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Watching Brief – October 2018

Home Insights Watching Brief – October 2018

Matter of opinion

One Ring to Rule Them All?

The State Sector Act 1988 celebrated its 30th birthday this year. To mark this milestone, the Government, capturing the zeitgeist, has commenced a review of the Act, being led by the State Services Commission.

The State Sector Act was enacted by the fourth Labour government as part of a dizzying, and arguably then world-leading, suite of reforms of the public sector which included: State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986, the Public Finance Act 1989 and the Reserve Bank Act 1989. The State Sector Act heralded a significant change in the way in which the Public Service operated by implementing a number of changes in terms of the governance, accountability, management and employment arrangements of government departments.

While many of the reforms contained in the State Sector Act have served New Zealand well over the past 30 years, the review presents an opportunity to develop a flexible framework for the Public Service that will continue to serve New Zealand well in a globally uncertain, fast-paced and technologically disrupted future.

One of the issues highlighted in the discussion paper for the review was that the Public Service has become fragmented, with departments too focused on their own 'outputs'. This observation has implications for the approach that is taken to solving some of the so-called 'wicked' public policy issues (such as inter-generational welfare dependence, housing affordability and incarceration rates) which the Public Service is faced with.

The resolution of these 'wicked' problems requires a joined-up and collaborative approach by various government departments and agencies. The 'Better Public Services' approach championed by the previous government had some success in terms of driving greater collaboration in the Public Service to deliver particular policy outcomes (such as increasing infant immunisation rates). To embed this approach, the reformed version of the Act must not only allow a more collaborative approach to be adopted within the Public Service but also ensure that appropriate governance frameworks are developed to provide cross-department leadership and accountability for outcomes. 

Another issue highlighted in the discussion document relates to concerns about the 'ethical foundations' of the Public Service – particularly in relation to political neutrality and the provision of free and frank advice. Political neutrality and the provision of free and frank advice are important constitutional tenets of New Zealand's Public Service that we have inherited from the United Kingdom's Westminster style of government. Like many aspects of New Zealand's constitutional framework, these principles are not recorded in legislation and are instead acknowledged in long-standing constitutional conventions. 

In the recent past, these principles have been placed under strain with successive governments slowly eroding the independence of the Public Service to better serve its political ends. Empowering the Public Service to assert its independence will be supported by the proposal to record the values and principles underpinning the Public Service in a reformed version of the Act. However, in addition to this re-statement of values and principles, an environment must be created for the Public Service to be able to assert its independence. To create this environment, it is hoped that the State Services Commission (or as it is proposed to be re-badged – the Public Service Commission) will take a more active role as a steward of the Public Service and champion these important, constitutional, principles and fiercely protect the Public Service from political interference. 

Although esoteric for the business community, this is an important reform process with far-reaching implications and we look forward to seeing what the outcome of it will be. A copy of the discussion document can be found here. Submissions on the discussion document close on 12 October 2018.

In politics

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Brett Kavanaugh's ascension to the US Supreme Court on Saturday, having been confirmed by a historically low margin (50-to-48) along partisan lines, further stoked a tumultuous period in US judicial history. Strong partisan disagreement on the outcome, from Democrats and Republicans alike, promises to further inject politics into what has historically been seen as an apolitical institution. Furthermore, questions over Kavanaugh's legitimacy have opened a broader debate about the fairness of the confirmation process and the impartiality of judicial decisions the Supreme Court reaches. More than ever, it is clear that New Zealand has a far preferable appointment process, one that values independence and strives to eliminate political considerations in decisions.

The appointment process for judges in the US is ostensibly meant to provide checks and balances on the different branches of government. While the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution empowers the President to appoint all federal judges, the Senate must approve any nomination. In theory, therefore, the "legislature" has the power to hold any appointments by the "executive" to account. In practice, however, growing partisanship in the US has diminished the historical norms associated with applying this oversight. Therefore, if a party holds both the Presidency and the Senate, there is strong pressure on the Senate to confirm the President's nominee. For example, despite the controversy surrounding Kavanaugh's nomination, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska was the only Republican senator to vote against his nomination. Joe Manchin, a Democrat in a tough re-election fight in West Virginia (a state which voted for Trump by 40%), was the only Democratic senator to vote for the nomination. In fact, until last year's nomination of SC Justice Neil Gorsuch, the effective threshold to progress a nomination out of the judicial committee required a supermajority comprising three-fifths of the Senate – in order to avoid a filibuster – but the current Congress removed that barrier after taking office in 2017 in favour of a simple majority.

Conversely, in New Zealand, the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Attorney-General makes judicial appointments. While the Attorney-General is a member of the executive, they generally have a legal background and appointments are not discussed or approved by Cabinet. Instead the convention in New Zealand is for the Attorney-General to receive advice from the Chief Justice and the Solicitor-General on appointments to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court and advice from the Chief District Court Judge and Secretary for Justice for appointments to the District Court. The Attorney General is then expected to act independently of party political considerations – and to be a neutral arbiter of a judge's qualifications and personal characteristics.

