New Zealand

Parliament: Questions and Answers June 3 2020


 

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO
MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Finance

1.
Dr DUNCAN WEBB (Labour—Christchurch Central)
to
the Minister of Finance: What recent
reports has he seen on the New Zealand economy in the
context of the global COVID-19 pandemic?

Hon
GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance)
: In its
latest weekly commentary, released yesterday, Westpac said
that “There was a definite bounce in the economy after the
Alert Level 4 lockdown was lifted,”. It said recent
card-spending data points to an encouraging degree of
resilience in households’ spending appetites, while key
indicators such as electricity demand, heavy and light
traffic movements, and a slower pace of job losses recently,
were also pointing to a faster recovery than we had
expected. Westpac said that although there had been a large
lift in the number of people on the jobseeker benefit, it
was a more modest increase than expected, largely due to the
Government’s wage subsidy scheme. Accordingly, it expects
unemployment may not reach its own forecast peak of 9.5
percent. I am pleased to see that this commentary recognises
the impact of New Zealanders efforts in getting the virus
under control, coupled with the Government’s unprecedented
level of economic support so that we have the best chance of
our economy recovering well.

Dr Duncan
Webb
: What reports has he seen on the scale of the
Government’s support for the New Zealand
economy?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The
Government’s unprecedented $62.1 billion in available
economic support includes the wage subsidy scheme, the Small
Business Cashflow (Loan) Scheme, $2.8 billion in business
tax changes, an estimated $3.1 billion tax loss carry-back
scheme, $3 billion for new infrastructure projects, $1.6
billion for the trades and apprenticeship training package,
the billion-dollar environmental jobs package, $216 million
for the international business sector, and, as of today’s
announcement, $150 million for research and development
loans. According to analysis from Treasury, this package
represents nearly 20 percent of GDP, which puts it as one of
the largest fiscal support packages in the world, well above
Australia, Japan, Singapore, Canada, the US, and the UK.
From the outset of this pandemic, our Government has
committed to going hard and going early, cushioning the blow
for households and businesses, and kick-starting the
recovery on the other side. The scale of our fiscal support
represents the scale of our commitment to New Zealanders to
help see them through the crisis.

Dr Duncan
Webb
: What reports has he seen on the international
context for the New Zealand economy?

Hon GRANT
ROBERTSON
: I’ve seen a range of reports that
indicate that many other countries may be facing greater
economic impacts from COVID-19 and a slower recovery from
it. The Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian
Treasury are both forecasting unemployment to rise to 10
percent in Australia. According to the International
Monetary Fund, Ireland’s unemployment rate is forecast to
rise to 12 percent this year. The unemployment rate for
April in the US was officially 14.7 percent, but a report
from Goldman Sachs estimates it could be as high as 21.5
percent in May.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: A
thousand a day.

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON:
That’s not true, Mr Brownlee. We have always been upfront
that the road ahead will be difficult. We will not be able
to save every job or every business, but these forecasts
show that, thanks to our collective success in fighting the
virus and our efforts at cushioning the economic blow, we
face less damaging immediate impacts, and the opportunity
for a stronger recovery.

Question No. 2—Prime
Minister

2. TODD MULLER (Leader of the
Opposition)
to the Prime Minister:
Why isn’t New Zealand already in alert level
1?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime
Minister)
: While ongoing zero-case days have given
us confidence to move forward consideration of a move to
alert level 1 to 8 June, earlier than that would not have
given sufficient confidence that transmission was not
occurring that has not yet been detected. The incubation
period of the virus is up to 14 days; it’s only been 13 days
since bars reopened and five days since gathering sizes were
lifted to 100. We also have to bear in mind that it is worse
for our economy if we move backwards and forwards between
alert levels rather than making the right decision the first
time. It is also important to note that we began our
staggered approach to alert level 2 less than three weeks
ago, and New Zealand already has some of the most liberal
restrictions in the world because of the effectiveness of
our strategy to date. We need to ensure that as a team of 5
million we do not lose the gains we’ve made to date and go
backwards.

Todd Muller: Why is she so
reticent to move to alert level 1, when Dr Ashley Bloomfield
has said there is—and I quote—”no evidence of community
transmission in New Zealand”?

Rt Hon JACINDA
ARDERN
: I’m acting on the advice of
director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield. He is the one giving
us the guidance to remain where we are. He has expressed
comfort with us making that consideration on 8 June, but
that is not an accurate reflection of his
views.

Todd Muller: Is it correct
that—and I quote—”from a public health perspective alert
level 1 means there has been a period of more than 28 days
with no new cases of COVID-19 caused by community
transmission and there is an extremely low public health
risk from the virus”, as is says in the paper I have here in
her name titled COVID-19 Alert Level 1 Controls,
which I understand was discussed at Cabinet
yesterday?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The
member knows that we have made fully and widely available
the settings of alert level 1, 2, 3, and 4, and in the
criteria for decision making it does say, “trends in the
transmission of the virus, with the threshold varying by
alert level, including the director-general’s confidence in
the data.” So, yes, we’ve included a period where we haven’t
had cases—keeping in mind we’re only up to 12 days
presently—but also the number of days where we haven’t had
a case from community transmission, which was roughly about
a month ago now. But that is not the only criteria. The
director-general has to be confident in the data. We know
there is asymptomatic transmission. We know there is a long
tail. I would rather move once, do it right, and not
continue to risk our economy.

Todd
Muller
: When was New Zealand’s last case of
community transmission?

Rt Hon JACINDA
ARDERN
: As I just said, it was at the beginning of
May. However, that was not the last case that we had, which
was, from memory, 12 days ago. I have to say I am alarmed at
the suggestion from the member that, even with some of the
loosest restrictions in the world, the member would still be
willing to act against the advice of the Director-General of
Health, open up before he has advised that we do so, and put
at risk the huge effort and sacrifice of New Zealanders. I
would rather do it once and do it right.

Todd
Muller
: Why did you say that it
was—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! “She”,
thank you.

Todd Muller: To the Prime
Minister: how can you match that answer with the fact that
on 20 May you said—and I quote—”the last case of
community transmission where the source was unknown was
early April.”? That means we’ve had now three full cycles of
transmission with no community transmission cases in New
Zealand—60 days since—

SPEAKER:
Order! Order! Order!

