Select Committee Business
16 July 1999 to 23 July 1999
There were 12 committee meetings, ten of which were in the parliamentary complex. The Maori Affairs Committee met in Truangi.
Reports presented (32)
Justice and Law Reform
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Police
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Maori Affairs
Transport and Environment
Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill (244-2)
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Transport
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Environment
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Conservation
Finance and Expenditure
Fiscal Strategy Report, Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 1999 and Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Treasurer (I. 3H)
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Ombudsmen
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Pacific Island Affairs
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Parliamentary Service
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Youth Affairs
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Women’s Affairs
Primary Production Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Agriculture and Forestry Estimates for 1999/2000 for Votes Biosecurity
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Fisheries
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Lands
Animal Products Bill (253-2)
Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Amendment Bill (No. 2) (287-1)
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Veterans’ Affairs (Department of Work and Income)
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Employment Policy
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Senior Citizens
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Accident Insurance
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Labour
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Immigration
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Housing
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Work and Income
Estimates for 1999/2000 for Vote Social Services
Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment Bill (226-2)
Petition 1996/1967 of D Frater and 5 others and three petitions of a similar nature (1996/1952, 1996/1960 and 1996/1965)
Petition 1996/1930 of Ramon Brandt and others and five petitions of a similar nature (1996/1956, 1996/1958, 1996/1959, 1996/1961 and 1996/1968)
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Petition 1996/1044 of Damien Patrick Nepata and 1 other
Bills referred to select committees (4)
The Local Government Law Reform Bill (No. 2) was referred to the Internal Affairs and Local Government Committee with a report back date of 31 August.
The Penal Institutions Amendment Bill (No. 2) was referred to the Justice and Law Reform Committee with a report back date of 30 August.
The Kiwifruit Industry Restructuring Bill and the Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring Bill were referred to the ad hoc committee (the Committee on the Bills) specially established to consider the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill with a report back date of 30 August.
(for further information on an item, please contact the committee staff noted in italics)
Commerce (Clare Sullivan, Louise Foley)
The committee considered the Personal Property Securities Bill. Next week it will consider the Commerce Amendment Bill and begin to hear evidence on it.
Committee on the Bills (Bob Bunch)
The committee considering the Kiwifruit Industry Restructuring Bill and the Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring Bill has called for submissions on the bills with a closing date of 13 August, the same date that submissions close for the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill, which the committee is also considering.
The proposals in the Kiwifruit Industry Restructuring Bill will corporatise the commercial assets of the Kiwifruit Marketing Board into a company with shares being held by producers. These will be tradeable among producers only. The bill will retain regulatory controls on exporting kiwifruit, establish a separate regulatory body to monitor the company's compliance special rules on the new company relating to non-discrimination, non-diversification, information disclosure and other shareholder protections. The bill will also separate decisions about collaborative marketing from the new company.
The Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring Bill will corporatise the commercial assets of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board into a company called ENZA Ltd, with shares held directly by growers. These are to be tradeable among growers only. The bill retains regulatory controls on exporting apples and pears. A separate regulatory body will be established to monitor the company's compliance with special rules on the new company relating to non-discrimination, non-diversification, information disclosure, arm’s length rules and other shareholder protections. The bill separates decisions about licensing from the new company, deregulates on-shore activities and separates the board's on-shore assets into a subsidiary to be operated at arm's length from the new company.
Education and Science (Graham Hill, Tim Cooper)
The committee met on 22 July to hear evidence and consider the Education Amendment Bill (No 3). This bill will ensure that efficiencies in transferring the student allowances and the loans scheme from the Ministry of Education to Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) can be achieved and that WINZ has the necessary authority to use the information required for assessing loans entitlements. The committee heard evidence from the New Zealand Childcare Association.
At the next meeting on 29 July the committee will receive a briefing from the Minister for Research, Science and Technology on the Blueprint for Change. This document sets out the Government’s policies and procedures for its research, science and technology investments. The committee will also consider further the Education Amendment Bill (No 3).
