TO ADVANCE AND ENCOURAGE BUSINESS UNDERSTANDING OF PARLIAMENT AND PARLIAMENTARIANS UNDERSTANDING OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY OF NEW ZEALAND
Attendees at our first seminar
INSIDE THIS ISSUE PAGE 1 - 5
Exercising Government Through Parliament Seminar
PAGE 6 - 7
Annual Meeting Trustee Council and Board Changes
PAGE 8 - 9
Former Ousa President Receives Inaugural Prize In Politics
PAGE 10 - 11
New Corporate Members Schools Travel Fund
PAGE 12 - 15
Focus on Parliament
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EXERCISING GOVERNMENT THROUGH PARLIAMENT SEMINAR – 1 JULY The Trust held its first, postponed seminar on July 1st Exercising Government through Parliament. Our Chairman, Peter Griffiths introduced the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard who opened the seminar with a comprehensive overview of the responsibilities of being the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his role as the ‘Landlord’ of Parliament. Seminar attendees heard from the Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Winston Peters who spoke about the role of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and, and the Leader of the Opposition at the time, Todd Muller MP who enlightened our members about the role and responsibility of The Opposition.
EXERCISING GOVERNMENT THROUGH PARLIAMENT SEMINAR - 1 JULY CONTINUED... Retiring Green’s MP, Gareth Hughes addressed the seminar on Mixed-Member Proportional system of Parliament - commonly known as MMP. Seminar attendees were then given a short tour of Parliament Buildings which included a visit to the Parliamentary Library for a briefing on the role of the Library in supporting MPs with research. In the afternoon they were given the opportunity to view the House in session from the Speaker’s Gallery and to observe Oral Questions to Ministers. Newshub’s Political Editor, Tova O’Brien provided an insight into what it means to report on Parliament and gave Corporate Members a run-down on journalism, the thrill of working in the Press Gallery and the adrenalin rush of reporting and researching around the clock. The Honourable Jacqui Dean MP discussed the select committee process and how Members of Parliament are selected for the various committees, and Minister Damien O’Connor MP spoke on the role of a Cabinet Minister.
Tova O’Brien, Parliamentary Press Gallery and HUB News Reporter
Labour’s Michael Wood MP and National’s Barbara Kuriger MP spoke of their roles as senior party whips of their caucuses respectively, and Kieran McAnulty MP (Labour Party List) and Agnes Loheni MP (National Party List) shared their insights on what it is like being a first term Member of Parliament, the daily schedule and work life balance. Our second Parliamentary Seminar on 4 August, the Machinery of Government and Parliament provided attendees with the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of Government and Parliament, building on the material covered in the Exercising Government through Parliament seminar. After being formally welcomed by the Right Honourable Trevor Mallard MP, Trust President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, attendees heard from Rachel Clarke, Cabinet Office, Department of the Prime Minster and Cabinet, Rob Salmond, Director of the Labour Leader’s Office, Alicia Sudden, Ministerial Advisor to the Hon Carmel Sepuloni and Peter Stevens, Press Secretary to the Hon Kris Faafoi.
Kiernan McAnulty Labour List MP for the Wairapapa and Agnes Loheni, National List MP Auckland
Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister representing the Prime Minister
ATTENDEES The seminar was attended by corporate representatives from Airway’s Corporation of NZ Ltd, Downer (NZ) Ltd; Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd; Pāmu Farms of New Zealand, Lotto NZ, Merck Sharp and Dohme (NZ) Ltd, Mercury NZ Ltd, Meridian Energy, NZ Post, PowerNet Ltd, Russell McVeagh, Sanofi New Zealand, Southern Cross, St John, Synlait Milk, Todd Energy and Z Energy.
The Whips (Michael Wood, Chief Whip of the House of Representatives and Barbara Kuriger, MP Senior Opposition Whip) with Trust Chair, Peter Griffiths
Each of these presentations provided insights into the operational aspects of executive government and the role of policy v political agenda. The morning session concluded with a presentation by Pav Sharma - Manager Policy and Legal, Office of the Clerk on the passage of legislation through the House. In the afternoon it was the turn of Senior Policy Manager Suzanne Townsend from the Ministry of Education, to present on the policy environment and the relationship between Ministers and their ministries/departments pertaining to the development and implementation of policy. Following a luncheon with Members of Parliament at which two of our tertiary prizewinners were presented with their certificates of attainment, Corporate Members attended Question Time or to use it more formal name, Oral Questions to Ministers.
