Commerce Committee

Over the past two weeks the Committee has heard submissions on the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill. Submitters oppose the Bill for varied reasons, including that:

  • Local authorities should not be empowered to distribute proceeds of gambling because they should focus on the provision of core services and funding decisions should not be politicised. Submitters also noted an inconsistency between the Bill and the "core business of local government".
  • The Bill would damage sport in New Zealand by increasing participation costs, due to the changes in funding allocation.
  • The technologies of player-tracking and pre-commit cards are untested and would not prevent problem gambling.
  • The high cost to upgrade gambling machines.
  • The Bill contains uncertainty in its drafting such as the use of words "apply" and "distribute".
  • The current system works well and delivers beneficial services to the community.

Submitters in favour of the Bill support its overall intent to reduce the harm caused by problem gambling. Other submitters support the Bill's specific provisions such as the requirement for 80% of gambling proceeds to be given to groups in the area that money is sourced and player-tracking and pre-commit cards to reduce money spent by problem gamblers.

Local Government and Environment Committee

The Committee continued to hear submissions on the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill. Submitters raised detailed concerns about the wording of the Bill, for example:

  • The Auckland Council opposed the new purpose section on the grounds that it does not reflect the nature of local government in its entirety and would lead to uncertainty.
  • New Zealand Chambers of Commerce, Inc submitted that the Bill should contain a better definition of "public service" to ensure a more business-friendly system.
  • Members of the Orakei Local Board submitted that if the Auckland Council model is adopted across the country, council controlled organisations would need greater transparency and accountability.
  • Carter Holt Harvey submitted that the "broad" role of meeting community needs should become a "focused" role.
  • A number of submitters opposed the removal of the four wellbeings from the purpose of local government. Local Government New Zealand considered this the most important issue in its submission as it would allow council decisions to be judicially reviewed.

Submitters also opposed the Bill on the basis that it would affect democratic rights and would not improve local government governance due to a lack of performance targets and accountability. Submitters also noted that the Bill's provision for direct ministerial intervention would dispossess districts of ownership and democratic powers. Submitters in favour of the Bill cited reasons such as controlling spending and increased certainty as to the role of local government.

Finance and Expenditure Committee

The Committee heard submissions on the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill which would modify the ETS. A number of submitters oppose the Bill on the basis that it would reduce the effectiveness of the ETS and increase the use of fossil fuels. Submitters also focussed on the Bill's consequential cost to New Zealanders. Some submitters sought changes to the scope of the ETS, for example:

  • Transpower submitted that unavoidable emissions of sulphur hexafluoride during normal operations should not attract prosecution and that clearing trees for safety and maintenance reasons should be excluded from deforestation under the ETS.
  • The Electricity Networks Association noted that not clearing trees would raise the risk of forest fires and work against the aims of the ETS.
  • The Egg Producers Federation supported the exemption of egg producers from the ETS.
  • Other submitters were opposed to the ETS itself, suggesting a carbon tax was necessary to prevent climate change.

Law and Order Committee

The Committee heard one submission on the Bail Amendment Bill. David White submitted that bail conditions should never be suppressed and should be available to affected parties and the public.

Regulations Review Committee

The Committee heard one submission on changes to regulations for restricted building work. The Building and Housing Group explained the changes and their need for flexibility in the definition of restricted building work. The Group explained that the changes are not substantial and serve the objective of adhering to the policy intent.

Social Services Committee

The Committee continued to hear submissions on the Families Commission Amendment Bill. The Homeworks Trust opposed the Bill and submitted that it would alter the nature of the Families Commission by creating a panel that would make decisions with the view of supporting Government policy, rather than for the good of the public.

Transport and Industrial Relations Committee

The Committee heard submissions on the National War Memorial Park (Pukeahu) Empowerment Bill which will enable completion of the Park by April 2015. The Wellington City Council supports the Bill and submitted that Wellingtonians will benefit from the new Park.

The Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust and the Wellington Tenths Trust submitted that, as joint landowners (with Massey University) of the land surrounding the new Park, the Bill should contain a clause requiring all persons acting under the Bill to take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and not act inconsistently with any subsequent historical or future contemporary Treaty settlement. The Trusts noted they have completed an urgent Waitangi Tribunal session on whether Ngāti Toa has any standing in Pukeahu.

Iona Pannett opposed the Bill and stated that no public consultation and little regulatory and legislative analysis had been considered for the Bill.

The Committee also heard submissions on the Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day) Amendment Bill. David Clark MP discussed his Member's Bill noting that the costs of public holidays are difficult to gauge but other factors should be considered, such as rested workers, domestic tourism and social benefits. The Tourism Industry Association supports the Bill as people will holiday and travel to be with family as a way to mark these events.