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Select Committee Business 27 October to 3 November

Select Committee Business
From 27 October to 3 November 2000
Committee meetings
There were seven committee meetings, all in the parliamentary complex.

Reports presented (3)
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
 Visit to East Timor by a delegation of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee (I. 4B)

Justice and Electoral
 Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill (109-3) and Supplementary Order Paper No 25 and Petition 1999/45 of Ian Dunbar Greaves and 39 others and 78 other petitions De Facto Relationships (Property) Bill (108-1)

Maori Affairs
 Pouakani Claims Settlement (61-1)

Bills referred to select committees
No bills were referred.

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

Commerce (Alan Witcombe, SC-Commerce@parliament.govt.nz)
On Thursday morning the committee met to continue its examination of the Commerce Amendment Bill and Supplementary Order Paper No 37. In the afternoon committee members visited the Commerce Commission at its headquarters on Lambton Quay and heard evidence from the Commission on the above bill and SOP.

Next week, with the return of the House, the committee will begin its series of hearings on the 1999/2000 financial reviews of government departments, State enterprises and Crown entities. On Thursday it will hear evidence from Television New Zealand and New Zealand Post on their performance during 1999/2000 and their current operations.

Education and Science (Clare Sullivan, SC-ES@parliament.govt.nz)
This week the committee heard evidence on the Apprenticeship Training Bill. The committee is required to report on the bill by Monday, 20 November. Next week the committee will begin consideration of the bill.

Finance and Expenditure (Graham Hill, SC-FE@parliament.govt.nz)
At the next meeting on 8 November the committee will consider its inquiry into the preparation of the 2001 Budget Policy Statement and hear evidence from the Minister for State Owned Enterprises and officials from the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit on the 1999/2000 financial review of the Treasury.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (David Sanders, SC-FD@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee presented its report on its visit to East Timor on Friday, 27 October. The report contains a number of recommendations to the Government in relation to New Zealand's role in the rebuilding of East Timor, both in terms of the participation on the United Nations Peace-Keeping Force, and the good governance and development of aid programmes in which New Zealand agencies are involved.

Government Administration (Louise Sparrer, SC-GA@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee heard evidence from the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Department of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Heritage on the financial review of these organisations during 1999/2000.

Next week the committee will hear evidence, from the Clerk of the House of Representatives, on the 1999/2000 financial review of the Office of the Clerk. The committee will also hear evidence, from the chief executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, on the 1999/2000 financial review of the ministry.

The committee considered the Gaming Law reform Bill.

Health (SC-Health@parliament.govt.nz)
This week the committee met to consider the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Bill. It will meet next week for further consideration of the bill. The committee's report on the bill is due by 14 November 2000.

Justice and Electoral (Wendy Proffitt, SC-JE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee did not meet this week. Next week it will consider and hear evidence on the 1999/2000 financial review of the Ministry of Justice.

The committee presented its report on the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill, Supplementary Order Paper 25 (the SOP), and related petitions on 30 October 2000. The committee recommended that the bill be passed with the SOP incorporated with amendments. Copies of the committee’s commentary and the amended bill are available from Bennetts Government Bookshops and through the publications link on the Clerk of the House website at www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz.

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced on 24 March 1998. It aimed to address an anomaly in the Matrimonial Property Act 1976 by extending its coverage to marriages ended by the death of one spouse. The bill also aimed to make a number of other reforms including:

a) giving the Family Court sole originating jurisdiction under the principal Act
b) giving the Court greater powers to postpone the sharing of property where there are minor or dependent children, if that is necessary to avoid undue hardship for the custodial parent
c) expressly empowering the Court to take account of any dissipation of matrimonial property, or any contributions made after the marriage ends, and
d) giving the Court greater power to make financial adjustments where there has been a disposition of matrimonial property to a trust or company that has the effect of defeating the interests of one spouse.

The bill was considered by the Government Administration Committee in the 45th Parliament. It reported to the House on 15 September 1999. The House considered that report on 29 February 2000. On 16 May 2000, the Associate Minister of Justice released Supplementary Order Paper No 25. On 1 June 2000, the House referred the bill and the SOP to this committee for consideration, with an instruction that the committee have the power to incorporate in the bill the provisions of the SOP and to make any related amendments.

The committee received and considered 1631 submissions on the SOP from interested groups and individuals. It heard 91 submissions orally, which included holding hearings in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

Provisions of the SOP

The SOP aimed to make significant amendments to the bill. The main amendments are:

a) The name of the principal Act is changed to the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.
b) The principal Act is extended to apply to de facto partners (including those of the same sex) who have lived in a de facto relationship for at least three years, or for a shorter period in certain circumstances. Most references to ‘spouse’, ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ are replaced by ‘partner’, ‘matrimonial property’ by ‘relationship property’, and other similar words are replaced in a similar manner.
c) There is a single rule under which all relationship property is to be divided equally, unless there are extraordinary circumstances which make equal sharing repugnant to justice.
d) Any increase in the value of the separate property of one partner that is directly or indirectly attributable to the actions of the other partner is treated as relationship property, and apportioned according to the contributions of each partner to the increase.
e) The Court is given power to award lump sum payments to one partner if, after the relationship ends, the income and living standards of one partner are likely to be significantly higher than those of the other because of the effects of the division of functions within the relationship.
f) The provisions in the Family Proceedings Act 1980 relating to spousal maintenance are extended to cover de facto partners and amended to provide greater flexibility to the Court in granting spousal maintenance.
g) The provisions of the Administration Act 1969 relating to intestacy are amended so that a de facto partner is entitled to a share of the deceased’s estate that is not disposed of by a valid will.
h) The Family Protection Act 1955 is amended to give de facto partners the right to claim, against the estate of a deceased partner, adequate provision for their maintenance and support.

