Access to Secondary Legislation

Julie Haggie

Julie Haggie

CEO, Transparency International New Zealand

At a forum on government procurement held in April, I learned more about the following project run by the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) called “Access to Secondary Legislation”.

The Government has agreed (as part of its Open Government Partnership – OGP) to include secondary legislation on the New Zealand Legislation website. The latter currently doesn’t include legislation made by local authorities and councils.

Ready access to the law is fundamental to a democratic society based on openness and the rule of law. While all Acts of Parliament (primary legislation) are now easily accessible in consolidated form on the New Zealand Legislation website thanks to an earlier OGP commitment, most secondary legislation is not published centrally.

Ministers agreed in late 2016 that the New Zealand Legislation website should be expanded to provide access to all current secondary legislation. To do this, the PCO set up the Access to Secondary Legislation Project.

Relevant legislation

There are two relevant pieces of legislation to make this happen. 

New legislation is needed to define secondary legislation and make it accessible. The Legislation Bill defines secondary legislation. It is currently on its second reading in Parliament, and will repeal the Legislation Act 2012.

A second Bill, with the working title Secondary Legislation (Access) Bill, is being prepared for introduction to Parliament.

Secondary legislation is the term in the Legislation Bill for instruments that make or change the law and are made under a law-making power delegated by Parliament. This term will replace existing categories, including “disallowable instrument”, “legislative instrument”, and “tertiary legislation”.

The lead agency is the Parliamentary Council Office. It is gearing up for a round of workshops focused closely on the needs and interests of the many makers of secondary legislation, large and small. The workshops will be hosted, with PCO support,  by the agencies that administer primary legislation. Policy makers attending the workshops will hear directly from the PCO about the Access to Secondary Legislation Project. They will be able to discuss the implications for them, with the agency and the PCO.

Invitations are expected to be issued in April. Interested makers can register their interest with the agency that administers the primary legislation they operate under.

A key commitment of Open Government Partnership

This Access Project continues to be a key undertaking (Commitment 4) in the National Action Plan 2018–2020 under the Open Government Partnership.

New Zealand’s secondary legislation work has been awarded “star commitment” status by the international Open Government Partnership Independent Reporting Mechanism. Star commitment status is awarded to exemplary reforms that have a potentially transformative impact on a nation’s citizens.

Editor’s note: This content includes sections of the Parliamentary Counsel Office website Access Project.

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