Interestingly there is no formal process for appointments in New Zealand by any statute or regulation. This means that the Attorney-General acts mainly on the basis of convention, rather on the basis of formal obligations. This has led some commentators to note that there is technical possibility that appointment decisions in New Zealand could be made on a partisan basis – and unlike the United States there is no "formal" process that would provide for accountability such as through a confirmation vote by the legislature.

However, an examination of recent appointment judges in New Zealand suggests that our appointment process lacks the politicisation of appointments in the US. New Zealand appointments lack the media attention they receive in the US and it is very rare for MPs to discuss appointments in Parliament. Although there is always room for improvement, this indicates there is broad consensus here that the public is satisfied in the impartiality and fairness of the appointment process, and that previous Attorneys General have closely abided by the relevant conventions.

This raises an interesting question – given the lack of formal accountability in our appointment process, why is the US so much more politicised? The obvious answer is that the US has a written constitution that devolves enormous powers to the judiciary over substantive matters of policy. Thus, the Supreme Court has the power to strike down pieces of legislation for consistency with the constitution. In contrast in New Zealand, most of the fundamental issues decided in controversial Supreme Court decisions such as Roe v Wade or Citizens United v Federal Election Commission are instead decided by Parliament. Courts here are limited in their ability to strike down fundamental pieces of legislation. If it was the case that the ideological whims of our Supreme Court justices were deciding pertinent social and moral issues, we might find that the appointment of our judges would attract more media and public interest and our current appointment process found to be inadequate and lacking in transparency.

In the news

Productivity Commission released report on path to a low emissions economy

The Productivity Commission (Commission) has undertaken an inquiry into how to maximise our opportunities and minimise our risks in the transition to a low-emissions economy (Inquiry), and has subsequently released a report on its findings (Report). As part of the Report, the Commission noted that New Zealand's Greenhouse Gas emissions is amongst the highest in the world per capita, despite most of our electricity coming from renewable sources.

The transition has been pitched by the Commission as a broader opportunity to lift New Zealand's overall economic, social and environmental outcomes. Chair of the Commission, Murray Sherwin has confirmed that the transition will be 'challenging but achievable'. 

The Commission identified three particular shifts that are required across the economy:

  • replacing fossil fuels with electricity;
  • undertaking substantial levels of afforestation; and
  • changing the structure and methods of agricultural production.

The Report made 173 findings and 78 recommendations to the Government and advised it to undertake immediate action by:

  • reforming the Emissions Trading Scheme by (among other things) raising the price of carbon to $75-$200 per tonne over the next three decades;
  • establishing a comprehensive, transparent and durable climate change policy framework that includes a system of successive "emissions budgets" that translates long-term targets into short-term goals;
  • devoting additional resources to low-emissions innovation and technology; and
  • introducing new regulation and policies to incentivise climate-friendly behaviour such as:
    • a feebate scheme whereby importers are charged (or reimbursed) based on the emissions intensity of the vehicle they are importing;
    • funding to fill gaps in the charging network for electric vehicles; and
    • leadership in procurement to raise awareness of efficient alternatives.

The Commission suggested that, in implementing these recommendations, the Government should use the tax and welfare system to mitigate the impact on low-income households. In a press release, Climate Change Minister, Hon James Shaw stated that he would 'consider the report alongside the more than 15,000 submissions received on the Zero Carbon Bill, and other advice on how to move to a low emissions economy'.

The Commission's press release, and Report can be found here.

Discussion document for Electricity Price Review released

In September, the Expert Advisory Panel (Panel) published the Electricity Price Review's (Review) first report. 

The first report contains a number of findings, including that:

  • electricity supply is reliable with outages being a rare occurrence;
  • the affordability of electricity has been highlighted as an issue with residential electricity prices having increased by 79% (when adjusted for inflation) since 1990;
  • there is some concern regarding the ability of generators' to exercise market power when supply of electricity is constrained;
  • a transmission pricing methodology should be employed that ensures that investments are made in the "right place at the right time";
  • some factors impact the efficiency of electricity distribution including: distribution pricing structures, quality of governance and ageing assets;
  • there was "nothing to suggest grid operator Transpower or distributors are making excessive profits." Additionally, based on the Panel's analysis of available evidence, it had not "found evidence to indicate generator-retailer profits are excessive";
  • advances in technology are likely to have an impact across the electricity sector including in relation to generation, distribution and demand; and
  • "[t]he electricity regulatory framework is generally well positioned." In particular, the first report notes that the Low fixed charge tariff regulations "are poorly targeted at only one type of household in need of help"

Submissions on the first report are due by 23 October 2018. A copy of the first report and associated documents is available here. A copy of the Panel's update to stakeholders is available here.

Government to proactively release Cabinet papers

The Minister of State Services, Hon Chris Hipkins, has announced that, from 1 January 2019, Cabinet papers will be proactively released within 30 business days of a Cabinet decision. Hipkins, who is also responsible for Open Government, described the change as "about being an open and accountable government". Individual ministers will have responsibility for releasing Cabinet papers, which will be subject to an assessment to decide if there are good reasons to withhold any of the information contained in them. 

