It's Our Future Kiwi Voices on the TPPA Wed, 22 Oct 2014 05:06:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Questions and Answers – October 22 Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:41:54 +0000 Press Release – Office of the Clerk

Child PovertyGovernment Priorities and Policies 1. Hon ANNETTE KING (Acting Deputy Leader – Labour) to the Deputy Prime Minister : Will he make reducing child poverty a Better Public Service target given the statement in the Speech from the Throne …

Child Poverty—Government Priorities and Policies 1. Hon ANNETTE KING (Acting Deputy Leader – Labour) to the Deputy Prime Minister: Will he make reducing child poverty a Better Public Service target given the statement in the Speech from the Throne that his Government will continue to “have a focus on poverty, especially child poverty”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister): Yes. The Government already has a number of Better Public Services related to children’s welfare and poverty, and we have focused on these results because we believe they have a longer-term impact on child poverty—for instance, reducing long-term welfare dependency, increasing participation in early childhood education, reducing assaults on children, and, in particular, increasing educational achievement. These targets are published regularly in the fashion that no previous Government has been able to be held to account on in respect of progress on its social policy, and the member is free to contribute any good ideas that she has to enable us to, for instance, reduce assaults on children or increase educational achievement.

Hon Annette King: If child poverty is a Better Public Service target, how will the Ministerial Committee on Poverty that he is to chair measure the success of the cross-Government approach announced as the method for focusing on poverty over the next 3 years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: That committee is likely to do the same thing as the Government, and that is measure success in terms of better outcomes for real people. That is, for instance, higher levels of educational achievement and more people having their serious housing needs met, which is not one of our formal targets but something we will be very focused on. Another one that has been topical recently is that we will measure success by trying to reduce the proportion of household incomes that is spent on housing costs, because those have risen over the last 20 years, particularly for low-income households.

Hon Annette King: Will the ministerial committee use the EU measure of poverty, as the Prime Minister did on Radio New Zealand this morning, which, when applied to New Zealand, indicates 180,000 children living with seven or more items of deprivation; if not, what will the committee use to measure progress over the next 3 years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Of course we can use that measure. There is any number of income measures available, including the EU threshold, which is a bit lower, actually, than the one that was discussed during the election campaign. But those measures are all readily available. They are tracked regularly by the Ministry of Social Development. We have come up with a series of in many ways more challenging measures, and those are ones that are directly related to the welfare of the children, not just to the measure of the income of the household in which they live.

Hon Annette King: The Prime Minister stated today: “There will be extra money to fight child poverty.” How much has he earmarked over the next 3 years to spend on this policy, and how has he calculated the amount required?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: That is all a matter for discussion. What we do know is that if you were going to try to shift some of the indicators, such as with the EU measure, then you would need to spend maybe several billion dollars to get some appreciable change. What the member can be reassured about is that the Government will take the investment approach; that is, we will look at putting money in where we can see there are clearly going to be payoffs in the future, as we have done with welfare dependency, as we expect to be doing with housing, and as we want to do with any number of other Government interventions.

Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder whether the Minister answered when I asked how much he had earmarked over the next 3 years to spend on this policy. He gave nothing other than airy-fairy sorts of answers about some money, sometime, somewhere.

Mr SPEAKER: No, on this occasion I think that to ask how much is being earmarked when budgets have not been presented by this new Government—I think the chance of getting an answer to that was not good. [Interruption] Order! The interjection question would have been better—and I will invite the member to ask an additional supplementary question.

Hon Annette King: Why is the Government, to quote the Prime Minister, “just starting to produce some paperwork on child poverty and a programme that we can work on.” when the Government already has numerous reports, and one exceptional one from the Children’s Commissioner?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: We do, but, as the member will well understand, child poverty is a complex problem. Fortunately, we are learning a lot more about what sorts of interventions might work, which ones do not, and too many of them do not. And so the work the Prime Minister is referring to is the ongoing evolution, actually, of issues this Government has been focusing on for the last 5 or 6 years.

Hon Annette King: Was the Prime Minister correct when he stated this morning that 15 percent of children go to school hungry; if not, is he prepared to spend some of the extra cash that is in the Budget for the next 3 years to provide some hard data, not just guesswork and anecdotal stories, about how many children go to school hungry?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Of course the Prime Minister was correct. There is quite an interesting issue—

Hon Annette King: On what measure?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, there is an interesting issue around data, and that is that most of the data held by the Government is organised around Government departments, not around families and communities. That is one of the reasons why we cannot know for sure how many kids turn up to school without having had breakfast. One of the challenges for the Public Service is to reorganise the millions and millions of dollars’ worth of data that it has in a way that is much more relevant to decisions about families and communities, not about Government departments.

Hon Annette King: The Prime Minister has said that there are a number of children who live in an unacceptable level of material deprivation—how will the committee identify those children so that it can address their issues?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: That is a very good question. The measures of hardship and deprivation are, by definition, statistical measures. What you then have to do is turn it into identifying actual families. The important point is this: the Public Service knows all these families—they are in our health population registers, they are in our school enrolment registers, they are in our State houses. The challenge is how to reorganise that information so that we can ensure that every single family in persistent deprivation is known to the Government and that for each one of those families, we are thinking much more deeply about the interventions that will change their life course.

Mr SPEAKER: Question—[Interruption] Order! I gave the additional one supplementary question, not two.

Economic Programme—Policies 2. DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister of Finance: What will be the main features of the Government’s economic plan during this term of Parliament?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Government’s economic plan will reinforce all those decisions and actions taken by New Zealanders over the last 4 or 5 years that have put this economy in the right direction. It grew by 3.9 percent in the year to June, 83,000 new jobs have been created in the past 12 months, and, on average, wages are rising faster than inflation. So we want to build on this progress: first, by keeping our spending under control, getting back to surplus, and reducing debt; secondly, by continuing to encourage what is now strong business investment and the enterprise needed to create new jobs; and, thirdly, we will focus on rewarding New Zealanders’ hard work—for instance, by reducing ACC levies and with modest tax reductions when we can afford them.

David Bennett: What reports has he received confirming the Government’s economic programme is helping to support more jobs?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The most important thing to support more jobs is businesses having the confidence to invest another dollar and employ another person, and, fortunately, more New Zealand businesses are doing that. Since the House was last sitting, Statistics New Zealand has reported that the unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent as at 30 June, the number of people unemployed in the June quarter fell by 9,000, and the number of people employed increased by 10,000. This encouraging labour force data is backed up by other indicators, such as employment confidence among businesses. Total job advertising increased by 2.4 percent in September, following a 1.7 percent lift in August, according to the ANZ job ads survey.

David Bennett: How is New Zealand’s improving economy being reflected in confidence among manufacturers?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: We track manufacturing because the Opposition decided a couple of years ago that it was in crisis. Last week the BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index came out for September. It rose by 1.1 points to 58.1 points. The manufacturing sector has now expanded for 25 consecutive months, beginning in about the month when the Opposition said the sector was in crisis.

David Bennett: Since the election, what reports has he received supporting the Government’s economic plan?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, a number of reports, but one particularly strong endorsement. The report said: “Well, I think at the end of the day people wanted stability. They wanted prosperity. They saw the current Government as for now delivering that for them, and they weren’t prepared to take what they saw as some kind of risk for a change.” That was from the then Labour leader, David Cunliffe.

Dr David Clark: Given the forecast of his own department that exports as a percentage of GDP will this very year fall to their lowest level in 25 years, will he finally concede that he has failed to rebalance the economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. The measure the member is using is, as I understand it anyway from what he said, the nominal measure, which actually is not the volume measure. But the Government, rather than attacking the export sector for non-performance, as the Opposition is, has been backing it solidly while it has been dealing with the headwinds of a high exchange rate. As the exchange rate comes off and our exporters show that they have become very competitive, we expect them to perform pretty well, actually, over the next few years.

Dr David Clark: Has he in the past month come up with any new ideas to rebalance the economy, given that his own department forecast exports as a percentage of GDP by March 2016 to be the worst since Robert Muldoon became Prime Minister—the worst exports to GDP ratio in 40 years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I pointed out before, our exporters have done a fantastic job, given that they have been dealing with the highest exchange rate since the Second World War. Despite that, they have been able to hold their own. As the pressure comes off, they will be able to succeed. But, of course, alongside growing exports we have to do some domestic work in New Zealand—for instance, expanding the housing supply. So resources that are applied to that very vital task will not be able to be applied to exports until the construction catch-up is complete.

Dr David Clark: I seek leave to table a document.

Mr SPEAKER: The source of the document?

Dr David Clark: From the Parliamentary Library.

Mr SPEAKER: And what is the document?

Dr David Clark: It is outlining the extent of the Minister’s abject failure to rebalance—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. It is a privilege the member is asking for—the ability to table a document. He stands and describes the document without that form of embellishment and then I might consider putting the leave. I will give the member a second chance.

Dr David Clark: I seek leave to table a document outlining the extent of the Minister’s failure to rebalance the economy.

Mr SPEAKER: I gave the member a second chance. He has not accepted it. I am not putting the leave.

Prime Minister—Communication with Blogger 3. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! When I remain on my feet, I do not expect interjections to continue from my left.

Dr Russel Norman: Given the Prime Minister’s previous statements to say that he regularly talked with Mr Slater on the phone, is the Prime Minister now claiming that when he talked with Mr Slater he was talking with Mr Slater as the leader of the National Party, not as the Prime Minister; and does he wear a different hat when he takes those phone calls?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not now claiming that. That has always been the claim.

Dr Russel Norman: Did he call Cameron Slater to discuss the backlash Slater received after describing a young car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die; if so, what did he tell Slater about the dead man’s mother?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have never rung Cameron Slater in my capacity as Prime Minister.

Chris Hipkins: Has he ever phoned or texted Cameron Slater on a phone funded or provided by Ministerial Services?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not 100 percent sure of that, but what I can say is that—as Prime Minister Helen Clark would have told him—that is not the test of whether it is in my capacity as Prime Minister.

Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption] Mr Speaker—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not need the Leader of the House’s assistance at this stage.

Dr Russel Norman: The Prime Minister gave an answer to the primary question on notice, on the basis that he never called Mr Slater as the Prime Minister. We have now established that there are occasions where he used the prime ministerial phone to call Mr Slater. I would ask you to rule as to whether the Prime Minister’s original answer was within the Standing Orders of the House, given that he himself has now acknowledged he used a prime ministerial phone to call Mr Slater.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! In regard to the answer given by the Prime Minister to the first question, that answer was definitely in order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is something particularly disturbing about the Prime Minister’s answer, because it would appear that any Minister can make this claim and say: “Not in my capacity as a Minister.” Around about now, we have got no accountability at all in this Parliament if you allow that to stand.

