21 Feb 2019

Parliament's to do list: Thursday 21 February 2019

From The House , 3:16 pm on 21 February 2019

Thursday’s are always shorter in the House finishing at 6pm instead of 10pm. They still have to work though so below is an outline of what they’ll try to do today.

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The view of the House from the clerk's table. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

Question time - 2pm

Each morning on a sitting day MPs lodge questions to Ministers with the Office of the Clerk. The questions are checked to make sure they meet the rules and then sent to the Ministers to give them a little bit of time to form a reply.

Follow-up questions (supplementaries) do not have to be shown in advance but are at the discretion of the Speaker who can cut off an MP or reduce a party’s number of supplementaries if they want.

Up to twelve questions to Ministers can be lodged with parties allocated a certain number of questions roughly depending on their size in the House. It’s the fastest moving part of the House with MPs testing their knowledge and wit.

Registering social workers - third reading

Carmel Sepuloni and Anne Tolley Thumbnail

  Minister of Social Development Carmel Seuploni (left) has taken charge of a social workers registration bill which was introduced by Anne Tolley (right). Photo: RNZ


  • The Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill

  • The third reading of a bill is its final stage in the House and consists of twelve speeches of up to 10 minutes. Normally summing up the main gist of the bill and the work the House has done.

  • The bill will require all social workers to register with the Social Workers Registration Board and will also clarify the definition of a social worker.


  • The bill is in the name of the Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. It was first introduced under the previous National-led Government by the former Minister for Social Development, Anne Tolley so you can expect general agreement.

MP says what?

  • At its first reading Anne Tolley said: “the bill requires all persons practising under the title of "social worker" to register with the board. It will assure the public that anyone who is employed in a position described as a "social worker", performing any function given to a social worker, or claiming to be a social worker will be subject to all the requirements of registration. It also means that newly registered social workers will have to have recognised tertiary degrees, which has been an industry expectation in many other professions for a long time now.”

  • During the committee stage the Minister in charge Carmel Sepuloni said: “the officials were really clear that they felt that the purpose of the bill that was introduced by the previous Government was much more narrow, and that it was focused on protecting the title as opposed to the role that was being undertaken by a social worker. So, as a Government, and as the Minister, we had to make the decision as to whether we would extend out beyond what the original intent of the bill was.”

3x regulatory systems - first reading


  • Three Regulatory Systems bills will be debated together. One on economic development, one on housing, and one on workforce.

  • Each bill is an omnibus bill meaning it will affect more than on Act.

  • All the bills are tidy up bills with the goal of making regulatory systems “effective, efficient, and accord with best regulatory practice”. For example, removing the need for ministerial approval before the Registrar cancels or suspends registration of a building society.

  • When bills are debated together like this they’re often labeled as cognate bills. This is because the House has two o more bills before it on related topics which can make it difficult for debates not to cross-over so the House does it all together.

No more blasphemous libel - third reading

Labour MP Andrew Little, Minister of Treaty Negotiations speaks to Iwi in the Gallery during an iwi bill debate

  Minister of Justice Andrew Little Photo: VNP / Phil Smith


  • The Crimes Amendment Bill.

  • This bill 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'.

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

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

  • There’s a move planned to add in a current Member’s Bill (Ian McKelvie’s on rustling) to this bill.



  • Imprisonment for up to a year remains possible under current law for anyone who publishes any ‘blasphemous libel’ which can include worshiping Satan, or saying that God is cruel or unkind. Removing this clause was the subject of most of the submissions on this bill.

  • 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

See what the House manages to get through each day on the Parliament website here.