The decision reflects New Zealand's commitment to the Open Government Partnership – a forum of countries working to be more open, accountable and responsive to citizens. As a part of New Zealand's involvement in the Partnership, the State Services Commission recently published its draft National Action Plan 2018-20. The draft plan responds to three themes: participation in democracy, public participation to develop policy and services, and transparency and accountability. The draft is open for comment until 17 October 2018. Anyone interested in providing feedback on the draft can find more information here.   

Government releases two consultation documents on changes to the Public Finance system

On 12 September, the Government released two discussion papers for public consultation that will form part of a set of changes to the Public Finance Act 1989. 

The first paper, titled New Zealand's Fiscal Framework - Establishing an Independent Fiscal Institution, proposes to establish an Independent Fiscal Institution in New Zealand.

The Institution's purpose would be to strengthen accountability, transparency and debate over New Zealand’s fiscal policy framework, as well as better support the effective development of public policy by political parties. The Government sees the key functions for an Independent Fiscal Institution in New Zealand to include:

  • providing financial costings of political party policies, including election manifestos, and any costings requested when government is formed; and
  • commenting on and assess compliance with the Government’s fiscal strategy and fiscal targets. 

To submit on the various roles and functions an Independent Fiscal Institution could play in the New Zealand context, the discussion paper and the relevant submission form can be found on the Treasury website, here. The deadline for submissions is 5.00pm on Wednesday 24 October 2018.

The second paper, titled Embedding wellbeing in the Public Finance Act 1989, outlines a proposal to embed a focus on wellbeing in the Public Finance Act 1989 so that New Zealand’s fiscal policy and can be assessed against various wellbeing objectives for the environment, people and communities. The proposal would create new requirements for: 

  • the Government to set out how its wellbeing objectives, along with its fiscal objectives, will guide its Budget decisions; and
  • the Treasury to report on wellbeing indicators, alongside macroeconomic and fiscal indicators.

To submit on the these proposed changes to the Public Finance Act, the discussion paper and the relevant submission form can be found on the Treasury website, here. The deadline for submissions is 5.00pm on Friday 12 October 2018.

Tax Working Group report released

On 20 September 2018, the Tax Working Group (TWG) released its 'Future of Tax' Interim Report (Report) which can be read in full here. The Report comes after nine months after the establishment of the TWG, a period which included two months of public consultation during March and April. During this consultation, 6,700 submissions were made to the TWG.

Having been tasked by the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson with assessing "the overall structure of the tax system to ensure it is fair, balanced and efficient, as well as simple for taxpayers to understand and comply with their tax obligations", the TWG is chaired by Sir Michael Cullen. Its full terms of reference can be found here.

Acknowledging that although it "has devoted much time to the taxation of capital income", the Report contains the TWG's initial recommendations (which are not be read as "firm or definitive conclusions") in relation to a variety of areas of the New Zealand tax landscape, including:

  • capital gains;
  • retirement savings;
  • housing;
  • environmental and ecological areas;
  • corrective taxes in relation to alcohol, tobacco, sugar and gambling;
  • international income tax;
  • GST;
  • personal income;
  • business;
  • charities; and
  • general tax administration.

The TWG is now seeking feedback on the Report. Submissions can be made to [email protected] and are open until 1 November 2018. 

Following this next round of consultation, the TWG is to provide a final report to the Ministers of Finance and Revenue in February 2019. A letter released at the same time as the Report from these Ministers guiding the TWG in its formulation of the final report can be read here.

The Government has confirmed that any legislative changes to made as a result of the TWG's recommendations will not come into force until 1 April 2021.

Pay Equity legislation introduced

The new Equal Pay Amendment Bill (Bill) was introduced to Parliament on 19 September 2018 on the 125th anniversary of New Zealand women's suffrage. It is "one piece of the puzzle" to the Government's commitment to continue to close the gender pay gap.1

The Bill amends the Equal Pay Act 1972 (Act) by providing a regime through which workers may make a pay equity claim and the parties may bargain with each other directly and collaboratively. 'Pay equity' is defined in the overview document as "women and men receiving the same pay for doing jobs that are different, but of equal value (that is, jobs that require similar degrees of skills, responsibility and effort."2 If an employer disagrees that there is an arguable pay equity claim, then there is a tiered dispute resolution process starting at mediation and escalating to the Courts, with an anticipation that the parties may return to bargaining during the process.

One point which has proved challenging in other jurisdictions with pay equity claims processes is the selection of an appropriate comparator in assessing the merit in a pay equity claim as there is a significant element of subjectivity in identifying what constitutes "like" work. 

The Bill was released in advance of its First Reading, and is still to go through a Select Committee process before it will pass into law.

New Zealand reaches the milestone of 10,000 electric vehicles

There are now around 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) registered on New Zealand roads. That is 0.25 per cent of the total vehicles on our roads. Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw says that this is an "important milestone" when compared with the 210 EVs registered in New Zealand five years ago. 

