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Select Committee Business

Committee meetings There were 14 committee meet ings, all of which were in the parliamentary complex.

Reports presented (14)

Government Administration

Acts and Regulations Publication Amendment Bill (299-2)

Human Rights Amendment Bill (No. 2) (315-2), Petition 1996/0852 of Ruth Lawley and 5 others and 75 petitions of a similar nature and Petition 1996/1016 of Sarah Ayre for Unconditional Universal Income New Zealand and 96 others and 6 petitions of a similar nature

Committee on the Bills

Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill (314-2) Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring Bill (317-2) Kiwifruit Industry Restructuring Bill (318-2)

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Inquiry into Defence Beyond 2000 (I. 4D)


Children's Health Camps Board Dissolution Bill (291-2)

Petition 1996/1024 of Marie Blackwell and others

Petition 1996/1897 of Phillida Bunkle and 5318 others

Internal Affairs and Local Government

Local Government Law Reform Bill (No. 3) (307-2A) (formerly Parts 2 and 3 of the Local Government Law Reform Bill (No. 2))

Regulations Review

Subordinate Legislation (Confirmation and Validation) Bill (No. 3) (321-1)

Finance and Expenditure

Special report on the Inquiry into the Powers and Operations of the Inland Revenue Department

Social Services

Processing Student Allowances by Work and Income New Zealand

Standing Orders

Review of the Operation of the Standing Orders (I. 18B)

Bills referred to select committees

No bills were referred to committees.

Committee notes

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

Committee on the Bills (Bob Bunch)

On 30 August 1999 the Committee on the Bills deliberated and reported back three bills, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill, the Kiwifruit Industry Restructuring Bill, and the Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring Bill. The committee proposed amendments to all three bills.

Education and Science (Graham Hill, Tim Cooper) The committee met on 2 September to receive a briefing on the Gene Technology Information Trust and hear evidence on the petition of Karen Johansen requesting that the Education and Science Committee investigate the circumstances which have led to students with special education needs at Gisborne Girls' High School having their special education teacher aide hours cut. The committee also considered its inquiry into the Blueprint for Change.

Finance and Expenditure (Nick Aldous, Ainslie Rayner) The committee met on Wednesday 1 September. It completed hearing evidence from the Inland Revenue Department on the Inquiry into the Powers and Operations of the Inland Revenue Department. This final submission from the department included re sponses to public submissions and improvements the department is making to its administration of the tax acts.

The committee made a special report to the House requesting that the House refer the inquiry to the committee so the inquiry can be held over to the next parliament. The committee may not be in a position to report fully on all aspects of the inquiry by the time the House rises for the election. Currently, as the inquiry has not been formally referred by the House it cannot be held over. Only business formally referred to the committee can be held over. This is why the request to the House to formally refer the inquiry has been made.

The committee has now moved into the consideration phase of the inquiry, which is closed to the public.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (David Sanders, Malcolm McNamara) Following the presentation of an interim report last November, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee presented a final report on its Defence Beyond 2000 inquiry on 30 August 1999. The report can be purchased from Bennetts Government Bookshops. It contains 22 recommendations as set out below:

That New Zealand develop closer defence relations with Fiji and the French forces in the Pacific.

That New Zealand develop closer defence relations with Malaysia and Singapore.

That recruits undergo more extensive basic training than they receive at present, including comprehensive civil defence (including ambulance work and fire-fighting) training and training in skills applicable to peacekeeping, prior to beginning more specialised military training.

That the Government investigate options for developing peacekeeping training for the NZDF and interoperability with a wider range of potential partners.

That the Government amend the Defence Act 1990 to introduce provisions parallel to those set out in section 9 of the Act to cover the deployment of NZDF personnel overseas on warlike operations.

That any deployments of NZDF force elements that would lead to a requirement for further appropriation should be debated in Parliament before the Government enters into a commitment to extra expenditure.

7 That an independent forum be established to provide advice on defence and other national security matters.8 That the Government direct that responsibility for arranging the assessment and audit of the NZDF in relation to any function, duty or project, including the measurement of the operational preparedness and performance of the NZDF, be re-allocated to the Secretary of Defence in terms of the Defence Act 1990 (Page 44).

That a machinery of government review be undertaken to:assess the current accountability arrangements for the Secretary of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force and the present balance of responsibilities and authority between the two;

assess the effectiveness of the structural changes implemented in 1989/90 including the split into two organisations;

consider the options for coordinating departmental inputs into defence and security policy; and

consider ways to enable more effective public participation in the formulation and administration of defence and security policy.