Rt Hon JACINDA
ARDERN
: We had a case that was linked to overseas
travel but the overseas travel was outside the period of
infection. So the view was that it could either have been
community transmission or overseas travel. Again, the member
forgets that that is but one of many criteria that we take
into consideration, and we must listen to the advice not
only of the scientists and epidemiologists but also the
Director-General of Health. If the member thinks he knows
more than all of them combined, I congratulate him, but I
would rather listen to the advice, get it right, and not
risk our economy.

Hon Chris Hipkins:
Has the Prime Minister been advised that as recently as
yesterday Australian states were reporting new cases of
community transmission, and will the Government take that
into consideration when considering the Opposition’s urging
to reopen the border with Australia with
urgency?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes.
We of course are mindful of the impacts of every restriction
on our economy, on our businesses, but I equally will not
jeopardise the gains and sacrifices made by those businesses
by either opening us before we’re ready or moving alert
levels before we’re ready. I reflect on the comments made by
a small-business owner that they would rather live with the
restrictions now than risk going back later
on.

Todd Muller: Prime Minister,
isn’t it time for a captain’s call on level 1 so that a team
of 5 million New Zealanders can get back to rebuilding this
country and recovering their jobs?

Rt Hon
JACINDA ARDERN
: I have proudly made captain’s calls
all the way through and it is one of the reasons that,
alongside our team of 5 million, we are the envy of the
world in terms of our position right now. I stand by every
call I’ve made and that’s why we are waiting until 8
June.

Hon Chris Hipkins:
Supplementary question, Mr
Speaker.

SPEAKER: I can’t tell if
it’s a point of order or a question, because of the yelling
that is going on. I can’t quite work out the reason for it
today, but there seems to have been something in the water
at lunchtime on my left, and I would like the volume to be
turned down, and I would like the provocation to be turned
off by the people who are not called to answer
questions.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Will
she accept the urging from the Leader of the Opposition to
make a captain’s call to reopen the border with China with
urgency?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No.
And I do reflect on the fact that yesterday the member did
say that he didn’t have all of the information in front of
him to make a decision around moving to alert level 1, and I
would just reflect on that. I actually support the position
the member took at that time. There are a number of things
that have to be considered. Cabinet makes those decisions
alongside the advice of the director-general and the best
scientific advice we have. It has to be about moving as
quickly as we can but as safely as we
can.

Todd Muller: Why is it that your
vice-captain doesn’t actually
have—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! No,
look, I warned the member once and he sort of half corrected
it, he did it again, and he’s done it wrong again. My
vice-captain is over there. Ask the question
again.

Todd Muller: To the Prime
Minister—

Rt Hon Winston Peters:
Sir, to you!

SPEAKER: Oh, for
goodness’ sake! I heard a very wise kaumātua on the radio
this morning, talking about breaches of rules and the
consequences of them. The member will stand, withdraw, and
apologise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I
withdraw and apologise.

Todd Muller:
To the Prime Minister, why wait till midnight Wednesday,
when the whole country needs us to be in level 1
today?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Because
the whole country needs us to not go backwards. The whole
country needs us to move once and to do it right, and the
whole country wants to move with confidence. The member does
a disservice when he explains that the decision-making
process is as simplistic as he describes—it is not. We
factor in a range of issues, including economic impact,
including compliance, including transmission, and our
unknowns. And I stand by every decision we have made to
date.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well done,
captain!

SPEAKER: Mr Brownlee, I
think people will describe people correctly in the House
from now on. We’re not going to have a big argument about it
now.

Question No. 3—Finance

3. Hon
PAUL GOLDSMITH (National)
to the Minister
of Finance
: What is the Treasury’s best estimate of
job losses from being at level 2 as opposed to level
1?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of
Finance)
: I’m advised that that would depend on the
time spent at each level and other factors such as the
global economic environment and the level of domestic
activity under the different alert levels. Treasury’s
central Budget forecasts assume that the country would be at
level 4 for a month, level 3 for a month, and then either
levels 2 or 1 for the remainder of the year to March 2021.
Treasury assumed growth in employment—i.e., a net increase
in jobs—from the start of the September quarter, beginning
1 July. This is a period in which Treasury assumes the
country is either at level 2 or level 1. Therefore,
employment growth is expected under both levels 2 and level
1.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Can he
understand the anger of small-business people seeing their
businesses taken closer to the edge every day they remain
under restriction, when the general public, including the
Prime Minister and her selfies, seem to have moved
on?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I don’t know
about the end of that question, but I share the view of most
New Zealanders that we should do this job once and do it
right.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Can he
understand the frustrations of AJ, owner of Novelty
restaurant in Botany, who normally operates with 100 patrons
but under level 2 can only operate with 30 to 40 patrons,
and who said today, “Every day we stay at level 2, it really
threatens the very survivability of the
business”?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I
understand the frustration of many New Zealanders that
COVID-19 has arrived and had such a massive impact on our
society and our economy. But I also believe—and I think
I’ve seen survey work to back this up—that New Zealanders
back the idea of doing this job once and doing it right. I
invite the member to look around the world at other
countries who have not had the success New Zealanders have,
who face many, many months of restrictions. We’ve done well.
We’ve just got to finish the job.

Hon Paul
Goldsmith
: Rather than continually congratulating
himself and his Government, would he not do better to
acknowledge that as one of the most isolated countries in
the world, with a small, sparsely spread, and relatively
young population, New Zealand should have led the world in
getting on top of the virus, and we have?

Hon
GRANT ROBERTSON
: Well, there are certain
geographical advantages in New Zealand, but I think the
member does a disservice to the 5 million New Zealanders who
sacrificed a great deal to get us to the position we’re in.
We should be proud of New Zealanders’ efforts, not
belittling of them.

Rt Hon Winston
Peters
: Could I ask the finance Minister that if
this is, as was just posed, a relatively young country, why
would they be wanting to put the retirement age
up?

SPEAKER: Order! Order! It’s just
too tangential.

