Poll – replacement NZ First leader (plus more donations drip feeding)

At this stage there is no indication that Winston Peters will step down as Deputy Prime Minister pending the SFO investigation into how the NZ First Foundation has been dealing with donations. Peters has both distanced himself saying he has nothing to do with the foundation, but has also said he knows the foundation has bone nothing wrong and has been doing all the media releases and interviews in relation to the issue.

And there is no indication that Winston Peters is ready to step down as leader of NZ First or to retire from politics. He doesn’t exactly look like an energizer bunny but politically he just keeps on going (with the occasional top up of voter energy after things have gone flat).

But regardless, Newshub decided to do some polling on a replacement NZ First leader – Who Kiwis think should be NZ First leader if Winston Peters stands down

In the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, voters were asked for their thoughts on who should take over if Peters ever stands down as New Zealand First leader.

Thee results are quite mixed.

  • Ron Mark: 17.9%
  • Shane Jones: 14.5%
  • Tracey Martin: 13.8%
  • Fletcher Tabuteau: 3.6%

The three most popular are the three most prominent NZ First MPs. All are ministers. Jones is by far the most visible (he does a lot of attention seeking), but interesting to see Mark top the poll, as he has been a much more quiet worker.

Results from NZ First voters must be suspect as the sample must be quit small, with only 3.6% preferring the party in the poll.

  • Ron Mark: 34.4%
  • Shane Jones: 18.5%
  • Fletcher Tabuteau: 13.6%
  • Tracey Martin: 2.9%

So Jones doesn’t seem very popular even amongst the few NZ First voters polled. This doesn’t mean much, but it’s a bit interesting.

Peters has always been leader of NZ First, the Peters is sometimes referred to as Winston First.

Tracey Martin was chosen as deputy leader of NZ First on 14 February 2013.

Ron Mark challenged her and was selected to replace her on 3 July 2015.

Fletcher Tabuteau replaced Mark as leader on 27 February 2018.

Meanwhile Simon Bridges hasn’t ruled out working with Winston Peters forever:

It would be ridiculous making a commitment on this for future elections, so this means less than the replacement leader polling.

Meanwhile the donations story continues to drip feed, despite Peters saying he was slaying a complaint with the police over the ‘theft’ of information from the Foundation  he has nothing to do with.

RNZ: NZ First Foundation received tens of thousands of dollars from donors in horse racing industry

The New Zealand First Foundation has been receiving tens of thousands of dollars from donors in the horse racing industry in payments which fall just below the $15,000.01 at which party donations are usually made public.

As racing minister, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has delivered significant benefits to the industry, including millions of dollars of government money spent on tax breaks and scrapping betting levies.

Records viewed by RNZ show one of the big donors was the Lindsay family. Brendan Lindsay sold the plastic storage container business Sistema for $660 million in late 2016 and a year later bought Sir Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge Stud.

Three lots of $15,000 were deposited into the bank account of the New Zealand First Foundation on 11 October, 2018, according to records viewed by RNZ.

One of the donations was in Brendan Lindsay’s own name and one was in the name of his wife, Jo Lindsay. There was a third deposit made that same day listed as Lindsay Invest Donation.

The year before – in the 2017 election year – Brendan Lindsay also donated $15,000. On the same day there is another deposit for $15,000 listed as Lindsay Trust Donation. Both were banked by the New Zealand First Foundation on 5 May, 2017.

Brendan Lindsay told RNZ, via email, that neither he nor his wife were aware of the Foundation.

Spreading payments between related people and entities all just below the disclosure threshold looks designed to avoid the law. Time will tell whether it is actually illegal or not, but can have an appearance of being deliberately deceitful.


More Hauhama links to NZ First revealed

The controversy over the appointment of Wally Hauhama grows, with more links to NZ First revealed. The appointment of a new chair for the inquiry into his appointment will be closely scrutinised, after NZ First MP Tracey Martin tried to defend her appointment of Pauline Kingi until Kingi stepped aside.

It was already known that Hauhama came close to being an NZ First candidate in 2005 (until his wife stole $24,000 to replace money she gambled from his campaign fund).

But the Herald have been digging, and finding a number of other links between Hauhama and NZ First.

