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Weekly Select Committee News - 10/11/2000

SELECT COMMITTEE BUSINESS
From 3 November to 10 November 2000
Committee meetings
There were 19 Committee meetings, all of which were in the parliamentary complex.

Reports presented (12)
Government Administration
 Gaming Law Reform Bill (250-3)
 1999/2000 financial review of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
 1999/2000 financial review of the Parliamentary Service
 1999/2000 financial review of Statistics New Zealand
 1999/2000 financial review of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs
 1999/2000 financial review of the Office of the Ombudsmen
 Casino Control (Poll Demand) Amendment Bill (33-1)

Finance and Expenditure
 Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Monetary Policy Statement, August 2000 and the October Official Cash Rate Review
 Petition 1996/2004 of Edward Brough

Officers of Parliament
 Budget of the Office of the Ombudsmen for investigation and resolution of complaints about government administration – Options for managing demand on the Office of the Ombudsmen

Law and Order
 Crimes Amendment Bill (51-1)

Social Services
 Social Security Amendment Bill (56-2)


Bills referred to select committees
The International Treaties Bill was referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. This is a member’s bill in the name of Keith Locke MP.

The Summit Road (Canterbury) Protection Bill was referred to the Government Administration Committee. As a local bill, it would normally be referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee. However, it was referred to the Government Administration Committee with the leave (unanimous agreement) of the House.

The Prostitution Reform Bill was referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee. This is a member’s bill in the name of Tim Barnett MP.

The Auckland Improvement Trust Amendment Bill was referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee. This is a local bill.

The Crimes (Criminal Appeals) Amendment Bill was referred to the Government Administration Committee with a report due by 23 November 2000.

The Electronic Transactions Bill was referred to the Commerce Committee.

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 heard evidence on the 1999/2000 financial review of TVNZ from the Chairman and Chief Executive. Issues discussed included the draft Charter for TVNZ, TVNZ's digital television strategy, presenters’ salaries and journalistic ethics. The committee also heard evidence from the Chairman and the Chief Executive of New Zealand Post for its 1999/2000 financial review. Issues discussed included New Zealand Post's performance and the 'People's Bank' initiative.

Next week the committee will be considering the Commerce Amendment Bill.

Education and Science (Clare Sullivan, SC-ES@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee considered the Apprenticeship Training Bill and two financial reviews. Next week it will continue work on the bill. On Wednesday and Friday next week a subcommittee will hear evidence on the inquiry into student fees, loans, allowances and the overall resourcing of tertiary education.

Finance and Expenditure (Graham Hill, SC-FE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee met on 8 November to 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. The committee also received a briefing from the New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust. At its next meeting on 15 November the committee will hear evidence from the Controller and Auditor-General on the 1999/2000 financial review of the Audit Office and consider further the Taxpayers' Charter Bill.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (David Sanders, SC-FD@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee began considerating its 1999/2000 financial reviews this week. It will examine the New Zealand Defence Force at next week’s meeting from 9 am to 10 am.

The committee also heard three submissions on its inquiry into New Zealand's economic and trade relationship with New Zealand.

Government Administration (Louise Sparrer, SC-GA@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee heard evidence from the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs on the 1999/2000 financial reviews. Next week the committee will hear evidence from the State Services Commission.

The committee presented its reports on both the Gaming Law Reform Bill and the Casino Control (Poll Demand) Amendment Bill. The committee recommended, by majority, that the Casino Control (Poll Demand) Amendment Bill not proceed. In light of the Casino Control (Moratorium Extension) Amendment Act 2000 and the review of gaming, the committee decided not to hear public submissions on the Casino Control (Poll Demand) Amendment Bill. Instead, submitters were provided with the opportunity to modify their submissions to take account of the Casino Control (Moratorium Extension) Amendment Act 2000. The report notes that the committee also sought approval from submitters to forward their submission, and any modifications, on to the Department of Internal Affairs team undertaking the review of gaming. A majority of submitters agreed to this course of action.

