Greens under fire for $11m private school funding

A curious change has been noticed to a Green farm rule:

Private schools shall never be funded. unless it’s a Green school


A Beehive announcement by Green leader James Shaw: Taranaki school construction project to create jobs

Green School New Zealand will be supported with $11.7 million from the $3 billion set aside by the Government for infrastructure in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

“This project will create hundreds of quality jobs, meaning more people can continue to provide for their families whilst we weather the economic storm of the pandemic crisis. These jobs will provide a good day’s pay, doing meaningful work, building a better future for Taranaki.

“Securing over 200 jobs will help direct more money into the parts of the economy where most people earn their livelihood. These are the parts of the economy that are sustained when public investment is directed at getting people into work and earning money that they then spend in their local communities,” James Shaw said.

The ‘shovel-ready’ project will enable Green School to expand its student roll from 120 students to 250. It is estimated that a roll of 250 students will contribute $43 million each year for the local economy.

RNZ: Anger at funding for Taranaki Green School

The Educational Institute says teachers are fuming at Green Party co-leader James Shaw’s announcement of an 11.7 million dollar funding package for in a private school in Taranaki.

Shaw says the ‘shovel ready’ project at the Green School in Oakura is part of the Covid-19 economic response and will secure 200 jobs.

The union’s national secretary, Paul Goulter told our Taranaki Whanganui reporter Robin Martin the investment flies in the face of Green Party policy.

Prominent in the Green Party Education Policy:

  • Public funding for private schools should be phased out and transferred to public schools.
  • Public-private partnerships should not be used for building or running schools.

No funding of private schools has been longstanding Green policy.

Ex Green MP Sue Bradford:

Ex Green candidate John Hart:

Ex Green MP Catherine Delahunty:

Green candidate Ricardo Mendez:

Ex Green Party candidate Jack McDonald:

RNZ: Critics pile on Green private school funding boost

Education Minister Chris Hipkins is distancing himself from an $11.7 million boost for a Taranaki private school after the National Party panned the taxpayer funding as “rank hypocrisy”.

The move has attracted ire from numerous quarters, including the oppositionschool principals, unions, and from within the Greens’ own ranks.

Responding to reporters at Parliament, Hipkins ducked responsibility, stressing that the money did not come out of the education funding pool.

“It wasn’t considered through the usual education capital spend route. It was considered as a shovel-ready project.”

Hipkins deferred questions to the Ministers responsible and noted that the Green Party had advocated “quite strongly” for the funding.

“It was one of their wins, if you like, out of the shovel-ready project area,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a project that I would’ve prioritised.”

Stuff: Green members demand ‘please explain’ for $11.7m private school funding 

James Shaw calls meeting with Green members to explain private school funding decision

Green party co-leader James Shaw has been asked by party members to explain why his name appeared on a press release announcing $11.7 million of public funding for a private school.

“It’s not perfect but if you’re trying to achieve a number of objectives it achieves a number of those: it creates a number of jobs in the region, it supports the green building industry, and it’s in Taranaki, the region we’re trying to move on from oil and gas,” Shaw said.

Last night, Policy and Party co-conveners – the part of the Green Party that looks after the wider membership – requested “information and clarification” from the caucus over how the project got approval

Wiremu Winitana, one of the party’s co-convenors, told an online forum that the co-leaders, Shaw and Marama Davidson had been asked to explain and clarify the situation.

“We are inclined to agree… that this is against our policy,” Winitana said.

Shaw will front a Zoom with co-leader Marama Davidson Friday night to explain the decision to members.

An email to members said that the party understood they were feeling “frustrated or disappointed,” by the decision to grant the school funding.

That email would appear to have gone to party members only and not to the wider contact list.

The funding decision probably can’t be changed, so all Shaw can do is try to keep explaining. He has done a poor job of that so far.

Coming up to an election campaign this is poor timing for this sort of fundamental policy hypocrisy. Greens have been polling close to the 5% MMP threshold and are risk of being dumped from Parliament, especially with this sort of policy embarrassment.

Shane Reti on Covid testing in isolation

National MP and Opposition spokesperson on health Dr Shane Reti spoke in General Debate in Parliament yesterday on day three Covid testing of people in isolation.

Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I want to speak today about another hole in our border with day three testing, and I want to address it in several ways. First of all, it’s sort of a surprise. We’ve had the big surprises—the staff who weren’t being tested like we were told they were. This is a little unusual in that it’s only a small surprise to the Government, but unusually they will not fix it. I want to talk about it in four areas. First of all, I want to walk through the risks of not testing at day three. I then want to cover why day three testing’s important. My third point will be the process for counting those who have not had tests at day three, and, hopefully, my fourth and final point will be New Zealanders’ expectations and solutions.

So let’s start first of all with the irrefutable facts that we heard the Minister affirm today. They are: day three testing is not compulsory and the Government does not know how many have not been tested at day three. Those are just statements of fact, so let’s set that as the anchor and progress from there. I want to talk through the implications of not testing at day three and I want to create an imaginary unknown positive—not quite a carrier, but I’ll call it an unknown positive—who turns up at Auckland Airport, or any border actually, is positive but doesn’t know it; more specifically, they then do not have the day three test. What are the implications for this unknown positive of not having a day three test?

Well, first of all, let’s talk about all those who are close contacts. Their family members: clearly, they are all at risk from this unknown positive. We know there is cohort mixing, unfortunately, in isolation facilities. All those other cohorts are put at risk by this unknown positive. And if we look at a study that I’m hoping to come to shortly, a Nicholas Steyn and Shaun Hendy study, they say one of our biggest risks in our whole border policy configuration is the number of people that are interacted with—they say about five—in managed isolation. Imagine if one of them was the unknown positive.

The third thing I want to talk on is the Minister focusing on “Oh don’t worry. It’s all about day 12. It’s all about also having that two-week period.” Well and good maybe, but what about staff—if we just don’t focus on returnees for a while. Staff will be exposed to the unknown positive. Surely that can’t be a good thing. These are some of the risks.

I then want to talk to why day three testing is important. Without mandatory day three testing, the first time a returnee is tested in New Zealand is day 12—12 days after they’ve arrived in New Zealand! That’s a long period of time from our border. If we look at what happens when you do test positive at day three, it’s so important you’re immediately escalated to quarantine. That’s how important it is to have the day three test.

I think even more damning—and we knew it, and the Minister confirmed it here today—is that the majority of positive tests in managed isolation are the day three tests. We estimate between 30 to 40—something like that. Imagine if we didn’t pick them up. Imagine if we hadn’t picked up those 30 to 40 positive tests at day three and who they might have infected.

I’ve mentioned briefly the policy settings. The director-general referred to this paper [holds up a document] on—I think it was—Friday, when he said “Look, we know our policy settings are good, because it’s been tested by Nicholas Steyne and Shaun Hendy, and they’ve said, yep, it’s pretty good.” A small problem there. If you have a really close look at that, one of the input parameters to the modelling is day three testing is compulsory. That is part of our issue. If the whole policy setting has been grounded on day three being compulsory, and they’re quoting from this paper, we’ve been working on a flawed basis. That needs to be relooked at. What are the implications for making this modelling not compulsory?

The third point is the process for counting. How can we not count people who’ve not been tested? Let me go back through the mathematics. We know how many people have been in managed isolation. We know how many have been tested. Why is this not a simple subtraction? And indeed some of the media did exactly this last night and came up with a figure of 6,000 to 7,000 people. How can we not count those who have not been tested?

Fourthly, if we ask New Zealanders today, “What did they think is happening at the border?”, they think people are being tested twice. Some will know day three and day 12, but they think returnees are being tested twice, when in fact the reality is it is not compulsory to have the day three test. They think that we are having the day three test, because the director-general said so on 9 June, because the Minister of Health said so on 22 June, and the Prime Minister said in this House on 23 June “Testing of people entering New Zealand will commence in the week 8 June. These people will be tested at day three and day eight.”

There is a solution. There’s no surprise—no surprise at all—and the solution is not that hard: test at day three. We test at day 12. People understand that. I do not understand why we wouldn’t test at day three. I believe New Zealanders want a test at day three, and I commend that solution to the Minister.


More from Reti in Question Time: QT: more details on Covid isolation and border testing

QT: more details on Covid isolation and border testing

More detail was given yesterday by Minister of Health Chris Hipkins and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Covid testing numbers for people in managed isolation and also border (airport and port) workers.

3. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Health: How many people in managed isolation have not had day-three tests since the week of 8 June?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Health): Mr Speaker, I thought the question was a bit longer than that. No—it’s been edited. The vast majority of people want to do the right thing and agree to get tested at day three and at day 12. So far, 20,065 day-three tests have been completed since 8 June. During that same time period, 19,473 day-12 tests have been completed, and there are currently 5,204 people in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ). There are some instances—[Interruption]

SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. I’ve warned members about that interjection which is a reflection on me and my responsibilities. Mr Goldsmith will withdraw and apologise.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: There are some instances where it’s not appropriate to test a person with a swab, such as young babies who are six months or younger. The number of people leaving managed isolation or quarantine without a day-three test has not been collated and reported in that way because before people can leave managed isolation they must return a negative day-12 test. I’m advised that only 15 adults have refused a day-12 test, and that means that they can be required to stay up to 28 days in managed isolation.

Dr Shane Reti: Is he really telling New Zealanders that the Government cannot count the number of people who entered managed isolation and subtract the number who were tested at day three?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No, I’m saying that we don’t routinely measure the number of people who haven’t had day-three tests, because it’s not the most important consideration when it comes to our public health response. The key question that people should be asking is: “Are people being released from managed isolation at risk of taking COVID-19 into the community?” Because they get a day-12 negative test before they are released, they are not. With regards to those people who are in managed isolation, everybody who’s in managed isolation is treated as if they have COVID-19.

Dr Shane Reti: Does he agree with reports that thousands of people have not been tested at day three in managed isolation since 8 June?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The numbers simply don’t support that claim.

Dr Shane Reti: How many people in managed isolation have tested positive at day three, and how does that compare to the number who’ve tested positive at day 12?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I think the number that the member would be most interested in is that, of the people who have tested—there’s 14 people who have tested positive on the day-12 tests; of those, 12 people had a negative day-three test, only two of them didn’t have a day-three test. Those were people where they had their day-12 test shortly after we had introduced the mandatory requirements around the mandatory testing regime.

Dr Shane Reti: Have the majority of positive coronavirus tests in managed isolation been at day three and not at day 12?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, that would appear to be the case, yes.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern: Can the member describe for the House the purpose of the day-three test from the Government’s perspective and a public health perspective, relative to the purpose of the day-12 test, which is primarily, of course, to ensure public safety?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The day-three test is primarily to ensure the people who have COVID-19 who are in a managed isolation and quarantine facility are getting the support that they need for that. There is very little risk to the public health from a positive day-three test because, as I’ve indicated, everybody who is managed isolation and quarantine is treated as if they have COVID-19, until such time as they get a negative day-12 test before they are released into the community.

Dr Shane Reti: If the majority of positive tests in managed isolation have been at day three, doesn’t that justify the importance of compulsory testing at day three?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The importance of compulsory testing at day 12 is to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t move out into the community. Day-three tests—which as the numbers have indicated, the vast majority of people are doing—help us to better serve the needs of the people who are in MIQ.

Dr Shane Reti: Does the modelling that the director-general used at a recent media stand-up to justify the current policy settings at the border require compulsory day-three testing; and if so, has the Government made serious border decisions on a modelling assumption that now turns out to be wrong?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I’m not sure I follow the question. Can I get the member to repeat the question?

Dr Shane Reti: Does the modelling that the director-general used at a recent media stand-up to justify the current policy settings at the border require compulsory day-three testing; and if so, has the Government made serious border decisions on a modelling assumption that now turns out to be wrong?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No, and I do want to remind the member opposite that it was only three weeks ago he was accusing me and the Government of subjecting people to medical procedures in managed isolation and quarantine that they didn’t consent to.

Dr Shane Reti: Will he require testing in managed isolation to be compulsory at day three?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The current requirement is that it’s mandatory at day 12 before somebody is released, and I have no intention of changing that because the public health grounds to do so would not be strong enough.


4. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she agree with Professor Nick Wilson from Otago University, who said, “We must have had some failure at the border, it’s unlikely there could have been silent transmission for that long”; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I agree with him that it is unlikely that there could have been silent transmission for that long, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) analysis supports that to date. However, that does not necessarily mean there has been a failure at the border. As I said on 15 July, when announcing our resurgence plan: “We only need to look to Victoria, New South Wales, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea to see examples of other places that, like us, had the virus under control at a point in time only to see it emerge again. This does not mean anyone has failed. It means perfection in the response to a virus and a pandemic is just not possible.” There are a number of ways the cluster originating at Americold could have entered New Zealand. To date, we have not established the source of the cluster, but we are working hard to investigate all possible options.

Hon Judith Collins: Does she agree with Professor Des Gorman, who, following the recent revelations that 63 percent of border staff were not routinely tested, said that the community “deserves better than such a casual approach to surveillance to possible infectivity among the border workforce”; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member is again trying to imply, without any evidence, that that is the source of the outbreak. I again point to the fact that the vast majority—the vast majority—now of our border staff, our managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) staff, those at ports, have been tested, and to date we have not found the source of this outbreak. [Interruption] And for the member who is pitching in, the ESR evidence demonstrates that the genome sequencing suggests that the source of this outbreak was in very close proximity to the first cases, thus demonstrating that it’s not a matter of there having been, necessarily, a case that was not picked up.

Hon Dr Megan Woods: Further to the member’s answer there, can the member confirm that the—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! The Minister—the Prime Minister, in this particular case.

Hon Dr Megan Woods: Sorry. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the genomic sequencing has not formed a link with any case coming out of a manged isolation facility or indeed any other worker at the border—that that link to the B.1.1.1. genomic clade has not been established?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes, I can confirm that of those tests we’ve been able to run, we have not been able to demonstrate a link between the genome sequencing of this cluster, which is a B.1.1.1. cluster, and those to date, where we’ve had the ability to test, who have come through our MIQ.

Hon Judith Collins: When did her Government ask the Ministry of Health to work through a protocol which prioritises regular testing for staff who are more front-facing and at higher risk, and did the Government ask that the strategy make weekly testing mandatory for front-facing border staff?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Of course, as I’ve referred to in this House on many occasions, we had a testing strategy that was endorsed by Cabinet on 22 June. It included reference to regular asymptomatic surveillance testing, which included, for example, customs, biosecurity, aviation security staff, and front-line staff at ports. Also, I had further, on 6 July, an appendix on the testing strategy in another Cabinet paper, which talked about proactive surveillance testing, including asymptomatic testing, and regular health checks of all border-facing workers—for example, air crew, customs, biosecurity, aviation security staff, and front-line staff at ports. So both on 22 June and 6 July.

Hon Judith Collins: Does she agree with Professor Nick Wilson, who said that “to prevent such outbreaks again, the Government needs to further improve the quality of its border management yet again.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I cannot tell you whether or not the member is quoting from some of the original statements from Nick Wilson, but I note her first quote was actually right at the beginning of the outbreak—so, I believe, somewhere in the order of 13 August or thereabouts. Obviously, an enormous amount of work has been done, sweeping across with surveillance testing of asymptomatic workers at our front line, and has not demonstrated a link between the outbreak at Americold’s site and our border staff. So the member can continue, of course, this line of inquiry, but I would say to the member that no one wants to find the source more than we do. It helps us make sure that we have got all of the periphery of this cluster. But it is not evidence based to imply it has come from one particular origin when we have not defined that as yet.

Hon Grant Robertson: Does the Prime Minister agree with Dr Shane Reti that it would “be almost impossible” to have 100 percent watertightness at the border, and “I don’t think anyone in anyone’s hands anywhere around the world has done that.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Dr Reti is correct because, as I’ve said, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Australia—places that have managed to get their cases down low, although none have managed to do it for as long as we have—have all experienced resurgence. I note Vietnam reached 99 days and has been highly praised for their proactive and rigorous regime. They are yet to determine the source of their outbreak either. We will continue looking, but it is simply not fair to say that this has been illustrative of a particular failure when there is no link to our borders or anywhere else at this stage.

Hon Judith Collins: When she said yesterday, “we’ve asked the Ministry of Health to work through a protocol”—[Interruption]

SPEAKER: Order! Order! I know there were two members involved in that conversation, and I can’t quite work out how it’s coming through the sound system, but it is. Can I ask Mr Seymour and Mr Shaw just to be quiet. Thank you.