NZH:  NZ First deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau’s ‘whānau’, marae links to Wally Haumaha

New family links between New Zealand First and controversial deputy police commissioner appointment Wally Haumaha have emerged, as one of the party’s senior ministers looks to restart the inquiry into the process which led to his promotion.

Fletcher Tabuteau, the deputy leader of New Zealand First, comes from Waiteti Marae in Ngongotaha near Rotorua, of which Haumaha is the chairman.

They are both Ngāti Ngāraranui and Tabuteau referred to Haumaha as a member of his whānau in his maiden speech to Parliament in 2014.

Tabuteau’s uncle Tommy Gear – a close friend of Winston Peters – is a trustee of the Ngāti Ngāraranui Hapu Trust along with Haumaha.

Gear and Haumaha are senior leaders on the Waiteti Marae, where a special function was held in June last year to celebrate Haumaha’s promotion to assistant police commissioner.

New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters was one of the speakers at the function, along with Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

Hauhama was appointed before NZ First helped Labour form a government last year, so they wouldn’t have been involved in his appointment – other than celebrating it.

Haumaha’s appointment became controversial after the Herald revealed comments he made in support of fellow officers involved in historic police rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas.

When the Herald broke the news in June, Peters was the Acting Prime Minister.

He announced an inquiry would be held into the process of Haumaha’s promotion to deputy commissioner and appointed Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin – a longtime New Zealand First member like Tabuteau – to oversee the inquiry.

That’s where it gets tricky for NZ First.

At the time, Peters and Martin both downplayed Haumaha’s link to New Zealand First.

They have both handled this poorly.

Martin said she could not see any conflict of interest.

“I’m setting up an independent Government inquiry, and that means that I will receive recommendations of a person to led that inquiry from Crown Law,” Martin told The Nation.

“I will appoint that person, they will run that inquiry completely independent from me, and it’s about a process, not a person.”

But the process of due diligence looks to have been severely flawed.

Martin, Peters and NZ First should make sure that anyone recommended to lead the inquiry now can not be linked to NZ First in any appreciable way, or this mess will get worse for them.

This also shows the degree of connection between NZ First MPs. Martin has been an MP since 2011 and was deputy leader for several years. Her mother was close to Peters and involved with the administration party.

Tabuteau is now the deputy leader and also works closely with peters as Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He and his family also have close links to Peters.

Questions about Winston Peters and NZ’s foreign policy

Winston Peters negotiated the roles of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Some of his positions, especially on Russia, have been controversial – and somewhat mysterious.

Guyon Espiner asks some pertinent questions, like What is Winston Peters’ foreign policy, anyway?

To outsiders New Zealand foreign policy must look like a riddle wrapped in a mystery, perhaps clear only to the enigmatic deputy prime minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

That phrase is, of course, butchered and borrowed from Winston Churchill, who was trying to decipher Russian intentions at the start of World War II.

The direction of New Zealand foreign policy under his namesake seems similarly opaque. This presents challenges for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in Paris and London this week, seeking to progress trade deals with the European Union (EU) and Britain.

The publicity from the trip is likely to be positive but beyond the photo-ops, what is New Zealand actually doing in foreign affairs?

Ardern is certainly getting plenty of photo op opportunities, and she hasn’t visited the Queen yet.

Unfortunately for the PM the narrative has been blown off course by the timebomb Peters placed in the coalition agreement – his wish for a free trade deal with Russia.

Against a back drop of Russian-Western conflict not seen since the Cold War, uncomfortable questions follow Ardern around Europe. Why, just weeks ago, was her country still clinging to the notion it could pursue a trade deal with Russia? Why did it take so long to drop the idea and why was it there in the first place?

An as yet unanswered mystery.

The demand to re-start the deal didn’t come from a free trade champion. Peters has largely opposed FTAs, including with South Korea and China.

Why did Peters cast doubt on Russia’s role in bringing down MH17 and meddling in the US elections? Why did the government insist there were no Russian spies here and buck the trend of its allies, who expelled Russian diplomats?

The questions continue after the missile strikes on Syria. While Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull and Canada’s Justin Trudeau support the strikes, New Zealand “accepts why” they occurred.

Perhaps this is what you’d expect from a coalition government with Labour at the helm.

