[Sitting date: 04 April 2012. Volume:679;Page:1649. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister)
: I move,
That the House take note of miscellaneous business. Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister around funding and reorganisation of youth mental health services is just one part of the larger picture that the Government has been painting over the last 3½ years, as we get to grips with New Zealand’s significant economic challenges.
If we look at that announcement, it has the same characteristics of the Government’s approach that were praised yesterday in the IMF assessment of New Zealand policy, because in the announcement the Government has taken a clear view about its priorities, and it has decided that one of its higher priorities is the mental health of our young people, and that has meant that money that was allocated to lower priorities has been shifted to this higher priority. It also demonstrates the drive the Government has applied to the Public Service to work across Government departments in a way that recognises that people live in communities, not Government departments—our communities are where our young people are—and reorganises the tools of government to meet the needs of those people.
This is just another example of how the Government is going to meet our fiscal objectives of a surplus in 2014-15. At the same time it is not just maintaining our public services but actually improving them—actually improving our public services and making them more effective. And, yes, there are some cuts in programmes that do not work, programmes whose time has passed, and, most important, programmes that do not achieve the objectives this Government has set.
This is unlike the Labour Party, which thinks that because a public programme is public, and because it is run by people who might vote for it, therefore we must keep it. That is not how this Government works. We are focusing public services on the needs of individuals, families, and communities. Well, listen to them chattering; nothing has changed with the Labour Party members. They think they represent the paid professionals of the State. That is the last group of people who they think—
Hon Members: And they do.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Actually, I do not think they do, because when we are working with the paid professionals of the State, they now accept that the direction this Government is going in is the right one, and that is to get our public services to work for people in communities, not for Government departments and professional groups. That is why the current Labour leader is taking them nowhere—because nothing has changed.
Not only has Labour refused to apologise for the damage to the economy but it has refused to apologise for the damage it did to public services. Once it does apologise, the public will listen. But until it apologises it belongs to the time before the financial crash around the globe, belongs to pre-2008—the nasty, lazy Labour Party, which has not changed a thing. When this leader gets up, will he apologise? The answer is no, but Grant Robertson is getting ready to do it. Grant Robertson has figured out that even though nothing has changed in the Labour Party, he has to apologise or the public will not listen. That is the difference between the current leader and the next one. The current one will not apologise. He is not allowed to, because he is captured by his caucus of vested interests. The next leader looks like he will not change anything in the Labour Party, but at least he will make it look like it is taking notice of the public.
That is why the Government is continuing with its programme. We are reorganising public services, we are getting back to surplus, and we are focusing on a competitive economy, because in the long run that is how we are going to be able to pay for better mental health services for our young people.
DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition)
: It is a bit difficult to understand what that tirade was actually about. I heard the word “apologise”, and I think the member should start apologising himself, because remember what he was proposing the economy would do at the last election, and look what actually happened—0.3 percent growth. There was 0.3 percent growth in the last quarter, and Treasury’s projections have been lower and lower and lower than we have ever had before.
Since the beginning of the year, this Government has been a debacle—a debacle. I will just run through a little list of the debacles that have occurred and are still occurring. Look at Crafar farms. Look at the asset sales, which this member over here—the finance Minister—could not even give us a price of what they were worth, not even a best guess. He could not even give us a best guess; it is only a guess. Now, in this House, we have the Government proposing that we sell legislation in order to put 500 pokie machines into a corporate office—500 pokie machines. This is legislation for sale, nothing more than that.
But this list does not stop there. Let us keep on going with this list, because then we come to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. One-quarter of its entire staff have been axed. What does that mean? Let me tell you what that means for a free-trade agreement in South America: the number of staff there has been halved. Regarding a free-trade agreement with India: the number of staff in India now will be two diplomats—two diplomats. Mr McCully has put into place the change programme—Mr McCully, who is the ultimate micro-manager. He is not only a micro-manager, but he then stands up and says he has got nothing to do with it. It is all the chief executive officer’s problem. He just has not given him enough money, that is all. Is this a joke? It is a complete joke.
New Zealand’s interests overseas are being squandered and undermined because of a Minister who has cut the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade by one-quarter—by one-quarter. It is an absolute disgrace. This is front-line services. And you wait until we have front-line services being cut around the police. They have been asked to cut $350 million out of their budget. Of course, it will be back room; it will all be back room. It will be back room until the police on the front line have to come into the back room to do the jobs of the people who are no longer there. That is what will happen, and the crime rate will go up, as it has in Auckland. That is what is going to happen.
But it does not stop there. There are the teapot tapes. Three policemen have actually spent 4 months investigating a complete and utter joke, which is around privacy that the Prime Minister believes was somehow disrupted because he happened to invite the entire country’s media to a private conversation. What did he expect? That it was something like tapping somebody’s phones in the UK? That is an insult to those people who actually had their privacy violated in reality.
But it does not stop there, because we have the appointment of Mr McElrea. Mr McElrea happens to be John Key’s electorate chairman. And what is he doing? Well, actually he is leading New Zealand On Air. And he is not only just on the New Zealand On Air board, but he is actually having a real influence on everything that appears on TV that is funded by the New Zealand taxpayer.
And if that is not it, we come to the big coup de grâce—and the lady in pink over there was talking about this today—which was ACC. The Government has bungled this so completely that the accusation of cronyism, which is beginning to reverberate around the country, is starting to undermine a wonderful institution. It is cronyism that the ACC debacle is about, and if you wanted to know how to get influence in this country, join the National Party. That is the signal in this debate.
