that reason the Green Party plans to take all steps necessary inside and outside Parliament to try to stop the asset sales.
One option for trying to stop the sale of our assets is a citizens initiated referendum. Such a campaign would require a broad coalition of those who want to protect our assets. We are prepared to be part of such a coalition. We have already spoken to some organisations about this idea, and there is preliminary interest. We would be keen to work alongside other parties in this House, NGOs, unions, community organisations, and anyone else who wants to get involved in a citizens initiated referendum. The people of New Zealand want to keep our assets in public ownership. Working together, we can mount a campaign to do just that. It is time for the voice of the people to override the voice of the Government on this issue.
The Speech from the Throne identified only one initiative to improve our savings record: an automatic enrolment exercise for KiwiSaver, but only if the books return to surplus. The Green Party has proposed changes to KiwiSaver that are not conditional on the Government’s books being in surplus, and they will have big benefits for savers. Our plan to incentivise saving has picked up recommendations from the Government’s Savings Working Group to provide a public KiwiSaver option utilising the economies of scale that already exist in the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to lower fees. This would be at no cost to the taxpayer. Likely fee savings of up to 40 percent, compounding over the life of a typical KiwiSaver investment, would boost KiwiSaver nest eggs by up to $140,000 on retirement. By ensuring that there is a value-for-money public provider in the market, we can do for superannuation savings what Kiwibank has done for home mortgages: provide some real competition.
Taken all together, we offered voters a comprehensive economic plan to create jobs, add resilience to our economy, and protect our natural environment. It is a plan for clean, green prosperity for all New Zealanders, as we campaigned on in the election. I believe we can have a country with a smart economy that protects our natural capital and shares our prosperity fairly. Our work towards this vision of a compassionate yet highly dynamic economy is only just beginning. We offer new hope for a clean economy based on some old Christmas values of caring for each other and caring for the natural world.
Looking ahead to the next 3-year term of Parliament, the Greens will stay true to our values, including those found in a manger 2,000 years ago. We will work constructively with others where we find common ground, and we will be a vigorous Opposition to the Government where we disagree. The Greens will offer a new hope of a different, more compelling vision for a richer New Zealand—a richer New Zealand where we value all our people and our environment while having a prosperous economy. Our place in this Parliament as the third-biggest party and our success in the election campaign reflect the truth that we represent a movement whose time is coming. We are offering leadership on the things that matter the most. We are about putting values back into the heart of politics.
The Green Party approach for the 50th Parliament is fourfold. Firstly, where we can find agreement we will work with the Government through our memorandum of understanding to continue good projects like the home insulation fund, the cycle network, identifying toxic sites and cleaning them up, pest control, and supporting natural medicines. New Zealanders are better off as a result of these projects, and we hope we can extend the range of work into new areas relating to our work in the election campaign.
Secondly, on important issues where we fundamentally disagree with the Government, we will lead opposition both inside and outside Parliament. The Greens have a proven record inside Parliament of keeping the Government accountable, and we will work with other Opposition parties to achieve this. But we will also campaign outside Parliament. In the last Parliament we were part of the successful public campaign to stop mining of our beautiful national parks.
Thirdly, we will set the agenda on issues that matter. Ideas matter in politics, and the green movement has moved the public debate a long way from where it was even a decade ago. People are looking to Green parties to offer solutions the old parties have failed to deliver on. We are a movement whose time has come because our ideas are relevant. We think New Zealand should be a proud leader of the global green transition. We have a history of leadership.
Fourthly, we will be a party that gives voice to those who need it. I am enormously proud that Mojo Mathers has joined our caucus and become the first deaf MP our country has had. Seven hundred thousand New Zealanders have a hearing impairment, and they deserve representation. I am also proud that six of our seven new MPs are women, and that over 50 percent of our caucus is made up of women. It is disappointing that the representation of women in this Parliament outside the Greens has actually declined. We will also provide a voice through means other than direct representation. We are active online and elsewhere, and we want Parliament to change and modernise to be more relevant, in order to deal with some of the issues of low voter turnout. One part is modernising the oath and the prayer. We need to recognise the Treaty of Waitangi as our founding constitutional document, and incorporate it in our oath.
This Christmas the Green Party wants to put hope back into the lives of all those who have not done so well over the last 30 years, and include those who believe in a more sustainable, more compassionate way to live together. Michael Joseph Savage sought to unite as many people as possible behind a common dream of a better and fairer society. We share this dream. Christmas is the season of new hope. The Greens bring new hope that the Christmas values of love and compassion, truth and justice, and an awe and respect for the natural world can rise to the top of Parliament’s agenda again.
I want to wish you all—members of Parliament, the members of the Government, the Opposition, the gallery, and all those cleaners, messengers, security guards, and staff who get up each day and make Parliament happen—a happy Christmas. I want to thank the people of New Zealand, in whose service we are, and wish you all a very happy and a hopeful Christmas. The Greens will work hard and smart to repay the faith you have put in us to deliver a richer New Zealand with a smart Green economy that works for everyone.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) : As I was saying before I was so rudely and foully interrupted, New Zealand is in economic and social decline and in trouble because of its blind adherence to policies that simply do not work. First, though, we want to thank the thousands of people who brought New Zealand First back to Parliament. We did not enjoy the massive taxpayer resources, or the financial resources of other parties that seemed to be like a bottomless pit—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Are you going to pay it back?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —or, indeed, the soft media idolatry that was conferred on people like Nick Smith, who had a fund and claimed to have declared it to the parliamentary commissioner, and she said that that was false—and it is on the Order Paper. So why was that not inquired into? Or is there one rule for you, Mr Smith, and a different one for us? That is what is relevant here. If you want to raise that sort of issue, you have come to the right place.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, I understand.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is experienced enough to know not to bring the Speaker into the debate.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, Mr Speaker, I understand. But if that member wants trouble, he has come to the right place, because he is raising matters of principle, on which he himself has got no credible record, unlike New Zealand First, which was the subject of an inquiry that said there was no Standing Order, made one up, and applied it retrospectively. That is why, as I said at the start of my speech, before I was rudely interrupted, this country has been pursuing policies for over 27 years that will not work.
But we want to thank those people who, despite the climate in which we were operating, despite the soft media idolatry that was generously conferred on some political parties, despite all the criticism, came out and worked for us and backed us.
We all know that New Zealand First was on the receiving end of a seemingly deliberate blackout, a boycott, a media embargo, that was designed to discredit and diminish us. We packed hall after hall, which is surely a demonstration of consumer political demand, or indeed that there is such a thing as a political market, only to find again and again that our message was being, to use a media term, spiked. In short, we were blacked out. That is why I and my colleagues are deeply indebted to the New Zealand people and their sense of fair play and a fair go. They knew that there was something rotten going on, and they were not going to be part of it. Over the past 3 years we went the length and breadth of New Zealand. We spoke to New Zealanders from the deep south to the far north. We learnt their fears, their hopes, their dreams, and their aspirations of what they want for the future of their country. New Zealand First did not rely on focus groups, opinion polls, surveys, and profiling to find out what the people of this country think. We simply went and visited them and listened to them.
That is why New Zealand First is back here to provide a voice for New Zealanders who believe in the concept of a fair go for everybody. Our society was built on this great ideal. It is what made this nation a great nation once. What we have heard from the National Party again today puts us in mind of the substance that dairy farmers wash off a cowshed floor with a strong hose. That substance smells like a scented rose compared with the stench of the deals done by the National Party and its hangers-on. For example, what happened to “One law for all” from the ACT Party? What happened to that? What happened to “No privatisation of water” from United Future? What happened to “No sale of strategic assets” from the Māori Party? Without these three parties selling out their principles, this Government has no majority, either on election day or now. It needs deceit and deception to be where it is. But it does not have a mandate. Without these three parties selling out their principles this Government would not exist. Those three parties, of course, are finished, and the next election, whenever it is, even before 2014, will prove that. You cannot sell out the people and get away with it like that.
But there is some good news—we are back, in the nick of time. And although we are but eight, lined up against the faces of irresponsible capitalism, remember that in the bold, old days a Roman soldier, Horatius, held the bridge with only two others. Eight is enough to make a real difference here. On 6 November, you will recall—some of you, especially my colleagues will recall—that at Kelston we warned New Zealanders of what to expect, and it is exactly what has happened, on election night and today. We set out in a speech the crucial issues that would bring New Zealand First back to Parliament. Do you know what the fascinating thing was? Not one media outlet told the public why New Zealand First had decided to go into Opposition, and today from the Government you heard all the evidence that New Zealand First had made the right decision.
Let us start with the giant leap into a state of apartheid called Whānau Ora. This is National’s billion-dollar bribe to the Māori Party. That is a fact. It was never campaigned on and never told to the public, but it is a billion dollars to the Māori Party. National has promised the Māori Party at least $1 billion—and the papers will show it—of taxpayers’ money to feed the Treaty travellers, corporate Māori, and so-called providers of Māori services.
Te Ururoa Flavell: Come on, Winitana.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: He says “Come on, Winitana.” That is my name in Māori, of course. Well, you come on. I want to tell that member, whose party is on a rollercoaster to oblivion because of the decisions they have made—a party in which Māoridom placed so much hope and their dreams, campaigned and spent all the money on them—that this is what Māori people need. It happens to be exactly the same thing that all New Zealanders need. They need jobs with First World wages so that they can provide for their families. They need jobs so that they can retain and regain their dignity. They need housing that is warm, not housing that promises insulation for which they cannot afford the power bill to warm them in the first place. It is not a deal that says: “I know what we’ll do. We will have insulation in Ngāti Porou and Ngāpuhi, the two warmest places in the country where Māori live, and the rest of you can freeze.” That is what the Māori Party has done, and National went along with it. Māori need, and we all do, good health-care and sound education and training. This will not be achieved by siphoning a billion dollars to set up separate agencies to deal with these matters separately. That is what we said at Kelston when we made our decision to go into Opposition. New Zealanders never heard that message because some people decided it was better that they did not hear the truth of a serious political concern in this country.
Past Governments of all political colours have worked hard to include Māori and to provide better housing, education, health care, and employment. I remember the day when the Minister of Labour knew every unemployed person in New Zealand by name—because there were not 27,000 or a hundred and something thousand like now, or 2,700, but there were only 27—in person, and not one Māori unemployed. Whatever was wrong in the past, it was not the economic strategy, and that is what is wrong now. The coalition deal between National and the Māori Party is a document that brings great shame to everyone involved in it, and all those National members will find out in the next 3 years how stupid and foolish they have been. They are the very people who campaigned on “One law for all”.
Hon Member: Rubbish!
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I know it was rubbish. I know you have made it rubbish, but that was the mantra that saw the National Party get halfway back in 2005. They hardly got responsibility and they threw “One law for all” out the door. Listen to this: “National and the Māori Party agree to support the evolving focus and ongoing implementation of Whānau Ora.” What does “evolving focus” mean? That means making things up as you go along. Another translation is thinking up better ideas to get more trotters in the trough. That is what an “evolving focus” is. Then there is “a stand-alone commissioning agency over the next 12 months.” This, of course, is the new “Ministry of Apartheid”. The most amazing thing is that when the great civil rights movement of the 1960s in America flowered, the black people did not want to set up their own institutions. They wanted to bust through the doors of the best white ones, and here the Māori Party and others, because of their intellectual and historical weakness, always revert to the failed strategy that sees a separate path.
