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Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2)

Second Reading

Tuesday 12 July 2011 Hansard source (external site)

HeatleyHon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture) Link to this

That the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2) be now read a second time. I thank the Justice and Electoral Committee for its careful consideration of this bill, and for its unanimous support. Widespread cross-party support will ensure that this reform is enduring, and that we maintain a stable system of electoral administration.

This bill is the second stage of the process to integrate New Zealand’s electoral agencies into a single agency. In October last year a new Electoral Commission was established, which took on the functions of both the Chief Electoral Officer and the former Electoral Commission. This bill transfers the function of the Chief Registrar of Electors, including responsibility for the electoral roll, to the Electoral Commission. Having one electoral agency will allow a more cohesive and strategic approach to electoral administration, and will provide an accessible one-stop shop for the public and stakeholders.

The bill also implements three recommendations from the Justice and Electoral Committee inquiry into the 2008 general election, which are designed to improve the integrity of the electoral roll and maximise enrolments. The bill also provides for an online re-enrolment service, which is the first step in a process that will eventually allow people to enrol using the internet.

The main recommendation by the select committee is to bring forward the implementation date for the transfer of the functions of the Chief Registrar of Electors to the Electoral Commission from 1 October 2012 to 1 July 2012. This change will reduce administration costs by aligning the transfer date with the beginning of the 2012-13 financial year, therefore avoiding part-year reporting. The committee also recommended updating the types of contact information that may be provided to the Māori Affiliation Service regarding consenting Māori electors. Finally, the committee recommended a number of amendments to clarify drafting and make cross-references to the Electoral Act, which will ensure that electoral legislation is accurate and up to date. I support the committee’s recommendations and consider that they will strengthen the bill and contribute to its objectives.

In transferring responsibility for enrolment services to the Electoral Commission, this bill improves the administration of our electoral system. The bill also takes advantage of modern technology to increase the efficiency of our enrolment service and to improve the integrity of the electoral roll. I commend this bill to the House.

ChauvelCHARLES CHAUVEL (Labour) Link to this

I rise to support the second reading of the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). As the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture pointed out, the Justice and Electoral Committee spent some time on this legislation. We reported it back unanimously. We think we have improved the bill with our recommendations, and I hope the House will support those recommendations.

I will say just a couple of words about what the bill does. Essentially, this legislation is the implementation of stage two of a two-stage reform of the administration of the electoral machinery in New Zealand. Members will recall the set-up of the newly constituted Electoral Commission. We have debated that matter a number of times in this House already this year, most recently, I think, last month, when the House recommended to the Governor-General that we finally bring the commission up to strength, appoint a deputy chairperson for the commission, and bring its membership to three. That resolution was passed with the unanimous support of the House, and I understand that the Governor-General has now acted on that advice.

The other important thing I think it is worth stressing about this legislation is that it introduces some important abilities for the commission to use new technologies—in particular, online enrolment, which will make a big difference, particularly as far as young people’s involvement in the electoral process is concerned.

There are a couple of other machinery changes in the bill that I will mention in my speech, but, basically, members on this side of the House hope this new Electoral Commission will be a more effective regulator of elections. With its integrated nature it will be able to provide better access to electoral services, and will encourage a more efficient and strategic approach to electoral administration.

At all times we have been supportive of the Government’s two-stage approach to reform. There was the need to pass legislation last year to honour the convention that legislation that would govern a general election would not be passed in an election year itself. Doing this reform in two stages has basically allowed that convention to be satisfied. Late last year the legislation touching on electoral finance and administration for the general election was passed. It came into effect very quickly afterwards, on 1 January this year. I think it is fair to say that it will take a while for the actors to get their heads around all the ramifications of that legislation, but it certainly indicates the common-sense nature of the convention that this House does not legislate for elections in the year that those elections fall due.

