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Several bills introduced in Parliament

11 December 2019

Several bills have been introduced to Parliament in its second-to-last week of sitting in 2019. Parliament will sit next week and will finish for the year on Thursday, 19 December.

Secondary Legislation Bill

The Secondary Legislation Bill was introduced on 10 December 2019. Minister for the Environment David Parker is in charge of the bill.

This bill improves and supports the law relating to the making of secondary legislation, by applying and adjusting the framework of access to, and Parliamentary oversight of, secondary legislation provided for it in the Legislation Act 2019.

The new Legislation Act establishes a single category of secondary legislation to replace the current, complicated definitions of legislative instruments and disallowable instruments in the Legislation Act 2012.

The bill achieves this by amending, in an Act, each provision that empowers the making of an instrument that the Government considers to have legislative effect, and consequential arrangements to other provisions. The bill amends over 2,500 existing empowering provisions in more than 550 Acts.

The amendments set out in Schedules 1 to 32 are arranged by administering agency, with each schedule containing amendments to the Acts administered by a particular agency. Most amendments relate to instruments that will become secondary legislation, either adding or removing statements describing the nature of the instrument. Other amendments update references to the Legislation Act 2012 or Interpretation Act 1999 which will be repealed by the new Legislation Act or repeal provisions that will be redundant once the new Legislation Act comes into force.

Schedules 33 and 34 amend the new Legislation Act to change the definition of secondary legislation for Royal prerogative instruments to align it more closely with the methodology applied to other secondary legislation.

Schedules 35 and 36 create the exemptions from publication, presentation, list, and disallowance exemptions that will apply under new Schedule 3 of the new Legislation Act.

The bill amends public Acts, private Acts, local Acts, and provincial Acts. It does not amend Imperial Acts or legislative instruments.

This Act comes into force on one or more dates set by Order in Council; or to the extent not brought into force earlier, on the fifth anniversary of the date of Royal assent.

One or more Orders in Council may set different dates for different provisions (and, for that purpose, may commence a provision only for the purpose of giving effect to some, but not other, parts of this Act).

Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Commercial Video on-Demand) Amendment Bill

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Commercial Video on-Demand) Amendment Bill was introduced on 10 December 2019. Minister for Children Tracey Martin is in charge of the bill.

The objective of the bill is to reduce the potential for harm to consumers from viewing inappropriate content. It will do this by requiring that commercial video on-demand (CVoD) content available in New Zealand is labelled consistently and appropriately, if the provider is specified in the Schedule to the bill.

Currently providers of commercial (subscription and transactional) video on-demand content are displaying inconsistent ratings and descriptive notes (or no ratings at all) for content available on their platforms. Films for cinematic or DVD release are subject to mandatory rating requirements, while on-line demand content is not. The bill amends the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 to clearly address the identified regulatory gap.

Providers of CVoD content will be required to label content before it is available in New Zealand (clause 7 inserting Part 3A – section 46B (1)). The provider must follow the current process for the labelling of a film (new section 46B (3) (b)), or they can self-rate using systems that have been approved by the Classification Office (section 46B (3)(a)).

The bill sets criteria that the Minister must consider in determining the potential risk of harm including the nature of the content, the market presence and whether a provider is using a classification framework that is recognised as being effective in ensuring that consistent and appropriate information is provided to consumers (clause 8 – new section 150A(4) (i),(ii),(iii)).

The bill updates the functions of the Classification Office to ensure that the new requirements for CVoD content are clearly within the scope of its operational work. The Classification Office will have new functions including providing an on-line rating tool, approving self-rating systems and reviewing and monitoring the operation and outputs of the online rating tool and any self-rating systems (clause 46F).

Sections 4(2), 6, 7, and 11 to 16 come into force on 1 January 2021. The rest of this Act comes into force on 1 July 2020.

Taumata Arowai - the Water Services Regulator Bill

The Taumata Arowai—the Water Services Regulator Bill was introduced on 11 December 2019. Minister for Local Government Nanaia Mahuta is in charge of the bill.

This bill establishes Taumata Arowai—the Water Services Regulator as a new Crown agent and provides for its objectives, functions, operating principles, and governance arrangements.

The bill implements the Government’s decision to create this regulatory body to oversee, administer, and enforce the drinking water regulatory system. The bill is part of a package of reforms to the three waters regulatory system. A separate bill will give effect to decisions to implement system-wide reforms to the regulation of drinking water and source water, and targeted reforms to improve the regulation and performance of wastewater and stormwater networks.

The approaches provided for in the bill are intended to address issues and opportunities that were highlighted in the Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water and the Government’s Three Waters Review.

Clause 5 sets out how the bill recognises and respects the Crown’s responsibility to consider and provide for Māori interests.

Part 2 establishes the objectives, functions, and operation of Taumata Arowai. The statutory objectives set out in clause 10 include the protection and promotion of drinking water safety, effective administration of the regulatory system to build and maintain capability among drinking water suppliers across the wider industry. Clause 11 sets out the general functions of Taumata Arowai which include developing standards that relate to drinking water composition and monitoring and enforcing compliance with relevant drinking water legislation and standards.

Clause 12 establishes the Māori Advisory Group and clause 17 sets out the role of the group, which is to advise the board and Taumata Arowai on Māori interests and knowledge, as they relate to the objectives, functions, and operating principles of Taumata Arowai and the collective duties of the board.

Subpart 3 contains the operations of Taumata Arowai, the operating principles and the additional duties that are the collective duties of the board.

This Act (except sections 10(b) and 11(e)) comes into force on the day on which it receives the Royal assent.

Sections 10(b) and 11(e) come into force on the earlier of a date appointed by the Governor-General by Order in Council; and 1 July 2021. One or more Orders in Council may be made under subsection (2)(a) appointing different dates for different provisions.

Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Bill

The Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Bill was introduced on 11 December 2019. Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi is in charge of the bill.

This bill amends the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 (FMG Act) to ensure that certain financial institutions and their intermediaries comply with a principle of fair conduct and associated duties and regulations, in order to reduce the risk of harm to consumers.

Recent reviews that have identified that certain institutions, particularly banks and life insurers, lack focus on good outcomes for customers and have ineffective systems and controls to identify, manage, and remedy conduct issues.

The bill requires financial institutions:

  • to obtain a licence under part 6 of the FMG Act (clause 6 amending section 388 by inserting (ca) acting as a financial institution)
  • to comply with a fair conduct principle to treat consumers fairly, including by paying due regard to their interests (clause 9 – inserting Subpart 6A – section 446A)
  • to establish, implement, and maintain an effective fair conduct programme (new section 446G)

Intermediaries must also comply with the fair conduct programme. This is aimed at ensuring that the chain of distribution of services and products is captured. That requirement is aimed at ensuring that institutions take responsibility from the top down (section 446K).

The bill provides that financial institutions and intermediaries will be subject to the FMC Act’s compliance and enforcement tools such as civil pecuniary penalties for contraventions of various obligations.

Employees and agents of financial institutions and intermediaries who report a contravention of a provision of the FMC Act or of the fair conduct principle to the Financial Markets Authority (the FMA) will be protected (446T).

Sections 16 and 17 and subpart 1 of Part 2 come into force on the day after the date of Royal assent. The rest of this Act comes into force on a date or dates to be appointed by the Governor-General by Order in Council, and 1 or more Orders in Council may be made appointing different dates for different provisions and for different purposes.

Last updated on the 11th December 2019