Finance and Expenditure (Nick Aldous, Ainslie Rayner)
The committee is meeting on Monday, 26 July and Wednesday, 28 July to consider and hear submissions on the Taxation (Annual Rates and Remedial Matters) Bill. Of interest in this bill is an amendment the Government has proposed to counter tax-driven film deals. The proposed amendment will disallow part of the original expenditure deductions if there is a tax-free economic reimbursement of the expenditure. The amendment will not apply if the film is commercially successful. Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (David Sanders, Lyn Main) The committee gave further consideration to inquiries it is undertaking and presented a report on a petition.
The petition of Damien Nepata and one other requested that the House take action to ensure the provision of adequate compensation to the petitioner and his brother George Nepata. They both had tragic accidents while members of the New Zealand Defence Force and the committee, while sympathetic, was unable to reach agreement and reported the petition to the House with no recommendation. The report notes that the motion to recommend to the Government that an ex gratia payment be made to both of the petitioners was tied and therefore lost. The committee's report outlines the committee's differing views.
Health (Lyn Main, Sharon Woollaston)
The committee considered the Medicines Amendment Bill.
Maori Affairs (Jamesa Marino-Fritzsch, Denise Te Karu)
The committee met in Turangi to hear submissions on the Ngati Turangitukua Claims Settlement Bill.
Social Services (Marie Alexander, Susan Goodwin) The committee presented reports to the House on its e xaminations of the 1999/2000 Estimates of Expenditure. The committee examined six votes in detail. These were Votes Labour, Housing, Work and Income, Accident Insurance, Immigration and Social Services.
The committee made the following main findings and recommendations:
Vote Social Services
‘The 1999/2000 year will see a continuation of the restructuring of the social services sector that began with the creation of the Department of Work and Income in October 1998. We will be interested too see whether these changes will bring the desired benefits in service delivery in the sector and hope to see a smooth transition to the new structure. We have the following major comments and recommendations in respect of Vote Social Services for the 1999/2000 year:
We have been concerned in the past about the gap that has existed in services to families in terms of support and prevention of violence. We are encouraged that the Government is attempting to focus more attention and funding in the area of preventing child abuse and halting the cycles of family violence. However, the envisaged culture shift in the community away from family violence will take some time to accomplish and in the medium term we expect to see full resourcing of both prevention and emergency services to maximise results in this area. We will continue to monitor this area. We are very positive about the Strengthening Families Strategy and look forward to hearing of its effects in its target communities. In relation to the new policy involving portability of pensions to Pacific Island nations, we express caution that New Zealander’s who chose to retire to other non-Pacific countries may well lobby for the same conditions to apply to them. We urge the Social Policy Agency to consider this matter carefully and look at the implication of widening this measure to cover all countries’.
Vote Work and Income
The Department of Work and Income is a new department and has had to contend with a number of issues in the first nine months of its existence. The report states that the committee has raised these issues with the department and will be monitoring to see that any problems are resolved and do not arise again. The committee has the following comments and recommendations: ‘We have raised a number of concerns with the department regarding its administration of student allowances in the 1999 year. We expect to see major improvements in this area in the year 2000. We will also be monitoring to ensure that WINZ effectively handles the administration of student loans, which it takes responsibility for on 1 January 2000.’
‘We encourage WINZ to explore alternative ways of administering child-care subsidies to avoid potential difficulties that could arise with overpayments.’
‘We are concerned that the high turnover of case managers at WINZ means that customers may not be receiving the highest level of service. We are also concerned that customers may experience difficulties in receiving satisfactory service when their own case-manager is not available.’
‘We are concerned about the level of error that appears to be occurring within WINZ, in terms of terms of dealing with customer files and giving customers information. We also believe that call-centre waiting times have been unacceptably high at times. We urge WINZ to address these issues and look at ways to minimise these problems.’ ‘We are concerned that some WINZ customers who have English as a second language are experiencing difficulties when they are required to deal with the answerphone system at WINZ. We urge WINZ to look at ways it can improve its customer service to people who have a language barrier.’ ‘We stress the need for WINZ to ensure that case-load levels for its staff are set at a realistic level.’