Hon Paul Goldsmith:
Why can businesses not return to normal operations without
current restrictions, when the Director-General of Health,
Ashley Bloomfield, has said there is “no evidence of
community transmission in New Zealand”?

Hon
GRANT ROBERTSON
: This matter has just been covered
by the Prime Minister in answering the Leader of the
Opposition, so I invite the member to share their questions
with each other in the future. But it would be fair to say
that that is not an accurate representation of the views of
the director-general.

Hon Paul
Goldsmith
: Why were 4,000 people able to gather to
protest without any social distancing on Monday, yet
businesses are being forced to abide by strict social
distancing rules and gathering restrictions which are
pushing many of them to the brink?

Hon GRANT
ROBERTSON
: It’s a fairly basic rule of life that
one person breaking the rules doesn’t justify it for
everybody else.

Question No.
4—Education

4. MARJA LUBECK
(Labour)
to the Minister of
Education
: What decisions has the Government taken
on investing in training and education for people who have
lost their jobs or who want to move into a different
sector?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of
Education)
: The Government’s trades and
apprenticeships training package will pay the cost of
learners of all ages to undertake vocational education and
training over the next 2½ years. The initial set of
targeted areas that will qualify for this support, starting
on 1 July this year and for the rest of 2020, include
primary industries, building and construction, community
support, manufacturing, mechanical engineering and
technology, electrical engineering, and road transport.
Further details are available on the Tertiary Education
Commission website. Circumstances dictated that we needed to
move fast, so for the beginning of 2021 we’ll be refining
these initial targeted areas to reflect the work that’s
under way across Government to better understand how
industry workforce needs are being affected by COVID-19 and
what skills will be needed to support the country’s economic
recovery.

Marja Lubeck: Will
apprentices have the same eligibility as people in other
forms of training?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS:
No. All apprenticeships, including those outside of the
targeted areas, will be eligible for the fees support. This
is aimed at industries that are expected to be particularly
hard hit by COVID-19, including hospitality, tourism, and
food, where we want employers to keep their apprentices on,
and we’ll be supporting them to do so.

Marja
Lubeck
: What response has he seen to the trades and
apprenticeships training package?

Hon CHRIS
HIPKINS
: A very, very warm response—heaps. Master
Builders’ representatives have said it’s going to ease the
burden of young guys wanting to get into the trade, because
it’s a cost they won’t have to bear.

David
Seymour
: Just guys?

Hon CHRIS
HIPKINS
: Otago—well, yes, that’s right; there’ll
be some women wanting to get into the trades as well. The
Otago Secondary Principals’ Association have said the
initiative would open doors to employment for school-leavers
at a time when many were closing. Representatives of the
viticulturists’ industry have said that it’s really exciting
for them. And the Southern Institute of Technology chief
executive, Penny Simmonds, has said, “We believe the
minister’s release of initial programmes for supported
training to aid Covid-19 recovery will stimulate demand for
a number of … programmes SIT has expertise in. … This
may mean SIT will need to run additional intakes, but we are
well prepared … [and] able to do
that.”

Marja Lubeck: Are the
industries suffering the most economic harm, such as
hospitality, tourism, and retail, missing out on this
fund?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No. We want
to provide training options, particularly where people are
enrolled in pre-employment programmes that will lead them to
strong job prospects. It doesn’t make sense to encourage
people to train in areas if the jobs aren’t currently there.
On the other hand, those who are already in training and on
job training, we want them to complete their qualifications,
which is why we’re supporting existing apprentices in those
areas to complete their apprenticeships. That means that
we’re supporting those whose employment could otherwise be
adversely affected by COVID-19.

Question No.
5—Environment

5. DAVID SEYMOUR
(Leader—ACT)
to the Minister for the
Environment
: Does he believe it is appropriate to
impose new regulations on the rural sector, given it is
likely that New Zealand is about to enter a
recession?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister for the
Environment)
: I believe that allowing pollution to
get worse is both wrong environmentally and economically,
because if continues to get worse, it would cost more to
clean up, not less. The new national environmental
standards, in effect, hold the line. The changes under the
national policy statement do not take effect for several
years, by which time New Zealand is expected to have
recovered from the economic impact of COVID-19. I note that
the overall time frame to clean up all of our waterways to a
healthy state is a generation, and that will span a number
of economic cycles.

David Seymour: Is
he concerned about the job losses and mental health
pressures that the Ministry for the Environment’s own
analysis says will result from the regulations he’s putting
in place?

Hon DAVID PARKER: The
cost-benefit analysis, which is very, very thorough and has
been peer-reviewed, says that while many important benefits
can’t be quantified, those that were quantified have an
aggregate annual value of $359 million per annum up to
2050—primarily from improved swimmability reducing health
risks, ecosystem services, water storage as a consequence of
wetland protection, and the like. The estimated costs are
approximately $166 million per annum, which means that,
overall, the net benefit is $193 million per annum over 30
years, excluding brand benefits, which can’t be quantified
but are positive.

David Seymour: Why
is the Government focusing on putting new costs on the rural
sector instead of resourcing local government in urban
settings to clean up waterways, such as Remuera’s Hobson
Bay, where E. coli readings are 700 times safe
levels?

Hon DAVID PARKER: We’re not.
And to use the language that the ACT Party used to relate
to, what we’re doing is internalising externalities to avoid
the tragedy of the commons. In respect of urban issues, we
are applying the same standards to urban areas. I think it
is noteworthy that the Auckland Council is bringing forward
more than a billion dollars of expenditure to separate
sewage from storm water to avoid the very issues that the
member complains of, which I agree do need to be
addressed.

Question No. 6—Health

6.
Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National)
to the
Minister of Health: Has he received any
advice regarding the number of health procedures unrelated
to COVID-19 that did not take place as planned due to
COVID-19; if so, what is his best estimate of the number of
these procedures?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister
of Health)
: As I explained to the member
previously, Budget 2020 included a one-off investment of
$282.5 million to fund a planned care catch-up campaign
following disruption caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Preliminary data suggests that approximately 8,500 elective
and acute in-patient surgeries, 11,200 minor surgeries,
11,800 scans, and 3,200 endoscopy procedures were deferred.
I’m advised that the Budget 2020 funding will more than
cover that level of deferred care.