While EVs offer environmental and financial benefits, New Zealand is one of only a handful of countries without strong incentives and the Productivity Commission has pointed to the risk of New Zealand becoming a "dumping ground for polluting vehicles", says Mr Shaw.

While not going into financial detail, Mr Shaw announced that the Government will be "putting together a package of incentives" for middle class and low-income families to shift towards purchasing EVs. The Government is also "investing in infrastructure to support the uptake of EVs" through the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, says Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

The Beehive media release is available here.

Latest Official Information Act complaints data released by the Ombudsman

On 5 September, the Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier released data relating to Official Information Act (OIA) complaints made to his office in the first six months of 2018. Under the OIA, citizens can complain to the Ombudsman where they are unhappy with a government agencies' handling of their request for information. Key learnings from the data include:

  • The number of OIA complaints made to the Ombudsman has increased slightly from 673 requests in the second half of 2017, to 697 in the first half of 2018. This 2018 figure represents a 30% increase when compared to the equivalent 2016 period.
  • The Ombudsman speculated that this increase in complaints could be attributable to increased public confidence in the Ombudsman's ability to deal with complaints in a timely and effective manner, commenting that the backlog of complaints has now been cleared.
  • Most of the complaints were in respect of agencies refusing or delaying their responses to requests.
  • The Ombudsman received three times as many complaints from private individuals as it did from media organisations.

Remedies to OIA complaints vary from asking the relevant government entity to reconsider its decision or make an apology, to requiring that the complainant be financially compensated. A comprehensive copy of the data is available here, and the Ombudsman's statement is available here.

Speeches of note

Reserve Bank Governor endorses a "long-term focus"

On 7 September, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Adrian Orr, delivered an address to the Financial Services Council and Workplace Savings NZ's national conference, 'Shaping Futures', entitled Geopolitics, New Zealand and the Winds of Change. Despite the oft-held belief that the Reserve Bank just "sit[s] and watch[es] for outbreaks of inflation", Orr begun his address hoping to convince the audience of the Reserve Bank's strong vested interest in, and influence on, the long-term economic wellbeing of New Zealand. 

Orr labelled 'short-termism' as the "key plague" on economic society, noting that too often economic growth is viewed as something that necessarily comes at the expense of a sustainable environment, social cohesion, cultural acceptance, and other idealised visions for future generations. 

Financial systems, Orr noted, are well placed to play a role in either facilitating or dispelling this "vicious cycle".  This is because a financial system works best when all relevant risks are adequately identified, priced, and allocated to those who can best manage them. Orr said that when a short-term focus is taken, many risks are neither identified nor priced, and often allocated to those who are least aware of them and unable to manage them. 

Despite tangible solutions to short-termism being available, Orr lamented that considerable roadblocks to long-termism remain; 'human myopia' – the inability or unwillingness to think about the long-term – is ingrained in many aspects of contemporary capitalism. Orr also stated that the tragedy of the commons plays a significant role in that too many risks are not managed by anyone, with the consequence that they are under-invested in, or not managed at all. 

Orr continued by setting out strategies to address these roadblocks. These included the New Zealand Superannuation Fund's example of how to be a 'long-term' investor and saver, the G20's recently established Financial Stability Taskforce (which focuses on carbon reduction management) and the recent efforts of New Zealand's Climate Leaders Coalition.

Orr ended his address by acknowledging the positive steps that have been taken so far – such as the growth of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, enhanced financial market regulation (with the creation of the Financial Markets Authority), and the depth of Kiwisaver funds – while lamenting the further progress that is needed to ensure "a vibrant and healthy financial ecosystem" and a "sustainably prosperous…and long-term focused" Aotearoa.

A copy of the speech can be found here.

Progress of legislation

New Bills

Crimes (Coward Punch Causing Death) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Matt King
This Bill would amend the Crimes Act 1961 to introduce an offence of "Assault causing death", which is an assault with intent that causes death and is not authorised or excused by law. The Bill intends to address "king-hit" or "coward's punch" type situations that would be punishable with a term of imprisonment not exceeding 20 years.

Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Andrew Little
This Bill would establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission (the Commission), with the primary function to refer convictions or sentences to an appeal court where it would be in the interests of justice to do so. An eligible person (who is a living person who has been convicted of an offence) or a representative may make an application for the Commission to make a referral. The Commission would have powers of investigation and could require persons to produce documents or things other information, or require a person to give evidence. In exercising its referral power, the Commission must have regard to:

  • whether the eligible person has exercised their rights of appeal against the conviction or sentence;
  • the extent to which the application relates to argument, evidence, information, or a question of law raised or dealt with in proceedings relating to the conviction or sentence;
  • the prospects of the court allowing the appeal; and
  • any other matter that the Commission considers relevant.

If the Commission makes a referral, it must give reasons for the referral to the court. The Bill would also allow the Governor-General to transfer an application for the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy to the Commission if she considers that the application is sufficiently connected with the Commission's primary function.

Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Megan Woods
This Bill would amend the Crown Minerals Act 1991 to provide that:

  • new petroleum exploration and mining permits would be available only in the onshore Taranaki region;
  • new onshore petroleum exploration permit holders would be able to access conservation land only for minimum impact activities, but would still be able to carry out activities below that land; and
  • future offshore petroleum mining permits would be granted only as a subsequent right to offshore petroleum exploration permits that existed prior to the intended enactment of the Bill.

The Bill also sets out how existing rights, privileges, applications for permits, and legal proceedings (relating to petroleum permits) are affected by the changes to the Crown Minerals Act 1991. Existing permits and privileges will not be affected by this Bill.

Education (Strengthening Second Language Learning in Primary and Intermediate Schools) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Hon Nikki Kaye
This Bill would amend the Education Act 1989 to increase primary and intermediate schools resources to fund professional development, language specialists and online resources to support secondary language learning. The Bill would establish a priority language programme regime, under which every primary and intermediate school must identify at least one priority language and prepare, adopt and maintain a programme to ensure all students at the school have the opportunity to learn the school priority language as a second language. 

Education Amendment Bill (No 2)
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Chris Hipkins
The Bill would amend the Education Act 1989, the Education Act 1964, and the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 to clarify the functions, duties, and powers of specified education entities. The Bill would require the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand to consult with the Minister of Education prior to changing the standards of qualifications relating to teacher registration, and would allow the Minister to issue a policy direction in relation to the Council's functions, of which the Council is required to have regard to when performing their functions. The Bill would impose the same minimum standards of safety to private schools that currently apply to State and State Integrated schools. Further, the Bill would repeal the provisions of the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017, which introduced a new regime to expand the provision of distance education through communities of online learning. Lastly, the Bill would amend the cohort entry policy to allow 5 year olds to start attending school from a term start date or a mid-term start date.

Equal Pay Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
This Bill would amend the Equal Pay Act 1972 to establish a new process for raising and progressing pay equity claims while still retaining the rights and processes for claimants to raise equal pay and unlawful discrimination claims. The Bill would provide a dispute resolution framework to be followed in pay equity claims, which would include pay equity bargaining and mediation steps, as well as recourse to Employment Relations Authority and court processes. The Bill would permit the Employment Relations Authority and the courts to award back pay against an employer where discrimination has occurred.  

High-power Laser Pointer Offences and Penalties Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hamish Walker
This Bill would amend a number of offences relating to the possession and use of high-power laser pointers in the Summary Offences Act 1981, the Health Act 1956 and the Crimes Act 1961. The specific amendments would be:

  • increasing the penalties for possession of high-power laser pointers, and to remove the requirement that the possession be in a public place;
  • increasing the penalties for a breach of the Health (High-power Laser Pointers) Regulations 2013 in relation to the supply and acquisition of high-power laser pointers; and
  • clarifying the offence of "Endangering Transport" to include the use of a high-power laser pointer that lessens the ability of any aircraft crew member to perform their duties.

Remuneration Authority (Members of Parliament Remuneration) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
This Bill was passed under urgency. See Acts Assented below.

Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Sarah Dowie
This Bill seeks to regulate commercial shark cage diving operations in New Zealand by establishing a permitting regime for commercial shark cage diving operators and establishing a code of best practice for commercial shark cage diving in New Zealand. The Bill would make it an offence for shark cage diving operations to occur without a permit.

Bills awaiting first reading

Autonomous Sanctions Bill
Broadcasting (Games of National Significance) Amendment Bill (No 2)
Broadcasting (New Zealand on Air and Te Māngai Pāho Reporting Requirements) Amendment Bill
Crimes (Coward Punch Causing Death) Amendment Bill
Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill
Education (Strengthening Second Language Learning in Primary and Intermediate Schools) Amendment Bill
Equal Pay Amendment Bill
Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill
High-power Laser Pointer Offences and Penalties Bill
Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill
Land Transport (Random Oral Fluid Testing) Amendment Bill
Protection for First Responders and Prison Officers Bill
Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill

Bills defeated

Arms (Firearms Prohibition Orders) Amendment Bill
Member in charge: Chris Bishop
Ayes 56: New Zealand National 56.
Noes 64: New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9; Green Party 8; ACT New Zealand 1.

Bills withdrawn

Regulatory Systems (Economic Development) Amendment Bill
Regulatory Systems (Housing) Amendment Bill
Regulatory Systems (Workforce) Amendment Bill 

Bills before Select Committee

Submissions open


Select Committee

Closing date for Submissions (2018)

Building Amendment Bill

Transport and Infrastructure

25 October

Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal Bill

Governance and Administration

18 October

Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill


25 October

Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill


11 October

Dog Control (Category 1 Offences) Amendment Bill

Primary Production

Not yet called

Education Amendment Bill (No 2)

Education and Workforce

9 November

Electoral (Entrenchment of Māori Seats) Amendment Bill

Māori Affairs

14 December 

KiwiSaver (Foster Parents Opting in for Children in their Care) Amendment Bill

Social Services and Community

24 October

Statutes Amendment Bill

Governance and Administration

8 November

Submissions closed


Select Committee

Report due (2018)

