List of access keys

Why the Access Project was set up

The New Zealand Parliament has delegated law-making powers to over 100 agencies, including government departments, Crown entities, and statutory bodies. There are many thousands of items of secondary legislation currently in force.

However, there is currently no single, authoritative location where individuals, businesses, or Parliament itself can access all of this secondary legislation, or find out what legislation has been made or is currently in force.

The following inquiries identified the issues resulting from the fragmented publication of secondary legislation:

  • Government inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident December 2013 (PDF 2.47MB): The report noted that the inquiry had difficulty finding the secondary legislation that applied to the dairy sector. The report stated that “Creating a set of simple rules of general application for the creation, amendment and publication of all tertiary instruments would also result in order, continuity and better accessibility. This could serve as a model on which to shape future regulation.”
  • NZ Productivity Commission inquiry into Regulatory institutions and practices (June 2014) observed that “The absence of a central electronic repository … constrains the ability of firms and individuals to understand their regulatory rights and obligations”. The report recommended that the PCO “expand its New Zealand Legislation website to provide a single, comprehensive source of these regulations”.
  • Regulations Review Committee “Inquiry into the oversight of disallowable instruments that are not legislative instruments” (2014) noted that the inability to identify secondary legislation that is not drafted or published by the PCO was the main problem they face in their scrutiny of regulations. The committee recommended that the Government establish a register of delegated legislation similar to the Australian Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.

In addition, the PCO’s 2014 Performance Improvement Framework review by SSC advised that the PCO’s “strategic vision should encompass the role of guardian or steward of New Zealand’s system of legislation”. From this was developed the PCO’s strategic goal of "Great law for New Zealand", which includes making all legislation accessible to users, regardless of who drafts it.

There is also rising public expectation about access to information in today’s digital environment. Increasingly, this means instant online access in a variety of user-friendly formats.

As part of the Government’s response to the above inquiries, Cabinet directed the PCO to explore options to remedy these concerns. This led to the PCO setting up the Access to Secondary Legislation Project (originally called the Access to Subordinate Instruments Project or ASIP).

Benefits of the Access Project

By making all secondary legislation readily accessible, the Access Project aims to:

  • enhance transparency and the rule of law by providing certainty about where people can find and access all current New Zealand legislation*
  • make current versions of secondary legislation easier to find and access
  • improve stewardship of legislative and regulatory systems
  • improve Parliamentary oversight of secondary legislation
  • enable improvement to legislation and regulatory systems.

 *Secondary legislation made by local authorities and council-controlled organisations is out of scope for the Access Project and the Legislation Bill.

Open Government Partnership commitment

As part of New Zealand’s participation in the Open Government Partnership initiative, the Access to Secondary Legislation Project was made a commitment in New Zealand’s 2016-18 National Action Plan. The plan’s independent reviewer recommended that the Access Project should be a “star reform”, meaning she believed it is potentially transformative and represents an exemplary open government reform.

The 2018-20 National Action Plan is currently being developed. This will prompt consideration of whether to maintain the Access to Secondary Legislation Project as a commitment in the new Plan.

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