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Select Committee Business 20-27 July 2001

Select Committee Business

From 20 July to 27 July 2001

Committee meetings

There were 16 committee meetings, all within the parliamentary complex. Many meetings originally scheduled for Thursday were cancelled due to the House being in urgency.

Reports presented (22)

Health

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Health and Vote Health Service Providers

Justice and Electoral

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Treaty Negotiations

Local Government and Environment

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Environment

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Energy - Energy Efficiency and Conservation

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Local Government

- Auckland Aotea Centre Empowering Amendment Bill (99-1)

- Auckland Improvement Trust Amendment Bill (71-1)

Primary Production

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Agriculture and Forestry

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Fisheries

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Lands

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Votes Biosecurity

Commerce

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Communications

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Industry and Regional Development

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Economic Development

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Commerce

Finance and Expenditure

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote State-Owned Enterprises

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Revenue

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Women’s Affairs

- Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Audit

- Fiscal Strategy Report, Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2001, and the Estimates for 2001/02 for Vote Finance

Education and Science

- Education Amendment Bill No 2 (96-2)

Transport and Industrial Relations

- Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Bill (90-2)

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)

This week the committee met twice to consider two bills. On Tuesday afternoon and evening it considered the Telecommunications Bill. This bill is the first significant proposed amendment to the Telecommunications Act 1987.

On Thursday lunchtime the committee met to consider the Shop Trading Hours (Abolition of Restrictions) Bill, a Member's bill in the name of Rodney Hide. The committee previously reported to the House on this bill last year, but it was referred back to the committee for further consideration. The report due date is 1 August 2001.

Next week the committee will again meet twice: on Tuesday to further consider the Telecommunications Bill, and on Thursday to hear evidence on the Sydenham Money Club Bill and further consider the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Bill and the Telecommunications Bill.

Education and Science (Louise Gardiner, SC-ES@parliament.govt.nz)

On Tuesday, 24 July, the committee presented its report on the Education Amendment Bill (No 2), having received and considered 228 submissions from interested groups and individuals. The bill addresses 17 discreet issues. Some provisions include:

- The replacement of the Teacher Registration Board with a new body possessing expanded powers. These powers are designed to facilitate greater professional leadership within the teaching profession. The committee recommended the proposed new body be named the New Zealand Teachers Council, rather than the New Zealand Education Council, as proposed in the bill, in order to emphasise the council’s institutional focus on the school and early childhood teaching sector.

- The disestablishment of Specialist Education Services and the transferral of its services to a new directorate within the Ministry of Education, as recommended by a government-commissioned report on Special Education 2000, titled Picking up the Pieces, by education researcher Cathy Wylie.

- The introduction of a graduated three-step intervention regime to enable the Minister of Education to take more effective action when governance failure puts the operation or long-term viability of a tertiary education institution at serious risk. The proposed provisions include the ability to request information from institutions, to appoint observers to institutions’ councils, and in the most serious cases, to appoint a commissioner to replace a council.

- New school planning and reporting requirements, including new procedures and proposals for the creation of reporting templates to assist schools. The bill proposed renaming the existing school charters as “school plans’. However, submitters preferred to retain the existing name, and the committee recommended accordingly.

The committee’s commentary also addresses the issue of grants made by the Ministry of Education to Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 2000, which were advanced to kohanga reo by the trust by way of loans. The committee tied on the vote relating to the inclusion of the proposals contained in Supplementary Order Paper 133, which provides for validation of these payments. Therefore this measure is not included in the bill as reported by the committee.

Finance and Expenditure (Julian Kersey, SC-FE@parliament.govt.nz)

The committee met on Wednesday, 25 July. It considered the Taxation (Annual Rates, Taxpayer Assessment and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and was briefed by the Controller and Auditor-General on his work plan for the coming year.

The committee received from the Minister of Revenue some proposed amendments to the Taxation (Annual Rates, Taxpayer Assessment and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. The amendments would remove the deadline for claiming the housekeeper/childcare and charitable donation rebates. The Minister considers the amendments would reduce compliance costs for both taxpayers and tax agents. The committee will decide whether to adopt these amendments as it continues to consider the bill.