Hon Michael
Woodhouse
: Has he seen the report of the Cancer
Control Agency that concludes there were more than a
thousand fewer cancer registrations in April 2020 compared
with the same period last year, and a third fewer curative
cancer surgeries?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK:
I have seen that report. I’ve also seen it’s about 500
overall behind this year, because of that month in April
setting back the number of diagnostics. It’s true that there
has been a global pandemic, and that the Government is
prioritising catch-up. It’s also good that cancer
diagnostics were running ahead of previous years before the
lockdown this year.

Hon Michael
Woodhouse
: What is the Government’s acceptable
number of lives lost or shortened because of non-COVID
health conditions during the lockdown?

Hon Dr
DAVID CLARK
: I’m advised that, in fact, clinicians
are doing a very good job of prioritising the care needed.
Of course, if people needed urgent care during the lockdown,
they were able to get it.

Hon Michael
Woodhouse
: So is it his position that non –
COVID-related morbidity and death was unaffected by the
lockdown?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I’m
advised that clinicians have been prioritising care
appropriately. It is impossible, actually, to make that
judgment at this stage, but I guess we have the
international comparison, where countries that did not go
hard and go early, that did not have a team of five million,
have far worse outcomes, still have restrictions on access
to hospital care, and are likely to do so for many months to
come. I want to thank the hard-working clinicians that have
made our response so successful by international comparison,
and the New Zealanders who have worked so hard and made
sacrifices to make that happen too.

Hon
Michael Woodhouse
: What firm plans, if any, have
district health boards (DHBs) made to clear the publicly
funded backlog of elective surgery?

Hon Dr
DAVID CLARK
: The DHBs are making detailed plans to
ensure that they are delivering more care for more people;
indeed, year-on-year they have been doing that every year
under this Government, and I’m sure that the $3.92 billion
record investment that this Government has put in in this
Budget into DHBs will also make a significant difference.
This Government has followed on from another Government that
neglected the health system for nine years, that underfunded
it, and, as a consequence, as we’ve put more money in, we’ve
seen 1,500 more nurses than when we took office, we’ve seen
900 more doctors, we’ve seen 600 more allied health workers,
and we’re seeing more care for more people. I thank the
member for the opportunity to outline the progress that is
being made.

Hon Michael Woodhouse:
Well, if a detailed plan for clearing elective surgeries
does exist, will he make it public?

Hon Dr
DAVID CLARK
: The DHBs, of course, have an annual
planning process under way that will provide extraordinary
detail on what they will be doing in the year ahead, and
that will be, of course, public, as it is every
year.

Question No. 7—Māori
Development

7. TAMATI COFFEY
(Labour—Waiariki)
to the Minister for
Māori Development
: What announcements has she made
to support Māori tourism operators?

Hon
NANAIA MAHUTA (Minister for Māori Development)
:
We’ve acted to safeguard one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s icons
of Māori tourism, Te Puia and the Māori Arts and Crafts
Institute (MAKI), by investing $7.6 million over the next
two years to safeguard the future of Toi Māori. The legacy
contribution of MAKI has seen the teaching of carvers,
weavers, waka exponents, and arts and crafts experts hone
their skills and contribute to cultural revival over the
last 100 years. This investment will continue their
contribution as a training institute.

Tamati
Coffey
: What additional support has the Government
provided to Māori tourism?

Hon NANAIA
MAHUTA
: First, I want to acknowledge New Zealand
Māori Tourism, who have a specific mandate to support the
Māori tourism sector and the work that we do. In addition
to the economic recovery packages the Government have
announced for businesses such as two rounds of wage
subsidies and small-business loans, we’ve allocated $10
million contingency of funding to New Zealand Māori Tourism
to support the Māori tourism sector to pivot in the new
environment. We’ve supported the stand up of a business
support service led by New Zealand Māori Tourism and
supported by Poutama Trust and the Māori Women’s
Development Inc. to help Māori small and medium sized
enterprises’ position during this challenging time. In
addition to this, New Zealand Māori Tourism provides
further specialist support for Māori tourism operators. We
anticipate those businesses will be a key feature of local
and regional tourism networks now and moving on into the
future.

Tamati Coffey: How will the
recovery of Māori tourism support an integrated network of
tourism operators and an increased focus on regional
destinations and experiences?

Hon NANAIA
MAHUTA
: Fantastic question. The Māori tourism
sector employs about 14,000 people across the country and
includes some of the country’s most iconic and globally
renowned tourism attractions. Māori tourism’s contribution
to New Zealand is more than just financial. The network of
Māori tourism businesses contribute to New Zealand’s
overall image, brand, and reputation. There is a unique
point of difference on the world
stage—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! I’m
going to interrupt the member, partly because of the way she
started and partly because of the very poor use of the word
“iconic” and the fact that the answer is far too long, as
the others were.

Tamati Coffey: What
is the biggest challenge for Māori tourism operators as
they pivot towards attracting a domestic tourism market
while borders remain closed?

Hon NANAIA
MAHUTA
: Undervaluing and underpricing our
experiences and tourism product experiences because of the
view that it’s in our backyard. By getting behind our local
businesses and tourist destinations, we can support the
sector to rebuild its way towards a recovery that retains a
strong and unique point of difference to any other country
in the world. As the saying goes, “Let’s back our backyard”.
Value our language, culture, and local stories—that way,
we’ll all benefit.