Summary of the committee’s recommendations

The main changes recommended by the committee are:

a) amending the purpose section (as inserted by the SOP) to include a reference to the interests of children
b) inserting a new principles section to guide the achievement of the purpose of the principal Act
c) reinserting the references to ‘spouse’, ‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘marriage’, and using the terms ‘de facto partner’ and ‘de facto relationship’ in relation to de facto couples
d) inserting a definition of ‘de facto relationship’
e) inserting a minimum age of 18 years for partners to de facto relationships
f) changing the commencement date of the legislation to 1 February 2002, and the commencement date of the contracting-out provisions to 1 August 2001
g) changing the economic disparity provisions to permit a transfer of relationship or separate property in addition to a lump sum payment
h) retaining the current criteria to which the Court must have regard in deciding whether it would be unjust to give effect to an agreement, and adding one new criterion: the fact that the parties wished to achieve certainty as to the status, ownership and division of property by entering into the agreement
i) inserting empowering provisions to allow regulations to be made that prescribe an optional model form of agreement for contracting out
j) expanding proposed new section 28C so as to require the Court, when considering whether to make a furniture order, to have particular regard to the needs of the applicant to have suitable furniture, household appliances, and household effects to provide for the needs of any children of the relationship who live or will be living with the applicant.

The committee also reported back the De Facto Relationships (Property) Bill on 30 October, recommending that it not proceed.

Local Government and Environment (David Bagnall, SC-LGE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee will meet next Wednesday to complete the hearing of evidence on the Tauranga District Council (Route K Toll) Empowering Bill with submissions from the New Zealand Automobile Association and the Road Transport Forum. The committee will then receive briefings relating to the Inquiry into the role of local government in meeting New Zealand's climate change target. Officials from the Ministry for the Environment and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority will provide the briefings.

Maori Affairs (David Bagnall, SC-MA@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee presented its report on the Pouakani Claims Settlement Bill, which gives effect to certain aspects of the Deed of Settlement signed by the Pouakani people and the Crown on 19 November 1999. In the report, the committee recommends that the bill be passed without amendment. Issues raised in the report include the settlement redress mechanisms in respect of Titiraupenga Mountain, the option for the claimants to purchase the Pouakani Forest (part of the Pureora Central Forest), the cost of negotiations to claimants, and the way in which the western boundary of the Pouakani block has been provided for.

The bill has not been reprinted as no amendments to it have been recommended. The committee's short narrative report is not available through Bennetts Government Bookshops but a copy may be obtained from committee staff on request.

Next week the committee will continue its consideration of the Te Ture Whenua Maori Amendment Bill.

Primary Production (Bob Bunch, SC-PP@parliament.govt.nz)
On 9 November the committee will hear evidence on the inquiry into the sale of Terralink Property Services Division.

Social Services (Tim Cooper, SC-SS@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee spent this week's meeting considering several items of business. It considered the financial review of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services and the Ministry of Housing. It also began to consider the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Amendment Bill and considered further the Social Security Amendment Bill.

Next week the committee will hear evidence on the 1999/2000 financial review of the Ministry of Social Policy, from 11.15 am to 12.30 pm in Room 11.03, Bowen House.

Transport and Industrial Relations (Lyn Main, SC-TI@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee did not meet this week. On 8 November the committee will have a briefing from officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) of the Department of Labour and ACC. The committee is interested in the operations of OSH and the injury prevention and safety promotion units within ACC.

Closing dates for submissions on bills
Committees are receiving submissions on the following items with the closing date shown:

Finance and Expenditure
Inquiry into the preparation of the 2001 Budget Policy Statement (3 November 2000)
Taxation (Beneficiary Income of Minors, Services-Related Payments and Remedial Matters) Bill (30 November 2000)

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Volunteers Employment Protection Amendment Bill (30 November 2000)

Government Administration
Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Prohibition of Child Pornography) Amendment Bill (15 November 2000)
Inquiry into New Zealand’s adoption laws (31 January 2001)

Inquiry into health strategies relating to cannabis use (7 February 2001)

Maori Affiars
Tutae-Ka-Wetoweto Forest Bill (31 January 2001)

Primary Production
Inquiry into sustainable forestry management (23 January 2001)

Regulations Review
Inquiry into regulation-making powers that authorise international treaties to override any provisions of New Zealand enactments (17 November 2000)

Standing Orders
Procedures of the House and select committees (30 November 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, 3 November 2000

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