Parliament is revamping its rules

Parliament is revamping its rules

Source: New Zealand Parliament

Media Release
4 August 2020

Today, the Standing Orders Committee’s report on the review of Standing Orders was presented to the House.

The Speaker of the House, the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, chairs the committee. He said today that the 2020 review will make our rules more modern, and lead to a better system here at Parliament.

“The review began before the COVID-19 epidemic but was profoundly shaped by it. Apart from dramatically shortening the time available for the review to take place, the response to COVID-19 required members across the House to be adaptable and constructive. The spirit of flexibility and innovation this created has fed into the review, which has recommended substantial changes.” 

Major themes of the review include:

  • Being more responsive to the public, by improving how petitions to Parliament are considered, and recommending different ways of engaging with New Zealanders
  • Interactive debate on issues important to members, including more time for debating non‑Government and non-legislative business
  • Increased accountability of Ministers for the parliamentary business for which they’re responsible
  • Greater flexibility for select committees to find the most effective ways to meet and consider business
  • Better law-making, including more encouragement of Government engagement with the public when proposing law changes
  • Updated rules, such as changes to the rules for making images and recordings of the House and select committees.

The House will debate the committee’s report and vote on the recommended changes before it rises on 6 August 2020. If the House adopts the committee’s recommendations, the new rules will be in place for the start of the next Parliament.

Read the full report here.

ENDS

For further enquiries please contact:

Jessie Manning

jessie.manning@parliament.govt.nz

+64 21 872 397

MIL OSI

Have your say on the introduction of the youth demerit points system

Have your say on the introduction of the youth demerit points system

Source: New Zealand Parliament

The Social Services and Community Committee is calling for public submissions on the Oranga Tamariki (Youth Justice Demerit Points) Amendment Bill, which was referred to the committee on 21 July 2020.

This Member’s Bill would introduce a youth demerit point system based on the Justice Seriousness Scale, with weighted interventions at each offence. The bill aims to target offending before it becomes habitual, and ensure more intensive interventions to modify behaviour, if demerit points accumulate.

Tell the Social Services and Community Committee what you think

Make a submission on the bill. Please note that a closing date for submissions is not yet set.

For more details about the bill:

ENDS

For media enquiries contact:

Social Services and Community Committee staff

SSC@parliament.govt.nz

MIL OSI

Parliament Hansard Report – Thursday, 6 August 2020 – Volume 748 – 000524

Parliament Hansard Report - Thursday, 6 August 2020 - Volume 748 - 000524

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Housing

1. Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Housing: Is she satisfied with all aspects of quarantine and managed isolation management, and what, if anything, has she learnt from the Australian experience of a second wave of COVID-19 infections?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Housing): In answer to the first part of the question, yes, but as I outlined on Tuesday, this is a process of continuous improvement. While the systems are robust, we cannot always prevent human error. In answer to the second part of the question, what I’ve learnt is the importance of good Government oversight and robust procedures to ensure we keep COVID out of our communities. In New Zealand, the Defence Force have the responsibility for operating our facilities with the assistance of police, aviation, and security staff. What we have seen in Victoria in the wake of a community outbreak is a transition to a publicly managed system similar to ours, because poor management of private managed isolation facilities through private providers resulted in a second wave of COVID-19 and an extended lockdown. But the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that under the brilliant leadership of our Prime Minister, we prioritised a public health response. Because we went hard and went early, we are now in a strong position to bounce back from the effects of COVID-19.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: With such glowing testament to the Government’s brilliance, can she guarantee—

SPEAKER: Order! The member will ask a question that is in order.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Is her glowing testament to the Government’s competence a guarantee—

SPEAKER: Order! The next time, the member will lose his supplementary.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, you better instruct me. Point of order—point of order.

