New Zealand Law Society - Busy year ahead in 2020 for legislators

Busy year ahead in 2020 for legislators

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Members of Parliament and government officials will have a busy year in 2020, with a large number of legislative and regulatory initiatives planned to take place.

Among the initiatives which have been announced where a legislative or regulatory outcome is promised but legislation is yet to be introduced:

Plant Variety Rights Act modernisation

New legislation introduced May 2020. The Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 is being reviewed. MBIE is carrying out the review, which began in February 2018 and has resulted in an issues paper in September 2018 and an options paper in July 2019. MBIE says Cabinet has agreed to make changes to the Act and new legislation will now be drafted, with introduction in May 2020.

Land Valuation Proceedings Bill

In 2018-2020 statutes revision programme. The bill re-enacts the Land Valuation Proceedings Act 1948 in a modern form. An exposure draft has been released and feedback is being sought by 28 February 2020 before its introduction to Parliament.

“Tackling unsafe speeds” changes

No dates given. Changes are to be made to speed management on New Zealand roads. The proposals will require changes to the Land Transport Act 1998, the Land Transport Management Act 2003 and the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits. The Ministry of Transport says information on the proposed legislation changes will be available “soon”.

National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity

Mid-2020 gazetting. A discussion document on a national biodiversity strategy was released in August 2019. Feedback is now being sought on the draft national policy statement, which is an instrument under the Resource Management Act 1991 and provides direction to councils on their responsibilities for protecting and maintaining indigenous biodiversity under the RMA. Consultation ends on 14 March 2020 and “mid-2020 gazetting” has been announced.

Better protection for contractors

No dates given. In February 2019 MBIE began looking at options for strengthening rights and protections for vulnerable contractors. A discussion document was released in November 2019, with consultation closing on 14 February 2020. The document says feedback will help develop a comprehensive response to the issues faced by contractors with low bargaining power and poor outcomes. The 11 options proposed involve law reform.

Contractors in the screen industry

Mid-2020 law change. Following discussion and consultation in 2018, changes will be made to the law to allow contractors working in New Zealand’s screen sector to bargain collectively. MBIE says the proposed model will go through detailed legislative design and the parliamentary process and it expects Parliament to pass the changes into law in mid-2020.

Unfair business practices

Legislation introduced by early 2020.  A Fair Trading Amendment Bill is being drafted to implement new protections against unfair conduct and unfair business-to-business contract terms. MBIE carried out consultation between December 2018 and February 2019 on options for change and the Government has now decided on these. It plans to introduce the legislation “by early 2020”.

Fair Pay Agreements System

No dates given. An August 2019 discussion paper outlines options for a new system to allow workers and employers to negotiate better minimum terms and conditions of employment for their occupations and sectors. Fair Pay Agreements will be a new type of regulation. Submissions closed on 27 November 2019 and will be used to assist with the development of legislation. No timeframe for this has been announced.

Prisoner voting right restoration

Before 2020 General Election. In late November Justice Minister Andrew Little announced plans to restore voting rights to people sentenced to less than three years in prison. Mr Little said it is planned to make the change in an Electoral Amendment Bill before the next election, so that people sentenced to less than three years imprisonment can participate in the 2020 election.

Crown Minerals Act review

Legislative changes by late 2020. A discussion document released in November seeks submissions on a review of the Crown Minerals Act 1991 by 20 December 2019. The document says submissions received will inform recommended changes in early 2020 and a bill will be drafted and presented to Parliament. It says the Government aims to have legislative changes made by late 2020.

Overseas investment changes

Legislation in early 2020. The Government has announced plans to introduce legislation to make changes to overseas investment rules in early 2020. This will include a number of new powers consistent with global best practice, as well as improvement of enforcement powers.

Residential Tenancy Act changes

Legislation in first half of 2020. The Government says changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 will be included in a bill introduced to Parliament in the first half of 2020.

Resource Management Act 1991 review

Report due in mid-2020. The Resource Management Act review panel released an issues and options paper in November 2019 and is seeking public comment by 3 February 2020. The panel was established in July 2019 when the Government announced a comprehensive review of the RMA. It is required to issue a final report on reform proposals by mid-2020.

Paramedic regulation

1 January 2020. Health Minister David Clark has announced that regulation of paramedics under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 will come into effect on 1 January 2020, but it will take some time to establish a new Paramedic Council and start registration, which is expected to be in place “later in 2020”.

Insurance contracts

Consultation on legislation in 2020. In November 2019 the Government announced it had agreed to reform insurance contract law. This followed public consultation on an issues and options paper which was released in April 2019 and sought submissions until 28 June 2019.

Temporary migrant worker exploitation review

Further stages in 2020. Research by MBIE on temporary migrant worker exploitation was announced in November 2018. Consultation on proposed changes to the law and process closed on 27 November 2019. Final proposals for change will be given to Cabinet in early 2020, with further stages of the review to commence in 2020.

Increased landfill levy

Regulations mid to late-2020. Public consultation is underway on increasing the Waste Disposal Levy, which is currently $10 per tonne of waste. The proposal is to increase the levy rate in states to $50 or $60 per tonne by 2023. Submissions close on 3 February 2019, with final policy decisions made by mid-2020. The Government consultation document says regulations would be made and notified by mid to late-2020.

Fuel sector market study

Legislation before 2020 Election. The Government initiated a retail fuel market investigation by the Commerce Commission in December 2018. The Commission released a draft report in August 2019 and a final report on 5 December 2019 with a number of recommendations. The Government has announced its acceptance of these and says it will look to introduce a mandatory industry code to regulate the conduct of participants in the fuel industry. Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi has indicated that the Government will introduce and pass legislation before the 2020 General Election.

Charities Law review

Legislation in Parliament in 2020. A long-running review of the Charities Act 2005 has seen public consultation in 2019. Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Peeni Henare stated in 2018 that it was planned to complete the review by the end of 2019 and introduce legislation in 2020 so that the new law would be in place "within the current parliamentary term".

The 2018-2020 Statutes Revision Programme

Presented to Parliament on 4 April 2018, the statutes revision programme for 2018-2020 is developed by the Parliamentary Counsel Office. It lists 10 revision bills which "are proposed to be started during 2018-2020", with five revisions expected to be enacted during the three-year period. So far, the Partnerships Bill has been introduced and passed into law as the Partnership Law Act 2019. As noted above, the Land Valuation Proceedings Bill has been released as an exposure draft, for introduction in 2020 and overseas investment law changes have been announced for 2020, although it is unknown if the likely complexity of these will be appropriate for the revision bill process. No information on the other seven proposed bills is currently available.