Hon Member: Ka Awatea.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh no, we do not. Ka Awatea was about unleashing Māori economic and social aspirations and making an equal contribution to the whole country. At the time, coming with Ka Awatea was a new clause in the Ministry of Maori Development Act that gave the ministry, or Te Puni Kōkiri, oversight over every other ministry. What happened? I am asking the Māori Party that, and I am asking National as well. They might docilely accept, as the Māori Party does, sitting at the table, but one thing New Zealand First will never do is sit there and have our heads rubbed; sit there and sell out our people, and have our heads rubbed by inferior human beings. That is never going to be our destiny, and that is why we are back.
This agency, of course, as I said, is the new “Ministry of Apartheid”. But wait, as the saying goes, there is more: “Whānau Ora will increasingly bring a greater focus to address the issues of employment, housing, educational achievement, and the wellbeing of the most vulnerable …”—“housing, educational achievement, and the wellbeing of the most vulnerable …”. That is psychobabble, and it is sad that so many people in Māoridom have so cruelly been sold out. Employment—we thought the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance announced 171,000 jobs in the last Budget. Or was that just a fraudulent document? We know you cannot create more jobs by setting up a separate system, except for the selected Treaty travellers heading for the trough. One thing New Zealand First will never do is forget that the people in whose names and numbers the claims are made deserve to get the rewards, and they have not. The Māori situation is worse than it ever was in the last 30 years, despite the emergence of a so-called Māori Party.
In case National and the Māori Party have not noticed, there are already State agencies that deal with the same matters. Te Puni Kōkiri, or the Ministry of Māori Development, already has a statutory oversight and responsibility to ensure various ministries deliver to Māori. If these ministries are not working to capacity, we suggest that Māori should look at the Ministers in charge of them. There is an old-fashioned way of motivating Ministers, and it is contained in two words: one starts with “k” and the other starts with “a” and they usually come in inverted commas. We are uniquely qualified in New Zealand First to reveal the expensive separatism hidden in Whānau Ora—a document, I might say, that came without any analytical material whatsoever and was based on pure anecdote; not one analytical fact. That is what the National Party now purports to think is the way forward in their concert with the Māori Party.
Great New Zealanders, leaders of the past, both Māori and non-Māori, knew their people. They built this country and they worked hard to provide jobs, health care, education, and housing for everyone. Every month a health visitor visited every school, there were dental nurses and free milk—all the things that made us an incomparable society, all now abandoned by a party that claims to be National and really has no right to call itself that. It is the “Global Party”, the “Internationalist Party”, the “We’ll do anything if it gets us back into power Party”. New Zealanders will never accept the separatism in Whānau Ora. National was strangely silent about this during the election campaign. On this matter there was not a mutter, not a syllable, not a murmur, not a sound. When you bring in 500,000 new visitors, as they have done, in the last 25 years, pray tell me where they fit in, in this scheme of separatism that this Government is pursuing.
While we are on this coalition agreement, let us look at another outrage, the review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. We warned in the Kelston speech on 6 November about that, as well. National and the Māori Party are going to “progress the review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”, with the Treaty of Waitangi as its cornerstone. What do you think of that?
Hon Member: Nonsense.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh yes, it is nonsense, I understand that. It is nonsense. This three-clause document is now going to be the cornerstone of our future constitution, but we cannot say too much about it; let us keep it behind closed doors. My question to all in this country is what about the 4 million - plus other New Zealanders who live here. The democratic rights and the governance of New Zealanders are being traded between National and the Māori Party like junk bonds on Wall Street. We are a country where people have died for the cause of democracy, we have had an election every 3 years since 1854, which makes us one of the most unique countries in the world, and this is what is served up to us in 2011. This country has a history of fighting the forces of fascism, Nazism, and communism. Nobody gave National and the Māori Party the right to meddle with our constitutional arrangements. We will do everything in our power to stop it and to make sure New Zealanders know about it.
Now let us look at the detail, or rather the lack of it. Where is the money coming from for this deal? Does anybody know? Listen to this—a deafening silence. I am asking a simple question—where is the money coming from? Or as that man in Christchurch waving his hands like a stunted penguin said, where is the money? The answer to that question, Mr Key, was: “Well, your mates have got it.” That was the answer they should have given that night in front of the press in Christchurch, with that massive banner that would have done Nazi Germany proud, the so-called debate. Where is the money? Well, the mates of the National Party have got it, which explains why Mr Key spends so much time seeing the boys at Macquarie Bank—go and check his diary when you have got a spare moment.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: A bit more of the old sort of style. That is great.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I beg your pardon? Oh no, I know that Gerry is not liking this, but this is truth and tell time—it is truth and tell time. I am asking, and my colleagues here behind me are asking, the members over there who gave their rubber stamp to this, where the money is coming from for this operation. Do not tell us that we are going to sell power stations and lakes and rivers to fund Whānau Ora. Please do not tell us that, because as we know, and as Mr Henare over there knows, all around Māoridom the seas and the water have enormous mythology. Are we going to sell that to China or Japan? [Interruption] Oh, it is not a laughing matter, Mr Flavell; it is far beyond that, as that member will find before Christmas is halfway under way when he goes home. He will learn that you can fool some of the people some of the time, or some of the people most of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time, and particularly not the Māori people when it comes to their treasured assets.
This year the Prime Minister—listen to this and learn—gave three different reasons for privatising State assets. In February he said they were going to sell assets to repay debt. Then someone reminded him that the problem was not the public debt, it was the private debt. So he then said he was going to sell State assets to buy other State assets. Now this is fascinating, is it not?
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: They don’t raise any revenue.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yeah, well, we got to learn later on that these other State assets were schools and hospitals that have no revenue. In fact they have an ongoing cost. So I thought to myself that this has got to be a Merrill Lynch special. This has got to be Merrill Lynch at its best—the kind of thing that brought the Western World to its knees with deceit and corruption at Wall Street. That is what happened. Now, when that went down like a lead balloon, he went back to reinvesting the money in new investments, but we did not know which ones. Right in the heat of the campaign when that was not going over too well, this is what Mr Key said he said: “There’s going to be a”—
Dr Kennedy Graham: Where is your vision? Give us your vision.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, our vision is to straighten out the country and not come along like the Greens did and say: “We are the most aligned party to National.” Oh yes! Before the election it was “We want a Labour-led Government, we want to be in Cabinet—in fact, we want to be a finance Minister.”
Hon Member: Grow up.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I know I have struck a nerve. I know I have struck a nerve. The challenge came from the member’s colleague. Now face the response.
Here is what happened. Before the election, everywhere they went, they told all of the Labour supporters: “Look, you can vote for us, the Greens, because we’re going with Labour. In fact, we’re going to form a Cabinet with them.” So more than half of the Greens’ vote came from the Labour Party. Straight after the election—oh, change of plan—they publicly told the Clerk of the House, the Speaker, and the rest of us that “We are the most non-aligned party in this Parliament.”
Hon Trevor Mallard: Who said that?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The Greens said that. I am going to make sure in the next 3 years every darn Green voter gets to hear what happened in the last month. Before the election it was “our ever-abiding affection” for Labour, and straight after it, it was: “We have an MOU with National”—a memorandum of understanding with the National Party. You cannot have your political cake and eat it too.
Hon Member: The world’s moved on, Winston.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh no, no, no. We are not going to move on. We want peace and transparency at this Christmas time. New Zealanders must know what is going on, because the last thing we are going to do if we are going to defeat this Government in 2014, or whenever they throw in the towel, is have fair-weather friends. We want to know who is with us and who is against us. My question—
Dr Kennedy Graham: Give us some vision.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, I know that the member heard a speech from his leader. He heard no vision. What he heard was a most stunning speech about the proximity of the Greens to Christ, and I thought that was news. I have heard a few things in my time in politics, but I really think that might take the Christmas cake. Mr Key says share purchases by one entity are capped at 10 percent. Let me ask how this works, because we have not found any mum and dad New Zealanders who could afford 10 percent of Mighty River Power, or Genesis, or any other asset.
Hon Member: Mum and Dad Fay.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: This is simply more deception. My colleague is quite right. He says “Mum and Dad Fay and Richwhite might.” They might be able to, but nobody else.
Hon Tau Henare: Not that one again.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I know they are Tau’s friends. You know, Mighty River Power is a jewel in the crown of State assets, so why sell it? We all know it will end up in foreign hands. Is that the bell for 5 minutes? Thank you very much. That will be all I need. We all know it will end up in foreign hands. Do not believe me or New Zealand First; ask Treasury. That is what they said. You sell this into New Zealand ownership. Trying to cap it at 10 percent does not matter; in time it will go into foreign hands.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Like Contact.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Just like Contact Energy. Whilst we are at it, how could this person who sold Contact Energy, with no business acumen whatsoever, end up heading Genesis? Talk about jobs for the girls and the boys—unbelievable! A director of the No. 2 Chinese bank—the second biggest bank in China—former leader of the National Party, on the board, no banking experience.
Hon Tau Henare: You never liked her, though.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Now, now, Mr Henare. Was that member not the one who said “I will never work with her, ever.”?
Hon Tau Henare: That’s right, and that’s what you told us to say.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That is him. Never work with her ever, and then—
Hon Tau Henare: That’s what you told us to say.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The member cannot say that. He cannot say that is what I told him to say. That is what he said. He volunteered it himself, and there is no greater shame in the Māori world than hiding behind the skirts of a woman. There is no greater shame in the Māori world than hiding behind the skirts of a woman. No amount of noise will win this debate.
Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I consider that to be a sexist remark. I take personal offence, and ask that the member be required to withdraw and apologise.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Speaking to the point of order, for a member to say that—as the member for the Green Party just did, who claims to have some knowledge of Māori—is to demonstrate just how little she knows about the Māori world. That is an old saying that has been there for centuries, pre and post-European times.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am not sure that we are making a lot of progress. I just think we should move on and not refer to that matter again.
Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My understanding is that where a member has taken personal offence, that is entitled to be taken seriously by the Speaker, and that in those circumstances the member who has made the offending remark is required to withdraw and apologise under the Standing Orders.
Hon Trevor Mallard: That is clearly not the case. It could not possibly be the case that a general comment made in that way can be applied specifically to an individual. The personal offence would be if the accusation was that Ms Turei was hiding behind Russel Norman, or something similar, not a general comment.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is a matter, really, of whether the rules have been broken. My test on this, and I think it is Speaker’s ruling 55/3, is whether the House is offended. A member can stand up on any occasion and say: “I take offence at that.” So there is kind of another test. In this case I deem this to be a general comment not levelled at anybody, and my response to that is to just park this and move on so that there is no further offence created.
Te Ururoa Flavell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If it is required that other members take offence, I would like to take the opportunity to take offence on that matter, as well, in support of Metiria Turei. It is a matter that culturally could be debated for some time. It is out of order to believe that that saying goes way back to umpteen millions of years ago. That is not appropriate. But I just wanted to support what you talked about—whether the rest of the House takes offence. I take offence, and ask that it be withdrawn.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Speaking to the point of order, before you rush to judgment, I am happy to provide the House with my evidence for saying what I have just said. It is a fact, and I am not prepared to stand here and have some Māori revisionism going on, telling me that this is not a phrase common in Ngāpuhi—I have heard it countless times myself.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I do not think we are actually gaining anything by trying to litigate the history of this. I have made the comment that this was a general comment not referring to anybody specifically. Therefore I have ruled that it is not—
Hon Trevor Mallard: It referred to Tau.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is not a matter that requires a withdrawal, but it is a matter where I have cautioned the House to park it and move on.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: What I was saying was that that is what happens—these sales of assets and their transfer to foreign ownership—when you have a Cabinet of wheeler-dealers taking over the country. They are fully applying the principles of irresponsible capitalism taught by the Wall Street traders, except that principles, of course, have nothing to do with it. This is what they firmly believe in: capitalise one’s profits and socialise one’s losses. That is the No. 1 part of this party’s plan. Take the dog of an insurance company called AMI. The taxpayer picks up all the debt; the customer base is sold to a foreign company. There is the first one. Then you have got South Canterbury Finance—$800 million was the cost that they undertook to guarantee, and then it goes to $1.6 billion. No cap, so people were investing in a gilt-edged security, and could not possibly lose, and I wonder who those investors were. Friends of the Labour Party, friends of New Zealand First, friends of the Green Party? No. Friends of the National Party did that—lawyers, consultants, and accountants, all making a packet at the taxpayer’s expense.