SPEAKER: If the member can’t recognise his ironic tone himself, everyone else can. Ask the question.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Can the Minister guarantee that the Government’s management of quarantine and managed isolation will not result in a second wave of COVID-19 infections in New Zealand?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: This is a question that I’ve spoken about on numerous occasions, as the member will be aware. What we will guarantee as a Government is that we will prioritise setting up robust managed isolation and quarantine facilities that protect New Zealanders and the gains that we have made. What I have also talked about is that there will be human error, but we are putting in place a significant risk mitigation strategy to ensure that we are protecting all of us.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: What risks are posed by security guards at quarantine facilities in New Zealand falling asleep on the job?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: Private security guards who are subcontracted through the Aviation Security Service (Avsec) are one part of the layer of security that exists in our managed isolation and quarantine facilities. Of course, the operational lead of our facilities lies with the New Zealand Defence Force. We also have Avsec, we also have police, and then we do have subcontracted security guards. Obviously, it is not acceptable to have security guards falling asleep on the job, and this is the subject of an investigation that we are carrying out with site security assessments of all of the 31 managed isolation facilities. But the guarantee I can give New Zealanders is that we aren’t putting all of our faith on one simple layer of security, that we have multiple layers of security within our facilities, and that is why they are doing the job they were set up to do, and that is to keep COVID inside of our facilities and not in our communities.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Is she aware of reports that similar incidents of security guards falling asleep in the state of Victoria could have led to the increased community transmission of COVID-19 in that state?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I am aware of some nocturnal activities alleged around security guards in the state of Victoria, but what I can tell that member is that, actually, what has been publicly identified as the biggest risk that was posed in the state of Victoria with the facility was the outsourcing of the management of the managed isolation and quarantine facilities, and the lack of robustness that came through that. That is why our Government has made a commitment to ensure that we brought in early the New Zealand Defence Force to be the agency that was operating our facilities.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Has the Minister checked to find out if security guards who are working in a private capacity or through private contractors at the 31 managed facilities are working shifts of less than 12 hours and do not have second jobs?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As I talked about, we are currently carrying out site security assessments of all of the 31 managed isolation facilities, and this is the subject—as well as the number of hours, the pay rates that people are being paid is also something that we are interested in. We are also interested in whether or not they are licensed security companies that are being employed in these facilities. So not only have I asked the questions; we have also met with unions who represent these security workers.

Hon Stuart Nash: Did the Minister ever uncover any evidence of Casper the homeless ghost—I mean guest—as reported by the Opposition—

SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Order! The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Stuart Nash: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Louise Upston: No, mean it—stand and look like you mean it.

SPEAKER: Order! No, the member will sit down, and the Hon Louise Upston will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Louise Upston: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Has the Minister just told the House that there may well be unlicensed security guards acting as one of the lines of security at some of the 31 quarantine centres?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As that member is well aware through the engagement of security firms through a number of his portfolios, there are a variety of types of security companies that operate in New Zealand. Some of them are licensed; some of them have employees who are not. Part of the individual site security assessments that we are carrying out is an audit of the types of security subcontracts that are present at every site. But before that member would like to fearmonger more for New Zealanders, I would like to give the reassurance that this is a layered approach to security, and people can have faith that our managed isolation and quarantine facilities are offering a strong line of defence to keep COVID out of our communities.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Has she had any discussions with Dr Ashley Bloomfield to ascertain why he might have put a lot of fear into the New Zealand community yesterday by suggesting a second wave could be imminent?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I think the only person putting fear is the person wearing the tin foil hat. But what I would like to say is that it’s the responsibility of the Director-General of Health to prepare New Zealanders in the wake of a global pandemic about what could happen. In fact, our Prime Minister three weeks earlier had outlined what the scenarios would be if there is a resurgence of the virus. This is what a Government with a plan looks like. This is what a Government who is prepared looks like and why there is a public that has faith in our Government in leading them through this pandemic.

Parliament Hansard Report – Motions — Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—75th Anniversary – 000523

Parliament Hansard Report - Motions — Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—75th Anniversary - 000523

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

THURSDAY, 6 AUGUST 2020

Mr Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.

Karakia.

MOTIONS

Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—75th Anniversary

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to move a motion without notice and without debate to mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course of action being taken? There appears to be none.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I move, That this House mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fiftieth year since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into force, by urging all nuclear armed states to make real progress toward a nuclear weapons-free world; and that it urge all states to maintain the global norm against nuclear weapons testing, and all who have not yet joined the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to do so at the earliest opportunity to ensure a world finally free of the threat of nuclear weapons.

Motion agreed to.

