Does she stand by her statement that “this is about working together to maintain the highest possible levels of employment while we weather the downturn. We need to have a combined approach that is pragmatic, respectful and effective”?
Yes. I recently met with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs. We hotly debated how best to join forces in order to tackle youth unemployment. We are constantly challenging each other to find better ways that policy can enable local solutions.
How would she describe her current relationship with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, which represents all but three of the country’s 67 mayors?
It is very good, to the point where just a few days after the meeting Mayor Frana Cardno of Southland was quoted in Southland Times as saying: “We congratulate central government for recognising the importance of our youth programmes …”.
Can she explain why the minutes of the last meeting of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs note that the mayors were “extremely disappointed in the response from the Minister and the disrespect with which they had been treated.”?
I am not sure the Minister has responsibility for the minutes of another organisation. I invite the member to maybe reword her question, because I think we have to be a little careful not to allow questions to expand too widely. I am sure she could bring it within the Standing Orders.
I will rephrase the question. Is she aware of the minutes of the last Mayors Taskforce for Jobs meeting, which note that the mayors were “extremely disappointed in the response from the Minister and the disrespect with which they had been treated.”?
Yes. As I say, I cannot take responsibility for a minute-taker, but I can take responsibility for the mayors I have spoken to—[ Interruption] I can quote back to the member about the mayors I have spoken to since the meeting who did not feel that way.
Does she believe that her dismissal of 12 months’ worth of work by the mayors on a youth transition policy, questioning what they “bought” to the table, and accusing them of being a lobby group with pet projects has damaged her ability to work with local government on youth unemployment?
As previously said, I do not think those minutes are a true and accurate record of what happened at the meeting. In fact, we have been working very closely with mayors. I can bring an example of the Auckland social policy. I can also bring an example of the work we have recently been doing in Christchurch with councils. Certainly I value the work of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, which has been mentioned many times.
I seek leave to table the core group minutes of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, dated 10 March 2011.