That there should be no change to the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987.

That the Government adopt a stepped policy for the procurement of specialist military equipment which:

avoids the risk of subsequent block obsolescence;

takes into account likely utility in the short to medium term;

upgrades joint military capabilities to a level where they are deployable and sustainable in medium-level combat; and

maximises the potential to keep abreast with technological advances.

That the naval combat review begun in June 1999 be terminated and that its terms of reference be subsumed in the terms of reference for the next Defence White Paper.

That the State Services Commission review NZDF pay, allowances and other conditions of service and advise the CDF on appropriate levels.

That personnel planning focus on meeting the requirements of upgraded combat capability and the need to retain a larger number of highly trained specialists to carry out likely operational tasks.

That the Government:

re-examine the current policy requirement to deploy and sustain a ship for up to twelve months beyond New Zealand and South Pacific waters;

re-examine the requirement to upgrade the HMNZS Charles Upham and consider instead stepwise acquisition of two logistic support ships with more versatile delivery options than those of a roll-on/roll-off vessel; and reassess the composition of the Navy's fleet based on a configuration of two A NZAC frigates (including the possibility of one being upgraded through a weapons improvement programme to retain compatibility with the Australian ANZAC frigates), plus two purpose-designed logistic support ships; and

take into account the criteria of:

I affordability (including opportunity cost);

ii the range of low-level contingencies that the Navy should always be able to address in the extensive exclusive economic zones of New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau and the Ross Dependency;

iii likely scenarios involving a rapid New Zealand response with well equipped land forces to coalition operations; and

iv other operations consistent with the advancement of New Zealand's national interest.16 That the Government maintain as its ultimate objective the maintenance of two mobile infantry battalion groups ready for deployment within 60 days and sustainable, to contribute to an international force fo r peace-support operations; and that a reconnaissance company supported by other appropriate combat and combat-support elements, trained and equipped for medium-level conflict, sustainable, with its own independent means of deployment, and fully interoperable with similar Australian forces be av ailable at 28 days notice.

That the Government provide full estimates of the cost of upgrading to F-16 C/D capability the F-16 A/B aircraft which it intends to acquire, and of the additional personnel that will be required to crew and maintain the larger F-16 fleet.

That the Government address the following questions:

With regard to using either F-16s or missile-equipped Orion aircraft in the maritime strike role, what is the scale, nature and likelihood of this particular task?

In what circumstances short of war would the New Zealand Government consider sending aircraft to sink ships?

And in that event, in what circumstances would suitably armed Orions not be able to do the job?

That the Government consider equipping a minimum number of P-3 Orions with maritime strike capacity and provide the NZDF with a credible minimum attack helicopter capacity.

That the Government reconsider the place of the air combat force in relation to NZDF tasks on the basis of the following options:

to disband it on purely financial grounds; or

to downsize it to a fleet of not more than ten well equipped modern aircraft to retain institutional knowledge of air combat capability; or to replace the current A4K Skyhawks with more modern combat aircraft on the basis of their capacity to contribute to the advancement of the country's nati onal interest (including a clear statement of the scale, likelihood and nature of the circumstances in which it would be appropriate, in political terms, for the strike aircraft to be used in each of their three designated roles), considered alongside other competing expenditure priorities.

That there be greater transparency in the development of proposals for further rationalisation of real estate holdings, and that a full range of proposed costed options be made available, before final decisions are made.

22 Examination of the balance between the allocation of resources to all the various aspects of the conduct of foreign relations, looking at the interdependencies and in terms of a strategic approach to the management of whole-of-Government priorities.

Health (Lyn Main, Sharon Woollaston)

The committee presented its report on petition 1996/1024 of Marie Blackwell and others to the House of Representatives on 2 September 1999. The petition requested that the House of Representatives legislate to make beta-interferon available as a subsidised drug. The committee unanimously agreed to the following recommendations:

that the Government urge PHARMAC to move quickly to develop practical and fair access and exit criteria for the subsidy of beta-interferon

that the Government urge PHARMAC to allocate funding for the subsidy of beta-interferon for MS patients who meet the subsidy criteria

that the Government urge the HFA to assess the MS patients who are currently self-funding beta-interferon as Exceptional Circumstances, and accordingly subsidise their treatment.

