Mr SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Andrew Little seeking to debate under Standing Order 386 the Government’s reaction to the determination by the police on a complaint made by ACC about a meeting between Ms Bronwyn Pullar, Ms Michelle Boag, and ACC officials on 1 December 2011, and the ongoing privacy issues that have
been highlighted. A debate on the release by ACC of private details of ACC clients was held on 20 March 2012. For there to be a case of recent occurrence, there must be either a new situation of importance or a new development in an existing situation of sufficient importance to warrant, in this instance, a further debate being held. The determination by the police that no offence has been committed does not contain any substantive change that requires the immediate attention of this House.
The urgent debate procedure is a means of holding the Government to account for matters that have actually occurred. It is not a means of exploring whether the Minister for ACC has confidence in the ACC chair and the board. There are other parliamentary opportunities for raising such matters. The application is therefore declined.
Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Did the Speaker give consideration to the fact that one of the reasons why questions could not be answered during the earlier stages of that inquiry was that there was a police inquiry? Therefore, I wonder whether the Speaker took the lifting of the police inquiry into account when considering whether it was a case of recent occurrence.
Mr SPEAKER: I accept the member’s point raised in good faith. The fact, though, is that an earlier debate was allowed, so the House has already debated this matter once. The issue is whether there has been a particular case of recent occurrence that warrants the setting aside of the House’s business. It is my ruling that on this occasion there has not been a further particular case of recent occurrence. The police are an independent body. They have made a decision. It is, in my view, something that is not of sufficient magnitude to qualify as a particular case of recent occurrence that would need the business of the House to be set aside.
I have also received a letter from the Hon Nanaia Mahuta seeking to debate under Standing Order 386 the Government’s decision to reverse Budget changes to teacher-pupil funding ratios. This is a case of recent occurrence involving ministerial responsibility. However, not every ministerial announcement will give sufficient grounds for an urgent debate to be held. As the member’s application acknowledges, the changes to teacher-pupil ratios were a Budget initiative, and the House is still debating the Budget. In these circumstances, I am not persuaded that the setting aside of the House’s business for an urgent debate today can be justified. This application is therefore also declined.