Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard
THURSDAY, 19 MARCH 2020
The Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): In presenting the business for the next sitting week, it’s important to emphasise that in the current circumstances it is obviously subject to change. Legislation to be considered by the House in the week beginning Tuesday, 31 March is currently scheduled to include the first readings of the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill (No 2), the New Zealand Bill of Rights (Declarations of Inconsistency) Amendment Bill, and the Gas (Information Disclosure and Penalties) Amendment Bill; the second readings of the Public Finance (Wellbeing) Amendment Bill; and the third reading of the Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Bill. Wednesday, 1 April will be a members’ day. As I have said, though, the situation is evolving rapidly and should things change, I’ll communicate that to members through party whips as quickly as possible.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (National—Ilam): Thank you to the Leader of the House for that indication, and also recognising that we are in interesting times, there are two questions, really. Just in the last few minutes it’s been brought to my attention that some select committees who are now advised not to travel as much as they might have, and could be under further restriction by the time they are due to meet during the recess, may not be able to meet the deadline for the return of financial reviews. Has the Leader of the House given any thought to some House process to extend the date by which they might be reported back, given that the technology for some of the provisions that will be agreed by the House today may not be in place in time to meet those deadlines? Second question is: when is the Government’s intention to bring an imprest supply bill to give life and effect to the package that was announced earlier in the week?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): In regard to the last point, an imprest supply bill is imminent, so our intention would be to introduce that either in the first or the second week of Parliament, back after the adjournment. With regard to the first comment, of course where timetables need to change as a result of House activity being restricted because of COVID-19 the Business Committee has the power to do many of those things at the moment, and I’d need to check it out, but I’m pretty sure the Business Committee could extend the report-back time for the financial reviews. I’m looking for confirmation for that, but if it can’t, then a motion in the House would certainly be possible and the Government would look to do that. I do want to make it clear that if we reach the point where House activity and members’ activity becomes significantly restricted for any reason—we’re going to talk about this after question time—the Government will be looking to cut back the business of the House to only what is essential.