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What happens to Parliament’s sitting programme during an election year?

Published date: 30 Jan 2020

The 2020 sitting programme sets out when and how often the House will meet throughout this year. But with a general election due on 19 September, how will this affect the current programme?

Sitting Programme Enlarge image

The 2020 sitting programme will be cut short because of the election

Source: Parliamentary Service

At the end of each year, the Business Committee recommends a sitting programme to the House for the following year. As 2020 is an election year, this programme gets cut short by the dissolution of Parliament - a proclamation on 12 August that will end the 52nd Parliament. When this happens the sitting programme no longer applies and MPs are not required to meet in Wellington, as the Parliament which agreed to the programme no longer operates.

What about after the election?

Returned and newly elected MPs must meet in Wellington to form the 53rd Parliament no later than six weeks after the return of the writ with the final election results. The writ is a written direction from the Governor-General to the Chief Electoral Officer to hold a general election, and specifies the dates of nomination day, Election Day, and the latest day for the return of the writ. The return of the writ shows the name of every person elected as an electorate MP. The list candidates who have been elected for each party will be declared by the Electoral Commission with a notice in the Gazette. 

When they sit for the first time, the last Parliament’s sitting programme does not automatically roll over so the new Business Committee must recommend a new one. Until this happens, the House will meet continuously on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays every week until a new programme is recommended.