Parliament Hansard Report – Oral Questions — Questions to Ministers – 000522

Parliament Hansard Report - Oral Questions — Questions to Ministers - 000522

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Housing

1. Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Housing: Is she satisfied with all aspects of quarantine and managed isolation management, and what, if anything, has she learnt from the Australian experience of a second wave of COVID-19 infections?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Housing): In answer to the first part of the question, yes, but as I outlined on Tuesday, this is a process of continuous improvement. While the systems are robust, we cannot always prevent human error. In answer to the second part of the question, what I’ve learnt is the importance of good Government oversight and robust procedures to ensure we keep COVID out of our communities. In New Zealand, the Defence Force have the responsibility for operating our facilities with the assistance of police, aviation, and security staff. What we have seen in Victoria in the wake of a community outbreak is a transition to a publicly managed system similar to ours, because poor management of private managed isolation facilities through private providers resulted in a second wave of COVID-19 and an extended lockdown. But the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that under the brilliant leadership of our Prime Minister, we prioritised a public health response. Because we went hard and went early, we are now in a strong position to bounce back from the effects of COVID-19.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: With such glowing testament to the Government’s brilliance, can she guarantee—

SPEAKER: Order! The member will ask a question that is in order.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Is her glowing testament to the Government’s competence a guarantee—

SPEAKER: Order! The next time, the member will lose his supplementary.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, you better instruct me. Point of order—point of order.

SPEAKER: If the member can’t recognise his ironic tone himself, everyone else can. Ask the question.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Can the Minister guarantee that the Government’s management of quarantine and managed isolation will not result in a second wave of COVID-19 infections in New Zealand?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: This is a question that I’ve spoken about on numerous occasions, as the member will be aware. What we will guarantee as a Government is that we will prioritise setting up robust managed isolation and quarantine facilities that protect New Zealanders and the gains that we have made. What I have also talked about is that there will be human error, but we are putting in place a significant risk mitigation strategy to ensure that we are protecting all of us.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: What risks are posed by security guards at quarantine facilities in New Zealand falling asleep on the job?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: Private security guards who are subcontracted through the Aviation Security Service (Avsec) are one part of the layer of security that exists in our managed isolation and quarantine facilities. Of course, the operational lead of our facilities lies with the New Zealand Defence Force. We also have Avsec, we also have police, and then we do have subcontracted security guards. Obviously, it is not acceptable to have security guards falling asleep on the job, and this is the subject of an investigation that we are carrying out with site security assessments of all of the 31 managed isolation facilities. But the guarantee I can give New Zealanders is that we aren’t putting all of our faith on one simple layer of security, that we have multiple layers of security within our facilities, and that is why they are doing the job they were set up to do, and that is to keep COVID inside of our facilities and not in our communities.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Is she aware of reports that similar incidents of security guards falling asleep in the state of Victoria could have led to the increased community transmission of COVID-19 in that state?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I am aware of some nocturnal activities alleged around security guards in the state of Victoria, but what I can tell that member is that, actually, what has been publicly identified as the biggest risk that was posed in the state of Victoria with the facility was the outsourcing of the management of the managed isolation and quarantine facilities, and the lack of robustness that came through that. That is why our Government has made a commitment to ensure that we brought in early the New Zealand Defence Force to be the agency that was operating our facilities.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Has the Minister checked to find out if security guards who are working in a private capacity or through private contractors at the 31 managed facilities are working shifts of less than 12 hours and do not have second jobs?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As I talked about, we are currently carrying out site security assessments of all of the 31 managed isolation facilities, and this is the subject—as well as the number of hours, the pay rates that people are being paid is also something that we are interested in. We are also interested in whether or not they are licensed security companies that are being employed in these facilities. So not only have I asked the questions; we have also met with unions who represent these security workers.

Hon Stuart Nash: Did the Minister ever uncover any evidence of Casper the homeless ghost—I mean guest—as reported by the Opposition—

SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Order! The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Stuart Nash: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Louise Upston: No, mean it—stand and look like you mean it.

SPEAKER: Order! No, the member will sit down, and the Hon Louise Upston will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Louise Upston: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Has the Minister just told the House that there may well be unlicensed security guards acting as one of the lines of security at some of the 31 quarantine centres?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As that member is well aware through the engagement of security firms through a number of his portfolios, there are a variety of types of security companies that operate in New Zealand. Some of them are licensed; some of them have employees who are not. Part of the individual site security assessments that we are carrying out is an audit of the types of security subcontracts that are present at every site. But before that member would like to fearmonger more for New Zealanders, I would like to give the reassurance that this is a layered approach to security, and people can have faith that our managed isolation and quarantine facilities are offering a strong line of defence to keep COVID out of our communities.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Has she had any discussions with Dr Ashley Bloomfield to ascertain why he might have put a lot of fear into the New Zealand community yesterday by suggesting a second wave could be imminent?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I think the only person putting fear is the person wearing the tin foil hat. But what I would like to say is that it’s the responsibility of the Director-General of Health to prepare New Zealanders in the wake of a global pandemic about what could happen. In fact, our Prime Minister three weeks earlier had outlined what the scenarios would be if there is a resurgence of the virus. This is what a Government with a plan looks like. This is what a Government who is prepared looks like and why there is a public that has faith in our Government in leading them through this pandemic.