Rather than blindly follow their Five Eyes friends they seek an independent path. That line can be traced from Helen Clark’s refusal to join the Iraq War in 2003 to the actions of David Lange and Norman Kirk in protesting nuclear weapons.

I don’t remember Kirk or Lange being as vague as Ardern.

And then there is Peters, who rarely gives straight answers.

What is it that Winston Peters wants to achieve in foreign policy?

Both New Zealand First and Labour opposed the TPP in opposition and then supported it in government with minor amendments.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to see that Labour was largely in favour of the TPP, despite their opposition when in Opposition. But NZ First’s back flip looks less logical.

The tweaks allowed them to ban foreigners buying New Zealand houses but that breached the existing FTA with Singapore. Will Singaporeans be exempt from the ban? Peters stopped by Singapore on his way to Europe this week. Has he settled it?

I can’t find any news reports of his Singapore visit, and he hasn’t put out any ministerial release.

And what of China? Will it be the job of Winston Peters to take the relationship forward?

Will China be receptive to Peters?  Important questions.

The deeper question is why he wants the job at all. The Greens chose portfolios which visibly align with their philosophies, such as climate change and conservation.

For the leader of a party called New Zealand First, which positions itself as a champion of provincial battlers, to take international affairs is a less obvious fit.

On the night he announced the government, Peters made dark noises about the failings of capitalism and the challenges facing the economy. And then he chose Foreign Affairs.

Trying to figure out Winston may be a fool’s errand.

Usually that is a supporting role to the prime minister, who is the country’s real voice on foreign policy. Peters could soon hold both jobs, while Ardern takes maternity leave.

That could be interesting – and it could be a risk. Who knows what he will say or do? Will Ardern? Does she work closely with him, or has he been given the freedom to do much as he pleases? Will he be making key decisions while acting PM?

Perhaps he’ll hand over foreign affairs to his under-secretary and party deputy Fletcher Tabuteau? Or maybe he’ll keep us guessing.

Asking Peters is unlikely to get many answers that are any use to clarifying New Zealand’s foreign policy. I don’t know if Tabuteau would be any better, especially with peters hovering around in charge of the country. If Ardern hands over control.

What experience does Tabuteau have with foreign policy and diplomacy? He was an economics lecturer and head of the business school at Waiariki Institute of Technology beforfe becoming an MP in 2014. No sign of offshore experience.

There are a number of important unanswered questions about both our foreign policy and our leadership over the next few months.

The other new (deputy) leader – Fletcher Tabuteau

The NZ First caucus yesterday selected Fletcher Tabuteau as their deputy leader, replacing Ron Mark (who is a Minister in the current Government).


New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says the new Deputy Leader of New Zealand First is Fletcher Tabuteau MP.

“New Zealand First indicated last week that it would consider the deputy-leadership position at its caucus meeting this morning,” said Mr Peters.

“After careful consideration, the caucus today supported Fletcher Tabuteau to take over the role, and I congratulate him on this appointment as deputy-leader.”

“New Zealand First extends its immense gratitude for the service of Ron Mark as deputy leader. The party recognises Ron is an integral member of the team and we look forward to him playing a key role in the current government in his capacity as Minister of Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs,” he said.

Fletcher Tabuteau has been a member of the party since its inception and is currently serving second term as a member of parliament. With the formation of the new government he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister for Regional Economic Development.



It is my honour to announce that today I was successfully nominated as the Deputy Leader of New Zealand First.

The role comes with significant responsibility and I am delighted to have received the confidence of my caucus colleagues.

I have had the privilege of working with the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters for a number of years and I now look forward to working closely with him and my caucus colleagues as the Deputy Leader.

Having been a member of the party since its inception, this step represents my commitment to New Zealand First and its founding principles of putting New Zealand and all New Zealanders first.

There is a lot of work to get on with and I am up to the challenge with a great team of people around me.

I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my predecessor the Hon Ron Mark who has served as a loyal Deputy Leader of the Party.

It is an exciting time to be a part of the fundamental paradigm shift of a new Government as both the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister for Regional Economic Development, and now as the Deputy Leader of New Zealand First.

I look forward to being a part of the party leadership as we look to consolidate the past 25 years and look to the future as an integral part of government, mindful as ever that we will continue to grow our membership and support base.