The committee is receiving submissions on the Construction Contracts Bill. The deadline is 8 August 2001. The bill is intended to facilitate prompt and regular payments within the construction industry. It will also provide for the resolution of disputes and provide remedies for the recovery of payments under a construction contract.

Government Administration (Lesley Ferguson, SC-GA@parliament.govt.nz)

Next week the committee will begin to hear evidence on its inquiry into the operation of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and related issues. The terms of reference for this inquiry include inquiring into:

- the capacity of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 to deal with the impact of new technology on the classification process set out in the Act, in particular, the impact of the Internet on the classification process including the transmission of live performances and related activities

- the adequacy of the complaint procedure under the Act, and the powers of the Chief Censor to deal with the complaints received by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Health (Matthew Andrews, SC-Health@parliament.govt.nz)

The committee’s 2001/02 Estimates report for Vote Health and Vote Health Service Providers was presented at the end of last week. In its report the committee expresses concern about the increasing complexity of appropriations and the lack of clarity about what is being provided by particular appropriations. The committee also considered a range of other issues in relation to the vote such as the District Health Board deficits, workforce issues, oncology services, services for the elderly, maternity services, food standards issues, disability support issues, and options for the future funding of health care services.

The committee met on Wednesday, 25 July, and meets again on Wednesday, 1 August.

Justice and Electoral (Wendy Proffitt, SC-JE@parliament.govt.nz)

This week the committee considered the Crimes (Criminal Appeals) Amendment Bill, the Victims’ Rights Bill and Supplementary Order Paper No 112, the Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) and the Inquiry into the 1999 General Election.

Next week the committee will consider the Prostitution Reform Bill, the Victims’ Rights Bill and Supplementary Order Paper No 112, the Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) and the Inquiry into the 1999 General Election.

The due date for reporting on the Prostitution Reform Bill has been extended to 6 November 2001. The committee will next hear evidence on the bill on 15 August in Wellington and 22 August in Christchurch.

Last week the committee presented its report on the 2001/02 Estimates for Vote Justice. Two of the matters the committee commented on were:

Ministry capability

The appropriation for policy advice has increased by 14.5 percent, which includes provision for staff recruitment and retention. Staff turnover for 2000/01 was just over 28 percent, the turnover rate for management being 28.6 percent, and for advisers/analysts and associated staff, 36.3 percent. The committee is very concerned about this staff turnover rate, in particular relating to advisers/analysts, and its effect on the quality of policy advice offered to the committee. It expressed concern about the quality of some of the advice received from the ministry on legislation before the committee. The report said this impedes the progress the committee is able to make in its consideration of legislation.

The committee is pleased that the ministry has received an increased appropriation for policy advice and is working to address problems with recruitment and retention. It encouraged the ministry to include feedback from select committees as one of its performance indicators.

Legal Services Agency

The new Legal Services Agency (LSA) replaced the Legal Services Board on 1 February 2001 under the Legal Services Act 2000. The LSA originally sought more funding than it received for administration of legal services. The committee expressed concern about its funding given that the LSA is undertaking new functions and there are both operational uncertainties and potential capability issues. The LSA told the committee it is aware its performance will mainly be measured by the backlog in processing legal aid grant applications and payments. The committee expressed concern about delays in processing grant applications and payments and questioned whether the LSA is adequately funded for its new role, one goal of which is to reduce such delays.

The committee also expressed concern about the funding of and incomplete geographical coverage of community law centres. They are funded from interest accumulated from the Law Society Special Fund, of which banks retain an equal amount of interest. During the 1999/2000 financial review of the Legal Services Board, the board stated that this basic funding source for law centres continued to face the possibility of serious dilution for reasons beyond the control of the Crown or LSA (because of low interest rates and more electronic transactions). It considered there was a minimum requirement of five or six new law centres, at a total cost of approximately $1 million.

The majority of the committee considers that community law centres play a vital role in communities and wishes to see funding secured to allow the 24 existing ones to be able to fully carry out their role, and to establish new ones where needed.