Parliament Oral Questions – Oral Questions – 6 August 2020000256

Parliament Oral Questions - Oral Questions - 6 August 2020000256

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Oral Questions and Answers

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE to the Minister of Housing: Is she satisfied with all aspects of quarantine and managed isolation management, and what, if anything, has she learnt from the Australian experience of a second wave of COVID-19 infections?

KIRITAPU ALLAN to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he seen on the New Zealand economy in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic?

JENNY MARCROFT to the Minister for Veterans: What recent announcements has he made regarding support for veterans?

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH to the Minister of Finance: What was the extent of fiscal and monetary stimulus into the economy during April, May, and June, and what is Treasury’s best estimate of fiscal and monetary stimulus since then?

MARJA LUBECK to the Minister of Education: What is the Government doing to make it easier and more attractive for employers to train people?

CHRIS BISHOP to the Minister of Transport: Does he think that there have been failures in the transport portfolio in this term of Parliament; if so, what are they?

Hon TODD McCLAY to the Minister of Tourism: Does he stand by his decision not to provide support to outbound tourism operators as a part of his $311 million tourism relief package?

RINO TIRIKATENE to the Minister for Māori Development: What has the Government achieved for Māori?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH to the Minister of Justice: Does he stand by the neutrality of the referendum information brochure on the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, when the New Zealand Medical Journal of 31 July states of the bill’s purpose of reducing harm, eliminating illegal supply, restricting young people’s access, and limiting the public visibility of cannabis that “These are inflated and unrealistic political promises for policy impacts, that are unlikely to be achieved as stated”?

SIMON O’CONNOR to the Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing): Can he confirm that the social housing wait-list is nearly at 18,000 people in the last reported quarter; if so, has the wait-list been rising every quarter since his Government took office?

GINNY ANDERSEN to the Minister of Police: What reports has he seen about the impact on police diversity of the growth in recruitment over the past three years?

BARBARA KURIGER to the Minister for Women: What has she done to support women in employment?

Answers to these questions are delivered from 2pm (New Zealand time) on the day of tabling. The answers can be accessed in text form, once Hansard is finalised, by clicking here.

Parliament Oral Questions – Oral Questions – 5 August 2020000255

Parliament Oral Questions - Oral Questions - 5 August 2020000255

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Oral Questions and Answers

Dr DUNCAN WEBB to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he seen on the New Zealand economy in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement regarding the Provincial Growth Fund that “this programme, in one way or another, plays a fundamental role in every element of our economic strategy”?

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH to the Minister of Finance: How many of the 452,425 people receiving the wage subsidy extension does he expect will become unemployed when the wage subsidy expires, and what is the Government’s plan if the majority of those New Zealanders lose their jobs?

JAN TINETTI to the Minister of Education: What measures has the Government put in place to support employers and workers to focus on skill development during the economic challenges due to COVID-19?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he agree with all of the findings of the Controller and Auditor-General’s report, Managing the Provincial Growth Fund; if not, what findings does he disagree with?

Hon TODD McCLAY to the Minister of Tourism: Does he stand by all his statements made yesterday regarding the tourism recovery package and travel agents?

ANAHILA KANONGATA’A-SUISUIKI to the Minister for Social Development: What work-focused initiatives has the Government implemented to improve the support offered through the welfare system?

CHRIS BISHOP to the Minister of Transport: What components, if any, of the Recommended Programme of Investment for Let’s Get Wellington Moving were not included in the final Indicative Package announced by him on 16 May 2019, and why were those components not included?

Dr SHANE RETI to the Minister of Health: How is New Zealand prepared for a second coronavirus wave, and how are recent community surveillance testing numbers a part of that preparation?

MARAMA DAVIDSON to the Minister for Climate Change: What announcements has he made recently highlighting the risks Aotearoa New Zealand faces as a consequence of climate change?

Hon NICKY WAGNER to the Minister of Defence: Does he support the NZDF’s initiatives to support smoking cessation?

BRETT HUDSON to the Minister of Police: Is he confident that the Government’s policies are keeping New Zealanders safe?

Answers to these questions are delivered from 2pm (New Zealand time) on the day of tabling. The answers can be accessed in text form, once Hansard is finalised, by clicking here.

