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Weekly news from the Select Committee Office

select committee business
10 March 2000 to 17 March 2000
From the Office of the Clerk of the House

Committee meetings

There were 17 committee meetings, all in the parliamentary complex, and one site visit.

Reports presented (12)

Education and Science

· 1998/99 financial review of the Teacher Registration Board

· 1998/99 financial review of Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Limited

· 1998/99 financial review of Industrial Research Limited

· 1998/99 financial review of Landcare Research New Zealand Limited

· 1998/99 financial review of National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited

· 1998/99 financial review of Crop and Food Research Limited

· 1998/99 financial review of New Zealand Pastoral Agriculture Research Institute Limited

Government Administration

· 1998/99 financial review of Statistics New Zealand

· 1998/99 financial review of the Office of the Ombudsmen

Maori Affairs

· Petition 1996/2026 of Tutekawa Wyllie

· Petition 1993/329 of Niki Hunia on behalf of Te Kawau Maro and 1651 others

· Petition 1996/2067 of Allen Fredrick Robson

Bills referred to select committees

The Employee Relations Bill was referred to the Employment and Accident Insurance Legislation Committee, to be reported back by 20 June 2000. The committee has been given authority to meet during sittings of the House (except question time), in the evenings and on Fridays.

Committee membership

The House agreed, by leave, that Nanaia Mahuta would discontinue being a member of the Maori Affairs Committee. There are now nine permanent members of the committee.

Arthur Anae replaced Rt Hon Don McKinnon on the Government Administration Committee.

The House established the Employment and Accident Insurance Legislation Committee on 15 March to consider various items of legislation being developed in this subject area. It has 11 members: Hon Max Bradford, Sue Bradford, Peter Brown, Gerry Brownlee, Helen Duncan, Willie Jackson, Graham Kelly, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Mark Peck, Hon Richard Prebble and Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith. The committee will have its first meeting on Tuesday, 21 March.

Committee notes

(for further information on an item, please contact the committee staff noted in brackets)

Commerce (Alan Witcombe, Ainslie Rayner)

The committee met on 16 March to conduct the financial reviews of Meridian Energy Limited, Mighty River Power Company Limited and Genesis Power Limited. The committee will next meet on 23 March 2000. It will receive a briefing from Hon Jim Anderton regarding the new Ministry of Economic Development. It will also be conducting the 1998/99 financial reviews of Transpower and New Zealand Post Limited. Senior executives will appear before the committee on behalf of both entities.

Commerce (Alan Witcombe, Ainslie Rayner)

The committee conducted the financial reviews of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences and the New Zealand Forest Research Institute. Next week the committee will conduct the financial reviews of the National Library and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research.

The committee adopted terms of reference for the Inquiry into Reading in New Zealand. They are as follows. "The committee will examine any matters to do with the teaching and learning of reading in New Zealand schools, and in particular the views of educators, researchers, parents and others on how and why many children are failing to learn to read effectively. The aim of the inquiry will be to report to the House with recommendations to the Government on how the reading gaps can be closed." Submissions close on Monday, 22 May 2000. 20 copies of submissions should be forwarded to the Clerk of the Committee by that date.

Finance and Expenditure (Graham Hill, Julian Kersey)

The committee met on 15 March to hear evidence on the financial reviews of At Work Insurance and the Public Trust Office. At the next meeting on 22 March the committee will hear evidence from the Treasurer on the Budget Policy Statement and from public submitters.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (David Sanders, Andrew Fieldsend) The committee examined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the current Purchase Agreement. The committee was also briefed on the two delegations coming to Wellington: the delegation of members of the European Parliament, and the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties from Australia.

The committee had its first briefing on the Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Bill. Next week the committee has two meetings. The first, on Wednesday 22 March, is to meet the European Parliament delegation. The committee will meet as usual on Thursday to hear evidence on two financial reviews, the Trade Development Board and the Antarctic Institute. It will also consider the reviews of other departments. Finally, the committee intends to further consider its inquiry programme.

Government Administration (Louise Sparrer, Lesley Ferguson)

The committee heard evidence on the financial reviews of the State Services Commission, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Internal Affairs and the New Zealand Lotteries Commission at its meeting yesterday. A recurrent theme to emerge was that while the overall systems and principles that underpin state sector management are sound, a number of high profile incidents have highlighted shortcomings in state sector management. Despite the package of measures introduced last year, some confusion remains about the respective roles and responsibilities of public sector bodies in the governance of Crown entities.