Question No. 8—Foreign
Affairs

8. Hon GERRY BROWNLEE
(National—Ilam)
to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs
: Has work by his officials on a
trans-Tasman bubble progressed to a point where he can put a
date on its start?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS
(Minister of Foreign Affairs)
: We considered the
issue of a trans-Tasman bubble even before New Zealand went
into lockdown. Our responsibility was to try and anticipate
every outcome and ensure that we make the right decisions
when faced with tough choices. On 23 March 2020, before the
lockdown began, I met with the chief executive of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and started our plan
to develop a trans-Tasman bubble that day. We committed to
talking to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
(DFAT) in Australia and begin communications on this
project. The House should note that, at the same time, many,
many countries weren’t even thinking about the effects of
COVID-19.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Have
the parameters for a trans-Tasman bubble been discussed by
Cabinet?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It is
true to say that Cabinet colleagues are well aware of the
work that’s been going on with respect to this. But, despite
all the work that’s gone on, this is not a decision that we
can make just by ourselves. It has to be made with a country
called Australia, which, unfortunately—or fortunately,
depending on how you look at it—constitutionally has a
federal system. And so it’s also to be made there state by
state, as you see. So if, for example, Australia is not
travelling interstate, it’s very difficult for us to go
inter-country. But we’re working as hard as we can on
it.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: So have the
parameters for a trans-Tasman bubble been discussed by
Cabinet?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: If
the member means by “parameters” the restrictions, the
answer is no, because, again—because we do believe in
consultation on this side of the House—we’re in full
consultation with my counterpart in Australia, the Minister
for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne. The Prime Minister has
been in discussion with Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime
Minister. And so, with respect to the parameters, that will
be an agreement between both of our countries on all aspects
of the trans-Tasman bubble as to when it gets
started.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Does he
appreciate that, without a publicly available timeline,
tourism business planning is very difficult and will lead to
even more job losses?

Rt Hon WINSTON
PETERS
: I think the answer and evidence for that is
that on 23 March, before we went into the lockdown, my
department started work with DFAT Australia to ensure that
when the time came for us to be able to inter-country
travel, we’d be ready. Yes, we do appreciate that. That’s
why we didn’t waste one day of our time.

Hon
Gerry Brownlee
: Then would he be prepared to
speculate for the House about what a timeline might look
like? In the absence of an official timeline, at least some
hope for those businesses might be able to be given to the
House by the Minister today.

Rt Hon WINSTON
PETERS
: Can I say that if one wanted to cross one’s
bridges before you got to them, you might talk about
speculating, but that would be irresponsible in the extreme,
because we’re talking with other countries and other states
apart from Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, New
South Wales, and, dare I say it, in time, Victoria. And to
say you’re going to get up and speculate about something
like that, when the province of decision making lies in
their hands as well, would be utterly wrong. That’s why
we’re in foreign affairs. We do things with tact and
diplomacy.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Then
is it reasonable for New Zealanders following this question
to assume that there’s been no point where a trans-Tasman
bubble can be identified as likely to
occur?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It
would be entirely wrong to be misled by such a forecast or
proscription as the one we’ve just heard. The truth is, as
I’ve said, on 23 March we started working on this. It
requires us to go interstate as well. I know, for example,
the Premier of Tasmania has said he wants to open up now. We
know that New South Wales has a similar view. There’s a
tremendous number of people in the tourism industry in
Queensland who also want the same, but the state is not
ready yet, by their public pronouncements. We have got a
system of Government unlike theirs. They have a federal
system; the decision has to be made not just by Canberra but
by every state capital. It makes it very complex, but it
doesn’t mean that we have not, with fervour and unction and
urgency, got on with the job.

Hon Stuart
Nash
: Has the Minister seen any politicians
advocating for a bubble with China, and what is his view on
that?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I can
say yes, I have seen that—

SPEAKER:
No. I’m going to interrupt. The question was one relating to
the trans-Tasman, and the Tasman Sea doesn’t go that
far.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I raise a
point of order, Mr Speaker. You might say that, excepting
that when that was propositioned in this House, there was a
suggestion that it did go that far and that we add it to the
trans-Tasman bubble. That’s why I think it’s apposite and
relevant. Can I answer it please, because I’m certainly
prepared to?

SPEAKER: If the question
had been phrased in that way, then the member would have
been allowed to answer it.

Hon Stuart
Nash
: With regard to a trans-Tasman bubble or any
other bubbles opening up, has the Minister of Foreign
Affairs heard suggestions that there should be any other
countries that we should form a bubble
with?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The
answer is: most certainly—

Hon Gerry
Brownlee
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I
can understand why the Minister wants to answer that
question. It might save a little bit of grace for him, given
the answers—

SPEAKER: Order! Have
we got a point of order?

Hon Gerry
Brownlee
: Yes, I
have.

SPEAKER: Well, get to it,
because the member is not starting that
way.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Surely,
simply by referring to the trans-Tasman bubble and then
asking for “any other” is not strictly in line with the
primary question that’s been carefully put on the Order
Paper today.

SPEAKER: The member’s
absolutely right.

Question No.
9—Transport

9. CHRIS BISHOP
(National—Hutt South)
to the Minister of
Transport
: Did officials recommend in the Cabinet
paper released in June 2019 titled “Progressing our plans to
deliver light rail in Auckland” a process for Auckland light
rail that would have allowed all market participants the
opportunity to bid for the delivery of the project; and
when, if ever, does he expect to take light rail to Cabinet
next?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of
Transport)
: One of the options presented to Cabinet
would have allowed a full market process, but there were a
range of options, and Cabinet was advised on the pros and
cons and the trade-offs between them. It’s not in the public
interest to reveal the officials’ recommended option, as
this matter is still being considered as part of both the
commercial process and Cabinet decision-making. I expect to
take a paper to Cabinet about light rail in the coming
weeks.

Chris Bishop: Was it the
preferred approach of officials that there be a process for
Auckland light rail that would’ve allowed all market
participants the opportunity to bid for the delivery of the
project?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Light rail
is an important part of our Government’s solution to
Auckland’s growth and congestion problems. Cabinet first
gave the New Zealand Transport Agency leadership of this
project, then we received an unsolicited bid from NZ Infra,
and I thought that bid was worth serious consideration. I
took to Cabinet a recommendation that we look at both of
those options as part of a twin track process, and this was
following advice from officials that there were a number of
options that could be taken at that time. We’re now in the
middle of that process. It’s a commercial-in-confidence
process. This Government believes in behaving ethically in
business and in good-faith negotiations. We’re not able to
reveal the details until this process is complete, as we
must retain the integrity of both the commercial process and
Cabinet decision-making.

Chris
Bishop
: How does it affect the integrity of the
commercial decision-making process to reveal that his
officials’ preferred approach was contrary to the one that
Cabinet undertook?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD:
Because we’re in the middle of a process that was agreed by
Cabinet, the matters are subject to commercial probity, and
the Cabinet decision-making process is under way. We should
let that process run its course. It’s not in the public
interest to reveal those matters at this
time.