Parliament Hansard Report – Tuesday, 4 August 2020 (continued on Wednesday, 5 August 2020) – Volume 748 – 000521

Parliament Hansard Report - Tuesday, 4 August 2020 (continued on Wednesday, 5 August 2020) - Volume 748 - 000521

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

TUESDAY, 4 AUGUST 2020

(continued on Wednesday, 5 August 2020)

COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH RESPONSE AMENDMENT BILL

First Reading

Debate resumed.

AGNES LOHENI (National): Thank you, Madam Speaker. A pleasure to pick up on my contribution to the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill. The bill aims to provide a framework which is about recouping the costs of managed isolation and quarantine facilities for New Zealanders coming back home, returning home. Before I go on, I would like to acknowledge all the personnel, the staff, who are working at the various isolation facilities—health personnel, hospitality workers, the cleaners, security, the army and police personnel. Thank you for all that you do.

As I was listening to some of the earlier contributions to this bill, there was a lot of talk about fairness—that we needed to be fair to the New Zealanders who are returning home, that this is their home country. This bill is actually about fairness. In fact, the National Party introduced absolutely this concept that New Zealanders returning should make a contribution to the cost of the quarantining and managed isolation.

COVID-19 and the period of lockdown for us as a country has just been one big wrecking ball through this country, and nothing has been fair about it. We know many families and businesses have been hit so hard, and some businesses will not come back from this. We know that we’ve got 200,000 people on the unemployment benefit. We know that business confidence is down. Nothing has been fair. The debt is mounting, too—another $150 billion.

So in terms of fairness, of course it hasn’t been fair, and we have to acknowledge the thousands of New Zealanders who’ve been impacted in so many ways. It hasn’t been fair to those who’ve lost their jobs. It hasn’t been fair to those businesses who have faced complete ruin. It hasn’t been fair to people who are struggling to make ends meet, people that perhaps may be losing their homes. It hasn’t been fair to those who have missed out on seeing their loved ones on their last days, attending those family events, funerals. It hasn’t been fair to people who’ve had to cancel wedding plans or people that have missed attending the birth of a grandchild.

It absolutely hasn’t been fair, and under normal circumstances, we would never think to charge New Zealanders who want to return home. But this is not normal circumstances. It’s extraordinary times. Most New Zealanders are feeling it, and they do feel that they want some fairness in terms of the costs, the burden that we as a country are facing currently, but also the cost to taxpayers for New Zealanders returning home. As we’ve heard, the cost to New Zealanders per stay is $5,700. That is a lot, at this time—to ask taxpayers to shoulder that full cost of New Zealanders returning home.

We support this bill. We support a framework to recoup the costs. We don’t believe that the bill goes far enough, and we will provide some Supplementary Order Papers in the name of the Hon Gerry Brownlee to that effect. Ultimately, as Minister Woods has announced, the Government expects to spend $479 million by the end of the year on managed quarantine, and the amount that is expected to be recouped under this bill is about $10 million, or just under $10 million, which is—that’s just 2 percent, 2 percent of what it would cost to fund the managed quarantine facilities. I don’t think that’s fair to taxpayers, to New Zealanders who are already shouldering so much of the cost of this post-COVID period. I think it’s very reasonable—and, actually, New Zealanders have stated quite clearly that they don’t believe it’s fair and they do want New Zealanders who are returning home to shoulder and to wear some of that cost as well.

There will be some exemptions set out in this bill in terms of personnel that may have to go out and come back in, but there is an expectation that if you are going away on holiday, you will be on the understanding that you will pay for the cost of your managed isolation in return.

So the other thing is that we don’t know how long we’re going to be in this position of having these facilities, so we do need a solution that is practical and fair. As I said, everybody will say, “We’ve got to be fair to the New Zealanders coming back.” We also have to be fair to the taxpayers that are here that are already shouldering the cost of the debt that’s rising, the job losses, and the impacts on families. Madam Speaker, thank you very much.

ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Ruth Dyson): The following call is a split call.

Parliament Hansard Report – COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill — First Reading – 000520

Parliament Hansard Report - COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill — First Reading - 000520

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

TUESDAY, 4 AUGUST 2020

(continued on Wednesday, 5 August 2020)

COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH RESPONSE AMENDMENT BILL

First Reading

Debate resumed.

