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Select Committee Business

10 September 1999 to 17 September 1999

Committee meetings
There were 5 committee meetings, including one in progress, all in the parliamentary complex.

Reports presented (14)
1998 Financial Review of Television New Zealand

Regulations Review
Seventh Australasian and Pacific Conference on Delegated Legislation and the Fourth Australasian and Pacific Conference on the Scrutiny of Bills (I. 16U)

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Interim report on the Inquiry into the Implications of New Zealand*s Participation in APEC (I. 4G)

Internal Affairs and Local Government
Hawke*s Bay Regional Council (Surplus Funds Distribution) Empowering Bill (273-2)

Transport and Environment
International Treaty Examination of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

International Treaty Examination of Protocols relating to the Convention on Civil Aviation
Petition 1993/406 of Rhonda Judith Brown and others
Petition 1993/560 of the Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki Trust and the Kawerau A Maki Trust
Petition 1996/945 of Wilton Willis and 53 others and seven petitions of a similar nature
Petition 1996/1001 of JA Wilks and 12 others and 43 petitions of a similar nature

Health and Disability Services (Safety) Bill (247-2)

Primary Production
Petition 1993/179 of Desmond William Samuels and others

Government Administration
Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill (109-2)
Interim report on the De Facto Relationships (Property) Bill (I. 5E)

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Bills referred to select committees
No bills were referred.

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

Commerce (Clare Sullivan, Louise Foley)
The committee presented its report on the 1998 financial review of Television New Zealand. The committee congratulated the company on its excellent performance for the year.

The committee noted TVNZ is concerned that under the Copyright Act 1994 it is required to make free-to-air programmes available for a nominal charge to cable operators. TVNZ questioned why, if TVONE and TV2 are regarded as prized assets, programmes are available to cable operators for a small amount.

*We understand that the United States has now repealed a similar provision in its copyright legislation. This is an issue which would appear to need further consideration by the new Parliament.*

Conversion to digital television continues to be an issue and the committee enquired about TVNZ strategy. TVNZ said the issue of conversion to digital needs to be finalised in the year 2000 and delaying a decision on a move to digital will start to have implications by mid-2000. If Broadcast Communications Limited (BCL - a TVNZ subsidiary) is left as only analogue it will have severe implications for its value. The costs for converting from analogue to digital over the next 10 years have not been finally ascertained but significant investment will be required. However, this should be
balanced against the costs of not converting to digital.

As at 31 December 1998 TVNZ reported that its primary external investments included a 12.6 percent shareholding in Sky and a 25 percent shareholding in Clear. Subsequent to balance date the company sold its investment in Sky for $126.5 million. TVNZ would not disclose the proceeds from the sale of its interests in Clear as it said it was confidential.

The committee was told that not all of the proceeds of the sale of the two investments will be distributed back to the Crown. TVNZ wants to retain a large proportion, $61.6 million, for the purposes of new business investments in the area of digital television, BCL Networks and the TVNZ New Media (internet website) business.

Education and Science (Graham Hill, Tim Cooper)
The committee will meet next on 7 October to consider further its inquiry into the Blueprint for Change and consider several petitions.

Government Administration (Alan Witcombe, Tracey Rayner)
On Thursday the committee presented its report on the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill and an interim report on the De Facto Relationships (Property) Bill.

Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill -
The bill addresses a major anomaly in existing law by extending the coverage of the 1976 Act to marriages ended by the death of one spouse. The intention of the new provisions is to ensure a surviving spouse receives the matrimonial property that is rightfully his or hers when the marriage ends on death. The bill also provides for a number of other reforms including:

the Family Court having sole originating jurisdiction under the 1976 Act
assistance to the principal provider of ongoing daily care of children by giving the court greater powers to postpone the sharing of property where there are minor dependent children if this is necessary to avoid undue hardship
expressly empowering the court to take account of contributions made after the marriage ends (account can also be taken of the dissipation of matrimonial property by a spouse)

greater power, where there has been a disposition of matrimonial property to a trust or company that has the effect of defeating the interests of one spouse, for the courts to make financial adjustments to achieve the intent of the 1976 Act.

The committee considered these issues, as well as a number of additional proposed amendments raised by submissions. A large number of submissions expressed concern at the bill's failure to address the ongoing financial needs of the non-career spouse after a marriage ends. The 1976 Act is concern
ed with the division of tangible economic assets of the marriage. Accordingly, most of the committee considered the sharing of future income is best dealt with by the law of maintenance. However, as provision for the award of spousal maintenance is currently contained in the Family Proceedings Act 1980, any amendments concerning spousal maintenance would be outside the scope of the bill. The Minister of Justice has indicated he intends to advance a supplementary order paper on this issue to the committee of the whole House in its consideration of the bill.

