INDEPENDENT NEWS

Questions and Answers - 20 October 2016

Published: Thu 20 Oct 2016 04:53 PM
• ORAL QUESTIONS
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Economic Diversification—Reports
1. BRETT HUDSON (National) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the diversification of the New Zealand economy?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Associate Minister of Finance) on behalf of the Minister of Finance: The Minister has seen a number of reports, including as recently as last night, when the Technology Investment Network (TIN) report was launched by the Minister of Science and Innovation. The report shows that New Zealand's leading 200 high-tech companies have now reached combined annual revenues of $9.4 billion, up 12 percent or nearly $1 billion in just 1 year. The report shows revenue growth across all regions of the country. The member will be interested to see Wellington leading the regional revenue growth, with Wellington companies increasing their turnover by 15.3 percent, while Auckland contributed the greatest proportion of revenue overall with $5.4 billion. This report is another positive indicator of the health of the tech sector, a tribute to the companies and their staff involved, and it also shows the value of the work that Government agencies are doing through the Business Growth Agenda to help grow those companies.
Brett Hudson: What role does research and development play in the growth of the tech sector?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Research and development plays a very large role in making our companies more innovative. R & D across the TIN200 companies grew by a record 16 percent in the last year, and they are now spending $827 million of their turnover on research and development. It is a real investment in the future of these companies and will help lift the overall investment levels of New Zealand companies in research and development. This shows true in this year's TIN100 report, which tells an impressive story of exporting success in the tech sector, with the 200 companies' collective export revenues up 13.5 percent from last year to nearly $7 billion.
Brett Hudson: How is this growth translated into jobs?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Job growth among the TIN200 companies has increased by nearly 8 percent in the last year alone, with nearly 3,000 new high-value jobs created. These 200 companies between them now employ almost 40,000 people. The major areas of employment growth were in digital media, healthcare, and financial services businesses. One of the biggest employers in the tech sector remains the high-tech manufacturing sector, which accounts for more than half of the TIN workforce.
David Seymour: How and when will the Government clarify regulation around fees for peer-to-peer lenders so that that part of the financial technology industry may resume growth?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I can update the member that I know the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is working on this exact matter, possibly as we speak.
Brett Hudson: What other reports has he received on the strength of the manufacturing sector?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Last week Business New Zealand announced the September performance of manufacturing index, which is the indicator of manufacturing performance—the PMI survey. It reported a reading of 57.7, with values above 50 indicating that the manufacturing sector is generally expanding. This is the highest reading since October 2014 and indicates that the manufacturing sector has now been in expansion for 47 of the last 48 months. New Zealand's PMI is the strongest across the seven countries in which it is measured, including Australia, Japan, China, the UK, and the US.
Grant Robertson: Can the Minister confirm that since his Government came into office, housing debt has grown from $161 billion to $223 billion, an increase of 39 percent, and, at the same time, business lending has increased from $82 billion to $92 billion—only a 12 percent increase; and is that the kind of balanced economy he is after?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Actually, businesses have been immensely profitable in New Zealand over the last 7 years, so perhaps they have not had to finance it so much from debt. But in terms of the member's concern for household debt, I would like to refer him to the monthly economic indicators—
Grant Robertson: Housing.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: —yes, housing debt, thank you—for Treasury in September, where it makes some comments about household debt: "The accumulation of debt has to date not been the result of sustained dissaving; Debt servicing rates are well within historical ranges and may fall further; Net wealth and … net financial wealth has been increasing; Housing debt to asset ratios have fallen."
Grant Robertson: No they haven't. No they haven't. That's not true.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: So it is not all bad news, Mr Robertson. That is according to Treasury—that is according to Treasury, Mr Robertson.
• Housing Market—Reserve Bank M10 Housing Release
2. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance: Has he read the latest Reserve Bank M10 Housing release, and if so can he confirm that it indicates that the value of New Zealand's housing stock as at the end of June this year was valued at $959 billion or 381 percent of nominal GDP?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Associate Minister of Finance) on behalf of the Minister of Finance: To answer the first part of the member's question: yes, and I would point out that the M10 series also indicates that investment in residential housing has achieved its highest recorded value in the 26-year history of the M10 series at $4 billion and has nearly doubled since 2011. It shows that house prices almost doubled in the 9 years to 2008 and that house price growth has moderated somewhat since then. I would also refer the member to the Reserve Bank's M5 series, which shows the New Zealand economy growing around 3.5 percent in real terms in the year to June, having climbed out of a recession that started when that member was a staff member in the previous Labour Government. To answer the member's second question: yes.