Hon KATE WILKINSON (Minister of Conservation)
: Can I first start off this debate by congratulating the Leader of the Opposition. I want to congratulate him on his courage to shave his locks. It was for a very good cause. It concerns a lot of people, and it is a very important cause. Unfortunately, I think what it has done is that it is a bit like with Samson, and it has reduced and taken away his strength. All he can talk about and focus on are so-called debacles, but actually I think it is really important that we focus on the issues that matter, because that is what New Zealanders want us to focus on. They want us to focus on the issues that matter. That is what we want. It is not,
unfortunately, what the Opposition wants. For some reason, it wants to divert us from those issues that matter, but we will not be diverted.
What matters is growing the economy. What matters is making us more competitive as an economy. What matters is growing our businesses, having more businesses, and not destroying businesses. To be successful we need more productive businesses, and we need more businesses. That means we need more jobs, not fewer. We need to make it easier to get jobs, not harder to get jobs in those productive sectors. Yet the Opposition would do the opposite. One of its policies is to immediately put up the minimum wage to an unsustainable level, and that is the loss straight away of 6,000 jobs—6,000 jobs because the Opposition cannot focus on the issues that matter.
One of our most successful policies was the 90-day trial, which independent research has shown was responsible for the creation of 13,000 new jobs. That is 13,000 new jobs for our businesses. That is helping our businesses become more productive. That is helping our economy. That is what matters. That is what we should be focusing on. But what will the Opposition do? It will repeal it. It is the most successful policy in creating jobs—13,000 new jobs—and Labour will put those jobs in jeopardy. And Labour thinks it is the workers’ party. Well, I do not think Labour is the workers’ party, because it is so ideologically driven that it is not focusing on what matters to New Zealanders, it is not focusing on what works for New Zealanders, and it risks jeopardising the creation of jobs, building new businesses, and building a productive economy, by way of some ideological rubbish.
We have already heard that we have four priorities for this term, one of which is responsibly managing the Government’s finances, and the IMF has already endorsed that. We have a fantastic Prime Minister and a fantastic Minister of Finance. The country is in good hands. These are not easy times; these are globally difficult times economically. These are difficult times in Christchurch, and we are managing well. The second priority is to build a more productive and competitive economy. It seems to be the opposite of what the Opposition wants to do. Thirdly, we are delivering public services. And, lastly, we are rebuilding Christchurch, which, as a proud, one-eyed Cantabrian, is certainly dear to my heart. It is a bit of a wasteland down there. One does not recognise where the streets are. We do not have the same landmarks, but one can see the Port Hills and Mount Sugarloaf from most streets in Christchurch, where we could not before. It offers fantastic opportunities and exciting opportunities to build a really sustainable and fantastic city that will be the envy of all New Zealanders. So I very much support that fourth priority of rebuilding Christchurch as one of our main priorities for the term.
Within this plan there are initiatives and focus areas, and one of those is skilled and safe workplaces, which again is dear to my heart. It is vital that workplace safety matters. It is vital that we all get the message that workplace safety matters. Actually, that is one of the great, great things that the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment can focus on to make sure that there is an integrated approach that actually works and that can actually help make our workplaces safer. Because we all know that if businesses are safer and workers are safer, then it is easier for them and better for them to be productive. Obviously, we want our workers to know that when they go to work in the morning and when they go home in the evening, they and their families are safe. We need to have a workplace culture that keeps our workers safe.
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker, kia ora tātau katoa. Me huri atu te āhuatanga o ā tātau kōrero ki te hunga mate, me pērā rawa taku kōrero i te mea e aroha atu ana i tēnei ahiahi. Kāore tētahi paku kōrero i puta mai mō te āhuatanga o te hōia, ko Tūmataenga i mate i tāwāhi, i Afghanistan. Kāore he paku kōrero mō tērā, ahakoa kua ea tērā i haere mō te hōnore me te korōria o te motu ki
tāwāhi engari, i mate atu i tāwāhi. Nō reira, māku tonu ēnei kōrero e wāwāhi nā runga i te poroporoaki ki a Corporal Douglas Hughes. He tamariki tonu, e aroha atu ana ki a ia. Waru tau i roto i a Tūmatauenga, ko ia tērā kua riro. Ahakoa, kāore i te tino mōhiotia i ahatia, i tōna mutunga mai, ko ia tērā i haere i raro i te āhuatanga o rātou, arā, ngā tohu o Tūmatauenga, me tuku i ngā poroporoaki ki a ia. Ko ia tērā i roto i te New Zealand provisional reconstruction team, e aroha atu ana ki a a ia, tōna whānau, tōna iwi, tō hapū, e tama, e moe, e moe, e moe.
Kia huri anō hoki me tērā i roto i te āhuatanga o te Hāhi Mihinare, ko te Venerable Dr Hone Kaa, ko ia tērā i tāpukengia inanahi nei i tōna urupā o Okaroro i roto i Te Tai Rāwhiti. I ētahi wā, kua puta te kōrero mō ērā momo tāngata i roto o Ngāti Porou, ko te ingoa e kōrerohia ana e au, ko tēnei mea ko te tipua. Nā, koia te kōrero e mōhio nei au mō Tā Apirana, mō Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu. Nā, i puta tērā momo whakamārama mō te Hone Kaa, he tipua. He aha te tipua? Ē, arā anō tērā momo, he nanakia, he momo tata atua, he momo wairua inā kē te mana o tērā momo āhuatanga, ā, ko Hone Kaa tērā. E kōrero ana au mō Hone Kaa i te mea, ehara i te mea he minita anake engari, ko ia tērā i whakanui ko tēnei mea i whakaatu nei, ko tēnei mea ko te patu i te tamariki. Nāna tonu tērā take i kōkiri ki mua i te aroaro o te motu i ngā tau tata kua hipa.