Accident Compensation Amendment Bill

Education and Workforce

9 November

Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Bill


2 November

Companies (Clarification of Dividend Rules in Companies) Amendment Bill

Primary Production

13 February (2019)

Corrections Amendment Bill


29 September

Crown Minerals Amendment Bill

Economic Development, Science and Innovation

3 November

Election Access Fund Bill

Governance and Administration

16 November

Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill

Education and Workforce

29 November

End of Life Choice Bill


27 March (2019)

Farm Debt Mediation Bill

Economic Development, Science and Innovation

16 November

Gore District Council (Otama Rural Water Supply) Bill

Governance and Administration

8 February (2019)

Health and Safety at Work (Volunteer Associations) Amendment Bill

Education and Workforce

2 November

Insolvency Practitioners Bill

Economic Development, Science and Innovation

Not yet called

Litter (Increased Infringement Fee) Amendment Bill


2 November

Local Electoral Matters Bill


9 November

Local Government Regulatory Systems Amendment Bill

Governance and Administration

28 December

Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou Bill (No 2)

Māori Affairs

10 November

Ngāti Rangi Claims Settlement Bill

Māori Affairs

9 February (2019)

Privacy Bill


22 November

Racing Amendment Bill

Primary Production

1 October (report not yet available)

Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Monetary Policy) Amendment Bill

Finance and Expenditure

3 December

Subordinate Legislation Confirmation Bill (No 2)

Regulations Review

3 December

Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill

Governance and Administration

7 November

Taxation (Annual Rates for 2018-19, Modernising Tax Administration, and Remedial Matters)

Finance and Expenditure

3 January (2019)

Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka/Parihaka Reconciliation Bill

Māori Affairs

2 November

Thames-Coromandel District Council and Hauraki District Council Mangrove Management Bill

Governance and Administration

5 November

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) Amendment Bill

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

29 December

Trusts Bill


31 October

Bills awaiting second reading

Arbitration Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill
Child Poverty Reduction Bill as reported back from select committee
Commerce (Criminalisation of Cartels) Amendment Bill
Commerce Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Conservation (Infringement System) Bill
Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill as 
Coroners (Access to Body of Dead Person) Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Crimes Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Earthquake Commission Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Employment Relations Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill
Health (National Cervical Screening Programme) Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill
Legislation Bill
Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill
Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngā Pōtiki Claims Settlement Bill
Psychoactive Substances (Increasing Penalty for Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Residential Tenancies (Prohibiting Letting Fees) Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee
Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2)
Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Renewal of Licences) Amendment Bill (No 2)
Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill
Social Assistance (Residency Qualification) Legislation Bill as reported back from select committee
Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill
Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective Redress and Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Ranginui Claims Settlement Bill
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee

Bills awaiting third reading

Court Matters Bill
Education (National Education and Learning Priorities) Amendment Bill
Education Amendment Bill
Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill
Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill
Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2)
New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill
Ngāti Tūwharetoa Claims Settlement Bill
Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill
Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill
Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill

Acts assented

America's Cup Road Stopping Act 2018
This Act amends the Local Government Act 1974 to permanently stop a section of Brigham Street in Auckland from being classified as a road. The land the road sits on is to be used for development relating to the 36th America's Cup. An Act is required to reclassify the road as otherwise the Public Works Act 1981 would trigger the requirement to provide an esplanade reserve around land acquired under section 345(3) of the Local Government Act 1974.

Artificial Limb Service Act 2018
This Act is a part of the rewrite of social security legislation in New Zealand. It comes into force on 26 November 2018, and provides for the continuance of the New Zealand Artificial Limb Service. It does not make any substantive changes to the Service's operation.  

Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand) Amendment Act 2018   
This Act amends the Education Act 1989 to change the name of the Education Council to the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand. It also increases the number of council members from 9 to 13 – with 7 registered teachers, including early childhood sector leaders and principals, to be directly elected by their peers and six members appointed by the Minister of Education. 

Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2018
Colloquially referred to as the "Waka Jumping Bill" during its procession through the House, this Act amends the Electoral Act 1993 with the purpose of maintaining the proportionality of political party representation in Parliament as determined by electors. The Act requires a member to vacate their seat in Parliament when they cease parliamentary membership of the party for which they were elected. The Act also requires a member to vacate their seat where the member’s party leader gives notice to the Speaker that they reasonably believe the member’s actions have distorted, and are likely to continue to distort, the proportionality of political party representation in Parliament, as determined at the last general election. The giving of notice to the Speaker is at the party leader’s discretion.

Iwi and Hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa Claims Settlement Act 2018
This Act records the acknowledgments and apology given by the Crown to the iwi and hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa in the deed of settlement that settles the historical claims of the iwi and hapū against the Crown. It gives effect to certain provisions of the deed of settlement, which includes provisions aimed at achieving both cultural and commercial redress for the iwi and hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa. 

