INDEPENDENT NEWS

Select Committee Does Not Know How

Published: Thu 17 Oct 2002 12:06 AM
Select Committee Does Not Know How
Climate Change Bill
Complies With the Bill of Rights
The Parliamentary Select Committee which reported back on the Climate Change Response Bill has been unable to gain advice from the Attorney-General about how the Bill complies with the Bill of Rights Act.
Despite this, they have still recommended that it be passed.
This raises serious concerns about the transparency of our legislative process and the point of having a Bill of Rights in the first place, according to Rural Women New Zealand Executive Officer, Elizabeth Mende.
''The Select Committee has recommended amendments to the Bill regarding entry and seizure, which were the clauses that we feared would breach the Bill of Rights,'' Mrs Mende says. ''But it is not particularly reassuring that even those who make our legislation are unable to obtain detailed advice from the Attorney General about Bill of Rights compliance. Surely when you are passing a piece of legislation of this magnitude you should only be able to do so knowing that you in possession of all the advice and facts.''
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee said in their report on the Bill that the Attorney-General turned down their request to assist them by providing advice on how the Bill complied with the Bill of Rights. They were also unable to receive a summary of such advice, nor an explanation from Ministry of Justice officials. The only way they could gain this advice was to purchase independent advice, which they did not have the time to do. The Committee recommended that Parliament should review the current arrangements relating to Bill of Rights compliance.
''Such a review needs to be done with urgency,'' says Mrs Mende. ''What we have seen here is that we have a Bill of Rights, that the public of New Zealand is expected to comply with, but that Parliament isn't really sure it is complying with or not.''

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