Parliamentary question: R&D funding and KiwiSaver reductions - Treasury advice
11th Feb 09, 10:56am
Question 3. February 11, 2009 [Uncorrected transcript"”subject to correction and further editing.] 3. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour"”New Lynn) to the Minister of Finance: What advice has he received from the Treasury on removing the research and development tax credit, removing the $700 million Fast Forward Fund, and reducing KiwiSaver contributions? Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance) : Treasury gave us the advice to keep the research and development tax credit, to maintain the Fast Forward Fund in the form that had been proposed by the previous Government, and to make no changes to KiwiSaver. However, prior to the election National had made a number of decisions, which were to remove the research and development tax credit, remove the Fast Forward Fund, and change KiwiSaver contributions, and we are sticking to our word. Hon David Cunliffe: Why did the Minister suppress the Treasury briefing that was critical of these moves, and release it at a time designed to minimise public awareness? Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Labour Party complaining about compliance with the Official Information Act is like Jack the Ripper complaining about community violence. Craig Foss: What other reports has the Minister seen of advice offered by Treasury to finance Ministers? Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Treasury advice is, as always, mixed. Some we agree with, some we disagree with. Treasury has given us other advice, such as the need for extensive review of the Resource Management Act, which the Government has followed, and a Resource Management Act Amendment Bill will be in Parliament within a few weeks. Treasury has also given us the advice that the performance of the Public Service needs to be improved significantly, and I would agree with that. After 10 years of bullying and manipulation, it can do a lot better and we will make sure it does. Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I raise a question about the relevance of that answer. The question was a patsy question designed to elicit the answer about my reference to an ideological burp, and I think the Minister read the wrong answer at that particular point. Mr SPEAKER: That is not a particularly helpful point of order, I must say. Hon David Cunliffe: Why did the Minister not have fortitude equal to that of the previous Minister of Finance and release the Treasury briefing at the same time as other briefings to incoming Ministers were released? Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Treasury briefing to the incoming Government has been released. There are absolutely no secrets in it, and I am surprised that in the context of the most significant economic recession in 90 years, this is what the Labour Party is focused on. Hon David Cunliffe: Did the Minister or any of his staff talk at any point to the Prime Minister or any of his staff about the date of releasing the Treasury briefing? Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Prime Minister advises me that he read about it in the newspaper. It is unlikely that a matter of that kind of detail would have been discussed at the highest levels of Government.