Hon Judith Collins: Thank you, Mr Speaker. When she said yesterday, “we’ve asked the Ministry of Health to work through a protocol, a matrix, which prioritises more regular testing for those staff who are more front-facing and at higher risk.”, how does that differ from the testing strategy announced nine weeks ago on 23 June, which said the same thing?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Thank you for finally acknowledging that the Government did ask and seek for asymptomatic testing, because that is true, and I have produced countless evidence in the House of that. What I’ve also demonstrated is that when we originally had that working through a voucher system, we could not monitor it adequately. We moved to pop-up sites at the airport on 10 July and 16 July. Then those numbers were not adequate, and we were seeking again to scale up the border testing and had every expectation that our surveillance testing, as contained in the strategy of 22 June, would have been rolled out. We’re now working with Health to get the support of other agencies across airports and ports across the country to make sure we have that ongoing surveillance testing. I would say again, though, to the member, that we still, as yet, do not have evidence that this is where the cluster at Americold, which we have not traced any further back than 31 July, at a cool store facility in Mount Wellington—we have not as yet determined where it came from.

Hon Judith Collins: Has her Government ensured yet that border workers are getting tested weekly?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I identified yesterday, we’ve had a first sweep of staff that has included both those that you would consider at higher risk, because, roughly speaking—280 or so agency staff just at Auckland Airport alone that would be considered higher risk. There are then some that are further back that we would still want to be part of ongoing surveillance. They were part of our two weeks of sweeping through. We’ve started that again. We expect that will happen over the next fortnight again, and then, from there, we’ll have a regime that means those who are more frequently interfacing, potentially, with at-risk individuals will be tested more frequently than those who are not considered at risk but we’d still want to be part of asymptomatic surveillance testing.

Hon Judith Collins: Does she agree that Part 3, clause 18, of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order, which deals with crew of non-departing ships who arrive in New Zealand by air, should be tightened to require mandatory testing of those replacement crews after their arrival in New Zealand?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Those crews are directed to go directly to their ships. If the member wants to stop the ability for imports and exports, that is a matter for her. We have a health order that very carefully manages the safety of our seafarers and our port workers. If anyone is to have any time in New Zealand, they must quarantine. This is an arrangement for those who are departing a departing ship.

Hon Judith Collins: So is the Prime Minister happy for such crew to fly into Auckland Airport and then fly to Wellington Airport to then board a ship without being tested?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The order is very specific about it being crew who are leaving directly, or who are coming into port and then leaving directly to their home country. That is what those orders are designed for. Of course we have regimes in place that mean people should not be having contact, outside of those arrangements, with others.


6. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Health: When he said he hadn’t read the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Testing Strategy for staff at the border, why had he not read it?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Health): The Government testing strategy is the strategy decided by Cabinet. The document that the member refers to was prepared before I became the Minister of Health, and informed the Cabinet paper on testing which was considered by Cabinet on Monday 22 June—also before I became the Minister of Health. Cabinet took decisions at that meeting, and at subsequent meetings, that went beyond the initial Ministry of Health strategy, including on the issue of asymptomatic testing. It’s the Government’s approved testing strategy that I have been focused on the implementation of. Though I am a diligent and conscientious reader, I have not read every document the Ministry of Health prepared before I became the Minister.

Dr Shane Reti: Was this an important document for the Minister to read?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I think the member, once again, should have listened to the answers before reading pre-scripted supplementary questions. As I indicated, the document was prepared before I became the Minister and informed Cabinet’s approved testing strategy. Of course, as a member of Cabinet, I read that document even before I became the Minister.

Dr Shane Reti: Does he agree with the strategy recommendation that testing of all border-facing staff is not viable?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No. The advice at the time—and bearing in mind that the Government did get advice that there would be some difficulties around implementing that—was that we needed to find ways to get past those difficulties and make sure that that testing strategy was implemented, and that’s what we have done.

Dr Shane Reti: Have all border-facing staff, including staff at managed isolation facilities, been tested for coronavirus, and have they all got their results?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes. In terms of the managed isolation, yes. In terms of those front-facing airport workers that are at higher risk, yes. In terms of the port workers that are at higher risk, yes. Has absolutely everybody who has been at the port, for example, been tested? The vast majority of them have been. There will still be some where they may have moved on, for example, or we may not have been able to get in touch with them. That would be a very small number of people. About 13,000 people in the overall categories that I just mentioned have been tested over the last two weeks, and a second sweep of testing those people is happening again now.

Dr Shane Reti: Will it be compulsory for all border-facing staff, including staff at managed isolation facilities, to be tested weekly?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Not necessarily. The Government is currently doing a second sweep of everybody. By the end of that second sweep we will release a schedule that will set out how frequently people in different roles need to be tested. That will be based on a risk assessment, so that the lowest risk people are tested less frequently and the higher risk people are tested more frequently.

Dr Shane Reti: How infrequently could low-risk people be tested?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Those decisions have not yet been made.

Dr Shane Reti: When he said last week that staff testing failures were reported to him but were not facility-specific, why was the Jet Park, a high-risk quarantine facility, not reported separately?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I reject the first part of the question; that’s not what I said last week.


From Question 4 last Wednesday (19 August):

4. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Health: Did he receive reports on coronavirus testing of staff at Jet Park Hotel, Auckland; if so, from what date?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Health): Yes. I’ve had many conversations with officials regarding testing at managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities since becoming Minister of Health. In general, reports and advice were not facility-specific and covered all of the sites. It’s important to note that testing for Jet Park staff has been available since 26 March, when that facility was first stood up. On 22 July, I was advised that rolling testing was being implemented at MIQ facilities, and had commenced at the Jet Park in Auckland and Christchurch on Friday, 10 July. This was the first written report I received specifically describing the testing of Jet Park staff. In addition, as late as 11 August—the day before the current outbreak—my office was advised the programme of testing of asymptomatic MIQ and border workers had been ramped up to commence weekly testing for staff at the quarantine high-risk facilities in Auckland Jet Park and Christchurch, and fortnightly testing for staff working in managed isolation low-risk facilities. Of course, by the time I had the opportunity to read that and ask questions about that, we were already dealing with the current cluster.

Dr Shane Reti: How many reports or updates did he receive indicating incomplete weekly testing of staff at Jet Park from the date he was told they were being tested weekly?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I did not receive a facility by facility breakdown of the testing of staff.

Dr Shane Reti: Given he said yesterday that several weeks ago, the Ministry of Health notified him in writing that all staff at Jet Park were being tested weekly, when did he relay that information to Cabinet, if at all?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The 22 July memo that I was referring to was specifically provided in the context of the Cabinet committee meeting that was happening that morning. They were the talking points that I was given by Health for that meeting.

Dr Shane Reti: When did he relay the information on incomplete weekly testing of all staff at Jet Park to Cabinet, if at all?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I think if the member had listened to my last question, it would be very evident that it was on 22 July I reported that to the relevant Cabinet committee.

Dr Shane Reti: Can I confirm that on 22 July, he notified the Cabinet committee that all staff at Jet Park were being tested weekly and that there was incomplete weekly testing?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No, I think I have literally just told the member what I told Cabinet on 22 July—that I was advised that rolling testing was being implemented at MIQ facilities and had commenced at the Jet Park in Auckland and Christchurch on Friday, 10 July.

Dr Shane Reti: What is the first date that he received Jet Park – specific testing information?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: It would have been within the last week, in the context of the investigations around this current cluster.

Farrar, Morton have denials of accusations by Peters put on record

On 22 July Winston Peters made allegations against several people in Parliament about what he claimed was “the truth about the leak of my superannuation”.

In 2017 he had taken allegations against different people, including National Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley (as well as heads of Government departments), to court and failed to provide evidence. He conceded that Bennett and Tolley had not leaked the information. Substantial costs were ordered against him.

The allegations in a General Debate in Parliament last month:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): Today, I am going to outline the truth about the leak of my superannuation. There have been news reports about the case. The matter is not sub judice. But a source totally connected to both the ACT Party and the National Party has revealed that the leak was one Rachel Morton.

