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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s policies and actions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: On behalf of the Prime Minister, yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does her Government intend to deliver on its commitment to providing light rail in Auckland?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Like so many things that this reformist Government is engaged in, it’s a work in progress. We’re still working through the fiscals, the policy itself—not just making a whole lot of promises, like the former Government, and not putting up one cent to back them up.

Hon Paula Bennett: Is the New Zealand Transport Agency website correct when it says, “The Auckland Transport Alignment Project … has committed to providing light rail between the City Centre and Māngere and to Auckland’s north west within the next ten years”?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Actually, that sort of announcement sounds like the previous Government, frankly: “within the next ten years”. We don’t behave like that. This Government makes an announcement when we’ve done all the homework, and then when it’s completed we provide the finances to get the job done and find the workers to do the job as soon as we possibly can.

Hon Paula Bennett: In what time line, then, will the promise of light rail actually come to fruition?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: When the work has been done thoroughly so that we know exactly what should be done in the future. I mean, that’s how our sound Western Government does things responsibly. I don’t know how they propose to proceed in the future, or is it all going to be by guesswork?

Hon Chris Hipkins: Is the Prime Minister confident that the current Government will be able to deliver light rail in Auckland faster than the 2037 timetable set out by the previous Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That’s a superb question. What was happening before was positively glacial in terms of delivery; what we’re doing now is at break-neck speed by comparison.

Hon Paula Bennett: Has anyone from New Zealand First written to her office at any time since she became Prime Minister about the Auckland light rail project?

SPEAKER: One more attempt—because I’m sure that any letters to my office are not relevant.

Hon Paula Bennett: To her office?

SPEAKER: No, “to your office” I think the member said. I apologise if I got it wrong.

Hon Paula Bennett: Has anyone from New Zealand First written to her office at any time since she became—

Hon Shane Jones: That’s better—improvement.

Hon Paula Bennett: Sorry, what was that?

Hon Shane Jones: Not right.

Hon Paula Bennett: Oh. Has anyone from New Zealand First written to her office at any time since she became Prime Minister about the Auckland light rail project?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, I understand that the numbers of New Zealand First supporters and members are legioned, so to speak, and so I can’t possibly answer that question.

Hon Paula Bennett: Has the “agree to disagree” provision in the coalition agreement been triggered, meaning Labour and New Zealand First can now publicly express alternative views on Auckland light rail?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, this is an extraordinary question. I mean, if it was a fact then I, as Prime Minister, could confirm it, but it’s not a fact at all. And this type of myth-making is sort of beloved of Jenna Lynch and TV3, but it’s not worthy of an Opposition.

Chris Bishop: Just answer the question.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: And as you were told this morning, keep quiet, Mr Bishop—you were told that this morning by your senior member sitting in front of you, and I suggest you take that advice.

Hon Paula Bennett: Has the “agree to disagree” provision in the coalition agreement been triggered when it comes to taxpayers’ money being spent in Ihumātao?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, this is again more myth-making. We’ve got no idea on earth what the question is asking. I mean, no such thing has happened with respect—

Chris Bishop: Read the Cabinet Manual.

Hon Grant Robertson: You’re just making it up.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, I’m unable to confirm the outrageous, mythical suspicions of the Opposition.

SPEAKER: Grant Robertson will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Grant Robertson: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can the Prime Minister confirm that she has the support of all Cabinet members to spend taxpayers’ money sorting out Ihumātao?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, again [Interruption] Again, this is a work in progress where every member of this Government will be proud of the outcome and where we will have all kept our word.

Darroch Ball: Can the Prime Minister confirm the average amount spent on travel and accommodation by officials in the Provincial Development Unit in a three-month period?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That’s a superb question. I can say that the Provincial Development Unit, over a three-month period, spent, per person, $1,819 on accommodation, flying, travelling, driving—the full hundred yards—as opposed to a three-month period of $113,000 spent by one Simon Bridges.

Hon Paula Bennett: Has she considered using funds from the Provincial Growth Fund to actually support employers in a wage scheme?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, and speaking for the “First Citizens of the Provinces” could I just say that the Provincial Growth Fund is going into a whole range—hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of plans—

Hon Shane Jones: Job rich.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Job rich, long term, added value, all over our country—for example, like Ōpōtiki, where we’ll have the biggest mussel farm in the whole wide world, and where the medical and economic benefits will be new and fresh from that province. So in that context, the answer is, on behalf of the Prime Minister: yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does the Prime Minister consider that the nearly $700 million that has not been allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund in these extraordinary times around the coronavirus, and given what is happening with businesses, could be better spent on actually keeping people in jobs and small businesses alive?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister: this is an extraordinary question, and by way of allegation as well, because this morning, in Mr Bridges’ hands, it was $654 million, and now it’s grown to $700 million in just the space of three hours. They are both dramatically wrong.

Hon Paula Bennett: Has the Prime Minister received correspondence from the Rt Hon Winston Peters in regards to light rail in Auckland?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, it’s very fortunate that the person answering for me knows the answer to that question. The answer is no.

MIL OSI