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Select Committee Business 26 Jan - 2 Feb

SELECT COMMITTEE BUSINESS
From 26 January to 2 February 2001
Committee meetings
There were seven committee meetings, all held in the parliamentary complex. Two were meetings of subcommittees.

Reports presented (9)
Commerce
* 1999/2000 financial review of Television New Zealand Limited

Education and Science
* 1999/2000 financial review of the Ministry of Education
* 1999/2000 financial review of the National Library of New Zealand
* 1999/2000 financial review of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology
* 1999/2000 financial review of the Education Review Office

Law and Order
* 1999/2000 financial review of the Serious Fraud Office

Local Government and Environment
* 1999/2000 financial review of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
* 1999/2000 financial review of the Department of Conservation
* 1999/2000 financial review of the Ministry for the Environment

Bills referred to select committees
The New Zealand Guardian Trust Company Limited Amendment Bill was referred to to Commerce Committee. This is a private bill.

The Taranaki Regional Council Empowering Bill was referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee. This is a local bill.

Standing Order 275 provides for private and local bills to be introduced and referred to select committees during an adjournment.


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

Commerce (Alan Witcombe, SC-Commerce@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee presented it report on the 1999/2000 financial review of Television New Zealand Limited.

The committee reported on the following matters:

* net surplus after tax for the 1999/2000 year was $43.1 million
* the Minister of Broadcasting has released a draft TVNZ charter
* TVNZ has announced details of its digital television plans
* concern that TVNZ did not disclose its digital television plans at the hearing of evidence to enable proper parliamentary scrutiny of them
* additional amounts have been written-off in respect of TVNZ’s earlier digital television proposal
* some concerns about governance procedures at TVNZ, in particular the operation of the Audit Committee and the need for more information about the Remuneration Committee in TVNZ’s annual report
* there were significant “unadjusted audit differences” at year-end and the external auditor and TVNZ disagreed on the application of the policy for amortising programme costs
* staff salaries have continued to rise despite efforts to reduce them with 14 more staff earning over $100,000 than last year
* legal fees concerning the abandoned appeal of the Hawkesby settlement were nearly $140,000
* advice from the Chief Executive in respect to a complaint about a Holmes programme led to concern about the robustness of TVNZ’s complaints procedure.

“Two issues, the company’s digital television plans and complaints procedure, could have been fully disclosed to the committee utilising parliamentary procedures to hear evidence in private or secret, but were not,” the Chairperson said in a media statement.

Education and Science (Louise Gardiner, SC-ES@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee has just presented its reports on the 1999/2000 financial reviews of National Library, Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, Education Review Office and Ministry of Education.

Finance and Expenditure (Graham Hill, SC-FE@parliament.govt.nz)
The Chairperson (Mark Peck MP) and Annabel Young MP will attend the Sixth Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committees in Canberra from 4 to 6 February 2001. The Chairperson will present a paper on New Zealand's experience with accrual accounting and its impact on accountability measures in the public sector.

Health (Kia Paranihi, SC-Health@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee met this week and considered a variety of business including the financial review of the Ministry of Health, the Child Mortality Review Board Bill and two bills being considered together, Criminal Justice (Compulsory Care) Amendment Bill (No 7) and Intellectual Disability Bill.

The committee also considered its programme of hearings on its inquiry into health strategies relating to cannabis use. This programme is likely to be publicised before the end of the month.

Financial reviews of hospitals are to begin this month and hearings will be open to the public. This information will be released in due course.

Justice and Electoral (Wendy Proffitt, SC-JE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee next meets on 14 February.

Submissions on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill close on 12 February. The committee will consider travelling to the Bay of Plenty to hear evidence if it gets sufficient submissions from that area. The bill allows the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to establish Maori wards, in addition to its current general wards, for the election of councillors. The number of Maori wards will depend on the number of people on the Maori roll.

Law and Order (Tracey Rayner, SC-LO@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee met on Thursday, 1 February to consider the 1999/2000 financial review of the Serious Fraud Office. The committee presented its report on that financial review on 2 February 2001.

The committee next meets on Thursday, 15 February from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm, to consider the Arms Amendment Bill (No 2).

Local Government and Environment (David Bagnall, SC-LGE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee met in the morning and afternoon of Wednesday, 31 January. Most of this time was spent considering the Resource Management Amendment Bill.

Reports were presented on the financial reviews of the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment.

In its report on the financial review of the Department of Conservation the committee states a number of conclusions, including the following:

* It is important for full and open information to be provided as new pest control tools are developed.
* Both the department and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should conduct their fight against biosecurity threats to New Zealand’s ecological health with more urgency.
* The committee would be concerned if accumulating deferred maintenance led to a loss of facilities in the backcountry.

Overall, the committee commends the Department of Conservation for the important work it is doing and the improved quality of its outcome measurement.

The report on the financial review of the Ministry for the Environment also includes a number of conclusions, such as:

* Given the existing and emerging information on the risks of organochlorines to human health, ecosystems and primary production trade, the committee emphasises the urgency of the completion of standards, performance indicators and an action plan to eliminate organochlorines from the environment.
* It is of concern that the delay in the decontamination of the Fruitgrowers Chemical site at Mapua has been prolonged for the last five years given that the ministry has considered such work a priority. The committee expects to see progress on the ground in the clean-up of this site.
* The ministry should set itself some clear goals for its work in monitoring and assisting councils to implement the Resource Management Act 1991. The ministry should then report on the achievement of these goals in terms of both improved processes and environmental outcomes.

The committee is not meeting next week.

Currently, the committee is receiving submissions on its interim report on the inquiry into the role of local government in meeting New Zealand’s climate change target (closing date 15 March 2001). The report is available from Bennetts Bookshops or at the following website address: http://www.gp.co.nz/wooc/whatsnew/ipapers.html. Closing dates for two bills before the committee are set out below.

Social Services (Tim Cooper, SC-SS@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee will next meet on Wednesday, 21 February.


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

Commerce
Electricity Industry Bill (14 February 2001)

Education and Science
Education Amendment Bill (No 2) (14 March 2001)

Finance and Expenditure
New Zealand Superannuation Bill (9 February 2001)
Public Trust Bill (2 February 2001)

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
International Treaties Bill (31 March 2001)

Government Administration
Cigarettes (Fire Safety) Bill (31 March 2001)
Civil Defence Emergency Management (28 February 2001)

Health
Inquiry into health strategies relating to cannabis use (7 February 2001)
Medical Practitioners (Foreign Qualified Medical Practitioners) Amendment Bill (31 March 2001)

Justice and Electoral
Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill (12 February 2001)
Prostitution Reform Bill (26 February 2001)
Local Electoral Bill (26 February 2001)
Victims’ Rights Bill and Supplementary Order Paper No 112 (12 March 2001)

Local Government and Environment
Auckland Improvement Trust Amendment Bill (8 February 2001)
Local Government (Elected Member Remuneration and Trading Enterprise) Amendment Bill (19 February 2001)
Inquiry into the role of local government in meeting New Zealand’s climate change target (15 March 2001)

Social Services
Housing Corporation Amendment Bill (23 February 2001)

Transport and Industrial Relations
Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Bill (23 March 2001)
Civil Aviation Amendment Bill (2 March 2001)


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:


Compiled in the Select Committee Office, Office of the Clerk, 2 February 2001

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