Morton heard about the case because she was present when former Minister Anne Tolley told her ministerial colleague Paula Bennett about it—not outside by the lifts, but in a ministerial office. Ms Morton then, thinking it would be kept in confidence, told ACT Party leader, David Seymour, but, desperate for any sort of attention, Mr Seymour contacted Jordan Williams of the wage subsidy – receiving taxpayer union fame. Williams—no stranger to dirty politics—told John Bishop, father of National MP Chris Bishop, and the details were then leaked to Newsroom’s Tim Murphy.

Williams also told another dirty politics practitioner, National Party pollster David Farrar. Farrar tried to shut it down, seeing the risk it exposed to the National Party, but then went along anyway, although he later tried to steer the story away from National’s guilt, which is its usual modus operandi.

Peters versus everyone he hasn’t already lost in court against

Both Rachel Morton and David Farrar have had responses to these allegations recorded in Parliament.


Application for response to be incorporated in the parliamentary record

  1. On 22 July 2020, David Farrar applied for a response to be incorporated in the parliamentary record under Standing Orders 159 to 162.
  2. The application relates to references made by Rt Hon Winston Peters during the general debate on 22 July 2020.
  3. The speech is reported at New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 748, pp. 19678 – 19679.
  4. The applicant was referred to by name.
  5. Having considered the application, I have determined that a response submitted by David Farrar should be incorporated in the parliamentary record.

Rt Hon Trevor Mallard
SPEAKER

Response presented under Standing Orders 159–162 on application of David Farrar relating to references made by Rt Hon Winston Peters on 22 July 2020

The Right Honourable Winston Peters on the 22nd of July 2020 stated in the General Debate that I was told by Jordan Williams about Mr Peters’ superannuation and that I was involved in breaching Mr Peters’ right to privacy.

The statement by Mr Peters is incorrect. I did not discuss or disclose, in any way or form, details of his superannuation prior to reports appearing in the media about it. I know this for a certainty as I was totally unaware of there being any issue around Mr Peters’ superannuation until it was reported in the media.


Application for response to be incorporated in the parliamentary record

  1. On 31 July 2020, Rachel Morton applied for a response to be incorporated in the parliamentary record under Standing Orders 159 to 162.
  2. The application relates to references made by Rt Hon Winston Peters during the general debate on 22 July 2020.
  3. The speech is reported at New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 748, pp. 19678 – 19679.
  4. The applicant was referred to by name.Having considered the application, I have determined that a response submitted by Rachel Morton should be incorporated in the parliamentary record.

Rt Hon Trevor Mallard
SPEAKER

Response presented under Standing Orders 159–162 on application of Rachel Morton relating to references made by Rt Hon Winston Peters on 22 July 2020

The Right Honourable Winston Peters on the 22nd of July 2020 stated in the General Debate that I gave details of his superannuation to Act Leader David Seymour and that I was involved in breaching Mr Peters’ right to privacy.

Mr Peters claims I was aware of this information because it was discussed in a meeting that I was in with Hon Anne Tolley and Hon Paula Bennett. I was never in a meeting with Mrs Tolley and Mrs Bennett where this was discussed, and I never gave any information to Mr Seymour.

The statement by Mr Peters is categorically not true.

Questions on Covid testing in managed isolation

The source of the Auckland outbreak of Covid this month is still unknown (and as time goes on the chances of finding out where it came from diminishes), so questions continue to be asked about the effectiveness of New Zealand’s border controls.

It is known that the testing of people working at border jobs – airports and ports – and also at isolation and quarantine facilities has been inadequate and not up to the standard the Government (Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Health Chris Hipkins) claim to have demanded. How this came to happen is still to be determined or disclosed.

So this is one area where the Opposition has been questioning the Government.

Yesterday a response to a written question was promoted by National:

It perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that the 3 day test isn’t compulsory. This and similar has been pointed out: “You can be required to stay a total of 28 days if you refuse to a Covid-19 test or are not considered a low risk by a health practitioner”.

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But that doesn’t address al the concerns raised by the Hipkins response. He said “The Ministry of Health does not hold the specific information requested…”

This may need clarification but it appears that the Ministry and the Minister don’t know how many people refuse the 3 day test. This raises further questions about the management of isolation facilities.

At a minimum I think the Ministry should know exactly how many people enter isolation or quarantine and how many people have the 3 day test (and also the 12 day test).

In particular they should know those who don’t have the test – they must know this to enforce their ‘up to 28 day’ requirement.

So either Hipkins is avoiding answering the question properly, or there is a serious problem still with the management of isolation facilities.

Dr Reti tried to address the issue in Question Time yesterday:

5. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Health: Does he stand by his statements and actions around coronavirus testing in isolation facilities?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Health): Yes, in their full context.

Dr Shane Reti: How does he reconcile his answer to written questions that day-three testing has not been compulsory in managed isolation, despite the national testing strategy requiring day-three testing, and is this another hole in the border?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No, there’s been no issue with the compliance with day-three testing, as I’ve said to the member many, many times.

Dr Shane Reti: Is day-three testing compulsory in managed isolation facilities?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No, it is not, under the order. But as I’ve said to the member many, many times, people are doing it.

Dr Shane Reti: How does he reconcile not testing everyone around day three, with Dr Bloomfield’s comments five days ago that “if you have 14 days, plus the day three and day 12, plus … good infection prevention and control, that seems to be the best way of ensuring the lowest risk of someone leaving managed isolation who is infectious.”?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Because those are the things we’re doing.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern: Can the Minister confirm that aside from there not having been compliance issues, if someone refuses testing, they have to stay in a managed isolation facility for longer?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, and as I’ve indicated many, many times to the member opposite, people are doing their day-three and day-12 tests.

Dr Shane Reti: How, then, does he reconcile not testing everyone in managed isolation around day three, with Dr Bloomfield’s June comments that “Everyone in our managed isolation facilities will be tested around day three.”?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I would encourage the member not to stick to pre-scripted questions, and listen to the answers I’ve already given.

Hon Dr Megan Woods: Can the Minister confirm that since 17 June, no one has left a managed isolation or quarantine facility without returning a negative day-12 test, the test most important to the protection of New Zealanders?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, I can confirm that. I’d also note that one of the reasons the day-12 test is so important is that we have had people who have tested (positive) on day three that have subsequently tested negative on day 12. This virus can have quite a long incubation period.

Dr Shane Reti: Are hotel isolation staff put at risk if day-three testing of arrivals in managed isolation is not compulsory?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No.

Dr Shane Reti: Have the Government’s border policies been informed in any way by modelling that formally assumed day-three testing was compulsory, when we now know it is not?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I’m not entirely sure what the thrust of the member’s question is. As I’ve said, day-three testing is happening.

Hon Dr Megan Woods: Can the Minister confirm that staff at managed isolation facilities are not put at risk, because within our managed isolation facilities, we behave as if everybody has COVID, and there are strict protocols in place to protect both returnees and staff, and that is why we’ve had 40,000 people through these facilities and one positive case in a staff member?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, I can confirm that, and I can also say that I visited several of these facilities myself and saw firsthand the great lengths that the people working in them are going to to keep themselves and the people who are staying there safe.

Dr Shane Reti: Given that answer, was the maintenance man at the Rydges shown on CCTV to be wearing a mask?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: My understanding is that they haven’t yet been able to identify exact footage of the lift trip in question.

Dr Shane Reti: Does he agree that New Zealanders believe and have been reassured that testing of all arrivals into managed isolation occurs around day three?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I’ve just given those answers. People are being tested at day three and day 12. There is no issue with compliance.

Hipkins repeated:
“…as I’ve said to the member many, many times, people are doing it”.
“as I’ve indicated many, many times to the member opposite, people are doing their day-three and day-12 tests”
“As I’ve said, day-three testing is happening.”
” People are being tested at day three and day 12. There is no issue with compliance”.

Those are definitive answers. So why did Hipkins say in response to the written question that the Ministry of Health does not hold the specific information requested? That doesn’t make sense too me.

Also, the lack of information on lift data is concerning. It should have been an urgent matter trying to determine how the maintenance man at Rydges may have contracted Covid. It must be important to know if he wore a mask when in the lift, because if he did and still contracted Covid in the lift that suggests it was by surface contact. This must be important information.

The maintenance man first had symptoms two weeks ago, on 11 August, and returned a positive test on 16 August.