Grant Robertson: Can he confirm that the figure of 381 percent of nominal GDP dwarfs the peak of 210 percent of nominal GDP that the US housing market had in 2007, just before that market crashed?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No I cannot, although I do understand that the member is sourcing his analysis from a newsletter. But the simple point is that asset values in housing are high around the world at the moment, so, in terms of New Zealand, we are not that unusual, and the reason for that is because of the very low interest rates that are being experienced across the world. The member can pretend that that is not the reason for it, but that is a very significant part of it.
Grant Robertson: Can he further confirm that each month last year the value of the housing stock inflated by $18 billion, nearly outstripping the total increase for GDP in that period?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: To the extent that those two things are comparable, then, yes, I can confirm that that is probably the case. But, again, the member needs to look at the reasons why and also look at the serviceability of that, and I refer him back to Treasury's September monthly indicators report for some comments on the serviceability of that debt. Also, in terms of why it is happening, I would point out to him that around the world we are experiencing record low interest rates, so people are able to service higher mortgages than they were, perhaps, when we had rampant inflation back in 2008.
Grant Robertson: Would he describe New Zealand's housing stock as (a) overvalued; (b) ballooning and unsustainable; (c) a risk to our economic stability; or (d) his usual response: "Meh."?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think the Minister of Finance has found that leaving the hyperbole to Mr Robertson is normally the best way of dealing with things. In terms of current house prices, they are higher than usual. They reflect the strength of the New Zealand economy, they reflect the comparative strength relative to other parts of the world, and they reflect the very, very low levels of interest rates. Yes, the need to boost supply—the Government is boosting supply, and that is having a big impact over the next period—
Richard Prosser: How many houses are you building?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Thousands and thousands and thousands.
Grant Robertson: Does he take any responsibility for allowing the New Zealand housing market to get so out of control on his watch through his Government's failure to crack down on speculators and failure to support the building of an adequate supply of affordable housing, or is it all just someone else's fault?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think we have just had a window into the mind of Grant Robertson, who, once again, believes that finance Ministers should control every part of every market in the world. The reality is, Mr Robertson, you are whistling in the wind if you think you can control world interest rates. We can take steps to improve the supply of housing, and that is exactly what we are doing, but in terms of low interest rates, Mr Robertson is whistling in the wind.
Grant Robertson: Is it not time for his Government to support an economy built on improving productivity through more research and development, higher skills, and innovation, rather than relying on the sandcastle that he has built on growing debt and speculation in housing?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The member was obviously not listening to question No. 1. I point out to him that in question No. 1, New Zealand's high-tech sector has just posted a $1 billion increase in turnover in the last year, that it is investing more and more in research and development, and that its exports are approaching $7 billion. The member needs to go and find some talking points based in fact.
• Mori Development, Minister—Policies
3. JAN LOGIE (Green) to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he stand by all the Government's policies that relate to the Māori Development portfolio?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development) on behalf of the Minister for Māori Development: Yes.
Jan Logie: Does he support the Government proposal to amend the provision of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act that requires that "wherever possible, the relationship between a child or young person and his or her family, whanau, hapu, iwi, and family group should be maintained and strengthened:"?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The Minister is actively working with his ministerial colleagues to ensure that any new legislation or proposed reforms take account of, and have due regard for, the rights of whānau, hapū, and iwi, and will be widely consulted on with iwi, hapū, and whānau.
Jan Logie: Does he think that the best outcome for Māori children is to, wherever possible, remain in the care of their whānau, hapū, or iwi?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The Minister and his officials provided a range of advice, including the need to protect whakapapa, and uphold Treaty rights of whānau, hapū, and iwi to be authorised to care for their own mokopuna. Given that 60 percent of children in care are Māori, he agrees with Dame Tariana Turia that there are thousands of safe Māori whānau who could and do care for our mokopuna who are in need of care and protection.
Jan Logie: How could any change to this hard-fought provision be consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognises "the right of indigenous families and communities to retain shared responsibility for the upbringing, training, education and well-being of their children,"?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The Minister is an absolute advocate for the rights of Māori children and young people to be treated as Māori, and he is working with his colleagues to ensure that both whakapapa and Treaty rights are protected and maintained.