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard MP
It was the then the turn of Senior Policy Manager Suzanne Townsend from the Ministry of Education, to present on the policy environment and the relationship between Ministers and their ministries/departments pertaining to the development and implementation of policy. To finish the day, attendees a detailed presentation on the role and work undertaken by Select Committee led by Gabor Hellyer, Clerk of the Justice Committee. Equally important was learning about the dos and don’ts’s when making oral submissions which was then put into practice with a mock select committee which saw a number of attendees rising to the occasion to be submitters with others role playing Members of Parliament.
Rob Salmond, Director, Labour Leader’s Office
Peter Griffiths, Trust Chair, addressing the Machinery of Government and Parliament seminar
Susanne Townsend presenting on Policy
Gabor Helleyer, Office of the Clerk presenting on Select Committees
ATTENDEES The seminar was attended by corporate representatives from Abbvie Ltd, Air New Zealand, Airways Corporation of NZ Ltd, Downer (NZ) Ltd, Landcorp (PÄ mu Farms of NZ),Lotto NZ, NZ Post, Deloitte, Genesis Energy, Merck Sharp & Dohme (NZ) Ltd, Mercury NZ Ltd, Ports of Auckland, Russell McVeagh, St John, Southern Cross, Todd Energy, Willis Bond & Co and Canterbury and Otago Universities. Submitters at the mock select committee exercise
Seminar attendees in the Banquet Hall
ANNUAL MEETING The 28th Annual General Meeting of the Trust took place at Parliament on 29 July following a Board meeting. For the first time Members had the option of attending online via Zoom. Peter Griffiths was the Chair for the meeting. The Trust’s President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Trevor Mallard MP, welcomed attendees and opened proceedings by saying that he appreciated this year has been anything but normal and the impact of a global pandemic crisis on our country and the business and corporate world. He continued to say that the effects of this crisis are far from over and will be ongoing for some time to come. In these situations, membership of organisations such as the Trust may seem less relevant or financially difficult, but he encouraged members to find ways of keeping their links with the Trust. The challenges presented by COVID-19 make this connection even
Former Trust President and retiring Member of Parliament Rt Hon David Carter MP in conversation with Peter Griffiths
more important. The President thanked members of the Trust Board as well as members of the Trustee Council for their work. The Trust’s Chair, Peter Griffiths, noted that 2019 had been a highly successful year with the continuation of ongoing changes for improved delivery of Trust programmes and its charitable work around education. The Board was encouraged by the support it received from its corporate members and parliamentarians alike. The Trust’s 2019 Annual Review and Performance Statement for the year ended 31 December 2019 were approved. Gretta Stephens, current Trustee and Board member was appointed for a further term of three years. Guy Waipara, Meridian Energy was elected to the Trustee Council replacing Simon Mackenzie (Vector) whose three-year term had concluded. Grant Thornton were appointed the Auditors for the 2020 year.
Peter Griffiths in conversation with corporate members
TRUSTEE COUNCIL AND BOARD CHANGES Guy Waipara (Rongowhakaata) serves as General Manager Generation and Natural Resources at Meridian Energy. He is responsible for the company’s New Zealand and Australian generation asset portfolio, including seven hydro power stations and five wind farms that deliver about 30% of New Zealand’s electricity generation, and two wind farms in Australia, and for the company’s New Zealand wholesale trading and risk positions. Guy’s role also involves managing renewable projects and renewable generation options. Guy was formerly General Manager, External Relations and has previously held roles at Meridian in offshore business development and setting company strategy. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the electricity sector and previously worked at Transpower (current Trust Corporate) in roles responsible for transmission planning and network development. Guy Waipara (Rongowhakaata)
Clayton Mitchell MP (NZ First) will step down from the Board following the upcoming General Election. Clayton is not seeking re- election. The Board warmly thanks Clayton for his service to the Trust since February 2018.
Clayton Mitchell MP (NZ First)
Gareth Hughes MP Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand will step down from the Trustee Council at the General Election. Gareth, who is retiring at the election after 10 years in Parliament, was appointed to the Trustee Council following the 2017 General Election. He presented on the topic of MMP at our Parliamentary seminar on 1 July.