Tīmata mai ai tana mātauranga i roto i a ia anō, o roto o Rangitukia kia haere ki te kura o Tīpene mātou ko te hōnore Shane Jones, Hone Harawira, mātou i haere ki tērā kura, ā, ka puta i reira ka haere ki te kimi mātauranga, ā, i puta ā-minita mai i tana whāinga i te mātauranga i te Harvard University. I haere ia ki Taupō, ki Pōrangahau, ka mutu, eka atu ki roto o Tāmaki-makau-rau, ko tōna ingoa e mōhiotia ana whānuitia ana i roto o Tāmaki-makau-rau. Ko tāna mahi, e ai ki tā wētahi, ko tāna tino karanga he whakaohoho, tangata whakakorikori i te hapori, otirā, i te ao, kaua ko Aotearoa nei, engari, ko te ao, ki ngā take nui pēnei i ngā mahi mō ngā iwi taketake, ka mutu, mō ngā mea patu tangata. Ko ia tērā i whakaako i ētahi o ngā minita hōu ki roto i tērā āhuatanga, ka mutu, he minita o roto o Kuini Wikitōria, te wā i a ia, ā, i haere ia anō hoki ki Tīpene. I tana hīkoi whakamutunga ki roto o Rangitukia, i eke atu ki Whakatāne, ko te toru rau tāngata o Tīpene, o Wikitōria o tērā hapori i tae ki Whakatāne ki reira poroporoaki i a ia.
Ka mutu, me pēnei rawa te kōrero, kātahi te tangata mō te kōrero, kāre i kō atu, kāre i kō mai mēnā e tū ia i tāna atamira i te whare karakia, ā, ko ia tērā, he nanakia, koinā te āhuatanga o tērā tangata mō te kōrero, he nanakia, he tipua. Ka mutu, kāre i mutu tana āki i ngā āhuatanga katoa e pā ana ki te tamariki, ka mutu, nāna tonu i kōkiri te take Māori Child Abuse Summit. He hiahia nōna ki te whakakao mai i ngā Māori ki te kōrero i te āhutanga o te patu tamariki, huri noa te motu. Nō nā tata nei, ko ia tērā i eke atu ki te Kōti Teitei ki te tautoko i te Tokowhā o Te Urewera, nā runga i te aha? Nā runga, i te ngākau nui ki tērā o ngā kaupapa, ki te tautoko i a rātau.
Ka mutu, ko tana waihotanga mai, ko tana hoa rangatira, ko Jane me wana tamariki, ko Nēpia rāua ko Hīrini. Ko Hīrini te mea ka whai i ōna tapuwae, ngā tapuwai o tōna pāpā, ka whai atu i te āhuatanga o te minitatanga. Ka mutu, ko tāku ko te kī atu, e koro Hone Kaa whakangaro atu rā, moe mai i roto i te āhuatanga o ngā mātua, o ngā tūpuna. Kua tutuki, kua pai te wāhi ki a koe. E moe, e moe, e moe.
[Thank you, Mr Speaker, and greetings to us all. I change the tenor of our speeches by addressing those who have passed away, because my sympathy is with them this afternoon. No mention has been made about the circumstances relating to the Defence Force soldier who died overseas in Afghanistan. There were no details at all about that, even though the ultimate sacrifice of serving overseas for the honour and glory of the country was fulfilled. The soldier died overseas. So I will make references to him in this farewell tribute to Corporal Douglas Hughes. He was still a young man, and that
saddens me. He served in the Defence Force for 8 years, and now he is gone. Even though details about what actually happened are not really known, at the end of it all he will be accorded a military burial, like those who have gone before him, with farewell tributes, as well. He was part of the New Zealand provincial reconstruction team, and my sympathy goes out to him, his family, his people, and his subtribe. Young man, rest, rest, and rest there.
In matters pertaining to the Anglican Church I turn now to the Venerable Dr Hone Kaa, who was buried yesterday at his Okaroro cemetery on the East Coast. There are times when certain Ngati Porou people are referred to as being supernatural; the word to me is tipua, deity or demon-like. I know that Sir Apirana Ngata and Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu were regarded as beings of this type in Ngati Porou. Hone Kaa was said to be that sort of person, as well. What is a tipua? There are a number of explanations, but broadly speaking it refers to a supernatural person, a deity, a spiritual person with enormous powers. And that summed up Hone Kaa. I refer to him because he was not just a church minister but was an advocate of preventing child abuse, as well. He took that issue before the country in recent years.
His education began within his local area of Rangitukia, and then he went on to St Stephen’s with us and the Hon Shane Jones and Hone Harawira. We went to that school. His educational pursuits led him to a doctorate in ministry at Harvard University. He went to Taupō and Pōrangahau, and eventually to Auckland, where his name was highly recognised and known throughout. He was what some might call an activist and an advocate in the community, and not just in New Zealand but globally, on big issues relating to indigenous people and human violence. He trained some of the new ministers, and was chaplain of Queen Victoria School during his time there, and also at St Stephen’s. At Whakatāne, on his final journey back to Rangitukia, 300 former pupils of St. Stephen’s and Queen Victoria School, of that community, were there to farewell him.