Chris Bishop: Why will he not
tell the public that Treasury and officials advised him to
open up the process for Auckland light rail to wider market
participants than just the Transport Agency and NZ
Infra?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I’ve already
explained that Treasury and the Ministry of Transport had
input into the paper that set out a number of options,
including going out to the full market, that the paper, the
advice that went to Cabinet, included consideration of the
pros and cons of those options and the trade-offs between
them. Cabinet considered all the options and Cabinet took
the decision to run the twin track
process.

Chris Bishop: Will Cabinet
consider Auckland light rail after 19 June 2020 when the
pre-election period commences?

Hon PHIL
TWYFORD
: As the member probably knows well, it
would be unwise in a Cabinet process to put a precise date
on that, but, as I’ve already said, I intend to take the
light rail paper to Cabinet in the coming
weeks.

Chris Bishop: Has he been
advised of any risk that NZ Infra may choose to walk away,
given that he hasn’t announced a delivery partner for
Auckland light rail, and, as he’s just said, it has to be
decided before Cabinet by 19 June?

Hon PHIL
TWYFORD
: I’m not prepared to divulge the detail of
a mountain of advice that was received on this matter, but I
think that if the member looks at reports that have been in
the media in recent days quoting NZ Infra, he’ll see that
his assertion doesn’t hold weight.

Question No.
10—Forestry

10. Hon TRACEY MARTIN (NZ
First)
to the Minister of
Forestry
: What recent announcements has he
made?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister of
Forestry)
: Along with my colleague the Hon Damien
O’Connor, from the one billion tree fund, the Government,
through my good self and my colleague, have announced $10
million to aid planting wetlands and waterways, create jobs
in communities, and improve the environment. In addition to
this, it will boost the local nurseries but, most
importantly, provide sorely needed jobs in the rural
community in the primary produce sector. [Hon Shane Jones
knocks over water glass
]

Hon Tracey
Martin
: How will this build on other initiatives
which protect our wetlands and
waterways?

SPEAKER: Speaking of
wetlands!

Hon SHANE JONES: I do have
a reputation as being a Minister who’s hot to trot, and I’ve
now been cooled down. I accept that. Last year, in a
neglected part of Aotearoa, the Waiapū catchment, we
allocated a sum of $5 million, and, in fairness to my
colleagues from the other side of the House, it was picking
up an obligation that they took on board in the settlement
of the Ngati Porou claim. We worked out that in areas such
as that, catchment improvements are not possible until we
get the nephs off the couch and teach them, actually, how to
start fencing again. We bring forward people that have been
dislocated from the job market, and we hope to continue
doing that with the $80 million recently announced for
waterways, riparian planting, and stock reticulation. There
is so much to talk about, and more will be stated as we move
closer to a certain date towards the end of the
year.

Hon Tracey Martin: What other
announcements has he made recently?

Hon SHANE
JONES
: It’s important that we bear in mind that
it’s not only about growing trees and environmental
resilience but it’s also investing in the next generation.
Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau, forestry scholarships, have
recently been announced. This is to encourage young women,
those who have already left school, Māori school-leavers,
and, indeed, anyone who wants to invest time, money, and
effort in gaining a qualification so that we can turn the
forestry sector from a low commodity game and increase both
the skill, the talent, and the transparency, in particular,
amongst those who play a role in advisory services and our
log mongers—and need a great deal of training and
education to ensure that our future industry is on the
strongest footing possible.

Question No.
11—Customs

11. Hon Dr NICK SMITH
(National—Nelson)
to the Minister of
Customs
: Does she agree with the statement by Steve
Sullivan from Nelson’s marine engineering company AIMEX that
“The Government’s policy to refuse entry of vessels for
engineering and maintenance work is costing jobs and
millions of dollars in work”, and does she stand by her
department’s decision to refuse entry to the fishing vessel
the Captain Vincent Gann?

Hon JENNY SALESA
(Minister of Customs)
: I do stand by Customs’
decision to give effect to immigration rules. This
Government’s position has continued to be that the best
economic response is a strong public health response. While
I appreciate this is an incredibly difficult time for many
businesses in New Zealand, our Government has made
unprecedented support available for businesses like AIMEX. I
encourage them to take up any and all support that they are
eligible for from the Government during this unprecedented
time.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the
Minister saying it’s better for New Zealand for companies
like AIMEX to take a wage subsidy rather than actually
letting them do the work that earns the company and the
country income.

Hon JENNY SALESA: The
question is mainly about whether or not we allow a fishing
vessel like this to come through. The decision made by the
Government has not been to open up our border. We are 12
days into having zero COVID-19 cases, with only one active
case. In terms of foreign ships, on 26 May a foreign fishing
boat emerged as one of the points of transmission where a
foreign-flagged, foreign-crewed vessel with 29 members of
its crew being COVID-19 positive was heading towards the
Pacific. A vaccine is not yet available for COVID-19, so the
fact is that we are focused on saving lives and focused on
public health. We are now looking at the recovery of our
economy, but I stand by our Government and our
response.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Why did
she state yesterday in this House that the Customs refusal
to allow entry of the Capt. Vincent Gann from
American Samoa to New Zealand was based on advice of the
ministry and Director-General of Health, when her department
has admitted it never sought any advice from the Ministry of
Health or the director-general on that vessel from American
Samoa.

SPEAKER: Before the member
answers, I heard at least three members from this side make
comments as to a member’s pronunciation. I think that we all
know that we have a variety of skills in this area, and it
ill behoves members, unless they think they’re absolutely
perfect, to criticise in that way. It will
stop.

Hon JENNY SALESA: The question
that the honourable member asked me yesterday was whether I
stand by Customs’ policies and actions—a very general
question. Then he followed up with the question about this
particular vessel. Had he put down a specific question like
that, I would have been able to answer in specific
ways.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does she
accept that the COVID-19 risks for the fishing crew from
American Samoa are far less than from the film crew that’s
been allowed in by the Government from California, when
American Samoa has had zero cases and zero deaths, and
California has had 115,000 cases and 4,200
deaths?

