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Select Committee News - to 30th June 2000

23 June 2000 to 30 June 2000
Committee meetings
There were 15 committee meetings, all held in the parliamentary complex, and one site visit. Due to the House taking urgency on through Wednesday morning, five meetings were cancelled and another was reduced to an afternoon meeting only. Committees cannot meet while the House is sitting without either the unanimous agreement of the committee members or the agreement of the House.

Reports presented (17)

 Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill (No 4) (325-2)
 Alcohol Advisory Council Amendment Bill (277-2)

Finance and Expenditure
 Supplementary Estimates of Appropriations for 1999/2000 (excluding Vote Communications Security and Intelligence and Vote Security Intelligence)

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
 Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Bill (193-2)
 International Treaty Examination of the 1907 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes

Local Government and Environment
 Wildlife (Penalties) Bill (248-2)

Mori Affairs
 Maori Purposes Bill (306-2)

 Shop Trading Hours (Abolition of Restrictions) Bill (272-1) and 67 related petitions

Education and Science
 Estimates for 2000/01 for Vote Culture and Heritage (National Library)

Government Administration
 Estimates for 2000/01 for Vote Emergency Management
 Estimates for 2000/01 for Vote Ministerial Services
 Estimates for 2000/01 for Vote National Archives
 Estimates for 2000/01 for Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet
 Estimates for 2000/01 for Vote Racing
 Estimates for 2000/01 for Vote Women’s Affairs
 Estimates for 2000/01 for Vote Youth Affairs

Intelligence and Security (Established pursuant to the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996)
 Supplementary Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Communications Security and Intelligence and Vote Security Intelligence

Bills referred to select committees
No bills were referred.

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

Commerce (Alan Witcombe, SC-Commerce@parliament.govt.nz)
This week the committee reported back on the Shop Trading Hours (Abolition of Restrictions) Bill. Due to a tied vote, the committee has not recommended that the bill be passed.

The committee has extended the closing date for public submissions on the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Bill to 1 September 2000. This will enable individuals and organisations to submit on both the bill and an amending Supplementary Order Paper that the Government intends to refer to the committee for consideration alongside the bill.

The committee will meet twice next week to consider the Economic Development (Industry New Zealand and Ministry of Economic Development) Bill, the Sale of Liquor Amendment Bill (No 3) and to hear evidence on the Estimates from the Minister on Vote Commerce and Vote Communications.

Education and Science (Clare Sullivan, SC-ES@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee considered its inquiry into reading in New Zealand. The committee has established a subcommittee to hear the evidence and consider the inquiry. Membership of the subcomittee is Hon Brian Donnelly (Chairperson), Donna Awatere-Huata, Liz Gordon, Nanaia Mahuta and Hon Nick Smith.

On Tuesday the committee will meet a South African parliamentary committee on education. On Thursday, the committee will hear evidence on the Education (Limiting Number of Universities) Amendment Bill and from the Minister of Education on Vote Education and Vote Education Review.

Employment and Accident Insurance Legislation (Marie Alexander,
The committee met twice this week to consider the Employment Relations Bill.

Finance and Expenditure (Graham Hill, SC-FE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee did not meet on 28 June as planned because the House was sitting under urgency. At the next meeting on 5 July the committee will consider the Taxation (FBT, SSCWT and Remedial Matters) Bill.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (David Sanders, SC-FD@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee devoted most of its meting on 29 June to the examination and consideration of Vote Foreign Affairs and Trade. Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon Phil Goff, and Associate Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon Matt Robson, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Trade New Zealand gave evidence.

Next week the committee will be briefed by Xanana Gusmao, East Timorse president elect from 10.00 am to10.30 am. The committee will also consider submissions on the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Bill.

Government Administration (Louise Sparrer, SC-GA@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee considered the Estimates for Votes Parliamentary Service, Women’s Affairs, National Archives, Emergency Management, Ministerial Services, Racing, Prime Minister and Cabinet and Youth Affairs.