It has to be said that there was no other like him to make a sermon. His directions from his own pulpit were legendary. He was a demon, a deity. Furthermore, his urgings against all forms of abuse against children were relentless. He convened the Māori Child Abuse Summit, calling Māori together from across the country to discuss issues. Just recently, he attended the High Court in support of the Urewera Four, and on what grounds? He was committed to the cause and to supporting them. He leaves behind his wife, Jane, and his children, Nēpia and Hīrini. The latter is likely to follow Hone’s footsteps into the ministry.
My final word, then, is to merely say, elder Hone Kaa, disappear from us. Repose in the circumstances of the ancestors and forefathers. The place for you has been settled, and that is fine. Rest there, rest there, rest there.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First)
: We in New Zealand First add our sentiments to the last speech, particularly in respect of the Rev. Hone Kaa. But this speech is about a new Manchurian candidate. The Government is going to spend the next few—
Jami-Lee Ross: Who’s the mandarin?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I will tell you who the mandarin is, and I will tell you who the puppets are, and you might as well get a mirror, because it will help you identify whom I am talking about.
This Government is going to be closing the saga of the Crafar farms, and all that it is doing is waiting to sneak this deal through when no one is watching. First, there is no doubt that the deal will be announced whilst the Prime Minister is out of the country. Second, the Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin will be the buyer. Third, it has been
promised a prime chunk of New Zealand land even though the High Court ruled there was absolutely no economic gain to this country.
Look at the history. First it was Jack Chen and May Wang. The Overseas Investment Office had that application before it for month after month, when one phone call to the Hong Kong stock exchange would have told it what it had found, and that was that they were not of sufficient character.
So out of left field comes the next Chinese deal in the form of Shanghai Pengxin. Again, it was before the Overseas Investment Office for months and months. Any decent provincial lawyer knowing about land could have assessed this in 3 days flat, but, no, no, it took month after month. Why? Because there was an election coming up, and they could not possibly run that past the people before the 2011 election. But the Ministers in charge here—namely, Coleman and Williamson—would rubber-stamp anything, and the High Court said as much when they appeared to not even understand the law that they were acting under.
This was all, of course, before the election. After the election it was OK for Landcorp to do what the Prime Minister had said before the election would not be done. He said that we do not want to be servants in our own country. So what is happening here? Well, under a rough sharemilking deal Landcorp will be paying $18 million a year to the Shanghai Pengxin company to occupy the land. Is that being a tenant in your own country or not? But, worse still, this is a State-owned enterprise, owned by the people of this country. It has been frogmarched into a deal with a Chinese company that knows absolutely nothing about dairy farming. Some Chinese do; this bunch does not. Surely that is being a tenant in our own country.
Since the High Court decision 6 weeks ago the deal has been kept under wraps. That is because officials and Ministers have been doing more backflips than a team of gymnasts to beat the High Court ruling. We all know what is going on, and all through this the Prime Minister has known what is going on. He has hung his hat on China. He has done a deal, just like all those sordid deals that the firm he got his training from—Merrill Lynch—did that took, as everybody knows today, the Western World to the brink of financial collapse. The Chinese want to close the deal. So does the Prime Minister, but not when everyone is watching or listening.
I want to say to the backbenchers in the National Party that there are hundreds of thousands of National voters who know what I am talking about and who are utterly opposed to this deal. I appeal to every true New Zealander in this House or listening to this debate today. It is now over to them to rise up and do something, because this deal is the first of many of this character. Stand up, for God’s sake, for your country. I know there are members of the National Party who are worried sick about the sell-out of New Zealand. We appeal to their sense of decency and their sense of patriotism. Do not let this happen. Far too much of this country is already overseas-owned. If we want to ever get back to where we once were—at the top of the world—we have to become masters of our own fate and arbiters of our own destiny. It is not a matter of globalisation and internationalism; it is about our country.
We have never asked these National backbenchers to do anything before. We ask them now. Do not make New Zealand another province of China. Remember the novel
The Manchurian Candidate?It looks like “The Manchurian Candidate Mark II” is sitting, live and well, at the top floor of the Beehive. Well, he can sell this country out, but you will pay the price for it next election.
Hon JOHN BANKS (Leader—ACT)
: Today Treasury released the Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand for the first 8 months ended 29 February 2012. These statements confirm what we already know. This country is living in a financial mouse wheel. We are living in perilous financial times, and we need to have
more robust discussion on a Wednesday afternoon about the economic sovereignty issues of this nation.
Last financial year our Government ran an $18.4 billion operating deficit, before gains and losses, which was the fourth-highest per capita of any nation in the OECD. It is difficult to really put that kind of figure into context, but $4,000 a year for every man, woman, and child in this country was put on to the hock. We know that the deficit is $5.5 billion and counting, after only 8 months of this financial year. It is $5.5 billion.
The spendthrift days of members opposite treating elections as advance auctions of stolen goods are gone. The Opposition wants to spend more. It wants to borrow more and it wants to tax more. Penny-pinching is the new normal, but today’s statement showed that penny-pinching is not enough. We have to put in place some economic parameters that are going to return this country back to its economic sovereignty status. The ACT Party does not believe penny-pinching will get us back in time.
When I went home last year, just before Christmas, I said to my wife: “I am not sure why I am back in Parliament.” [Interruption] And neither are they! The parliamentary Opposition is not sure, but I have got news for the parliamentary Opposition members today: I am back in Parliament to make sure that they never come to this side of Parliament. That is why I am back in Parliament—so that they do not sit on this side of Parliament.