Hon JENNY SALESA: I reiterate
that this particular ship was a foreign-flagged,
foreign-crewed ship. They were not all Americans or American
Samoans on that particular ship. Customs enforces the rules
and laws that Parliament and Cabinet set. The exemptions for
visas are by the Minister of Immigration and the exemptions
for jobs are by the Minister for Economic Development. The
honourable member who has been a member for many, many
decades—more than me—should know if he was to put down
this kind of question who the right Minister is to ask about
these sorts of issues.

SPEAKER:
Order! Order! I looked at the question, I looked at the
responsibility, and I thought it has been put to the wrong
Minister, but it is the Government’s responsibility to
transfer it, and the Government should have transferred it,
if the member really thinks that the answers to this should
be given by other Ministers. It’s no good coming to the
House and saying it was put down the wrong Minister. If the
member thought that, it was her ability to transfer
it.

Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a
point of order, Mr Speaker. The issue with this particular
question that’s been put down is it covers a number of
Ministers’ areas of responsibility and the Government cannot
anticipate what supplementary questions the member putting
the question down may choose to ask. He could well have
asked a series of supplementary questions directly related
to this primary question that related to the responsibility
of the Minister of Customs. The Minister of Customs could
not transfer this question to another Minister on the basis
that she thought he might ask a range of questions that
weren’t related to her
portfolio.

SPEAKER: No, I’m going to
deal with that one first, and if there are further
questions, I’ll deal with them later. I looked very
carefully at this question when it came in. I read
yesterday’s Hansards on it. It became clear to me at
that stage that her department was giving effect to a
decision that was made by another department, and, in fact,
it was not her department’s decision to refuse entry to the
fishing vessel; that decision had, effectively, been taken
or was the responsibility of other departments. Therefore,
in my opinion, it would have been better if the question had
been redirected to those people, but it was not at the point
where I was prepared to strike the question
out.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Speaking to
the point of order, Mr
Speaker.

SPEAKER: No, we’re not
speaking to the point of order. I’ve dealt with the point of
order. There is no point of order there at the moment, so
unless there’s a new one.

Hon Gerry
Brownlee
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It
is a point of order in the House that the question itself
was about the Minister’s own statements in this
House—supplementary question, I should
say.

SPEAKER: No, it wasn’t. The
member should read the question.

Hon Dr Nick
Smith
: I seek leave of the House to table the email
from the Customs department to the company concerned saying
the vessel could not enter New
Zealand.

SPEAKER: I have seen the
email, and I’ve also heard and listened to the background to
it. I’m quite happy for that to be put. I think it’s already
part of the system because it was part of the authentication
to the question. Is there any objection to its being tabled?
There is.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does she
stand by the advice of her Customs officials, dated 21 May,
that the Capt. Vincent Gann, that has previously had
$6.5 million of work in Nelson, should, and I quote,
“undertake the repair work in Hawaii.”?

Hon
JENNY SALESA
: I do stand by Customs’ decision to
give effect to the immigration rules. I am informed that the
ship was not advised to head to Hawaii by New Zealand
officials; rather, it was asked why it was not heading to
Hawaii because it was requiring repairs immediately. I
understand that Hawaii was the nearest port at that time for
this foreign-flagged, foreign-crewed ship.

Hon
Dr Nick Smith
: Will she or any of her ministerial
colleagues visit the Port Nelson marine engineering base and
directly explain, to the workers that will be losing their
jobs in the next weeks, Government policy?

Hon
JENNY SALESA
: I will take advisement from Customs
officials on that.

Question No.
12—Employment

12. Dr SHANE RETI
(National—Whangarei)
to the Minister of
Employment
: How do the performance and policies of
Mana in Mahi compare with all his employment
programmes?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON (Minister of
Employment)
: As the member will be aware, Mana in
Mahi is primarily an apprenticeship-type programme. However,
it differs from other programmes in that it also recognises
employment and qualifications that are industry led and
includes pre-employment training, incentivised payments that
keep participants connected and energised in their
placements, and provides pastoral care, which is why of the
729 participants who have come on to the programme, 81
percent have exited benefit dependency and have not
returned. These outcomes compare favourably to other similar
employment programmes, despite Mana in Mahi supporting those
most disadvantaged in the labour market. Mana in Mahi is
very distinct from other employment programmes I have
responsibility for and comparing Mana in Mahi to programmes,
for example, such as He Poutama Rangatahi does a disservice
to both.

Dr Shane Reti: When he said
last week that he has oversight for five critical employment
programmes, what are those five
programmes?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: I
have oversight for Mana in Mahi, He Poutama Rangatahi,
cadetships through Te Puni Kōkiri, the Māori
apprenticeship fund, skills and jobs hub, and regional
skills leadership groups. I was one short; it was actually
six, but thank you for the question. As well as that, I have
oversight in terms of the New Zealand Employment Strategy,
which concentrates on vulnerable groups: Māori, Pasifika,
disability sector, ethnic groups—all the groups that the
National Party forgot.

Dr Shane Reti:
Does Mana in Mahi have an age cut-off at 24 years of age,
and, if, so, what proportion of people currently needing
employment are automatically ineligible?

Hon
WILLIE JACKSON
: We primarily concentrate in terms
of the 18- to 24-year-olds. We are looking to expand the
criteria in terms of Mana in Mahi. In terms of the member’s
question, I’ll come back to him on that if he wants to put
it in writing.

Dr Shane Reti: How
does Mana in Mahi’s projected capacity of 2,000 participants
compare with National’s JobStart, which would employ 50,000
people?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: I think
National’s JobStart is just a dream, like their silly
promotion of $5,000, or $10,000, I think, to the employer.
Mana in Mahi is a much better programme. As our Prime
Minister explained very eloquently yesterday, we are looking
after the employer, we’re looking after the worker, and, in
fact, we’re looking after the community—a community that
that member should remember he represents, and he appears to
have forgotten over the last couple of
weeks.

Dr Shane Reti: What does it
say about work ethic as a performance measure when the
statement is made that under Mana in Mahi, the employer
doesn’t have to worry about whether or not a trainee turns
up to work every day; and is that statement a fair
assessment of Mana in Mahi?