Maritime Powers Extension Act 2018  
This Act amends the Customs and Excise Act 2018 and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 to incorporate a number of New Zealand's international drug smuggling obligations under international conventions into domestic law. The Act also expands the powers of the New Zealand Customs Service to stop, board and search ships suspected of drug smuggling in international waters. It establishes offences that apply when an individual is on a ship outside New Zealand waters but intends to smuggle, or is involved in the smuggling of, controlled drugs or prohibited equipment or material in or out of New Zealand.

Military Justice Legislation Amendment Act 2018
This Act aligns aspects of the military justice system with the criminal justice system. This Act amends the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971, the Court Martial Act 2007, and the Court Martial Appeals Act 1953. This Act introduces the following changes:

  • Amending victims' rights so that victims of specified offences have the same rights and protections in the military justice system that they would receive in the criminal justice system, including the right to be kept informed in respect of an offender's trial.
  • Removing the requirements of the Chief of Defence Force to arrange notice of any judicial appointment to the Court Martial to be published in the Gazette. This is consistent with other regimes.
  • Amending aspects of Court Martial procedure, including aligning requirements for fitness to stand trial with the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 and the current Courts Matters Bill, and allowing for an inquiry into the accused's involvement in the offence if they are found unfit to stand trial.
  • Amending the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971 to remove the onus of proof from the accused. This reflects developments in the New Zealand common law.

Remuneration Authority (Members of Parliament Remuneration) Amendment Act 2018
This Act amends the Remuneration Authority Act 1977 and the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act 2013 to freeze the salaries, expense allowances and superannuation subsidies of Members of Parliament from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019. The Act restricts the Remuneration Authority from making any determination in relation to the payments mentioned above, and deems the Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Determination 2017 to have an expiry date of 30 June 2019.

Residential Care and Disability Support Services Act 2018 
This Act, which is a part of the rewrite of New Zealand's social security legislation, chiefly comes into force on 26 November 2018. The Act specifies the circumstances in which certain older persons are required to pay for their own long-term residential care, and provides the rules that regulate that regime. The Act sets out the rules relating to liability for the cost of both certain long-term residential care and home-based disability support services.  

Social Security Act 2018
This Act repeals and replaces the Social Security Act 1964 to update and improve the accessibility of the legislation. The Acts sets out the existing requirements for eligibility, obligations, sanctions, and rights to review and appeal decisions, and how assistance is delivered. The Act also modernises the drafting style and language of the legislation. The Act also proposes a small number of policy changes aimed at improving frontline practice, and aligning with modern service delivery. The Act consolidates or remakes a number of benefit types. Further, the Act provides a regulation-making power to specify groups of beneficiaries whose benefit instalments can be redirected without their consent.

State Sector and Crown Entities Reform Act 2018  
This Act, which comes into force on 31 October 2018, amends the Crown Entities Act 2004 and State Sector Act 1988. The Act aims to implement consistent regulation of conduct and remuneration of employees at the most senior level of the public service by:

  • requiring boards of statutory entities to obtain the consent of the State Services Commissioner before finalising the terms and conditions of a chief executive;
  • introducing a renewable fixed term of appointment of not more than 5 years for chief executives of statutory entities; and
  • empowering the Commissioner to apply a code of conduct to an agency's board and board members. 

The Act also intends to ensure a consistent approach is taken to the State Services Commissioner's investigatory and inquiry powers when dealing with agencies in the State Services outside the Public Service by implementing a single investigation package.  

Statutes Amendment Act 2018 
This omnibus Act makes a number of changes to 29 different Acts. In accordance with the Cabinet Manual, Statutes Amendment Acts are vehicles for technical, short, and non-controversial amendments to a range of Acts. The amendments are subject to prior consultation with all parties in the House. An example of a minor change proposed in the Act is an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2018. The amendment is to allow persons who set a trap to allow them (or a competent person) to manually inspect that trap within 24 hours after the capture of an animal in the trap (rather than within 12 hours after sunrise) if the trap is monitored electronically by a reliable system or if the trap has an electronic notification system.

Tariff (PACER Plus) Amendment Act 2018
This Act amends the Tariff Act 1988 to give effect to the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus), a free trade agreement signed in Tonga, on 14 June 2017. PACER Plus was signed by eleven Pacific nations and aims to encourage economic development in Pacific countries. The Act makes amendments to both the primary Act and the Tariff of New Zealand (Tariff) to enable the application of preferential Tariff rates to goods imported from specified PACER Plus parties as contemplated by the agreement. 

In the week ahead

What’s coming up in the House

The House next sits on Tuesday 16th October. The business for that week will include the committee stages of the Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill, the Courts Matters Bill, the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Bill, and the first reading of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill. The Government will move to extend the sitting of Tuesday 16th October until 1pm on Wednesday 17th October. Wednesday 17th October will be a members’ day.

In consultation




By when (2018)

Department of Conservation

Expressions of interest sought to participate in the Blackstone Hill Conservation Area grazing tender.

19 October

Feedback sought on permit application from Wild Earth Adventures (2003) Limited to operate commercial tours to view seals on land at Victory Beach, Otago Peninsula

19 October

Feedback sought an application by Porirua Adventure Park Limited Partnership for a lease concession at Rangituhi / Colonial Knob Scenic Reserve, Porirua

19 October

Submissions sought on proposal to rename part of Raglan Recreation Reserve to Papahua Recreation Reserve

25 October

Feedback sought for development of a management plan for Taupō Waters.