Jan Logie: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a general response; it was not a response to the question about—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! On this occasion, the Minister Anne Tolley is answering on behalf of the Minister. I will ask the member to re-ask that question.
Jan Logie: How could any change to this hard-fought provision be consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognises "the right of indigenous families and communities to retain shared responsibility for the upbringing, training, education and well-being of their children,"?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: As I said earlier, the Minister is actively working with ministerial colleagues to ensure that any new legislation or proposed reforms take account of, and have due regard for, the rights of whānau, hapū, and iwi.
Jan Logie: Is he concerned with the proposal, in light of the latest UN Convention on The Rights of the Child report, that raised serious concerns about the "Enduring inadequate cultural capability of the State care system."?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Yes.
Jan Logie: Does he agree with Moana Jackson, who at the Hands Off Our Tamariki hui I attended in Ōtaki last week said, in response to these reforms, "[I am] filled with sadness and despair that Māori people are again under attack on an issue at the heart of whakapapa and who we are."; if not, why not?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: One cannot answer that question in specificity. What I can say, on behalf of the Minister, is that he is absolutely committed to upholding the Treaty of Waitangi in this and other areas in his portfolio.
• Childhood Obesity Plan—Initiatives
4. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister of Health: What steps has the Government taken to reduce childhood obesity since the launch of the Childhood Obesity Plan one year ago?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Tackling the issue of obesity is a key priority for the Government. This week marks 1 year since the launch of the Childhood Obesity Plan. This plan consists of 22 initiatives across the Government, the private sector, communities, schools, and families aimed at increasing physical activity and making healthy food choices. At the core of the plan, we have implemented a new health target for 95 percent of obese children identified in the B4 School Check programme to be offered further medical advice and guidance. We have also had 219 low-decile schools sign up to the Health Promoting Schools programme, 34 schools are piloting Sport New Zealand's Play.sport initiative, and over 2,000 products now carry the Health Star Rating.
Melissa Lee: What role does the food industry play in supporting the Childhood Obesity Plan?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The plan also signalled our intention to work with industry in addressing the issue of childhood obesity. Today at a food sector forum, industry participants are signing up to a pledge that will see consideration given to reformulation, advertising, and labelling changes. Just this afternoon, as part of the Government's plan, the Advertising Standards Authority has announced new restrictions on advertising to children. The Children's Code for Advertising Food will now include 14- to 18-year-olds, and will prohibit advertising of occasional food and beverages in any media or setting where over 25 percent of the expected audience are children.
• Deputy Prime Minister—Meetings with Hong Kong Pro-democracy Figures
5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Deputy Prime Minister: What justification or excuse does he have to cancel a meeting scheduled with two prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy figures this week?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister: Ministers, from time to time, after considering advice, will decide not to progress previously scheduled meetings.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the question of justification or excuse, if two prominent pro-democracy figures, Anson Chan and Martin Lee, were of considerable importance to US Vice-President Joe Biden and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to meet with and discuss support for democracy in Hong Kong, why were National Ministers not prepared to meet with them?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I have no responsibility for the diaries of other Foreign Ministers.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, that's a slack answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! And the member is perfectly entitled to that opinion, but he does not need to share it with the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that New Zealand was the first foreign country to sign a bilateral free-trade agreement with Hong Kong, in March 2010, which was, he said, a priority for his Government, would he agree that his cancellation and the refusal of National Ministers to meet with them is an insult to our close economic relationship with Hong Kong?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that he has bowed down to Beijing officials and cancelled his meeting with prominent pro-democracy figures from Hong Kong because wealthy Chinese business interests are lining the National Party coffers? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is a very marginal question. I will leave it for Mr Brownlee to handle.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No, there was no communication between the Deputy Prime Minister's office or any Chinese official prior to the cancellation of the meeting.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that he and his party have allowed the Chinese to flood into New Zealand with record migration, buy huge amounts of land and homes from offshore, buy a majority share in the biggest meat industry company in this country—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is a responsibility for the question to be answered, but it needs to be heard first, so I will require considerably less interjection from my colleagues to the right.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: —I will continue on—buy a majority share in our largest meat exporting company, and control, in 3 years, the infant formula business in this country? Is this not just another case of an insult, where they kowtow down to Beijing—
Hon Steven Joyce: The end of the world!
Rt Hon Winston Peters: —where the principal culprit is, of course, the know-nothing Steven Joyce?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: New Zealand does not kowtow to any other country at all.
