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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 3—Prime Minister

3. DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes—in particular, our recent announcement to reform the healthcare system to make it more accessible for all New Zealanders. The changes have been informed by the Health and Disability System Review, which found our health system was under stress and that greater emphasis on primary healthcare had the greatest potential to improve New Zealanders’ health. As the Minister of Health said at the announcement, the reforms will mean that for the first time we will have a truly national health system; the kind of treatment people get will no longer be determined by where they live. The reforms will help implement the Government healthcare strategies and visions that include all DHBs being replaced by one national organisation—Health New Zealand—a new Māori health authority, which will have the power to commission health services, monitor the state of Māori health, and develop policy; and the creation of a new public health agency; and, of course, strengthening the Ministry of Health’s role to monitor performance and advise Government. In my view, this will improve the health of all New Zealanders.

David Seymour: Does she stand by her Government’s policy of giving preference to Māori businesses through procurement; if so, will her Government also give preference to other demographics under-represented in business ownership—for example, women?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Actually, just on that, the member has raised the issue of businesses—particularly, I would say, the example of women, but indigenous business owners and operators—and what we can do to increase participation, access, and growth of those businesses. It’s actually been a part of our export strategy, as a Government, and been part of some of the trade negotiations we’ve had with other countries. We’re not alone in the work we’re doing. In fact, around procurement policy, we modelled what we’ve done on procurement on Australia, and, likewise, have looked to the experiences of the Canadians, where they’re using both trade instruments and procurement to try and see a boost in the growth of indigenous and women and small business generally in their representation in procurement and trade.

David Seymour: If a Māori-owned business, a Pacific-owned business, and a Chinese-owned business all submit equivalent bids for a Government contract, how will her Government decide who to award it to?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Of course, we have a range of procurement guidelines, processes, and policies, which I have an expectation that all departments will make sure that they are applying in the work that they do. Rather than go on to hypotheticals, probably the best thing I can point the member to is a process that’s being adopted by Auckland Council. As part of the Southern Initiative, they undertook some very similar work, and, again, we looked at the way they had operated a similar policy. It has led to really positive outcomes. They’ve seen a spread of a diversity in a number of businesses they’re engaging with. It’s particularly supported small to medium sized enterprises, and it’s seen the growth of employment opportunities within the region. Again, we’re not doing this from a starting base of nothing. Others are leading on this. We have learnt from it. In our view, it means that we’ll be able to support greater representation of both small business, Māori business, and others, in procurement policy where they’ve previously been excluded for a number of reasons.

David Seymour: Will the Government compromise on quality or cost when it procures goods and services from Māori business, and if it would, what on earth does that say about this Government’s attitude to Māori? [Interruption]

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I reject the assertion that’s made in that question.

SPEAKER: Order! We’ve had an unusual situation now where we had interjection during an ACT question from a number of members, and as a result of that, I will give ACT three additional questions, which they can use this week.

David Seymour: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Is it not paternalistic to provide a separate process for Māori-owned businesses than any other business?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No.

David Seymour: Why isn’t the Government’s goal simply to procure quality goods and services at reasonable prices when it buys on behalf of taxpayers regardless of who is selling them?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That, of course, is one of the goals of procurement policy as well.

MIL OSI