Tabuteau is aged 47. He became an MP via the NZ First list in 2014 and again in 2017 – he was ranked fourth on the list both times, ahead of Mark (who was 9th) in 2014, but two places behind Mark in 2017.

After the formation of a Labour-NZ First-Green government in October 2017 Tabuteau was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, and Under-Secretary to the Minister for Regional Economic Development, Shane Jones.

This looks a bit like a succession plan for NZ First, but while Peters remains leader Tabuteau may have difficulty building much of a profile.

New deputy predicted for NZ First

There has never been any doubt who will lead NZ First while Winston Peters remains an MP, but the deputy spot is less secure. In 2015 Ron Mark got the numbers to oust Tracey Martin, but it looks like the knives are out for Mark, with the position up for a caucus vote next week.

Martin and Shane Jones appear to be too busy to consider going for it, so it looks like the way is open to Fletcher Tabuteau to take on some more responsibility.

Stuff: NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark looks set to be rolled at caucus on Tuesday

They say what goes around comes around and in Ron Mark’s case he’ll be hoping that’s not the case.

Mark rose to be NZ First’s deputy leader in 2015 after he challenged Tracey Martin and got enough support in the caucus to roll her.

But the party’s deputy leadership is up for grabs again on Tuesday and it’s understood the job is NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau’s – if he wants it.

Tabuteau was fourth on the NZ First list last election, behind Peters, Mark and Martin (Jones was 8th).

Mark need not worry about Martin, whose popularity amongst colleagues exceeds his, as it’s understood she’s not interested in the job due to her heavy ministerial workload.

NZ First new-comer but old-timer in terms of political experience, Shane Jones, has long been touted to take over the leadership from Winston Peters if he ever decided to throw it all in and head to Whananaki to retire.

But he’s not interested in the job either – he says he’s got one billion trees to plant and a $1 billion regional economic fund to spend, which would keep him far too busy for anything else.

So it looks like a contest between Mark and Tabuteau, if Mark doesn’t read the writing on the wall and say he’s too busy being a minister.

While he (Jones) says it’s not a “priority” for him to be deputy leader and in the short term he has a “hell of a role” he possibly also doesn’t see the deputy job as any sort of assumed stepping stone to the leadership.


Big wins, big ambitions, big challenges

NZ First have had some big wins in their negotiations with Labour, winning support for major policies and winning some big portfolios. With a lot to do for a small party they will have big challenges living up to their ambitions.

Ministerial responsibilities for the NZ First MPs:

Winston Peters

  • Deputy Prime Minister
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister for State Owned Enterprises
  • Minister for Racing

Foreign Affairs usually involves a lot of international travel and long absences from the country, which will have to somehow be managed alongside Deputy responsibilities, which include stepping in for the PM when she is unavailable (out of the country).

State Owned Enterprises could be interesting, given NZ First aims to but back partially sold assets.

Racing is a bauble.

Ron Mark

  • Minister of Defence
  • Minister for Veterans

Defence could be a challenge, given Green opposition to military spending and engagement. National may need to back up NZ First and Labour on Defence.

Tracey Martin

  • Minister for Children
  • Minister of Internal Affairs
  • Minister for Seniors
  • Associate Minister of Education

With Jacinda Ardern’s stated interest in children issues (she is Minister for Child Poverty Reduction) she will need to work with Martin.

Martin will also have to work closely with incoming Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

Shane Jones

  • Minister of Forestry
  • Minister for Infrastructure
  • Minister for Regional Economic Development
  • Associate Minister of Finance
  • Associate Minister of Transport

This is a huge workload for someone regarded as not being particularly industrious. He will need a lot of help.

Fletcher Tabuteau

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the
– Minister of Foreign Affairs
– Minister for Regional Economic Development

It looks like he will either be an apprentice to Peters on Foreign Affairs, or he may have to cover for a heavy workload if Peters wants to share the load. There could also be a big workload assisting Jones in Regional Economic Development.

Five of the nine NZ First MPs have jobs in Government, so they don’t have a big back-up crew, just four other MPs, two of them new to Parliament.

Big jobs, big challenges.

Tax paid by multinational companies

The issue of tax paid (or lack or tax paid) by multinational companies came up in Parliament’s Question Time yesterday.

