A number of new bills have been introduced to Parliament.
The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill was introduced by Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi on 4 April.
The bill received its first reading on 9 April. It amends the Land Transport Act 1998 to regulate the maximum fees charged by wheel clamp operators. This bill also makes it an offence for a person to charge more than the maximum fee ($100), or to fail to remove the wheel clamp.
Clause 4 inserts a new Part 7A – Immobilising devices applied to parked motor vehicles.
The bill will come into force on the 42nd day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.
Also introduced on 4 April was Kris Faafoi's Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Amendment Bill. This bill was subsequently discharged and re-introduced on 9 April as the Credit Contracts Legislation Amendment Bill
The objective of the bill is to amend the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 by strengthening requirements to lend responsibly, especially in relation to how affordability and suitability tests should be conducted, limiting the accumulation of interest and fees on high-cost loans, and providing new remedies and penalties for non-compliance.
The bill is the result of a review that identified ongoing issues in the credit market and significant harm to vulnerable consumers from problem debt. The issues identified included the excessive cost of some consumer credit agreements; continued irresponsible lending and other non-compliance, including by mobile traders; unreasonable fees; and irresponsible debt collection practices.
Key changes the bill introduces to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act include the following:
a limit on the accumulation of interest and fees on high-cost loans to 100% of the original loan principal, over the life of the loan. This will apply only to loans with an annualised interest rate of 50% or more:
all directors and top executives of lenders offering consumer credit contracts will be required to meet a
“fit and proper person” test in order for the lender to register on the Financial Service Providers Register. This requirement will also apply to mobile traders. Directors and top executives of lenders will have new duties to ensure that lenders comply with the Credit Contracts Act:
enforcement provisions will be strengthened, including by providing civil pecuniary penalties and statutory damages for breaches of lender responsibility principles:
regulation-making powers will provide for greater prescription about how assessments of affordability and suitability must be conducted. The presumption that lenders can rely on information provided by borrowers and guarantors without objective verification will be removed:
debt collectors will be required to disclose key information about the debt to the debtor, at the commencement of debt collection action.
The bill also enables lenders who have breached disclosure requirements to apply to a court for relief from liability under section 99(1A) of the Act. This provides an avenue for lenders to obtain relief from potentially large and disproportionate liabilities resulting from minor disclosure breaches.
National MP Louise Upston's Rights for Victims of Insane Offenders Bill was introduced on 4 April. Its objective is to ensure that victims of legally insane offenders are treated the same as other victims of crime.
This bill changes the formal finding of the court to provide victims with the acknowledgment that the offender was proven to have acted grievously, even if they lacked the intent to be guilty of the action.
The bill would rename the verdict of ‘not guilty on account of insanity’ to 'the acts or omissions are proven but the defendant is not criminally responsible on account of insanity'. The new verdict would acknowledge that the offender did commit the criminal act.
The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission/Te Waihanga Bill was introduced on 9 April by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. It establises the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission/Te Waihanga as an autonmous Crown entity, with the purpose of co-ordinating, developing, and promoting an approach to infrastructure that encourages infrastructure, and services that result from the infrastructure, that improve the well-being of New Zealanders.
The Commission's main function will be to co-ordinate, develop and promote an approach to infrastructure that encourages infrastructure, and services that result from infrastructure, that improve the well-being of New Zealanders.
The bill establishes the powers and functions of the Commission. It includes provisions requiring some State sector agencies to comply with information requests to enable the Commission to carry out its functions. The bill amends the Crown Entities Act 2004 and the Ombudsman Act 1975 to include the Commission in relevant lists.