The committee agreed to allow press gallery accredited television companies to film public sessions of committee meetings without the need to obtain prior approval each time. However, this ongoing approval is subject to the veto of any member of the committee. They must also, as a courtesy, inform the Chairperson of the committee that they intend to film during a session before the meeting commences.

Health (Nick Aldous, Marcus Ganley)

The committee met on 15 March to hear evidence from the Ministry of Health on various matters relating to health policy and the health system. Topics discussed included proposed reforms to the health system, the development of a national workforce strategy and the nature of work being undertaken to improve New Zealanders' health outcomes. The committee will meet next on 22 March to hear further evidence on the 1998/99 financial reviews of hospital and health services.

Justice and Electoral (Jayne Wallis, Andrew Fieldsend, Fiona McLean) On Wednesday, as part of its 1998/99 financial review of the Ministry of Justice, the committee heard evidence from several Crown entities that are funded by the Ministry. The committee met with the Law Commission, the Police Complaints Authority, the Privacy Commissioner, the Race Relations Conciliator, and the Human Rights Commissioners. The review of the Law Commission and general funding and operational matters in relation to the work of all the entities were discussed.

The committee also heard evidence on the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill from Alan McRobie (a part time political analyst), the Electoral Commission, and several other interested groups and individuals. The committee is currently required to report to the House on the bill by 31 March 2000.

The chairperson of the subcommittee on the inquiry into matters relating to the State visit of the President of China to New Zealand in 1999 issued a press release as follows.

"The Subcommittee of the Justice and Electoral Committee is inviting public submissions on its inquiry into matters relating to the State visit of the President of China to New Zealand in 1999. The closing date for submissions is 7 April 2000.

"The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

To examine the handling of demonstrations held during the State Visit of the President of China to New Zealand in 1999, and the impact of those events on the civil liberties and fundamental rights of New Zealanders. In particular,

· assessing whether there are enough protections for peaceful and lawful protest

· assessing whether the powers of government pertaining to the maintenance of public order are appropriate

· assessing the procedures for the exercise of those powers.

"The subcommittee has requested written submissions from certain individuals and organisations relevant to its inquiry. Submitters should note that the making of these specific requests in no way precludes other interested parties from making submissions on the inquiry.

"The subcommittee requires 20 copies of each submission. Those wishing to include any information of a private or personal nature in a submission should first discuss this with the Clerk of the subcommittee, as submissions are usually released to the public by the subcommittee. Submitters should note that, where any evidence is given that contains an allegation against a person that may seriously damage the reputation of that person, the subcommittee will be obliged to inform that person of the allegation and to give that person a reasonable opportunity to respond.

"Those wishing to appear before the subcommittee to speak to their submissions should state this clearly and provide a daytime telephone contact number. For further guidance on making a submission, our publication Making a Submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee can be found on our web site at www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz.

"Submissions should be addressed as follows: Fiona McLean, Subcommittee of the Justice and Electoral Committee Secretariat, Room 10.11, Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington."

Law and Order (Tracey Conlon, Tracey Rayner)

The committee met on Thursday, 16 March, and heard evidence from the Serious Fraud Office on the 1998/99 financial review. The committee will next meet on Thursday, 23 March, and will receive a briefing from the Audit Office on the Third Report for 1999.

Local Government and Environment (David Bagnall, Malcolm McNamara)

The committee heard evidence this week as part of the financial review of the Department of Conservation. The committee questioned officials about the development of methods for measuring progress in conservation, strategies for preserving biodiversity, pest control and environmental education. The department's management of risk (particularly in terms of structures and facilities) was also discussed.

A separate briefing was received from officials on strategies to promote the preservation of biodiversity on private land. This briefing focused on Bio-what?, the preliminary report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Biodiversity. The report sets out proposals for a number of measures to reverse New Zealand's decline in biodiversity. These proposals include the negotiation of a national accord with key stakeholder groups, the preparation of a national policy statement (under the Resource Management Act 1991), the provision of guidance and technical information, and consideration of how to provide appropriate funding. The ministerial advisory committee is receiving submissions on the preliminary report until 16 June 2000.

