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Weekly Select Committee Business

The Select Committee Office press release for 15 October follows.

SELECT COMMITTEE BUSINESS

8 October 1999 to 15 October 1999

Committee meetings

There were no committee meetings this week, and no further select
committee meetings are scheduled.

Reports presented (17)

Education and Science
Inquiry into the Blueprint for Change
Inquiry into the Gene Technology Information Trust

Finance and Expenditure
Inquiry into the powers and operations of the Inland Revenue
Department (I. 3i)

Justice and Law Reform
1996/1745 Petition of D de Jong and 113 others
1996/1962 Petition of Jane Sarah Kennedy and 11 158 others
1996/2061 Petition of Gladys Evelyn Phillips and 4797 others
Interim report on the Degrees of Murder Bill (I. 8b)

Primary Production
Inquiry into the Cost Benefit Analysis of the Merger of the
Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry
1996/959 Petition of Donald Percy Coles for Property Rights in New
Zealand Incorporated

Regulations Review
Activities of the Regulations Review Committee during 1999 (I. 16x)
Complaints Relating to the Accident Insurance (Review Costs and
Appeals) Regulations 1999 (I. 16w)

Social Services Committee
Inquiry into the Review of the Community Employment Group
1993/335 Petition of Lynette Neill and others
1993/322 Petition of Kathryn Mary Staples and others
Petition 1991/2971 of Michael Ernest Jeavons and others
Petition 1996/093 of Stephen Plester and others
Inquiry into sub-standard rural housing in East Cape and Northland
(I. 11d).


Bills referred to select committees
No bills were referred to select committees.


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


Education and Science (Graham Hill, Tim Cooper)
The committee has presented a report on the Blueprint for Change, which
sets out the Government*s new policy for Research, Science and Technology.
While the committee agrees that *New Zealand must be at the forefront of
technological innovation in building a knowledge economy* * which the
Blueprint policy is intended to deliver * the report expresses concern
that the Blueprint does not address the issue of funding. It questions
how the Blueprint will help to plug the *brain drain* of talented, young
New Zealand scientists moving overseas. It also criticises the language
of the document, which the committee believes is *generally
incomprehensible and meaningless*.

The committee has also presented a report on its Inquiry into the Gene
Technology Information Trust, which was set up mainly by Crown Research
Institutes with the stated aim of providing authoritative gene technology
information to enable New Zealanders to make informed choices about the
use of such technology. The committee expressed unease at various aspects
of the trust*s operations, which *appear to cast doubt on the trust*s
impartial role as a dispenser of authoritative information*.


Finance and Expenditure (Nick Aldous, Ainslie Rayner, Louise Sparrer)
The committee has presented the report on its Inquiry into the powers and
operations of the Inland Revenue Department. The report contains 27
recommendations to the Government. Copies are available from Bennetts
Government Bookshops.

Primary Production (Bob Bunch)
The committee reported back on the Petition of Donald Percy Coles for
Property Rights in New Zealand Inc. and on its Inquiry into the cost
benefit analysis of the merger of the Ministries of Agriculture and
Forestry.

Petition of Donald Percy Coles for Property Rights in New Zealand Inc.
This petition requests that Parliament repeal section 8 of the Forests
Amendment Act 1993. By majority the committee had no recommendations to
make about the petition as such, but did report on and make
recommendations about an issue that arose during the hearing of evidence
on the petition.

The committee undertook a survey to establish the cost of preparing
sustainable forestry management (SFM) plans and permits, and the impact of
this cost on the economic viability of timber harvesters.

The results of the survey showed that the average cost of preparing an SFM
plan had trebled each year in the period from 1995 to 1997, and that just
over 40 percent of respondents indicated that costs had a *high* or *very
high* impact on their profitability.

The committee noted that the data need to be handled with some caution,
but that the survey suggests widespread concern at the rising cost of
preparing SFM plans and permits. The report notes the response to the
survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, which attributes some of the high
costs to misunderstandings about the ministry*s requirements for SFM
applications.

The committee recommended to the Government that the ministry do more to
assist those applying for SFM permits or plans to reduce their costs,
including providing services and better informing applicants of the
services it provides. It also recommended that the ministry be adequately
funded and resourced to enable it to be pro-active in its advice and
assistance to applicants.

In a minority report, the ACT Party supported the contention that some
landowners had suffered significant losses as a result of the Forest
Amendment Act 1993 and that the Crown should be liable for compensation.


Inquiry into the cost benefit analysis of the merger of the Ministries of
Agriculture and Forestry
The report on the Inquiry into the cost benefit analysis of the merger of
the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry was also presented.

The ministries were merged in 1998 following a strategic review which
indicated that the merger would have significant benefits. In its 1997/98
financial review of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the
committee identified significant issues affecting the operations of the
ministry arising from the merger. It subsequently decided to examine the
cost benefit analysis (CBA) attached to the review*s report and asked the
Controller and Auditor-General to comment on it.

