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About select committees

Published date: 17 Oct 2017

Much of the work of the House of Representatives takes place in committees made up of a small group of MPs.  These committees examine issues in detail, from government policy and proposed new laws, to wider topics like the economy.  

A Select Committee meeting Enlarge image

Select committee meeting

Source: Office of the Clerk

The Committees and their responsibilities

Select committees are appointed at the start of each Parliament after a general election.  The number of members on a committee can vary, but normally a committee has between six and twelve members each, with parties broadly represented in proportion to party membership in the House. The areas of ministerial responsibility are reflected in 12 subject-specific committees:

  1. Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee: business development, tourism, Crown minerals, commerce, consumer protection and trading standards, research, science, innovation, intellectual property, broadcasting, communications, information technology
  2. Education and Workforce Committee: education, training, employment, immigration, industrial relations, health and safety, accident compensation
  3. Environment Committee: conservation, environment, climate change
  4. Finance and Expenditure Committee: economic and fiscal policy, taxation, revenue, banking and finance, superannuation, insurance, Government expenditure and financial performance, public audit
  5. Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee: customs, defence, disarmament and arms control, foreign affairs, trade, veterans’ affairs
  6. Governance and Administration Committee: parliamentary and legislative services, Prime Minister and Cabinet, State services, statistics, internal affairs, civil defence and emergency management, local government
  7. Health Committee: health
  8. Justice Committee: constitutional and electoral matters, human rights, justice, courts, crime and criminal law, police, corrections, Crown legal services
  9. Māori Affairs Committee: Māori affairs, Treaty of Waitangi negotiations
  10. Primary Production Committee: agriculture, biosecurity, racing, fisheries, productive forestry, lands, and land information
  11. Social Services and Community Committee: social development, social housing, income support, women, children, young people, seniors, Pacific peoples, ethnic communities, arts, culture and heritage, sport and recreation, voluntary sector
  12. Transport and Infrastructure Committee: transport, transport safety, infrastructure, energy, building and construction.

There are also five specialist committees:

  1. Business: facilitates House business, decides the size and composition of select committees, grants extensions to the report dates for bills before committees, and grants permission for members’ votes to be counted while they are absent from the House.
  2. Officers of Parliament: makes recommendations to the House on the budgets and appointments of the Auditor-General, the Ombudsmen, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
  3. Privileges: considers questions of privilege (see Parliament Brief, ‘Parliamentary Privilege’).
  4. Regulations Review: examines the legal instruments variously known as ‘regulations’, ‘delegated legislation’, and ‘subordinate legislation’, made under delegated powers in an Act of Parliament.
  5. Standing Orders: House procedures and practices.

An ad hoc committee can also be appointed for a specific purpose such as a bill or an inquiry.

Committee business

Committee work includes examining bills (proposed laws) and holding the Government accountable to the House in several ways. Committee business of the 12 subject-specific committees includes bills, inquiries, estimates, financial reviews, petitions and international treaties.

Committee reports

Committees report to the House with their findings and recommendations.  After a committee reports to the House, submissions and advice (other than secret evidence) related to the item of business are made available through the Parliament website

Public select committee meetings

Many of the select committee meetings are open to the public to observe.  Please see the select committee meeting calendar to find out when the various select committees are meeting and when they are hearing evidence in public. 

You can come to Parliament to watch a select committee meeting or watch some committee meetings live on the select committee Facebook page. A banner will be posted on the page when the select committee goes into private session.