Secondary Legislation changes – Will it deliver?

Julie Haggie
Chief Executive Officer
Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ)

Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) has continued to work on the Access to Secondary Legislation project. They now report on this in their latest technical update.

Secondary legislation is the term for regulations and other types of law that are made under powers delegated by Parliament to other entities, such as government agencies or local government. There are currently over 2,500 existing provisions, in more than 550 Acts, which delegate power to make secondary legislation.

The project is an important element of the government’s promise to give New Zealanders access to the secondary legislation that impacts their lives. This is a commitment made under the Open Government Partnership third National Action Plan.

Historically, there has been inconsistency in the level of Parliamentary oversight and application of these provisions, along with poor public access. This problem has been well identified including in a 2014 report by the Productivity Commission, and in TINZ’s 2013 National Integrity System Assessment (NIS), and again in the 2018 NIS update.

TINZ’s February 2020 submission on the Secondary Legislation Bill emphasised that getting the legislation to be more consistent is one thing. But an equally high priority ought to ensure people can access the secondary legislation.

The latest update from the PCO indicates that members of the public may have to follow a breadcrumb link from the general legislation to the agency responsible for regulation, in order to find the detail of that regulation. The quality of access and updating will be reliant on the resource and commitment at each agency with responsibility for the regulation. This seems a light version of the original vision.  TINZ will be following that up with the PCO.

 

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