The Gaming Law Reform Bill was referred to the Internal Affairs and Local Government Committee of the previous Parliament on 8 December 1998. The bill was initially an omnibus bill amending two different Acts. Part 1 concerned casinos and provided for amendments to the Casino Control Act 1990. Part 2 was concerned with gaming machines and provided for amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1977. The Internal Affairs and Local Government Committee of the previous Parliament heard submissions on the bill and considered it at length. The committee reported the bill back to the House on 16 June 1999 and recommended a number of amendments to it. On 29 February 2000, the Order of the Day for consideration of the report was discharged and the bill was referred to this committee.

On 21 September 2000 the Government Administration Committee reported to the House the clauses from the bill that relate to the regulation of casinos. These clauses became the Casino Control Amendment Bill, which is still before the House. The committee retained the remainder of the Gaming Law Reform Bill for further consideration. It was particularly interested in the clauses relating to the regulation of gaming machines.

A number of clauses in Part 1 of the bill remained after removing the clauses for the Casino Control Amendment Bill. These clauses relate to the licensing of casinos. The committee considered them unnecessary in light of the recent enactment of the Casino Control (Moratorium Extension) Amendment Act 2000. This Act extends the moratorium on the granting of casino licenses until 15 October 2003. This was done under the understanding that it is the Government’s intention that a review of gaming law, currently being undertaken by the Department of Internal Affairs, will be finished in time for any arising changes to licensing rules to be in place when the moratorium ends. Accordingly, the committee recommended that the remaining clauses in Part 1 be omitted.

As the committee recommended that Part 1 be omitted, the bill will no longer be an omnibus bill. If passed it will only amend the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1977. The committee, therefore, recommended that the name of the bill be changed to the Gaming and Lotteries (Gaming Machines) Amendment Bill.

The provisions in Part 2 relate to gaming machines. The committee was extremely concerned at the rapid growth in numbers of gaming machines and the potential social and economic impacts of this growth. However, it was evenly divided on the best course of action to deal with this situation.

Government members of the committee recommended that Part 2 proceed, as the bill inserts a new part into the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1977 that deals with gaming machines. They consider that the passage of this bill would allow more immediate control of gaming machines until the gaming review has been completed and the resulting legislation enacted. They also fully support the provisions in the bill establishing a minimum age for the use of gaming machines. Government members made two strong recommendations to the House. These are that:

 the Government consider more fully the electronic monitoring of gaming machines

 the Government impose a moratorium on any increase in the number of gaming machines and/or establish a regulation banning any further importation of gaming machines until the gaming review has been completed.

Opposition members, however, recommended that the bill not proceed. The issue of gaming machines will be examined in the gaming review being undertaken by the Department of Internal Affairs. Any changes made by the current bill will take some time to implement and are likely to be superseded by legislation arising from the Gaming Review. As such, they consider that the bill has potential to create unnecessary compliance and administrative costs. As a result of these differing views, the committee was unable to reach a recommendation as to whether the bill should proceed.

Health (SC-Health@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee had two lengthy meetings to consider the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Bill, which is due to be reported back by 14 November. Next week the committee will conduct the 1999/2000 financial review of the Ministry of Health.

Justice and Electoral (Wendy Proffitt, SC-JE@parliament.govt.nz)
This week the Ministry of Justice, with the Office of Treaty Settlements, appeared before the committee on the 1999/2000 financial review of the ministry. The Human Rights Commission and the Police Complaints Authority also gave evidence on the financial review. The ministry will appear again to answer questions.

The committee is calling for submissions on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill. The closing date for submissions is Monday 12 February 2001. The purpose of the bill is to allow the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to establish a Maori constituency for the election of councillors. Under the provisions of the bill, the number of eligible voters enrolled on the Maori roll will be used to determine the proportionate number of Maori seats as compared to the number of non-Maori or general seats on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Next week the committee will hear submissions on the Local Elections (Single Transferable Vote Option) Bill. It will also initially consider the Prostitution Reform Bill referred to it this week.

Law and Order (Tracey Rayner, SC-LO@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee met on Thursday, 9 November. The morning session was open to the public from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm during a hearing of evidence on the 1999/2000 financial review of the New Zealand Police.

Today the committee presented a report on the Crimes Amendment Bill.

The committee next meets on Thursday, 16 November. From 10.30 am to 12 noon the session will be open to the public during a hearing of evidence on the 1999/2000 financial review of the Department of Corrections.

