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Committee adopts 'Yes Minister' approach

Pansy Wong National Associate Commerce Spokesperson

27 March 2001

Committee adopts 'Yes Minister' approach

Acting Commerce Minister Trevor Mallard's introduction of the Commerce Amendment Bill (No 2) into the House today confirms that the Government is turning the Commerce select committee process into a 'Yes Minister' plaything, National's Associate Commerce spokesperson Pansy Wong said today.

"According to Mr Mallard 'the Bill replaces the previous Commerce Amendment Bill 1999 to better accommodate a number of price control amendments and the Government's competition initiatives.....'

"The Minister has also said that a unanimous Commerce select committee recommendation of allowing for a transitional period will be ignored and overruled.

"Such blatant disregard shows why Labour's David Cunliffe was made Chairman of the select committee. As a first-term MP he follows instructions and can be overruled by his Minister on a whim.

"Claiming that the Bill had to be passed before the end of parliament last year, Cunliffe rushed the deliberation of the Commerce Amendment Bill 1999 amidst protest from the Opposition. The Bill then languished at the tail end of Government business.

"To add insult to injury, Trevor Mallard overrode Paul Swain in announcing the withdrawal of Commerce Amendment Bill 1999 and its replacement. What's worse, some MPs learnt of the changes from a private law firm.

"At the same time, price control measures are going to be introduced into this Bill to assist the Commerce Commission's current inquiries into the electricity sector.

"And again the Commerce select committee has been told by David Cunliffe to rush deliberation of the Electricity Industry Bill which contains price control measures for the electricity industry.

"National members have no confidence in the Government respecting the Commerce select committee process, which is the only real opportunity for the public to have its say," Pansy Wong said.

Ends

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