The 51st Parliament Select Committees

October 23rd, 2014 at 3:47 pm by David Farrar


The composition and chairs of select committees has been decided. Well, almost decided. NZ First seem unable to decide as quickly as other parties which MPs go on which committees. Ironic as they have just 10 MPs.

National has a clear majority on 10 of the 14 select committees.

On Finance and Expenditure the swing vote is ACT’s David Seymour. If Labour are smart (unlikely) they’ll look for issues they could get him on board with such as an inquiry into corporate welfare.

Government Administration is tied between National and Labour/Greens and chaired by Labour MP Ruth Dyson. That is normal for this committee.

Justice and Electoral could be tied with five Nats, two Labour, one Green, one NZ First and one Maori Party. But chaired by National’s Jacqui Dean so unlikely to have issues.

The Maori Affairs Committee has eight MPs on it – three National, two Labour, one Greens, one NZ First and one Maori Party. So National can be outvoted, but if Maori Party vote with them, it is a tie and new National MP Nuk Kurako is its Chair.

Not gagged

May 10th, 2013 at 7:37 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Animal welfare advocates outraged at the possibility of party pills and synthetic cannabis being tested on rats and dogs have been “gagged” by politicians, a Labour MP says.

Hundreds of submissions objecting to animals being given lethal doses of legal highs before they are tested on humans have been pushed to one side by the health select committee.

Submitters were also prevented from appearing before the committee in Wellington this week, while others – including health professionals, legal high retailers and users – were allowed to speak.

Chairman Paul Hutchison said the issue was “outside the scope” of the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which would put the onus on manufacturers to prove their mind-altering products were safe before they hit the shops.

Labour Party associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said that technically this was correct but, “at the very least, the select committee should be able to hear submitters and offer a considered opinion on the issue”.

What an absolute beat-up.

You can’t hear submissions on an issue that is out of scope on a bill. That is not gagging.

This would be like me complaining that I can’t turn up to a hearing on an electoral reform bill and talk about national standards.

If they wish to be heard on the issue of drug testing on animals, then they should do a petition to Parliament, and seek to speak to it, when it is considered by a select committee.

Select Committee webcasts

February 10th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Parliament has announced:

Later in 2013 public hearings of evidence before select committees will be webcast live on this website. This will be part of a pilot to assess how this type of service could be delivered in the future. …

During the pilot, one select committee hearing will be webcast at a time. Webcasting will be able to occur only from certain select committee rooms, but committee rooms will continue to be allocated on the basis of committees’ needs; this will not involve any judgment about the newsworthiness of committee business. A committee intending to hear evidence in public and allocated a room with webcasting facilities will be able to choose whether those hearings are webcast.

I’m pleased to see this initiative. Select Committees are an important part of Parliament and this should allow more people to see what happens at them.

Hopefully eventually we’ll see all select committees available for viewing over the Internet, and also archived for future reference.

Select Committee Chairs

April 11th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jo Moir at Stuff reports:

A promotion for New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young will keep his finger on the pulse of energy issues affecting the region.

The National Party senior team including Prime Minister John Key, his deputy Bill English and Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee have appointed Mr Young to a new role as chair of the commerce select committee.

This article is correct in substance, but not in process.

The PM can not appoint a Select Committee Chair. The Commerce Committee elects its own chair.

However the inevitable process is the PM and senior Ministers and/or advisors decide whom the Government wants as a chair of a select committee, and that person gets elected.

If the Government does not have a majority on a select committee, then the committee can block the proposed nominee, but this is rare.

Generally the Government will consent to some chairs and/or deputy chairs being from non-Government parties. At present these are:

  • Commerce Deputy Chair – Clayton Consgrove, Labour
  • Foreign Affairs Deputy Chair – Kennedy Graham, Greens
  • Govt Admin Chair – Ruth Dyson, Labour
  • Local Govt & Environment Deputy Chair – Eugenie Sage, Greens
  • Maori Affairs Deputy Chair – Parekura Horomia, Labour
  • Primary Production Deputy Chair – Damien O’Connor, Labour
  • Regulations Review Chair – Charles Chauvel, Greens Labour



Select Committees

December 22nd, 2011 at 5:35 pm by David Farrar

Parliament Today reports on the Select Committees established by the House. Always interesting to see which ones have a Government majority.

