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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard



Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements, policies, and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes, in particular the release yesterday of the Government’s suicide prevention and action plan, which is part of our comprehensive response to the issue of mental health in this country and a further demonstration that this Government is finally, after years of neglect, taking mental health seriously.

Hon Simon Bridges: When will the Government deliver on its promise in the Speech from the Throne to build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Of course, we have reiterated that we have a focus on providing as many affordable houses as are needed. We will keep building them until we have satisfied the housing crisis that we inherited. I note—perhaps the member didn’t put it in his Speech from the Throne at the time—that they had a goal of 37,000 houses being built, a goal that was never reached by the last Government.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why does she think so many prominent commentators on the left are so unhappy about the abandoning of KiwiBuild targets, describing them as a “broken promise” and a “sell-out”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would, again, remind anyone who is looking at the KiwiBuild reset that we have never ceased building affordable houses, and nor will we. In fact, I also take the opportunity to paint a reminder of the picture over the last two years—we’ve delivered 2,178 public housing places, exceeding our target of 1,600 places per year; we’ve funded Housing First for a further 1,000 people through Budget 2019; a further $283 million went into Budget 2019 to fund and maintain 2,800 transitional housing—

SPEAKER: Order! I think it’s fair to say the question has been answered.

Hon Simon Bridges: Having removed the KiwiBuild targets, what is her position on targets as a tool of Government to drive performance and accountability more generally across Government programmes?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve said many times in this House, I think you always have to act with some caution. For instance, we saw examples in different parts of health where district health boards manipulated their activity to fulfil the expectations of the health Minister, rather than actually lifting the health and wellbeing of the population.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she no longer believe what she said at Davos that “What gets measured gets done.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: It’s a different thing to measure than it is to place a target, and, as I’ve said, I have not said there isn’t a place for them; I have acknowledged you have to act with caution. I’ll give an example—rheumatic fever. If you only swab children, you ignore the fact that overcrowded, poor housing conditions help spread the disease. It’s another example of why it’s about more than just targets.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why was there no suicide target set yesterday?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Because one lost life to suicide is one too many. I don’t think anyone in this House—in fact, I would wager that there would be mixed views in this House on both sides around the idea of suicide targets. It implies a tolerance for the loss of life, when everyone, I believe, in this House has an aspiration that we make ourselves a country that is free of the tragedy that is suicide.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why is there no immunisation target, which would help in light of the measles epidemic currently?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: A target doesn’t immunise a child. Again, I point out to the member that we’ve actually had declining rates of immunisation since 2016, and that member put in an immunisation target well before that.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept we are now a very long way from Dave Dobbyn singing “Welcome Home” at the KiwiBuild launch in McLennan, not even a year ago.


Hon Simon Bridges: Has Ihumātao been resolved yet?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No. But unlike that member, I wouldn’t be willing to sit by and just let it rumble on without playing a role in trying to broker a solution.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is she aware that Michael Stiassny is conducting negotiations between the Crown and Kīngitanga?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member’s asked me a range of questions on this matter in the House already, and I will repeat the same answers that I gave then. Unlike that member, I’m willing to respect the process that Kīngitanga’s engaged in and allow the parties, including all those mana whenua who are involved, to continue in conversations. I actually would have thought that the member across the other side of the House would have the same interest as we do, and that is finding a peaceful solution.

Hon Simon Bridges: When Megan Woods said at the KiwiBuild reset last week “This is actually about calling time on something that hasn’t worked.”, was she referring to KiwiBuild or the Prime Minister’s Government more generally?

SPEAKER: Order! Order! No—the Prime Minister will resume her seat.

Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’d like to know why that’s out of order.

SPEAKER: Because it’s ironic.

Hon Todd McClay: It was sarcastic.

SPEAKER: Order! Mr McClay will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Todd McClay: I withdraw and apologise.

SPEAKER: And he’s on a warning. [Interruption] That’s enough.