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Select committee FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions about parliamentary select committees.

 

About select committees

1. What are parliamentary select committees?
2. Which MPs are on the committees?
3. Who decides which members are on each committee?

Contacting committees

4. How do I contact a specific committee?

Following the work of committees

5. What are the committees doing this week and where are they meeting?
6. How do I know when a committee is travelling to hear from submitters?
7. Can I watch committees remotely, either live or on-demand?
8. How do I know which submitters will be speaking this week?
9. What topics are committees considering?
10. How can I follow the work of a specific committee?

Getting involved and sharing your thoughts with commitees

11. Why do people make submissions to committees?
12. How can I share my thoughts with a committee?
13. I represent an organisation – what’s the best way to send submissions on behalf of many people?
14. Where can I read a bill (proposed law)?
15. When I try to submit there is a website error. What should I do?
16. Can I request an extension to the submission deadline?
17. Is there a way I can keep my submission private?
18. What is your postal address so that I can send my submission or evidence by mail?
19. What process does a committee follow before it makes its recommendations?

Speaking to a select committee

20. Why do people speak to select committees (in person or by teleconference)?
21. When will I be called to speak to a committee?
22. How much time will I get to speak to the committee?
23. Where will I be speaking to the committee?
24. Can I bring support people when I speak to the committee?
25. Can I bring extra information or visual aids (props) to my hearing of evidence?
26. Can I take photos or film at an open hearing of evidence?
27. What are my options if I can’t appear in person?
28. Will the committee pay for me to travel so that I can speak to my submission in person?

Committee advice, submissions (or other evidence), and reports

29. How do I read the advice and submissions (or other evidence) that a committee received?
30. How can I find out how many submissions were received on a topic?
31. I made a submission and it's on the Parliament website. How can I get it edited or removed?
32. When do committee reports become available?
33. Where can I find committee reports?
A person making a submission to a Select Committee Enlarge image

A person making a submission to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee at New Zealand Parliament. 11 August 2016.

Source: Office of the Clerk

About select committees

1. What are parliamentary select committees?

Select committees are made up of members of Parliament (MPs) from several political parties. There are between 5–12 MPs on each committee. Committee members work together to consider topics that Parliament’s House of Representatives needs more information on and recommendations about (e.g. proposed laws and Government spending, petitions, and international treaties). Committees can also initiate inquiries and briefings to investigate important issues and topics.

Currently, there are 12 subject committees and 5 specialist committees. The specialist committees are the: Business Committee, Officers of Parliament Committee, Privileges Committee, Regulations Review Committee, and Standing Orders Committee.    

Select committees often ask for public opinion about the issues and topics they are considering. They do this by “calling for submissions”. Find out what topics committees are asking for your thoughts on.

This diagram steps you through the process that committees usually follow when considering an issue or topic (also available in Te Reo Māori) .

2. Which MPs are on the committees?

Check the permanent membership of a committee by choosing a committee and then either selecting “view all members” under the picture of the Chairperson, or by selecting the “committee members” tab on the right hand side of the page.

When permanent committee members are unavailable other MPs can attend committee meetings in their place.

3. Who decides which members are on each committee?

Subject select committees are established at the start of each new Parliament. Standing Orders (Parliament’s rules for how it carries out its work) state that the membership of committees should be proportional to party membership in the House of Representatives.

The Business Committee usually determines the size of each committee and appoints the members. It also fills committee vacancies when they arise, and appoints temporary members.

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Contacting committees

4. How do I contact a specific committee?

Send your questions to committee staff at the following email addresses:

Committee

Email

Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee

edsi@parliament.govt.nz

Education and Workforce Committee

ew@parliament.govt.nz

Environment Committee

en@parliament.govt.nz

Finance and Expenditure Committee

fe@parliament.govt.nz

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee

fadt@parliament.govt.nz

Governance and Administration Committee

ga@parliament.govt.nz

Health Committee

health@parliament.govt.nz

Justice Committee

justice@parliament.govt.nz

Māori Affairs Committee

ma@parliament.govt.nz

Primary Production Committee

pp@parliament.govt.nz

Social Services and Community Committee

ssc@parliament.govt.nz

Transport and Infrastructure Committee

ti@parliament.govt.nz


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If you don’t know which committee to contact, or you have a general enquiry, please contact us at: select.committees@parliament.govt.nz or on (04) 817 9520.

Following the work of committees

5. What are committees doing this week and where are they meeting?

Meetings are usually held on Wednesdays and Thursdays of sitting weeks in Bowen House or Parliament House in Wellington. Sometimes meetings are held in other venues around New Zealand, and may be on days other than Wednesdays or Thursdays.

The schedule of meetings lets you know what is happening each week (draft version is generally available on Friday afternoon). Some committee meetings are open for you to attend–on the schedule these are indicated with an asterisk.

6. How do I know when a committee is travelling to hear from submitters?

Committees decide when they will travel. Travel largely depends on the issue or topic, and the number of people wanting to be heard in each location.

When a committee is meeting outside of Wellington the location will be on the schedule of meetings (draft version is generally available on Friday afternoon). Submitters will be contacted by committee staff in advance.

