HRC on Strengthening Parliament

The has published a discussion paper on ways to strengthen our parliamentary democracy. Some of their proposals are:

  1. A minimum 12 week period for submissions to select committees
  2. Establishing a dedicated Human Rights Select Committee
  3. All international reports and recommendations on human rights be tabled in and referred to this select committee
  4. Standing Orders to forbid major legislative provisions by way of Supplementary Order Paper
  5. Amend Standing Order 246 to make it a right for dissenting members to publish a minority report

I broadly support (1) as I think a minimum time for submission to be open would be helpful for the public. You would need some mechanism where this could be shortened when absolutely necessary.

(2) and (3) sort of go together. I’d love a focus on how to better protect our right to free speech.

(4) is well intentioned but probably unworkable. I support the principle but I’m not sure who could decide what is or is not major except the House itself.

(5) is a good idea. Minority reports should not need the permission of the majority.

I’d go further than the HRC in some areas. I would like the Attorney-General’s obligation to report on bills which may breach the Bill of Rights Act to not only apply for introduction/first reading but also to apply at second and third readings so NZers can know if an amended bill is deemed a breach of the Bill of Rights Act.

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