  • Commerce – Nat 5/9 – Nat majority
  • Education & Science – Nat 5/10 – tied
  • Finance & Expenditure – Nat 6/11 – Nat majority
  • Foreign Affairs – Nat 4/7 – Nat majority
  • Govt Admin – Nat 3/6 – tied
  • Health – Nat 5/10 – tied
  • Justice & Electoral – Nat 5/9 – Nat majority
  • Law & Order – Nat 5/9 – Nat majority
  • Local Govt & Environment – Nat 6/12 – tied
  • Maori Affairs – Nat 5/12, Nat+Maori 6/12 – National minority, Govt tied
  • Primary Production – Nat 4/7 – Nat majority
  • Regulations Review – Nat 3/5 – Nat majority
  • Social Services – Nat 6/11 – Nat majority
  • Transport & Industrial Relations – Nat 5/9 – Nat majority

From a Government point of view, these are much tidier than in the previous Government. Only one committee can pass things against National’s will, and that is Maori Affairs. Four further committees are tied (if all opposition parties vote together) and nine committees have a clear majority.

Parliament at its best and worst

March 10th, 2011 at 2:39 pm by David Farrar

Just returned from making my third and fourth submission in the last fortnight to the Justice & Electoral Select Committee. As with the previous times, there was good questioning and discussion on the issue. Ths time it was about the name suppression clauses of the Criminal Procedure Bill.

As I was observing other submissions, I reflected it is a pity more people don’t get to see MPs at work like this. Unless the bill is a highly partisan one, they are genuinely engaging with submitters and looking for ways to improve the draft laws, before they are finalised. It’s an important part of our democracry, and one of the parts that works very very well. The absence of an upper house makes their role even more vital.

I hope that someday Parliament will broadcast (even just over the Internet) all public sessions of select committees, as well as the House itself.

Sadly this week we also saw Parliament at its worst. Labour wasted four hours of the House’s time filibustering the Hamilton City Council (Parana Park) Land and Vesting Bill. This is a non controversial bill that is supported by all parties in Parliament and passed its 1st and 2nd readings without dissent.

Now I’m not against the Opposition being able to fillibuster. I blogged in 2009:

I do support the rights of the Opposition to filibuster – within reason. In fact I was the primary staffer who helped National delay the Employment Relations Act by a week in 2000.

But a filbuster is a blunt weapon for an Opposition to use, and if you get it wrong, it can hurt you.

I tend to think an Opposition should do a full filibuster only once per parliamentary term – it should be used against the piece of legislation that you think is most harmful to the country.

This was the test National used in 2000 with the then ERB. It gave all sorts of special favours to unions, and National decided it was the law they were most against.

Now some will say why filibuster at all? Well an Opposition can not defeat a law, so all they can do when it is a really really bad law, is delay it to show how bad they think it is.

But here Labour is filibustering a totally non-controversial bill. They wasted the entire four to four and a half hours allocated to local and private members bills on talking about how they like to go to the park.

Why? Well their real target is the next bill on the order paper – the VSM bill.

It is interesting that Labour have decided that the VSM bill is so bad, thet they are going to try and oppose it with ore vigour than any other issue before Parliament – even more so than tax cuts, privatisation etc.

Why are Labour willing to risk a public backlash with their fillbuster, in the hope they can stop VSM (voluntary membership of student associations) occuring? Someone on Twitter provided the best answer – because there are no limits to what a parent will do to protect their young!

Compulsory membership student associations have been a major source of training and employment for future Labour Party MPs. So there are no big issues of principle involved.

What is even rarer is that Labour is willing to fillibuster private members day. Only one in six sitting days is given over to private member bills. And the vast majority of those sitting in line are from Labour or the Greens. They’re willing to stop all of those being debate, so long as they can delay VSM.

Of course they will fail. Even with fillibusters the VSM bill should pass into law in April or May. And the Government could always adopt it, and pass it as a Government measure. There is no way it won’t pass before the election.

Ironically the longer they delay it, the less time universities will have time to prepare their enrolment software.

It will be interesting to see how many weeks or months of fillibustering will Labour inflict on private members day, in their fight against VSM. It would be good to see on TV some of the inane filibustering speeches that were made yesterday on the Hamilton City Council (Parana Park) Land and Vesting Bill.

