11 Dec 2018

Parliament’s to do list: medicinal cannabis, tax rates, & Reserve Bank rules

From The House , 11:03 am on 11 December 2018

On Tuesdays MPs have party meetings (caucus) in the morning and meet in the House for Oral Questions at 2pm. Then, as the dust settles they get busy on an evening of debating proposed laws. This week Tuesday will flow over into Wednesday morning.

The bills on the Order Paper for Tuesday and Wednesday morning (their agenda), include:

Question Time - 2pm

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Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Twelve oral questions to Ministers from either Opposition MPs or government backbenchers. This usually lasts about an hour and is one of the fastest moving parts of the House’s proceedings. Supplementary/follow-up questions are allocated to parties by size but are ultimately at the discretion of the Speaker.

Medicinal Cannabis

Medical marijuana buds in daily pill organizer with branded prescription bottle lid sitting on green background

Photo: 123RF


  • The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill - third reading. The Minister of Health, David Clark is in charge of this bill.

  • This Bill amends the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 to introduce an exception and a statutory defence for people in palliative treatment to possess and use raw cannabis or possess a cannabis ‘utensil’. It doesn’t excuse their suppliers.

  • It also creates a regulation-making power to set standards for and encourage cannabis production, and removes cannabidiol (CBD) from the list of controlled drugs.

  • This third reading debate is the final approval from the Parliament. After this it is sent off on a round-robin of official sign-offs all the way up to the Governor General, when it becomes law.


  • This bill was the Government’s compromise response to a member’s bill in the name of Chloe Swarbrick that failed to pass its first reading early this Parliament.

  • The committee stage allows MPs to suggest amendments. There are already amendments promised from various corners.

What did the MPs say?

  • At the second reading debate the Minister of Health David Clark outlined the bill like this:

“Access to affordable medicinal cannabis products remains problematic for many New Zealanders. To address this issue, the Government agreed late last year to introduce a medicinal cannabis scheme and to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act. As a result, I introduced the bill, which introduces an exception and a statutory defence for terminally ill people with less than 12 months to live to possess and use illicit cannabis and to possess a cannabis utensil. The bill as introduced also provides a regulation-making power to enable the setting of standards that products manufactured, imported, or supplied under licence must meet. The bill as introduced de-schedules cannabidiol, also referred to as CBD, so it is no longer a controlled drug.”

  • National’s Dr Shane Reti, during the second reading debate said:  

“Today, our position is this: the National Party will be supporting the medicinal cannabis bill through the second reading today and into the next stage, at which point we will require the smoking of loose-leaf cannabis to be replaced and the incorporation of some of the legislation that we have crafted to be included as part of a framework. This will allow all parties and New Zealanders to see, debate, and agree on the main features of a medicinal cannabis scheme.”

Refueling the money train

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Photo: 123rf



  • Apparently running a country costs money. Who knew?

Tweaking Monetary Policy

Labour MP Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance listens to media questions

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson Photo: VNP / Phil Smith


  • The Committee Stage is already underway for the The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Monetary Policy) Amendment Bill in the name of the Finance Minister Grant Robertson.  

  • It amends the objectives that the Reserve Bank has to consider in setting monetary policy to include ‘consideration of maximum sustainable employment alongside price stability in monetary policy decision making’. It also formalises a ‘monetary policy committee’ to make decisions on monetary policy.

  • Committee Stages have no maximum duration, but keep going until all the aspects of the bill have been discussed. This bill is drafted in two parts so is being debated in parts. They were still debating Part 1 when they stopped, but Part 1 is most of the bill.   


  • The Reserve Bank controls a few small levers for influencing the national economy and has rules about how it uses them. This bill adjusts those rules.

Who said what?

  • During the bill’s first reading, its sponsor Grant Robertson said:

“It is a very important part of our financial framework in New Zealand, but after 30 years with much change it is time to make sure that we create a resilient and sustainable and productive economy, and make sure that every part of our apparatus fits with that.”

  • National’s shadow finance spokesperson Amy Adams said:

“So my question again remains what is the problem we are trying to solve? How do we think this solution will solve it? Why have we differed from the very purpose clause that the Minister is introducing? And why have we not followed the international example which reflects that whole basket of economic conditions that the Reserve Bank has already taken into account?”  

