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NEW ZEALAND


not about Parliamentarians looking after themselves: “Drill down to what we have been trying to do in this debate, and that is ensuring that in the public interest important issues can be transacted in this Chamber, and that the important rights of Parliamentarians to raise important matters is not curtailed or circumscribed in any way.” Hon. David Parker, MP,


(Labour) said: “...the advice that


give expression to the principle of comity in New Zealand.” Mr Finlayson agreed, saying that the Bill gives rise to “a more general principle [of] whether the time has come...to look at consolidating all the legislation relating to Parliament in one coherent piece of legislation. It is in the public interest that all our constitutional legislation be readily accessible and available, set out in clear terms, for the benefit of the public”.


Food Bill Dr Kennedy Graham, MP


ought to be available to Ministers... should be all of the information that officials have and can bring to bear. We do not want those officials to edit what they know because they might fear they could be tied up in some [court] proceedings.”


Commenting on the public


perception of parliamentary privilege, Mr Chris Hipkins, MP, (Labour) said: “It is nothing to do with what the public might describe as perks. This Bill is all about us being able to undertake our duty as legislators...without the fear that we will find ourselves in front of the courts.” Dr Kennedy Graham, MP,


(Green Party) added: “We did not wish to incorporate new absolute privilege protections into legislation [but] to restore the nature of the privilege to the status quo ante....” He suggested that the 51st Parliament might build on the work of the 50th Parliament in this area: “[This] defining moment presented an opportunity to formally shape and


Hon. Nikki Kaye, MP Introducing the second


reading on 13 May 2014, the Minister for Food Safety, Hon. Hon Nikki Kaye, MP, (National), said, “as a nation that relies heavily on food exports, the credibility of our food safety system is hugely important because it helps our exporters have access to overseas markets and sell our products at the premium end of the market.” Since its first reading in December 2010 the Bill had been delayed pending substantive changes, including clarifying that


The Food Bill, which passed its third reading on 27 May with unanimous support, modernizes New Zealand’s regulatory framework for ensuring the safety and suitability of food consumed in and exported by New Zealand. Under the legislation, businesses have the primary responsibility for the sale of safe and suitable food using a risk-based approach.


“low risk and community-related food activities…are able to continue under the Bill, provided that the food meets the general requirement that it is safe to eat”, and adding a new provision “to provide a clear immunity from liability for people who donate food in good faith for a charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic purpose” such as food banks. The Bill had also been delayed to await the outcome of an inquiry


into an incident that occurred when New Zealand dairy producer Fonterra found bacteria during safety testing of whey products and recalled them from seven countries. The bacteria were subsequently found not to be a botulism-causing strain. The Minister said, “events last year have served to underline the importance of our food safety system. The whey protein concentrate incident disrupted


THIRD READING: NEW ZEALAND


West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill


On 26 June the House accorded urgency to the introduction and passing of the West Coast Wind- blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill. The Bill would allow harvesting of cyclone-damaged trees for a period of five years from specific public conservation lands on the West Coast of the South Island. Commercial harvesting of timber is not provided for under the Conservation Act.


Introducing the first reading, the Minister of Conservation, Hon. Dr Nick Smith, MP, (National) said: “When Cyclone Ita hit the West Coast on 17 April this year it did the worst damage to forests in that region for generations, felling an estimated 20,000 hectares of forest and causing very significant damage to a further 200,000 hectares across the coast. This was a conservation tragedy, but it leaves a dilemma as to what to do with the millions of cubic metres of wood that now rest in those forests. No good purpose would be served by leaving that timber in the forest to rot”.


Opposing the legislation, Green Member Ms Eugenie Sage, MP,


said at the third reading: “Native forests in New Zealand are dynamic.... Disturbance, whether from big heavy snow events or big wind events, is part of the endless cycle of death, decay, and regeneration of these forests. The timber is not wasted by being windthrow, and by disturbing the forests to log the timber, we are attacking the very reason why these areas are protected.


Labour Member Hon. Ruth Dyson, MP, said that the Bill “shows a blatant disregard for the longstanding agreement that we had had as a Parliament to protect our natives trees from logging”. In response, the Minister said: “When trees are fallen and are dead, there is nothing wrong about saying that we should utilize that wood for people’s jobs and economic wellbeing.” He added that he had “confidence in the Department of Conservation and the Director- General to make sure that this work is done in a sensible way that enables that valuable timber to be recovered without putting the core conservation values at risk”.


The Bill passed its third reading by a majority of 65 votes to 51.


The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three | 213


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