Mr SPEAKER: In regard to the very first question that was asked, the Prime Minister is perfectly entitled to answer it in the way he did. He is then responsible for that answer. Further supplementary questions have been asked that attempt to tease this issue out. They are equally in order.

Dr Russel Norman: Why did he tell Cameron Slater that the dead man’s mother was the same woman who sometimes confronted him at Pike River meetings?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not going to describe conversations I have in capacities other than those as Prime Minister.

Dr Russel Norman: Was Cameron Slater correct when he said that the Prime Minister told him that the dead man’s mother—so these are the Prime Minister’s own words—was “ … the same woman f—ing feral bitch that screams at him when he goes to Pike River meetings.”? Is Cameron Slater correct that that is what the Prime Minister said?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I made clear at the time that that was not correct.

Dr Russel Norman: Is it not the truth that until theDirty Politics book came out, he chose to have regular dealings with Cameron Slater, a man who is a hired gun for the tobacco industry, whose blog subjected a public servant to death threats, and who celebrated the death of a car crash victim, calling him a feral?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Over the time I have been Prime Minister, the answer to that question is no.

Dr Russel Norman: Is it appropriate for the Prime Minister or his staff to use an attack blogger like Cameron Slater as a platform to “get their message out”, as the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman described it on 12 December last year?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government and Ministers do talk to bloggers, for a variety of reasons. The reason we talk to social media is that they are part of the overall media that communicates with New Zealanders. That would be no different from other political parties. I have seen that member quoted on numerous blog sites. One assumes that he and his office talk to them, and I am sure he and his office probably talk to Nicky Hager.

Dr Russel Norman: Did he instruct his staff to cease all links with Cameron Slater after the blogger accused an alleged sexual attack victim of bringing it on herself, or after Slater described a car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die? Did the Prime Minister direct his staff to cease all contact with Cameron Slater after Slater made those comments?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Dr Russel Norman: Does he not think that he should set a standard for the Prime Minister’s office by directing his staff to cease all contact with the attack blogger Cameron Slater, after Cameron Slater accused an alleged sexual attack victim of bringing it on herself, and Slater described a car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die? Would it not set a standard for the Prime Minister’s office to direct his staff to no longer have contact with Cameron Slater?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have made it clear that we do not endorse many of the stories or comments that are run by a range of different bloggers, but, no, I will not be instructing my staff to do that.

Dr Russel Norman: Is he saying it is business as usual for the Prime Minister of New Zealand and his staff to deal on a regular basis with the most vicious and notorious blogger in New Zealand and for his staff to leak information to that blogger in order to intimidate public servants and silence his political opponents?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not believe that to be an accurate statement.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask that after question time you review the overall question here today, because I suspect this issue is going to arise again around the distinction between the Prime Minister’s other capacities and his capacity as Prime Minister. The issue that I would like you to consider—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order.

Chris Hipkins: —is that, in fact, it is the content of the communications and not the means by which they are transmitted, or the hat that the Prime Minister claims to be wearing at the time that he makes the communication, that is at issue here. So if the Prime Minister is communicating with someone about matters relating to his role as Prime Minister and about activities he has undertaken as Prime Minister, then they are, by nature, prime ministerial activities that he should be answerable for. So I ask you to give some further consideration to the interchange today, and, in fact, perhaps come back with a more substantive ruling on the matter, because it seems to me that the Prime Minister could stand up and give any answer to any question and say: “Well, I wasn’t doing that as Prime Minister.”, and therefore would not be held to account.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think it has been well established in this House for a very long period of time that Prime Ministers wear a variety of different hats, and that includes as leader of the National Party, and can include as a citizen. I fondly remember sitting in this House for years hearing Helen Clark saying that she made statements, or had conversations, or undertook actions as the leader of the Labour Party. I happen, for the record, to use my Ministerial Services – funded cellphone to ring my wife. When I ring my darling wife and when I put the cat out at night, I do that in my capacity as a husband, not as Prime Minister. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am on my feet. In regard to the very first point Chris Hipkins raised, I certainly give an assurance I will review the interchange today. As to the appropriate course of action following that review, I will be bound. If it is necessary to come back with a further more substantive ruling, I will consider doing so.

Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order. [Interruption] Order! We just need to get the rules straight for everybody. This is a point of order, and it will be heard in silence.

Dr Russel Norman: Thank you for that ruling. Given that it related to my questions, I would just like to make one point with regard to the point that Mr Hipkins made, which was that the issue was about John Key acting as Prime Minister—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: What’s the point of order?

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Dr Russel Norman: The point of order is that it is relevant to this question because he was acting as Prime Minister in the Pike River capacity. That is why it is relevant to this question.

Mr SPEAKER: The attempt to raise a point of order is not actually adding to the situation. I have given an assurance following the point of order raised by Chris Hipkins that I will have a look. I always review the transcripts of question time. As to what action may then be required, that will be determined by the conclusions I make in that review.

Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Is it a fresh point of order? I have dealt with this matter. If it is a fresh point of order I am happy to hear it, but we are not going to relitigate this matter any further.

Dr Russel Norman: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Is it a fresh point of order?

Dr Russel Norman: Yes. Mr Speaker, while you were on your feet, and several times while I was trying to make a point of order, the Prime Minister interjected even after you had directed him not to. It seems to me that if we are going to have order in this House, it is very important that the Prime Minister in particular should set an example of not speaking while the member with the call is trying to speak.

Mr SPEAKER: That is a reasonable point of order to raise. I did not actually hear the Prime Minister continuing in a conversation. I did hear it from another frontbencher of the Government. The member is making a fair point. I do not want to get into a habit of ejecting many members on any day, but points of order should be heard in silence, particularly when I call the House to order and ask for the point of order to be delivered. For members to continue to interject is going to create problems and leave me with no choice but to ask that member, be it a Minister or a Prime Minister, to leave the Chamber.

Housing—Government Priorities and Policies 4. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) to the Minister for Building and Housing: Does he agree with the statement from the Speech from the Throne that the Government will “have a focus on housing in this Parliamentary term. More special housing areas will be created—and therefore more new housing developed—as a result of Housing Accords signed between the Government and local councils”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for Building and Housing): Yes, because it was a very good speech.

Phil Twyford: How many houses have been completed in the special housing areas and have people living in them?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: There have been 294 building consents granted. There have been 46 resource consents granted for 617 sections. There has never been a record kept of houses with code compliant certificates, not under the previous Government or the Government before that. What I would say is that there is a housing build going on in Auckland as a consequence of our policies.

Phil Twyford: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a very straight question. In fact, Auckland Council, who is the partner in the Auckland Housing Accord, has been talking publicly about the number of completed houses. It simply defies credibility that the Minister says that he does not know how many houses have been completed.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: I will hear from the Minister, because he did not say that he did not know; he said there were no records kept, which I found quite a surprising point. I will hear from Dr Nick Smith.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The Auckland Council has said that six houses have been completed in one of the 80 special housing areas. It too has said that there never has been a record kept of the number of code compliant certificates on houses that are completed.

Mr SPEAKER: Before I invite the member to ask a supplementary question, it seems now that the first question has been answered as to how many houses have been completed. It is six.

Phil Twyford: Was he embarrassed to hear comments made by property developer Jon Maplesden that many developers signed up to the special housing areas simply to increase the capital gain on their property and have no intention of building houses any time soon and reports that land in some special housing areas is now selling for three times its earlier value? Why did he conceal this information from the public while he was so busy trying to blame councils for the failure of his policy?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The 80 special housing areas that have been granted in Auckland, we know, is a good policy, because the member Mr Twyford said on the platform in the election campaign that it was such a good policy he would be keeping the housing accords and special housing area initiative. It is true that when areas do get special housing area status, the value is going up, but I would point out to the House that a block of dirt in Flatbush inside the metropolitan urban limit sold for $800,000 in 1998 and in 2008 sold for $113 million—more than a hundred times the price—because of the stupid policy of the metropolitan urban limit that that member has consistently backed.

Phil Twyford: I did not back it.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! When I rise to my feet, it is important that all members resume their seats. Supplementary question, Phil Twyford.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No wonder you want a capital gains tax.

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Phil Twyford: A very good policy, capital gains tax.

Mr SPEAKER: Just ask the supplementary question.

Phil Twyford: Does he stand by his statement that it will take some years for the market to respond to the special housing areas, and at the rate of five houses a year how many years will it take to meet his target of the 39,000 houses he promised Aucklanders?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The building consent figures show that in the last year 7,200 houses have been built in New Zealand, double the rate when we became the Government and the highest rate for 7 years. We know that the number of resource consents for housing is at the highest level for 10 years. We know from the GDP data that the residential building construction market has grown faster in the last year than it has in the last 20 years. We know from the employment data that the number of people working in residential housing is the highest for 10 years. That shows a housing building boom by anybody’s measure.

Phil Twyford: Will he concede that the average monthly building consent rate under National is 32 percent less than it was under the last Labour Government and 46 percent less in Auckland?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I am happy to share the exact numbers with the House. In the last 3 months of the previous Government, housing consents in New Zealand averaged 1,000 a month—1,000 per month. In the last 3 months we have done 3,000 a month. That is double. But let us talk about Auckland. In Auckland in the last 3 months of the previous Government, we averaged 200 a month. In the last 3 months, we have averaged 600 a month—a trebling. Not bad. I will settle for that.

Phil Twyford: I seek the leave of the House to table data from Statistics New Zealand that shows that the building consent rate is 32 percent less under National than it was—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Statistics New Zealand information is available very easily to all members.

Joanne Hayes: What progress has the Government made in developing new housing at Hobsonville in Auckland, and how does this compare with progress under the previous Government?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The Hobsonville development is progressing at pace. Two hundred and thirty houses have been completed and another 208 are under construction. Two new schools have been built and a new ferry terminal has opened. This contrasts with the previous Government, which turned the first sod in 2002 and 6 years later that was all it had done.

Housing—Number of New Builds 5. ALFRED NGARO (National) to the Minister for Building and Housing: What advice has he received on the monthly rate of new house builds from when this Government was first elected in 2008 and the current rate?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for Building and Housing): As I just informed the House, we have basically doubled the rate nationally from 1,000 houses a month to about 2,000 a month, and in Auckland we have trebled it from an average of 200 a month when we became the Government; now we are building 600 new houses a month.