AGNES LOHENI (National): Thank you, Madam Speaker. A pleasure to pick up on my contribution to the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill. The bill aims to provide a framework which is about recouping the costs of managed isolation and quarantine facilities for New Zealanders coming back home, returning home. Before I go on, I would like to acknowledge all the personnel, the staff, who are working at the various isolation facilities—health personnel, hospitality workers, the cleaners, security, the army and police personnel. Thank you for all that you do.

As I was listening to some of the earlier contributions to this bill, there was a lot of talk about fairness—that we needed to be fair to the New Zealanders who are returning home, that this is their home country. This bill is actually about fairness. In fact, the National Party introduced absolutely this concept that New Zealanders returning should make a contribution to the cost of the quarantining and managed isolation.

COVID-19 and the period of lockdown for us as a country has just been one big wrecking ball through this country, and nothing has been fair about it. We know many families and businesses have been hit so hard, and some businesses will not come back from this. We know that we’ve got 200,000 people on the unemployment benefit. We know that business confidence is down. Nothing has been fair. The debt is mounting, too—another $150 billion.

So in terms of fairness, of course it hasn’t been fair, and we have to acknowledge the thousands of New Zealanders who’ve been impacted in so many ways. It hasn’t been fair to those who’ve lost their jobs. It hasn’t been fair to those businesses who have faced complete ruin. It hasn’t been fair to people who are struggling to make ends meet, people that perhaps may be losing their homes. It hasn’t been fair to those who have missed out on seeing their loved ones on their last days, attending those family events, funerals. It hasn’t been fair to people who’ve had to cancel wedding plans or people that have missed attending the birth of a grandchild.

It absolutely hasn’t been fair, and under normal circumstances, we would never think to charge New Zealanders who want to return home. But this is not normal circumstances. It’s extraordinary times. Most New Zealanders are feeling it, and they do feel that they want some fairness in terms of the costs, the burden that we as a country are facing currently, but also the cost to taxpayers for New Zealanders returning home. As we’ve heard, the cost to New Zealanders per stay is $5,700. That is a lot, at this time—to ask taxpayers to shoulder that full cost of New Zealanders returning home.

We support this bill. We support a framework to recoup the costs. We don’t believe that the bill goes far enough, and we will provide some Supplementary Order Papers in the name of the Hon Gerry Brownlee to that effect. Ultimately, as Minister Woods has announced, the Government expects to spend $479 million by the end of the year on managed quarantine, and the amount that is expected to be recouped under this bill is about $10 million, or just under $10 million, which is—that’s just 2 percent, 2 percent of what it would cost to fund the managed quarantine facilities. I don’t think that’s fair to taxpayers, to New Zealanders who are already shouldering so much of the cost of this post-COVID period. I think it’s very reasonable—and, actually, New Zealanders have stated quite clearly that they don’t believe it’s fair and they do want New Zealanders who are returning home to shoulder and to wear some of that cost as well.

There will be some exemptions set out in this bill in terms of personnel that may have to go out and come back in, but there is an expectation that if you are going away on holiday, you will be on the understanding that you will pay for the cost of your managed isolation in return.

So the other thing is that we don’t know how long we’re going to be in this position of having these facilities, so we do need a solution that is practical and fair. As I said, everybody will say, “We’ve got to be fair to the New Zealanders coming back.” We also have to be fair to the taxpayers that are here that are already shouldering the cost of the debt that’s rising, the job losses, and the impacts on families. Madam Speaker, thank you very much.

ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Ruth Dyson): The following call is a split call.

Parliament Hansard Report – Tuesday, 4 August 2020 – Volume 748 – 000519

Parliament Hansard Report - Tuesday, 4 August 2020 - Volume 748 - 000519

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

TUESDAY, 4 AUGUST 2020

The Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.

PRAYERS

SPEAKER: Kia orana. Members, because it’s Cook Islands Language Week, I’ve asked the Hon Alfred Ngaro to say the prayer in Cook Islands Māori.

Hon ALFRED NGARO (National):

[Cook Islands Māori text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

E Te Atua Mana, te akameitaki atu nei matou iakoe no toou takinga meitaki taau i riringi mai ki runga ia matou. Te akaruke nei matou i to matou tu tangata, te akamaara nei matou i te ariki vaine, e te pure nei matou kia arataki koe i ta matou uriuri anga manako, kia rave matou I ta matou angaanga i roto i teia ngutuare na roto i te pakari, te tuatua tika e te akaaka no te meitaki e te au o to matou basileia Niu Tireni.

[Cook Islands Māori text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

Amene.