The petition has been before the committee since April 1998 and the committee is disappointed at the length of time PHARMAC has taken to consider this issue.

The committee is very concerned at the financial pressure PHARMAC's failure to list beta-interferon has placed on MS patients in New Zealand who are currently paying for the drug themselves at a cost of $1,800 per month.

The committee urges PHARMAC to progress its consideration of the issue of funding beta-interferon as quickly as possible. The committee considers the drug has significant benefits for some MS patients and that these people should have subsidised access to it. Beta-interferon may have little or no effect for many, perhaps the majority of MS patients. However, the committee considers that for those patients who fall into the high-likelihood-of-benefit category, the improved life quality and life quantity benefits which they would receive from beta-interferon out-weigh the high cost of t he drug.

The committee intends to continue to monitor PHARMAC's progress in listing beta-interferon as a subsidised drug.

The committee also presented its report on petition 1996/1897 of Phillida Bunkle and 5318 others about labeling genetically modified food.

Primary Production (Bob Bunch)

The committee will meet on Thursday, 9 September to hear evidence on the cost benefit analysis of the merger of the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry and consider the Farm Debt Mediation Bill, a bill in the name of R Doug Woolerton. It will also consider Petiti on 1996/959 of D C Coles seeking repeal of section 8 of the Forestry Amendment Act 1993.

Regulations Review (Shelley Banks)

The committee presented its report on the Subordinate Legislation (Confirmation and Validation) Bill (No. 3) on 1 September. It was reported without amendment. The committee next meets on Wednesday, 8 September to hear further evidence from the Department of Labour on complaints about the Accident Insurance (Review Costs and Appeals) Regulations 1999 and the Accident Insurance (Insurer's Liability to Pay Cost of Treatment) Regulations 1999. The meeting is open to the public from approximately 3.15 pm.

Social Services (Marie Alexander, Susan Goodwin)

On 2 September the committee reported on an inquiry it had initiated in March this year on the processing of student allowances by Work and Income New Zealand. The committee was aware of concerns about the long delays experienced by some students in receiving their allowances and the impact of this on students and tertiary institutions. The committee has recommended that WINZ consider more on-site assistance in the early part of processing periods to meet peak demand and more consultation between WINZ, tertiary institutions and student re presentatives.

Standing Orders (Ailsa Salt)

The committee's report on its review of the Standing Orders was presented on Thursday. The committee was of the view that as the Standing Orders had been subject to a major review in 1994-95, to facilitate the move to a multi-party Parliament, its role was to monitor a nd adjust these as required. Having considered the submissions made and the members' own experiences with those Standing Orders, the committee believes they have worked well and only adjustments are required. Some of these adjustments had been made as sessional orders during the term of this Pa rliament (e.g. House sitting hours and the parliamentary examination of draft treaties) and the committee has recommended these be included in the Standing Orders.

As a result of heavy workloads of some select committees and changes in ministerial portfolios and departmental structures, there has been adjustment to the subject areas of some select committees. A Law and Order Committee has been recommended to cover police, corrections, courts and serious fra ud. A Justice and Electoral Committee is recommended, which includes those items as well as Crown legal and drafting services and privacy matters. Local government and environment matters are recommended to be combined, with internal affairs matters being included with the Government Administrati on Committee responsibilities. Transport and industrial relations matters are proposed to be combined.

A change is recommended to the names of the various stages bills take in the legislative process, with a first reading debate prior to select committee scrutiny and the second reading on the principles of the bill taking place after the select committee has reported. Bills will then go directly t o committee of the whole House. Third reading will follow.

Other adjustments have been recommended to the voting process, some select committee processes and the financial procedures.

Transport and Environment (David Bagnall, Karen Smyth)

The Forests Amendment Bill is currently before the committee, and the report back date has been extended to 11 October 1999. The bill relates to the logging and management of indigenous forests and export controls on indigenous sawn timber, l ogs and woodchips. This week the committee completed the hearing of evidence. Submitters included Dr Murray Efford from Landcare Research New Zealand Limited, and the chairman and members of Property Rights in New Zealand Inc.

The committee will continue to consider the Forests Amendment Bill next week. At that meeting, the committee will also receive briefings on some international treaties, including the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

Closing dates for submissions on bills

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

Justice and Law Reform

Arms Amendment (No. 2) (17 September 1999)

Maori Affairs

Maori Purposes (26 September 1999)

Transport and Environment

Resource Management Amendment (1 October 1999)

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