Vote Labour ‘The majority of the vote is now directed towards enhancing occupational safety and health in our workplaces. We have found it difficult to assess the impact of the department's activities in this area but the development of an outcome focus to the performance measures should provide a greater insight. A critical aspect for 1999/2000 will be managing the impact of the introduction of competition to ACC on the delivery of OSH services and we will take a close interest in developments.’
‘We also hope to see significant improvements in 1999/2000 in the waiting times for mediation and adjudication before the Employment Tribunal and urge the department to accord this a high priority.’
‘We support the initiatives the ministry is undertaking to develop its role in educating customers, and in strengthening the relationships with landlord and tenant groups.
‘The contribution of information to the Social Policy Agency for inclusion in the development of housing policy is important, and we would like the ministry to continue this practice.
‘We look forward to seeing the results of the survey of customer needs in relation to the ministry’s tenancy services operation, and we are also interested in knowing the results of the impact of the $20 Tenancy Tribunal application fee on the level of use of the tribunal.
‘Some members are concerned that the 28 percent drop in the number of applications lodged with the Tenancy Tribunal is directly linked to the introduction of the $20 fee. Accordingly, they recommend that the Government remove the fee.’
‘We look forward to receiving any interim results relating to the migrant outcome survey, and we reiterate our recommendation that every effort be made to ensure a speedier process in determining refugee status, given our serious concerns about the length of time that many cases are taking to be determined. We will also be looking for major performance improvements with respect to business migration.’
Transport and Environment (David Bagnall, Karen Smyth)
The committee presented reports on the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill and on the Estimates for Vote Conservation and Vote Environment. On Wednesday, the committee commenced consideration of the Forests Amendment Bill, which relates to the logging of indigenous forests. Next week the committee will consider this bill further, along with the Conservation (Protection of Trout as a Non-commercial Species) Amendment Bill and the Transport Accident Investigation Amendment Bill.
The committee has amended previously advertised closing dates for submissions on two bills - the Forests Amendment Bill and the Resource Management Amendment Bill (see below).
Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill - Legislation to establish a marine park in the Hauraki Gulf was reported back last week. The bill provides for integrated management for the Gulf and establishes a Forum of representatives of tangata whenua and local and regional authorities. The committee received and considered 150 submissions, and conducted hearings in Thames, Auckland and Wellington. There was a balance between submissions in favour of measures to halt deterioration of the Gulf's environment and others that saw the bill as a threat to their livelihood or way of life, or as introducing an unnecessary and costly layer of bureaucracy. The bill recognises the Gulf’s national significance and avoids establishing a hierarchy for the many activities and interests which the area affords. By majority, the committee has recommended measures to strengthen the role of the Forum and to enable it to represent individuals and groups who have interests in the Gulf. The number of tangata whenua representatives would be increased to six, and the Forum would now be able to commission research, and to appear as a witness before a court or tribunal.
The committee has recommended that tangata whenua representatives on the Forum be remunerated for costs associated with attending Forum meetings. By majority, the committee also recommended that "actual and reasonable" costs for communication and consultation by tangata whenua be met by the Minister, to enable consultation between the representatives and their people.
The park itself will comprise defined areas from the Gulf, its islands, and coastal areas surrounding it. The committee has recommended that seawater also be included
Closing dates for submissions on bills
Committees are receiving submissions on the following bills with the closing date shown:
Committee on the Bills
Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring (13 August 1999)
Dairy Industry Restructuring (13 August 1999)
Kiwifruit Industry Restructuring (13 August 1999)
Education and Science
Educational Establishments (Exemption from Certain Rules) (2 August 1999)
Human Rights Amendment (No. 2) (30 July 1999)
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)
Local Government Law Reform (No. 2) (11 August 1999)
Justice and Law Reform
Arms Amendment (No. 2) (17 September 1999)
Penal Institutions Amendment (No. 2) (9 August 1999)
Fisheries Amendment (No. 2) (6 August 1999)
Transport and Environment
Forests Amendment (10 August 1999)
Management Amendment (1 October