12 Jun 2018

Parliament’s to do list: the last of the budget debate and other money matters

From The House , 6:55 pm on 12 June 2018

MPs haven’t quite finished the debate on the budget (which is the Government’s spending plan) so that will get finished up this week.

Question time will happen as usual each day but the general debate will be replaced with yet another debate about money.

The plan for this week (June 12 - 14) is below.

No caption

Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

MPs are required to be at Parliament for scheduled sitting days, so called because MPs sit in those green leather chairs when they’re in the debating chamber. An agenda known as the Order Paper is published online each sitting day outlining what business the House plans to get through. But plans change and time is limited so below is what they’ll try their best to get through.

The Last of the Budget Debate (Tuesday)


  • The continued second reading of the Appropriations (2018/19 Estimates) Bill (a.k.a the budget).

  • One hour twenty-six minutes remaining - it's a long talk that has followed question time over the last few weeks since it was announced on May 17.

  • On that day in May, the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson introduced the Appropriations Bill which was read a first time without debate. Then he delivered a copy of his budget statement to the Speaker, Clerk, PM, other party leaders and Hansard.

  • The Minister of Finance then read the budget statement (they can take as long as they like) as part of their speech to kick off the second reading of the Appropriations Bill. They also get to speak last to address any comments made during the debate.

  • The actual Budget Debate is usually started by the Leader of the Opposition (National 20 minutes), and followed by the other party leaders: the Prime Minister (Labour, 20 minutes), Deputy Prime Minister (NZ First, 20 minutes), Greens (20 Minutes), ACT (10 Minutes), other MPs (10 minutes each). The ‘other MPs’ is where we’re up to now.


  • Running a country costs money. And the Government needs permission from Parliament both to collect money and to spend it.

  • The budget debate is the beginning of a very long parliamentary process of approving the Government’s spending plan for the year from July 1st. It begins the debate on a piece of legislation [the Appropriations (2018/19 Estimates) Bill] which outlines spending on all the many dozens of aspects of the wider ‘government’ - from schools and hospitals, to spies and science; from artificial limbs to environmental protection, and from taxes to lotteries.

  • In total the debate lasts for 15 hours and then the various ‘Votes’ (the topic sections of the budget: Health, Education etc) go to various Select Committees to be examined and defended by Ministers (this part has started already) before arriving back at the House for 11 hours of Committee Stage (the Appropriations Debate) and a three hour third reading.
    That’s 29 hours or more of House time plus the many Select Committee meetings.

  • Along with the Appropriations Bill, the Government will also ask Parliament to pass an Imprest Supply measure to actually give it some interim walking-around-money while the House considers the Appropriations.

Regional Fuel Tax (Tuesday)


Making Multinationals Pay Tax (Tuesday/Thursday)



  • Tax law is a bit like an arms race. Governments write laws to try and force companies and individuals to pay their share of tax, while they, in turn, look for loopholes to exploit so as to minimise their tax.

  • This bill focuses on BEPS tax avoidance schemes whereby multinationals move profits from high tax countries (NZ) to low tax countries (tax havens); so they can report a loss in NZ and a massive profit somewhere else where tax rates are negligible.

Military Justice (Tuesday)


More Money Matters (Wednesday)


  • The usual Wednesday general debate (which is where MPs can bring up issues that wouldn’t normally be brought up in the House) will be replaced with a debate on He Puna Hao Pātiki, 2018 Investment Statement: Investing for Wellbeing.

  • He Puna Hao Pātiki is the New Zealand Treasury’s 2018 Investment Statement. It analyses the government balance sheet – which represents the investment made by government on behalf of New Zealanders in things like schools, hospitals, financial assets and commercial enterprises.


  • The Investment Statement meets a reporting requirement under The Public Finance Act 1989 and describes and states the value of Crown assets and liabilities.

  • It’s Treasury’s second investment statement and builds on the first statement published in 2014.

Members' Day (Wednesday)

Every alternate Wednesday in the House, time is devoted to bills by members who are not ministers (like Opposition MPs and backbenchers). They’re called members' bills. Members' bills up for debate this week include:

Even More Money Business


Straighten Up and Fly Right


  • All stages of the Subordinate Legislation Confirmation Bill with a debate on the second reading only.

  • This bill is a tidy up bill will confirm a Civil Aviation regulation that would otherwise expire at the end of June.

International trade treaty debate - CPTPP


  • A two hour debate on a select committee report on the International treaty examination of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

  • The report is from the Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee. Legislation is often needed to put laws in place that will ensure treaty obligations are met. The House is debating the Treaty report rather than the legislation that will come later.  

  • The CPTPP is a trade and investment agreement between 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region; New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

  • The CPTPP is based on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) which included the United States until it withdrew in January 2017.

You can see how much the House gets done each sitting day by going here: Daily progress in the House