Hon WILLIE
JACKSON
: Of course it’s not, and I’m not sure who
said that. It disappoints me that this member has taken that
position, given the 81 percent success rate in terms of Mana
in Mahi—an 81 percent success rate. It’s a programme that
is incredibly successful and continues to be successful,
unlike the National Party, that just keeps dropping in the
polls.

Dr Shane Reti: Will he then
ask the Prime Minister to correct her statement in the House
yesterday, given that it was her who said “[Mana in Mahi]
provides pastoral support so the employer doesn’t have to
worry about whether or not a trainee shows up … [to] work
every day.”?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: I
think, again, sadly, that’s a low-down, dirty, rotten
perspective of what our wonderful Prime Minister said
yesterday. He knows that and this House knows that.
Disgraceful, again, from Mr Reti.

Hon Gerry
Brownlee
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I
know you take a fairly lenient view on some of these more
animated questions, but I think it’s inappropriate for any
Minister answering a question to refer to a statement made
and recorded in Hansard as low-down and
dirty.

SPEAKER: I’m relatively prim
and proper myself, but I think—[Interruption] All
right, maybe I shouldn’t do irony in rulings. I think
low-down and dirty is not quite as low-down and dirty as
many things that have been said here.

Rt Hon
Winston Peters
: How many reports has he received
from excited members of Parliament up north on the enormous
Māori Mana in Mahi programmes, for example, with KiwiRail
and the hundreds of jobs coming there and all sorts of
Provincial Growth Fund developments around the north, and
how many of the Northland MPs have congratulated him on
that?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Well,
without doubt, the New Zealand First MPs have made a huge
contribution. Though it’s interesting, people like Matt King
turn up and congratulate us all the time. Northern National
MPs, they hide—they actually ask us not to reveal their
names when they come to Shane Jones’ launches. It’s been a
huge success in the Tai Tokerau, and New Zealand First and
Labour and the Greens have been working brilliantly in
conjunction in terms of getting the nephs off the
couch.

Marja Lubeck: How does Mana in
Mahi compare with other employment initiatives that he has
seen?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Kia ora. As
the member will be aware, Mana in Mahi has been brilliant
and I’ve heard that in terms of the initiative, it compares
so well with JobStart, which has a 5K start-up payment and
another 5K to be paid in 90 days. Mana in Mahi, on the other
hand, when you compare Mana in Mahi with that National Party
programme, is made up of a $9,580 wage subsidy but goes
further and covers payment for any pre-employment training
that is required, incentivised training payment—a total of
$25,000. So we don’t need to create new programmes for the
sake of creating them. Mana in Mahi is doing the business at
the moment and it’s actually embarrassing the National Party
so much that they just keep asking questions about it, which
is fantastic.

Dr Shane Reti: What is
the average truancy rate for Mana in Mahi over any time
frame he chooses, given the Prime Minister said yesterday
that with Mana in Mahi the employer doesn’t have to worry
about whether or not a trainee turns up to work every
day?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Again, I
take offence at the member twisting our Prime Minister’s
words. I’ll say again—I’ll say again: Mana in Mahi has an
81 percent success rate. It had an 84 percent success rate,
but it dropped a bit over a couple of weeks by 3 percent to
81 percent. But that indicates to me that Mana in Mahi is
still incredibly resilient when over the same period that it
dropped I saw the National Party support had dropped by 17
percent.

Michael Wood: Does he stand
by the performance of Mana in Mahi or would he prefer to
write off young people as “pretty damn
hopeless”?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Yes,
sadly, I’ve heard that statement from members from the other
side. And you could never write off something that has been
so crucial in terms of uplifting young people. You know, we
renamed that. In fact, I renamed the Mana in Mahi programme.
It used to be called “working for the dole”, which is what
the National Party wanted it to be called. So this is a
programme that is changing society and changing this
country. And I welcome Shane Reti to come to some of our
programmes, because despite everything I’ve said about him,
he is a respected member in the north.

Hon
Gerry Brownlee
: Does the Minister really think that
the Government’s entire re-employment programme should be
based on Mana in Mahi, which over its time so far has only
placed about 650 people in permanent
employment?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Seven
hundred and twenty-nine, actually, Mr Brownlee—729
and—

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

SPEAKER:
Oh, look, this is a warning.

Hon Gerry
Brownlee
: Yes. I’m happy to have your
warning.

SPEAKER: Right, the member’s
on a warning.

Hon Gerry Brownlee:
Well, the member’s just stood up and said that there are 729
permanent jobs. Previously, he said there were 729
placements with an 81 percent success rate. So my number is
correct; his is wrong.

SPEAKER:
Order! How long has the member been here? Certainly long
enough to know that he doesn’t dispute an answer, especially
partway through it, but at all, by way of a point of order.
Today feels like it’s a Thursday afternoon just going into a
recess. Again, I say I don’t know what’s in the water on
both sides of the House, but I will ask people to settle
down. And as I’ve reminded the author of the words earlier,
further breaches will result in
consequences.

Marja Lubeck: Thank
you, Mr Speaker—

Hon Gerry
Brownlee
: No answer.

Marja
Lubeck
: Has the
performance—

SPEAKER: No. Make it
very clear. The answer was interrupted by the member and
I’ve decided at that point that because he improperly
interrupted he didn’t want to hear any
more.

Marja Lubeck: Has the
performance of Mana in Mahi been impacted by
COVID-19?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Yes, it
has. Not hugely—not hugely.

Hon Gerry
Brownlee
: What about work from
home?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: As I said,
Mr Brownlee, when I appeared before the Epidemic Response
Committee, Mana in Mahi had a success rate of 84 percent. So
over four weeks, later on, it dropped by 3 percent. So, yes,
it has been affected, but only slightly. But it just
indicates to me that Mana in Mahi is incredibly resilient,
unlike the National Party, that dropped 17 percent over the
last three weeks.

Rt Hon Winston
Peters
: Can I ask the Minister, is the Mana in Mahi
flexibility programme able to, for example, accommodate an
ageing politician from the South Island in 3½ months’
time?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: We’ll take
everyone on. We don’t discriminate. We don’t care what
political parties they’re affiliated to. And even if Mr
Brownlee wants to apply, we’ll put a good word in for
him.

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