Opening and Balancing the Books: the New Zealand Parliament and the Control and Scrutiny of Government Expenditure
Controlling and scrutinising government expenditure is an important duty of the New Zealand Parliament. There is an on-going debate on the effectiveness of Parliament in undertaking this. The role, inherited from the British Parliament, has been developed upon and refined by the New Zealand Parliament. Parliament holds the government to account for its expenditure through a system consisting of the Finance and Expenditure Committee, other subject select committees, extensive Budget and Estimates documentation, and detailed appropriations. The Controller and Auditor-General, debate in the House, and thorough accounts and accounting are also a part of the process. The New Zealand Parliament can have more than adequate control of government expenditure, but is sometimes deficient at scrutinising its details. Recommendations to improve Parliament’s ability to control and scrutinise government expenditure must centre on Members of Parliament being willing, able and eager to undertake the role.