Charter schools—no word about that before the election, and now the Prime Minister gets up and talks about something that is simply shorthand for privatising education. And then the free-trade deal we heard about today—one more free-trade deal where foreigners get all the massive benefits—and our slide down the OECD just goes on and on and on. Listen to the debate in America at the moment in the Republican cause and tell me that I am not right about what is going wrong with this country.
But I want to close by saying this to everybody in New Zealand who thinks about investing and selling to foreigners: we will be back before you know it, and it is our intention to be part of a Government that takes those assets back. We are not going to stand by while people rob this country blind in the temporary empowerment of National, which got back after the election because the media put it there. It would never have won without the soft media giving John Key the biggest hug over 3 years that I have ever seen anywhere in the world. No campaigning; kissing babies, making them wild and crying, photo opportunity after photo opportunity like Kodak is going out of fashion—that was the campaign. And with all that help from the media National just got home because three parties sold themselves out. It has no mandate.
I want to close by saying this, though. We are going to do in the next 3 years what New Zealanders are paying us to do: oppose bad policies and support good policies. But I will give you this last quote. It came in a paper here in Wellington and it said this: “The new Government has a job to do. It is in no-one’s interests for it to be diverted by politics.” This is not North Korea; this is a democracy. My message to the media is: “Get over yourselves.”, because, to use a phrase that Mr Cullen once used: “We won. You lost. Eat that.”
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) : Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa. Hei whaiwhai haere ko te āhuatanga o ngā kōrero i te rā nei mai i a Parekura Horomia, me mihi rā ki te hunga kua ngaro atu i te tirohanga kanohi. Waiho rātou kia moe, kia okioki. Nō nā tata nei, ko Pae Rūhā tērā, ko Hēnare Ngata tērā. E aroha atu ana ki a rātou, e moe koutou i te wāhi ngaro.
Ka mihi ki a koe te Kaiwhakawā, te Māngai o te Whare kua eke koe ki tēnei taumata ka tahi, ā, ka rua ki ō hoa ki a Ross Roberstson, ki a Lindsay Tisch, ko rāua anō hoki kua eke ki tēnei taumata. Tērā, tērā, ka nui te mihi.
Ka mutu, ka huri ki a Parekura Horomia nāna tonu te Whare i whakatau i te ahiahi nei, me mihi rā ki a ia ka tika, i wāwāhi nei i te āhuatanga o ngā kōrero o te Whare nei. E aroha atu ana ki a ia i te mea, kua panaia a ia ki muri o te Whare e tana rōpū, hoi anō, tērā te āhuatanga o te Whare Pāremata. Te tikanga ia, tērā pea ka riro mā Reipā anō rā tērā take e kōrero. Ka mihi ki te tuakana nei ki a Alfred Ngaro me tana kōrero. Ka rawe! He rawe tana kōrero, e whakamārama nei ko te tūturutanga o tana hara mai ā-tangata whenua o te Kuki Airini, me mihi rā ki a ia, otirā, ki a Paul Goldsmith, rāua tahi. Ka mutu, ki ngā mema hōu kua tae mai ki roto i te Whare, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora tātou katoa.
He hōnore nui ki a au te tū ake hei waha kōrero mō te Pāti Māori i te rangi nei. Tokotoru noa iho mātou ēngari, kātahi te tokotoru. Ka ara ake anō te Pāti Māori, hai te wā. Ka mihi rā ki a Winitana me tana kōrero, koinā te mate o te koroua, kua āhua wareware ētahi o ngā take o te wā, hoi anō, he wā tōna ka hoki mai ki te whai ao, ki te Ao Mārama.
[Greetings to you, Mr Speaker, and to all of us. Following on with the trend of the statements from Parekura Horomia today, we must indeed acknowledge those lost from view and no longer seen. Allow them to sleep and rest there. Just recently, that was Pae Rūhā and Hēnare Ngata. Our sympathy goes out to them. Sleep there in the place of the unseen.
In the first instance, I compliment you, Mr Speaker of the House. You have reached this pinnacle. Secondly, I compliment your colleagues Ross Robertson and Lyndsay Tisch, who have attained this pinnacle as well. That is that, and greatly appreciated too.
I turn now to Parekura Horomia, who acknowledged the House this afternoon. He has to be acknowledged. He opened up the addresses in this House. I pity him, though, because he has been banished by his party to the back of the House, but that is the reality in the House of Parliament. Procedure-wise, Labour will discuss and deal with that situation. I compliment this elder sibling, Alfred Ngaro, and his address. It was brilliant. His speech explaining his coming here into the House as a staunch Cook Islander was superb. You have to hand it to him, and to Paul Goldsmith as well, to both of them, and to all the new members who have arrived here in the House. Greetings to you collectively, and to us all.
I deem it a great honour to rise and speak on behalf of the Māori Party today. There are only three of us, but what a threesome we are. The Māori Party will rise up again, in time. I have to commend Winston and his address, but the problem with being an old man is that one becomes forgetful when it comes to matters concerning the present. But a time will come when he returns to a real and enlightened world .]
Ten days ago the Māori Party entered into an arrangement—a relationship accord—with the National Government that represents in its widest sense a solid commitment to whānau, hapū, and iwi to make tangible steps forward in achieving progress towards a successful and prosperous future. We know it is going to be hard work. It was a decision, however, that our supporters came to; in fact, they encouraged us to make that decision based on over 30 hui throughout the whole of the country. Their view was that all of the promises and the pledges made throughout the election campaign amount to nothing if we choose to throw away the best opportunity to make a difference. So we have secured an agreement that focuses on addressing the things that matter: building warm homes, improving educational achievement, eliminating diseases of poverty, investing in our rangatahi through the provision of jobs and skills training, and giving due attention to lifting water quality.
One of our greatest achievements has been to gain renewed support for the evolving focus and implementation of Whānau Ora. The relationship accord states a commitment to three key goals in advancing Whānau Ora, and they have been spoken about today. Firstly, a specific annual Whānau Ora appropriation will be developed to improve the reach, capability, and effectiveness of Whānau Ora; secondly, a stand-alone commissioning agency will be established over the next 12 months; and, thirdly, Whānau Ora will be increasingly bringing focus to addressing the issues of unemployment, housing, and educational achievement, and of supporting our most vulnerable members, including those on low incomes. I would have thought that was the sort of philosophy and background members of this House would support fully. But, unfortunately, some do not.
The Speech from the Throne described the importance of better and more effective public services in order to ensure real results are achieved. It is on the results that the Māori Party will be focusing in this term. We will be past placards; we will be past platitudes. We will keep our eyes fixed fairly and squarely on outcomes—outcomes that show we are making a difference, and, of course, after 3 years we will be measured against that. Whānau Ora in its purest form, to help the Rt Hon Winston Peters, is about restoring the memory of our people that they can be self-determining: that we can take responsibility for ourselves, working together to embed our own growth. That is what tino rangatiratanga is all about, aside from the flag and aside from a slogan.
I want to borrow three words from a gentleman by the name of Haami Chapman, who was last year awarded the local hero award in the New Zealander of the Year honours. Sam is based in Ōtara in Auckland. He has over 40 years’ experience in transforming communities, particularly engaging with people who have been alienated, marginalised, and have lost hope along the way. Sam talks about the triple A approach: awareness, attitude, action. The Māori Party knows that so much of the success of local communities comes when we can grow the awareness that we can manage our own affairs: that we can break the cycles of reliance and dependence on others. I suppose that is what Mr Alfred Ngaro was talking about today. It is about starting off with the attitude that demonstrates we know that we are capable of miracles. Attitude comes from a context, and the impacts of colonisation, assimilation, global recessions, and paternalistic policies of the State have led down a pathway that sets some people up, unfortunately, to fail. We choose not to rely on the State as the option of first resort—no way. So our actions must model the shifting of thinking that lifts our sights to our own solutions. We must move away from lowering our gaze to what the State can provide to, instead, building our own vision.
But we accept also that there are those who are struggling, and it is our collective responsibility to provide the buffer of support to ensure everyone has a decent basis of life. That is why we are so pleased that the relationship accord gives priority to alleviating the effects of poverty in Aotearoa. The creation of a ministerial committee on poverty and the initiatives to urgently invest in the prevention of rheumatic fever and in home insulation, Māori education, trade training, and homeownership are huge for us for creating a better world for generations to come. I am pleased that in the Māori Affairs Committee parties from across the House will be able to contribute to this work through the inquiry into the determinants of well-being for Māori children. One of the key goals of that inquiry is that there will be an investigation into the extent of public investment in Māori children across the health, education, social services, and justice sectors, and whether this investment is adequate and equitable.
The relationship accord builds on the momentum we have already established over the last 3 years in Government. One of the key platforms from that term, which will assume even greater importance in this one, is to lead the public discussion around the constitutional arrangements for Aotearoa. It was disappointing to read the comments from Mr Harawira about the importance of swearing allegiance to the Queen in ceremonies held yesterday. I think he said you just cross as many fingers and toes as you can, because it is absolutely meaningless. Well, for us—and I am sure, for him—he should know that there would be no Treaty of Waitangi without the Queen, and that the sacred covenant entered into between Wikitoria and the rangatira of Aotearoa remains highly significant to whānau, hapū, and iwi across the land, and we want to pursue that. The Māori Party is of the view, however, that swearing allegiance to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is of fundamental importance in moving forward, and our bill, the Oaths and Declarations (Upholding the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill is just one that we will be taking up to honour our commitment to our people and, indeed, to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the foundation document.
Finally, I would note that one of the most important aspects of our relationship accord is actually what is not in the agreement. Despite what Mr Peters has said earlier, the Māori Party does not support partial asset sales, and support for such measures was not included as a part of that accord. We have also been very clear about the “agree to disagree” provision. This provision protects the independence, the mana motuhake, of the Māori Party. We have the freedom to vote on all issues on a case by case basis, other than matters that are subject to confidence and supply, which is around the Budget. That, by the way, is how we operated in the last term, and we will continue to do so in this term. We guard our independence fiercely to safeguard the strong and independent voice for Māori. We remain focused on what we will achieve in long-term gains for the next generation and how our kaupapa and tikanga will be enabled to influence this and shape the growing nation. All of those things will be achieved, we hope, in the next 3 years. That is where we will be heading. I said earlier that I would hope that all of these things that have been developed through the confidence and supply agreement, with the relationship accord, set a special precedent. The past has meant that parties with only the confidence and supply agreement are pretty much bound down. The Māori Party appreciates very much the relationship accord, which changes the tone of that relationship to give us the freedom that we have to vote where we want to and how we would like to, except on those issues of finance, and we look forward to a strong, robust 3 years ahead. Kia ora mai.
HONE HARAWIRA (Leader—Mana) : Just to clarify a point made by the previous speaker, Te Ururoa Flavell, it is true that the relationship the Māori Party has with the National Government is that it will vote for every single Budget that destroys Māori people in health, in education, in welfare, and in every other activity. If this Government decides again to raise GST, the Māori Party will vote for it again because it is part of the Budget. The Māori Party should be very, very clear: you do not get to be at the table and then sneak off when you cannot stomach what is happening there. You are either at the table or you are not, and you are at the table. Do not forget that.