They want to borrow more, they want to tax more, and they want to spend more. They want to spend your money like it is going out of fashion. New Zealand cannot vote itself rich, and there is no morality in middle-class welfare. There is no morality in middle-class welfare. Members opposite—the Fabians of this Parliament—believe in middle-class welfare. There is no morality in spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to wipe interest off the student loans of middle-class tertiary graduates.
Student loans and taking the interest off student loans was always an election bribe by the parliamentary Opposition. Do you know what those members want to do? They want to borrow $260 million a week from the Chinese for the Crown account so that they do not have to put student loan interest rates back. It does not make sense. There is no sense in spending New Zealand’s superannuation payments on 65-year-olds. What a ludicrous proposition that we would borrow $251 million a week from the Chinese for the Crown account, so that I could have a superannuation payment every fortnight.
There is no sense in a Working for Families—now, I want the parliamentary Opposition to listen to this carefully, because you will learn something. I know that members opposite do not like it, but that is why they are over there. The public of New Zealand know that spending, borrowing, hoping, and big-noting with their money will not get the Opposition over here. That is the real reason I am here. I said to my wife, Amanda: “Amanda, I now know.” My friend the Speaker once said to me: “Why is it that you’re back, ‘Banksie’?”. I can tell him today. I now know that I am back in Parliament to make sure that these rabbits never get in charge of the Treasury lettuce patch. That is why I am back.
There is no sense in a Working for Families programme that taxes the middle class, only to give the money back to them. The Opposition wants to tax the middle classes, then give the money back to them in exchange for their votes. This is the simple message: if we want our economic performance to exceed our expectations, then we must spend within our means and stop trying to vote ourselves rich through middle-class welfare.
JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green)
: Tēnā koe, tēnā koutou e te Whare. I am very pleased to take a call to discuss responsible financial management—responsible economic management and what that would mean for transport infrastructure. As my colleague the Hon John Banks just highlighted, our economy is facing a serious risk.
We are facing low growth and high oil prices, and we are facing a zero Budget. So it is now more than ever that we need to be sure that our transport investments over the next decade are going to get the greatest value for money, that we are investing in the best projects that will make it easier for people and freight to get around, and that we respond to the changing needs of New Zealand.
We have heard from the Government that the roads of national significance programme is about economic productivity. But we have seen no evidence that a few motorways, which are incredibly expensive, are the best use of the transport fund over the next decade. In fact, we have evidence to the contrary. What is that evidence? It is a clear trend of stagnant traffic volumes since 2004. This is from the New Zealand Transport Agency’s own data published in February 2012, and it is clear. It is mirrored in other developed countries around the world.
When oil prices went up in 2008 a number of things happened. First of all, public transport, cycling, and walking all went through the roof. We have seen over 10 percent annual growth on the rail network in Auckland, on the bus network, and on the Northern Busway. We have seen massive increases in walking and cycling, but many New Zealanders do not feel safe walking and cycling because we have not put enough money into that infrastructure. Many New Zealanders did not have reliable bus or train services to switch to, and they had to spend more money getting around. This has flow-on consequences for our economy.
We hear from the Government that the roads of national significance are not actually about reducing congestion, and it is really great that it admits that. The roads of national significance are about freight, which according to the Government is going to double some time in the next 10 or 20 years, and, as we have heard, freight needs roads.
But there are two problems with this argument. Firstly, freight volumes have not increased over 2005 levels. We heard this at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee. The Ministry of Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency both admitted that the National Freight Demands Study was wrong. Freight volumes have not increased in 5 years, and therefore it is now extremely unlikely, or actually impossible, that they could double in the time that has been forecast by the Government.
So these already shaky business cases for the roads of national significance have not been updated to reflect reality. I think that is because this would make it even more obvious that they are not the best projects for us to be investing in at this time. But even if freight movements were growing and freight definitely had to use roads—and most New Zealanders do have to drive—are the roads of national significance the best way to make sure that freight is moving efficiently? Is it the best way to ensure that road users can get where they need to go? The answer, clearly, would have to be no.
Anyone who has looked at and drilled down into the business cases for these motorway projects would see that in the best-case scenario they are proposing to shave just a few minutes off journey times between cities, and they would not do anything to help road users or freight move through crowded cities, which is where the problems are.
Freight is rarely more than 10 percent of traffic on these routes. It is only 1 percent of the traffic on the roads in Auckland at peak hour. So our poor freight operators, through their road-user charges, are going to be paying disproportionately for bad projects that are not going to help their businesses. In fact, the freight operators will be made more vulnerable because as New Zealanders do not have alternatives—because the Government is not investing in public transport, walking, cycling, and sustainable alternatives that enable them to avoid high oil prices—they have less money to spend, and this results in less money to buy products that are moved around New Zealand by our freight operators.
Indeed, in 2009 we saw our freight operators lose massive amounts of their business because of the worsening economic conditions, which are linked to oil prices. All the Green Party is asking for is a rational, evidence-based approach to transport priorities, and we look forward to working with the Government on delivering on this. Thank you.
TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua)
: It gives me pleasure to rise and speak in the general debate today, and what an important day it is for us. It is an important day where we can focus on the economy and the important things that we must do as a Government—the things we were elected to do only a few months ago.