Gareth Hughes MP (Green Party)
FORMER OUSA PRESIDENT RECEIVES INAUGURAL PRIZE IN POLITICS Thursday 16 July 2020
James Heath - photography by Sharron Bennett
Otago University Students’ Association president in 2019, James Heath, has received the inaugural NZ Business and Parliamentary Trust Prize in Politics. To be awarded annually, the prize was established in 2019 by the University of Otago through generous support from the New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust (NZBPT). It seeks to advance and encourage students to undertake a Master of Politics (MPols) degree with a strong focus around New Zealand politics. The prize is awarded by the University Council, on the recommendation the Head of Politics, to a student enrolled in the Master of Politics programme who is engaged in research into the role of the New Zealand Parliament in governance, policy-making and the wider community. James is studying for his MPols this year, and says he was “pretty stoked” and surprised to receive the award, as he was nominated by Politics at Otago without him knowing. He says his year as OUSA president exposed him to working with charities, in particular the world of governance, the importance of political engagement and the need for charities to have a strong voice. His dissertation focusses on helping bridge the gap between government, politics and charities. “The prize and the work of the [NZ Business and Parliament] Trust aligns quite well with where I’d like to take my career,” says James. 8
Ideally, in the future he would like to work in either the public sector or be involved with charities. NZBPT CEO Darryl Stevens says the Trust is delighted to be establishing a relationship with the University of Otago. “We have had a long - time commitment to tertiary funding but historically this has been limited to two universities. In 2018 the board determined a more inclusive approach with the intention of recognising more universities. Otago is one of those universities,” says Mr Stevens. “One of the streams in Politics is wholly focused on New Zealand politics and that is of particular interest to us. The Trust does not see the prize as a wholly financial thing - the board is keen to have engagement with our prize recipients and we look forward to James attending next month’s Machinery of Government and Parliament seminar here at Parliament.” Master of Politics convenor at Otago Dr Chris Rudd says Politics is delighted that James has been awarded the inaugural prize. “James will be a tremendous ambassador for Otago at the Wellington seminar and we hope he finds the connections he makes useful for his own research,” says Dr Rudd. The prize is valued at $1,500 and in addition to the monetary component, the New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust invites the recipient to attend a round table and parliamentary seminar in Wellington each year.
UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY NAMES 2ND PRIZE RECIPIENT Eilish Espiner is a recent graduate from the University of Canterbury where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a Master of Policy and Governance with distinction. Her Master’s thesis provided a critique of the global food system under sustainable development through the lens of empathy, animal rights, and ecofeminism. When she is not trying to figure out how to solve some of the world’s more complex problems, Eilish enjoys tramping, long distance running, choral singing, cooking, and trying to find enough pots for her evergrowing collection of house plants. She currently works at the Department of Conservation as a Permissions Advisor. Elisha writes:
Eilish Espiner and James Heath
“It is with much gratitude that I accept the NZ Business and Parliament Trust for the work I completed as part of my master’s degree in Policy and Governance in 2019. I completed my BA in Political Science in 2016. After an 18 month break... I returned to UC to embark on a Master of Policy and Governance (MPAG). This course focuses on both the practice and theory relating governance - local and central... MPAG also gave me a chance to develop and refine my research skills through thesis work and assignments, and I’m truly grateful for the opportunities presented to me during this time, which include speaking at an international conference held in Christchurch, writing and presenting a ‘cabinet paper’ at a mock cabinet meeting held in class... thank you so much for facilitating this award, it means a lot to me to be acknowledged for my hard work last year.”
CANTERBURY AND OTAGO RECIPIENTS RECEIVE THEIR CERTIFICATES OF ATTAINMENT FROM THE TRUST CHAIR James Heath and Eilish Espiner joined the corporate world at Parliament on 4 August as attendees at the Machinery of Government and Parliament seminar. As prize recipients under the Trusts tertiary education programme, there is a requirement for recipients to engage with the Trust and where practicable, to attend a parliamentary seminar. Our COMMS Intern Liam Davies caught up with James and Eilish for a one sentence response... What drives James for Politics. “I’d like to use the skills and theory I’ve learnt in studying Policy and apply those to assist the not-for-profit sector” And for Eilish “Although I completed my master’s degree at the end of 2019, I definitely see further studies for me on the horizon, and the Trust Prize will go a long way in facilitating that.”
Eilish Espiner and James Heath
Trust Chair, Peter Griffiths made presentations during the seminar lunch in Parliament’s Banquet Hall on Tuesday 4 August. 9
NEW CORPORATE MEMBERS The Trust announces the election of two new corporate memberships; Synlait Milk Limited and the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation.