7. FLETCHER TABUTEAU (NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: Does he think it is acceptable that 20 multinational companies paid just $1.8 million in income tax in 2014, despite recording nearly $10 billion in annual sales in New Zealand?

That sounds like dramatic underpayment of tax but it lacks a lot of detail. In many cases much of the cost of sales from multinational companies is incurred overseas and the sales are recorded overseas.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): As I think the member is aware, we do not tax turnover in New Zealand, so it is a bit hard to know. It is possible that the levels of tax are lower than they should be. We expect multinationals to pay their fair share of tax and be good corporate citizens. Most companies play by the rules, but the Government is continuing to tighten up the rules around transfer pricing and interest deductibility. New Zealand continues—most importantly, in my view—to work with other OECD countries to strengthen international tax settings, because, in some respects, what is most concerning about some multinationals is that they do not appear to pay much tax anywhere. We need to work with other countries to make sure that they pay their fair share as appropriate to each country’s rules.

That’s standard waffle from English, and his following responses didn’t add much. But Tabuteau came up with two examples.

Fletcher Tabuteau: Given that he just stated that he believes in a fair and equitable tax system, does he think it right that MasterCard New Zealand declared revenue in New Zealand of just $4.5 million, and paid tax of only $71,000 in its latest figures, despite sharing evenly in $40 billion of annual credit card billings?

That seems interesting but it is misleading, as his next question shows.

Fletcher Tabuteau: Given his answer, does he think it right that Visa New Zealand shared in the same pool of credit card billings of $40 billion, and it declared only $3.2 million of revenue and paid only $185,000 in tax in its latest figures?

So Mastercard and Visa together shared in “the same pool of credit card billings of $40 billion”. And that is not their sales, it is the sales of many companies who use credit card services so people can pay for goods and services.

It doesn’t separate domestic versus international sales.

Credit card charges are only a small part of overall sales, a few percent at most. If you pay Inland Revenue by credit card the fee paid to Westpac is 1.42%, if you pay the Police the fee is 1.9%.

It is obvious from this that some of the $40b are not sales but are payments with no revenue or tax involved.

One percent of $40b is $400 million, still a substantial amount. But there will be significant costs involved in providing the service and providing the finance – banks provide finance free of interest for up a month and a half.

So the detail Tabuteau is insufficient to have any ideas how outraged to be about how little revenue Mastercard and Visa report and how little tax they pay.

I don’t know how things are structured between the banks and the credit card companies. It looks like the banks incur most of the costs and will get most of the sales value from transactions.

Fletcher Tabuteau: How will the Minister help many New Zealand companies, which have said that they have missed out on investments here at home because overseas competitors are abusing the tax system here in New Zealand, giving them an unfair advantage over Kiwi firms?

That’s little more than a vague assertion of abuse. Without details Tabuteau has embellished his claims and made a very weak argument.

TPPA timeframe change “an attack on democracy”

MPs considering submissions on the TPPA have had the available time slashed from a month to five days. This is bad process and appalling PR from the Government on a very contentious issue.

The select committee public submission process is an important part of our democratic system, despite efforts by parties and activist groups to manipulate it.

It’s a common tactic to try and flood submissions with a particular stance and then to claim that it’s a measure of public opposition. Numbers of submissions are not a measure of opinion.

But the Government has poked a stick into a wasp nest by slashing the time Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee members have to consider submissions on the TPPA.

Radio NZ reports: New TPP timeframe an ‘attack on democracy’

MPs have been given just five days to consider hundreds of submissions on the controversial TPP trade deal after the timeframe was drastically cut from four weeks.

The select committee was originally give a month to write its report and present it back to Parliament.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee had been hearing submissions on the TPP from hundreds of people across the country and that will continue until the end of the month.

National MP Mark Mitchell, chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, strongly rejects the view that the timeframe undermines the democratic process and says there will be plenty of time for robust debate.

But a last minute slashing of time to consider submissions is an awful look – what did key say about National’s need to avoid appearing arrogant this term?

Opposition MPs are understandably up in arms.

But opposition members on the committee say they were told yesterday the government wanted to cut down the time they had to analyse the submissions, so the legislation could get through by the end of the year.

They said they were stunned by the news and felt angry and frustrated.