Select Committee Chairs

December 15th, 2008 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The full list of Select Committee Chairs is online now. They are:

  1. Commerce – Lianne Dalziel with Peseta Sam Lotu-liga as Deputy. Dalziel is an excellent choice, and Sam is being marked for promotion.
  2. Education & Science – Allan Peachey with Chris Carter as Deputy. Allan’s educational background makes him a natural choice. I doubt he’ll be working much with his Deputy!
  3. Finance & Expenditure – Craig Foss with Chris Tremain as Deputy. The Hawke’s Bay takeover is complete! The chairmanship of this Committee is normally seen as the final step before being a Minister.
  4. Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade – John Hayes with Jacqui Dean as Deputy. John is a former MFAT staffer so knows the subject matter well.
  5. Government Administration – David Parker with Jacqui Dean again as Deputy. Parker was a very sucessful businessman but has not impressed so much in Parliament, but this role will be little challenge.
  6. Health – Paul Hutchison with Ruth Dyson as Deputy. Dr Hutchison is a natural choice for Health. The tenaciosu Ruth Dyson may challenge him, and the contribution of a former DHB CEO (Kevin Hague) will be interesting to watch.
  7. Justice & Electoral – Chester Borrows with Simon Bridges as Deputy. The former cop turned lawyer and the former crown prosecutor will be a strong team. Bridges likely to takeover when Borrows becomes a Minister.
  8. Law & Order – Sandra Goudie with Clayton Cosgrove as Deputy. Goudie and Cosgrove may agree on more than they they disagree.
  9. Local Government & Environment – Chris Auchinvole with Nicky Wagner as Deputy. Very interesting to have the MP for West Coast-Tasman chairing the Environment committee.
  10. Maori Affairs – Tau Henare with Hone Harawria as Deputy. Both have been MP for Te Tai Tokerau. If Tau wins promotion, then Hekia Parata could well become Chair – unless she gets promoted to Cabinet at the same time – or before.
  11. Primary Production – Shane Ardern with Colin King as Deputy. The affable Ardern will bring first hand experience to the role.
  12. Regulations Review – Charles Chauvel will bring is legal skills to this low profile but important committee.
  13. Social Services – Jo Goodhew with Katrina Shanks as Deputy. Goodhew is another who is likely to use Chair as a stepping stone to Cabinet.
  14. Transport & industrial Relations – David Bennett, who needs a job now that Winston taunting is no longer.

Peter Dunne was already announced as the ETS Review Chair.  Labour are chairing three select committes. Somewhat surprisingly neither ACT nor Maori Party are chairing any – but that might be as their senior MPs are mainly Ministers.

Select Committees

December 11th, 2008 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I guess the House has voted to populate the select committees, as the Parliamentary website now lists members for them. What I am interested in, is how many does the Government have a majority on.

  1. Commerce – National 4, ACT 1, Maori 1, Labour 3 – Govt 5/9
  2. Education & Science – National 4, ACT 1, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 5/9
  3. Finance & Expenditure – National 5, ACT 1, Maori 1, Labour 4, Green 1 – Govt 7/12
  4. Foreign Affairs/Defence/Trade – National 4, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 4/8
  5. Government Administration – National 4, Labour 3 – Govt 4/7
  6. Health – National 5, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 5/9
  7. Justice & Electoral – National 5, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 5/9
  8. Law & Order – National 5, ACT 1, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 6/10
  9. Local Govt & Environment – National 5, ACT 1, Maori 1, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 7/11
  10. Maori Affairs – National 3, Maori 1, Labour 3 – Govt 4/7
  11. Primary Production – National 4, Labour 3, Progressive 1 – Govt 4/8
  12. Regulations Review – National 3, Maori 1, Labour 3 – Govt 4/7
  13. Social Services – National 5, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 5/9
  14. Transport & Industrial Relations – National 5, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 5/9
  15. ETS Review – National 4, ACT 1, United Future 1, Maori 1, Labour 3, Green 1 – Govt 7/11

I have a fair idea of who the Chairs and Deputy Chairs will be, but I’ll wait until they have all been confirmed by their Committees before posting names!

So we can group the select committees a number of ways

National majority

Health, Justice & Electoral, Social Services, Government Administration, Transport & Industrial Relations

The Government should have no problems passing laws in these areas.

National/ACT majority

Education & Science, Commerce. Law & Order, Local Government & Environment,

This could be significant as ACT want to introduce significant education reforms. Also useful for Rodney with any regulatory and local government reform.

National/Maori majority

Maori Affairs, Regulations Review

Very useful for the Maori Party relationship, that with National they have a majority on the committee.

National/ACT/Maori majority

Finance & Expenditure

In this important committee, National will need both major partners to have a majority

National and two of ACT, Maori or United Future

ETS Review

So National can pass changes without ACT if Dunne and Maori Party agree.

No majority – tied

Foreign Affairs/Defence/Trade, Primary Production

To some degree these areas are less controversial than others, so not having a majority is less of an issue. At the worst the Select Committee makes no changes to a bill, and it is all done at Committee of the Whole stage. Also means no inquiries can be launched without a Government party voting for it.

As I said above, I’ll review the Chairs and Deputy Chairs later today or tomorrow, when they are confirmed.