Those first parts of the reform dealt with the establishment of the new Electoral Commission, subsuming into it the old commission and the former position of Chief Electoral Officer. This bill brings the Chief Registrar of Electors into the commission. The original proposal was that that should occur, I think, in October next year. The select committee thought—with justification, I think—that that date could be brought forward to July next year, and that is the recommended change. We have heard from the Minister that that change has the Government’s support, which is pleasing.

I think it is appropriate to not let this opportunity pass without doing something that has been done in other speeches on other electoral reforms during this Parliament, and that is to pay tribute to the integrity of the statutory officers who have been responsible in the past in New Zealand for the conduct of elections in the three agencies we are now combining into one. There is every reason to hope that the trust we have reposed, with great justification, in those officers will continue to be justified in the new integrated commission.

The other thing that is important to say about this bill is that every 3 years the Justice and Electoral Committee conducts a review of the way in which the administration of a general election took place. Some of the provisions we are debating today result from the standard review that was conducted into the 2008 general election, and I will speak a little bit about those changes in a moment.

I mentioned earlier that this legislation allows for the use of new technologies. Most interestingly and most excitingly, it allows for online enrolment. Given that the new technologies, the internet and what have you, have been available for a number of years now, one would think that we might already have taken advantage of this new technology. I see Minister Williamson smiling across the aisle; he thinks the internet is already redundant and is about to be replaced by something else. I am sure we will be enlightened as to his vision at some point. But the point here is that we all know how important it is to get younger people and people who are less engaged with the mainstream to take an interest in electoral enrolment, because if they go on the roll first thing and vote the first time they are eligible, they are much more likely, statistically, to keep voting in the future. If we can get access to populations that are much more likely to take an interest in the process because they are being engaged through new technologies, social media, and what have you, they are much more likely to keep—

GoudieSandra Goudie Link to this

What have you?

ChauvelCHARLES CHAUVEL Link to this

—a high level of interest in election enrolments. I can see that Mrs Goudie is almost as excited as I am by these prospects, which is quite a frightening thought when we boil it down—Ms Adams, as well. The good thing about the legislation is that it will allow for these new technologies to be used. It will allow for online enrolment, but also it puts some real safeguards in place so that some of the obvious abuses that could come from permitting a non - paper-based enrolment scheme are minimised.

The bill has other provisions that go towards the maintenance of the integrity of our system—something we should be very, very proud of in this country. Those provisions allow for the enrolment centre—or the commission, as it will now be—to be sure that a person is properly on the roll. In respect of people who are new to New Zealand who seek to come on to the roll, at the moment the information of the Department of Labour can be used only to check the immigration status of somebody who is already enrolled; it cannot be checked while an application is being processed. That ability is provided for under this legislation. The bill provides for a new system that is much more efficient.

As I mentioned earlier, the select committee recommended that we bring forward the deadline for the role of the Chief Registrar of Electors to be transferred to the new Electoral Commission. There is also a clause allowing the registrar to seek the consent of declared Māori electors to supply the Tūhono Trust with electors’ email addresses and contact phone numbers. That is clearly on a consent basis, and it will allow that trust to administer its affairs more efficiently. New section 124(5), inserted by clause 14, provides for the use of electronic copies instead of paper copies, and the scanned copy of the enrolment record can be used for the same purposes as the original paper copy. There are one or two consequential amendments relating to the Chief Registrar of Electors, the Electoral Commission, and the schedule.

This bill is good legislation. It is good that we are keeping our electoral laws updated, that we are being mindful of the possibilities afforded by new technologies, that we are minimising the possibility of fraud and other abuse, and that this is all being done in a timely way with appropriate regard for the conventions. With those few words I commend the bill to the House.

BridgesSIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga) Link to this

It is good to take a call on the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). Electoral law is very, very topical. That, of course, is because Labour does not seem to know how to follow it. I will not go through the history in 2005, 2008, and then again most recently. I put it down to a lack of quality lawyers in the Labour Party. For a number of years now there has been a lack of quality lawyers. Of course, there is Charles Chauvel, but he was an employment law partner, and I have had my doubts about employment law as an area of law for some time now. But in any event—[ Interruption] That got them going, did it not? In any event, it is good to speak on this bill—

Hon Member

Lynne Pillay’s a lawyer.

BridgesSIMON BRIDGES Link to this

No, she is a bush lawyer. It is good to speak on this bill, which transfers the functions of the Chief Registrar of Electors to the new Electoral Commission

PillayLynne Pillay Link to this

Or so these notes say.

BridgesSIMON BRIDGES Link to this

—and makes other changes. Well, I would like to speak at length on this bill. The bill makes other changes to the administration of electoral enrolment, as well. It is a technical and administrative bill.

I see Stuart Nash on the other side of the House. He, of course, is probably single-handedly responsible for what Labour got wrong with its ads recently. But I do not have time for those sorts of comments. I commend this bill to the House.

BeaumontCAROL BEAUMONT (Labour) Link to this

It is a pleasure to rise and speak to the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). This is the second reading debate on this bill. It was introduced in November 2010 and referred on 23 November to the Justice and Electoral Committee, of which I am now a member, although I was not at that time.

Before I talk a little more about why Labour supports this bill, I have to say something in response to comments made by the member who just spoke, Simon Bridges. I find it absolutely rich, coming from that side of the House, that Mr Simon Bridges thinks it is OK to talk about corruption in politics. Coming from a party that is as corrupt as any we have ever seen—

TischMr DEPUTY SPEAKER Link to this

To use the word the member has used brings the House into disorder. I ask the member to withdraw the word and not use it again. Members on both sides of the House are not to use that word, either in interjections or in main speeches.

BeaumontCAROL BEAUMONT Link to this

I withdraw that word. I go on to talk about the fact that on the other side of the House we still have members of Parliament who were part of the regime of the hollow men. I will leave it at that.

I go back to the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). As my colleague Charles Chauvel said, this bill implements stage two of a two-stage reform of electoral administration establishing a new Electoral Commission and making other changes. I thought it would be useful to look a little bit at this Electoral Commission and what is proposed. This bill will complete the set-up of the Electoral Commission. In doing so, it follows the first piece of legislation, passed in May 2010, which established a new independent Crown entity to be known as the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission’s functions are to conduct elections; deal with donations to, and expenditure of, political parties and candidates; inform the public about electoral matters, which is very important; apportion broadcasting time and funding; register parties and logos; and maintain the electoral roll. In carrying out those functions, the functions of the three former electoral administration bodies—that is, the Chief Electoral Officer, the previous Electoral Commission, and the Chief Registrar of Electors, which had various responsibilities of those listed—are effectively now consolidated into one body, the new Electoral Commission. This will undoubtedly streamline and improve the process.

That is not to comment negatively on any of the three previous organisations. I think that one of the things we can agree on in this House and can take some confidence from is that as a country we are very concerned about ensuring that we have transparency around electoral processes. We want them to be robust, and we want our electoral system to operate in a way that is not, as it is in other countries, subject to intimidation, to people buying votes, and to corruption among electoral officials. Fortunately, that is not the case in this country, although there is always room for improvement. Hence this bill establishes the new Electoral Commission to take on the consolidated functions of the three previous bodies.

That consolidation makes a great deal of sense, and we are certainly very supportive of it. I would go so far as to say that Labour is also appreciative of the consultative process that the Government has undertaken in relation to the changes in electoral administration. As I say, the new Electoral Commission will be a more effective regulator of the elections, providing greater integration, greater efficiency, and a more strategic approach. That is what is envisaged.

The bill was scrutinised by the Justice and Electoral Committee. Only four submissions were made to the committee, two of which we heard. We received advice from the Ministry of Justice. Of course, it is always important to acknowledge the contribution of those officials to the process.

