New Zealand Law Society - Justice ministry working on 44 government policy projects

Justice ministry working on 44 government policy projects

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Policy staff at the Ministry of Justice say they are working on 44 projects to meet the coalition, and confidence and supply agreements of the governing parties.

Deputy Secretary Policy Rajesh Chhana says it's a very big workload over the next two years but he is confident the ministry's policy staff will meet the challenge.

He says the projects include the Criminal Cases Review Commission, Cannabis Referendum Bill), Abortion law reform, Family Justice system review, and Hāpaitia te Oranga Tangata (Safe and Effective Justice).

There are three bills currently before the House which need to be passed through their remaining stages. They are the Crimes Amendment Bill, Trusts Bill, and Coroners (Access to Body of Dead Person) Amendment Bill).

The Government plans to introduce five bills which will emerge from select committee in March and April into Parliament.

A number of reports are also due to international organisations such as the United Nations. In January, for example, New Zealand has to present its Universal Periodic Review of New Zealand’s human rights record to the UN in Geneva.

Mr Chhana says an unpredictable element is the Members’ ballot.

“About a third of the bills able to be drawn amend Justice legislation, so we expect this will generate additional demand.”

He says that as the Government has an ambitious legislative programme, Justice Minister Andrew Little identified his immediate priorities in December 2018. The Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill and Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal Bill are planned to be enacted in April 2019.

In December 2019 it is planned to enact the Cannabis Referendum Bill, Abortion Bill and Time-limited referendum legislation and, it is hoped, the NZBOR (Declarations of Inconsistency) Amendment Bill.

In 2020 the Government is aiming to enact the Family Court Reform Bill, Electoral Amendment Bill, Sexual Violence Bill and the Criminal Justice (Remedial Matters) Bill.

“We have around 15 months to get work completed before election preparations really make themselves felt,” Mr Chhana  says.

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