The purpose of today's meeting is to engage with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in order to assist the committee in undertaking a mid-year review of the position as regards outputs and expenditure with particular regard to performance measurements in relation to Vote 29 for year ending 31 December 2015. The Minister might also assist us in considering improvements that may be desirable in regard to the performance information included in the unabridged Estimate and brief us on the emerging position so as to permit the committee to participate in the 2016 Estimates discussions in advance of allocations being finalised. On behalf of the committee, I welcome the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Alex White.
I draw attention to the fact that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if witnesses are directed by the Chairman to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. Witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
I also wish to advise that any submissions or opening statements witnesses have made to the committee will be published on the committee website after the meeting.
I remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
The format for the meeting is that in the first part, we will address the issue of output based performance targets while the second part, we will relate to the expenditure pressures emerging in relation to Vote 29. Before going directly to members for questions, I ask the Minister to establish the position on the New Zealand guidance in setting out output based performance targets which, we understand, have been the basis for discussion between the Department and staff of the committee for a number of months. I am referring to the guidance included as the appendix to the briefing material circulated on Monday last. We understand the Department may have a number of issues with how the guidance has been applied to the performance measures it has included in the Estimate. Can we establish whether the Department has any issues with the guidance itself?