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Guide to 2008 NZ Election
Archived NZ Parlt 2005-08
Archived NZ Parlt 2002-05
Our Parliament House
International perspectives on democracy
Electing Parliament
General-election results
Parliamentary parties
NZ First
United Future
Forming the government
Composition of Parliament
The role of the Speaker
Who drafts the laws?
How laws are made
How a bill becomes an act
The Office of the Clerk
Parliamentary Service
MP's pay
A Labour example - Darren Hughes
A National example -
John Key
Select committees
Select commitee members
Petitioning Parliament
Visiting Parliament
Opinion polls
Parliamentary history
The New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust



Select committees

Making a submission
Detailed review
Royal assent
Making an appearance

After a bill is introduced to Parliament and has been given its first reading, it is referred to a select committee. Select committees are small groups of MPs who can examine bills in detail, and hear public submissions on proposed laws.

Nearly all bills, once referred to a select committee, are advertised in the metropolitan and major provincial newspapers for submissions from interested organisations or individuals. Select committees also call for submissions on other matters referred to them. People may appear before the committee in person to support their written submissions.

Making a submission

Anyone can make a submission to a select committee. A booklet on how to make a submission is available from the Office of the Clerk and on the website. You should send 20 copies of your submission (preferably typed) to the clerk of the committee before the closing date for submissions. Do not assume a late submission will be considered.

You can ask to appear before the committee to make a spoken presentation. The clerk of the committee will let you know if the committee wishes to hear your submission and will tell you where and when you can present it. Sometimes, select committees hold hearings at places outside Wellington. If you travel to the meeting, you will have to pay for your own travel. However, videoconferencing facilities are now available, allowing the public to make submissions and MPs to attend meetings outside of Wellington without the time and expense of travelling.

After the select committee process, the bill is reported back to the whole House, usually with amendments. The bill is then debated in its second reading.

Detailed review

In the next stage of consideration, the House forms itself into a committee of the whole House and considers the bill in detail. This gives all MPs the opportunity to debate each separate provision or clause of the bill, and to vote to change any of it.

Royal assent

Next comes the third reading, during which members may discuss the bill, but only in the form in which it came out of the committee of the whole House. This is their last opportunity to debate the bill before it is voted on and sent to the Governor-General for signing (Royal Assent). Only then does a bill become an Act of Parliament.


Select committees are also able to initiate their own investigations. As a result, government officials and other people are often requested to appear before a select committee. Most committee proceedings during the hearing of evidence are open to the public, so potential witnesses can attend before giving evidence themselves.

Making an appearance

If you make a submission to a select committee in person, you will appear as a witness. You may appear in person or by videoconference.You will need to identify yourself and/or your organisation.
If you choose representatives to appear for an organisation, make sure they have the authority, are capable of speaking on behalf of the organisation, and are familiar with the issue. Legal counsel may be used.
The chair usually asks witnesses to make a brief opening statement. In this statement you should summarise the main points of your submission. You may also inform the committee of any relevant new information. Do not read your submission aloud. You will then be questioned by the members of the committee. You may call on other people to answer particular questions. You may be asked to provide additional written information.
Select committee hearings are open to the public and media. If you have private or confidential information to present, you should inform the clerk of the committee so the committee can consider how to handle this.

Find out more!

Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives
Parliament Buildings
Tel: (04) 471 9999 extn 9520
Fax: (04) 499 0486


Cartoon showing Sione presenting petition to Parliamentary select committee

Source: Harry Dansey in Sione Comes to New Zealand, a Samoan migrants' story

It is certainly possible to present petititions to Parliament on topics citizens' select - and it is also possible for citizens to make submissions to select committees on topics they decide to examine