31 Jul 2018

Parliament’s to do list: mo’ money mo’ argue

From The House , 6:55 pm on 31 July 2018

MPs are continuing to talk about Budget 2018 this week as they work towards finishing off the Estimates Debate.

Question time will take place each day at 2pm as usual and after that MPs will work through government orders of the day which just another way of saying proposed legislation (July 31 - August 2).

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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 estimates debate (All Tuesday and a little bit of Wednesday and let’s throw it in on Thursday too)


  • The committee stage of the Appropriations (2018/19 Estimates) Bill (a.k.a the budget). This part is also known as the Estimates Debate.

  • This debate lasts 11 hours in total and is separated into 10 sections. Each section will be led by the chairperson of the relevant select committee. So National MP Simon O’Connor will kick off the External Section as he’s the chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee.

  • This debate was started last week so there are 5 hours and 52 minutes left on it. Health, Justice, Maori Affairs, Primary, and Social Services and Community are the sections left to debate.


  • How much money there is and how it is spent by the Government is important so Parliament spends a fair amount of time examining and scrutinising those spending choices. This is part of that scrutiny cycle.

  • On May 17, the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson introduced the Appropriations Bill which was read a first time without debate, then he delivered his budget statement and the second reading of the Bill began right after. That part lasted 15 hours in total but was spread over a few sitting days.

  • After that, ‘Votes’ (the topic sections of the budget: Health, Education etc) went to various Select Committees to be examined and defended by Ministers.

  • The committees wrote reports on each vote and sent them back to the House for MPs to debate which is where we are now.

  • 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.The Imprest Supply Bill will go through all its stages on Thursday alongside the rest of the Estimates Debate.

General Debate (every Wednesday after question time, about 3pm)


  • Twelve speeches of up to five minutes in length after question time on Wednesdays in the House. Speeches are divvied up proportionally so bigger parties get more speeches. Because Ministers aren’t counted in the proportional divvy-up, the opposition side of the House gets more speeches than the government side.


  • The general debate is a chance for MPs to bring up issues that would otherwise not come up before the House, making it a wide-ranging debate. Sometimes parties take a coordinated approach and speak on the same issue but there’s no rule that they have to.

Restricting overseas buyers (Wednesday)


  • The committee stage of the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill.

  • The committee stage is where MPs consider a bill in detail and vote on proposed changes. At this point the bill has been to the relevant select committee which writes a report. The report from the Finance and Expenditure Committee can be found here.

  • This Bill will put residential land into the category of “sensitive land” in the Overseas Investment Act. It will mean people who do not usually live in New Zealand will generally not be allowed to buy residential homes or other land classed as residential.

  • There are some exceptions or conditions which would allow overseas investors to purchase residential land but one amendment was removed by the Speaker in June who ruled it out of order.

Updating Military Justice (Wednesday)


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