The elephant in the room seems to have been forgotten about. I think that the next 3 years is likely to be dominated by the collapse of the financial markets all around the world as the banks and big business struggle to maintain their selfish and rapacious grip on the world’s economies in the face of massive protest from students, workers, and the poor. I say that because it seems that those in power and those who aspire to power lack the courage to stop the corporate bus, turn it round, and go back to pick up those in need. They then get all upset when the people actually throw them off the bus.
Today I begin my speech by saluting those who have led the protests against the dictatorships of the super-wealthy all around the world. Today I join with them in saying: “To hell with being sensible, with playing the game, and with being polite.” Today I call for a new world for those who struggle against the oppression of big money, those who have occupied the streets and the parks of the Western World in a direct challenge to the 1 percent, those who rail against racist overlords throughout the world, those who want to be rid of the curse of “Big Oil” despoiling their lands and killing their people, those who watch their children die of starvation in a world of obscene wealth, and, of course, those who simply want a simpler, more equal world where children get at least one decent meal a day and where society cares more for its citizens than it does for its bankers.
Today I call on all New Zealanders to ignore the expectations of a civilised society and to take action to show their disappointment with, and their anger at, the way in which our world is being destroyed. I call on all of those watching whose children are hungry not to sit back and wait for people with more money than brains to tell you that you are poor because that is the way the world meant you to be, but to take whatever action is required to put food on your children’s table, be it work, beg, steal, or borrow. Do not take the abuse that polite society heaps upon the poor; take action to protect your children.
I call on those who are reduced to tears by an uncaring bureaucracy that boxes up your problems and refers them to nowhere to demand action. You pay taxes for bureaucrats to listen and to do what they are told. Demand action. I call on Māori parents not to meekly accept being told that your child is probably better off doing trade training, and to demand the best education that their school can offer. I call on young mums who are sidelined by doctors to demand quality medical attention for your child and not be shuffled off with excuses and an aspirin.
I call on those of you whose waterways are being destroyed by big business and bad legislation to ignore the letter writing and the BS submission process and to take whatever action you deem necessary to protect those waterways. I call on those Māori whose lands are being rated out of their control and into the hands of greedy local bodies to take whatever action you deem necessary to protect your lands. I call on those workers who watch while companies scale down operations before moving offshore to take action to protect your jobs. Strike, blockade, take whatever action you deem necessary, because once your job is gone, then you have no job. None of the legislation, workplace agreements, or anything else is going to get your job back. Take action, and take it now.
Most important, I call on all Mana branches around the country to start gearing up to help feed the kids, because the call we made during the election was not about votes; it was about children. I call on all MPs in this House to give their latest pay rise to food banks, because it gives us all something concrete to do while we pontificate our way into doing nothing in Parliament.
I thank those agencies that do the thankless task of providing food to the poor every day of every week of every year. I call on the Child Poverty Action Group to keep challenging us to never forget that the greatest poverty is that which we visit upon our own children. I thank the Māori Party for its call for a committee on poverty, and I call on the Government to match that call with money and with action, because no Government is a decent Government if it does not first protect and defend its most vulnerable. I thank Fonterra—it is hard to say that, but I thank Fonterra—for its offer to provide free milk to Te Tai Tokerau schools. I call on cereal companies to match that bid so that kids get more than just free milk; they get a free meal.
Most important, I call on all of those watching, those who feel so desperately poor and powerless, not to give up but to take heart, because you are not alone. Those of you who suffer in poverty in this land of plenty are a people whose tribe grows ever-larger every day, for you are te pani me te rawa kore, and the day that you truly feel the collective power that you can bring to any endeavour is the day your world will change for the better.
I know that some of my words may not be accepted by some in this House, but the truth is that I just do not care what they think. I do not care if what I am saying is not what might be expected of an MP, nor do I care for the words of caution from those who would have me abandon the energy of protest for the diplomacy of Parliament. Our world, our Māori world, our Pākehā world, our Pacific world, is in desperate straits, and only desperate action will turn that round. We in Parliament have a responsibility to provide the lead, to protect all of our children, and to ensure that they are well fed, properly cared for, and offered a quality education; to provide decent housing for all of our citizens, regardless of their circumstances; and to provide meaningful employment for all New Zealanders—and to do so under the authority of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the constitutional foundation of this country.
I urge the new Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, to consider the plight of Moerewa School, not in terms of its unwillingness to participate in a hazy national education programme but in terms of pure academic achievement, and to celebrate the startling success of a wonderful decile 1 school in one of the country’s most impoverished areas. I urge you to look to use their success as a template for others, rather than deny them the right to seek higher standards for their children. I suspect that the families of Kawerau would ask for no more. Hekia, I know that you entered into this job under huge expectation, but I recommend that you step outside the box and challenge yourself to put forward a philosophy that celebrates excellence rather than mandated mediocrity. I look forward to your likely clashes with Nanaia Mahuta with much relish.
Tēnā koe e te whaea, Tariana. I wish you well with Whānau Ora. It began life with much fanfare and great expectation, even though the Government did not see fit to give it the budget it requires to be a success. We may be at odds with one another on many levels, but I stand with you and all other MPs in the drive for greater support for those less fortunate than ourselves.
To Paula Bennett I say that the Ministry of Social Development is one with the potential to bring great relief but also one that carries a grave threat to those in need. You know that life, because you have come from there, but your record over the past 3 years suggests that you have been a greater danger than you have been a saviour. Where you go from here is part policy, part personality. Like Hekia, you too have the budget and the capacity to redefine the focus of a portfolio that few of your colleagues understand. I wish you well.
Metiria, e te tuahine, tēnā koe. My congratulations on your award of politician of the year—the real politician of the year. You have opened Māori eyes to new possibilities, and along with your colleagues have brought the Greens from a time when many others in this House often laughed at your party’s ways to a position of genuine authority and respectability. I look forward to working with you and the Greens over the next few years.
David Shearer, congratulations. May your next 3 years be fruitful, may your arm be strong, may your team be productive, and may you be ever-watchful of those who aspire to your throne.
We face uncertain times, times that require strong and positive action if we are to come through with our lands and our assets secure and our resources intact. There are many in this House who believe that all we need to do is tweak a few budgets and adjust a few policies. I do not. Mana calls for massive change, a reordering of our world, and a restructuring of our society. I have tried to focus most of my speech—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired.
There was once a time in this Parliament—in fact, in the days when the Hon Dr Michael Cullen was here as a young man—when, in an Address in Reply debate like this, every member of Parliament would sit through every contribution in the belief that every member of Parliament would have something worthwhile to say. Today the House is abandoned, presumably because there is a belief that not every member of Parliament has something worthwhile to say. But if we can agree to agree on the things that we agree on, then maybe we can make some progress for this country, and that is the reason we are here.
It has been a long time between drinks. It has been 12 years—more than a decade—since I left here. There have been some changes. For every thing that changes, nothing changes much, but what has changed in the last decade and 2 years is this country.
In my valedictory speech on 5 October 1999 I recorded the significant progress we made during the 1990s. However, that progress has been reversed. The past decade has been lost. In the past 12 years a net 280,000 of our best and brightest citizens have fled this country. We now have more of our people living overseas than any other developed country in the OECD except Ireland.
This country is at the crossroads. In my valedictory speech, when members all thought that I had gone for ever, I lamented that there was no hope for the young if we continued to throw welfare at them, yet non - worked-tested benefits have grown by 60,000 in the past decade. Last year we had over a quarter of a million New Zealanders on non - work-tested benefits. It is my long belief that most people want to work, and there is no dignity in joblessness.
In the 1990s our multi-factor productivity grew twice as fast as it had in the 1980s. In the past decade, growth was even worse than in the 1980s. We have gone backwards. Every single year in the 1990s the value of our exports exceeded the value of our imports. “New Zealand Inc.” was paying its way.
In the past decade we paid our way only 5 years out of the 10. It has been a great struggle for New Zealand families; for the families that we come to this House to represent, for the families that we come to this House to give a leg up and a hand out when they need it, for the families that struggle to make ends meet, and for the families that face Christmas without much, and without much hope for the new year.
In the 1990s the cost of owning a home was equivalent to three times disposal income. Now the cost of owning a home is five times disposal income. Australians now earn 40 percent more than we do for doing the same work. How can we expect to compete with Australia when so many of our citizens have been left out and left behind by an education system that does not work for them?
I congratulate John Key and National on forming this Government. The Speech from the Throne had much to say about coming to grips with some of this country’s challenges. It is time to come to grips with some of this country’s challenges.
I believe that education is the key to creating change. Education that works is the answer for a generation that has not signed up to learning. Education that works is the answer to get our poorest citizens into work, into jobs, and into higher wages. I want nothing more than every young person to be engaged in a world-class education opportunity.
Although the State education system works for the majority of our students, it fails too many. I do not criticise the teachers in the classrooms who are doing their best, but far too many of our students are wagging school—in fact, 30,000 every day of the week. We know that 20 percent of our school-leavers are unable to read or write well enough to get a job, and nearly one in three of our youth today is consigned to the dole—a welfare cheque and oblivion.
That is why I am glad to have secured National’s support for ACT’s innovative approach to education—education that works for the kids who cannot find work because the education system has not worked for them. Charter schools are about giving children choices that they would not otherwise have. A charter school is set up with an ambitious, well-defined mission to meet the educational needs of particular communities and with the freedom needed to do just that. Their success is based on having freedom to innovate, combined with strict accountability to parents and the Government for academic and financial performance.
My hope is that all four corners of this Parliament can put the needs of our underachieving students ahead of the politics of the day. If we are to make this country a place of achievement, of success and of pride, then we cannot continue to talk about the politics of the left and the politics of the right. There is no left or right in a dole queue—it is all wrong.
There is no left or right in the 2,500 people who turned up for 150 jobs at a Countdown supermarket in South Auckland. It is not about the politics of the left and the right, it is about the reality of confronting a country on a mouse wheel—a mouse wheel that sees New Zealanders put in the second-longest hours of work per capita in the OECD but for only the 23rd highest incomes. We are working harder, earning less, saving much less, and struggling to make ends meet.
It is deeply worrying for me that people on the average income in rural, provincial Kaikohe—an area of provincial New Zealand I represented in this Parliament—are living on just $14,000 a year. It is deeply worrying for me to see the deep trenches of social deprivation that I witnessed firsthand while campaigning in the 23 electorates across Greater Auckland. It is deeply depressing for me to sit in District Courts in parts of this country where it is an outing as opposed to a punishment, where there is no care and no hope, where there is no job and no work, and where there is no dignity and no pride except going back to jail with the mates.
We must stop talking about the left and stop talking about the right and start talking about the education that works for the most disadvantaged of our citizens—education that represents innovation, apprenticeships, jobs, and prosperity. The country is at the crossroads and there needs to be a sense of urgency. After 14 elections my days are getting longer and the years are getting shorter. I am here to make a difference. I have come back, to this 50th Parliament, to make a difference.
ACT’s agenda for the 50th Parliament is a commitment to the values that underpin the time-honoured values of the ACT Party. These values are timeless: freedom, choice, and personal responsibility. These are the pillars of a modern, successful democracy that pays its way and earns its keep; a society where young have hope, where families are strong, and the vulnerable are cared for.
Under our negotiated agreement in confidence and supply with this Government, substantially negotiated by my friend the Hon John Boscawen and Catherine Isaac, we are going to provide updates on how we are closing the gap in income with Australia. We need to close that gap with Australia if we are going to keep our best and our brightest from fleeing this nation. Welfare will be remodelled. The ACC work account will be open to competition.