Business Profile for Synlait Milk Limited: Synlait Milk was founded to provide opportunities for global consumers to access the best of what New Zealand dairying has to offer. The company of 1,000 employees was established in the year 2000 and has since grown from a 3,000-cow dairy farm, to a company listed on the New Zealand Exchange.
Business Profile for Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation: The Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation are a Crown entity charged with managing and administering funds given under the New Zealand Superannuation scheme. The organisation operates by investing Government contributions in New Zealand and Internationally in order to grow the size of the Fund over a long-term period. The Fund is, therefore a long-term, growthoriented global investment fund.
Under the leadership of their Chief Executive, Leon Clement, who joined the company in 2018, Synlait purchased land in Pokeno, North Waikato to establish a new nutritional powders manufacturing facility and announced the conditional purchase of Talbot Forest cheese, diversifying their range of offerings in the dairy industry.
The current Chief Executive, Matt Whineray was appointed in July of 2018 and is responsible for the general management of Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation and of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. The Fund is one of New Zealandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest institutional investors, and their $6.3 billion New Zealand investment portfolio includes more than $1 billion in the local share market.
Synlait Dunsandel Site, January 2020
SCHOOLS TRAVEL FUND
Gisborne Girls’ High School visit to Parliament
COIVD-19 saw the end of all school visits to Parliament for several weeks resulting in a disruption to plans for a number of schools that had planned to visit Wellington and Parliament during April and May. Some of those schools are now reinstating their planned Parliament visits which is great news for the students and schools concerned. Successful schools approved for grants to date are: School
Tauranga Girl’s Brunswick School Roslyn Primary Marotiri School James Cook School Kairanga School Waitara East School Holy Catholic Family School Wanaka Lincoln Heights School Gisborne Girls’ HS St Joseph’s School Kamo Intermediate School Tangiteroria School Limehills School Paraparaumu College Waiotira School St Patrick’s School Lyttelton School Lawrence Area School Melville Intermediate School
Tauranga Whanganui Palmerston North Mangakino Marton Manawatu Waitara, New Plymouth Wanaka
1,200 1,120 550 1,040 800 725 720 2,500
Waitakere City Gisborne Queenstown Whangarei Northland Southland Kapiti Coast Northland Greymouth Christchurch Otago Hamilton
1,600 1,800 2,700 3,000 700 2,620 750 900 1,920 1,080 600 1,320
GISBORNE GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL As a part of their Wellington History Trip, Gisborne Girls’ High School visited Parliament and were given a unique tour by the Honourable Anne Tolley, Deputy Speaker and retiring MP for East Coast Bays. In addition to their parliamentary experience, students undertook a Government House educational tour to learn about the role and work of the Governor- General. Strengthening ‘Civics’ is one area the Trust is keen to push says CEO Darryl Stevens, and we encourage schools when visiting Wellington, in addition to their parliamentary experience, to undertake visits to the Courts, Pukeahu National War Memorial and Government House who all have established educational programmes for schools.
FOCUS ON PARLIAMENT KEEP THE QUESTIONS COMING SHAKING UP THE HOUSE: NEW RULES FOR PARLIAMENT By Paul Smith House Editor First published by The House at 7.35am on 30 August 2020 and shared here.
Towards the end of every parliament MPs peruse their rule book looking for innovations to make parliaments more effective and efficient. The changes apply to the next parliament (post-election). Changes to the Standing Orders have often been reasonably conservative but this time the changes are many and significant; some are whoppers. Arguably it’s the biggest shake-up since the beginning of MMP.
Some of the changes have been trialed already, including a huge change to the way the committee stage works, giving MPs unlimited speeches to ask questions of the minister. “The questioning of ministers at the committee stages of bills, the removal of the limit on the number of calls, so people can focus on detailed questioning, back-and-forth; a proper conversation around the detail of a bill is something that we have been trialling and it’s worked really well.” - Trevor Mallard He’s right, it has. So much so that the Q&A concept is being extended to Ministerial Statements which are currently a series of somewhat predictable speeches. “One of the focusses in this review of standing orders was having more dialogue with ministers, both in the House and in Select Committee... Ministerial statements, rather than being a series of five-minute speeches, the Speaker will have the discretion to allow questioning of the Minister who has made the statement.” - David Wilson
We discussed some of the changes with the people in charge: Trevor Mallard, Parliament’s Speaker and the leader of Parliament’s secretariat, David Wilson, Clerk of the House of Representatives.
