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This Week's Select Committee News - 22 Sept

From 15 September to 22 September 2000
Committee meetings
There were 18 committee meetings. One was in Auckland and the remainder were in the parliamentary complex.

Reports presented
Local Government and Environment
 Hazardous Substance and New Organisms Amendment Bill (No 2) (330-2)

Education and Science
 Petition 1999/43 of Simon Power

Justice and Electoral
 Legal Services Bill (337-2)

Government Administration
 Casino Control Amendment Bill (250-3A) (Formerly part of the Gaming Law Reform Bill)
 Casino Control (Moratorium Extension) Amendment Bill (63-1)

Transport and Industrial Relations
 International Treaty Examination of the Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries (FICs) of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region, 1995 (the “Waigani Convention”)

Bills referred to select committees
The Apprenticeship Training Bill was referred to the Education and Science Committee, with a report due by 20 November 2000.

The Casino Control (Moratorium Extension) Amendment Bill was referred to the Government Administration Committee, with a report due by 2 October 2000.

The Volunteers Employment Protection Amendment Bill was referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee.

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

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Commerce (Alan Witcombe, SC-Commerce@parliament.govt.nz)
This week the committee heard submissions on the Commerce Amendment Bill and Supplementary Order Paper No 37. The committee heard submissions from the New Zealand Business Roundtable, The New Zealand Law Society, Federated Farmers and the Manufacturers Federation.

The committee will not meet next week.

Finance and Expenditure (Graham Hill, SC-FE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee met on 20 September to hear evidence from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand on the Public Audit Bill. This completes the hearing of evidence on this bill. The committee also heard evidence from Edward Brough and the Public Trust Office on a petition to Parliament from Mr Brough. At its next meeting on 4 October the committee will hear evidence from the Governor of the Reserve Bank on the August Monetary Policy Statement and consider further the Public Audit Bill.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (David Sanders, SC-FD@parliament.govt.nz)
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee heard eight submissions on its inquiry into the role of human rights in foreign policy. The committee will next meet on 5 October, primarily to hear submissions on the Closer Economic Partnership treaty with Singapore.

Government Administration (Fiona McLean, SC-GA@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee has reported to the House on those provisions of Part 1 of the Gaming Law Reform Bill that relate to the regulation of casinos. The provisions comprise the Casino Control Amendment Bill. They were contained in clauses 4, 11 to 16B and 18 to 24 of the Gaming Law Reform Bill. The committee decided to retain for further consideration those provisions in Part 1 that relate to casino licensing, together with Part 2 of the bill.

The Gaming Law Reform Bill is an omnibus bill that seeks to amend two different Acts.
Part 1 is concerned with casinos and provides for amendments to the Casino Control Act 1990. Part 2 is concerned with gaming machines and provides for amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1977.

The committee decided to divide the Gaming Law Reform Bill for the following three reasons:

 The provisions in the Casino Control Amendment Bill concern regulatory provisions applying to those casinos that are currently operating. These provisions were considered important in terms of clarifying and amending the current requirements placed on casino licensees and the Casino Control Authority.

 The provisions of Part 1 of the Gaming Law Reform Bill, relating to the issuing of casino licences, were considered to need further examination in the Government’s review of gaming policy. This review is currently underway and is due to be completed so that any resulting legislation can be passed by July 2002.

 The committee was extremely concerned at the rapid growth in numbers of gaming machines and the potential social and economic impacts of this growth. Accordingly, the committee intends to give Part 2 of the Gaming Law Reform Bill, which deals with gaming machines, further consideration.

Some members of the committee were concerned that clause 10 of the Gaming Law Reform Bill was not included in the Casino Control Amendment Bill. Clause 10, as amended, would allow the Casino Control Authority to initiate changes to casino licences. At present, licence conditions can be varied only if the licence holder applies to the Casino Control Authority for a variation. Clause 10 also broadens the scope of consultation procedures if a change is proposed and provides that any changes made must relate to the achievement of the object of the Casino Control Act and the efficient and effective administration of the Act. However, the committee agreed to exclude clause 10.

The committee also reported on the Casino Control (Moratorium Extension) Amendment Bill (the bill), recommending that it be passed with no amendments. The bill had been referred to the committee on 19 September 2000. While the committee acknowledged some public interest in the bill, the short timeframe for reporting it back to the House meant that it was not able to call for submissions on the bill.

The reason for this amendment is that, since the commencement of the initial moratorium, the Gaming Law Reform Bill had been introduced into the House to address concerns about casino licensing. The gaming review is also underway. The bill seeks to ensure that there will not be a proliferation of casinos while the Gaming Law Reform Bill is before the House and while the gaming review is being undertaken.

If the bill is passed the Casino Control (Moratorium) Amendment Act 1997 will be amended to:

 Provide that the Casino Control Authority (the Authority) may not consider any casino premises licence application lodged during the period 16 October 1997 and 15 October 2003. This effectively extends the period of the existing moratorium by three years.

 Return any application made to the Authority during the moratorium along with any fees.

 Ensure that the Crown is not liable to pay compensation to any person as a result of the moratorium.

