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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Find out more!
of the Clerk of the House of Representatives
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