Does he stand by the statement made on his behalf by the Hon David Cunliffe that “total sales data are not yet available” for the New Zealand Focus store in Hong Kong 6 months after opening?
Will he confirm that the retailers who run that store are required by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in their contract to provide it with sales reports that break down sales by day, by week, and by month; and how can he stand in the House and argue that he will withhold that information on the grounds that it may be commercially sensitive, when I have asked for total sales, not sales by product or individual supplier?
Because most of the products sold from that shop are not things that are sold across a counter—things like the supply of New Zealand Natural products, the supply of air fares to New Zealand, the services of education providers, the Fisher and Paykel contracts right up into China—[ Interruption] I say to Nick Smith that at least I can count, unlike him.
Why is he standing in the House and giving the impression that something that was launched and promoted as a retail store is now something other than a retail store; and why will he not provide answers to the House on what revenue is generated by that retail store in Hong Kong—is it because the sales are so poor?
Anyone who thinks setting up a retail store on its own was the objective of the New Zealand Focus centre has to be stupid. This focus store is bringing people down from China to look at New Zealand products for direct sale to that country. It is a shop front for New Zealand, to the extent that I understand at least three other Chinese provinces have said they want to have one of these shops, because it is so successful in providing access to New Zealand products. The idea that the New Zealand Government has become involved in street retailing in Hong Kong is just ludicrous.
What reports has he seen in support of the New Zealand Focus centre in Hong Kong?
The latest report I have seen is from Malcolm Harris, the Chief Operating Officer for Fisher and Paykel, who last week said: “We applaud the Government initiative. It’s about time, and we hope that they open more.” We know National is out of touch with New Zealand businesses, we know it has had its funding cut off—given that Don will be dropped—but it should listen to some of the people who know the way business works, as far as exporting from New Zealand is concerned. National might not care about Fisher and Paykel, but on this side of the House we do.
I just remind members to please use the proper titles when they are referring to each other.
Given that the New Zealand Focus store has cost New Zealand taxpayers $1.4 million to set up, and costs $1.3 million to operate over a year, why will he not tell taxpayers what sales are being generated from it in Hong Kong, and will he just admit that he will not do so because the sales are so pathetic?
The objective of the store was to have not sales from people who go to the store, but a net economic benefit to New Zealand of $25 million over 3 years. I have received no advice that that net economic benefit will not be met.
Why did the glowing statement that the Minister just made about Fisher and Paykel not include the fact that the company still cannot demonstrate its gas hobs because, in the 6 months since the opening, the gas has not been connected to those hobs; is it because he is too embarrassed to share that fact with Fisher and Paykel?
I think one of the things that proves is it is not quite as easy to do business in Hong Kong as it is in New Zealand. But the other point I would make to that member is that it is about time he came clean with this House and told it that, for the last 3 months, he has been acting on behalf of one of the failed bidders into this New Zealand Focus centre. Why does he not just tell the truth and admit he has been attempting to undermine this since one of his mates who tried to get the contract was not good enough to get it?
Does the Minister have confidence in his assessment process used to select the store operator, Northeast Wines and Spirits, given that it scored the lowest out of all the bids in the category of retail experience when it was contracted to run the retail operation, that it scored the lowest out of all the bids in sales team support, and that it scored the lowest out of all the bids in import product experience—all categories considered important by retailers if one does not want to open up a retail lemon?
I have confidence that the private sector people who were involved in awarding the tender in this did it properly—
I just say that under Standing Order 116 I take incredible offence at the comments made by the Minister regarding his previous answer to the question asked. There is nothing further from the truth.
Under the Standing Orders the member is meant to raise the matter immediately, and he has not. He waited until we moved on to the next supplementary question, which he himself asked. But, in the circumstances, is the member saying he has taken offence at those comments?
In that case, I ask the Minister to withdraw and apologise. But I just remind members that if they take offence, please raise the matter immediately.
I will leave the House rather than withdraw and apologise for telling the truth about that member, who has spent tens of thousands of dollars worth of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise time answering Official Information Act requests—
But the Minister is not addressing it. [ Interruption] I ask both members to please sit down. The Minister was asked to withdraw and apologise. Therefore, in response, he either withdraws and apologises or himself raises a point of order. If the member wishes to leave the House, then that is obviously his choice.
I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I want to make it clear that over the last few months—
That is not a point of order. We will not respect a point of order going down that track.
I reject the allegations made by that member in his point of order. That member has repeatedly, as I said earlier—and I cannot withdraw from telling the truth in this House—
The Minister has responded. I take it from his comments that he will not withdraw and apologise. Therefore I ask him to leave, please. [ Interruption] The member is out.
I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I ask you to reflect on your decision, given the last time a member spoke after being asked to leave the Chamber and the warnings you gave the House at that time. The comment made by Mr Mallard when he left was completely unnecessary and was most certainly directed at the Chair. I would think that in the normal course of things he would be named for such an attack.
Under the circumstances—of course, members are normally out until the end of question time—the member will be out until the end of the day.
I seek leave to table the scorecard used by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to evaluate the competing bids, showing Northeast Wines and Spirits to be the lowest in that process. I also note that the other bids were totally blanked out and, therefore, very much unknown to myself.