Alfred Ngaro: How are the Government’s measures like housing accords and special housing areas helping to build momentum in increasing housing supply?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: There are four steps required to convert bare land into housing. The first is a plan change, and I am advised that that normally takes 7 years. We are doing it with special housing areas in 7 weeks. The second stage is gaining a resource consent for a subdivision. The average period that that used to take was 2 years; the average period in the special housing areas is

2 months. After that stage, you need to construct the roads, the sewerage, the water, the drainage, and the power and the telecommunications infrastructure, and that is being completed in a number of those special housing areas. Then you require a building consent—

Denis O’Rourke: Why did it take 6 years?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: For the benefit of the member opposite, it is delightful to see that we have doubled the rate of housing building, and it will just be great to have the support of parties like his.

Alfred Ngaro: What further initiatives is the Government planning to ensure that a greater proportion of new homes are in a price range affordable for first-home buyers?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The Prime Minister announced in campaign 2014 the Homestart grant scheme, which will provide $418 million of support over the next 4 years for first home owners, starting from 1 April next year. The Homestart scheme specifically targets first-home buyers and will help an estimated 90,000 young New Zealanders to get access to a first home.

Phil Twyford: Discredited by all the commentators. It failed in Australia. Treasury advised against it.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: This is about increasing housing in the affordable range for those Kiwi families that aspire to get ahead under a National Government. For the interjecting member, I think it is about 1 million who voted for our plan and about less than half that who voted for that lot’s plan.

Prime Minister—Statements 6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does he stand by his statement of 13 October: “I would certainly describe my style as open and transparent.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If that is true, why did his Government withhold the two child poverty reports for 17 months in an abuse of the Official Information Act?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member really should direct that to the responsible Minister; it was not in my office. But I think I am correct in saying—I could stand corrected—that it was because it was a work in progress and there were particular reasons as it was going through that process.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Having regard to the Hon Jim McLay’s comment in this House when the Official Information Bill was being passed, and he said: “The underlying philosophy of the bill is that official information should be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it.”, and that being the case, why has he admitted on 15 October to using delaying tactics for political purposes?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the evidence that he did admit that on 15 October.

Mr SPEAKER: What is the source of this evidence?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: It is a Radio New Zealand transcript.

Mr SPEAKER: No. That is also available to all members. Does the member—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, he’s just denied it, for goodness sake!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I heard that. Does the member have a further supplementary question?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why are US congressmen kept well informed about the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations whilst New Zealand parliamentarians are kept totally in the dark on this matter?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, every system is different, so I cannot speak for what happens in the United States. But what I can say is that in New Zealand it has been a longstanding tradition for free-trade agreements to be negotiated behind closed doors, essentially, until the point an agreement

is reached, because we do not believe it is in the best interests to be discussing those in the public domain because it weakens our bargaining position.

Iraq—Deployment of New Zealand Special Forces 7. Hon PHIL GOFF (Labour – Mt Roskill) to the Prime Minister: Why has he changed his pre-election commitment not to deploy New Zealand Special Forces to Iraq to his post-election statement that deployment is “definitely an option”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): This is a rapidly evolving issue, and countries including New Zealand are having to consider the issue as it intensifies. The increasing threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the global response will require New Zealand to carefully consider this issue. Therefore, officials are preparing advice for Ministers and Cabinet to consider a range of options, including humanitarian, diplomatic, and military contributions. I would stress that no decisions have been taken at this time. As members know, my least preferred option is to deploy the SAS, but I expect it to be part of the range of options. Over the last few months countries around the world have been considering their contributions to the coalition to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and New Zealand shares the international community’s outrage at its brutal actions. We have seen clear evidence of what this group is capable of doing.

Hon Phil Goff: When he said on 16 June, without any qualification, that he ruled out New Zealand special forces being deployed to Iraq—even in an advisory capacity, he said—where in that assurance did he warn New Zealanders that straight after the election suddenly sending special forces to Iraq was definitely an option?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: For a start off, let me make it clear: that was the best information and advice I had at the time, and I believed it to be correct at the time. What I can say is the issue is evolving. I stand by the view that I have expressed, which is that sending the SAS is the least preferred option of the Government, but as I have said when I have been asked these questions, the Government will get a range of options presented to it. We do not pick and choose those options that are presented to us; we pick and choose the options we ultimately want to deploy.

Hon Phil Goff: When he told the country last week that the New Zealand Chief of Defence Force was attending just a regular meeting in Washington, is he telling the House that neither the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Ministry of Defence, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade had informed him that President Obama would be addressing that meeting and the specific purpose of that meeting was to map out a strategy of military commitments to that war when that was in the International News Services wires 12 hours before he made that outrageous comment?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is only outrageous if it is incorrect, and it was absolutely correct. We were not aware that President Obama was going down to speak to the meeting and taking the White House press corps with him. That has been confirmed by the Chief of Defence Force.

Hon Phil Goff: Why does his believe that Western-led military intervention to remove ISIS will be more successful than Western-led military intervention to remove oppressive regimes in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, both of which he supported and both of which were spectacularly unsuccessful, with disastrous unintended consequences?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, given the member’s previous roles, the differences between the situation in Iraq today and then will, hopefully, not be lost on him. In 2003 there was a situation where there was action taken to oust a regime. Whatever one thinks of that, that was the view that was taken against a regime that was believed to be oppressive. The current situation is quite different in Iraq. It is one where the Iraqi Government is actually asking both the United States, I think, and countries from around the world to give them support against ISIS. ISIS is an organisation that we have designated as a terrorist group. ISIS is an organisation that I believe presents both international, regional, and domestic threats. It may be extremely convenient or easy for the member to be in Opposition and to not care about the responsibilities that I have as Prime

Minister, but I am not going to walk away from those responsibilities. I think that member should himself be very, very careful indeed about the claims that he makes, because I can assure the member that the actions I will be taking are those that are in the bests interests of New Zealanders, even if he can afford the luxury of not doing so.

Hon Phil Goff: Why does it make sense for New Zealand to be part of a so-called coalition of the willing of 22 military countries represented at the meeting in Washington and to make a decision to put the lives of New Zealand soldiers at risk, when two members of that coalition of the willing, NATO ally Turkey and American ally Saudi Arabia, have both supported ISIS, and Saudi Arabia, in fact, is the major provider of weaponry and funding to the ISIS terrorists?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, it is not the Saudi royal family who are in that position. There may be individual people who live in Saudi Arabia who happen to—

Hon Phil Goff: They allow it to happen.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, if the member is aware of what Saudi Arabia is doing, then he must also be aware that they gave half a billion dollars of humanitarian aid and are seriously considering what their next steps might be to combat ISIS. You cannot rule out that there are individual people who live in Saudi Arabia who happen to believe in the particular form of Islamic faith that ISIS is following. I will go back to the original point. In the end, the Government will consider what is in the best interests of New Zealanders. The Government will act to do the right thing by New Zealanders even if he, as the spokesman for the Opposition, chooses to ignore what the right thing for New Zealanders is.

Ebola—Readiness and Response Planning 8. SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Health: Is he confident that New Zealand is prepared to deal with a case of suspected Ebola?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): I am. Although the risk that Ebola poses to New Zealand remains low, we are treating the situation very seriously and taking every precaution to keep New Zealand protected. I am receiving daily updates on the situation from both here and abroad, and officials are constantly updating the comprehensive measures that are in place as part of the international response to the threat of Ebola. I would like to recognise the hard work of officials, doctors, and nurses and all those involved in preparing New Zealand to respond to this threat.

Simon O’Connor: What particular measures are being undertaken as part of the comprehensive preparation in place to protect New Zealand?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: It is worth noting that this is not just a Ministry of Health response to keeping New Zealand protected. The Ministry of Health is working with Immigration New Zealand and the Customs Service to constantly monitor and update protections at the border. Officials are running specific Ebola-readiness activities, coordinated across 20 agencies, to model New Zealand’s whole-of-Government response.

Hon Te Ururoa Flavell: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. How does he propose, in the event that Ebola might reach these shores, that we ensure that access to health services is equally available for everyone, particularly for vulnerable communities, many of which include Māori, Pasifika, and those on low incomes?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The comprehensive steps we are taking are to protect all New Zealanders. There are more than 200 isolation rooms to deal with suspected cases, right across all district health board hospitals, and four specialist units, one of which, of course, is at Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland. There is also extensive engagement across the primary health sector to ensure high levels of awareness and preparedness, and of course this Government has worked very hard to increase access to primary care for all New Zealanders.

Hon Annette King: Is he aware that Queensland, our nearest neighbour, with a population about the same as New Zealand, has three isopod units to safely transport Ebola patients to high-level isolation; how many does New Zealand currently have, and are more to be provided?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: We have four units, and we are currently in the process of implementing their deployment in New Zealand.

Simon O’Connor: What capacity is there across the health sector to deal with a suspected case of Ebola?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The health sector is well prepared. There are more than 200 negative pressure isolation rooms across all district health boards around the country, with specialist Ebola treatment facilities in Auckland, Middlemore, Wellington, and Christchurch. Guidelines for health professionals in hospitals, public health, primary care, and pharmacies have been distributed by the Ministry of Health. Relevant public health services are expected to undertake timely and effective management of ill travellers at borders, and all public health services are expected to manage routine public health activities including contact tracing in response to a suspected or confirmed case.

Student Achievement—Investing in Educational Success Programme 9. Dr JIAN YANG (National) to the Minister of Education: What recent updates has she received on the progress of the Government’s $359 million Investing in Educational Success initiative?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): I recently received an update that shows momentum and enthusiasm are growing as we implement this initiative to raise teaching quality and school leadership to deliver a better education to every student. This is evident by the keen interest already being shown in the process to form these new communities of schools. It is also very clear from what I have been hearing as I have been up and down the country visiting schools and talking with parents.

Dr Jian Yang: What has she heard from others about the importance of this initiative in lifting achievement for kids?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I have also been hearing and receiving a lot of other support. For example, the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand has said: “Let’s keep the best teachers in the classroom. Let’s share the best practice that we’ve got in communities of schools.” The Ngā Kura-ā-Iwi has described the initiative as a winner, potentially transformational, and providing a real solution to improving achievement for kids. A top chief executive has said: “It’s the encouragement of inspirational teachers that sees kids from tough homes lift their sights”. That is why we are continuing to do the work that needs to be done and that gets this right for kids, their parents, and their schools.

Prisons—Staff and Prisoner Safety 10. MIKE SABIN (National – Northland) to the Minister of Corrections: What announcements has he recently made to help improve safety for frontline corrections officers in our prisons?

Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (Minister of Corrections): Yesterday I announced the release of a tender for 1,000 on-body cameras for our front-line corrections officers. This follows a successful 6-month trial for these cameras conducted in high-security Rimutaka Prison and maximum-security Auckland prison. We want prisoners focused on their own rehabilitation through education, skills, and training, and not on causing disruption to other prisoners and staff. Front-line correction officers are well trained and resourced to deal with difficult situations in our prisons, but we remain focused on continually improving the safety of our staff and prisoners. These cameras will be another measure available to de-escalate what can sometimes be highly tense situations.

Mike Sabin: What did the 6-month trial of on-body cameras in both Rimutaka Prison and Auckland prison reveal?

Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: When we compared the average rate of prisoner-related incidents during the 180-day trial with the same 180-day period during the previous year, there was a 15 to 20 percent reduction in both trial units. This was compared with a 4 to 5 percent reduction for the wider trial prison sites. The trial also revealed that the use of cameras reduced the severity of incidents and allowed staff to use the footage in their debriefs as evidence of misconduct, in staff development and prisoner coaching. As I said in answering the primary question, we want prisoners focused on their own rehabilitation and working on learning, upskilling, and training for a productive and meaningful life outside prison.

Judith Collins—Inquiry into Compliance with Cabinet Manual 11. Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour – Wigram) to the Prime Minister: What are the allegations that led to him establishing the Chisholm inquiry into the allegations regarding Judith Collins and a former Director of the Serious Fraud Office?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): The allegations are that during her time as Minister of Police, with responsibility for the Serious Fraud Office, Judith Collins acted inappropriately to undermine the then director of the Serious Fraud Office, Mr Adam Feeley. These allegations have been totally rejected by Miss Collins, and she asked that I establish an inquiry so her name could be cleared. I was happy to oblige. I do not believe it is in the public interest for me to make any further comments while the inquiry is still in progress.

Dr Megan Woods: Is he still expecting the findings of the inquiry to be reported back to him by 28 November 2014, and when does he expect to publicly respond to it?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In answer to the first part of the question, yes. In terms of the second part of the question, I am not sure at this point.

Dr Megan Woods: If the inquiry clears Judith Collins of the accusations, will she be reinstated to his ministry forthwith?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have made that clear. The answer is no, not forthwith.

Dr Megan Woods: Has he received specific information about Judith Collins’ conduct as a Minister since the initiation of the inquiry into the matter; if so, what is the information?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Dr Megan Woods: What factors, including any other activities of Judith Collins not included in the inquiry, are preventing him from giving a guarantee to reinstate her to his ministry?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: People are appointed to the ministry when I feel it is appropriate that they are and when we have an opportunity. As the member will be aware, we have just announced a new Cabinet line-up. That is where it stands at the moment.

Immigration Policy—Numbers 12. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Does he have an ideal number of migrants coming to New Zealand; if so, what is that number?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister of Immigration): I do have an ideal situation for migrants coming to New Zealand and it is quantifiable, but not in a single number. My ideal is: as many international students as want to come and study at our tertiary institutions; as many tourists who want to come and enjoy our beautiful country; as many skilled migrants as is necessary to fill the skill demands that we have; and, because migration data also includes New Zealanders coming home, as many New Zealanders who want to come home and contribute to this country’s social and economic development.

Ron Mark: As the Minister has just admitted to the House that he has no clear idea of what an ideal level of immigration is—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Ron Mark: —does he not realise—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have a point of order, and no one should be surprised.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: The Standing Orders are very clear on what must be, or should be, in a question. Equally, they are clear on what there should not be. Statements of supposition that were a statement, effectively, at the beginning of what we hoped would be a question are not inside the Standing Orders and should not be allowed in this Parliament.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The problem with that complaint is that the Minister did say that he did not have an optimum figure that he could give the House. He admitted that he did not have that figure. He referred to tourists and he referred to students, none of which was part of the primary question, and so, frankly, he is guilty by the statement he made.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: The Minister made it clear that he did not have an ideal number, but he had a series of scenarios that were acceptable. For the member to characterise the start of a question as there was an admission, etc., etc., it is not an acceptable way to ask a question in this House.

Mr SPEAKER: I have heard enough. [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet. Strictly interpreting the Standing Orders, all questions should start with a question, but if members also take the opportunity to review Hansard today they will see that on many occasions members take the opportunity to add an introduction, which I have been relatively lenient in allowing. But, as the member who is asking the question will have noted, when he starts a question like that, it will inevitably lead to disorder. So I invite the member, if he wants to ask a supplementary question, to now rise and ask a supplementary question without the additional comments about a Minister having no idea, etc.

Ron Mark: Thank you, Mr Speaker; thank you, Gerry. Does the Minister, noting that he has not given an ideal level of immigration to the House today, realise that uncontrolled immigration is forcing Kiwis into queues for hospital beds, queues for housing, and queues for jobs, and is driving down Kiwi wages?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I think it would be helpful to assist the member by describing what migration definitions informed the permanent and long-term migration data that he sees. A migrant includes somebody who is here for a short time, for a long-term temporary basis, and permanently, and New Zealanders returning home. The member describes an out-of-control or uncontrolled permanent residence migration by foreigners. That is not true. We have a planning range of between 45,000 and 50,000 residents per year, and in the 5 years to 2014 we have not met that range because migration policy is demand-driven, and the demand during the recession has not been there. So I reject the assertion that it is somehow uncontrolled immigration.

Ron Mark: Is it not a fact that a Government using open-door immigration policies is likely to drive down wages and living standards, and when will he admit that we—New Zealand—are on track to replicate exactly what is happening in the United Kingdom right now?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I simply reject the prefacing comments about uncontrolled migration. We have very strict immigration policies, which are labour market – tested for temporary visa holders and are very well controlled for permanent residence visa holders. I note that permanent residence visa numbers presently are 20 percent below the 2006-07 numbers that existed when that member’s party was supporting Labour on confidence and supply.

Ron Mark: So if the number of people coming into New Zealand, as reported recently, in 1 year is such that it translates into a need for 8,000 new homes just to meet their requirements, and the Minister of Building and Housing has just told the House today that he has managed to build six houses this year—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We are now getting to the stage where it is a speech. Ask the supplementary question.

Ron Mark: Thank you, Mr Speaker. What is the whole-of-Government plan to cater for this level of immigration in terms of infrastructural needs, in terms of housing needs, and in terms of

catering for the hospitals and their extra workload? What is this Government’s population plan for New Zealand?

Mr SPEAKER: Hon Michael Woodhouse, in so far as he has ministerial responsibility.

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: As I think I have already explained, the migration data on which the member bases his question include working holidaymakers; international students; people who are going to help us rebuild our second-largest city; and, above all, Kiwis coming home. Yes, they need houses, and this Government does have a plan to fix housing supply, but I reject the inference that this is somehow some kind of peril that we need to be managing.


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Gordon Campbell on Pharmac, Gough Whitlam and Sleater-Kinney Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:13:27 +0000 Column – Gordon Campbell

Ridiculous reported comments on RNZ this morning by Trade Minister Tim Groser, as he sought to dampen down concerns about yesterdays leaked draft of the IP chapter of ther Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.

Gordon Campbell on Pharmac, Gough Whitlam and Sleater-Kinney

by Gordon Campbell

Ridiculous reported comments on RNZ this morning by Trade Minister Tim Groser, as he sought to dampen down concerns about yesterday’s leaked draft of the IP chapter of ther Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. According to Groser, ‘extreme’ positions are common at the outset of negotiations, and these get whittled down over the course of negotiations. Fine. Except that we’re not at the outset of these negotiations. The outset was six years ago, and negotiators were hoping to have some sort of ‘framework’ deal finished in time for the APEC meeting in a few weeks’ time. These ‘extreme’ positions are what we’ve reached near the intended end of the negotiations.

Still, Groser did promise that the cost of medicines would not rise as a result of the TPP trade deal. Great. But this is not what politicians in other countries are saying. In an article headlined “TPP Agreement Will ‘Definitely’ Raise Medicine Costs” Malaysian legislator Charles Santiago said flatly yesterday that ‘the cost of medicines will definitely increase’ if a TPP deal is completed. That would not be an unusual outcome. The recently concluded EU/Canada trade pact for instance, will also significantly raise the cost of medicines in Canada and for the same patent extension reasons.

Good to see that New Zealand is among those countries pushing back against the IP proposals – which not only include the extension of drug patent terms and conditions, but some truly horrendous proposals to criminalise both (a) copyright infringements and (b) the release of information about corporate trade secrets, even if there is a public interest involved in the information being made public. Yet it remains unclear what New Zealand would regard as an acceptable trade-off for its IP positions. As mentioned in this column yesterday, the US was only last weekend pressuring Japan to make partial concessions on dairy trade. New Zealand would be one beneficiary. Re Pharmac, it would be more re-assuring if Groser would rule out any trade-offs on the IP chapter in return for enhanced market access for our dairy products to Japan.

Once again, the leaked draft has torpedoed one of the justifications for the cone of secrecy under which the TPP talks are being conducted. According to TPP apologists, the talks have to be kept secret because that’s how you negotiate; you need to keep your cards close to your chest. Bullshit. In the bracketed parts of the draft that signal which points are still in contention, the negotiating position of each country is spelled out. The negotiators know exactly what every other country is proposing, and exactly what its sticking points are on every single item still in contention.

Moreover, the corporations who have bought access to the texts also know the progress to date; it is their insider information that provides the basis for their lobbying. The only people who don’t know what’s going on are the general public. Incredibly, the public will be kept in the dark about any detail of how the TPP was negotiated for four years after the pact is concluded. Just how this condition could possibly be compatible with any proper parliamentary ratification of the TPP s easily answered: it wouldn’t be. With the TPP, the government is not only trading away national sovereignty, but the integrity of our parliamentary process.

The death of Gough Whitlam is a reminder about why New Zealand should become a republic. Democracy remains at risk from the ancient powers of a distant monarch. Anyone who thinks the monarchy is a nice, rather quaint way of ordering our affairs can look across the Tasman and see how the Queen’s representative can readily sabotage and dismiss a democratically elected government.

Whitlam was in power for only one term. In fact, that’s the striking thing about his obituary in the Guardian. Think about how little Helen Clark accomplished in three terms of office. Whitlam did all of this in just one three year term:

In a rapid program of reform it called “the program”, the Whitlam government created Australia’s national health insurance scheme, Medibank; abolished university fees; introduced state aid to independent schools and needs-based school funding; returned traditional lands in the Northern Territory to the Gurindji people; drafted (although did not enact) the first commonwealth lands right act; established diplomatic relations with China, withdrew the remaining Australian troops from Vietnam; introduced no-fault divorce laws; passed the Racial Discrimination Act; blocked moves to allow oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef; introduced environmental protection legislation; and removed God Save the Queen as the national anthem.