Before I get into some of the cut and thrust of the great things this Government is doing, and, by comparison, the waste of energy that has been put in from the Opposition on many debates around these issues, can I recognise the Hon Simon Bridges, whose seat I happen to stand beside at the moment. I congratulate him on his elevation to being a Minister. I believe that he will do an excellent job. Can I say that in the Bay of Plenty, from memory, every single seat is held by a National MP. That tells you something about the direction the Bay of Plenty wants to go in. It is held still by National Party MPs; 3 years ago that was the case as well. Can I say that Mr Bridges will do a great job and I look forward to the work that he will do with us.
John Banks gave an excellent speech—an excellent speech. Do you know why there was so much noise and barracking from the other side of the House? They just wish that they could deliver a speech with such passion, foresight, and direction as that. Can I say that I picked up one theme from Mr Banks’ speech, and it is why there was so much barracking. The thing about the Opposition is that the Greens and Labour want to tax and spend, and tax and spend, and tax and spend, and then spend some more. That is the problem with socialism: sooner or later you run out of other people’s money to spend. Did we not see that over 9 long years of a cold winter of the Government of Labour?
What is the difference between what it did and the harm that it therefore caused over 9 years, and the short 3 years we have been in Government? The reason that John Key was elected Prime Minister of this country was that New Zealanders said they wanted a more stable Government and a clear direction for this country. Over the last 3 years the National-led Government has proven that it can deliver strong, stable economic management in extremely difficult times—the steepest recession New Zealand has faced in 60 years. Strong, stable economic management has been provided by John Key in difficult times.
These next 3 years are about making our economy more competitive so that it can fulfil more of its potential. That was the problem of the 9 years of the Labour Government. It had all the potential in the world, but what happened to our productive economy—to the people who produce things, who sell them, and who reinvest that money to grow the economy? They were already in recession for 6 years. The last Labour Government was fantastic at spending other people’s money, but those who produced it, who trusted the Government to spend it well on their behalf, were going backwards, and boy did they feel it. The next 3 years is about making our economy more competitive so that it can fulfil its potential, and so that New Zealand businesses can employ people and be more productive, more competitive, and do more, not the Government employing more people with other people’s money.
Our Prime Minister has set out a number of priorities: responsibly managing the Government’s finances, building a productive and competitive economy, delivering better public services within tight financial constraints, and rebuilding Christchurch. In terms of the first priority, very important will be Budget surpluses returning by 2014-15 so that we can start repaying debt, which has already increased from 5.6 percent in 2007-08 to 20 percent in the 2010-11 year, and it is expected to rise further over the next 3 years. It is very important that we get our spending under control. It is not just
about how much money a Government is receiving; most important, it is about how we are spending that money. As taxpayers, every day I hear from my constituents who say to me they want us to be more careful with their money, to invest it more wisely on their behalf. They do not want to see the frivolity of those 9 years of Labour; they want us to direct this towards a return for them, a better Public Service delivering more for them. We did that over 3 years, and that is the single focus that we have over this 3 years, making sure our economy goes from strength to strength.
In the business community there are six key areas we must focus on and do more in: capital markets reform—a lot of work was done over those 3 years, but in the Commerce Committee, of which I was formerly a member, there is a lot more work to be done there—innovation and ideas, and ideas are something that we do not hear a lot of from the other side of the House; skilled and safe workplaces; natural resources; infrastructure; and developing our export markets.
I will conclude here by saying that in my part of New Zealand—
Hon SHANE JONES (Labour)
: Kia ora anō tātou. Mr Speaker, tēnā koe. Today we have focused on the unhealthy relationships between key members and leaders of the Government and sectors in the community, and I want to talk about the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill, as a consequence of not having had the opportunity in the last few days. However, it does pertain to New Zealand’s largest exporter. There are two tensions in this proposal. No. 1 is whether or not competitiveness will continue to exist, and No. 2 is whether or not this is serving up to the corporate barons of New Zealand’s corporate world a new opportunity to further colonise the most important and most successful institution driving exports out of New Zealand.
We should claim credit, as my colleague David Parker articulated, because after all it was the Helen Clark Government that took the brave step to actually create this monolith but also provide opportunities for competition. But what we fear is that you do not need to go more than half a dozen, figuratively speaking, paragraphs into the commentary before finding the guts of the bill, where it says that this is a contribution to the New Zealand capital markets. This is the day that that party is rewarding the big end of town. Do not for a moment doubt that once this legislation finds feet and takes root in the legislative landscape of New Zealand—and we will continue to oppose it, unless there are suitable safeguards and thresholds put into it—farmers will rue the day that they surrendered the opportunity to John Key, Mark Weldon, Henry van der Heyden, and a host of other shadowy characters, for the actual unravelling of Fonterra. This is where such debates should be held: the highest court in the land. When the large end of town openly boasts that it is a short step before the Fonterra shares are openly traded on the New Zealand sharemarket—openly boasting—then you know that it is one-way traffic. The deep Taiwanese pockets and the deep pockets of a host of other investors from overseas will flock like bees to the honey hive.
Is that good or bad? Does it mean that we should put up a barricade and stop all international capital flowing to our country? It is too late for that. We are aware of that happening every day as a consequence of the loss of our banking sector to Australasia. But some things are worth fighting for. It is worth fighting to ensure that this key institution remains an indelible and ineradicable feature of New Zealand’s economic sovereignty. This is not just about land. This is about the creation of a new platform, a new derivatives unit—derivatives trading, which is what I am calling it. This will represent up to 40 percent of the value of Fonterra shares inevitably being traded. Fonterra shareholders, Kiwis, will never match the spending power of international competitors. That is a fact of life. So there has to be a host of strengthening mechanisms, a host of safeguards, to ensure that this key institution does not disappear.