Recently Minister Megan Woods answered opposition MPs’ questions from the Table during the Estimates Debate, while ministry officials lined up in the ‘strangers’ chairs’ (top right), available to provide further information. Photo: ©VNP / Phil Smith
‘TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK’ A related change is a move to have ministers ‘table’ the factual statements about bills that make for a traditional first debate speech and instead “speak from their hearts”. The current editions of Parliament’s Standing Orders and Speakers’ Rulings sit atop the report recommending changes to the rules. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith
“I think it’s also part of what I hope will be a growing practice of interaction in the House... Ministers, rather than mumbling
their way through a departmentally prepared speech will talk ‘to it’, and again, show that they’re across the principles at a higher level.” - Trevor Mallard The Speaker believes that these and related moves will make MPs prepare better for both committees and the House, and potentially show up weaknesses.
That allowance for virtual committee meetings has now become permanent. Select committees will be able to work partially or entirely remotely which will help MPs to continue with committee work during Parliament’s off- weeks without having to fly back to the capital. This will also help some committees to keep on top of their massive workloads.
“This is a bit of a test for ministers... I think [the committee stage change] is going to be good, both for opposition members and ministers who are across the detail of the bills, and if they are not it will show.” - Trevor Mallard
New Zealand’s Epidemic Response Committee on a Zoom call. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas
A PETITIONS COMMITTEE Also helping with workloads will be a new, specialist committee, created to deal with petitions which have doubled in number since they became e friendly. The Clerk of the House, David Wilson listens at The Table while the Speaker, Trevor Mallard opens Parliament’s day with a prayer. Photo: ©VNP / Phil Smith
COVID AS CATALYST While some changes were trialled on purpose, other changes got an impromptu trial as a response to the Covid-19 lockdown. When Parliament was shuttered the Clerk’s team quickly found digital solutions for running (and broadcasting) virtual Select Committees. “It had to be put into place because the House couldn’t meet, and committees couldn’t meet in person. But there was a desire not to lock everything up and just go home at a time when the Government was exercising extraordinary powers.” - David Wilson
“We’ve decided to create a specialist committee that will focus on the petitions, it will receive them, triage them, decide whether to deal with them itself, to send them to other committees, or to send them to ministers directly, which is a completely new initiative. If that’s really where the answers to the petitioner’s questions are then why not send it directly to the minister?” - David Wilson
REACTION SHOTS There are also changes to the rules for shooting video of Parliament’s debating chamber. The current rules are very prescriptive and specific. The new rules much less so. “The rules have been loosened up to allow for a much wider variety of shots. Really to let the news media decide 13
FOCUS ON PARLIAMENT CONTINUED... what they want to focus on. And there are times when things happening in the House other than the member speaking might be of interest.” - David Wilson. The new rules outline what can’t be filmed rather than what can. There will still be no footage of protests in the galleries or close-ups of MP’s papers.
“We think we can get as much legislation through but also do some other things which are more to do with [MP’s] role as representatives rather than legislators.” - Trevor Mallard
But you are much more likely to see ‘reaction shots’ or cutaways of MPs other than the MP currently speaking. MPs interjecting or trying to shout down other MPs might be on TV for example - it will be interesting to see whether this alters MP behaviour.
Another rule change also makes this possible. An ability to agree to relax the proxy-vote limit means the House can operate with fewer MPs ‘available’. That change was also trialled during the lockdown to let Parliament sit while many MPs were still at home.
EARLY CLOSING THURSDAY
‘LET ME EXPLAIN...’
Another change is to Parliament’s sitting hours. Thursdays will be shorter, Tuesdays and Wednesdays longer. The Business Committee will have more power to alter the parliamentary calendar and add extra sittings.
The changes will also encourage ministers to appear more regularly before Select Committees. Especially to brief them on a bill that has come before the committee. At the moment ministers usually appear only to defend their aspects of the budget.
“There’s been quite a lot of work that the Speaker has led to make the Parliament more family-friendly, and one of the things that came up was around sitting hours of the House and particularly the time that the House finishes on a Thursday. Its usual 6pm finish time really means that a lot of members struggle to get home that night, to be doing their constituency work the next day.
“I certainly want ministers to be more available to explain their reasoning behind a bill,” says Trevor Mallard. But he wants the relationship to go further than that.
So, we’re finishing an hour early. More of them are going to be able to get their flights. And that extra hour of time has been cribbed back from the 1½ hour dinner break that we used to have which will now go down to an hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.” - David Wilson This is likely to be the favourite change for MPs from regional areas without regular flights. Think electorates like Southland, Invercargill, East Coast, West CoastTasman, Waitaki, Taupō, Taranaki -King Country, Whanganui...