Sleater-Kinney returns!
In this month’s Werewolf music column that was dedicated to Sleater-Kinney, I talked about the “Run Fast” track from Kathleen Hanna’s comeback album with the Julie Ruin – but then mistakenly linked to a song by the Canadian band Alvvays. Got to put that right. So here’s “Run Fast” for real. It’s a fantastic song about growing up, growing wild, surviving your friends, surviving with them…Lovely video, too.

Big news though is…Sleater-Kinney has reformed, eight years after they went into hiatus in 2006. There’s a new album due in January, they’re touring again and a new single that’s recognisably them. Good as the single is, it will be just a shadow of how it will sound live. IMO, this is the greatest live band – ever. One reason why Sleater-Kinney is so beloved is the sense of community they embody. On stage, Janet, Carrie, Corin create something way beyond what they could ever do as individuals. And it’s the happy feeling that the collective power of this great, great band is once again going to be unleashed on the world that has S-K fans doing cartwheels. Crap video from Miranda July, though.


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Speech from the Throne: State Opening of Parliament, 21 Oct Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:38:25 +0000 Speech – Governor General

Following the General Election, a National-led Government has been formed with a majority in the House on confidence and supply. Confidence and supply agreements have been signed between the National Party and, respectively, the ACT Party and …Speech from the Throne
Delivered by His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand, on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament, Tuesday 21 October 2014

Honourable Members of the House of Representatives.

E nga Mema Honore o te Whare Paremata o Aotearoa, tenei aku mihi mahana ki a koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Following the General Election, a National-led Government has been formed with a majority in the House on confidence and supply.

Confidence and supply agreements have been signed between the National Party and, respectively, the ACT Party and the United Future Party. A Relationship Accord and confidence and supply agreement has been signed with the Māori Party. These agreements will enable the Government to operate in an effective, stable and inclusive manner.

Honourable Members, the Government has a comprehensive policy agenda and a substantial legislative programme that it will put before the House in the forthcoming session.

The Government is focused on returning to surplus and its long-term fiscal objective remains to reduce net core Crown debt to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020. Around $1 billion of the operating allowance in each Budget will be used to increase spending, with the remainder set aside for tax reductions and further debt repayment, depending on economic and fiscal conditions at the time.

ACC levies will be reduced in 2015, and more reductions are expected from 2016, as the three levy accounts are now fully funded.

The Government’s plan to build a more productive and competitive economy, supporting more jobs and higher incomes, is set out in the Business Growth Agenda. This contains around 350 individual initiatives. These initiatives will be progressed, and more will be added, in this term of Parliament.

The Government will continue to pursue high-quality trade agreements, including negotiations with Korea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while ensuring that New Zealand’s best interests are always served. More investment will be made in New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, to expand the number of businesses it works with and increase its international footprint.

The Government will continue to provide the environment and incentives to increase business-led research and development, with a goal of raising this to 1 per cent of GDP by 2018. More funding will be provided for the R&D grant programme. The Government will also establish a Food Safety Science and Research Centre, as well as four additional Centres of Research Excellence, with one of the Centres focused on Maori research.

The Government will progress legislation to increase flexibility and fairness in the labour market, extend flexible working arrangements and improve collective bargaining. The enforcement of New Zealand’s minimum employment standards will be strengthened, and paid parental leave extended from 14 weeks to 18 weeks by 2016. Legislation to improve health and safety at work will be progressed.

The Government will complete the implementation of the Financial Markets Conduct Act, and will progress legislation to strengthen competition laws, and improve the accounting and audit industries.

The overhaul of Inland Revenue’s business systems and information technology will continue, which among other things will make tax compliance faster and easier for businesses.

Net migration to Australia has dropped considerably and the unemployment rate in New Zealand is lower than that across the Tasman. The Government will arrange job fairs for New Zealand employers in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, to recruit skilled expatriate New Zealanders to return home and work in areas where there are shortages.

Job fairs will complement the Government’s skills training programme here in New Zealand, which involves strengthening and improving foundation learning, vocational training and tertiary education. Additional investment will be made this term in training more engineers, creating 2,000 more places in Maori and Pasifika Trades Training, and launching three ICT Graduate Schools.

The Government will continue its programme of investment in modern infrastructure.

In this term of Parliament, a number of projects in the Roads of National Significance programme will be completed, including the Waterview Tunnel, the Tauranga Eastern Link and the Mackays to Peka Peka route north of Wellington. The Government will progress the remainder of the Roads of National Significance programme, together with a package of state highway projects in Auckland and across the regions. New funding will be allocated for urban cycleways.

The Ultra-Fast Broadband programme will be extended to reach 80 per cent of New Zealanders. In addition, $150 million will be set aside to improve mobile coverage and broadband connectivity in rural and remote areas.

Honourable Members, the Government believes that balanced and sensible management of our natural resources can meet environmental responsibilities while creating economic opportunities.

The Government will continue to encourage petroleum and mineral exploration while adhering to strong environmental and safety provisions. This approach includes investment in new data acquisition projects such as aeromagnetic surveys and petroleum basin analysis.

Investment in regional water infrastructure will continue, to help these projects get underway. New water storage and irrigation projects can make land more productive and boost exports, while at the same time providing positive environmental outcomes.

The Government is committed to improving water quality and the way fresh water is managed. Water reform will continue through advancing the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. The Government will also introduce a requirement for dairy cattle to be excluded from waterways by 1 July 2017. Coupled with this, the Government has set aside $100 million to voluntarily buy and retire areas of selected farmland next to important waterways to create an environmental buffer.

Legislation will be introduced to amend the Resource Management Act to provide more certainty, timeliness and cost-effectiveness around resource allocation decisions. The Environmental Reporting Bill will also be progressed.

The Government will introduce legislation to improve the responsible use, management and conservation of New Zealand’s ocean environment. This legislation will allow for a wider range of marine protected areas, including recreational fishing parks in the Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

The Government will work with international partners to put in place a comprehensive new global agreement on climate change by the end of 2015. It will also continue to participate in international research programmes, with particular emphasis on the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases. The Government will invest additional funding to encourage and support new forest planting, and will continue to focus on managing New Zealand’s emissions.

Honourable Members, the Government will continue to deliver high-quality public services. It will remain focused on getting results, seeking new and better ways to deliver public services, and continuing to contain and reduce costs.

The Government has 10 priority goals and targets in the areas of long-term welfare dependency, supporting vulnerable children, boosting skills and employment, reducing crime and improving interaction with government. Good progress is being made on these targets, and two of them – in the areas of crime reduction and educational achievement – will be made more challenging.

The Government is committed to helping more people get off a benefit and into work. It will work to reduce the number of people receiving a benefit and reduce the lifetime costs of the welfare system. Legislation will be introduced to extend the Youth Service approach to 19-year-old sole parents, and to many other 18- and 19-year-old beneficiaries who need more support, or who are at risk of long-term welfare dependence.

As agreed with the Māori Party, ongoing investment will be made in Whānau Ora. The Government will continue to have a focus on poverty, especially child poverty, and will coordinate cross-government activity in this area through the Ministerial Committee on Poverty.

The Government will also have a focus on housing in this Parliamentary term.

More special housing areas will be created – and therefore more new housing developed – as a result of Housing Accords signed between the Government and local councils. Changes to the Resource Management Act will assist housing supply in the longer term.

The new KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant will be introduced next year to double the support a first home buyer can get if they are buying or building a new home, which will encourage the supply of more affordable new housing. House price limits around the country will be increased. Legislation will also be introduced to allow first home buyers to withdraw their KiwiSaver member tax credit to put towards a deposit. The Government’s extended home insulation scheme will make another 46,000 low-income households warmer and healthier.

The Government will continue working to ensure that vulnerable New Zealanders have access to good quality housing, whether those houses are owned by Housing New Zealand or by community housing providers. The Government sees community housing providers playing a greater role in the provision of social housing over this term of Parliament.

The Government will extend free doctor’s visits and prescriptions to children under 13. More will be invested in lifting the number of elective surgical procedures, particularly hip and knee operations, and in creating new, primary care multi-disciplinary teams to help people in pain from bone, muscle and joint conditions.

A new cancer treatment target will be introduced, for 90 per cent of patients to receive their first cancer treatment within 62 days of being referred by their GP. And the Government will invest extra funding to allow hospices to expand their care and services across the wider health system.

As agreed with the United Future Party, the implementation of the National Medicines Strategy will continue, including the enhanced role of pharmacists in medicines management and primary care.

The Government will extend the Enabling Good Lives approach so that disabled people have more choices, controls and flexibility over support and funding in their everyday lives.

The Government will this term implement its initiative to raise teaching quality and school leadership to deliver a better education to every student. This will keep the best teachers in the classroom, and establish new teaching and leadership roles to spread best practice across communities of schools.

The Government will also provide more in-class support to special needs students, by funding up to 800,000 more teacher aide hours each year. More funding will be supplied to support deaf and hearing-impaired children, and a contestable fund will be established for schools to establish or enhance Asian language programmes.

The Government will continue its work to lift participation rates in early childhood education, with a target of 98 per cent of new entrants in school having previously attended an early childhood centre. The Government also has a target of 85 per cent of 18-year-olds achieving a minimum of NCEA Level 2. Significant investment will be made in new schools and classrooms, including major projects in Auckland and Christchurch.

As agreed with the ACT Party, the Government will further develop the model, and expand the trial, of Partnership Schools to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged students.

The Government will continue to focus on crime prevention. The crime rate is at a 35-year low, and violent crime, youth crime and re-offending are all declining. Across law and order agencies, a stronger response will be developed to prevent family violence, including a focus on gangs and gang lifestyles. The Government will progress legislation to address cyber-bulling, organised crime and online child abuse. It will progress the Parole Amendment Bill, introduce a Public Protection Order Bill, and intends to progress reform of the Privacy Act.

Every publicly managed prison will be made a working prison by 2017, so prisoners can take part in a 40-hour week of rehabilitation and reintegration activities. Specialist after-care will be delivered for those released or paroled prisoners who have undertaken a drug treatment programme while in prison.

Honourable Members, the Government recognises that Māori face unique opportunities and challenges in maximising their economic potential. This is reflected in the creation of a new ministerial portfolio of Maori Development. Reforms to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act will be progressed, so Maori land can be governed effectively and profitably for all its owners. The Government will also continue to resolve outstanding Treaty of Waitangi settlements, and intends for all willing iwi to have deeds of settlement by 2017.

Starting next year, New Zealand will take its place on the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term. This will be a challenging time for the Security Council and New Zealand is determined to make a positive contribution and in particular to represent the perspective of small states.