Why is the Government pitting its two constituencies against each other? At one level the farmers seem to believe that this is a new opportunity for them to grow brands internationally, without realising that the place where the money is going to come from is corporate raiders knocking at the door. Secondly, the farmers are slowly working out—a number who have been to see us, anyhow—that this could be bad for the long-term prospects of the ability of farmers to control this particular institution, which was finally legislated into existence through the Helen Clark Government. But on the other side are the corporate, very powerful, highly organised forces that actually are now preparing to operate in such a fashion that it is against the farmers’ interests. So I predict that over the next couple of years, indeed over the next couple of months, you are going to see the tension between those who can now see that this represents potentially the diminution of farmer control over this institution, and others, now that they are able to feast upon the carrion of State-owned enterprises that are soon to be hocked off. Up to 49 percent is to be sold, apparently to strengthen the capital markets, and it is an indictment that we have to sell our own assets in order to resuscitate the capital markets. Secondly, our largest, most successful exporter over time will be gobbled up, where control moves away from New Zealand. Some things are worth fighting for. Why not fight for something akin to the Temasek Holdings model, whereby the Singaporeans value their own economic sovereignty? It is a shame that this Government is asleep at the wheel on that issue.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua)
: More good news: the Government, over the last 12 hours, has been able to announce, as I say, more good news about its forward planning and achievements. It was very gratifying this morning to hear the Prime Minister announce a $62 million package to help improve youth mental health—an area that unfortunately has been badly neglected, particularly over the last 12 years and during the entire time of the Labour Government. The programme is backed up by evidence-based science. It is aimed at prevention and early intervention, covers both health and education, and is very much aimed at youth social media. It is also very gratifying that the Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, has been fully behind this initiative. It demonstrates that the National Government’s policy programme is indeed backed up by evidence and science, and this suite of initiatives should be applauded by all.
I want to talk also about more good news, which relates to an inquiry carried out by the Health Committee last year into improving New Zealand’s environment to support innovation through clinical trials—a vital area and one that links the hugely important areas of science, health, and, of course, economic development. That inquiry came about because New Zealand—and I see the member Hipkins yawning over there. It is high time he contributed, or his party contributed, to this vital area of economic growth, because his party has demonstrably shown a lack of interest in practical issues such as this inquiry carried out by the Health Committee.
It was clear that New Zealand was losing its advantages in this area while Australia was forging ahead. Just for the member’s information, clinical trials test the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biologics, bioactives, and functional foods—all areas that are hugely important to New Zealand’s primary products, to adding value, and to opportunities we have in economic growth. The inquiry was supported by all parties. Fortunately, they did realise the value of it. They realised that our regulatory environment was overcomplicated in this area, that there was a lack of inter-governmental collaboration, and that the district health board collaboration was also uncoordinated. The submissions were clear that a good environment in New Zealand would make a great deal of difference to these vital industries that I have earmarked—the biopharmaceutical industry, the medical devices industry, which is a
billion-dollar industry, and the functional food and natural products industry—again, aiming for well over a billion dollars of exports.
The committee wanted its recommendations acted on within 12 months, and I am very pleased that at the Medicines New Zealand conference I was able to report to that conference yesterday that all the key recommendations have been agreed on and are essentially being acted on by this excellent progressive National Government. Simplifying and streamlining the ethical review process while maintaining patient safety as paramount is all in progress and under way. The National Government is promoting collaboration between key Government agencies—the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. These have acted in silos in the past, and certainly did during the time of the Labour Government. This is a great move forward. It is developing a national health research action plan to foster innovation and commercialisation—this is in progress, led by Sir Peter Gluckman—and developing a framework for coordinating clinical trials throughout all district health boards via a health innovation hub, which will eventually link up with the Crown research institutes, with the universities, and with the private sector. This is an example of how Parliament has responded, under the National Government, to an extremely worthwhile select committee inquiry.
JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa)
: There are times when I sit in this House and I am totally ashamed. This afternoon was one of them, when the “Fu Manchu” of the New Zealand First Party set out a racist and xenophobic attack on foreign exchange purchases in this country. He did not say a word about the Americans who have come in and bought up the Te Kairanga Vineyard in Martinborough or a farm and tourist resort in the lower Wairarapa. He has not said a word about the Camerons buying things. He has not said a word about the Indian people, people from India, who own businesses in my electorate, the Samoans who drive taxis—you can go on and on and on, because there are people across the Wairarapa electorate who come from all parts of the world. They are welcome and we all work together.
The “Fu Manchu” of the New Zealand First Party is quite wrong to try to light a fire of emotion in this country. If an investor comes into this country, there are two things to remember: one is that Parliament is elected by the whole community; secondly, local bodies are elected by communities; and, thirdly, the land cannot be taken anywhere. It is bought and sold in New Zealand, and I have got examples like Glenburn Station on the Wairarapa coast, which was owned by Americans and is now back in New Zealand hands.
We have just got to understand that this is good, solid democracy in this country. We have got great rules and regulations, and it is in the hands of the community. I reject totally the comments from New Zealand First on this effort this afternoon to light essentially a racist fire. It is wrong.
I was interested that Brian Edwards has obviously stopped supporting Grant Robertson now, and is actually giving speaking lessons to the Leader of the Opposition. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on his improved presentation in this House in his speech this afternoon. But he needs to get his facts right, because 25 percent of the workforce in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade are actually not being fired.