The extra day... Wednesday Morning

More than a Slap on the Wrist

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation Photo: VNP / Phil Smith


  • The committee stage of the Conservation (Infringement System) Bill

  • This bill will introduce an infringement system for less serious breaches of conservation legislation. More serious than a formal warning but less serious than prosecution. For example, someone who fishes in a marine reserve but doesn’t catch any fish or do harm to the reserve could be served an infringement notice but someone who deliberately breaks the rules could be deserving of prosecution.

  • It’s an omnibus bill which means it will affect more than one Act. They are: the Conservation Act 1987, the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, the Marine Reserves Act 1971, the National Parks Act 1980, the Reserves Act 1977, the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989, the Wild Animal Control Act 1977, and the Wildlife Act 1953.


  • The bill was introduced under the previous National-led Government but is now in the name of Green MP and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.

What the MPs said:

  • At the bill’s first reading, Minister for Women Julie-Anne Genter spoke on behalf of the Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage and said:

“In general, each offence in the current law—fishing in a marine reserve, for example—encompasses a wide range of offending. Somebody who fishes in a marine reserve inadvertently, and does not catch any fish or do any harm to the reserve, may well be suitable for an infringement notice. Conversely, someone who deliberately flouts the rules and poaches fish from it is likely to merit prosecution action. The bill will make the treatment of less serious offending under conservation legislation consistent with the approach to enforcement we already have under our fisheries, biosecurity, and resource management laws. It should also remove unnecessary costs to the court system.”

  • Former Minister for Conservation and National MP Maggie Barry said:

“People in this House may recall the publicity around the jewelled geckos and people smuggling them out in their underpants, and so forth. The international market for some of our unique national taonga is such that they have been targeted. It was essential to up the ante and make New Zealand less of a soft target for these international poachers, and that's what we did and the fines were dramatically increased. We upgraded the language, as well, of the 1953 Wildlife Act to give the DOC rangers extra powers, which, again, they felt they needed.”

Tūpāpaku inquiry outcomes

The entrance to the Maori Affairs Select Committee room at Parliament 23 Feb 2018

The entrance to the Maori Affairs Select Committee room at Parliament Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox



  • Last year the Maori Affairs Select Committee held an inquiry into the intersection of Maori tikanga, and how quickly (or slowly) coroners allow families access to the bodies of the dead.

  • This bill enacts a recommendation made by that inquiry.

The ‘Other’ Crown Minerals Bill


  • The committee stage of the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill, in the name of Megan Woods.

  • Confusingly there have been two Crown Minerals Amendment Bills making their way through the House. The much argued bill that aimed to reduce future petro carbon exploration is now law. This is the other, less contentious bill.   

  • Its uncontentiousness is shown by the fact that its report back from Select Committee suggesting amendments included no minority opinion.

  • It’s basically a tidy-up bill. The committee described it thus: “The bill aims to address regulatory duplication, gaps, errors, and inconsistencies within the Act, and to clarify and update statutory provisions.

And in case it goes well...

If Tuesday and Wednesday morning in the House go quickly they may get as far as:

ACC changes

ACC Building

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller


  • The second reading (continued) of the Accident Compensation Amendment Bill

  • Describes itself as tidying up inconsistencies between different pieces of legislation and keeping the regulatory system up to date and relevant.

  • The Bill will make several changes including allowing surviving spouses to receive up to five years of weekly compensation, regardless of age and disestablishing the Accident Compensation Appeal Authority, which hears cases under the 1972 and 1982 accident compensation legislation.

OMG, god forfend, and gadzooks!    

A bible.

A bible. Photo: 123rf.com


  • The second reading of the Crimes Amendment Bill.

  • This does a few things including repealing the law of “blasphemous libel” which is listed as an offence under the Crimes Act 1961, under the heading 'Crime against religion'.

  • Repeal the ‘year and a day’ law or Section 162 of the Crimes Act.

  • Repeal Section 71(2) of the Act which deals with spouses or civil union partners being charged as an accessory after the fact.


  • Imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year is still technically possible for anyone who publishes any blasphemous libel which can include worshiping Satan, or saying that God is cruel or unkind. While the clause is widely seen as archaic and anachronistic, removing it was the subject of most of the submissions on this bill. Yes everyone can read the submissions on a bill online.

  • The ‘year and a day’ law prevents people being charged for causing someone's death if they died more than 'one year and a day' after the criminal act. The law has prevented charges in recent years including in relation to the collapse of the CTV building in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake which killed 115 people.

  • If someone helps a person who has committed a crime you can be charged with accessory after the fact unless you are that person’s spouse or civil union partner. This bill will get rid of that protection for spouses or partners.

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