Labour MP David Clark…

…said he wouldn’t be surprised if the people who made submissions felt the same way.

“Submitters will be horrified if they learnt that the committee is curtailing a process of consideration of the very serious issues they have raised,” he said.

“It seems very reasonable to expect them to be frustrated and to question whether there is integrity in the process at all.”

It’s fair to question motives and integrity.

Green MP Kennedy Graham…

…said he and other opposition MPs on the committee had thought the original timeframe of a month to write the report was too short.

“It’s just a slap of indifference and dismissal of some very sincere, very capable and hard-working New Zealand people,” he said.

“It shows it up for what it is – which is essentially a roadshow with a predetermined end.”

It gives opponents plenty of cause to ridicule the consultation process as a sham.

New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau…

…said what made it worse was that the tight deadline meant the draft report would be written before the committee had finished hearing all the submissions.

The TPP has been a farcical process from the beginning, he said.

“The whole negotiation had been undertaken in secret to start with. The submission time has been months in contrast to the six years it has to write [the TPP deal],” Mr Tabuteau said.

“This is clearly an attack on democracy – it’s unacceptable.”

It looks unacceptable to me.

This is likely to stir up the TPPA opponents yet again and give them a good reason to stir up protests again.

Is this just arrogant abuse of the democratic process, or is the Government deliberately stirring up anti-TPPA protest?

Whether the latter is their intent or not it is likely to be the outcome.

TPPA: Don’t Sign meeting tonight

The TPPA: Don’t Sign meeting will be held at the Auckland Town Hall tonight at 7 pm. It will be live streamed at The Daily Blog.

Jane Kelsey posted at The Daily Blog:

TPPA:Don’t Sign – Fill the Auckland Town Hall tomorrow (Tues) 7pm

PM John Key and his National government say most Kiwis support the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and those who don’t are ignorant or manipulated.
Show him he’s wrong.

Hear dynamic, funny, and scary US former trade attorney and TPPA expert Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, on how the US politics may sink the TPPA.

Jane Kelsey will explain the highlights of the expert papers saying what the TPPA would really mean for Kiwis.

A political panel will tell us why they oppose the signing of the TPPA:
Grant Robertson, Labour; Metiria Turei, Greens; Marama Fox, Maori Party; and Fletcher Tabuteau, NZ First.

The speaking tour is being sponsored by Its Our Future, Action Station, NZ Council of Trade Unions and First Union.

Perhaps there’s no workers involved in export or import companies in NZ Council of Trade Unions or First Union.

Interesting to see Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson opposing the signing and opposing the TPPA.

Yes, it is our future, and how that works out for New Zealand will depend on trade. The Trans Pacific Partnership should improve trade opportunities a bit.



Winston succession talent on display

While secrecy over the clash of the deputies continues Winston Peters lauded all of the NZ First talent in 3 News: NZ First cagey about leadership rumours:

Asked whether the party had a succession plan, Mr Peters said he’s “probably got 10 successors – that’s how much talent we’ve got in New Zealand First”.

Some of this talent was on display during Question Time in Parliament today.

Both deputy aspirants seemed to be trying to be young Winstons, without vast experience and without success.

10. Trade, Minister—Statement on Trans-Pacific Partnership

[Sitting date: 02 July 2015. Volume:706;Page:9. Text is subject to correction.]

10. FLETCHER TABUTEAU (NZ First) to the Minister of Trade : Does he stand by his statement in respect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that “We were never going to start the serious negotiations until it was show time”, and will this include the future of Fonterra?


Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Acting Minister of Trade): Yes, the Minister does stand by his statements on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This includes the statement that further negotiations are needed to resolve the most difficult issues in negotiation, which include market access for dairy. In respect of the second part of the question, if the member is referring to the structure of Fonterra, the way Fonterra operates, established in the dairy industry reforms of a decade ago, is not up for negotiation.

Fletcher Tabuteau : For clarification, how does the Minister then reconcile the US Dairy Export Council’s strong support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement fast-track when its president, speaking about Fonterra before a Senate inquiry, said: “If this is going to be a high ambitious agreement in the 21st century, you need to reform the industry, which is creating a 90 percent market share for one company in the global market that the company”—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Supplementary questions must be concise. Bring the question to a conclusion very quickly, otherwise I will rule it out of order.