The Government is committed to a strong security and intelligence community which operates within a clear legal framework and with the security of New Zealanders at its heart. Under legislation passed last year, a review of the intelligence and security agencies, their legislation, and their oversight, will commence by 30 June 2015.

The Government has already commenced work on a review of settings in relation to foreign terrorist fighters taking part in, or returning from, conflict zones. The rapid rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant poses international, regional and local risks which the Government will respond to in a responsible way.

As has been well-signalled, the Government will put a possible change of New Zealand’s flag to a public vote this term. There will be no presumption of change, but there will be a very open process which will welcome and encourage full public input and debate.

Honourable Members, the Government is continuing to stand beside the people of Canterbury as good progress is made on the earthquake rebuild. The rebuild will continue to occupy a great deal of Government attention in this term of Parliament. Big strides will be made this term on anchor projects and horizontal infrastructure. Next year, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority will be brought into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and a transition plan developed to hand over CERA’s responsibilities and powers in an orderly way.

Honourable Members, over the course of the forthcoming Parliamentary session, other measures will be laid before you.

The Government is privileged to have won the trust and goodwill of New Zealanders for a third Parliamentary term, and will seek to re-earn that trust and goodwill every day over the next three years.


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Gordon Campbell on the latest TPP leaks Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:34:08 +0000 Column – Gordon Campbell

The release by Julian Assange on Wikileaks of the draft Trands Pacific Partnership chapter on intellectual property including drug patents – contains some pretty disturbing evidence about whats still on the table.

Gordon Campbell on the latest TPP leaks

by Gordon Campbell

The release by Julian Assange on Wikileaks of the draft Trands Pacific Partnership chapter on intellectual property – including drug patents – contains some pretty disturbing evidence about what’s still on the table. The leaked drafts pertain to the May 2014 negotiating positions and enable comparisons with the August 2013 positions that Wikileaks released last November. Wikileaks overview of the new data is available here.

It includes this observation:

The new US-tabled Article QQ.E.20 will force Parties to enact an automatic monopoly period (marketing exclusivity) for life-saving drugs, with a choice for the groups to decide for definitive inclusion within the treaty of 0, 5, 8 or 12 years. Experts state that the United States is pushing for the maximum 12 years, with the countries’ Ministers to decide as the IP negotiators cannot agree on this controversial issue.

If the US is successful in their bid, or if even the alternative 8-year period comes into place, the Obama Administration will have gone back on its promise to make cancer drugs affordable, having previously pledged to reduce the monopoly period on biotech drugs from 12 to 7 years. This will mean patients needing these drugs will remain with hugely expensive medical bills for years to come.

This attempt to strengthen the patent rights of Big Pharma will be of particular concern to poorer countries struggling to afford drug treatments for communicable diseases. To mitigate such concerns, there is also parallel evidence in the May 2014 drafts of a continued push for shorter drug patent terms in poorer countries, and for longer ones in developed countries. If passed, this would mean that the cost burden of making affordable medicines more readily available in the Third World would not be borne by the drug companies, but would be transferred to developed countries, such as New Zealand.

Other elements in the draft text would impact directly on New Zealand’s ability to protect Pharmac. Though complex, it is worth slogging through:

Also new in the May 2014 text is a “drug company-friendly” version of the TRIPS agreement for compulsory licensing of vital drugs patents….. In theory, by issuing a compulsory licence, a government can authorise cost-cutting generic competition with patented drugs, in exchange for royalty payments to the patent holder. It is a key tool to promote affordable access to medicines…

Wikileaks sets out how this tool currently works within articles 30 and 31 of the existing TRIPs agreement.

Article 30 is a 3-step test that is restrictive in what it grants exceptions for, and is open to interpretation with regards to procedures for doing these tests. Article 31 (referred to in the August 2013 text and now gone) is the one generally used on all compulsory licensing for HIV and cancer drugs. Whilst it is more restrictive, it is limited to cases where patent holders are paid, so as long as a drug qualifies (as most HIV and cancer drugs do) it is possible to get an exception to the patent held by big pharmaceutical companies, breaking Big Pharma’s monopoly on life-saving drugs.

Within the TPP however, it is now being proposed to scrap this mechanism:

However, the new version of the text of the TPP IP Chapter has deleted the option to use this assessment procedure, requiring many judgement calls on aspects such as how this might “prejudice” the patent holder. This will mean that the procedure is more restrictive and open to interpretation, and therefore lobbying and manipulation.

As a result, this could further expose Pharmac’s internal decision making to legal challenge, in the name of the greater ‘transparency’ that Trade Minister Tim Groser seemed willing to unilaterally concede in statements he made just before the Auckland round of the TPP, in late 2012. The dangers posed to Pharmac’s operations by all of this benign sounding ‘transparency’ were spelled out in this Werewolf article.

There is some good news as well. The extent of bracketing in the draft text shows that in this chapter – as in so much else within the TPP – the big issues still largely remain deadlocked. On the evidence of the May 2014 draft, New Zealand has been pushing back against some of the IP provisions being promoted by the US and Japan. However, the trade-off for moving on IP that would definitely entice the Key government and its TPP negotiating team would be if there was any movement on greater access to Asian agricultural markets, particularly for our dairy exports. On the weekend, the Japanese media reports on the TPP-related Japan/US bilateral talks included a tid-bit of information of direct interest on that score to New Zealand:

The two sides tried to achieve a breakthrough on thorny issues such as Japan’s market-opening measures for agricultural products and bilateral automobile trade ahead of a ministerial meeting for all 12 states in the TPP negotiations in Sydney later this month.

According to informed sources, the United States asked Japan to eliminate import tariffs on part of dairy products, one of Japan’s five key [farm trade] categories. (My emphasis.]

Even for key items that Washington has broadly agreed to let Japan keep tariffs, such as beef, U.S. negotiators are seeking sharp tariff cuts.

So, on the brink of the TPP round due to kick off in Canberra and Sydney, the US has been trying to wrest a partial concession on dairy trade from Japan, presumably in order to sweeten the pot for New Zealand. The TPP may still be something of a mirage, but it is a decidedly ugly one.

Library Love
Talking of texts, what about books? Kimya Dawson is an acquired taste. Many of her songs are so desperately cute, they’re the aural equivalent of eating the whole darn bag of chips. Somewhat surprisingly, her recent collaborations with Aesop Rock have been no exception. (They do a song called “ Delicate Touch’ that uses the “Delicate” cycle at the laundromat as a metaphor for her entire emotional life. Awww. ) On the upside, she and Aesop R. also do this little hymn to libraries.


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Experts Condemn Possible TPP Trade-Offs as Talks Resume Sun, 19 Oct 2014 13:57:17 +0000 Press Release – AFTINET

Mps, Public Health And Copyright Experts Condemn Possible TPP Trade-Offs as Talks Resume in CanberraMps, Public Health And Copyright Experts Condemn Possible TPP Trade-Offs as Talks Resume in Canberra

When: 11 AM Monday, October 20
Where: Parliament house lawn, in front of the public entrance
Speakers: Kelvin Thompson MP (ALP), Senator Peter whish Wilson (Greens), Dr Patricia Ranald, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, John Edwards, (MSF) Doctors without Borders, Dr Matthew Rimmer, ANU.

“As Trans-Pacific trade negotiations begin again in Canberra this week, the leaked intellectual property draft text shows that US proposals which would mean higher prices for medicines and less rights for internet consumers are still on the table. The US also wants special rights for foreign investors to sue governments for damages if a change in law or policy harms their investment, which would undermine future laws to protect health and the environment. The danger is that the Coalition government has said it is prepared to agree to some of these proposals in return for increased US market access for agricultural products,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said today.

Kelvin Thompson MP, Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties added: “When it comes to trade agreements, we need to ensure they don’t undermine our national sovereignty. I do not support the inclusion of investor rights to sue governments in trade agreements. We do not need, and are crazy to have, this handbrake on government.”

Jon Edwards, Advocacy Manger MSF Australia said: “If this trade deal includes provisions which give even more rights to pharmaceutical companies to restrict competition and innovation then millions of patients in the Asia Pacific will suffer.“

Dr Matthew Rimmer, from the Australian National University College of Law said, “The copyright maximalist regime in the Trans-Pacific Partnership could crush freedom of speech, innovation and competition in Australia.”

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said: “Australians have every right to be concerned about the way this deal is being done behind closed doors. The leaked documents indicate that the government is on course to hand over protections for human rights, public health, the environment and internet freedom. The Greens will continue to strive to bring this deal out into the open.”


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iPredict New Zealand Weekly Economic & Political Update Sun, 19 Oct 2014 13:13:18 +0000 Press Release – iPredict

Andrew Littles probability of being the next leader of the Labour Party has reached 70% and Jacinda Ardern is favourite to become his deputy, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealands predictions market, iPredict. …IPREDICT LTD

New Zealand Weekly Economic & Political Update

Monday 20 October 2014



Andrew Little’s probability of being the next leader of the Labour Party has reached 70% and Jacinda Ardern is favourite to become his deputy, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict. December GDP forecasts have eased slightly while the forecast September current account deficit continues to improve. Interest rate expectations have again fallen while the forecast fiscal surplus for 2014/15 has again disappeared. National is narrowly expected to win the next election, which is anticipated to be in 2017.


