As an independent Officer of Parliament, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has wide-ranging powers to investigate environmental concerns. 'Independent' means independent of the government of the day, so the the Commissioner reports not to a Government Minister but to Parliament through:
The Commissioner is quite separate from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE). The Ministry is a government department and policy adviser, responsible to the Minister for the Environment.
Mission and values:
But as an Officer of Parliament, the Commissioner's job is to hold the Government to account for its environmental policies and actions. The Commissioner is a policy reviewer standing outside the system of environmental management and reporting on it.
The office was set up under the Environment Act 1986, and the Commissioner is appointed for a five-year term. In 2010 Parliament voted $2.667 million to fund the office (details on Treasury's website, PDF 180 KB).
The current Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is Dr Jan Wright.