The committee heard submissions on the Fire Service Amendment Bill from the Fire Service Commission; New Zealand Professional Fire-Fighters Union; Insurance Council of New Zealand; and Federated Farmers. Generally, those making submissions support the changes the bill proposes to the Fire Service Act 1975, namely the:

 removal of the Secretary of Internal Affairs from ex-officio membership of the Fire Service Commission (the Commission)
 increase in membership of the Commission from three to five
 removal of the present prohibition on a member or office holder of any association of employees serving on the Commission.

The Fire Service Commission, however, tended not to support the increase in its membership from three to five members, stating, in its submission, that “on balance, the Commission is not persuaded that a Commission of five offers significant advantages over a Commission of four”.

All submitters agree with the removal of the prohibition on a member or office holder of any association of employees serving on the Commission. The Fire Service Commission, however, had one significant proviso. “It considers, employees or members of employee associations representing current members of the New Zealand Fire Service should not be eligible for membership of the Commission. The reason for this proviso, according to the Commission, is the clear and unavoidable conflict of interest that would arise from the appointment of a union official representing employees of the Fire Service to its governing body”.

Federated Farmers, while supporting the direction the bill takes, seeks fire levy payer representation on the Commission, believing that the make-up of the Commission is “focused on the running of the Commission and the business of fighting fires with no emphasis on accountability to those who pay the levies”.

The Insurance Council of New Zealand also supports the bill proceeding. It considers the “on-going evolution of the Fire Service Commission, following the passage of the Fire Service Amendment Bill, will be dependent on people who will offer the experience and skills that are specifically relevant, if not vital, to the role of a Fire Service Commission member”.

The committee is continuing its consideration of the bill.

Health (Nick Aldous, SC-Health@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee did not meet on Wednesday due to the House sitting under urgency. Next week the committee will hear evidence from the Minister of Health and officials on the 2000/01 Estimates for Vote Health.

Justice and Electoral (Tracey Conlon, SC-JE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee considered the Statutes Amendment Bill (No 7) and heard further submissions on its Inquiry into the 1999 General Election. Andrew Geddis of Otago Law School presented his research on the disclosure of party donations. Dr Hans Grueber gave evidence about the German system of calculating election results.

The Attorney-General, Margaret Wilson, appeared before the committee to give evidence on Votes Attorney-General and Parliamentary Counsel. In relation to Vote Attorney-General (which funds the Crown Law Office), the Attorney-General discussed the possibility of a review of the right of appeal to the Privy Council. Among other issues discussed were Crown solicitors and the appointment of a new Solicitor-General. In relation to Vote Parliamentary Counsel, the Attorney-General spoke about developing the relationship between the Parliamentary Counsel Office and the Law Commission. The examination also dealt with the project to improve public access to legislation, an increase in funding for the Parliamentary Counsel Office, and document management.

Next Wednesday the committee will continue its examination of the Estimates, consider the Legal Services Bill and the Referenda (Postal Voting) Bill, and consider the petition of Kenneth Orr for Christians for Life and 30 084 others, requesting that statutory recognition be given to the unborn child as a human being endowed with an inalienable right to life.

The subcommittee did not meet this week. The next meeting of the subcommittee will be on Tuesday, 4 July.

Law and Order (Adrian Carpinter, SC-LO@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee commenced its Estimates examinations with Vote Police. The Minister of Police, Hon George Hawkins, and the Commissioner, Rob Robinson, appeared before the committee. The examination covered a wide range of issues, including: the public debate about possible rascism in the Police following the Waitara shooting; recruitment and promotion of Mori and Pacific Island officers; trends in offending; DNA testing; road safety and the dedicated highway patrol initiative; firearms policy; electronic crime; burglary clearance; the operational capacity of the CIB; and the Police's information technology systems.

