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Select Committee Business

Select Committee Business - 9 July 1999 to 16 July 1999

Committee meetings

There were 18 meetings this week, all in the parliamentary complex. Meetings as originally scheduled were severely disrupted when the House took urgency. Select committees can meet while the House is sitting only with the unanimous agreement of all the committee members.

Reports presented (35)

Commerce
Commerce (Controlled Goods or Services) Amendment Bill (295-2)

Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Business Development, Vote Commerce, Vote Communications, Vote Consumer Affairs, Vote Energy and Vote Government Superannuation Fund

Social Services
Department of Child, Youth and Whanau Services Bill (278-2)
Transport and Environment
Energy Efficiency Bill (189-2)
Education and Science

Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Crown Research Institutes
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Research Science and Technology
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote National Library
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Education Review Office
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Tertiary Education
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Education

Finance and Expenditure

Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Revenue
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote State-Owned Enterprises
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Finance

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Foreign Affairs and Trade

Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Defence
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Defence Force
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Veterans' Affairs
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Customs
Petition 1996/1653 of John Holland and 12 others
Petition 1996/1074 of Marian Hancock and 657 others and Petition 1996/1263 and 45 others
Petition 1996/1590 of Marie Leadbeater and 3577 others
Petition 1996/1022 of Mildred Gray-Sullavan and others
Petition 1996/1038 of Jill Hawkey and 10 138 others

Government Administration

Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Statistics
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote State Services
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Audit
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Parliamentary Counsel
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Office of the Clerk
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet

Internal Affairs and Local Government

Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Cultural Affairs
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Internal Affairs and Vote Civil Defence
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Tourism

Justice and Law Reform

Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Police

Intelligence and Security

(established pursuant to the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996) New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill (No. 2) (264-2)

Bills referred to select committees

Eight bills were referred to committees. If there is no report back date specified, the usual six month deadline applies. However, the parliament will have been dissolved before then for the general election. Bills not reported back by then may be carried over to the new parliament.

The Forests Amendment Bill was referred to the Transport and Environment Committee with a report back date of 8 September.

The Fisheries Amendment Bill (No. 2) was referred to the Primary Production Committee.

The Maori Purposes Bill was referred to the Maori Affairs Committee.

The Ngati Turangitukua Claims Settlement Bill was referred to the Maori Affairs Committee with a report back date of 29 July.

The Resource Management Amendment Bill was referred to the Transport and Environment Committee.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill was referred to an ad hoc committee created by the House specially for the purpose of considering this bill, with a report back date of 30 August. The Arms Amendment Bill (No. 2) was referred to the Justice and Law Reform Committee.

The Human Rights Amendment Bill (No. 2) was referred to the Government Administration Committee with a report back date of 23 August.

Committee notes

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

Commerce (Clare Sullivan, Louise Foley)
On Monday the committee presented its report on the Commerce (Controlled Goods or Services) Amendment Bill. The committee recommended a number of amendments. These included amendments to the Electricity Act 1992 to clarify that the regulation-making power s cover all anti-competitive practices and barriers to retail competition and amendments so that the Commerce Commission can impose controls on any fees that line businesses charge to retailers for customer switching. An amendment was also recommended to enable regulations to be made for cost re covery as part of establishing and administering the system or set of rules.

The committee also recommended that the Government make a statement under section 26 of the Commerce Act and that the Minister report to the House assessing the level of competition in electricity retailing with particular reference to domestic consumers.

The committee recommended that fixed charges may be controlled where that is efficient and in the interests of consumers.

This week the committee also spent time considering the Estimates. Next week the committee will consider the Personal Property Securities Bill and the Commerce Amendment Bill.

Committee on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill (Bob Bunch)
The House appointed the following members of the committee: Gavan Herlihy, Owen Jennings, Hon Denis Marshall, Alec Neill, Damien O'Connor, Hon Jim Sutton, R Doug Woolerton, John Wright and Annabel Young. The committee met briefly yest erday and elected Hon Denis Marshall chairperson and Alec Neill as deputy chairperson.

Education and Science (Graham Hill, Tim Cooper)
The committee met on 15 July to deliberate on all its Estimates votes. At the next meeting on 22 July the committee will hear evidence and consider the Education Amendment Bill (No. 3). This bill will ensure that efficiencies in transferring the st udent allowances and the loans scheme from the Ministry of Education to Work and Income New Zealand can be achieved and that WINZ has the necessary authority to use the information required for assessing loans entitlements.

Finance and Expenditure (Nick Aldous, Ainslie Rayner)
Due to urgency this week the Finance and Expenditure Committee did not meet on 14 July 1999. It will next meet on 21 July 1999. The committee will begin the morning with hearing oral evidence from the Ombudsman and the New Zealand Law Society on the Inquiry into the Powers and Operations of the Inland Revenue Department. Following this, the committee will consider the Taxation (Annual Rates and Remedial Matters) Bill. The committee will hear evidence from submitters, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (David Sanders, Lyn Main)
The committee heard three more witnesses on its inquiry into the appointment process for the position of director of the Centre for Strategic Studies, including the new director Dr David Dickens. The committee also heard a submission fro m the Clerk of the House, David McGee, on a review of Parliament's international treaty examination procedures.

