Thirteen bills have been introduced to Parliament this week.
The Crimes Amendment Bill has been introduced by Justice Minister Andrew Little. The bill repeals three provisions in the Crimes Act 1961. It would come into force on the day after the Royal Assent.
Section 71 would be amended by repealing subsection (2). The subsection protects spouses and civil union partners in cases where they would otherwise be an accessory after the fact to an offence. It gives an immunity to a person who assists their spouse or civil union partner and any other party to the offence to escape after arrest or to avoid arrest or conviction.
The general policy statement to the bill says subsection (2) is inconsistent with the way that spouses and civil union partners are generally treated in the law. It says this protection also creates an anomaly because it does not apply to other classes of people who are protecting someone in a close personal relationship.
Section 123 would be repealed. This is an offence of blasphemous libel. The general policy statement says this offence has not been prosecuted since 1922 and may conflict with freedom of expression now protected under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
Section 162 would be repealed. This removes criminal responsibility if death occurs more than a year and a day after the cause of death. The general policy statement says there have been calls for repeal of this rule for decades.
The Ministry of Justice has released a departmental disclosure statement on the bill.
The Coroners (Access to Body of Dead Person) Amendment Bill has been introduced by Justice Minister Andrew Little.The bill implements a recommendation of the Māori Affairs Committee Report, Inquiry into whanau access to and management of tūpāpaku, to improve cultural considerations in the coronial system. It would come into force on the day after the Royal Assent.
The report recommended amending section 26 of the Coroners Act 2006 to require the coroner to also consider cultural considerations when determining whether someone should be allowed to remain with the tūpāpaku (the body of a deceased person). The Government Response to the report accepted the recommendation to improve cultural considerations in the coronial system.
The general policy statement says the bill amends section 26 of the Act to require the coroner, when determining whether a person should be allowed to remain with the tūpāpaku, to also consider tikanga Māori and the expectations of other cultures.
"Currently, the Act does not require coroners to take cultural considerations into account when making decisions under section 26, but they have discretion to do so. In practice, coroners work with whānau to determine when it is appropriate for whānau to remain with the tūpāpaku."
The Ministry of Justice has released a departmental disclosure statement on the bill.
The Privacy Bill has been introduced by Justice Minister Andrew Little. The bill repeals and replaces the Privacy Act 1993, as recommended by the Law Commission's 2011 review of the Act. Its key purpose is to promote people's confidence that their personal information is secure and will be treated properly. The new law would come into force on 1 July 2019.
The explanatory note to the bill says the Act has been in operation for 25 years and over that time, the rise of the internet and the digital economy has transfomed business and government, and the use of personal information.
"New technologies such as social media platforms, e-commerce, Internet-connected devices, and cloud storage have changed the way personal information is used.
"Large quantities of data are readily stored, retrieved, and disclosed and can be easily sent around the world. This creates many benefits, but also new challenges for the protection of personal information. The Law Commission has called for the Act to be updated and modernised to reflect these changes."
The key purpose of reforming the Act is given as promotion of people’s confidence that their personal information is secure and will be treated properly. "The bill achieves this purpose through reforms that will help address privacy risks earlier and give the Privacy Commissioner a stronger role. Public confidence in the way personal information is used and handled will, in turn, support the innovative and effective use of personal information by public and private sector agencies."
Among the key changes are mandatory reporting of privacy breaches, a power for the Privacy Commissioner to issue compliance notices, a new criminal offence of misleading an agency in a way that affects someone else's information and knowingly destroying documents with personal information where a request has been made, and stronger information gathering powers for the Privacy Commissioner.
The Corrections Amendment Bill has been introduced by Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis. The bill makes a number of amendments to the Corrections Act 2004 designed to improve the ability of the Department of Corrections to safely and humanely manage prisoners, improve prisoner discipline and safety, and ensure the fair treatment of prisoners.
Some sections would come into force on the day after the Royal Assent, while most of the Act would be brought into force by one or more Orders in Council.
The general policy statement says that overall the Act and regulations continue to provide a sound legislative framework for the corrections system. However, it says some areas need modernisation or greater clarity.
These include a new framework for segregation of prisoners at risk of self-harm, reviews of mother and baby placement decisions, inclusion of psychoactive substances in the definition of "drug", authority for the Minister to declare a Police jail, or parts of a Police jail, to be temporarily included in a corrections prison, operated by the department, provisions relating to tattooing and writing letters, cell sharing, and placement of limits on prisoners' legitimate expectations.
The Residential Tenancies (Prohibiting Letting Fees) Amendment Bill has been introduced by Housing Minister Phil Twyford. The bill bill amends the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to prohibit the charging of a letting fee, or any other fee charged to a tenant, in respect of charges for services rendered by a letting agent, solicitor, or any person in relation to a tenancy.
The bill would come into force three months after receiving the Royal Assent.
The Earthquake Commission Amendment Bill has been introduced by Earthquake Commission Minister Megan Woods. The bill bill amends the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 to update and improve the operation of the Act by focusing on simplifying and speeding up the handling of claims for natural disaster damage, particularly when dealing with a large-scale natural disaster.
With the exception of Part 2, the bill would come into force on the day after the Royal Assent. Part 2's commencement is dependent upon the date on which sections 80 to 140 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 come into force.
The bill removes EQC cover for personal property (contents) to ensure that EQC’s primary focus is on housing repair and recovery. It increases the monetary cap for residential building damage, which has not changed since the Act came into force, and it extends the time limit for claims. It also clarifies EQC’s ability to share and publish information for public good and claim settlement purposes.
The monetary cap for residential building cover will increase from $100,000 to $150,000 (plus GST).
The Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill has been introduced by Transport Minister Phil Twyford. The bill bill proposes to introduce a mechanism under which regional fuel taxes can be established to provide a way for regions to fund transport infrastructure programmes that would otherwise be delayed or not funded.
The bill will insert a new subpart 3 into Part 2 of the Land Transport Management Act 2003 that provides a process for establishing a regional fuel tax. The bill will come into force on the day after it receives the Royal Assent.
The Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Bill has been introduced by National MP Christopher Finlayson QC. The bill reforms the law of contempt in New Zealand courts.
The Oaths and Declarations (Members of Parliament) Amendment Bill has been introduced by Labour MP Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki. The bill amends the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 to allow members of Parliament to make their oaths or affirmations of allegiance in languages other than English and te reo Māori.
The Litter (Increased Infringment Fee) Amendment Bill has been introduced by National MP Scott Simpson. The bill amends the Litter Act 1979 by increasing the maximum fine for an infringement offence from $400 to $1,000.
The Fair Trading (Oppressive Contracts) Amendment Bill has been introduced by Labour MP Duncan Webb. The bill proposes to redress the power imbalance in contract terms, contract performance, and contract enforcement by prohibiting unfair contract terms, performance and enforcement, and requiring fair warning of the intention to rely on a limitation period.
The Electronic Compliance with Reporting Requirements Bill has been introduced by Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe. The Bill amends the Public Finance Act 1989 and the Crown Entities Act 2004 to enable public organisations to meet statutory reporting requirements in electronic form.
The Education (Social Investment Funding and Abolition of Decile System) Amendment Bill has been introduced by National MP Erica Stanford. The bill amends the Education Act 1989 to abolish the decile system and replace it with a needs index.