Next Labour Leader expected to be:

o Andrew Little 70% probability (up from 62% probability last week)

o Grant Robertson 21% probability (down from 22% last week)

o David Parker 8% probability (down from 11% last week)

o Nanaia Mahuta 0% probability (not reported last week)

Next Labour Deputy Leader expected to be:

o Jacinda Ardern 53% probability (not reported last week)

o Grant Robertson 14% probability (not reported last week)

o Nanaia Mahuta 8% probability (not reported last week)

o Annette King 8% probability (not reported last week)

o Andrew Little 6% probability (not reported last week)

o David Parker 5% probability (not reported last week)

o David Shearer 2% probability (not reported last week)

o Stuart Nash 2% probability (not reported last week)

o Other 2% probability (not reported last week)

John Key expected to remain National leader until at least the end of 2016 (73% probability, up from 69% last week) and has a 48% probability of remaining National leader until at least the end of 2017 (down from 49% last week)

• Steven Joyce is favourite to become National Party leader if a vacancy arises, (34% probability, down from 39% last week), followed by Paula Bennett (28%, down from 29% last week), Bill English (9%, up from 5% last week) and Simon Bridges (7%, down from 8% last week)

• Next election expected in 2017 (92% probability, steady compared with last week)

• National expected to win 2017 General Election (53% probability, steady)


• Quarterly GDP growth expected to be:

o 0.8% of GDP in the September quarter (steady compared with last week)

o 0.9% in the December quarter (down from 1.0% last week)

o 1.0% in the March 2015 quarter (steady)

o 1.1% in the June 2015 quarter (steady)

• Unemployment expected to be 5.4% in September quarter (steady compared with last week) and 5.5% in the December quarter (steady)

• Current account deficit expected to be 3.0% of GDP in the September quarter (down from 3.2% last week) and 4.0% of GDP in the December quarter (steady)

• Annual inflation expected to be:

o 1.2% to end of September quarter (steady compared with last week)

o 1.4% to end of December quarter (steady)

o 1.8% to end of March 2015 quarter (steady)

o 2.2% to end of June 2015 quarter (steady)

• Official Cash Rate priced to be:

o 3.503% on 30 October (up from 3.500% last week)

o 3.512% on 11 December (up from 3.509%)

o 3.527% on 29 January (steady)

o 3.583% on 12 March (down from 3.599%)

o 3.661% on 30 April (down from 3.691%)

o 3.770% on 11 June (down from 3.817%)

• Fiscal surplus expected to be:

o 0.02% of GDP in 2014/15 (down from 0.08% last week)

o 0.95% of GDP in 2015/16 (steady)

o 1.98% of GDP in 2016/17 (steady)

o 2.37% of GDP in 2017/18 (steady)

Foreign Affairs/Constitution:

• As forecast by iPredict, New Zealand won a seat on the United Nations’ Security Council last week.

• There is a 29% probability New Zealand and South Korea will sign a Free Trade Agreement by 1 December 2014 (down from 33% last week)

• The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not expected to be ratified by the US Congress before 1 July 2017 (only 20% probability it will be, steady)

• Helen Clark not expected to be the next UN Secretary General (only 29% probability, up from 20% last week)

• There is a 21% probability New Zealand will become a republic by 2020 (steady)


• iPredict Ltd is owned by Victoria University of Wellington. Details on the company and its stocks can be found at

• The weekly economic and political update is prepared by Exceltium Ltd on a pro bono basis and is based on a snapshot taken at a random time each week. This week’s was taken at 2.02 pm today.


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Leaked TPP text shows delays in cheaper essential medicines Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:15:21 +0000 Press Release – AFTINET

Leaked TPP text shows delays in cheaper essential medicines and draconian internet controls as TPP negotiators meet in AustraliaLeaked TPP text shows delays in cheaper essential medicines and draconian internet controls as TPP negotiators meet in Australia

WikiLeaks has revealed the latest version of the draft intellectual property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Trade (TPP) negotiations between Australia, the US and 10 other Pacific Rim countries,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Co-ordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said today.

“The text reveals that the US is still insisting upon extension of data exclusivity for 8-12 years on biologic drugs, which are the latest and most effective treatments for cancer. Pharmaceutical companies already have the right to charge monopoly prices on patented medicines for 20 years, so this will delay cheaper generic versions of these medicines for even longer,” said Dr Ranald

“This is an outrageous proposal which will drive up the cost of government subsidies to make these medicines affordable through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and create years of delays in the availability of these life-saving drugs. This should be a red line for the Australian government which should not even contemplate making such a decision in trade negotiations,” said Dr Ranald

“On copyright, there here is a proposal to make Internet Service Providers responsible for breaches of copyright by their customers, and force them to take punitive action against them. This is directly contrary to an Australian High Court decision, and would require change to Australian law. This would be a huge increase in the rights of copyright holders and a reduction in the rights of Internet users, which should be publicly debated through the Parliamentary process, not traded away in secret trade negotiations,” said Dr Ranald.”

“TPP negotiations will begin in Canberra on this Sunday, October 19 and move to a ministerial meeting in Sydney from October 25 to 7. There is still disagreement about the US proposals. Governments are waiting for the outcome of market access negotiations between the US and Japan, before engaging in trade-offs,” explained Dr Ranald.

“The Coalition government has signalled that it is prepared to make concessions on intellectual property and agree to the controversial right of foreign investors to sue governments for damages (ISDS) in return for increased market access for agricultural products. It is completely unacceptable that our government should be prepared to trade off affordable access to life-saving drugs and reduce rights of Internet users. Once again these proposed trade-offs show that the TPP is not in Australia’s national interest, “added Dr Ranald.


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Speech to Fieldays stakeholder engagement function Thu, 16 Oct 2014 09:33:22 +0000 Speech – New Zealand Government

Its great to be here tonight, talking to everyone involved in Fieldays. This is the biggest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere, attracting nearly 120,000 visitors this year including a large number of international visitors and delegations.Hon Nathan Guy
Minister for Primary Industries

17 October 2014

Speech to Fieldays stakeholder engagement function

It’s great to be here tonight, talking to everyone involved in Fieldays. This is the biggest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere, attracting nearly 120,000 visitors this year including a large number of international visitors and delegations.

I’ve been coming for a number of years and I’m always blown away by the technology and innovation on display. Fieldays also plays a big part in helping connect rural and urban kiwis, showing off what’s best about the primary industries.

It was a great honour to be reappointed as Primary Industries Minister by the Prime Minister less than two weeks ago.

This is a role I’m really passionate about that suits my background.

The primary industries are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy. They make up around 73% of our merchandise exports, helping pay for things like schools, hospitals and roads.

Recently I’ve had a Briefing to the Incoming Minister, prepared by MPI. The full report will be publicly released soon, but it’s worth quoting the second paragraph in full:

“At a high level, New Zealand’s primary producers face a bright future. By the year 2025, some forecasts predict global food demand may increase by 40-45 percent, driven by a rising global population and the emerging middle classes of Asia. Demand for wool and fibre is also expected to increase.”

Over the last two years I’ve talked a lot about our goal to double the value of our primary sector exports by 2025.

Tonight I want to go into a bit of detail on how we’re going to progress that vision, and the challenges and opportunities it presents.

Export Double
Already New Zealand produces enough food to feed 40 million people, and exports to around 200 countries.

To achieve the Export Double, we will need a strong focus on growing value. Just increasing volume isn’t going to be anywhere near good enough, or even desirable.

The goal is based around the 2012 export figure of $32 billion for the primary sector. Last year we hit a new record of $38 billion, thanks to a sweet spot of commodity prices.

However, in the coming years we won’t be able to rely on this. Commodity prices will always fluctuate – they always have and always will. It’s part and parcel of farming.

We’ve seen this with the recent positive returns for the meat industry. Just a few days ago we heard from Beef + Lamb NZ that our meat exports reached a record high of $5.3 billion in 2013-14.

These are the best beef prices in six years, and prices are looking to stay strong for the next few years, partly because of drought in the US and Australia and herds needing to be rebuilt.

Recently with dairy we’ve seen a lot of volatility in world prices, in part due to political uncertainty in Russia and the Ukraine.

The good news is that last year was a record payout and farmers are still in a strong financial position because of that. Farming is a long term game, and the mid to long term outlook for dairy prices remains positive.

It’s great to see the global dairy trade auction stabilised last night, with a 1.4 percent increase. This is the first increase since June of this year.

We can insulate ourselves to a degree from these fluctuations by adding value and focusing on premium products.

Of course, adding value is easier said than done. I heard this phrase many times on the campaign trail from opposition parties, but very little detail on how it could actually be achieved.

Tonight I want to give you a few examples of how as a Government we can support this.

Primary Growth Partnership
Investing in research and development will be crucial. Our flagship programme in recent years has been the Primary Growth Partnership, with 16 current programmes underway.

A total of just over $700 million is being co-invested by industry and Government, working together.

A recent report by NZIER shows the potential prize is around $6.4 billion by 2025 – with the possibility of up to $11.1b if the aspirational stretch of some of the programmes is realised.

It’s hard to process what numbers that big mean, so let me break it down to the farm gate level.

The report estimates there could be extra returns per year of $270 per hectare for hill country farming, $600 per cow for dairy, $370 per tonne of exported seafood, and $190 per hectare for forestry.

In the red meat sector, the Government and industry are investing some $326 million through Primary Growth Partnership programmes to support innovation.

This includes work across the value chain, supporting value-add products, and on-farm practice.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership involves participants across the sector, including meat processors, Beef + Lamb NZ and banks. This is the first time the sector has come together in such a comprehensive way.

And the Precision Seafood Harvesting project involves new technology that can select fish by size and species before even leaving the water.

Last night this programme won the Supreme Innovator award at the New Zealand Innovators Awards. In June it was also awarded the People’s Choice Award at the KiwiNet Awards.

The PGP is about cutting edge research, kickstarting projects and growth that wouldn’t otherwise happen without the Government’s support.

It’s worth noting these projects will have major environmental as well as economic benefits.

Over the next three years I will be pushing hard for these programmes to deliver results on the ground from this significant investment by Government and industry.

Increasing trade access is going to be another big priority for this Government.

We all know what an outstanding success the Free Trade Agreement with China has been. Two-way trade with has now exceeded $20 billion.

We are extremely well placed compared to the rest of the world when it comes to access for our primary products into China.

Of course we can’t rely on one market. That’s why we have a busy trade agenda and are at various stages of negotiation with other nations – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, South Korea, and the Gulf States in the Middle East.

There are also major opportunities for our agribusiness expertise in emerging markets like Latin America. In October last year it was great to host a delegation of 170 farmers from Colombia who came here to Mystery Creek to learn more about New Zealand farming methods and the Fieldays Event.

I’ve made several trips to these regions to promote New Zealand and I will keep promoting our industries in these new markets.

This term I’m also looking forward to seeing more progress on irrigation and water storage projects.

After two severe droughts in the last two summers, especially here in the Waikato, the need for better water storage is obvious. We only capture around 2 per cent of rainfall in New Zealand, with the rest roaring out to sea.

The Government has created Crown Irrigations Investment Limited (CIIL) to make independent decisions on which projects to invest in. Their role is as a minority investor – early in, early out to kickstart projects.

So far we have allocated $120 million out of a potential $400 million in funding.

We have potential for an extra 420,000 hectares of land to be irrigated by 2025, creating thousands of new jobs and boosting exports by $4 billion a year.

I’ve seen for myself what a difference irrigation makes to rural communities, revitalising schools and entire towns, creating jobs for locals.

Crown Irrigation Investments has made its first investment, agreeing the terms for a $6.5m investment into the Central Plains Water scheme on the Canterbury Plains.

Over the next three years I’m looking forward to seeing more investments like this announced and progressing.

It’s worth noting it is not just dairy that benefits from irrigation, but industries like horticulture, and viticulture as well.

Projects must be environmentally balanced, and there are high standards for new dairy farm conversions.