Government Administration (Alan Witcombe, Tracey Rayner)
Today the committee presented its report on the 1999/2000 Estimates for Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet, administered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In its report the committee considers the following issues: Governmen t's strategic policy priorities, cost of policy advice, operation of Cabinet, review of the appointments system, crime prevention programmes, security at the APEC summit, the forthcoming General Election and Y2K co-ordination. Cabinet is the report's main focus and its conclusion says this on th e issue:

"A basic ingredient of responsible government is a Cabinet answerable to Parliament. In this report we have expressed several concerns about the current and ongoing operation of Cabinet. While we have no reason to believe that the Government is operating less efficiently than before we question to a degree the present robustness of Cabinet procedure and accountability. Without weekly Cabinet meetings, Ministers may not be fully aware of the implications and consequences of issues being addressed by their colleagues. A reduction in the meetings of Cabinet and the issues discussed and scrutinised in-depth at Cabinet level may have flow on consequences for Parliament and result in less informed debate in the House. Historically, Cabinet government has developed through convention. There is no provision in statute for a Cabinet to be formed or maintained, although administrati ve m

Health (Lyn Main, Sharon Woollaston)
The committee met on Wednesday and heard the final four oral submissions on the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Bill. It heard from the Health Funding Authority, Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Corporation, the New Zealand Hospitals Association and the Joint Action Group for Residential Care Providers.

Internal Affairs and Local Government (Kia Paranihi, Fiona McLean)
The committee met on Thursday 15 July to complete its examination of Votes Internal Affairs, Cultural Affairs, Tourism and Local Government and to conduct hearings on two local bills. It was a Taranaki-dominated day with the commi ttee hearing evidence from the south Taranaki mayor, Ms Mary Burke and legal counsel Jonathon Salter on the South Taranaki District Council (Egmont Electricity Limited Sale Proceeds) Bill. This was followed by representatives of the New Plymouth District Council, Mr Allan Jellyman and Mr John Ea gles presenting the council's submission on the New Plymouth Recreation and Racecourse Reserve Bill. The committee also considered matters relating to the Napier Borough Endowments Amendment Bill.

Regulations Review (Shelley Banks)
On Tuesday, 13 July 1999, the Right Honourable Jonathan Hunt MP, Chairperson of the Regulations Review Committee, lodged a notice of motion that Amendment No. 11 to the New Zealand Food Standard 1996 be disallowed under the Regulations (Disallowance) Act 1989. A mendment No. 11 requires mandatory health warning labels to be placed on all products containing royal jelly, propolis and bee pollen.

Mr Hunt's notice of motion is only the third disallowance motion lodged since the Act came into force. Under a special provision in the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, the motion remains on the Order Paper. If it has not been withdrawn or otherwise disposed of in 21 sitting da ys, it automatically takes effect under section 6 of the Regulations (Disallowance) Act 1989.

On Wednesday, 14 July the committee heard evidence from the Land Transport Safety Authority and the Ministry of Transport on proposed changes to the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999.

Social Services (Marie Alexander, Susan Goodwin)
The committee will meet next week to hear evidence from the Ministers of Education, Health and Social Services, Work and Income on the Strengthening Families initiative. The hearing is from 11.00 am to 12.00 noon and will be open to the public.

Transport and Environment (David Bagnall, Karen Smyth)

The committee presented its report on the Energy Efficiency Bill. This is a Member's bill in the name of Jeanette Fitzsimons. In its report, the committee recommends that the bill be passed with amendments. The bill aimed to increase energy efficiency in New Zealand by establishing a statutory authority, setting out a process for developing a national energy efficiency and conservation strategy and market transformation plans, and providing for the power to make rules about energy performance. Vari ous amendments to other Acts were also included.

The committee recommends that the bill be passed, but that significant amendments be made. In particular, it is proposed that primary responsibility for advancing energy efficiency and conservation should rest with the responsible Minister, rather than with a particular Crown entity. Recommended amendments also clarify that the purpose of the bill includes the promotion of renewable sources of energy; removal of the proposed statutory power to prepare market transformation plans; delegation of the power to make regulations, rather than rules; and omission of proposed amendmen ts to other Acts (including the provision for the regulation of domestic electricity prices).

The committee notes that it has been faced with the difficulty of reconciling the general support for the bill expressed by most submitters with the concerns expressed by the Government. The committee considers that the bill, as amended, may contribute significantly towards meeting New Zealand's commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The passing of this bill will result in greater awareness of the need to make wise energy use decisions, and will provide greater focus for efforts to promote energy efficiency.

Copies of the committee's report will be available shortly from Bennetts Government Bookshops.

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

Committee on the Bill

Dairy Industry Restructuring (13 August 1999)

Education and Science

Educational Establishments (Exemption from Certain Rules) (2 August 1999)

Government Administration

Human Rights Amendment (No. 2) (30 July 1999)

Health

Alcohol Advisory Council Amendment (13 August 1999)

Children's Health Camps Board Dissolution (30 July 1999)

Internal Affairs and Local Government

Hawke's Bay Regional Council (Surplus Funds Distribution) Empowering (13 August 1999)

Primary Production

Fisheries Amendment No. 2 (6 August 1999)

Transport and Environment

Forests Amendment (4 August 1999)

Resource Management Amendment (13 August 1999)

General

A compendium entitled Reports of Select Committees on the 1997/98 Financial Reviews of Crown Entities, Public Organisations, and State Enterprises is now available from Bennetts Government Bookshops. The shoulder number reference is I.21C.


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