Media release 18 August: Results of COVID-19 positive cases under investigation returned

The second case is a man who works as a maintenance worker at the Rydges Hotel managed isolation facility in Auckland who does not have any routine contact with guests. His partial genome sequencing results indicate his case is not linked to the community cluster.
 
No other cases linked to this person have been identified to date.  

Further genome sequencing and matching is being completed today and fuller analysis is expected later. 

The person returned a positive result for COVID-19 on Sunday 16 August with symptom onset on 11 August. He was transferred to Jet Park Hotel quarantine facility on Monday 17 August. It has taken till this morning for genomic sequencing results to confirm the origin of the case. 

Genome sequencing shows a returnee from the USA with the same sequence as the maintenance worker was at the Rydges Hotel from 28 July to 31 July before they returned a Day 3 positive test and were immediately moved to the Jet Park quarantine facility on 31 July. 

At this stage there is no obvious person-to-person connection between the worker and the returnee from the USA but investigations continue. 

Initial reviews of CCTV footage and swipe card movements so far show no interaction between the two people including no entry to physical locations occupied by the returnee from the USA.

So CCTV footage was initially reviewed over a week ago. Yesterday Hipkins said “My understanding is that they haven’t yet been able to identify exact footage of the lift trip in question.”

I think Hipkins should know by now exactly what is known about any lift footage, whether there is any, and exactly what has been determined.

If he doesn’t know I think that is a serious failing. If he does know he is not being open about it, in fact he would have failed to disclose it in Parliament.

Also of note is that the person arrived from the US and was at Rydges Hotel from 28 to 31 July. The maintenance man has acknowledged the onset of symptoms on 11 August. That seems like a long incubation period for Covid, which obviously makes containment and tracking challenging.

Basic information like how someone could contract the virus from a lift should be gathered with urgency, and the Minister should be right on top of all of this. Unfortunately Hopkins doesn’t give me confidence he is dealing with his responsibilities adequately.


This exchange yesterday also points out “an administrative error” resulted in inaccurate information being given in a written question.

8. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation: What are the latest waste-water testing results for coronavirus in Auckland?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Research, Science and Innovation): Waste-water testing is taking place as part of a research project led by Environmental Science and Research (ESR), with funding from the COVID innovation fund that I established in early April. Positive results for viral RNA have been received from four of the five collection points in Auckland. The latest results are the Jet Park Hotel, with strong, positive results on 18 August, which is to be expected, given it is our quarantine facility; the Southern Interceptor, where waste water from the Jet Park Hotel mixes with waste water from 100,000 households, a positive result on 18 August; the Central Interceptor, a weak positive result on 17 August; the Rosedale Interceptor, a weak positive result on 13 August. There have been no positive results from the Western Interceptor collection point. These results correspond with what we know about the location of cases across Auckland. These results tell us that there is COVID-19 in these areas but do not give us precise information about the number of people infected or the stage of infection. One-off testing was also carried out in Christchurch and Queenstown in early August, returning negative results. This is another useful tool that can help us in the fight against COVID-19, and I look forward to providing further updates as the research project progresses.

Dr Shane Reti: When was the first positive test in sewage outflow testing in Auckland?Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: The Jet Park Hotel started weekly testing on 12 July. As you would expect, given this is the facility where we house people who are COVID-positive, that that would have started in early July. One of the reasons why ESR, with the research money they have, is concentrating the efforts around testing of the Jet Park Hotel, and the interceptor associated with the Jet Park Hotel, is because we have such low levels of COVID in New Zealand, getting the sensitivity of the test is proving a challenge. So the first test would have been in early July.

Dr Shane Reti: How does she reconcile that answer with written questions received last week saying that weekly testing at Jet Park had been negative?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: My understanding is that there has been a correction to the written question from the Minister of Health that was put through today, that the question did say that it had been daily, since the beginning of July, at Jet Park, returning negative results—that has been corrected to say “usually return positive results as expected”. This was put down to an administrative error.

That error also does not give me confidence in Ministry of Health information.

Adjournment speech – David Seymour

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Not in living memory has our country entered an election against such a backdrop of global uncertainty. The medical, economic, and geopolitical impacts of COVID-19 remain unpredictable, but we know that these impacts are on New Zealanders’ businesses, on their household finances, on their jobs, and on their mental health.

We politicians enter this election campaign with a job to do. The world is changing all around us, and our small island nation must find its place anew in that ever changing world.

At the same time, people’s faith in our politics in this Parliament is at an all-time low ebb, and it’s not just the most recent, highly publicised ructions that have led to that low ebb; it is a long period over the past three years of poor quality delivery and poor quality lawmaking. We all know the examples: KiwiBuild, light rail, child poverty, the gun buyback, the oil and gas exploration ban, the Provincial Growth Fund. It’s been one disaster after another.

I think it’s fair to say that we have a disaster Government led by a disaster Prime Minister, because, if it wasn’t for the disasters, what we would have is a long series of let downs, where everything the parties over there promised in 2017 has been a failure.

Let me say that that’s not a personal critique; I happen to like our Prime Minister as a person, and I admire what she’s done holding people together at critical times of disaster. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the world is changing, and a different style of leadership is required. We require problem solving.

We require an open debate about what exactly New Zealand’s public health strategy is, because, at the moment, the Government would have it that we can either remain physically isolated from the world and borrow to paper over the cracks or we can open it up and people will die. In other words, they want us to be either dead broke or dead. I believe that this country deserves an open debate, not a state of fear; asking what we can do, not what we can’t; going country by country when it comes to the border; working together with, not against, the private sector; and embracing technology to augment our public health response.

Those are the principles of a smart public health response, and when we’ve done that, we can start being honest about the debt, because my army of 14-year-old Instagram followers have been sending me messages saying, “David, who is the Government borrowing all this money off and who has to pay it back?” You know, if 14-year-olds can figure out that the Government borrowing $140 billion is a problem, and it is for them, maybe we in this Parliament need to start being honest about this country’s fiscal track.

If we can do those things, we can seize the opportunity of a lifetime: an island nation on a pandemic planet that actually, for once, is the place that skills and capital want to go to—if only we’re prepared to seize the opportunity and stop being so hostile to foreign investment and wealth-creating activity in this country.

That is what New Zealanders need out of this election debate, and that is what the ACT Party brings: a consistent, constructive critique and contribution to the challenges that our country faces at this time, about the challenge of a country finding its place in a world that is changing around it. That’s what New Zealanders need out of this election debate. That’s what the ACT Party will be bringing, and I look forward to a group of independent-minded, thoughtful ACT MPs sitting across here, on the cross-benches, supporting a Government far more competent than the one that we have now.

That is why you give your party vote to ACT. That is a positive future for New Zealand. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Adjournment debate – James Shaw

Hon JAMES SHAW (Minister for Climate Change): E Te Māngai o Te Whare, tēnā koe. It’s always a pleasure to follow the Rt Hon Winston Peters in debate. I’ll miss it, to tell you the truth. Here we are at the final hour of the final day of the 52nd Parliament—our business for the moment complete. I know everybody here is champing at the bit to get out and campaign around the country; trying out their new election slogans. There’s Labour: “Let’s keep moving”, New Zealand First: “Let’s not”.

You could almost see the advertisements, can’t you: “New Zealand First: you can stop progress.” ACT are making a serious play for the assault rifle vote: “The ACT Party: more deadly than serious.” National, of course, have settled on a new leader with a new slogan: “Why vote for the lesser evil?”

Now, it’s not all slogans, of course. Parties will be laying out their policy platforms in advance of the election—or maybe they won’t. But it is important, as we think about the post-COVID rebuild, that voters are aware of the political philosophies that are on offer.

National want to grow the pie, Labour want to share the pie, ACT want you to get your own God damn pie, New Zealand First want a billion pies, and the Greens, of course, say that the growth of the pie is constrained by the size of the oven, and whilst you’re making pie, perhaps you should keep your oven clean, otherwise your tamariki will get really sick. Look, I know that’s not exactly bumper sticker material, but we reckon there’s at least 5 percent in it.

Speaking of which, I did ask my colleagues for the privilege of giving the Greens adjournment debate speech at the closing of this Parliament, particularly so that I could deal with the PTSD I have from election 2017. You see, I also gave the Greens adjournment debate speech at the closure of that Parliament too, and about 15 minutes before I had to come down and speak, I got that evening’s TVNZ poll result, which had us under the threshold at 3.5 percent. The whole time that I was delivering that speech, the thought weighed on my mind that it might well be the very last speech by a Green Party member of Parliament ever.