7. Can I watch committees remotely, either live or on-demand?

Some public hearings might be covered by the media and available to watch on TV. Presently, committee meetings are not web-streamed or recorded.

8. How do I know which submitters will be speaking this week?

To find out who will be talking to a committee, you can view a submitter list. Please note that these lists are only available a few days before a committee meeting.

9. What topics are committees considering?

Find out what issues and topics are currently being considered by committees, and which are open for public submissions.

Unless a committee has open hearings of evidence (when submitters share their thoughts and give evidence to committees), its proceedings are confidential to the committee until it reports back to Parliament.

10. How can I follow the work of a specific committee?

Each select committee has its own page on the Parliament website.

Committees usually advertise calls for submissions on Parliament TVParliament Twitter, and they also send out press releases.

Non-partisan (neutral) news coverage on select committees can also be found on the website Parliament Today.

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Getting involved and sharing your thoughts with committees

11. Why do people make submissions to committees?

People make submissions to select committees for many different reasons. Mainly people want to share their thoughts and experiences on issues and topics they feel strongly about. The public can also be helpful in identifying issues, and alternative solutions, in proposed laws.

It’s important that the public share their thoughts with MPs on select committees, as it helps the MPs understand how an issue or topic could affect you or your community. This knowledge also assists the MPs to pass the best and most informed laws possible. 

Organisations also share their specialist knowledge with committees and highlight the positive and negative effects of issues and topics. They often make suggestions for improvement to proposed laws. 

12. How can I share my thoughts with a committee?

Select committees often ask for your thoughts about the issues and topics they are considering. They do this by “calling for submissions”.

When you make a submission your thoughts are considered by the committee and may influence what Parliament decides to do (and could perhaps inform changes to proposed laws). Check out what’s currently open for public submissions.

If there’s something of interest to you, follow these steps:

  1. Select what you would like to make a submission on.

  2. Scroll down to the verification section and select the picture that matches the verification statement (e.g. “click or touch the airplane”).

  3. Select the “make an online submission” button. You will be taken to a new screen.

  4. Fill in your personal details and either upload a submission (in Word or PDF format) or write a submission in the box provided. Submissions can be in English, Te Reo Māori, or New Zealand Sign Language.

  5. If applicable, add any notes (e.g. special assistance request).

  6. Choose whether you wish to speak to the committee in person about your submission.

  7. To complete your online submission choose “submit”.

If you have any questions or you’re having trouble submitting please contact committee staff (see contact details under question 4).  

If you need to send your submission by post, please go to question 18.

Submissions will eventually be publicly available on the Parliament website, and will become part of the permanent parliamentary record. Please note that submissions cannot later be removed from the website except by the Clerk of the House in exceptional circumstances.

13. I represent an organisation – what’s the best way to send submissions on behalf of many people?

If you are planning to host a form on your own website encouraging people to submit on an issue or topic there are ways you can help committee staff process these submissions efficiently and effectively.

For example, if you are intending to encourage and send committee staff hundreds or even thousands of identical submissions, you can collate this information and present it in one document.

We can give you helpful resources and tips to share with people so they can make informed submissions and have a clear understanding about the select committee process. More informed submitters often make more effective submissions, helping the MPs in their consideration of the issue or topic.

Please contact committee staff (see contact details under question 4) in advance of submission closing dates to talk through some options. We’ll try to find a solution that works well for everyone.

14. Where can I read a bill (proposed law)?

All bills are listed here and are also available on the www.legislation.govt.nz website.

If you’re looking for a summary, bill digests are available. You can also read more about the topics of bills.

If you’re after a hard copy of a bill, please send your request to committee staff (see contact details under question 4).

15. When I try to submit there is a website error. What should I do?

If you are having trouble submitting, first check to make sure you have followed the steps outlined under question 12.

If you are still experiencing the issue after trying more than once, please email the relevant select committee staff as soon as possible (see contact details under question 4). We will work as quickly as possible to resolve any issues with the Parliament website.

16. Can I request an extension to the submission deadline?

If you don’t think you are going to have your submission to a committee by the deadline, we suggest you use the online submission form (follow the steps outlined under question 12) to send a few sentences stating your thoughts. Once you have made this short submission, you have the opportunity to make further “supplementary” submissions. This helps committee staff with planning, especially if you want to speak to the committee about your submission.

Extensions may only be granted by a committee and there are no guarantees that an extension request will be granted. If a submission deadline has passed, please email your extension request to the relevant committee staff (see contact details under question 4) who will pass it onto the committee.

17. Is there a way I can keep my submission private?

You can request that your submission be received in private or secret. Private evidence remains confidential until a committee reports back to Parliament on the issue or topic, and secret evidence is never publicly released.

Parliament tries to be as open and transparent as possible. Therefore, there are rules around private and secret evidence. You must provide a committee with good reasons for why your submission should be accepted as private or secret. All committee members must agree to accept the evidence as private or secret, and sometimes committees choose not to receive this type of evidence.

Please email requests to the relevant committee staff who will provide you with further information (see contact details under question 4).