David Shearer: Given that the delegation asked for meetings with other National Government MPs, was any instruction given to National Government MPs not to meet with the Hong Kong delegation? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is absolutely no ministerial responsibility for that.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Rather than leaving that out-of-order question hanging, I would appreciate the opportunity, on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister, to simply say: "No."
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. [Interruption] Order! I have ruled the question out of order because there is no ministerial responsibility, and that is the end of the matter.
• Roading—Waikato
6. TIM MACINDOE (National—Hamilton West) to the Minister of Transport: What roading projects is the Government delivering to support and increase economic growth in Waikato?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Transport): It was my pleasure to last week turn the sod on the seventh and final section of the Government's $2.1 billion Waikato Expressway. The $115 million Longswamp section involves widening and upgrading State Highway 1 between Hampton Downs and the Rangiriri interchange to four lanes, as well as improving local road connections. This marks a major milestone for the Waikato Expressway with all the remaining sections now under construction. When the 102-kilometre expressway is completed in 2020 it will reduce congestion and unlock economic potential by providing stronger and safer links between the business and primary production centres of Auckland, Waikato, and the Bay of Plenty.
Todd Muller: What roading projects is the Government delivering to support and increase economic growth in the East Coast?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Recently the local member for East Coast, the Hon Anne Tolley, and I turned the first sod to mark the start of the Motu Bridge replacement project near Gisborne. The road between Gisborne and Ōpōtiki is relied on heavily for the movement of freight, tourism, and for locals between the East Coast and the Bay of Plenty. This new two-lane bridge will strengthen the East Coast primary link with the Bay of Plenty, and boost economic growth and productivity by providing a safer road that is more reliable and provides more predictable travel times between the two regions.
Todd Barclay: What roading projects is the Government delivering to support an increased economic growth in Otago?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Oh, as the member well knows, visitor numbers in the Queenstown area are booming and new developments associated with a strong economy are putting increasing pressure on the local transport system. That is why I was pleased to announce recently that funding has been approved between the Government and Queenstown Lakes District Council for the construction of Queenstown's $22 million eastern access road. The road will be a critical link in Queenstown's transport network and relieve congestion through the Frankton Flats area. Of course, the Government is also replacing the Kawarau Falls Bridge, improving the roundabout at the busy junction of State Highway 6 and 6A, and working on plans to add a lane in each direction to the road linking the roundabout with the new Kawarau Falls Bridge. Can I just acknowledge the local member's strong advocacy regarding transport.
• Health Services—Resources for Health Professionals
7. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Health: Is he confident that health professionals have the resources required to provide quality health outcomes for New Zealanders?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Yes. Those health professionals include an extra 6,000 doctors and nurses since 2008, those resources include an extra $2.2 billion over 4 years announced in Budget 2016, and those outcomes include an extra 119,000 specialist appointments and 53 extra operations per year compared with figures for 2008. Of course, there will always be a debate about what the right level of resourcing is. Otherwise, there would not be anything for Mrs King to do in Parliament. However, I am—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order!
Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is not necessary, is it?
Mr SPEAKER: No, it certainly is not necessary. It is an answer that does not help the order of the House, but in itself—[Interruption] Order! In itself it is not unparliamentary. There are no rules I can deal with. I will deal with it in another way.
Sue Moroney: Why have claims for patients being injured while receiving healthcare increased by 96 percent between 2008 and 2016?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Of course, the member would know that that is a question for the Minister for ACC, but actually it is not totally clear what the drivers of those increased claims are. There could be a range of factors at play. It could be increased claiming behaviour, it could be the increasing medico-legal climate regarding litigation, it could also be due to the increasing volumes of people being treated through our hospitals, it could be the growth in population, and, of course, it could be the fact that we can do more and more complex procedures for patients. All of them could be possible contributions to what you are talking about there.
Sue Moroney: Is it possible that his underfunding of health services by $1.7 billion is the real reason that treatment injury costs have risen by 230 percent since 2008?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: No, it is not possible, because what she is claiming actually is not the case. The member knows that $1.7 billion has not been cut from the budget. In actual fact, the budget has gone up by $4 billion. So to make out that it is otherwise—you are dealing with your own imaginary world with regard to the financing of health.