In addition to phase two of the new Electoral Commission, some of the other amendments that are included relate, as Mr Chauvel said, to online enrolment of electors—online re-enrolment and updates. This will give voters the option of re-enrolling and communicating changes to their enrolment details via the internet or by using an approved electronic medium. It will use the igovt log-on service that has been developed by the Department of Internal Affairs. It is stage one of a two-stage process, and I think this is really important. As with any significant changes in the process of enrolling and using electronic media, it is important that we get it right. This is stage one of a two-stage process that will eventually give electors the option of full online enrolment. That will require, as we have been advised, a higher level of security than is currently possible, so that work will continue. The Department of Internal Affairs is working on that.

The two-stage process is seen as necessary to ensure that the integrity of the electoral roll is maintained. That is absolutely fundamental to our system. Having confidence in the electoral roll is really important. It is the key by which people get the opportunity to vote and to have their vote counted. We all know that there can be problems. In my own experience there have been problems in relation to people whose names are in a slightly different order from what people in New Zealand have generally been used to. That has caused problems in relation to how people enrol and, when they go to vote, trying to find themselves on the electoral roll with staff at polling places.

Also we have a problem in this country whereby at every election—and we have not nailed this problem yet—people in good faith go along to vote, and cast a special vote because they cannot be found on the electoral roll. There is a reason for that: they have not enrolled. If their names cannot be found on the roll, the officials at the polling place will let them fill in a statutory declaration and cast a special vote. They vote, thinking that they have contributed to the outcome of the election. Of course, sadly, they have not. We need to work on how we can improve the feedback loop, and how we can find those people. I have spoken to many people who have assured me that they vote year after year, but, in fact, they are not on the electoral roll.

That is an area that needs improvement, but my point really is that the integrity of the electoral roll is very important. It is the fundamental process by which we get our voting paper and we cast our vote. I am sure that everybody in this House is a solid promoter of that. I am sure that every MP works very hard to support those people who try to make sure that every New Zealander who is eligible is on the electoral roll so that they can cast a vote that counts, because that is the basic nature of our democracy. We all need to take greater responsibility for ensuring that people are on the roll. They are legally required to be, but, more important, it is the essential step to casting their vote and to that vote counting.

Secondly, we should all take responsibility for encouraging our fellow citizens to go out and vote. That is, of course, very topical right now as we lead into an election in less than 5 months’ time. I urge all members across the House to take that responsibility seriously.

GoudieSandra Goudie Link to this

As long as we do it within the bounds of the rules.

BeaumontCAROL BEAUMONT Link to this

I am sure that even Ms Goudie takes it seriously. That is another part of the process in this bill. They are probably the two key changes being looked at here.

There are also some provisions dealing with immigration processes, and I am sure others will want to talk about those provisions. The immigration changes arose as a result of the inquiry into the conduct of the 2008 general election. Again, I think it is a strength of our system that we hold an inquiry after each general election and each local government election to see whether we can improve the processes. That is in our best interests. Arguably, those sorts of things are where we see this House operating at its best. We talk to New Zealanders and the relevant officials in a cross-party manner to find out how things went in those elections and what could be done better. On that positive note, I commend this bill.

TureiMETIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) Link to this

Tēnā koutou katoa. I want to take a very short call on the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). Charles Chauvel set out very clearly earlier the process by which this bill comes to the House. It is, I think, the last bill in a process of reform. The Green Party has also agreed to the timetable for that reform. We feel that this process has been quite good and has worked quite well. We support this legislation. We support the changes in the updating of the processes, the move to online access for voters, which will enable them to change their details, and the bringing together of the two agencies into one to make for a more effective organisation for managing elections and referendums—including the MMP referendum—for the New Zealand public. We support the legislation and look forward to its speedy progress through the House.

AdamsAMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) Link to this

I want to take a very brief call in support of the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). I think after listening to the debate on this bill this evening that its scope and what it achieves has been fairly well canvassed and I do not intend to waste the time of the House going over it again. I will take just a moment to commend the Minister of Justice for his ongoing programme of work to reform and modernise our electoral laws. It is one of a number of steps this Government has taken.

I also acknowledge and commend Chester Borrows as the chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee, which considered the legislation. The committee works exceedingly well under his chairmanship and has led to significant improvements to this bill and other legislation that has come before it.

It appears that this bill has the support of the House, so I will add my voice to that support and commend the bill warmly to the House. Thank you.

PillayLYNNE PILLAY (Labour) Link to this

I rise, as everyone has done this evening, to speak in support of the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). It has support from all parties, which is certainly not a common thing in this House. I think of some of the dreadful legislation we have had imposed on us—albeit by majority—by the National Government.

PillayLYNNE PILLAY Link to this

By the National - ACT - Māori Party Government, as my friend has reminded me. But we are here to talk about the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). As Charles Chauvel said, the bill implements stage two of a two-stage reform of electoral administration. The reform establishes the new Electoral Commission and makes a number of other changes to the Electoral Act.

The legislation came as a response to a report from the Justice and Electoral Committee on its inquiry into the 2008 general election. When I was on the Justice and Electoral Committee this issue was raised a number of times both by submitters and by officials, who commented that it would be much more effective to have reform and a commission that encompassed the whole general election process.

As I said, along with every other party in the House we support this bill. We appreciate that there was a consultative process on this bill. I congratulate the Minister of Justice, Simon Power, who will not be with us in the next term—neither will I, but life goes on. This bill is common-sense legislation. It is far more preferable to me than other legislation, such as the “90 Day Sack at Will Act” and the dreadful changes we have seen to law and order and education, etc.

The new Electoral Commission will be a more effective regulator of elections. I hope that the new agency will provide better access to electoral services and encourage a much more integrated, efficient, and strategic approach to electoral administration, because that is what this Government, every other party in this House, and every person who casts a ballot in the general election wants to see.

I pause to acknowledge the work that gets done. Irrespective of the outcome of the election—for many people it was quite devastating—we pride ourselves on a process that, by and large, runs very, very smoothly. If we compare that process with other countries, other so-called democracies throughout the world, I think we find that it is something—I can see Maurice Williamson nodding furiously—we can all celebrate as being part of an inclusive and very effective democracy.

The first stage of this reform has already taken place. The new Electoral Commission was established on 1 October. It takes over from the old Electoral Commission and the Chief Electoral Office. The second stage, which this bill brings forward, will be completed on 1 July 2012. It will bring the functions of the Chief Registrar of Electors within the new Electoral Commission. Although it needs to be streamlined, it takes nothing away from the fact that it has been very well served by the agencies, as I said before. This process, although it was highlighted very strongly in the last inquiry, has been raised in at least two inquiries into the general election prior to that. In fact, when Mr Deputy Speaker was on the Justice and Electoral Committee quite some time ago, it may have been raised even at that stage. That could be something he wants to muse on as he is sitting there, thinking.

I come back to the bill. I will talk very briefly about the select committee report. As I said before, the date was moved forward from 1 October to 1 July. A new clause was inserted to allow the Chief Registrar of Electors to seek the consent of declared Māori electors to provide the electors’ email addresses and contact phone numbers. The use of electronic copies instead of paper copies is provided for in a new clause. We are getting more up to date with the world we live in today.

WilliamsonHon Maurice Williamson Link to this

Soon the internet will be voting for you.

PillayLYNNE PILLAY Link to this

I know Maurice Williamson is very much an information technology—

ChadwickHon Steve Chadwick Link to this

He is. He’s very keen.

PillayLYNNE PILLAY Link to this

He is very keen. He is passionate. I think it is his first love, actually. There were other amendments, but those were just drafting amendments that came up.

