This report has been prepared through a partnership between the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives (OOC) and the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. The primary purpose of this partnership is to “develop policy options for parliamentary scrutiny of long-term governance and stewardship” (see appendix 1).
In the first instance, the report provides ideas for the triennial review of Parliament’s Standing Orders: these are the rules that govern the operations of the House of Representatives (the House) in New Zealand. But it also has a broader goal, namely to contribute to public debate on enhancing the quality of the country’s long-term governance, thereby better protecting the wellbeing of current and future citizens.
The report outlines a series of options for enhancing parliamentary scrutiny of long-term governance. These fall into five main categories:
- changes to the Standing Orders designed to enhance the capacity of, and incentives for, Parliament to scrutinise governmental performance, particularly with respect to long-term governance
- improvements to the structures and systems of advice for Parliament
- changes designed to enhance the engagement of parliamentarians on long-term issues (e.g., via new advisory and scrutiny mechanisms)
- changes to current policy and statutory frameworks, including institutional, reporting and procedural arrangements
- reforms of a constitutional or quasi-constitutional nature.
Specific proposals are outlined in table E.1 and discussed briefly below. While each proposal has the potential to enrich the quality of parliamentary scrutiny, the best approach would be to implement an integrated package of measures. Such a package should seek to enhance the different ‘layers’ or forms of scrutiny that contribute to parliamentary oversight: political scrutiny, institutional scrutiny, formal accountability and public scrutiny.
Of course, there is scope for disagreement about what constitutes a desirable package of reforms. The report’s goal is to encourage informed deliberation and build cross-party support for a better scrutiny model.
This executive summary briefly outlines the scope, contents and findings of the report. Details of the research undertaken are described in chapter 2.