Let us get some facts straight, here. The State Sector Act requires the chief executive of an agency to be responsible for changes within that agency, and that is the purview of John Allen, chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. That is the first thing. The second point I would make is that John Allen and his senior leadership team put on the table for his staff a business plan.
Hon Annette King: And to the Minister. He gave it to the Minister.
JOHN HAYES: Yes, the Minister got it, once it was on the table. It came from the senior leadership team, and it went to the Minister at that point.
A consultation document is exactly that. People put it on the table, they invite staff to give their ideas, and that is the process that has been being followed. All sorts of efforts have been made by David Shearer and Phil Goff to try to cause trouble by saying that this is happening and that is happening, and we are only going to have two staff in New Delhi. It is a nonsense. We have on the table a consultation document.
This document has been considered over the first couple of days of this week by the ministry’s 47 heads of mission who came back to New Zealand for a 2-day meeting with their senior leadership team. That has been really good for team building; I have been told that today. There was no suggestion that 25 percent of the staff are being cut; that is simply the Leader of the Opposition getting his facts wrong, as Phil Goff did earlier in the week by asserting that $200,000 had been spent on this exercise. That is not the case at all. The actual figure has worked out at $154,000, not the $200,000 that David Shearer was pushing around in the House yesterday.
I have had an opportunity to talk to a number of the heads of mission. They say that the exercise has been extremely useful. It has created a great team effort, and people are solidly behind and respecting of their chief executive.
Grant Robertson: Not the ones I’m talking to, John.
JOHN HAYES: Well, you are only talking to the ones, Mr Robertson, who are leaking documents. In the days when you and I worked in that ministry, the collegial glue of—
Grant Robertson: That’s right. Ruined by Murray McCully.
JOHN HAYES: No, not at all. It was the Official Secrets Act that actually stopped leaking back in those days. There is a general acceptance across the ministry that change is required, that it is necessary, and that huge gains can be made by moving administration from the back office to the front office, and that is what this Government is wanting to do. Thank you.
MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney)
: It is a great pleasure for me to get up and speak today, and I am going to speak today about law and order, our police service, and the latest crime statistics results that have just been released, and they look very good to me. We are seeing total crime reducing. We are seeing murder rates dropping, serious assaults are on the decline, robbery is trending down, total burglaries are dropping, and overall there is a 4.8 percent reduction in recorded crime.
These results are phenomenal, and are just continuing on a trend that we saw start back in 2008. What happened in 2008? The National Government came into power.
Another thing happened, and it is that we saw a strengthening of the police leadership. We saw commissioner Peter Marshall and his deputies Mike Bush and Viv Rickard come in, and they were indicative of the type of strong leadership that we are now seeing become prevalent within our police force. They have all the skills required of a chief executive officer and senior managers, but they have remained connected with the front line, which in a service like the police is respected and helps to build morale and results like the ones we are seeing.
I would like to congratulate them on the Prevention First model, which has been rolled out nationally and is part of the model of our neighbourhood policing units that we will see working in our communities soon. This fits in perfectly with our comprehensive programme of reform to protect communities, prevent crime, and put victims first. We are staying tough on criminals and keeping record numbers of police on the beat.
Neighbourhood policing teams are a move towards supporting Prevention First. They will be established in the 32 priority locations across the country where you are more
likely to be a victim of crime. The neighbourhood policing teams will take a collaborative approach, working side by side with residents, business owners, and community groups. They will be focused on addressing the drivers of crime. Essentially, it is a great extension of what we have always experienced in our community constable: a policeman who was always out in the community, who generally was recognised, and whom people felt safe approaching and could talk to and discuss their issues and problems within the community with. We are now going to see a big expansion of what has been a very—
Scott Simpson: Useful.
MARK MITCHELL: —useful model—thank you—in our communities with these neighbourhood support groups.
We have also made some big changes to the Crimes Act that have come into effect to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. The new law makes it an offence to stay silent if you know that a child or a vulnerable adult is at risk of death, harm, or sexual assault. It is no longer acceptable in this country for people to turn a blind eye, or to use the excuse that they were not involved in the abuse of a child, when they knew the child was at risk. A painful memory from my own policing career was picking up the body of a baby who was beaten and broken. She had been abused over a long period of time, and all under the noses of people who should have stepped forward to protect her.
I know that none of us want to live in a country where we cannot protect our children and the most vulnerable from harm. I have to say, in my time overseas I spent a lot of time—I spent most of my time, in fact; I am sure my friends will tell you they got sick of hearing it—promoting New Zealand, espousing the virtues of this beautiful country, and encouraging them to come down here to visit. But it was not easy when I was asked at a gathering of my friends one day, when it had been all over CNN, about another death of a baby in New Zealand. They turned to me and they asked me: “Can’t you people protect your own kids?”. These types of law changes are going a long way towards making sure that we are doing our job to give the tools to the police to do a better job of being able to protect our kids and children.
National has delivered on its promise to put 600 extra police on the front line—
Hon Annette King: No, 350 of those were Labour’s. They were not National’s, at all.
MARK MITCHELL: —by the end of 2011, and we have given police better tools to do their jobs.
Hon Annette King: That’s not true.
MARK MITCHELL: Just hang on, I am getting to Labour in a minute. We will continue to ensure our front-line police are able to spend more time on the streets preventing crime.
- The debate having concluded, the motion lapsed.