There is so much to talk about on this bill. I will look a little, teensy bit at the background. Carmel Sepuloni will go into quite a bit of depth on the background, but I will briefly touch on it. Previously, there were three separate bodies. They were the Chief Electoral Officer, the Electoral Commission, and the Chief Registrar of Electors. I will leave Carmel Sepuloni to go into more detail on that, because she is more of a details person than me.

I think, as so many have said, that this will be more effective and we want to see it. I think from time to time we have had a couple of little instances at elections where ballot papers have not got to some of the polling booths in time. There was a situation where some ballot papers went missing on one occasion. But, by and large, those events are very, very infrequent.

This bill will only enhance the service that is provided. I think that full online registration and moving towards more technology will really enhance the situation. The report from the department provides for the full online enrolment option, which is apparently very much on the agenda, to have a satisfactory trial. It will certainly improve online enrolment.

There is also provision for a more efficient way to check whether an elector’s immigration status legally allows them to be on the roll. I think that currently the Department of Labour’s information can be used to check the immigration status only of those already on the roll. It cannot be used to check when an application is being processed. Under this legislation the immigration status can be checked during that time, as well.

ChadwickHon Steve Chadwick Link to this

That’s really good.

PillayLYNNE PILLAY Link to this

That is very good. It is a very good—

ChadwickHon Steve Chadwick Link to this

A check and balance.

PillayLYNNE PILLAY Link to this

—check and balance. It keeps on top of people’s immigration process. It is good to see something good happening with immigration, given the Prime Minister’s dreadful statements lately. Also, the new system will be more efficient. I spoke about that before. It does the streamlining. I know that other people are waiting to take a call on this bill. Thank you very much. Along with everyone in this House, I commend this bill. Thank you very much.

BakshiKANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI (National) Link to this

The Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2) is part of the reforms that were initiated by the National-led Government. The bill has support across all the parties of the House. The main changes in the bill are that voters can register online and change their details online. The bill also includes amendments that will give voters the option of enrolling and of communicating changes to their enrolment details via the internet. Initially, the igovt log-on service was developed by the Department of Internal Affairs. Enrolment offences are to be amended to ensure they cover internet-based acts. The amendments will improve the enrolment service, meet electoral expectation, maximise enrolment, and reduce electoral administration costs.

This bill is stage one of a two-stage process that aims to eventually give electors the option of full online enrolment. For the full enrolment development a higher security level is required. The Department of Internal Affairs is developing the igovt identity verification service, which is also known as IVS. It will require the users to verify their identity online in real time. The identity verification service is intended for use of the full online enrolment option. The two-stage process is necessary to ensure that the integrity in the electoral roll is maintained. I commend this bill to the House.

SepuloniCARMEL SEPULONI (Labour) Link to this

It is nice to stand and speak to the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2), which all parties across the House support unanimously. Labour supports this bill, and we genuinely appreciate the consultative way in which the Government went about making changes to electoral administration. Simon Power has done a good job. He has gone about this electoral reform the right way, and we appreciate the bipartisan approach. It is just unfortunate that the process of this bill is in stark contrast with the lawmaking process followed by many other Ministers of the National-led Government, and that this process was the exception rather than the rule for this Government.

The new Electoral Commission will be a more effective regulator of elections, and we hope that the new agency will provide better access to electoral services and encourage a more integrated, efficient, and strategic approach to electoral administration, as envisaged not only by the Government but unanimously across the House. [Interruption] I am not sure what the member Sandra Goudie was yelling about then, but we will just ignore that.

It is really important to put the bill into perspective, so we need to look at the background of what we had prior to what is being pushed forward with this legislation. The former electoral set-up was administered by three separate bodies, which had various functions. Lynne Pillay spoke a little bit about them, and I would like to go into a little more detail.

ChadwickHon Steve Chadwick Link to this

She spoke quite well.