A number of concerns were raised by the Labour member of the committee in their minority report, including the bill's failure to address separate property provisions in the 1976 Act, problems with children's property and the issue of "career capital".

Interim report on De Facto Relationships (Property) Bill -
The purpose of the bill is to establish a statutory regime for the division of certain property when a de facto relationship ends. It proposes that the new regime apply to relationships in the nature of marriage between a man and a woman.

. However, it is proposed that it will only apply to relationships that have existed for three years or longer except in very limited circumstances. While a number of provisions are similar to those contained in the Matrimonial Property Act, the basic rules for division of property differ.

The committee had intended to report finally on this bill at the same time as the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill. However, this was not possible as the committee was far from completing its consideration and the Government has recently announced its intention to consult on the issue of same
-sex relationships and the law.

The aim of the report is to provide a concise summary of the general issues raised in the evidence received in submissions and general correspondence on the bill. Given the significant quantity of informative and quality submissions made on the bill, the committee considered there was much to be gained from summarising the evidence and indicating areas of concern or agreement.

Health (Lyn Main, Sharon Woollaston)
On Tuesday the committee presented its report on the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Bill. The aim of the bill is to revoke the present licensing arrangements for hospitals, rest homes and homes for people with disabilities and to provide a new statutory framework for ensuring consumer safety in health and disability services.

The bill, as amended, requires a provider of hospital and health services covered by the legislation to be certified by an agency designated by the Director-General of Health. The Ministry of Health will oversee designated agencies to ensure they monitor and audit the providers they certify. I
n each case monitoring and auditing will be undertaken by reference to standards issued by the Minister of Health.

The major issues raised by submitters were associated with the sector standards, the proposed auditing regime and the coverage of the bill. The committee considered the submissions and recommended a number of amendments including:

an explicit reference to the sector standards an enabling clause to extend the coverage of the bill to other service providers

a single auditing regime monitored by the Ministry of Health.

The committee concluded that "The key issue is safety, for both consumers and providers of health and disability services. We consider the bill, in conjunction with the new sector standards, to be an important factor in ensuring that health and disability services in New Zealand comply with mode
rn safety standards."

Internal Affairs and Local Government (Kia Paranihi, Fiona McLean)
There has been significant public interest in the progress of the Local Government Law Reform Bill (No. 2), which was referred to the committee on 20 July 1999. FIONA The Regulations Review Committee reported to the committee on the powers contained in clause *.At the conclusion of the hearing of evidence, the bill was divided into two separate bills.

Parts 2 and 3 formed the Local Government Law Reform Bill (No. 3), which was reported back on 31 August 1999. Part 2 enabled local authorities to ban alcohol in public places on specified days of the year and provided for amendments to the Local Government Act 1974. Part 3 authorised regional c
ouncils to use area rating to fund functions, and provided for amendments to the Rating Powers Act 1988. The bill has since passed into law.
Part 1 of the bill remained before the committee as the Local Government Law Reform Bill (No. 2). It deals with identification of particular breeds or types of dogs as inherently dangerous and imposes restrictions on the ownership of such dogs. It also provides for prohibiting the import of suc
h dogs and their embryos and semen.

The committee presented its report on the Local Government Law Reform Bill (No. 2) on 9 September 1999 and stated that, although it acknowledges the arguments put by those submitters who oppose the bill, on balance it considers it more important that the Government take positive action both to re
strict the breeding of dangerous breeds of dog and to ban the importation of dangerous breeds of dog. Although the committee accepts that the owner of a dog has a significant effect on that dog*s behaviour, it nevertheless believes some breeds of dog are inherently more dangerous than others and
have the capacity to inflict more serious injury than other breeds. The committee endorses the approach of the bill and considers it is appropriate at this stage to declare only the American Pit Bull Terrier to be a restricted class of dog.

Justice and Law Reform (Jayne Wallis, Tracey Conlon)
The closing date for submissions on the Arms Amendment (No. 2) has been extended to 1 October 1999.

Primary Production (Bob Bunch)
The committee reported back the Petition 1993/179 of Desmond William Samuels and others requesting that the House of Representatives recommend to the Government that it ban all commercial fishing from the Tauranga Harbour from and including Katikati/Bowertown to Taur
anga/Mount Maunganui entrances and from a two-mile radius to the seaward side of both entrances. The committee decided it has no matters to bring to the attention of the House as the issues in the petition have been addressed.

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) (1 October 1999)

Maori Affairs
Maori Purposes (26 September 1999)

Transport and Environment
Resource Management Amendment (1 October 1999)

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