Let me at this stage pay tribute to the work of Rodney Hide, the member for Epsom and a member of this House. He did a good job and made a great contribution to New Zealand, and I thank him for that.
We also negotiated in the confidence and supply agreement a spending limit to be introduced to check the excesses of the Government. The Resource Management Act will be streamlined. Let me also say today a big thank you to the voters of Whangarei who gave me the opportunity to enter the 40th Parliament. Today I would like to thank the people of Epsom for the opportunity to represent their aspirations in the 50th Parliament. In fact, medical technology is on my side and I am looking forward to being here in the 60th Parliament.
I have high hopes and great expectations for New Zealand. I have high hopes and greater expectations for our young people, and I have greater hopes and greater expectations for this 50th Parliament.
Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future) : I begin by congratulating you again, Mr Speaker, your Deputy Speaker, and Assistant Speakers on your selection to perform these important presiding roles in this 50th Parliament. I also want to acknowledge and congratulate the mover and seconder of this debate for their confidence and their two very fine speeches setting out their aspirations, their hopes, and their plans this afternoon. I encourage them and all new members to revisit their maiden speeches from time to time as a sort of checklist about how well they are doing in living up to the objectives and the ideals that they set out on this very important occasion. I want also to pay thanks to the people of Ōhariu for their continued support over 10 elections now and to say how humbling it is to be the recipient of that support so consistently. I look forward to working with you to implement the policies set out in my 10-point plan for Ōhariu upon which we campaigned at election time.
The last election, and the formation of the Government that flowed from it, took place against unprecedented circumstances in our country’s history. In the last 12 months we have had just about every form of natural disaster that could befall a country, from the flooding in the Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty with which 2011 began, to the levelling of our second city through an ongoing series of massive earthquakes, and now most recently to horrific floods on the eve of Christmas in the Nelson area. As if that is not bad enough, we also stand against a backdrop of the worst international economic crisis since the Great Depression. We are, I believe, seeing the start of the unravelling of the political and economic settlement that has underpinned Europe since the end of World War II. The consequences of that are becoming more manifest each day as more revelations occur about the depth of indebtedness in those economies, the risk to currency stability, and the flow-on effects for distant, small economies like ours.
So here we are on the one hand having to cope with an unprecedented set of disruption and disaster within our own realm and, on the other hand, having to face an unprecedented set of international economic disruption. The outlook in many senses could not be more bleak or more challenging. I agree with the concept that just about every speaker in this debate has advanced so far, that things have to change. The old ways are no longer going to be good enough. But the question is what that change will be about, and on what it is going to be based.
One of the things that United Future negotiated in its confidence and supply agreement was work towards the development of a family status report. This is based on work that has been done by the new coalition Government in the United Kingdom to set up some key indicators to measure the impact of Government policies against those indicators, because that then determines expenditure levels.
Let me give an example of a situation we have in New Zealand. Over the last 5 or 6 years there has been a substantial increase under the present Government and its predecessor in spending on early childhood education. That is good and noble and right and proper, but when we look at the consequences of that we can draw three conclusions. The very wealthy have not benefited to any extent. “Good!”, you might say. Those in the middle have not benefited to any extent, either, and those at the bottom socioeconomically have suffered a marginal decline. So here we have had a significant increase in spending with no apparent positive benefit. The point that arises from that is that we need to be constantly evaluating our spending programmes to ensure they achieve the objectives that we so nobly set for them at the outset. And then we need to be prepared to make change when, clearly, policy is not working.
I think that in the context of the debate we had right through this election campaign about families, about children, about poverty, about support for families, and about support for those who are vulnerable, the sort of thing I am talking about here is a critical tool in the analysis, in terms of the direction of future policy. Because our traditional response has simply been to say: “Things don’t appear to be working. We’ll pour more money into it.” We do not live any longer in an environment where we are so unconstrained. So that report will be a very important step to getting a clear measure of the impact of expenditure on policy, the impact of policy on families, and the need for change in the future. It will not just be about boosting the circumstances of the families of this country but also about ensuring that our national patterns of spending are sustainable and are able to be achieved within what will be a very tense international situation.
Another area that comes into focus here, which is perhaps at the other end of the spectrum but which our agreement also covers, is the issue of superannuation. There was a debate during the election campaign—I think it was the wrong debate—about whether the age of entitlement should shift from 65 to 67. I am in favour of keeping the age at 65, but I acknowledge that there are significant numbers of New Zealanders who are currently struggling to survive till they are 65. Demographically, we know that Māori, Pasifika, and manual workers have very short periods of retirement, and many do not actually live to qualify for New Zealand superannuation. We also know that there is an increasing tendency for people to stay in the workforce longer, so we developed the notion, which will now be the subject of a Government discussion paper, of a flexible approach to superannuation, enabling people to choose to take a discounted or reduced rate from the age of 60, the full rate at 65, or an enhanced rate if they choose to defer until they are 70 or above.
The point about that proposal is that it recognises social change that is occurring. It is not going to alter people’s lifespans, but it is going to improve, potentially, the quality of life that they enjoy. But also it makes the choice one for them; it is not the State telling them that they will retire at this age or that. They make the choice, and in years to come, as more and more New Zealanders take up KiwiSaver and it becomes, effectively, a compulsory national savings scheme, there will be a much better balance in terms of how people can plan their futures knowing that they will be able to secure a good KiwiSaver payout at the age of 65 and that they may well be in a better position then to judge how long they want to stay in the workforce once they turn 60. This is a debate this country needs to have, but it is important that it be one that is structured properly, that actually addresses the real issues, and that does not simply become a trade-off of this age or that, as I fear the debate that was being initiated during the election campaign might turn out to be.
There are some other matters I want to talk about briefly in the remaining time available to me. They concern some of the issues relating to a pretty critical part of New Zealand’s lifestyle: our appreciation of our great outdoor environment. United Future has always taken a strong stance on preserving public access to the great outdoors and also ensuring that those people who like to enjoy the great outdoors can do so in a way that is fair and reasonable to others. That is why we want to curb the practice of a form of heli-hunting whereby animals are herded and hazed into very difficult and tough situations, at which point the hunters can simply pick them off. Mr Deputy Speaker, I know that you have a particular interest in this issue, and it is one that I have enjoyed the benefit of your discussion on on many occasions. It is an important issue about ensuring that our quality of life, not to mention the quality of life of the animals concerned, and our vision for New Zealand, are preserved and that we can start to enjoy some of the challenges that are so difficult for us.
Before I conclude can I simply say, at the end of what has been a most difficult year for New Zealand, that I hope New Zealanders are able to spend some time with family and friends over the coming holiday period, to reflect on what is good in our country and to look positively to the future. My very best wishes to everyone in the House and in the wider parliamentary complex and the country as a whole for a happy, peaceful, and relaxing Christmas break.
- Motion agreed to.
Sittings of the House
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : Following agreement with the Business Committee, I seek leave for the House to sit beyond 6 p.m. this evening to complete the adjournment debate, should the time be needed.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course being followed? It appears not. Leave is granted.
Sittings of the House
February 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 28 and 29;
March 1, 6, 7, 8, 20, 21, 22, 28 and 29;
April 3, 4 and 5;
May 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31;
June 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 29 and 28;
July 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 and 31;
August 1, 2, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30;
September 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27;
October 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25;
November 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 27, 28 and 29;
December 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20.
What a year we have had. Can I start by thanking our Speaker for presiding over this House throughout 2011. I thank the Clerk’s Office, the Hansard Office, the Parliamentary Counsel Office, security staff and messengers, all the House staff, VIP drivers, Bellamy’s staff, the Diplomatic Protection Squad, Parliamentary Service, Ministerial Services, the cleaners who work here through the nights, and the groundspeople who make our Parliament grounds look so good and keep them accessible for the public to enjoy. I wish them all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and as the Minister of Police can I tell them to drive safely, lock up their valuables, and keep themselves and their families safe.
Can I also add my congratulations to the Speaker on his re-election, and to you, Mr Roy, as Deputy Speaker, and the two Assistant Speakers. We all look forward to another good year of management of this House.
It has been an extremely eventful year that has had its challenges. There is no doubt that some of the challenges this country has faced have been unprecedented, but we have also seen wonderful success. Our thoughts are with the people of Christchurch. They have had two severe earthquakes—in February a disastrous one and then one in June—but, of course, they live with the thousands of aftershocks that occur on almost a daily basis. At this time the House’s thoughts are with them as most of those families continue to battle to get some sort of normality back into their lives.
Our thoughts also go to those families from the Pike River mine disaster, who will face a second Christmas without their boys home, and all those who have suffered this year through the elements, both in my area, the Bay of Plenty, where we have seen unprecedented rainfall causing enormous slips and damage to life and property, and, just recently, the Nelson floods. I also want to mention the Rena and the disaster that that wreaked on the beaches of the Bay of Plenty. But the extraordinary resilience of New Zealanders has to stand alongside that, from Christchurch to the example of the Rena, where we saw thousands of New Zealanders who were so concerned about what was happening to their local beaches that they volunteered for the clean-up in a way that has not been seen anywhere around the world. That sort of action makes you proud to be a New Zealander.
But I guess if there was ever a time that we all felt really proud to be a New Zealander it was during the Rugby World Cup—not just when we won it, although that sure was a magic moment, but during the whole time of the Rugby World Cup, when New Zealanders opened their hearts and communities to the rest of the world. Some of those extraordinary small gestures that were made to our visitors by New Zealanders made us proud to be part of this great country.
Then we come, of course, to the wonderful end to this year with the re-election of a John Key - led National Government. That was the best news for us. We also want to pay tribute to our support parties: ACT, United Future, and, of course, our colleagues in the Māori Party. Again, what a wonderful country we live in. We have a safe and organised democracy, and we even got to make a choice about the system of voting we want to have in an orderly and sensible manner. If you contrast that with some of the sacrifices that some people around the world in countries like Libya and Egypt have had to make—the ultimate sacrifice in some cases—to actually be able to play a part in deciding who governs their countries, it is beyond me why we still have so many people who make the choice not to vote. At a time like this, so many people decided not to vote.
However, I extend our congratulations to all those MPs who are returning. It is great to see so many familiar faces surviving the election process, and a welcome to all of those 26, I believe, new MPs who are taking places in this extraordinary debating chamber for the very first time. I want to pay tribute to a man on the Opposition benches—Phil Goff. He has a fine parliamentary record. Being the leader of an Opposition party is probably one of the toughest jobs in Parliament. It probably runs a close second to being a National Minister of Education; it is up there. He ran a fine campaign as the Leader of the Opposition.
To the new leadership of the Labour Party, David Shearer and Grant Robertson, I say welcome and congratulations. I think you are going to have to do a bit better in the House than you did today, because even some of your own members went to sleep. However, we will see next year, because 2012 will undoubtedly bring many new challenges. Today’s world is a very challenging place for a small trading nation like New Zealand, tucked down at the bottom of the world, but this National-led Government has laid out its plans to change our fortunes and build a bright future for New Zealand in today’s Speech from the Throne. We have a fantastic leader in John Key and a wonderful front bench who will take this country forward.
I want to close by thanking the people of the East Coast electorate, the city of Gisborne, and the communities on the East Coast, who will be the first to see the 2012 year—the towns of Whakatāne and Ōpōtiki, and the communities of Edgecumbe and Matatā, who will face 2012 fighting against that creeping disaster that is called Pseudomonas syringae pv. Actinidiae. It is not going to be an easy year forthat part of my electorate. But I want to thank them all very much for the privilege of representing them again here in Parliament. I look forward to continuing that throughout 2012.
GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Leader—Labour) : Can I begin by congratulating the entire team of presiding officers who have been selected. Lockwood Smith obviously is returning as Speaker, and I think, as was noted by Trevor Mallard’s seconding of that motion yesterday, the respect for Lockwood Smith around the House is universal. Personally I have come a long way in terms of my relationship with Lockwood Smith, which largely began with me shouting at him through a megaphone when he was the Minister of Education. I am sure he appreciated my wisdom then, as he does now. I also want to congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the Assistant Speakers, Lindsay Tisch and Ross Robertson. I am sure all members in the House will be looking forward to Ross Robertson furthering his views on the flow and ebb of rivers across New Zealand.
I particularly want to congratulate all members, especially new members, in this House on being here. We all know how hard individuals work to get into this place, and I want to acknowledge every member in the House for the hard work that they have done to get here. I am particularly proud of our four new members: Andrew Little, Rino Tirikatene, Megan Woods, and David Clark. They are a great new addition to our team and I look forward to seeing them contribute in a number of ways over the next period. As many of you know, David Clark is in fact a Presbyterian minister. Despite being a Presbyterian minister, I think he is already taking confessions, certainly from members of the Labour caucus and perhaps from members of the National caucus, as well. So we have a diverse team on this side of the House.
If I was to offer some advice to new National members—it is perhaps not my place to do so, but I will do it anyway—it would be to watch some tapes of Paul Quinn, because I think that is where they will learn how to behave in this House. If you follow Paul Quinn’s advice you cannot go wrong, I say. Speaking of departed members, on this side of the House we will miss Aaron Gilmore. We will miss Aaron Gilmore, but no doubt he will be particularly busy at this time of the year, preparing his reindeer and getting the presents ready for his big day on 25 December. But having said that, he may have other jobs. I put this question in front of the House. Who has seen Aaron Gilmore and Kim Jong Un in the same place at the same time? That is the question I put in front of the House today. But in all seriousness, I do wish all members well, commiserate with those who have lost their seats, and congratulate members on being in this House.
I also want to begin with thanking the staff in this building who help us: the Speaker’s office staff; the Clerk and her staff; the Hansard reporters, who even manage to make my grammar look correct; the cleaners, who are in this building night after night, working, in many cases, for just on the minimum wage and who do a fantastic job, and we all owe them our respect; the library staff, who in particular I think have helped Opposition members greatly with their research skills, and we thank them; the messengers and gallery staff, who are unfailingly polite and offer us excellent service throughout the year; and the security staff in particular. I think of the security officer who was involved in the incident just before Parliament broke up. That was the kind of dedication and commitment that security staff throughout this building show. Again, they are unfailingly cheerful and polite, and even managed to give Mr Banks the boost that he was in fact Winston Peters.
I also want to thank the Bellamy’s staff. I was particularly interested in Gerry Brownlee’s comments about this catering committee. I have not heard of it before. I think Gerry and I can share that responsibility well, actually, and I look forward to working with him on it.
I also want to thank our own staff within the Labour Party: the leader’s office, the executive assistants, and our out-of-Parliament staff. This is a particularly difficult time for all of our staff as we transition out of an election and into another Parliament. I want to ensure that we all acknowledge, right across the Parliament, the excellent work that is done by our staff.
I also want to wish all of the people of New Zealand a happy and safe Christmas. I want to echo the comments from Anne Tolley about the people of Canterbury and Christchurch. There is no doubt that, as we reflect on 2011, that is the fundamental and defining moment of this year for New Zealanders. I think we all know people in Christchurch—the MPs in this House, and others who have worked so hard. I want to acknowledge all MPs from the Canterbury region, because I know that they have all put in an effort. I want to make a particular mention of Brendon Burns as an MP who lost his seat and place in Parliament. That is the democratic process, but I do not think anyone can deny the effort that an MP like Brendon put into looking after his constituents. He lost two electorate offices in two different earthquakes. Although I know that all Canterbury MPs worked hard, he is one who will not be here in the future and I do want to acknowledge his role.
The election on 26 November clearly did not have the outcome that we were looking for, but I want to acknowledge two people right now. The first of those is Phil Goff as our leader. Phil Goff ran a fantastic campaign. I have seen very few people around the country who have not acknowledged that. He stood up in the campaign and in the debates and put forward Labour values in a way that we can all be proud of. His energy levels and commitment in a campaign that was very difficult were remarkable. The thousands of New Zealanders who got the “Yeah, gidday” from Phil Goff know that every day he got out of bed with that level of energy, and I think that is a fantastic thing to do in a very difficult situation. I want to say right now that Phil Goff has my respect for that.
The other person whom I want to mention is Annette King. One of the things Annette King did, as well as being the deputy leader of our party, was that she drove our policy agenda. This was the most progressive policy that a Labour Party has put out in a generation. It included some tough decisions. It included some things that were the right thing to do, but were difficult to put out there. I want to give credit to Annette King for that. She drove that policy formation. She is still here, as is Phil Goff, contributing, but they are two people whom, when we look back at the election, despite the disappointing result, we want to give credit to.
The disappointing result is something we do have to accept. As David Shearer said today, we do have to make changes. We have to review; we have to renew. But one thing I want to make absolutely clear in this House is that the values of the Labour Party endure. The values that have brought all of us on to this side of the House endure: the values of people before money, of social justice, of opportunity, and of inclusion. Those values we hold dear. Yes, we must relook at what happened to us, but we will never give up those values. We will never forget the people whom we are fighting for across New Zealand.
As disappointing as the result was, for me perhaps what was more disappointing was the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who did not vote at all. This is an issue right across the House, not for any one party, but for all of us to take some responsibility for ensuring that the politics that we are part of is something that New Zealanders engage in. Too often, as I have travelled around New Zealand, I think people believe politics is something that is done to them, as opposed to something that they are part of. The challenge for all of us is to make sure that we connect with New Zealanders and make the politics that we are part of something that they are proud to be part of. We need to change the way we approach issues, we need to use technology better, and we need to talk to people about the realities of their lives in a way that they connect to. That is a responsibility we should all take, and I can say that the Labour Party is taking that seriously.
The Government won this election and we have to respect that. But I want to reiterate the point that my belief is that there is no mandate in this Parliament for asset sales. Every single poll we have seen has said there is no mandate for asset sales. No matter how much the Government benches want to pretend there is, there is not. Every single member over there knows that when they were in public meetings in the election campaign, asset sales were unpopular. They know that New Zealanders do not want their future sold, and we need to make sure in this House that we are clear about those views of New Zealanders.
I can say for sure that this Labour Party will lead the opposition to asset sales, and we will ensure that we actually put together a future Government that we can be proud of. We will work seriously with other parties with whose values we align and whose policies we can support. We are here to provide a positive vision for the future. Was there not a contrast today? As one commentator put it, David Shearer offered hope; John Key offered Bob Hope. That is what we got today. We got a vision and a positive future over here, and we got the corny jokes on that side of the House. Well, my message to John Key is that it is time for him to get serious. This Labour Party is getting serious; it is time for John Key to get serious, as well. The change is coming on this side of the House—John Key needs to know that.
Mr Speaker, I wish you and everyone in the House a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We look forward to coming back in the new year to take the fight to the Government and offer our positive vision for New Zealand. Thank you.
METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) : Tēnā koe, Hone, for your acknowledgment; much appreciated. Kia ora. First, of course, are the Christmas best wishes and safe holidays to all of those who are here in Parliament, all those people here who make doing our job as MPs possible. We get all the glory and all the privilege of being in this job, but we are not the only ones here who make doing this job possible. From the Greens to all of our parliamentary staff here and across the country we say thank you. To the security people who keep us safe, the catering staff who keep us fed, and the travel office that keeps us moving, thank you for all your work. To the porters who are here in the Chamber—who are almost universally ignored; it is their job to be invisible, but they provide services to us and we could not do our job if they did not—we thank you for your work over the last year. You work long hours for not great pay, and we thank you for that. To the select committee staff, Hansard staff, library staff, the Clerk’s Office, information technology staff, buildings staff—and there will be lots whom I have forgotten—again we cannot operate and do our job representing the people of Aotearoa New Zealand without you and we thank you for all the work that you do. To the cleaners, whom we know are appallingly paid here but who keep our workplace healthy and functional, again we want to thank you. You too are a silent, invisible workforce in this place, and we appreciate the work that you do, on behalf of the Greens and, I think, on behalf of all members.
This has been a great year to be a Green. Thousands of hours of our work have delivered the best election result for the Green Party yet, and we are only just getting started. You might remember 1996; we began our parliamentary time as just a few members within the Alliance. We have continued to grow as an independent, principled political force that is now cemented as the third-largest political party in Aotearoa New Zealand. We thank all of our members, our supporters, and our voters, who helped to get us here. We are in the process of creating a greener Aotearoa, a richer New Zealand where everyone is cared for, our environment thrives, and our economy is resilient, ready for the challenges of the 21st century—a modern, progressive Aotearoa.
My co-leader, Russel Norman, today began our Green parliamentary term reminding us of the common values that are shared by us all and reflected in the holiday period to come. I do not think it was expected by members that he would do such a thing. But those values are common: compassion, justice, sustainability, love—love for our country, love for our people, a love that is honoured by our actions and not just by our words. I have to say that it was with great distress, although no surprise, to hear the Speech from the Throne today perpetuate this National Government’s attacks on beneficiaries and to hear the Prime Minister in his address today restate the myth that work is a path out of poverty. The truth is that it is not. For the two in every five children who live in poverty whose parents work, work is not the pathway out of poverty. Work is the trap, because work is not properly paid. There are not enough jobs in this country and those jobs are not paying enough for our families to survive. With the minimum wage so low and with the prospect of the youth wage being reintroduced, there is simply no relief from this Government for our families who are struggling.
Families who have found themselves without work deserve compassion and fair treatment, particularly those who are caring for children, and particularly women. This Government’s intention to effectively abolish the domestic purposes benefit, a benefit used most by older women with children whose husbands have left them, is a direct attack on women and their children. It is in my view the most misogynist Government policy we have seen in some decades. Forcing these women to relinquish their responsibility as mothers to work in miserable, poorly paid, inappropriate jobs and to leave their children in unsafe situations, in poorly regulated, low-quality childcare under the duress of poverty, for fear of losing their benefit, is misogyny in practice. This Government will leave children in unsafe situations. It will be the children who pay for this misogynist policy, and their mothers will be blamed if anything goes wrong, while National Ministers sit back and enjoy their luxury holidays. There is no luxury here for the families who will suffer under these policies. I am joined by my Green colleagues in condemning this misogyny, and we commit to fighting alongside other Opposition members for New Zealand women and for their children, against these vicious anti-women, anti-children attacks.
But it is not just in the Government welfare policy that we see this kind of—in my view—sexism play out. Women’s productivity remains ridiculously underrated and underpaid. That is a fact made very plain by my colleague Catherine Delahunty’s member’s bill, and the weird antics of Alasdair Thompson—I do not know if you remember; it feels like a million years ago, but it was not that long ago—who really set out the values there really clearly. We need only to reflect, of course, for an example. If you want an example, we need only to reflect on the example of the woman who cleans John Key’s office. There is a woman in this building who cleans John Key’s office at night. He does not see her; he is busy doing his other things. She is in his office in the evening. She is cleaning his office and his kitchen.
Hon Trevor Mallard: No, she’s in his office in the mornings, actually.