We know that irrigation can deliver real environmental benefits as more consistent river flows improve the habitats for fish and birdlife, while taking pressure off groundwater aquifiers.

Achieving our export double goal has to be done sustainably. It’s important to New Zealanders, and it’s important to our overseas customers as part of Brand New Zealand.

Technology transfer from projects like PGP and the Sustainable Farming Fund will be important. Lifting the performance of all farms to the highest performing level will mean increased production within environmental limits.

As a Government we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars towards freshwater clean-up projects on lakes and rivers around the country.

During the campaign we announced we’ll invest an additional $100 million over 10 years to voluntarily buy and retire selected areas of farmland next to important waterways.

We’ll also introduce a requirement to exclude dairy cattle from waterways by 1 July 2017, and will work with industry to exclude other cattle from waterways over time on intensively farmed lowland properties.

I want to recognise and salute the dairy industry for the enormous progress they have made in voluntarily fencing off around 90% of waterways on their farms. But it’s important we send a clear message to international markets how importantly we take environmental issues.

The other crucial area for our primary industries is a strong and effective biosecurity system.

Last term I made biosecurity my number one priority and it is this term as well.

We have a world class system that has been beefed up a lot in the last few years. Around 125 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 18 months, and we have 12 new x-ray machines at our international airports.

Last year I announced a new $65 million high-security biocontainment laboratory in Upper Hutt. This new replacement lab will play a major role in responding to disease outbreaks, protecting public health and providing international trade assurances about New Zealand’s animal disease status.

We also have a major programme of work underway on foot and mouth prevention and preparedness, including an agreement with Australia and sending veterinarians overseas to gain first-hand experience with this disease.

You can expect to see more Government Industry Agreements (GIAs) signed in the next few years, following the lead of the kiwifruit and pork industries. These involve industry and the Government working together on preparation and response to biosecurity threats.

Maori agribusiness and skills
I also will be pushing MPI to work closely with other Government agencies to develop the potential of Māori agribusiness. There is enormous potential with around 1.5 million hectares of land in collective ownership but most of it under-achieving.

MPI will be working with regions like Northland, Bay of Plenty and the East Coast to help them identify and realise their potential.

We also know the challenge ahead of us in attracting the best and brightest young people into the primary industries.

To reach our export double target we will need an additional 50,000 workers by 2025 and over half of these workers will need a Tertiary or Level 4 Qualification.

Industry and Government need to work together on this challenge, of which a big part is raising awareness of the opportunities out there.

Some of you of you would have seen Mike McRoberts’ story on 3rd Degreerecently about the young Aucklander Luke Chivers who made a major career change and moved to a dairy farm to work. It featured three outstanding young people who are superb ambassadors for the industry.

Another great story is young Patrick Roskam, a 13 year old student from Matamata who the Prime Minister and I met last year. Patrick has invented a gate tool used to quickly and accurately hang gates which won him the Young Innovator of the Year Award at this year’s Fieldays.

It’s great stories like these we need to keep telling to the rest of New Zealand.

So as you can see, I have a busy programme ahead with some ambitious goals. But none of them will be achieved without the buy-in and cooperation of industry.

I’m looking forward to working closely with you all over the next few years to build that future.


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Updated Secret TPP – IP Chapter Thu, 16 Oct 2014 07:38:04 +0000 Press Release – Wikileaks

Today, Thursday 16 October 2014, WikiLeaks released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the world’s largest economic trade agreement that will, if it comes into force, encompass …Press Release – Updated Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – IP Chapter (second publication)

Today, Thursday 16 October 2014, WikiLeaks released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the world’s largest economic trade agreement that will, if it comes into force, encompass more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The IP Chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations and copyright issues to digital rights. Experts say it will affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicines globally. The WikiLeaks release comes ahead of a Chief Negotiators’ meeting in Canberra on 19 October 2014, which is followed by what is meant to be a decisive Ministerial meeting in Sydney on 25–27 October.

Despite the wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is currently being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries. Few people, even within the negotiating countries’ governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement and the public, who it will affect most, none at all. Large corporations, however, are able to see portions of the text, generating a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups and bringing developing country members reduced force, while the public at large gets no say. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief, said:

The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny. By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.

The 77-page, 30,000-word document is a working document from the negotiations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, dated 16 May 2014, and includes negotiator’s notes and all country positions from that period in bracketed text. Although there have been a couple of additional rounds of talks since this text, little has changed in them and it is clear that the negotiations are stalling and that the issues raised in this document will be very much on the table in Australia this month.

The last time the public got access to the TPP IP Chapter draft text was in November 2013 when WikiLeaks published the 30 August 2013 bracketed text. Since that point, some controversial and damaging areas have had little change; issues surrounding digital rights have moved little. However, there are significant industry-favouring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs and will also weaken the requirements needed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations like Monsanto.

Nevertheless, some areas that were highlighted after WikiLeaks’ last IP Chapter release have seen alterations that reflect the controversy; surgical method patents have been removed from the text. Doctors’ groups said this was vitally important for allowing doctors to engage in medical procedures without fear of a lawsuit for providing the best care for their patients. Opposition is increasing to remove the provision proposed by the US and Japan that would require granting of patents for new drugs that are slightly altered from a previous patented one (evergreening), a technique by the pharmaceutical industry to prolong market monopoly.

The new WikiLeaks release of the May 2014 TPP IP text also has previously unseen addendums, including a new proposal for different treatment for developing countries, with varying transition periods for the text to take force. Whilst this can be viewed as an attempt to ease the onus of this harsh treaty on these countries, our diplomatic sources say it is a stalling tactic. The negative proposals within the agreement would still have to come into force in those countries, while the governments that brought them in would have changed.

Despite the United States wanting to push to a resolution within the TPP last year, this bracketed text shows there is still huge opposition and disagreement throughout the text. At this critical moment the negotiations have now stalled, and developing countries are giving greater resistance. Despite the huge lobbying efforts, and many favourable proposals for big pharmaceutical companies, they are not getting entirely what they wish for either. Julian Assange said:

The lack of movement within the TPP IP Chapter shows that this only stands to harm people, and no one is satisfied. This clearly demonstrates that such an all-encompassing and divisive trade agreement is too damaging to be brought into force. The TPP should stop now.

Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.


Read the full secret TPP treaty IP Chapter from May 2014 here

Read the WikiLeaks editorial on this Chapter – US and Japan Lead Attack on Affordable Cancer Treatments

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Leaked draft confirms TPP will censor Internet Thu, 16 Oct 2014 07:34:45 +0000 Press Release – OpenMedia

October 16, 2014 This morning Wikileaks published a second leaked draft of the Intellectual Property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The draft confirms peoples worst fears about Internet censorship. Thats according to community-based …For Immediate Release
Leaked draft confirms TPP will censor Internet and stifle Free Expression worldwide
October 16, 2014 – This morning Wikileaks published a second leaked draft of the Intellectual Property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The draft confirms people’s worst fears about Internet censorship. That’s according to community-based organization OpenMedia, which is leading a large international Fair Deal Coalition aimed at securing balanced copyright rules for the 21st Century.
“It is hugely disappointing to see that, yet again, Canadians – and members of the public worldwide – have to be informed about these critical issues through leaked drafts, instead of through democratic engagement on the part of governments and elected officials,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Coordinator Meghan Sali. “When will our decision-makers recognize that negotiating serious issues – especially proposals that would censor our use of the Internet – must be considered and debated democratically instead of in secret meetings with industry lobbyists?”
Sali continued, “It is now clearer than ever that we need a positive alternative to this secretive process. It is unacceptable to design and impose new laws through closed-door processes that disenfranchise individuals around the world and shut off debate on important issues that will affect all of our futures. This is what the Our Digital Future report, released just yesterday, is all about – challenging the notion that we can’t make these laws in a more democratic manner.”
This morning, copyright and digital rights expert, Prof. Michael Geist, weighed in on his blog about the most recent leaked draft, noting that the Canadian negotiators have been opposing U.S. pressure to introduce stricter enforcement for patent and copyright law – with the strongest pushback coming in the “patents, enforcement, trademarks and copyright sections.”
Geist writes on his blog: “As the treaty negotiations continue, the pressure to cave to U.S. pressure will no doubt increase, raising serious concerns about whether the TPP will force the Canadian government to overhaul recently enacted legislation that it has steadfastly defended as reflecting a balanced, “made in Canada” approach.”
With the next round of TPP negotiations taking place in Australia at the end of October, pressure is mounting on negotiators to finalize the agreement, and copyright issues are a main stumbling block to achieving the consensus needed to finish negotiations. This leaked document may contribute additional strain to already tense negotiations.
Early legal analysis of the leaked TPP IP chapter can be found through Fair Deal Member KEI here:

About is an award-winning community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights.
Through campaigns such as and, has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.
About the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement:
The TPP is one of the most far-reaching international free trade agreements in history. We know from leaked TPP draft texts that participating nations would be bound to much stricter and more extreme copyright laws than now exist under current national laws. These new rules would criminalize much online activity, invade citizens’ privacy, and significantly impact our ability to share and collaborate online.
Negotiators from 12 of the TPP negotiating nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States— are meeting in Asia this week to discuss these changes without input from the public, creators, or most businesses. The negotiating documents are classified—unless you are one of just 600 industry lobbyists permitted to participate.
U.S. negotiators are pushing hard to force smaller nations into accepting a censored Internet. However, reports have indicated that the intellectual property provisions have been quite a “challenging” issue for those behind the agreement.
Hundreds of thousands of people have supported campaigns organized by OpenMedia to speak out about Internet censorship and the secrecy surrounding the TPP.
More Information
• Internet governance expert says U.S. trying to strong-arm Canada into economically-damaging Internet censorship rules in international agreement. Source:
• Full text of the TPP’s Internet censorship chapter – source: Wikileaks
• Detailed expert analysis of the leaked TPP draft can be found at:
• In August 2013, OpenMedia and the Our Fair Deal Coalition launched an alternative process to the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, enabling citizens to have their say on shaping their digital future.
• In May 2013, OpenMedia and Coalition partners sent TPP Trade Ministers a letter to demand a ‘Fair Deal’ on provisions that would restrict Internet use in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.
• We also sent a message to new U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman by purchasing a hard-hitting Washington D.C. newspaper ad.
• In December 2012, OpenMedia’s Steve Anderson took our message direct to TPP negotiators in Auckland. Read his full report from Auckland here.
• In June 2012, OpenMedia joined with a diverse coalition of groups to launch the petition – a petition which gained over 135,000 signatures and which was hand-delivered to TPP negotiators in San Diego.

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