With the text of the TPP having just been released, all eyes are now on Parliament as the agreement goes through the international treaty examination process. This will draw attention to the scrutiny function of select committees and especially their ability to hold the Government accountable for its activities in foreign affairs and trade. The TPP negotiations were often criticised for their lack of transparency. So it will be interesting to see what information about that process will be made available to the committee – and whether the committee will insist on being informed in this way.
The Legislature and the Executive have distinct roles, even within New Zealand’s somewhat blurred version of the separation of powers. Parliament is the "Grand Inquest of the Nation" and the Executive is the "Defender of the Realm". Both are necessary, but what happens when these roles conflict? Does national security or trade negotiation confidentiality limit parliamentary sovereignty?