Please contact the Clerk of the Committee for further information about the committee’s meetings for the next month.

Law and Order (Tracey Rayner, SC-LO@parliament.govt.nz)

The committee did not meet this Thursday, as scheduled, as the House was in urgency.

The committee next meets on Thursday, 2 August, from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm to consider the Crown Organisations (Criminal Liability) Bill. The meeting will be open to the public, from 9.20 am to 12.20 pm, during hearings of evidence.

Local Government and Environment (David Bagnall, SC-LGE@parliament.govt.nz)

The Audit Office briefed the committee on the report of the Controller and Auditor-General on meeting international environmental obligations. The report focuses on four multilateral environmental agreements and assesses the extent to which New Zealand complies with them. The committee then heard evidence on the inquiry into the role of local government in meeting New Zealand's climate change target. Officials from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority appeared, and submissions were also heard from Federated Farmers of New Zealand and Taranaki Energy Watch.

Next week the committee will hear further evidence on the above inquiry. The committee will also consider the Taranaki Regional Council Empowering Bill, the New Plymouth District Council (Land Vesting) Bill and the Local Government (Elected Member Remuneration and Trading Enterprises) Amendment Bill.

Maori Affairs (Marcus Ganley, SC-MA@parliament.govt.nz)

This week the committee did not meet during its normal hours on Thursday morning, as the House was sitting under urgency. Meeting during the lunch adjournment on Thursday, the committee received a briefing from the Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Ministry for the Environment and Te Puni Kokiri on the Government’s response to the recommendations in the committee's report on its inquiry into the possible collapse of Lake Omapere.

MMP Review (Louise Sparrer, SC-MMP@parliament.govt.nz)

The committee next meets on 1 August.

Primary Production (Bob Bunch, SC-PP@parliament.govt.nz)

The committee's level of activity increased this week as it moved into hearing submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill and the Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring Act Repeal Bill.

On Tuesday evening, 24 July, the committee met to hear evidence on the Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring Act Repeal Bill. Three pipfruit growers, including the largest grower in Hawkes Bay, presented their submissions as did the Apple and Pear Export Permits Committee and the Pipfruit Growers of New Zealand Incorporated.

On Wednesay afternoon and evening the committee heard evidence on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill, including submissions from Hon John Luxton MP, Parahinihi ki Waitotara and the Federation of Maori Authorities, and the Livestock Improvement Corporation.

On Thursday morning the committee further considered the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill. This was followed by a briefing from the four major industry players on the ENZA debt issue. In the afternoon, the committee heard further evidence on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill.

The next two weeks of meetings will follow the same routine as above, hearing evidence on the two bills.

Regulations Review (Andrew Fieldsend, SC-RR@parliament.govt.nz )

At its meeting on Wednesday, the committee considered a complaint about the Sharemilking Agreements Order 2001. It also considered a large number of statutory regulations and scrutinised regulation-making powers in two bills: the Terrorism (Bombings and Financing) Bill and the Racing Bill.

When the committee meets next Wednesday morning (1 August) it will consider a complaint about the Domestic Violence (Programmes) Regulations 1996 and conduct its regular scrutiny of new statutory regulations.

Transport and Industrial Relations (Lyn Main, SC-TI@parliament.govt.nz)

The committee reported on the Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Bill on Wednesday, 25 July. The commentary and the bill showing the committee’s amendments is available under publications on www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz and copies can be purchased at Bennetts Government Bookshops.

The committee will complete the hearing of evidence on Civil Aviation Amendment Bill at its next meeting on Wednesday, 1 August.

Closing dates for submissions

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

Finance and Expenditure

Construction Contracts Bill (8 August 2001)

Government Administration

Racing Bill (10 August 2001)

Recreation and Sport Agency Bill (10 August 2001)

Regulations Review

Inquiry into the principles determining whether delegated legislation is given the status of regulations (27 July 2001)

Transport and Industrial Relations

Minimum Wage Amendment Bill (31 August 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:

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, 27 July 2001


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