On Thursday, 6 July, the committee will examine Vote Corrections and Vote Courts. The examinations are open to the public in Parliament House. Vote Corrections will be dealt with from 10.30 am to 1.00 pm and Vote Courts from 3.30 pm to 5.00 pm. Hon Matt Robson will be appearing for both votes with senior departmental officials.

Local Government and Environment (David Bagnall, SC-LGE@parliament.govt.nz)
On Tuesday the committee presented its report on the Wildlife (Penalties) Bill, a member's bill in the name of Jill Pettis. It aims to increase the deterrent effect of penalties for offences against wildlife by raising fines in the Wildlife Act 1953. The committee recommended the bill be passed with substantial amendments. Recommended penalties are lower than those originally set out in the bill. For example, an individual who commits an offence in respect of absolutely protected wildlife would be liable to imprisonment or to a fine not exceeding $100,000 (rather than $250,000). However, higher penalties are set out for bodies corporate convicted of offences and liability for their directors and managers is introduced. Three ascending levels of penalties are set for offences against absolutely protected wildlife, partially protected wildlife and game. At the lower end, the committee has recommended the inclusion of community sentencing options for some offences.

The committee met for three hours on Thursday evening to hear evidence on two bills. The Pike River Coal Company talked about how its operations could be affected by the Forests (West Coast Accord) Bill. A number of submissions were then heard on the Resource Management Amendment Bill. Organisations that appeared included the Pork Industry Board, the Seafood Industry Council, Makara Guardians, United Networks Limited and the Manufacturers Federation.

The committee's meeting on Wednesday did not go ahead because the House was sitting under urgency. Submissions on the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Amendment Bill (No 2) that were scheduled for that meeting have now been set down for next Wednesday afternoon. The committee will also meet on Wednesday morning to hear evidence from Hon Marian Hobbs on the Estimate for Vote Environment.

MMP Review (Louise Sparrer, SC-MMP@parliament.govt.nz)
The chairperson has issued a press release about submissions. Here are some excerpts:

“The submission deadline for the MMP review is fast approaching. The deadline is 31 July 2000 and although it is common for people to leave it to the last week, I hope people intending to make a submission to the committee do so before then.

“So far about 40 submissions have been received. The bulk are expected to arrive between now and the end of July. Public hearings of the submissions will then follow.

“The undertaking of a review of the electoral system is a requirement under the Electoral Act 1993. The Act stipulates that there be a select committee review of MMP.

“In addition to reviewing the procedures relating to the division of New Zealand into general electorates and the provisions in the Act for Mori representation, the committee will also consider other aspects of the electoral system. It will look at the number of MPs, the extent to which party lists have resulted in the better representation of women, and how effective the current electoral system is in representing the tangata whenua and ethnic minorities. The committee will also recommend if a further referendum on changes to the electoral system is required.”

The committee is seeking expressions of interest from organisations to undertake collection and analysis of polling data on its behalf. The committee requires in-depth research into public perceptions and attitudes to the electoral system and other matters associated with its review of MMP. It is intended that this research go beyond the testing of public knowledge of MMP and how it works to examine issues arising from the committee’s terms of reference.

Expressions of interest are sought from organisations that have proven skills and experience in conducting polling and data analysis to undertake such work. Expressions of interest should provide: an indicative approach; indicative costs; indicative timetable; and previous experience. The successful applicant would be engaged by the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Remuneration and terms and conditions would be subject to negotiation between the successful applicant and the Office of the Clerk.

The committee also invites applications for the position of independent specialist adviser on its inquiry into MMP and other aspects of the electoral system. The role is likely to involve undertaking independent analysis of submissions to the committee and providing research and advisory services to the committee on an ongoing basis. The specialist adviser will be engaged by the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Persons or organisations with considerable expertise and experience in the fields of constitutional and electoral law are invited to apply. Expressions of interest should include reference to the committee’s terms of reference and particular expertise or experience in these areas of electoral or constitutional law.