METIRIA TUREI: In the mornings? Early in the mornings she is cleaning his office and his kitchen. She is cleaning his toilet and kitchen so that he has somewhere safe and clean to eat from and somewhere safe and clean to poo in, right? She gets $14.50 an hour for the cleaning of John Key’s office—the cleaning of his kitchen and the cleaning of his toilet. She cannot afford to buy proper Christmas presents that she wants to get for her grandchildren, because she is so poorly paid. This is a Government that will happily keep the minimum wage at just $13-odd an hour. They are quite happy to keep her on $14.50. They think that is all she is worth, but I know that the Green Party, the Labour Party, the Mana Party, and the Māori Party all agree that this woman’s work is actually worth much more, and that she deserves respect, she deserves compassion, she deserves justice, and she deserves a proper wage for doing a proper job. But this Government—National, John Key—does not care about that, and that is a shame. I am really disappointed in that. We can see the misogyny not only in the welfare reforms but even in the failure to acknowledge that people should be paid a decent wage for a decent day’s work, which is reflected in the sexism and misogyny of this Government.
I acknowledge my party for the fact that we are the only caucus that has more women than men—eight women and seven men. [Interruption] Six? Thank you. Maths is not my great thing. I think that is really good. That is about the Green Party embedding into our decision making the respect for women and the respect for women’s leadership at the highest levels. But it is no surprise that women are reluctant to become involved in the political process, when even as we saw today when Winston Peters made, in my view, quite a sexist and racist comment, that comment was not censured by the House. This House becomes a hostile place—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think there are two points of order. One is that it is out of order to accuse members of making racist comments, and, secondly, this was a matter that was dealt with by way of a point of order and ruled on by the Deputy Speaker previously.
METIRIA TUREI: Speaking to the point of order, yes, the matter was ruled on by the Deputy Speaker. The Deputy Speaker said he would park the issue and we would continue with the debate. I think it is a matter of right that I am able to raise these issues in my speech as part of a debate without necessarily re-raising the issue of the point of order itself.
Mr SPEAKER: We do not need to take up a lot of time on this. All I ask is for members to be a little thoughtful about what they say. As the Hon Trevor Mallard has pointed out, to use the word “racism” or “racist” in this House we know is offensive to people. I know that the member did not accuse anyone of being racist, but did refer to some comments as being racist. All I ask is for a little more care in the use of language.
METIRIA TUREI: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would note that if it is impossible for members to even raise the issue in this House—to not even be able to use the words to try to discuss the issues in this House—then this place becomes a hostile place for those who may suffer from those attacks, or from those comments, or who take personal offence. If you cannot even say the words, then that is a problem. This place is hostile to our communities. We have just come out of an election where thousands and thousands of people have voted for us to be here to represent their views and concerns. We in the Greens take that responsibility seriously. We are here to speak for our people, so this Parliament must enable us to have the opportunity to have those debates in a real way, and to make sure that this House properly reflects the needs of all New Zealanders and their concerns, and that we can talk about those things in a robust way that does not shut down debate, and certainly does not allow for the ongoing personal abuse of others, whether in this House or outside. This is a problem that we have here.
Mr SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired.
METIRIA TUREI: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Tēnā koutou katoa.
BARBARA STEWART (NZ First) : Firstly, on behalf of the New Zealand First team, we would like to say congratulations to the team of Speakers. We look forward to working with you over the next 3 years. We want to take this opportunity to pay tribute, too, to the many thousands of supporters and volunteers around the country who helped return New Zealand First to Parliament. You worked tirelessly, and you achieved a great result for our party. Thank you. We must pay tribute, too, to our leader, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, whose commitment over the past 3 years has been a key factor in our success. He has travelled extensively throughout New Zealand to ensure that New Zealanders will have a voice in our Parliament. He will ensure that they have a fair go. I also want to thank the team of messengers, security staff, gallery staff, catering staff, the cleaners—whom we have heard a lot about—the travel staff, and all of those who maintain the House and ensure that it operates smoothly. It is a very big job. We may have left somebody out, but we do not mean to. So thank you to everyone who ensures that this House runs smoothly.
I must say it is good to be back. Now is the time to pick up from where we left off. We are determined in New Zealand First to be a constructive and progressive force over the next 3 years. We remain steadfast in our message, and we stand firmly by our principles and values, as we have done for all of the years that we have been here.
But now the holiday season is upon us. It is a time for family—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I say to both members interjecting on either side to please show some courtesy.
BARBARA STEWART: It is now a time for family; it is a time for reflection, togetherness, and some understanding. As we move towards the new year it is important to reflect upon what truly matters to us as New Zealanders. Our thoughts go to those people who have been devastated by the disasters that have happened throughout the year. We wish them a safe and happy Christmas. We also want to wish members on both sides of the House a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and, of course, we wish a merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all New Zealanders. We look forward to confronting the big issues in 2012 and to working towards a fairer New Zealand. New Zealand First is looking forward to working with all of you next year. Can I say, take note: our new team is keen to begin. On that note I will say have a great holiday season; we will catch you next year. Thank you.
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) : Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa. I missed the opportunity before to congratulate you, Mr Speaker, as you were not in the House at the time, but I wish you all the best for the year. I appreciate your assistance over the last 3 years as the Speaker.
Earlier I paid tribute to those who have passed on. One of the things that I find pretty much gut-wrenching, actually, when you are in Parliament, is hearing about the many of those who have passed on—in particular, of Te Ao Māori. I want to name a couple of them for the record and also acknowledge the huge contribution that they have made over time, and in particular in 2011.
I think about Dame Kāterina Mataira, the mover and shaker with respect to kura kaupapa Māori, Te Ātaarangi movement, and many other language initiatives. I think of Tā Hēnare Ngata, who was buried about a week ago; Alamein Kopu, who was spoken about earlier; Jim Perry, educationalist; Carmen, of course, just recently; Sir Paul Reeves, and his contribution to the country; Whetū Tirikātene-Sullivan—āe, Rino, tē āhuatanga kei a koe [yes, Rino,and what you contribute]—Pae Rūhā, language advocate; and Waru Allen, a pakeke who followed us on the campaign trail from the top of the East Cape all the way down to Wellington with his wife. He was buried about 2 weeks ago. I think of Te Kauhoe Wano, a broadcaster and a young man in his prime taken way, way, way ahead of the time that he should have had. He had so much ahead of him. He will be sorely missed. I acknowledge his family from Taranaki.
I also think about and acknowledge the various speeches earlier about Ōtautahi/Christchurch, the loss of 181 lives, and the devastation that those people down there have to live with. I have got to say that it sort of came home to me about 3 or 4 weeks ago, when I was in Christchurch and walking down towards the main centre, to look up at those motel rooms and see them still there, with the curtains just blowing in the wind and no one around. It really does make you think about life and about those families who have lost loved ones over the year—in particular, those from Ōtautahi.
I want to also, while I am on that topic, acknowledge Rahui Katene and the huge work that she did. Others have talked about those members of Parliament who have gone on, and I acknowledge Rahui because she spent a long period of time down there with other members from both sides of the House working as best as they could for those communities. She is no longer with us, but I acknowledge her huge efforts. E Rino, kei a koe i nāianei.
[It is over to you now, Rino.]
I want to acknowledge also that we have just had an election. One of the things that really comes home to me in elections, as other speakers have spoken about, is just the sheer suffering that many people face around Christmas-time. I went in amongst communities where you could walk through and basically just about fall through the floor, and there was not too much help around. I have been into communities where there is no furniture and have walked around those places where the tamariki have not got a lot on, even in the coldest of times. So I acknowledge that all of us in the House, no matter what political persuasion, need to think about the pani me te rawakore and those who are suffering, especially over the next period of time. Christmas is going to be a hard time, and I heard on the radio this morning that the number of women who are going into refuges has gone up in a big, huge spike. I hope that all of us can think about those who might suffer from abuse over this Christmas period and make every effort that we can to deal with that scourge that is amongst our community.
But it is Christmas and, leaving all those negative things aside—it is a year, personally, that I would rather get rid of, kiss goodbye, and look to the new year—we have been very fortunate, as other speakers have spoken about today, to have people around us who do care. They care about how we do our job and they give us their support. In that regard, I want to acknowledge, as others have, all of those involved in the Office of the Clerk: Mary Harris, the Deputy Clerk, the Table Office, the library team, which provides the information that is so vital in terms of providing us with solid advice, the Hansard Office—ka nui te mihi ki a koutou—and the interpreters. Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou e hoa mā e whakarongo mai nā ki tēnei o ngā kaupapa. Waimaria te Whare Pāremata i a koutou i tō koutou māia ki te tuku i ngā kōrero o roto i te Whare Pāremata ki roto i te reo Pākehā kia ngāwari mai te rongo ā tēnā, ā tēnā ki ngā kōrero e putu ana i te reo Māori. Nō reira, ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa.
[Much appreciation to you guys listening in to this one of the addresses. The House is fortunate to have you aboard, with your capability of interpreting instantly into English what is being spoken in the Chamber in te reo Māori, thus making it easy for each and every one listening in to understand what is being said in Māori. ]
I acknowledge Copperfields, of course, Bellamy’s, the information technology team, the buildings staff, the finances team, the messengers, the telephonists, and the Parliamentary Service staff. And, of course, I want to acknowledge our own Māori Party team.
The one thing—for new members of the House—that I remember when starting here was, firstly, the friendliness and the cooperation of all those who are involved in Parliament to give you a hand, right down to telling you the direction back to your office if you get lost. So I acknowledge all of them for their work, and I know that all of us are well served by not only their good nature and their manners but also their courtesy.
I just want to take a brief time to acknowledge all of those associated with our Māori Party team. It is hard work in the small parties and they give it all they have, over and above the call of duty. I want to acknowledge them: Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou e ngā tuāhine, e ngā tuākana.
[Your efforts sisters, cousins, elder brothers, and cousins are greatly appreciated.]
In closing, I say that our people refer to this place as te ana o te raiona, of which a transliteration might be the lion’s den. Putting aside the obvious association of some of the roaring and the things that go on in this Chamber, it is a pretty accurate description in some ways. But what we know of the people in this place is that they proudly stake out their territory, they defend it with passion, and they work together supporting us as MPs to be the very best MPs that we can be during our time here.
We would like to thank everyone who forms a part of this Whare. We wish all of them well and hope that they will have a whānau-focused Christmas, a time to relax with loved ones, and to revitalise themselves—myself included. We hope that they have a very happy New Year, are safe and look after each other, and look forward to next year with some vim and vigour. We hope that mā te wāhi ngaro koutou e manaaki, e tiaki ā ngā rā kei mua i te aroaro, kia hoki pai mai, kia hoki ora mai ki roto i ngā pakitara o te Whare nei; ki konei tukituki ai ūpoko ki te ūpoko, rae ki te rae, koinei te āhuatanga o ngā kōrero ō ngā mātua, o ngā tūpuna. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora tātou, meri Kirihimete me ngā mihi o te Tau Hōu.
[the place unseen will protect and look after you in the days ahead of you so that you return in good shape and nick, inside the walls of this House to go head to head, forehead to forehead, with each other as issues are debated in a manner very much like the way the elders and ancestors did in their time. So greetings to you and to us collectively. Merry Christmas, and compliments of the New Year.]
HONE HARAWIRA (Leader—Mana) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it possible for me to do a short kōrero and then maybe ask Chris Auchinvole to speak last and do a bit of a karakia to close the House for the day and for the rest of the year? Just to have a karakia, that is all. I would be happy to give some of my time for him to give us a closing karakia for the House. I have not asked him, of course.
Mr SPEAKER: The member cannot ask other members. The member has some time to speak and unless there has been some arrangement made of which the Speaker is advised, then the member must commence his speech in this adjournment debate.