31 October

Consultation open on the draft National Park Management Plan (NPMP) for Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

9 November

Consultation open on the draft National Park Management Plan (NPMP) for Westland Tai Poutini National Park

9 November

Preliminary feedback sought on next New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy

March (2019)

Electricity Authority

Consultation sought on amendments to the 2018 Policy Statement

9 November

Review of metering and related registry processes

13 November

Consultation paper released on proposal for amendments to the Code to make wholesale information trading system (WITS) and registry access regulated, including revisions to the WITS and registry access policies

13 November

Operational review of the consumer and installation control point (ICP) identifier switching process between traders.

13 November

Consultation paper released on Integrating hosting capability into Part 6 of the Code.

13 November

Environmental Protection Agency

Feedback sought on application to introduce a new fungicide to combat fungal diseases in cereal crops.

17 October

Submissions sought on an application to change the regulations relating to the use of Exirel insecticide.

18 October

Feedback sought on an application to release a wasp to control the eucalyptus tortoise beetle, a pest of eucalyptus trees in New Zealand.

14 November

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand

A1161  –  Potassium Polyasparatate as a food additive in wine: to permit the use of Potassium Polyaspartate as a food additive in wine at a maximum permitted limit of 100mg/L

25 October

A1102 – L-carnitine in Food: to permit the sale of L-carnitine in a variety of food categories including dairy products (excluding butter and butter fat), confectionery, cereal and cereal products, food intended for particular nutritional uses, non-alcoholic beverages and gels

25 October

Inland Revenue Department

PUB00315: Income tax - bright line test - main home exclusion - sale of subdivided section and PUB00314: Income tax - bright-line test - farmland and main home exclusions - sale of lifestyle blocks

12  October

PUB00299: Goods and services tax - zero-rating of services related to land

12 October

PUB00324: GST – when will goods and services supplied in connection with the repatriation of human remains from New Zealand be zero-rated?

29 October

The IRD is seeking feedback on a proposal to extend an information sharing agreement to target serious crime to cover the Serious Fraud Office and the New Zealand Customs Service. This would cover any information, including bank information, held by any of these organisations.

30 October

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Consultation open on the proposals to update and change the Building (Product Certification) Regulations 2008 for the CodeMark Scheme.

22 October

Submissions open on the first report into the state of the electricity sector

23 October

Comments sought on the proposal in introduce a Product Safety Policy Statement for foam-filled furniture to help reduce the potential harm caused by domestic fires.

31 October

Feedback open on the Conformance Policy and Infrastructure Review

28 November

Consultations on proposal to publish a new edition of Fire Acceptable Solution – C/AS2

30 November

Discussion document released on possible options to introduce a disclosure of origin requirement in the patents regime, along with a number of design features that need to be considered if such a requirement is implemented.

21 December

Issues Paper for consultation released on review of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987.

21 December

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry is seeking feedback on proposed changes to the Family Justice system and have released a consultation paper.  They are particularly interested in hearing from those who have been through the system

9 November

Ministry of Primary Industries

Bunnings Warehouse Food Control Plan section 40 application

12 October

Fisheries New Zealand is proposing a number of minor and technical changes to the circulars for electronic catch and position reporting

19 October

Feedback sought on a request for a temporary closure of Umupuia Beach, Manukau, to the harvest of cockles

5 November

Feedback sought on dairy herd improvement regulatory review

12 November

Feedback sought on proposed changes to the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines residues that may occur in food in New Zealand.

18 November

Proposed Operational Code: Processing of Seafood Products

19 November

New Zealand Transport Agency

Input sought into proposals to set permanent new speed limits along sections of State Highway 1 both north and south of Kaikōura.

2 November


Proposal to list haemodialysis products supplied by Defries Industries New Zealand Limited

12 October

Proposal to list interventional radiology products supplied by Bard Australia

17 October

Proposal to list urology, ostomy and continence products supplied by Liberty Medical NZ Limited

17 October

Proposal to list medical devices supplied by REM SYSTEMS Limited

25 October


The Government is currently consulting on the proposal to embed a focus on wellbeing in the Public Finance Act 1989

12 October

The Government is currently consulting on the proposal to establish an Independent Fiscal Institution as part of New Zealand’s fiscal policy framework

24 October


Draft performance standard: certified handler compliance certification

19 October




By when

Department of Conservation

New assessment of the conservation status of New Zealand hornworts and liverworts.

31 October

New assessment of the conservation status of New Zealand macro algae.

31 October

Environmental Protection Agency

Application by Coastal Resources Limited (CRL) for a marine dumping consent to dump dredged material east of Great Barrier Island.

10 October

Seeking information on three neonicotinoid: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.

26 October

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Holidays Act issues paper.

12 October

Residential Tenancies Act reform consultation.

21 October

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Submission open on Trade for All policy

14 October

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