Those wishing to indicate an expression of interest in undertaking polling or becoming an independent specialist adviser should write by 31 July 2000, enclosing an outline of their relevant skills and experience, to Louise Sparrer, Clerk, MMP Review Committee, Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Telephone (04) 471-9032,

The terms of reference for the review of MMP are set out in a press release located at www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/programme/committees/pressrelease.html.

Mori Affairs (Kia Paranihi, SC-MA@parliament.govt.nz)
On 29 June, the committee heard from submitters on Te Ture Whenua Maori Amendment (Maori Land Amendment) Bill. These included the Mayor and Chief Executive of Gisborne District Council, Matnuku Mahuika presenting for the Mori Law Society and the New Zealand Law Society. An issue of some concern relates to Mori land that currently has no legal access. Many local authorities share a concern about the potential costs involved in the processes to provide access and who bears them. The Mori Law Society was asked by the committee to provide a view on the issue.

The committee also considered the 200/2001 Estimates. Next week on 6 July the committee will examine Te Puni Kokiri on the Estimate for Vote Mori Affairs.

Primary Production (Bob Bunch, SC-PP@parliament.govt.nz)
On 29 June, the committee visited the Greta Point research facilities of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. The committee received a briefing on the institute's aims and objectives in relation to fisheries work, including research on remote sensing and the orange roughy fisheries. The committee also saw the institute's research on rock lobster enhancement and work in relation to marine natural products.

On Thursday, 6 July, the committee will further consider three of the four Estimates votes it is examining (Votes Fisheries, Biosecurity and Lands). It will also have briefings from Dr Neil McGregor of Massey University and Dr Steve Wratten of Lincoln College on the committee's inquiry into organic agriculture in New Zealand. The briefings will be open to the public from 11.00 am onwards. There will be no meeting on the 13 July, but a full day meeting is scheduled for 20 July.

Regulations Review (Shelley Banks, SC-RR@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee heard evidence on Wednesday, 28 June 2000 from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on six Codes of Welfare that were deemed to be regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The committee is considering issues such as the formatting of the codes, tabling requirements, the legal status of the codes and the clarity of minimum standards specified in the codes. The investigation is ongoing.

Social Services (Tim Cooper, SC-SS@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee will hear evidence next week on the Housing Restructuring (Income-Related Rents) Amendment Bill. On Wednesday 5 July it will hear evidence in Wellington, and on Friday 7 July it will hear evidence in Auckland (at the Barrycourt Conference Centre in Parnell). The bill is due to be reported back by Monday 24 July.

Transport and Industrial Relations (Lyn Main, SC-TI@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee's meeting scheduled for 28 June was cancelled because the House was sitting under urgency. The committee will meet on Wednesday 5 July to examine the Estimates for Vote Labour. It will hear evidence from the Minister of Labour and from departmental officials.

Closing dates for submissions
Committees are receiving submissions on the following items with the closing date shown. Twenty copies of submissions are required.

Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Bill (7 July 2000)

Education and Science
Inquiry into student fees, loans, allowances and the overall resourcing of tertiary education (24 July 2000)
Education (Limiting Number of Universities) Amendment Bill (30 June 2000)

Finance and Expenditure
Taxation (Annual Rates, GST and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (5 July 2000)
Taxpayers’ Charter Bill (31 July 2000)

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
International Crimes and International Criminal Court Bill (30 June 2000)

Justice and Electoral
Supplementary Order Paper No 25 relating to the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill (7 July 2000)

MMP Review
Review of MMP and other aspects of the electoral system (31 July 2000)

Primary Production
Inquiry into organic agriculture in New Zealand (3 July 2000)

Social Services
Social Welfare (Transitional Provisions) Amendment Bill (11 August 2000)

You can find further information about select committees on our website 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,
ph: 471 9534, fax: 499 0486, or at carol.rankin@parliament.govt.nz

Compiled in the Select Committee Office, Office of the Clerk, 30 June 2000

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