The election campaign gloves are off between Labour and the Maori Party, and another round was fought in Parliament today. Kelvin Davis tried to score a hit on Te Ururoa Flavell, but Marama Fox joined the fray to hit back with a Willie Jackson jab.
Jackson had heaped praise on the Maori Party’s success in Government in June last year = see Opinion: Willie Jackson at Stuff.
I have to take my hat off to Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Maori Party beating while gaining wins from the Government in the 2016 Budget.
Jackson is now putting himself forward for the Labour list.
Winston Peters tried to score with a jab too, but it was a swing and a miss. At least he didn’t end up with egg on his face like Davis and Labour.
Māori Development, Minister—Confidence
8. KELVIN DAVIS (Labour—Te Tai Tokerau) to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he have confidence that his leadership of Te Puni Kōkiri and its programmes are resulting in the best outcomes for Māori?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. Tēnā koe tēnā pātai. I believe that thousands of whānau up and down the country are being well supported by Te Puni Kōkiri to achieve better outcomes. Our whānau deserve the best possible support they can get, which is why I have high expectations of all Government agencies and their leadership, including myself, to deliver to our people—to Māori people.
Kelvin Davis: How does he reconcile that view that he is doing his best for Māori when the gap in median weekly earnings between Māori and Pākehā has risen 47 percent since his party shacked up with this Government?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The member asked about better outcomes, and to take an example—let me highlight just one or two. I will start with Māori housing, for example: 344 whānau communities like in Kaeō in the member’s electorate are now in safer, warmer, and heathier—
Kelvin Davis: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was around median weekly earnings.
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member then added something that almost caused me to rule the question out of order, and he referred to a coalition arrangement in some rather political terms, so that gives a very wide ambit to the Minister in answering the question.
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: If I can continue with this fine record, 344 whānau and communities, like Kaeō, are now in safer, warmer, and healthier homes. Sixty whānau and communities, like Ōmāpere, are now in new affordable rental homes. Homeless whānau are now getting better support in communities like Kaeō and Kaitāia through emergency housing projects. I was pleased to see, for example, the member in Kaitāia—the member and me; both of us together—launching and supporting Ricky Houghton in his housing project. Those sorts of projects are producing good outcomes for our people and I am pleased to be supporting them.
Kelvin Davis: Does he believe, as Minister for Māori Development, that the selling off of State houses is rangatiratanga, as his colleague stated, when Māori are four times more likely to be waiting for a State house despite all of those things he has just gone through?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Speaking about housing, we disagree with the submission put through by that member at the moment. But I can say, on the opposite side, for example, that in the community of Ngāruawāhia, where I had the privilege to be probably just about a week ago, there was the opening of te Turner papakāinga housing. It is a nine bedroom home that will house four generations—10 adults and nine tamariki. Those are the sorts of projects that are really benefiting Māori and getting better outcomes for our people. Those are the sorts of projects that Te Puni Kōkiri are supporting, and those are the projects that I am proud to be Minister to advocate for.
Kelvin Davis: Does he, as Minister for Māori Development, believe that, given lower Māori life expectancy, it is fair that the age of superannuation is raised?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Talking about life expectancy, one of the great things that I have to be proud about is a funding allocation of $2 million this year to support initiatives aimed at reducing rangatahi suicide, including video resources and hui. Those are the sorts of things that are positive.
Hon Members: Answer the question.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going invite the member to ask that question again.
Kelvin Davis: My point of order is that I asked whether it is fair—
Mr SPEAKER: No, no, I have asked will the member please ask the question again.
Kelvin Davis: OK. Does he, as Minister for Māori Development, believe that, given lower Māori life expectancy, it is fair that the age of superannuation is raised?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: That is a Government policy. In terms of the Māori Party view of that—as one part of the coalition arrangement with the Government—we believe that our policy is clear: to maintain the age as it is at present. That is our view.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member is answering as a Minister on behalf of the Government. It is not his job as a Minister to give a party perspective; it is his job to answer on behalf of the Government as a Minister in the Government.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker—
Mr SPEAKER: I do not think there is much to talk about, but I will hear from the Hon Gerry Brownlee.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: It was established in this House by Helen Clark and, in fact, Jim Anderton and the new hope for the Labour Party, Laila Harré, that a person who is a Minister inside a coalition Government, when asked a question about their party’s policy, could answer so.
Mr SPEAKER: I need no further help, but I thank both members for their assistance. In this case a very clear question was asked, and I think that the Minister answered it very satisfactorily.
Kelvin Davis: When Māori unemployment is rising, the wage gap is growing, health outcomes are getting worse, and homeownership is a fantasy, how can he, with a straight face, say that Māori are getting positive outcomes under his watch?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The gist of the questions asked by the member is about responsibility, and I take those responsibilities really seriously. Can we do better? Of course we can do better, and my hope is to do that by way of advocating through my role as the Minister for Māori Development. For example, in Whānau Ora $40 million over 4 years is about addressing those issues that the member has put in front of the Parliament today. In terms of business and innovation, it is about moving families to get into positions of self-sustaining businesses, and so on—again, $4 million over 4 years. Those are the gains that we have been able to achieve to address best outcomes for our people. I think they need to be applauded.
Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 9—[Interruption] The member has used her supplementary question.
Marama Fox: Sorry, we had an agreement to have another supplementary question allocated. That is my understanding.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I can see that the chief Government whip is saying that is true, but it is helpful for me, in running question time, if I am made aware of such arrangements.
Marama Fox: Apologies, Mr Speaker, and thank you for your indulgence. Has the Minister read any reports about the very good work that he and Te Puni Kōkiri are doing?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: As it happens, I do. If I can quote from that report: “I have to take my hat off to the Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Māori Party beating while gaining wins from the Government in the 2016 Budget.” The quote goes on: “in the past two years, he has done a good job for Māori and can feel satisfied with a new Whanau Ora injection of another $40 million over the next four years—a total of $72 million a year in welfare, education and health spending to go through Whanau Ora providers.” That quote came from the newest member of the Labour Party, Willie Jackson. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order and I expect to hear it in silence.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Hon Te Ururoa Flavell said it was a report. That being the case, can I ask him to table it.
Mr SPEAKER: This is easily arranged if the Minister was quoting from an official document. Was the Minister quoting from an official document?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: No, Mr Speaker, from a radio broadcast.
Mr SPEAKER: Then the matter is resolved.