No public hearings are scheduled for the committee next week, although it will meet to consider a number of items, including the Wildlife (Penalties) Bill.

Officers of Parliament (Adrian Carpinter)

The committee visited the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General to familiarise itself with the work of the Audit Office. The committee also met to begin considering the draft budgets of the Officers of Parliament for the 2000/01 financial year and alterations to their 1999/2000 appropriations. Further consideration of these budgetary matters will take place at the next meeting on Wednesday, 22 March.

Primary Production (Bob Bunch, April Bennett)

The committee met on Thursday, 16 March. It is currently in the middle of its reviews of the 1998/99 financial performance and current operations of State enterprises. It heard evidence this week from two of these: Landcorp Farming Limited and Timberlands West Coast Limited.

The issues canvassed with Landcorp included foreign exchange exposure, retained earnings and dividends, exposure to effects of Waitangi Tribunal land claims and the future of Landcorp Investments. Issues discussed with Timberlands included the company's future, the West Coast sawmillers component of the company's clients and business, pest control and sustainable management, and public relations expenditure.

Next week on 23 March the committee will hear evidence from AgriQuality New Zealand Limited and from Land Information New Zealand as part of the committee's financial reviews. On 30 March, the committee will hear evidence from Asure New Zealand Limited and Terralink New Zealand Limited.

Regulations Review (Shelley Banks, Fiona McLean)

On Wednesday, 22 March, at 4.15 pm, the Regulations Review Committee will hear evidence from the Civil Aviation Authority about the consultation process for making Civil Aviation Rule 125, Amendment 1 - Air Operations -Medium Aeroplanes.

The booklet entitled Making a Complaint to the Regulations Review Committee is now available on the Office of the Clerk's website in PDF format: www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz

Social Services (Tim Cooper, Louise Gardiner)

At its meeting on 15 March the committee heard evidence on the financial review of the Department of Work and Income. Issues discussed included: the administration of student loans; staff training, composition and morale; the Community Employment Group; and the chartering of aircraft for a mangers' conference in Taupo in June 1999. At its next meeting on 22 March the committee intends to hear evidence from the Department of Social Welfare on its financial review. The committee must report both reviews back to the House by 6 April.

Transport and Industrial Relations (Lyn Main, Karen Smyth)

On Wednesday the committee conducted the financial review of the Department of Labour. The department has a wide range of policy and service delivery functions, and provides policy advice to four ministers. The transfer of New Zealand Employment Service functions to the new Department of Work and Income meant a 60 percent loss of staff for the department. Rebuilding the department has been a major element of its work during the last year. The committee's questions covered a wide range of issues including the department's Maori strategy, and partnership with the Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust to deliver health and safety programmes; Employment Tribunal and Court waiting times; workplace visits by the Occupational Health and Safety service; and processing of migrant and refugee applications.

Next week the committee will hear evidence from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Land Transport Safety Authority as part of its financial reviews of these entities.

Closing dates for submissions on bills

Committees are receiving submissions on the following bills with the closing date shown:

Commerce

Business Law Reform Bill (14 April 2000)

Sale of Liquor Amendment (14 April 2000)

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Bill (24 March 2000)

Health

Criminal Justice Amendment Bill (No.7) (17 March 2000)

Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care) Bill (17 March 2000)

Nurse Maude Association Bill (28 April 2000)

Justice and Electoral

Referenda (Postal Voting) Bill (14 April 2000)

Maori Affairs

Te Ture Whenua Maori Amendment Bill (28 April 2000)

Social Services

Student Loan Scheme Amendment Bill (No. 6) (20 April 2000)

Transport and Industrial Relations

Airport Authorities Amendment Bill (No. 2) (5 April 2000)

General

The updated version of our booklet Natural Justice Before Select Committees: A Guide for Witnesses is now available free of charge from the Select Committee Office (04 471 9520). It is intended to assist those who have particular concerns about their rights when giving evidence. It is also available on our web site as a PDF file.

You can find further information about select committees on our web site at www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz. If you require additional information or have any feedback on the contents, please contact:

Carol Rankin

Senior Parliamentary Officer at carol.rankin@parliament.govt.nz

Compiled in the Select Committee Office, Office of the Clerk, 17 March 2000


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