Fletcher Tabuteau : Thank you, Mr Speaker. The president was suggesting that Fonterra has way too much market power by law and should not be therefore—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Debates occur after question time. If the question can be made out—[Interruption] Order! I am on my feet at the moment. If the Minister can establish a question out of that, I invite the Minister to answer it.

Tracey Martin : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Unfortunately, because that is a direct quote from hearings held on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Minister would not be able to answer the question of my colleague without hearing the direct quote.


Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member needs to study the Standing Orders. Standing Order 380 is quite specific on how questions can be asked. That question is miles too long. I warned the member. He then continued with a long question. I am now giving the Minister the opportunity to answer. If there are further supplementary questions and they are of that length, I will simply rule them out of order.

Ron Mark : Point of order. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Would all members resume their seats. This may be a fresh point of order, in which case I am happy to hear it. But if it is in any way a relitigation of a ruling I have just made in respect of that question, then I will treat it very seriously indeed.

Ron Mark : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I fully accept your ruling. The question though is going forward to help us, could you give us a word count so that we can check ourselves—


Mr SPEAKER : Order! It is the last day before a break, so I will, on this occasion, be a little generous to the member. The published Hansard will be available at about 4.30 p.m. I suggest he just count it for himself. [Interruption] Order! No, the member will resume his seat. The question has been asked with some difficulty for me to decipher, but I am going to give the Minister a chance to answer. If there are further supplementary questions, we will move from there.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : It is not the job of the New Zealand Minister of Trade to reconcile the statements of a US lobbying group, whoever they are. I stand by the answer to the substantive question.

Fletcher Tabuteau : Would the Minister describe the stand by the US National Milk Producers Federation as shadow-boxing given that it stated, after the fast-track was passed, that the US dairy industry has been a strong advocate for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, with it previously telling the US international—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That will do. The question has been asked, and again it is too long.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : The answer remains the same. It is not the job of the New Zealand Minister of Trade to reconcile the positions of any other organisation that is lobbying in favour of a particular outcome in regards to a trade agreement. It is the responsibility of the New Zealand Minister of Trade to lead the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Fletcher Tabuteau : Can I raise a point of order and seek clarification?

Mr SPEAKER : Yes, you can.

Fletcher Tabuteau : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have sought to keep these questions within the bounds and structure of previous questions that I have asked in this House and have been allowed. Your—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member has just summed it up perfectly for himself. I have noticed a habit whereby increasingly the questions that are asked by this particular member are far too long. I have given him the opportunity to shorten them. He has not taken my advice. He may well get the same treatment in the future. Does the member have a further supplementary question?

Fletcher Tabuteau : Can the Minister confirm to New Zealand farmers and consumers that under a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement United States milk and meat products containing wrapped dopamine and recombinant bovine growth hormone, both banned here in New Zealand, will not enter into New Zealand, as stipulated by the EU in its own free-trade agreements with the United States?

Mr SPEAKER : Again, marginal but I will allow it.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : There are all sorts of things that are being negotiated, including such issues as phytosanitary conditions and all the requirements on animal product health and so on. These negotiations are continuing. The Minister is not in a position to comment on individual items, except to say, in response to the substantive question the member raised, that the way Fonterra operates is not up for negotiation.

To assist the NZ First talent here is Standing Order 380:

380 Content of questions

(1) Questions must be concise and not contain—

(a) statements of facts and names of persons unless they are strictly necessary to render the question intelligible and can be authenticated, or

(b) arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, ironical expressions, or expressions of opinion, or

(c) discreditable references to the House or any member of Parliament or any offensive or unparliamentary expression.

(2) Questions must not seek a legal opinion.

(3) A written question must not repeat the substance of a question already lodged in the same calendar year.

(4) Questions must not refer to proceedings in committee at meetings closed to the public until those proceedings are reported to the House or (subject to Standing Order 115) to a matter awaiting or under adjudication in, or suppressed by an order of, any New Zealand court.

(5) Where the notice of a question does not comply with the provisions of the Standing Orders, it is not accepted. If, by inadvertence, such a notice is accepted it may be subsequently disallowed by the Speaker unless it is amended or revised so as to comply with the Standing Orders.