The Controller and Auditor-General found that the CBA was generally
computationally accurate but lacked the comprehensiveness * in the
determination of costs and benefits * expected in a CBA. The Controller
and Auditor-General also noted a number of aspects that were not
satisfactorily addressed in the CBA, and stated that merger opportunities
and risks could have been subjected to a greater degree of both fiscal and
qualitative impact analysis.

The committee*s report also notes evidence received from witnesses from
the State Services Commission and The Treasury, who did not agree with a
number of points made by the Controller and Auditor-General.

The committee recommended to the Government that any future cost benefit
analyses undertaken as part of the merging or restructuring of government
agencies contain a statement of the purposes and extent of the CBA, and
that peer reviews of processes and methodology take place whenever a CBA
is undertaken.


Regulations Review (Shelley Banks, Fiona McLean)
The committee presented two reports to the House. The first summarises
the Activities of the Committee during 1999 (I. 16X). The report formally
records matters that have not been separately reported to the House, such
as the committee*s consideration of draft regulations referred by a
Minister of the Crown and its examination of regulation-making powers in
bills before other committees.

On Monday, 11 October 1999 the committee presented its report on
Complaints relating to the Accident Insurance (Review Costs and Appeals)
Regulations 1999
(I. 16W). The committee upheld the complaints of the New Zealand Law
Society and Philip Schmidt, and the complaint of Michael Gibson in part.
The committee concludes that the regulations are likely to limit the
ability of applicants to receive entitlements under the Act; and limit an
applicant*s ability to access his or her right of review and appeal. In
the committee*s view, the regulation is not in accordance with the general
objects and intentions of the Accident Insurance Act 1998 (and is
therefore contrary to Standing Order 197 (2)(a)) and trespasses unduly on
personal rights and liberties (contrary to Standing Order 197 (2)(b)).

The committee draws the regulation to the special attention of the House
and recommends that the Government:
* Review the amounts prescribed in Schedule 1 of the regulation that
relate to the costs and expenses on review of the applicant's or another
person's representation.
*Consult widely about what amounts would reflect the actual costs of
applying for a review of an insurer's decision. Such consultation should
include the New Zealand Law Society, the Legal Services Board and
Community Law Centres.
Following the review and consultation process, promulgate new
regulations that relate to the costs and expenses on review of the
applicant*s or another person*s representation, currently prescribed in
Schedule 1 of the regulation.

The view of National Party members and Rana Waitai is separately recorded
in the report.


Social Services (Marie Alexander, Sue Goodwin)
The committee has reported on its Inquiry into the Review of the Community
Employment Group. The Community Employment Group (CEG) was administered
by the Department of Labour until it became part of Work and Income New
Zealand in October 1998. Earlier this year the committee became aware
that a review of the Community Employment Group was being undertaken by
WINZ. The committee was aware that there was concern in the community
that insufficient time had been allowed for the wide range of
organisations with links to the CEG to be fully involved in the
consultation process. Given the committee*s knowledge of the work of the
CEG it decided to inquire into the review by WINZ.

The committee also reported on its Inquiry into sub-standard rural housing
in East Cape and Northland. The committee initiated its inquiry in August
1998 because of its concern about the difficult housing situations faced
by a number of people in the East Cape and Northland areas. The committee
visited Northland to observe the situation first hand and talked to groups
and organisations. The committee has made a number of recommendations in
its report. These include recommending that the Government consider ways
of improving the uptake of mortgages under the Low Deposit Rural Lending
Scheme administered by the Housing Corporation, and recommending that the
Government work with non-profit organisations that are seeking to assist M
ori in building houses by assisting the organisations financially to
increase the number of houses they can build.


Transport and Environment (David Bagnall, Karen Smyth)
The Forests Amendment Bill has been the primary focus for the committee in
recent weeks. However, the committee has not reported on the bill, and it
will still be before a select committee when the new Parliament resumes.

Carrying over of business before select committees

The resolution of the House to carry business forward to the new
Parliament has been reproduced in the Notice Paper of Monday, 11 October
1999, and in the Parliamentary Bulletin and the Journal. All bills before
select committees that are to be carried over have now had their
report-back dates extended to 30 June 2000. This includes those older
bills that did not previously have report-back dates.

Closing dates for submissions on bills

Submissions are being received on the following bill with the closing date
shown:

Government Administration
Parliamentary Service (1 November 1999)


General

You can find further information about select committees on our web site
at www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz. If you require additional information or
have any feedback on the contents, please contact:


David Bagnall
Parliamentary Officer (Select Committees)
at david.bagnall@parliament.govt.nz

Compiled in the Select Committee Office, Office of the Clerk, 15 October
1999

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