The Justice select committee has released a final report on the Legislation Bill with a recommendation that it be passed with amendments.
The bill seeks to bring together the law relating to legislation to ensure New Zealand’s law is easy to find, use, and understand, and is of a high quality.
It would rewrite and replace the Legislation Act 2012 and update and re-enact the Interpretation Act 1999, combining the two into one Act. The bill aims to make it easier to find and access secondary legislation (legislation that is delegated by Parliament and made by the Governor-General by Order in Council, Ministers, officials, and agencies).
The bill responds to problems with access to and scrutiny of secondary legislation that were highlighted by the Regulations Review Committee and two Government inquiries. It is part of a wider project called the Access to Secondary Legislation Project (originally the Access to Subordinate Instruments Project).
The committee recommends amending and adding transitional provisions in the bill to implement the Access to Secondary Legislation Project in stages, in particular, the requirements for lodgement and publication of secondary legislation.
"We consider that these amendments would enable the public to know what secondary legislation exists much sooner than under the bill as introduced (which requires existing secondary legislation to be re-published in full). We consider these amendments necessary to ensure there is certainty about the list of secondary legislation that is in force. In our view this is of key importance to ensure that the Access to Secondary Legislation Project is effective," it says.
The report notes that work is currently under way to implement the remaining phases of the Access to Secondary Legislation Project.
"The Parliamentary Counsel Office, with government agencies, is surveying all Acts currently in force to identify empowering Commentary Legislation Bill 5 provisions, not made by local authorities, that empower the making of secondary legislation.
"We understand that a companion bill is expected to be introduced later this year that would amend each provision identified as making secondary legislation so that it states this expressly. This bill would set the framework for that companion bill by making the instruments identified as secondary legislation in the companion bill subject to the requirements of lodgement, publication, presentation, and disallowance specified in this bill."
The committee says when it considers the companion bill, the House will decide which provisions empower the making of secondary legislation (other than that made by local authorities). The companion bill would determine the application of this bill, including which instruments must be published on the New Zealand Legislation website, which ones must be presented to the House, and which are disallowable.