Sue Moroney: Is there a link, then, between more than 1,000 resident doctors reporting being so fatigued they were worried that clinical mistakes had been made and this massive increase in treatment injuries under his watch?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: No more so than there is a link between the record majorities that members enjoy in every seat that Sue Moroney stands for.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That does not even attempt to address the question. Would the Minister now address the question.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Well, I said no. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The matter is—[Interruption] Order! The public of New Zealand will judge the Minister's answer for themselves.
Sue Moroney: Is he concerned, then, that due to the increased number of mistakes being made in the overstretched, poorly resourced health services, the ACC board believes the cost of treatment injuries will overtake the cost of work injuries as being the most costly by the year 2023, if his regime is not stopped?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Look, I point out that I am not the Minister for ACC, but I disagree with the essential assertion that she is making.
• Education Sector—Seclusion Rooms
8. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) to the Minister of Education: How many schools in Aotearoa, including State schools and special schools, have seclusion rooms?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): The ministry has advised me that of the 64 special schools, eight have seclusion rooms. Given the two complaints I was made aware of—one of which was Miramar Central School, and the other of which is the subject of a police complaint—I directed the ministry to urgently survey all schools to establish whether any other schools have such rooms. That process is not yet complete. I have made it clear that seclusion is an unacceptable practice, and a working group from the sector has been developing guidelines on better restraint and behaviour management practices, which are shortly to be published.
Catherine Delahunty: Given that the Minister has known about the usage of a seclusion room at Miramar Central School since 28 July, why was the room still being used up to 20 September?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: When the ministry advised me that a complaint had been made, it also advised me that it had commissioned an independent review to gather the facts about the situation in order that action could be taken.
Catherine Delahunty: I seek leave to table an answer to a written question that shows that the Minister—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! All written questions are published already for members.
Catherine Delahunty: From last night?
Mr SPEAKER: They are all available for members. I have only got to go—sorry, I just need to check. It is not one that issued to the member and it is within the 3-day period, is it?
Catherine Delahunty: Yes, it is.
Mr SPEAKER: Oh, then I do apologise. On that basis, I will put the leave. It may be informative to members. Leave is sought to table the answer to a written question that has not yet been published to all members. Is there any objection to that course of action? There is none. It can be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Catherine Delahunty: Given that she has described seclusion rooms as "intolerable", why has the ministry been working on unenforceable guidelines for at least the last 18 months?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: The sector wanted to take the approach of: how does it improve the professional practice of schools, given that it has been working to eliminate the confusion between time out for restraint and seclusion, and because boards are required under National Administration Guideline 5 to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students. It was expected that these guidelines would assist boards to carry out the responsibility they already have.
Catherine Delahunty: Supplementary—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! We need to be able to hear the question.
Catherine Delahunty: Does the Minister believe it is lawful under health and safety laws to have a locked room in school buildings with no means of escape during an emergency?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: It is not a matter of belief; it is a matter of fact. It is unacceptable. There are cases, in regard to laws, amongst our 2,500 schools, where they have fallen foul of them. This is absolutely an instance of it. It is unacceptable.
Catherine Delahunty: It's not lawful either.
Hon Hekia Parata: I said it wasn't lawful, Catherine.
Catherine Delahunty: Why don't you do something?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the member has further questions she rises to her feet, she calls for a supplementary question, and I will give her the opportunity—but she does not need to engage in a conversation. Does the member have a further—
Catherine Delahunty: I have a further supplementary question.
Mr SPEAKER: Then we will hear it.
Catherine Delahunty: Will the Minister immediately decommission all seclusion rooms in all schools in Aoteoroa, as requested by the Children's Commissioner?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: The point I have been making is that that is already the case. However, this school and the other schools that have them have fallen foul of existing requirements. Now we are focusing on how to help them understand what their responsibilities are, and how to ensure that where there are children who do have extreme behaviour—who may either hurt themselves, other children, or other adults—there is appropriate behaviour management in those circumstances. And seclusion rooms are not part of those options.
• Growing Up in New Zealand Study—Costs
9. CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston) to the Associate Minister for Social Development: How much money has the Government invested in the Growing Up in New Zealand study, broken down by development costs and annual running costs?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development) on behalf of the Associate Minister for Social Development: Since the start of the data collection in 2007-08 until 2015-16, the total cost of the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUINZ) study has been $40.19 million. Of this total, $39.36 million was towards contract payments to the University of Auckland, which included running costs. The remaining $830,000 was towards contract management and reviews and was incurred by the social policy evaluation and research unit. The development costs incurred by the Ministry of Social Development prior to 2007-08 were approximately $1.5 million. This takes the total cost to date to approximately $41.92 million.
