New Zealand Law Society - Cathedral reinstatement bill "rushed" and form not adequately justified

Cathedral reinstatement bill "rushed" and form not adequately justified

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The New Zealand Law Society says the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Bill is rushed, and without adequate opportunity for consultation.

It is also critical of the way the bill uses delegated legislation to amend primary legislation, as well as a time restriction on the right to judicial review and the use of Orders in Council to add further legislation exemptions. 

In a submission on the bill, the Law Society says little over one working day was allowed for submissions on the bill to the Environment select committee.

"This is simply insufficient time for considered and constructive input from the public, including the Law Society. Nothing damages the quality of legislation more than passing it too quickly, without sufficient consideration and consultation," it says.

The Law Society says it is unclear as to what circumstances justify the urgent passage of the bill. It was introduced on 4 December, had its first reading the next day and an invitation for submissions was issued on 7 December, with submissions required by midnight on Sunday 10 December.

"This timetable is unreasonably short given the absence of any recent emergency," it says. "The impact on normal democratic, legal and administrative rights should be limited to what is absolutely required and only for so long as required.

"It is difficult to understand how that can apply to the reinstatement of Christ Church Cathedral nearly seven years after the earthquake in February 2011 which damaged it."

The submission also takes issue with some of the provisions in the bill. The Law Society says the use of delegated legislation to amend primary legislation and to add further Acts to Schedule 2 of the bill remains objectionable.

"Likewise, the time restriction on the right to judicial review in clause 22. The proposal to add further Acts to this Schedule by orders is not an appropriate or even necessary way of legislating outside of an emergency, notwithstanding that an order to add Acts to the Schedule is revoked within specified periods unless approved by Parliament within the specific period."

It is worrying to see this type of approach being used again as it was for the Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery Bill, the Law Society says, especially without the opportunity for considered public input.

"The Law Society is not seeking to debate the merits of progressing the reinstatement of the Christ Church Cathedral or that such progress needs to be made more quickly than it has to date. Rather, its concern is that the form of legislation proposed to be adopted has not been adequately justified."

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