HONE HARAWIRA (Leader—Mana) : Hoi nō, me mihi atu ki a tātou katoa, e te Kaiw’akawā o tō tātou nei Whare i te rā nei. Nō reira, tēnā koe, kua hoki nei ki tō tūru hai kaitohutohu i a mātou roto i tēnei o ngā Whare. Nō reira, me mihi atu ki a koe. E tautoko anōki au i ngā mihi a taku whanaunga a Te Ururoa ki te hunga kua w’etūrangitia, ngā mate kua ngaro atu ki tēnā atu o te ārai. E tika ana kia mihi atu ki a rātou katoa, te iti me te rahi hākoa ko wai, hākoa nō hea kua ngaro atu, nō reira, e ngā mate haere koutou, haere koutou, ngaro atu e. I te mea ko rātou kua ngaro atu, wētahi ngā tino pou o te Ao Māori, tā tāua nei whaea, a Auntie Sanu, tērā anō hoki a Kataraina Mataira me taku matua nōhoki a Dim Edwards rātou katoa, te tini me te mano kua ngaro atu. E tangi ana hau mō hau anō, mō mātou rā o te ao kikokiko nei, me te mea kua ngaro atu wērā o ngā pou o tō tātou ao. Nō reira, rātou ki a rātou, tātou anō ki a tātou e hui tahi nei. Tēnā koutou huri rauna, kia ora tātou.
[So acknowledgments to us all today, Mr Speaker of this House of ours, and to you as well for returning to your Chair and being an adviser to us in this of the Parliament Buildings. I commend you. I endorse the tributes by my relative Te Ururoa to those immortalised, the deaths lost beyond that veil. Custom demands that we accord a tribute to them all, the few, the many, regardless who they are and where they are from. So to you, the deaths, depart, travel on until you are lost from view. Because they are lost from us, some of the great pillars of Māoridom are gone, our mother figure Auntie Sanu, Kataraina Mataira as well, and my uncle Dim Edwards, all of them, the few, the many, all are lost. I of this physical world lament them personally. It seems like those pillars are lost from us. Leave them there to rest among themselves while we meet here together amongst ourselves. Collectively, then, throughout the House, greetings to you and to all of us.]
Christmas time—and I am looking forward to getting away and, hopefully, not seeing too many of you fellows over the Christmas break. If you come up north, when you go through Awanui, two kilometres past Awanui is a big Māori flag on the right-hand side of the road.
Hon Tau Henare: Just keep going!
HONE HARAWIRA: Keep going; just do not stop.
Whatever you do, enjoy yourselves. Be good to children—your children and any other children. Enjoy your whānau. Enjoy this beautiful land that we have. Those of you who get the opportunity to spend time at home with your family, please do so and come back refreshed and ready for what I pick is going to be quite a battle over the next 3 years. But we will leave that for the new year. We will leave that for after Waitangi Day, and those who do not get arrested at Waitangi, we will see you back in here on the 7th. Hoi nō.
To the Labour leadership, kia kaha koutou ki te whawhai kai mua i a koutou.
[you as a collective, be strong in the battle ahead of you.]
Nanaia, I am looking forward to you and sister Hekia sparking up over the next months. It should be quite enjoyable.
To all those of us, regardless of what parties we are with—the big parties, the small parties, whoever we are—to all of the staff in this place who look after us. We are a pampered lot. We are truly a pampered lot, and that gives us the ability to do our job without any concerns whatsoever about whether or not we are going to get to our office and it is not going to be clean or tidy, or whether or not we are going to miss out on our kai. There is just everything provided for us. There is the security and everybody in this place—they must hire them because of their ability to smile, because they are always nice. I have yet to come across any of the staff in Parliamentary Service who treats me badly, apart from the Speaker, of course.
Hon Members: Oh!
HONE HARAWIRA: Ha, ha! Hoi nō, me mihi atu ki a tātou e nohonoho nei, e ’hakareri ana kia hoki atu ki te wā kāinga. Nō reira, koutou, tātou tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, huri atu, huri noa.
[I really need to acknowledge those of us seated about before me and making ready to head home. So greetings to each of you throughout the House collectively, then greetings to you and to all of us.]
I hope you do get the chance, Chris. I really enjoy listening to your karakia. Tēnā koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Hon JOHN BANKS (ACT—Epsom) : I want to pay tribute to all the small parties in the House. There are certain advantages in being part of a small party. You can have very meaningful caucuses. You can do a lot of self-reflection and navel-gazing without being accused of either, and you can have quite a good time discussing matters of great interest with yourself, bringing them to the Parliament here, and standing and making big speeches. I am looking forward to that, as I am to this occasion. I want to thank you for setting aside, with special Standing Orders, an hour for me to say thanks to this House—just joking. I get worried when members on the other side of the House are not just looking at their watches but shaking them when I have spoken for only 30 seconds. That starts to worry me.
I want to pay tribute to the small parties because it is very, very difficult in this parliamentary democracy to be part of a small party and make it back to this Parliament. The hurdles are high and the hoops are very, very tight. So congratulations to all of the small parties on getting back to the Parliament.
I am very proud and privileged to be a member of the ACT Party. I believe in the values of the ACT Party: choice, freedom, and responsibility. I am absolutely and passionately signed up to the policies of the ACT Party: less Government, lower taxes, more opportunities, a world-class education, paying our way with the rest of the world, and economic sovereignty for our future. I am absolutely committed to the mantra of the ACT Party—that everyone counts, everyone in this country makes a difference, and we are all in this together.
I am glad that John Key has been re-elected as Prime Minister of this country. John Key’s contribution to this nation, in a relatively—by our measure, Mr Speaker—short existence and life in this House, shows that he has adapted remarkably well, has picked up the challenges of high office particularly well, and has done a good job.
I want to tell the Prime Minister—who I am sure is listening on his crystal set, nine floors above this place—that the ACT Party brings the reinforcing steel to the National caucus policy-making machine over the next 3 years. In other words, we are going to give National a nudge in the directions that we think we should around those matters that I narrated just briefly.
We are very pleased in the ACT caucus that we have been able to negotiate such an outstanding supply and confidence agreement with National. We are excited about having some constraint about Government expenditure that in recent years has got ourselves out of control and runs the risk of compromising our economic sovereignty. We are very excited about the opportunity for changes to the Resource Management Act. I was in Parliament when we moved that legislation through its third reading speech in 5 minutes flat one night, unanimously.
I have never seen a piece of legislation, which has been so acrimoniously debated over such a long period of time, moved through this Parliament in 5 minutes flat with total support from all corners of the Parliament. But it means that sometimes you can get legislation wrong—sometimes the people are right; more often they are right than they are wrong—and that legislation needs to be addressed and changes need to happen. We need to get off the back of private enterprise, we need to get out of the pockets of small businesses, and we need to give the mums and dads who employ fewer than 10 people in this country—there are 200,000 of them—every opportunity to make a profit, employ people, and make this country great.
The ACT Party believes that all greatness for this country will come from the people; not from Parliament, not from politicians, not from the bureaucracy but from the spirit of private enterprise. While I am here addressing you, can I say—and I always wanted to say this in the last 12 years—thank God for the farmers. Thank God for the men and women who farm the land and grow the tradable sector of the New Zealand economy and help pay our way in a very competitive world. Without farmers this country would be indeed greatly lost.
I say to the ACT Party board and the president of the ACT Party, Chris Simmons, a class act, thank you very much and have a happy Christmas. I say to all of my team in Epsom thank you for giving me such great support in Epsom to allow me to come back here and make the day of every member of Parliament who is prepared to stay and listen to this closing debate.
I thank all of my staff in my office, and I particularly thank your office, Mr Speaker, for the graciousness they showed me in the interregnum. Your senior private secretary, Beryl, Trish Wanden, and others have made me welcome from day one and helped me get through the gap. I thank all the staff here. I am amazed at how many people are still left in this place, but there is one thing about this place—the staff that serve the interests of the members of this place are absolutely first class. They deserve a rest, and I wish them a very, very merry Christmas.
Every single member of Parliament is extraordinarily well served by the Parliamentary Service and Ministerial Services around this place. This is the 50th Parliament of this country, so it is incumbent upon us, as soon as we have had our break, and as soon as we are back in this place rolling up our sleeves, that we do things right and we do the right thing. As I said in my Address in Reply speech, there is too much “left-thinking” and too much “right-thinking” around this place. There needs to be more capture of the common ground and common-sense policies so the little people can become great people and so this country, in some financial difficulty, can become great again in the world.
Finally, can I say what a privilege it is for me to give support to a National-led coalition Government at this time in the history of this country. What an honour and what a privilege it is for me to be able to do that. We will not agree on everything, but we will agree on most stuff. What we do agree on is that the interests of this country are absolutely paramount and the people will make the difference. We live in a nation of truly wonderful international citizens, and that has never been represented more so than in disasters like the Christchurch earthquake, and it has never been represented better than it was at Eden Park when we won the Rugby World Cup.
We have a lot to celebrate in this nation—it is a great country. We are in difficult times, but the spirit of New Zealand and our forebears will carry us through. This is a time of celebration for everything good about the country. It is a time to sit back and say: “Are we not blessed that we are born, and live, and have chosen New Zealand as our home.” What a great place to be at this time in history, and what a great future we have as long as we, this Parliament, the 50th Parliament, take decisions that are in the best interests of the people and the country going forward.
Mr Speaker, congratulations again to you. Very best wishes for a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year for New Zealand.
Mr SPEAKER: My colleagues, we come to the end of this so brief a sitting. I do not recollect a sitting of the House quite as brief as this one. I am very conscious that I stand between you and what could perhaps be called refreshments being offered by the press gallery, and therefore I do not want to keep you too long. It is a privilege to be back as your Speaker, and in listening to debate this afternoon I could not help but be struck with a feeling of déjà vu to hear the Hon John Banks again refer to someone listening on the crystal set. For a number of years in this House I heard the Hon John Banks use that line, over the decade of the late 1980s and 1990s. It was wonderful to hear the voice back in this House again, and, of course, to hear the Rt Hon Winston Peters back in this House again using some of the old lines to do with, I think, the plots of the media that were all lined up and all so evil. I am sure we will hear much more about that!
Believe me, it shows one’s age when the voices go back so far. I think Grant Robertson, in his adjournment comments, referred to the days when perhaps he spoke to me through a loud hailer, but I have to say, though, Mr Robertson, you were always very gracious one-to-one. But, of course, Grant was not the only former student leader whose voice I now listen to in this House. Andrew Little was also a president of the New Zealand University Students’ Association whose voice I listened to as Minister of Education in times gone by. But let me just share this one with you before I bring the sitting to a close. There are some voices that I hear in the House these days that you probably will not be aware that I had heard in the past, because in those days those people were in short pants. Believe it or not, the Hon Jonathan Coleman was a contestant on the TV show It’s Academic, which I used to front way back before ever entering this place in the early 1980s. What was fascinating was that Jonathan Coleman represented Auckland Grammar School and on the other side, of course, was Charles Chauvel representing King’s College, competing against each other on It’s Academic. Do not ask me which year it was, but if the videos could ever be found again of the shows, I am sure they would be entertaining.
My colleagues, thank you all for the spirit in which you have entered into the start of this sitting. I can see an eagerness to resume on 7 February next year. Thank you also for the kind comments that you have all extended to the staff of Parliament at all levels, from the Clerk’s Office and Parliamentary Service right through to Bellamy’s and the cleaners. You have all been very gracious and very kind in the thankyous you have extended to the people who make our lives in this place possible. I just want to endorse everything you have said. We are so privileged to be served by such a great team in this place. I wish you all a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas. Have a relaxing break, and I look forward to seeing you all back here on 7 February next year.
- Motion agreed to.
- The House adjourned at 5.54 p.m.