Carmel Sepuloni: Can she confirm that funding for the Growing Up in New Zealand study contract has been cut by two-thirds, meaning approximately 5,000 children and their families will be dumped from this study by the Government; if not, how will the 5,000 children unfunded by the Government be retained in the study?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: This Government wanted a contract for service, with data being placed in the Statistics New Zealand data lab to complement the very sophisticated data that this Government is developing to inform its social investment decisions. However, this was not able to be achieved, and the Government has now agreed to fund the University of Auckland to undertake the 8-year data collection wave of the Growing Up in New Zealand study with a sample of about 2,000 children. It is larger than the similar and internationally highly regarded New Zealand studies. This confirms funding through to 2018-19. Statistical experts were consulted by both parties to finalise a sampling approach that enables the research and analysis that is needed to answer the critical questions. The study will continue to support quality research and analysis, whilst being more sustainable in the long term.
Carmel Sepuloni: How does she reconcile cutting the funding of the largest and most comprehensive longitudinal study undertaken in New Zealand by two-thirds when the Children's Commissioner has commented that "Such robust, longitudinal New Zealand data is essential for informed policy-making."?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: We agree. The contract funding the Growing Up in New Zealand study has been reshaped to futureproof the study and allow it to become more sustainable over the life of the study. The Government would like to see the study run until the children are 21 years old, as originally intended, as long as it continues to be of value by providing useful and accessible data. This Government is committed to funding social science research to inform decision making, and, in fact, there has been a significant increase in research funding in recent years.
Carmel Sepuloni: Given that the Growing Up in New Zealand study is the only New Zealand study that includes statistically valid samples of Māori and Pacific children, how can she justify reducing the funding by two-thirds, and what are the implications of this cut for an increasingly diverse New Zealand?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: As I said, statistical experts were consulted by both parties to finalise a sampling approach that maintains that diverse group of New Zealanders and that enables the research and analysis that is needed to answer the critical questions.
Carmel Sepuloni: Has she been advised of the ethical issues in respect of the children and their families who consented to being part of this study, but now may not be included for the full 21 years?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The most ethical issue here is about getting the data that has been collected used. All families have contributed valuable information to the study, and we now have a wealth of data that can be accessed for research to inform social sector decision-making about New Zealand's recent babies and their development and the place of mothers, families, community, and social services in that.
Carmel Sepuloni: Does the Government realise that in order to address some of the serious issues we are facing as a nation, evidence is going to be crucial for informing policy, or would it prefer as little evidence as possible so it does not have to address child poverty, the impact of housing instability, inequalities in education, or the health issues impacting our children?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I reject all those assertions. As I have said in the House, the Government has agreed to fund the University of Auckland to undertake the 8-year data collection wave of the GUINZ study, with a sample of about 2,000 children, and funding is confirmed through to 2018-19. However, this study has always been considered to be working towards self-funding. It was never set up with the expectation that the Government would continue to fund it. We have confirmed funding through until 2018-19, by which stage it should have confirmed other funding to allow it to continue.
• Local Government, Associate Minister—Announcements on Local Democracy
10. JOANNE HAYES (National) to the Associate Minister of Local Government: What recent announcements has the Government made around supporting local democracy?
Hon LOUISE UPSTON (Associate Minister of Local Government): It is important to support local councils after interventions have been in place and ensure that the gains achieved by commissioners are maintained. Last week we announced a Crown observer for the Kaipara District Council, to support the new council in its duties. This complements the Crown manager appointed in July, who will deal with historical legal actions. Additionally, on Tuesday, along with Minister Smith, I announced the appointment of six members to Environment Canterbury. This ensures continuity and the retention of specialist skills needed to complete water plans for the region.
Joanne Hayes: How will the Crown manager and Crown observer appointed to Kaipara District Council support the newly elected council?
Hon LOUISE UPSTON: The newly elected members will be able to focus on the future rather than being distracted by historical issues. The Crown manager will solely focus on the historical legal issues. The Crown observer will ensure that the newly elected members are well supported and successful in their new roles. These appointments provide the Kaipara community with a fresh start.
Joanne Hayes: How will having six Government appointees on Environment Canterbury support local democracy?