18. What is your postal address so that I can send my submission or evidence by mail?

Please address your correspondence to the relevant committee staff and send it to the following address:

[XXX Committee Staff]
Level 10 Bowen House
Parliament Buildings
Molesworth Street
Wellington 6160
New Zealand

Please make it clear what issue or topic you are addressing, which committee is considering the issue or topic, and don’t forget to include your contact details (phone number is preferable) on a separate sheet of paper. Please also state whether or not you would like to speak to the committee.

If you have any questions or you’re having trouble submitting please contact committee staff (see contact details under question 4).

Submissions will eventually be publicly available on the Parliament website, and will become part of the permanent parliamentary record. Please note that submissions cannot later be removed from the website except by the Clerk of the House in exceptional circumstances.

19. What process does a committee follow before it makes its recommendations?

This diagram walks you through the select committee process. It is also available in Te Reo Māori.

The process can be slightly different for issues and topics that aren’t bills (proposed laws). For example, committees do not always call for public submissions on petitions.

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Speaking to a select committee

20. Why do people speak to select committees (in person or by teleconference)?

Submitters and petitioners choose to speak to committees for a variety of reasons. They may wish to highlight important issues, share a personal experience, expand on their initial written evidence, or use the opportunity to primarily answer questions from the committee.

21. When will I be called to speak to a committee?

Once a submission deadline has passed, the committee will decide how it will proceed. If you’ve indicated that you’d like to be heard, you’ll be contacted by staff as soon as possible.

The wait time to be heard is largely dependent on the number of submissions received, and the committee’s workload. Please be assured that submitters are not called in any particular order.

If you are a petitioner, staff will contact you with further information. If the committee has decided to invite you to speak to them, we’ll be in touch to allocate you a speaking time when space becomes available.

22. How much time will I get to speak to the committee?

This is a committee decision and largely depends on the issue or topic and the number of other people speaking to the committee. However, individual submitters are usually allocated between 5–15 minutes to speak to a committee and answer questions.

23. Where will I be speaking to the committee?

Committee staff will advise submitters and petitioners of the meeting room about one week before a meeting. All meeting locations are also posted on the schedule of meetings (draft version is generally available on Friday afternoon – an asterisk marks a session open to the public).

Meetings are usually held on Wednesdays and Thursdays of sitting weeks in Bowen House or Parliament House in Wellington. Sometimes meetings are held in other venues around New Zealand, and may be on days other than Wednesday or Thursday.

24. Can I bring support people when I speak to the committee?

Yes. If they are likely to also be speaking to the committee and joining you at the end of the table, please email their names and job titles to committee staff in advance of the meeting (see contact details under question 4).

If you’re planning on inviting a large group of people please also let committee staff know in advance so they can prepare for this.

25. Can I bring extra information or visual aids (props) to my hearing of evidence?

Yes, however please let committee staff know if you intend to bring these. Committee staff need to receive any documents at least a few days in advance of the meeting if possible.  

26. Can I take photos or film at an open hearing of evidence?

Normally this is fine, but it is up to a committee to decide about this. Please let committee staff know in advance as a courtesy if you intend to take photos or want to film.

27. What are my options if I can’t appear in person?

Committee staff can arrange a teleconference for you. All you have to do is provide a reliable phone number. On the day of the meeting committee staff will call you and your voice will be projected through the sound system for all of the members to hear.

Videoconferencing through Skype may be available – please check with committee staff if this option interests you.  

28. Will the committee pay for me to travel so that I can speak to my submission in person?

Unfortunately committees can’t grant such requests. Expenses can only be approved by the Speaker of the House, and because public taxpayer money would be used to cover your travel costs, these requests are only granted in exceptional circumstances.

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Committee advice, submissions (or other evidence), and reports

29. How do I read the advice and submissions (or other evidence) that a committee received?

Submissions and other evidence are usually put on the Parliament website once the committee has considered them, or once the committee has heard from a submitter or petitioner. Advice is released and put on the Parliament website after the committee has completed its work and reported back to Parliament.

When these documents are available, they can be found here, or on specific committee pages. If a transcript is available, it will also be on this area of the Parliament website. You can use the filter to refine your results.

30. How can I find out how many submissions were received on a topic?

This information is recorded in the appendix of a committee’s report to Parliament.  

Please contact committee staff (see contact details under question 4) if you are looking for this information before a committee’s report has been presented.

31. I made a submission and it’s on the Parliament website. How can I get it edited or removed?

All submissions and other evidence sent to select committees are eventually made public and posted onto the Parliament website. Your submission becomes part of the permanent parliamentary record and cannot be removed except by the Clerk of the House in exceptional circumstances.

Please contact us if you still wish to discuss a request for your submission to be edited or removed.

32. When do committee reports become available?

Parliament sets reporting deadlines for some committee business such as bills (proposed laws), international treaties, and the examination of proposed Government spending. These deadlines can be found on the Parliament website by searching for the relevant topic.

There are no set timeframes for committees to report back to Parliament on petitions.  

Committees can request an extension to a deadline from the Business Committee if they need more time to consider advice and submissions on a bill.

33. Where can I find committee reports?

All committee reports can be found here once they have been tabled in Parliament for the MPs to read.

They can also be found on the relevant committee website page.

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