The committee continued its consideration of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Prohibition of Child Pornography) Amendment Bill.

The House has instructed the committee to inquire into New Zealand’s adoption laws and to report back by 30 April 2001.

Health (Nick Aldous, SC-Health@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee is currently considering the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Bill. Initial hearings of evidence are scheduled for Wellington on Wednesday 27 September and Auckland on 28 September. The committee expects to continue hearing evidence on the bill over the next few weeks. An electronic copy of the bill is publicly available at:

Justice and Electoral (Tracey Conlon, SC-JE@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee presented its report on the Legal Services Bill on Wednesday. This bill repeals the Legal Services Act 1991 and makes changes to the administration of legal aid and associated legal services. The committee recommended a number of changes to the bill, including:

 amendments to the membership of the Public Advisory Committee, and provision for the establishment of regional and special subcommittees

 provision for local consultative groups to be established to monitor the delivery of legal aid and other schemes, and to assess and monitor listed providers of legal services

 the provision for bulk funding of legal services is limited to a pilot scheme

 direct provision of legal services by the Agency (a type of “public defenders” office) is initially limited to a pilot scheme, which may later be extended

 the Supplementary Order Paper released by Hon Phil Goff, relating to community law centres, is incorporated.

The report back date on the Victims' Rights Bill has been extended to 31 March 2001, and that of the De Facto Relationships (Property) Bill to 1 November 2001.

Law and Order (Wendy Proffitt, SC-LO@parliament.govt.nz)
This week the committee further considered the Crimes Amendment Bill (No 6) and the Arms Amendment Bill (No 2). It also initially considered financial reviews. The committee is not meeting next week but on 5 October will be considering the same matters as this week.

Local Government and Environment (David Bagnall, SC-LGE@parliament.govt.nz)
On 20 September the Audit Office briefed the committee on a June 2000 report on local government issues by the Controller and Auditor-General. The briefing covered, among other issues, the results of the 1999 audits, asset management plans, environmental obligations and legislative issues.

MMP Review (Louise Sparrer, SC-MMP@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee held two public hearings on MMP this week. The main critics of MMP – the Business Round Table, Graeme Hunt and Peter Shirtcliffe – all appeared before the committee to recommend that the public be given another chance to express a view on MMP and its future as New Zealand’s electoral system. Opposing this view were the Electoral Reform Coalition and Professors Roberts, Boston and Levine of VUW’s “Political Change Project”. This group cautioned against changing to another electoral system before MMP has had a chance to be thoroughly tested. Other groups appearing before the committee this week were the Women’s Electoral Lobby, the PPTA, the CTU and the Labour Women’s Council. Next week the committee travels to Auckland (Friday 29 September). Hearings will be at the Auckland Airport Centra Hotel from 10.00 am.

Social Services (Tim Cooper, SC-SS@parliament.govt.nz)
This week the committee met in Auckland to hear evidence on one petition and two bills. The most significant portion of the meeting was a presentation by the Separated Fathers Support Trust, which requests that Parliament review family law legislation in order to give more weight to the rights of fathers and children. Several people – including lawyers, advocates and trust members – made submissions to the committee as part of the presentation. The committee will not meet next week.

Transport and Industrial Relations (Lyn Main, SC-TI@parliament.govt.nz)
The committee at its meeting on Wednesday, 20 September, heard evidence from the Wellington Regional Council and Hon Peter Dunne on the petitions requesting the construction of the Transmission Gully highway.

The Wellington Regional Council emphasised that building the road is part of its Western Corridor Implementation Plan, which covers the area from Otaki to the Ngauranga Merge. The council expects to deliver a proposal to the Ministry of Transport in November 2000.

Hon Peter Dunne urged the committee to take a strong lead on the message conveyed by the 24 155 people who signed the petition he presented to Parliament in February 2000. The petition requests that the House of Representatives take urgent action to ensure that the Government sets aside the funding to enable the construction of Transmission Gully. The committee is next hearing evidence on the Transmission Gully petitions on Wednesday 4 October.

The committee also heard evidence from the Ministry of Education on Wednesday on the petition requesting that students do not stand on school buses. The committee is interested the tendering processes for school bus operators and the service agents that the ministry contracts to administer the day to day aspects of the school bus contracts.

The committee completed its international treaty examination of the "Waigani" Convention and its report did not raise any matters for the attention of the House.

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

Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Bill (27 October 2000)

Education and Science
Apprenticeship Training Bill (24 October 2000)

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone Extension Bill (2 October 2000)
Agreement between New Zealand and Singapore on a Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) (25 September 2000)

Government Administration
Casino Control (Poll Demand) Amendment Bill (23 September 2000)

New Zealand Public Health and Disability Bill (22 September 2000)
Inquiry into health strategies relating to cannabis use (7 February 2001)

Maori Affairs
Pouakani Claims Settlement Bill (6 October 2000)

Social Services
Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Amendment Bill (No 3) (20 October 2000)
Social Security Amendment Bill (13 October 2000)

Standing Orders
Review of Procedures of the House and committees (30 November 2000)

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
at carol.rankin@parliament.govt.nz
Compiled in the Select Committee Office, Office of the Clerk, 22 September 2000

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