Local Government and Environment (David Bagnall, SC-LGE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee heard evidence on the Tauranga District Council (Route K Toll) Empowering Bill. Submissions were presented by the New Zealand Automobile Association and the Road Transport Forum. The committee will continue its consideration of this bill next week.

The committee also received a briefing from the Ministry for the Environment and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, in relation to the committee’s inquiry into the role of local government in meeting New Zealand’s climate change target.

Maori Affairs (SC-MA@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee considered the Te Ture Whenua Maori Amendment Bill (also known as the Maori Land Amendment Bill), and also discussed the inquiry into the mainstreaming of services to Maori. Next week the committee will conduct the 1999/2000 financial review of Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development), with evidence from the ministry being heard in public. Further work will also be done on the Te Ture Whenua Maori Amendment Bill.

Officers of Parliament (Shelley Banks, SC-OP@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee presented a report on 9 November 2000 on options for managing demand on the Office of the Ombudsmen. The previous and current Officers of Parliament Committees have acknowledged the workload pressures experienced by the Ombudsmen and have provided incremental resource increases to help control the workload while simultaneously exploring options to assist the Ombudsmen in the management of their workload.

The committee believes that some amendments to the Ombudsmen Act 1975, including an amendment to allow the appointment of Deputy Ombudsmen, present long-term solutions to managing the number of complaints the Office receives. The committee also examined and reported on options that will improve the workings of the Official Information Act and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 but will not necessarily alleviate workload pressures on the Office.

The committee strongly believes that a long-term strategy for managing demand on the Office needs to be implemented with some urgency. It urges the Minister of Justice to seek a place on the 2001 legislative programme to implement the recommended amendments to the Official Information Act and the Ombudsmen Act.

Primary Production (Bob Bunch, SC-PP@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee met on 9 November 2000, after a break of three weeks. There was further hearing of evidence in its inquiry into the sale of Property Services Division of Terralink New Zealand Limited. The committee heard from the Hon Tony Ryall MP (former Minister of State Owned Enterprises), John Cooper (former principal advisor of Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit and currently Chief Executive of Terralink Limited) Chris Russell (Chief Executive of Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit).

The committee also considered the 1999/2000 financial reviews of Timberlands West Coast Limited and Land Information New Zealand.

Next week the committee will hear further evidence on its inquiry into organic agriculture in New Zealand from the Horticultural and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Limited. It will also receive a briefing from ENZA about pip-fruit exports and consider the 1999/2000 financial reviews of the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry and Fisheries.

Regulations Review (Fiona McLean, SC-RR@parliament.govt.nz )
The committee will next meet on 15 November and will hear evidence on a complaint relating to the Survey (Departmental Fees and Charges) Regulations 1998 and the Survey Regulations 1998. Any person can make a complaint to the committee if he or she is aggrieved at the operation of any regulation. The committee will hear from the complainant and from the department responsible for administering the regulations, Land Information New Zealand. This hearing is open to the public from 3.15 pm to 4.30 pm.

Social Services (Tim Cooper, SC-SS@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee reported back the Social Security Amendment Bill on 10 November 2000. The committee recommended several changes to the bill. The bill removes all references in the Social Security Act to the community wage, which is replaced by two separate benefits: an unemployment benefit and a non-work-tested sickness benefit. It provides for job seeker agreements, which will set out the assistance to be provided by the department and the obligations of beneficiaries. Under the provisions of the bill, unpaid community work will no longer be mandatory. The bill also replaces the current three-tier work test sanction regime with a single sanction regime targeted at serious non-compliance; it repeals the provisions relating to work capacity assessment; and it increases the income thresholds for eligibility for a disability allowance.

Transport and Industrial Relations (Lyn Main, SC-TI@parliament.govt.nz)
At its meeting on 8 November the committee received a briefing from the Department of Labour and ACC on issues concerning the interface between Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in the department and the injury prevention activities of ACC.

At its next meeting on 15 November, the committee is undertaking the 1999/2000 financial review of the Department of Labour.


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

Finance and Expenditure
Taxation (Beneficiary Income of Minors, Services-Related Payments and Remedial Matters) Bill (30 November 2000)
Government Superannuation Fund Amendment Bill (15 December 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)

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

Justice and Electoral
Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill (12 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)


General

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
carol.rankin@parliament.govt.nz

Compiled in the Select Committee Office, Office of the Clerk, 10 November 2000

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