What we do
The Commissioner's primary role is to give independent advice to Parliament
This is achieved in a number of ways:
Reports on investigations. All of the Commissioner’s reports are tabled in Parliament by the Speaker. Reports often contain recommendations for change, while some reports are primarily educational.
Submissions to select committees on bills, inquiries or petitions. Submissions are sometimes made on policy proposals, such as proposed changes to the Resource Management Act.
All of our work contributes to the Commissioner’s stated aim to maintain and improve the New Zealand environment by influencing decision-makers through well-reasoned, independent advice.
The acceptance and effectiveness of the Commissioner's advice depends to a large degree on the independence, integrity, and quality of the investigations undertaken by the office.
Decisions to change environmental law, policy and institutional arrangements are the responsibility of Parliament, central government, and local government. Implementing these decisions, and monitoring their impact on the environment, is the responsibility of government agencies.
In 2014 the Commissioner was given a new function – writing commentaries on ‘state of the environment reports produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand.
In addition to producing independent reports and advice to Members of Parliament, the Commissioner will continue to present her work to the public, and respond to public concerns as resources allow.
The Commissioner's assistance to Parliament is her highest work priority and is governed by a Code of Practice developed through the Officers of Parliament Committee.
An opportunity to assist select committees arises when a bill or inquiry could lead to significant environmental impacts, positive or negative.
The Commissioner also assists Parliament through briefings to select committees or by open invitation to members of Parliament. Such briefings will always be offered when an investigation is complete and the report has been tabled in the House.