Well, 10 weeks later we were in Government, and four weeks after that I met the Pope. So I’m just saying, a lot of things can happen in the final six weeks of an election campaign, and I am mostly saying that to give the National Party a good dose of false hope for themselves, but also, honestly, because the reality is that there is a non-zero probability that this speech could also be our last—speaking statistically. Actually, no I was going to tell another statistics joke, but it isn’t significant. [Interruption] Thank you, I’ll be here all night—I actually will, ha, ha!

Actually, I do think that the most likely outcome of this election is that the Greens will be back in Parliament and in Government after the election, but if we aren’t, every one of us—current MPs, former MPs, current and former staff, volunteers, members and supporters—can be tremendously proud of the contribution that we have made as a partner in this, our first Government.

We laid down the path to a zero carbon future for Aotearoa. We made sure that more of our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbours have warm, dry, and safe homes in which to live. We’ve given people all over the country better, cleaner, and safer options for getting to work in the morning and home again at the end of the day.

We’ve expanded conservation and put more people to work restoring and replenishing our native birds, forests, and fish than ever before. Our Government has put an end to new sources of fossil fuels. We championed changes to our democracy and we reformed the way that we tackled domestic and sexual violence.

Standing here today, I can proudly say that because of the progress that we have made, a better, a cleaner, and a more equitable future for Aotearoa New Zealand is closer than it has ever been before.

Now, that is in large part due to the seven committed, passionate, and highly effective Green MPs working alongside me. To each of them, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for making the last three years as fun, as successful, and as weird as it has been. To Gareth Hughes, our friend and colleague, we bid you farewell. Everyone here is going to miss the wisdom and the passion that you bring to this place.

It is because of who we are and what we stand for that after just three years in Government, with only eight MPs, that more people up and down New Zealand can make ends meet, that our economy is greener, and nature is healing.

In those times when we didn’t get everything that we wanted, we didn’t give up, we didn’t get disillusioned, and we kept working, because for thousands of people all across New Zealand, having the Greens in Government shows that we can keep making life better for everyone.

The only way to make sure that the next Government does everything it can not just to navigate ourselves through the present crisis but to build a better world for future generations is to make sure that the Greens are a part of it. We know that we need to get out every vote that we can—we know that.

Right now there are thousands of volunteers working tirelessly in their communities, knocking on doors, picking up the phones, talking to people about where the Green Party wants to take New Zealand in the wake of the pandemic crisis. They keep at it every single day—even amidst all of the nonsense that accompanies every election. To every single one of you, I say thank you. Because of you, I am more optimistic than I have ever been that together we can change the world.

In the three years since the Green Party helped to form this Government, we have never forgotten that every action that we take, future generations are watching. Young people don’t look at this place the same way that others do. They don’t see the political point-scoring in what we do. They don’t see the one-liners and the headline grabbing antics; rather, our ideas and our actions are the prism through which they see their future.

When the polls open in four weeks’ time, that is what we are deciding; not which individuals will fill these seats, but who together will have the power to shape the kind of country that our children and our grandchildren will grow up in.

I do want to thank the Labour Party and New Zealand First for your partnership and your hard work over the last three years—in particular, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and the Rt Hon Winston Peters—thank you. Everything that we have done, we have done together. Thank you to all of the people who make this place, especially those who work the longest hours for the least pay. Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I said in 2017, we’ll see you in six weeks. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Adjournment debate – Winston Peters

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): Thank you very much. That was eyebrow-raising stuff—and I don’t use Botox! All that criticism, for almost 10 minutes, and not one new idea. Out there in the provinces, in the hamlets of this country, all those people who were expecting something at least now, at the start of this campaign, from the leader of the National Party just got carp, can’t, and criticism, but no vision, no plan, no policy.

Worse still, after nine years of doing nothing about the Resource Management Act, she says we’re at fault. Extraordinary. This is somebody who’s a trained lawyer saying that sort of stuff. [Hon Judith Collins stands] Don’t go now—this is your best chance to learn something!

Can I say to all the staff here—the cleaners; the caterers; the guards; the drivers; library and Hansard and many office staff; and you, Mr Speaker, and your staff, who have been of great assistance to us, sometimes not as much as usual but usually of great assistance to us—thank you very, very much. And can I say to my colleagues in New Zealand First that our caucus has been united by consensus decision-making—

Hon Member: Goodbye.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —hard work, and civility. I’ll be around long after you’re gone, sunshine, and I was here for decades before you arrived. Don’t you feel bad?

The quality of our caucus has been very, very good, so thanks to you, as well as to our parliamentary and ministerial staff. And to the seventh floor of the Beehive, thank you for your—in inverted commas—frank advice. It’s been an excellent office to work for, the very best, and can I say that coming up to night time, at about five to six when we stop for a quiz, they are absolutely brilliant, as Grant Robertson can attest to.

Can I say, we made the right decision on 19 October 2017.

Hon Member: You don’t sound very enthusiastic.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: You know, I cannot believe that you’d be so youthful in shouting out these shibboleths when you know nothing or you’re the living proof for what George Bernard Shaw said: “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything.”—which truly points to a career in politics. Good God.

It was a tough choice for caucus—

Hon Member: You’ve been telling those jokes for 40 years.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —and for our board colleagues, but three years—well, not as big a joke as you are, my colleague. But three years on and we have no regrets. National had run out of answers. It was making and framing the wrong questions, and only a change of course was going to allow the policy transformation that we sought.

When this term began and through the first months, you can remember the cacophony of sound from some in the media that the Government wouldn’t last. Well, last we have. Providing stable and constructive Government again is now an undeniable fact, and we’re proud of our record. We recall the media trepidation, Prime Minister, when you said that you were going to have a baby. Well! The sky was going to fall in. “The Government will hit the rocks.”—that was the basic refrain of the proletariat. But the ship of state didn’t flounder; it kept on sailing calmly throughout until you came back.

We stand on our record in office for what we’ve achieved, for honouring the commitments, for leaving the country in a better position after inheriting nine years of neo-liberal neglect. What’s worse with these neo-liberals is they don’t even understand the philosophy. It shows up every day, because so many of them have never been in business, and their chief articulator wouldn’t know what a business was or is, and that’s the truth.

No less than the New Zealand Herald, though, just recently said—and it’s not one of our most vocal fans, the New Zealand Herald, but they trumpeted our 80-plus percent success rate in getting our coalition agreement policies delivered. It’s because of our steady focus on delivering the coalition agreement, and we’ve never softened from it. If you doubt that, ask some of my colleagues on this side of the Chamber.

We’re here to get by and to work hard with two other parties: the Labour Party, being our coalition partner, and also the support party for the Labour Party in terms of the Greens. We were never forced to agree. If we did, we wouldn’t be three separate parties. We wanted the narrative to be more intelligent, more wise, and more factual and actual. The Prime Minister announced that we’ve got over 190 bills passed. That suggests that we have got by on agreeing on most of the things, or, if we couldn’t, that we got to a compromise and got there in the end.

A hundred and ninety is a staggering testimony to progress. History will judge the coalition agreement as one of the most significant agreements in modern political history, and here’s why: we signalled a long-term strategic plan to rebuild our country, and we had the audacity to demand it—to demand that we had things like a billion trees, which was unthought of; to demand that we spend $3 billion out in neglected provincial New Zealand, the places we go to and get elbowed aside every day by National Party members, whilst they come down here and use the clown—sorry, I can’t say that; use the MP from Epsom—to downgrade with a cacophony of envy every time, as though Epsom and he know anything about the Kaitāias, the Invercargills, the west and east coasts of this country, the very people who drive the economy to pay his salary. He dumps on it.

And the Prime Minister said they’re going to go out and two votes for blue. Well, I’ve just been to Tauranga recently and the Bay of Plenty, and guess what I saw—guess what I saw. I saw the photographs, the posters up there, of three National Party leaders: Mr Bridges, Mr Muller, and Judith Collins. Three, all up in the same province, in the same area in the Western Bay of Plenty. No wonder the people down there are confused—terribly confused.

