On how many weekends has he contacted both the chair and the chief executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency during the 104 weekends since his warrant was issued, and did a call to either person take place last weekend ahead of the agency’s committee meeting set down for Thursday, 18 November where the route of the new State Highway 1 motorway through Kapiti will be considered?
It has not been possible to go through the countless phone logs to provide a definitive answer to that question. I will be helpful to the member by pointing out that it is not the first time I have spoken to officials over a weekend, and I give my apologies to them that it probably will not be the last time, either. In fact, by way of illustration, during my time as a Minister I have used my weekends and other out-of-work hours to contact any number of agencies across all of my portfolios, including the New Zealand Transport Agency, Maritime New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Transport, KiwiRail, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, Treasury, the Ministry of Economic Development, Crown Fibre Holdings, the Ministry of Education, the Tertiary Education Commission, and a number of local body representatives. In reply to the second part of the member’s question regarding the weekend just passed, no.
Would he at least be able to say—given that last week he said it was not unusual for him to contact officials at the weekends, and he did it all the time—he would have contacted them on over or under half of the weekends since he became the Minister?
We can play this game as often as we like. I suspect it is less than half. As I pointed out to the member, this is unlike himself, obviously, in his former role as Minister of Statistics in the previous Government. Probably the statistics job ran from Monday through to Friday; I do not know—Maurice, is statistics a weekend job?
It is a Monday to Friday job in statistics. But I think the other portfolios run pretty much 24/7.
I apologise to the honourable member. I say this to the National benches: that level of noise is totally unreasonable. I cannot possibly hear the member’s question.
Does he have any concerns about the consultation period under the time line for the release of the route for the new motorway—to be built for maximum speeds of up to 110 kilometres an hour through the communities of Kapiti—now that such a release has cleared his goal of being after the Mana by-election?
I just cannot accept the member’s assertion contained in that question. He is also incorrect on another matter, in that we actually do not have a speed limit of 110 kilometres an hour on any open road in New Zealand.
The road is to be built to that specification. If the New Zealand Transport Agency committee finalises the motorway route on Thursday, will he suggest to the agency that it take a full-page advertisement in Friday’s Dominion Post so that at least some Mana voters will know what is going on before Saturday’s by-election, given that the deadline for the last community newspaper before the by-election just happens to be tomorrow?
The point is that on the one hand that member is trying to suggest the New Zealand Transport Agency should take a political approach to the consultation, in reference to the by-election, and then he is accusing me of taking a political approach in respect of the Mana by-election. So I am sorry, but I just cannot buy that. The bigger concern is that this member is opposed to having a strategic plan for State Highway 1 through the Kapiti area. He is opposed to having a strategic plan—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. On one level I have no objection at all to the Minister talking about me endlessly, but I did not ask about that. I asked him whether—
I ask the member to resume his seat. Now this has got a bit messy. I am not surprised the member has raised a point of order, but the issue of order was more to do with the Minister alleging what the member might believe or might stand for, etc. That is out of order. I think in terms of the question that the member asked, the Minister did answer that in the first part of his answer, but he was just going on too long and making allegations against the member that were totally uncalled for.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question asked him whether he would suggest something to the agency, and his response to me was that I was accusing him or the agency of being political. My question was about a suggestion of what he could do.
I think the Minister gave a clear answer that he would not do that, and he explained why he would not. He did not give the words that he “would not be” doing that, but he made it very clear that he saw doing such a thing as being improper. So I think the answer the Minister gave was pretty clear.
Why will the Minister not admit that delaying the route announcement till after the Mana by-election is because the Minister has learnt the lesson from the Mt Albert by-election that it is not a good look to be bowling people’s homes before asking them to vote for you?
When the consultation proceeds, certain members in the House with the surname Hughes will have to swallow their words. The focus of the change is due to there being insufficient detail on the section of the road towards the northern end of the alignment, which is not in the Mana electorate, and if consulted on as it stands it would leave too much uncertainty for local residents.