‘WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT…’ There will be more non-legislative topic debates which have some specific time allotted (taken from the very long Budget Debate). Among the possible topics are the results of Select Committee inquiries, issues raised by petitions, and a new series of triennial, independent ‘trend briefings’ from ministries. 14
Another rule change will make more time available for further topic debates via extra, morning sittings.
“I also think it would be useful, after evidence has been heard [by a committee], and when there’s a list of suggested changes [to a bill], to get a minister back in and have a discussion with the minister about what they support and what they don’t support.” Select Committees are the creation of Parliament, which is separate from government, responsible for overseeing it and has the ultimate authority over the executive. The Speaker wants both opposition and governing party MPs in committees to exercise their independence from government and not acquiesce to senior colleagues. “The other thing that I’d like to see happen a bit more often than it does is for committees to make decisions to change bills when ministers don’t want them changed... If the committee’s heard the evidence, they’ve got a firm view, I think that they should make the change. And then, if the government really doesn’t like it then the government would have the majority in the House later on to take it back again, but that would be quite a deliberate step. I think that would enhance the power of the Parliament and of the committee and I think it would be useful.”
BUT CAN’T I JUST HIDE IN THE BACK? One change this time was actually made in the previous review but rolled back after the new Parliament began when the National Party objected to it after-the-fact. That change moves towards smaller select committees - down to seven MPs. The largest (Finance and Expenditure) currently has 13 though eight or nine is more usual. Along with this change is another giving smaller parties the right to attend a committee they aren’t a member of and participate. They won’t be able to vote (if they’re not a member), but they will be able to submit a minority report on business they attend. The Speaker hopes smaller committees mean MPs won’t be able to glide through without effort. “You get the sense [some MPs] were occupying a seat in case there was a vote, rather than being intimately involved in the business before the committee. I think if [the committee size] comes down to seven that will become more obvious and the pressure will go on members to prepare better for committees.” - Trevor Mallard
THINK OUTSIDE THE HORSESHOE There is also a reminder to committees that they can get creative in their approach to business. The Epidemic Response Committee demonstrated that new approaches can be effective. It brought in experts to give running feedback and suggest avenues of inquiry, and it grilled ministers on their decisions and their departments’ actions. Select Committees are both powerful and independent and have the ability to determine their own agendas. The Clerk points out that there are not a lot of rules forcing a shape on committees. They can determine their own agenda and approach. “One of the things that we’re trying to encourage through the review of standing orders is for committees to do more of the inquiry work that used to be a significant part of their workload, where they can independently choose matters to look at and hold the government to account, to examine a policy issue of interest to them. We see it occasionally but not nearly enough.” - David Wilson To help all of that happen there is to be training for all Committee Chairs. This will be valuable to many chairs as their role is not easy and its holders are sometimes quite junior MPs.
Green Party Musterer Chloe Swarbrick asking questions of submitters as part of the Standing Orders Committee’s review of Parliament’s rules. Photo: ©VNP / Phil Smith
LESS LUCK FOR MEMBERS’ BILLS One further change that might alter what bills get debated is a move to allow MPs to bypass the famous ‘biscuit tin ballot’ for the introduction of members’ bills. The current system is a luck-of-the-draw ballot and while some MPs (e.g. Louisa Wall) have an amazing hit rate some long serving MPs (including Trevor Mallard) have not had a single bill picked from the ballot. Proposed members’ bills can languish for years despite enjoying wide agreement among MPs. So a new rule will allow members bills to circumvent the ballot if they can gain the support of a majority of non-executive members, (MPs that aren’t ministers). That would mean getting support from a bit more than two thirds of back benchers. Cabinets often number about 30 of the 120 MPs. “It’s a real incentive for members to work behind the scenes, build up support for their bill and they can get it into the House. So there could be some important legislation introduced that way.” - David Wilson. And to help with the lobbying MPs will now be able to attach multiple sponsor’s names to a members’ bill such as was done for the very first time recently with a multi-member bill to expand the definition of female genital mutilation. The changes come into effect when the new (53rd) Parliament is constituted. 15
The NZBPT Secretariat work from an office on the top floor of the Parliamentary Library Building shown here at dusk. The building is the oldest part of Parliament Buildings and was completed in 1899. Photograph: Murray Hedwig
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