New Zealand Law Society - Select committees report on four bills

Select committees report on four bills

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Parliamentary select committees have released reports on four bills.

The Education and Workforce Committee has reported on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill with a majority recommendation that it be passed with amendments.

The bill would amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 by reintroducing certain minimum standards and protections for employees. It would also make changes to collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has reported on the Maritime Powers Extension Bill with a recommendation that it be passed with amendments.

The bill would amend the Customs and Excise Act 2018 and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. It seeks to incorporate into domestic law two provisions in international treaties to which New Zealand is a party. The bill also seeks to expand the powers of the New Zealand Customs Service to stop, board and search ships suspected of drug smuggling in international waters, and to establish offences which apply with an individual on a ship outside New Zealand waters intends to smuggle or is involved in smuggling controlled drugs or prohibited equipment or material in or out of New Zealand.

The Māori Affairs Committee has reported on the Coroners (Access to Body of Dead Person) Amendment Bill with a recommendation that it be passed without amendment.

The bill implements a recommendation from the Māori Affairs Committee of the 51st Parliament to improve cultural considerations in the coronial system. It results from that committee’s inquiry into whānau access to and management of tūpāpaku (the body of a dead person).

The bill would amend section 26 of the Coroners Act 2006 to require the coroner, when determining whether a person should be allowed to remain with the tūpāpaku, to also consider tikanga Māori and the expectations of other cultures. Currently, the Act does not require coroners to take cultural considerations into account when making decisions under section 26, but they have the discretion to do so. In practice, coroners work with whānau to determine when it is appropriate for whānau to remain with the tūpāpaku.

The bill would also amend section 26 of the Act to insert subsection 26(2)(ea). Under the new subsection, coroners must take into account the ethnic origins, social attitudes or customs, or spiritual beliefs of the dead person, or of an immediate family member of that person, when determining whether someone can view, touch, or remain with or near the tūpāpaku.

The Transport and Infrastructure Committee has reported on the Commerce Amendment Bill with a majority recommendation that it be passed with amendments.

The bill seeks to amend the Commerce Act 1986. Part 1 would enable the Commerce Commission to undertake “competition studies”—carrying out research into the structure and behaviour of markets, and reporting on its findings. The overriding aim of any competition study would be the same as the purpose of the Act itself: to promote competition in markets for the long-term benefit of consumers within New Zealand.

Part 2 of the bill would amend Part 4 of the Act to strengthen the regulatory regime for airports. The bill would not change the way airports are regulated or grant broader powers to the commission. Its main change would be to introduce a new truncated inquiry process for the commission and the Minister to consider when deciding whether to impose a stronger type of regulation on airports in the future.

Part 3 would introduce an enforceable undertakings regime to complement the Commission’s existing arrangements. It would replace the little-used provisions relating to cease-and-desist orders with a power for the commission to accept a statutory undertaking.