Chris Bishop: One of them is the one who beat you.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Mr Bishop, leave it alone. I mean, that member’s got a long way to go before he’s going to be frontbench material. He just hasn’t got the learning capacity. He doesn’t seem to be able to absorb that the most fundamental thing in this business is to do your homework and get the facts right—be impervious to attack because you got the facts right. Let me say, when the Provincial Growth Fund came under attack, guess what they tried to do about it. They tried to say it was a slush fund.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It is.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: There is Gerry Brownlee saying it is a slush fund. Well, you know, the people of Christchurch would have wished he’d have done something too, because he was in charge of its rebuild, and I’ve never seen someone so incompetent. Of course, people don’t realise that Gerry Brownlee’s experience in business is five weeks running an illegal casino, before Winston Peters outed him and the president of the National Party, one Goodfellow. Five weeks running an illegal casino, and a colleague across the House, namely yours truly, outed him, and that’s his total business experience. Those National Party people up in the gallery who were cheering don’t know that, do they?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, they do.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: They’re not cheering now. Oh, they do.

Can I say that in this time, we preserved the SuperGold card. We got it improved. We got over 5,000 new business, 130,000 people using the app, and we’ve got another improvement coming in the future. But on top of that, in the last Budget we secured one eye test for superannuitants a year—that will save 5,000 to 7,000 people from going blind, by early identification—and one free doctor’s visit. If only one of those people in the hundred doesn’t go to the hospital as a result of that test, it’s fiscally neutral.

These are the far-sighted plans that New Zealand First has, and we thank the Labour Party and, dare I say it, the Greens for ensuring that this was maintained.

It’s critical, but we know for whom the ferry will call if they get into power, because their last outing when it came to super wasn’t very good. They promised to get rid of the surtax, and when they got in, they put it up to 92c in the dollar. That fellow in Epsom—that’s exactly what he will do, because he’s going to save $82 billion of expenditure.

I can see why you people aren’t smiling any more, because they’re seriously shaken. If he’s going to save $82 billion of expenditure, guess who’s going to feel the pain for that—and it won’t be Gerry Brownlee. It won’t be their front bench—no, no. It’ll be all those people who were fooled to go and vote for them in the first place. Every economist has said that’s impossible.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, they haven’t.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh yes they have. Well, if the number one spokesman for the National Party is a woodwork teacher, you can see what their problem is.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That’s right—that’s right. Winston hates the workers.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Hear that? He thinks that noise and bluster substitutes for policy. Excuse me. The National Party may be making a comeback sometime, but it’s not any time soon. I’m saddened by that, because the people of this country need a sound, strong Opposition. They need people of talent and capability, and they need far better than what they’re getting now. So to our people out there, our message is: hang on. The campaign starts on Saturday morning, and help is on its way. Thank you very much.

Adjournment debate – Judith Collins

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Leader of the Opposition): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I’d like to turn to acknowledge those who are here today and I wish to start—not to end—with thanks. Those thanks are to yourself, Mr Speaker, for the job you do, even though sometimes I’m sure it’s quite difficult—we certainly find it quite difficult, actually. Can I also thank all the other parliamentarians who are here and for those who have decided to leave us at the end of this term, thank you for your contribution—

Hon Chris Hipkins: Too many to name.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: —and to helping making this such a good place. Of course there’s a lot of members of the Labour Party, as the Hon Chris Hipkins is just mentioning, who will be leaving. They may not be planning it, but they’ll be going their way home. Thank you very much.

Can I also thank all of the National team. Thank you, team; it’s about time. It’s about time. Thank you for putting your faith in me and thank you, particularly, to the Hon Simon Bridges and Todd Muller for the support that they have been able to give me in helping us through to this transition. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Can I also take the opportunity to thank all those who work in Parliament and around the precinct. Can I particularly thank the Clerk of the House, the Office of the Clerk staff, the Table Office, the Bills Office, Hansard, select committee staff, the messengers, security, the catering and, particularly, the cleaning staff who often work in hours when we are not here. Can I thank the amazing team at the library and all of my staff who I must say recently have grown to such an enormous number I can’t remember everyone’s names, but that comes with the office.

Can I thank everybody who has kept Parliament running through the COVID-19 lockdowns making sure that we could actually have some form of democracy, even though it seemed extremely limited at the time. And a big thank you to the National Party team, then led by the Hon Simon Bridges, who made sure that there was actually an Opposition voice despite the best efforts for there to be otherwise. So thank you for everybody for doing that.

I’ve just heard the Prime Minister make what I think is going to be one of those speeches that we’re going to look on and we’re going to say, “Well, that was very interesting, wasn’t it?”, because she is going to be more famous than usual and that is going to be because she will be a one-term Labour leader. And that is what I’m here to tell her today. I’m here to tell her today that the last one was Bill Rowling and, good for her, she’s about to join him.

Now, I think it is really important that when we look at our energised and extremely, extremely united team, which is full of extraordinary talent—

Hon Phil Twyford: Where are they? Where have they gone?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I look instead, I look instead—Phil Twyford’s asking, “Where have they gone?” Well, Phil Twyford, he’s clearly one of the best performers of Jacinda Ardern’s Government, now promoted to No. 4. Well, what does that say about the rest of them? What does it say about the rest of them when they’ve got Phil Twyford at No. 4 and he’s ahead of Dr Megan Woods and Chris Hipkins and just about everybody else. What does that say and what does it say about the excellent work of the Hon Kelvin Davis at No. 2. Isn’t that amazing, wonderful—when there’s so much talent, so much talent.

Let’s just have a look at what, though, is facing New Zealand. This is going to be an extremely important election because it’s about who is going to be best able to manage what has been described by the New Zealand Reserve Bank as the biggest economic downturn in 160 years. That is even older than our dear friend Rt Hon Winston Peters. That is 160 years and what did I just hear from the Prime Minister, the leader of the Labour Party? What I hear from the leader of the Labour Party: a whole lot of pixie dust and talking about how everything’s just going to be fine. That’s what I heard. An awful lot of dust; dust—that was all it was.

Let’s just look at this. Let’s look at the numbers that Jacinda Ardern did not wish to say. Let’s look at the 212,000 New Zealanders who are now receiving the unemployment benefit—212,000 New Zealanders. Surely they need a bit better than being told, “It’s all fine. We’re in charge.” They need something better than that. And how about the 450,000 New Zealanders who are having to receive the wage subsidy? There are 450,000 New Zealanders whose jobs are being kept in place because of the $13 billion that the Government has borrowed in order to keep them in employment.

We agreed with it. We agreed with it because we had to do something. We had to do something. But in that time, in that time, a good finance Minister—a good finance Minister—would have thought of a plan to take us out of it, because it’s really easy to close the border. It’s really easy to close the border and to say to people, “Well, we only live so far away for the rest of the world.” Of course, it’s easy to close the border. It’s easy to close down the economy.

The hard thing is to get that economy back going again, particularly when two of our biggest export markets, like international tourism and international education, have been, effectively, closed down. And who have got in charge from the Government to look after international tourism? Well, we’ve got the Hon Kelvin Davis, so what could go wrong? What could possibly go wrong? I can’t even remember who’s in charge of international education from that side because we’ve never heard of them.

So we’ve got the one shining light in the New Zealand economy, which is agriculture—agriculture, an industry that has been in a sector that has been bagged for years by that Government. They hated agriculture. Remember that? They put Damien O’Connor in charge, which shows you how much they thought of it. Absolutely hated it. Remember that, how the farmers with the dirty dairying—dirty dairying, all this sort of stuff. Now, suddenly, farmers are back being trendy. Now, suddenly, farmers are woke. Actually, thankfully, farmers will never be woke. They’ll always be on trend. And the trend is National. That’s where they’re going to be.

I want to say to this Government, “Resource Management Act (RMA) reform.” We’re getting rid of it. Now, suddenly, after three years, they say, “Oh, a working group told us it was a bad thing.” A working group told them it was a bad thing. I wrote to David Parker last year about this time and I said, “The two biggest parties in Parliament should agree on RMA reform. Let’s sort it out together.” He sent me back a letter on his letterhead with, basically, a one-fingered salute. That’s the sort of response you get from a Government like that—a nasty, nasty little response. So we will be getting rid of it. We will get rid of it. We will be putting in place an environmental standards Act and we will be putting in place a planning and development Act. And they will not be the same that that lot would—they’re entirely different.