SepuloniCARMEL SEPULONI Link to this

She did—she spoke very well. We had the Chief Electoral Officer, who conducted general elections, by-elections, and referenda. We in this House know all about by-elections this term. The Chief Electoral Officer also dealt with the division of the Ministry of Justice. In a general election year the office employed returning officers for the 70 electorates. It received returns of donations and election expenses from parliamentary candidates, and provided information to voters, candidates, and parties relating to electoral events. That was the Chief Electoral Officer.

Next we had the Electoral Commission—that is, the previous Electoral Commission. It was an independent Crown entity. It registered political parties and party logos. It also received donations protected from disclosure, registered parties’ annual returns of donations and returns of election expenses, and allocated election broadcasting time and funds to eligible political parties. The commission also encouraged and conducted public education about electoral matters. The third function was the Chief Registrar of Electors, which was responsible for the electoral roll.

The functions of the new Electoral Commission are to conduct elections; deal with donations to, and the expenditure of, political parties and candidates; inform the public about electoral matters; apportion broadcasting time and funding; register parties and logos; and maintain the electoral roll. In short, the new Electoral Commission will take on all of the functions of the three former electoral administration bodies. We support that change, and we think it will result in a more efficient system.

It is great that there was consultation over this issue, and a robust process through the Justice and Electoral Committee. Unfortunately, we have not seen much of that happen, with all of the bills passed by this Government under urgency. But with this bill a good process was undertaken in the select committee. Although I am a member now I was not one of the committee members at the time this bill went through the committee. But from what I hear from my colleagues, it was a very collegial environment to be in during the consideration of, and deliberation on, this bill. It is good to know and good to hear that that is possible in this environment.

I think a lot of people watching from the outside think that at no point do we come together and agree, and at no time do we come together and work collaboratively to come up with the very best legislation that we can. Actually, we do that through our select committee process. Unfortunately, a lot of the time we do not actually agree on the end result, but a very robust process is undertaken through our select committees. This bill is a good example of where that happened. In the end there was unanaimous support for the legislation that resulted. It is good to be standing in the House and speaking about that process.

As I said before, the bill was appropriately scrutinised at the select committee. Given that any changes to the Electoral Act can have constitutional ramifications, we are pleased that this bill has passed with cross-party support. Labour has been supportive of the Government’s two-stage approach to reforming the administration agencies. The bill will ensure a smooth process of change. We are supportive of that and we are pleased about that.

I think I may leave it at that, and wait to hear—

GoudieSandra Goudie Link to this

Keep going, keep going.

SepuloniCARMEL SEPULONI Link to this

Sandra Goudie has had a lot to say as I have been speaking, so perhaps she will rise and make a speech on this bill. I guess we will have to wait and see. If she does not, then no doubt we will still hear her screeching from the Government backbenches.

I have just remembered a few more details that I would like to mention. Sandra Goudie asked that I continue, so I will continue. She is enjoying my speech so much that I will continue. There are some aspects that I did not discuss. The first stage of administrative reform has taken place already. A lot of people may not know that, but it has. The new Electoral Commission was established on 1 October, and subsumed the old Electoral Commission and position of Chief Electoral Officer. The second stage provided for in this bill will be completed on 1 July 2012 and will bring the functions of the Chief Registrar of Electors within the new Electoral Commission.

We support this bill. Again, it is great to say that there is cross-party support for it.

QuinnPAUL QUINN (National) Link to this

It is a pity we are getting close to the dinner break, because I have so much to say on the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill (No 2). I would like initially to make two specific comments. Firstly, this bill is yet another example of the efficient way in which this Government is going about its business. This bill consolidates three organisations into one, and that will give greater efficiency, save the taxpayer money, and carry on the excellent business of getting rid of or minimising red tape so the country can get on and focus on the real issues.

The second point I want to discuss very briefly, and one that has not been raised, is the ability of the Tūhono Trust to receive information so it can contact its electors. If I had much more time I would go into that a bit more, but with those few words I commend the bill to the House.

Bill read a second time.

Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Speeches

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