Hon LOUISE UPSTON: It is no secret that 6 years ago Environment Canterbury was not in good health. Over the past 6 years Environment Canterbury's organisational performance—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am now at the stage where I cannot hear the answer. The member has a seat in a very unfortunate neighbourhood, in that she is very close to me, so her interjections interrupt my ability to judge whether the question has been answered. Would the Minister please answer the question again.
Hon LOUISE UPSTON: It is no secret that 6 years ago Environment Canterbury was not in good health. Over the past 6 years organisational performance by Environment Canterbury, its relationship with stakeholders, and management of fresh water have significantly improved. Having six appointed councillors for the coming term provides stability and complements the seven elected members. All of the councillors will be equal, whether they have been elected or appointed. We want to ensure that the new Environment Canterbury achieves success, and we have set the council up to continue to deliver for the community. I have the greatest confidence that they will make the most of this opportunity. The council has a big job ahead of it.
• Education, Minister—Statements
11. TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First) to the Minister of Education: Does she stand by all her statements?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Yes, in the context in which they were given.
Tracey Martin: Kia ora. Does she stand by her statement from 24 February 2015: "If a partnership school closes before the end of its contract, the Ministry would seek to recover any unused funding or available asset through a commercial negotiation process."?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Yes.
Tracey Martin: Kia ora. At what stage are the commercial negotiations for the return of the land and assets at Whangaruru that were purchased with 4.8 million taxpayer dollars to establish a now-failed partnership school?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Proceeding.
Tracey Martin: Kia ora. Can she reassure the House that all subsequent partnership school sponsor trust contracts since the first tranche now include a clause that requires all assets purchased with taxpayers' money to be returned to the Crown when, or if, a partnership school ceases to trade—for example, when a future New Zealand First - led Government closes such a school?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Ha, ha! I was going to take that seriously for a minute. Um, I cannot confirm that.
• Apprenticeships—Numbers
12. JENNY SALESA (Labour—Manukau East) to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: Does he agree with the Prime Minster that a "huge number of young New Zealanders are in apprenticeships"; if so, can he confirm that there were more than 10,000 additional apprentices in 2008?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment): For the first part of the question, firstly, yes, I do agree with the Prime Minister. In relation to the second part, it is just not possible to directly compare figures in 2008 with figures in 2015, because as well as changes in data collection, back then tens of thousands of trainees were only nominally enrolled in the scheme. In fact, back then, there were nearly 100,000 industry trainees who were phantom trainees who achieved no credit and, in some cases, were even deceased. So in 2008 there were nominally 10,000 additional trainees, but back then the qualification achievement rate was only 34 percent, whereas in 2015 it was 57 percent—so more apprentices are actually being trained now than back then.
Jenny Salesa: Why is his Government using immigration as the easy route to solving skill shortages instead of training more than 70,000 young New Zealanders who are not in education, employment, or training?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, the member is incorrect in that assertion because, actually, references to young people being immigrants actually refers primarily to students, of whom around 75 percent leave the country again, and people on working holiday schemes, who nearly all leave about a year after they arrive. I think the member is quoting the Salvation Army report, which makes two fundamental errors in not noticing those impacts. In relation to New Zealanders being trained, as I just pointed out to the member, New Zealanders are being trained far more effectively than they were back in 2008, with a 5-year qualification completion rate of apprenticeships at 57 percent now versus 34 percent back then—and back then it was appalling.
Jenny Salesa: Does he think his Government has failed when 45.2 percent of young New Zealanders in Manukau East are unemployed?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The member, I am sorry, misreads that data, because you cannot actually say that. You cannot use unemployment data for youth and expect it to be accurate, because most youth are in education, not in employment. That is why Governments from both sides of the House for the last nearly 20 years have used the term "neets"—young people not in education, employment, or training)—because it addresses the people not in education, employment, or training.
Jenny Salesa: Does he agree with the conclusion of the Salvation Army report What Next? that the collapse in apprenticeship numbers points to poor planning on the part of the Government, and does he accept any responsibility for that?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I cannot count the number of ways in which I disagree with that poorly prepared Salvation Army report, which was, frankly, not something that you could consider research—which I think is a bit sad, actually. This Government has just shown, in the statistics that I have just read out to the member, that it is training more people through apprenticeships than ever before. Labour used to enrol people and forget to train them.
Jenny Salesa: Does he agree with Bill English and John Key that young Kiwis are "pretty damned hopeless", and is that not the real reason why his Government is favouring immigration over doing more for young unemployed Kiwis looking for work?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The member's assertion is disgraceful.

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