I would like to say too, let’s just think about some of the shovel-ready projects we’ve been hearing about. Where are they? Where is this list? Poor old Phil Twyford—Hon Phil Twyford—and Shane Jones put out a letter, a press release, on April Fool’s Day this year saying out to the local councils, “Give us your shovel-ready list and we’ll get you the funding. We’ll be there with you. We’ll help you.” What’s happened to that shovel-ready list? Not much at all. Seventy-five percent of them haven’t been announced and dear old Shane Jones has gone and announced to us all the reason they’re not announced is it doesn’t quite work with either his schedule or the Prime Minister’s schedule. Well, that’s a bit of a shame, isn’t it?

How about getting people back into work? Not only do we have 212,000 people on the unemployment benefit at the moment we’ve got 200,000 highly skilled people, most in the construction area, who are underemployed. That means there’s not actually enough work for them. Why wouldn’t we have those people in work? They should not be reliant on a ministerial visit to tell them they’ve got a job. That is not good enough. That is absolutely washing your hands of the situation, Mr Jones.

And what are we going to do? Well, I’ll tell you what, we’re not going to stick up taxes, not like that party will. Why didn’t the Prime Minister talk to us about her secret tax list: the asset tax, the wealth tax, or, dare I say it, the death tax. I mean, having to pay a tax just because you die, that’s a terrible thing.

Now, let’s have a look at this little track record that she’s talked about: KiwiBuild. Wasn’t that good—KiwiBuild. She went to the last election promising 100,000 houses in 10 years, 16,000 the first term. How many have they got—380, oh, 385, apparently. How about roads? What happened there? They stopped. Electric cars—remember, they were going to electrify the fleet, the Government fleet. I understand they’ve got 45. They’ve got 45. And then we had light rail. Remember where that is—somewhere stuck on the ghost train up Mount Roskill.

And talk about New Zealand First—I know the Rt Hon Winston Peters wants to talk. He’ll tell you he’s a handbrake on them. No, he’s not. He’s the enabler. There’s only one reason the Greens are in Government, and that’s because Mr Peters went their way.

So let’s just say this. The Prime Minister may wish to give us all a “sweetness and light” talk, but actually it’s time for reality. The New Zealand people need to know they have a Government that needs to know what to do. And this Government on this side does. And my message, my final message, to the people of New Zealand is this: there’s one way to take charge of life—two ticks blue.

Adjournment Debate – Jacinda Ardern

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I move, That the House do now adjourn until 2 p.m. on Tuesday,18 August 2020.

Kia orana and kia ora koutou katoa. It is a privilege to be able to speak in this adjournment debate and to mark and acknowledge the fact that we are now two years and 10 months into the conclusion of a parliamentary term that has been extraordinary in so many ways.

Two years and 10 months is a very short period of time, and yet a remarkable amount can happen. We started as three parties campaigning in the 2017 election, often on very separate issues but often on areas for which we could all agree, and from the moment that we emerged from negotiations with our confidence and supply agreement and our coalition agreement, it was clear to New Zealand where those issues were, where the consensus was, for this Government. We believed in regional economic development.

We believed in addressing the housing crisis. We believed in swimmable rivers and turning them around within a generation. We believed in tackling child poverty, decades worth of issues that compound inequality, and we believed that we could be world leaders on the issue of climate change.

This Government was formed because we believed that New Zealand could be and should be better and kinder, and two years and 10 months later, here we are having passed, I understand, close to 190 pieces of legislation. If there’s proof of considerable consensus in a Government, it’s the fact that we’ve passed more legislation than comparable Governments over the last four terms, as I understand, and, along the way, prompting a lot of interest from the Opposition given they asked us 111,600 questions—and I understand about 100,000 of them went to Shane Jones alone.

Despite being one of the purest forms of MMP Government that New Zealand has seen for some time, we have made landmark decisions. We passed the zero carbon Act and set up a framework for the future, carbon budgets that I know will make a difference for generations to come.

Early on, we made a decision to look forward, to set a path around fossil fuel extraction in New Zealand that said there would be no further offshore oil and gas exploration. We invested in Taranaki and their transition plan, opening a new energy research centre and investing in a hydrogen roadmap for the future of New Zealand.

We came to a landmark agreement with primary producers over dealing with some of the biggest contributors to our emissions profile in New Zealand. No one else in the world has been able to do what New Zealand has done.

We passed child poverty legislation, and much more than that: of the nine child poverty indicators in New Zealand, seven out of them are now improving under this Government. We know material deprivation is one of the hardest to turn around, which is why we’re investing in things like food in schools to make a direct difference to those families.

We passed essential freshwater reforms, and I acknowledge the efforts of David Parker, because that has been an intensive, generation-changing piece of work that will make a significant difference for those many, many years to come.

We are building more houses than any Government since the 1970s, and not only were we on track and are on track to meet our goal of 6,400 public housing places; we’ve now extended ourselves and said with the COVID recovery and rebuild, we want to build another 8,000 houses to house our families.

We are investing in regional infrastructure up and down the country. You will find projects that are making a difference to communities. Whether it’s the pool in Naenae, the surf club in Tai Rāwhiti, or the rugby club for Poverty Bay, these are projects that create jobs and contribute to community wellbeing.

We have made the most significant changes to mental health this country has ever seen. We not only have invested over a billion dollars in mental health; we’ve started the rollout of new front-line services and training those individuals who will make a difference to make sure that people, when they need that help, can get it at their iwi provider, at their GP, wherever and whenever they need.

We’ve increased paid parental leave. We brought in the winter energy payment. We have indexed benefits to wage increases. The Children’s Commissioner said some of these changes would make the biggest difference to child poverty that we have seen in decades.

Even alongside that, we’ve seen in this House abortion law reform, changes to make sure that every single child in New Zealand will learn New Zealand history—the things that make a difference to people’s lives. We have done all of that whilst also, pre-COVID, getting our debt down to under 20 percent relative to GDP, getting our unemployment levels down to some of the lowest levels in a decade, and some of the highest private sector wage growth we had seen in a decade. All of that had prepared us for what was to come.

In many, many ways, this term will be remembered for what was unplanned as much as what was planned, and in acknowledging that, I actually want to acknowledge, first and foremost, the community of Christchurch and, of course, our Muslim community across Aotearoa New Zealand; I want to acknowledge the community of Whakatāne, because those tragedies, 15 March and Whakaari / White Island, first and foremost, were tragedies that happened in those places to those communities, and we will never forget that.

Through all of this, though, has been our coalition partner and our confidence and supply partners. We would not be here without you. Of course, during this campaign, there will be lots of sprinkling of dust and glitter and whatever else we may choose to call it. There’ll be lots of shovelling of other figurative things.

None of that, for me personally, will ever diminish what this Government and these three parties and these leaders have achieved, and so I say to the Deputy Prime Minister, I say to Marama and to James, thank you. Thank you to New Zealand First, and thank you to the Greens. I’m immensely proud of what we have collectively done for Aotearoa New Zealand.

I also want to pay special tribute to those members of those parties who have not been Ministers but MPs. I know sometimes your positions have been amongst the hardest, and I want to acknowledge that your contribution has been as important in this Parliament as any of ours.

I now wish to finish with words of thanks. I start with my own team. They are exceptionally hard-working, they are grounded, they are here because of their community, and they are strong. I acknowledge all of you, my Labour team. To the people who work in this place—to the Speaker; to the Clerk’s Office; to those who work in our parliamentary offices, from Hansard to libraries to Bellamy’s; we’ll have a chance to come back and say thank you, but for all of this term and keeping this place powered and your democracy working, you have our thanks.

Finally, this election is not what we had planned. It is fair to say this campaign that we’re about to embark on is not the campaign that we planned and prepared for six months ago, nor will our manifesto be the same as it would’ve been had we released it in January of this year, but that is the reality of politics and the reality of this world that we’re living in right now.

But I can tell you this: the values that we campaigned on in 2017, the aspirations that we had coming into this place, remain unchanged. Our plans to keep creating high-wage jobs are as important now as they ever were. On supporting our job creators; on ridding this country of child poverty; on making a transition to a clean, green, carbon-neutral economy; we’ve started that journey, and now we want to finish it. Let’s keep moving.