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Access to Subordinate Instruments Project

The objective of the Access to Subordinate Instruments Project is to improve access to legislation by publishing all subordinate instruments on the New Zealand Legislation website.

The New Zealand Legislation (NZL) website provides free public access to up-to-date versions of New Zealand Acts, Bills (proposed Acts), and some subordinate instruments.

Subordinate instruments are made under the delegated law-making authority of Parliament (or under the Royal prerogative). They come in many different forms and have many different names, including regulations, orders, notices, rules, bylaws, directions, and programmes.

Subordinate instruments cover all aspects of New Zealand’s legal system. They include matters such as food standards, transport rules, financial reporting standards, national policy standards for environmental matters, and eligibility for social housing and special social security assistance.

Subordinate instruments that are drafted by the PCO are published in full on the NZL website. There are thousands of other subordinate instruments, however, that are drafted and published by over 100 agencies. These agency-drafted instruments are published either in the Gazette, on a variety of different websites or in newspapers, or are not readily available to the public. This makes it difficult to find and access all subordinate instruments.

As a result there is currently no single place where people can see all of New Zealand's legislation. The project has been set up to address this problem.

Extending the scope of the NZL website to include subordinate instruments drafted by agencies will enable people to access official versions of New Zealand’s legislation for free in one central location.

The increased availability of subordinate instruments is expected to enhance the ability of individuals and businesses to comply with the law, and understand their rights and obligations. Over time this is expected to reduce the cost of regulatory compliance and the cost of doing business in New Zealand.

The Access to Subordinate Instruments Project aims to provide a single, comprehensive, official, public source of New Zealand legislation, enabling New Zealanders to have ready and free access to the legislation that affects them.

About the Access to Subordinate Instruments Project

Find out more about why the Access to Subordinate Instruments Project has been established, who is on the project team, and what has happened so far »

What will the project do and how will it do it?

There are three main components to the project:

  • Changes to, and simplification of, the Legislation Act 2012 and empowering provisions throughout New Zealand’s legislation.
  • The development of information technology systems to enable agencies to publish subordinate instruments on the NZL website.
  • Modifications to the PCO's publishing system and the NZL website to cater for the publication of subordinate instruments drafted by agencies.

See more detailed  information about the project's three main components »

Access to Subordinate Instruments Project news

21 March 2017 update: Engaging with agencies on their subordinate instruments

In December 2016, Cabinet approved a proposal for the PCO to develop a system to enable subordinate instruments drafted by agencies to be published on the New Zealand Legislation website. This will result in a single, comprehensive, official source for all New Zealand legislation.

The PCO is drafting a Bill to implement the proposal. This will involve a substantial re-write, and replacement, of the Legislation Act 2012. The PCO will soon be consulting departments on the Bill, with a view to its introduction before the House rises in August.

The PCO has established a team of legal researchers who are searching for all provisions in legislation that empower subordinate instruments to be made that are legislative in nature. Amendments will be made to all such empowering provisions to specify that instruments made under those provisions are required to be published on the NZ Legislation website.

As the legal research team completes its analysis of the Acts that each agency administers, the team is contacting the agency to:

  • confirm that we have a complete list of the Acts they administer
  • confirm that we have found, and correctly categorised, all empowering provisions in those Acts
  • check whether there is a need, on a principled basis, to exempt any instruments from disallowance
  • check whether there is any reason why an instrument cannot be published in full on the NZ Legislation website
  • agree the amendments to be made to the relevant empowering provisions.

The Access to Subordinate Instruments Project team is also discussing the following matters with agencies:

Providing links to instruments on the NZ Legislation website

The NZ Legislation website provides links to “Other Instruments”, which are instruments that are not drafted by the PCO and are hosted on agency websites or in the Gazette.

The project will take some time to implement. In the meantime, by expanding the collection of Other Instruments that are available on the NZ Legislation website, we can improve access to legislation right away.

We encourage agencies to provide us with links to the instruments they make, so we can provide links to them in the Other Instruments collection on the NZ Legislation website.

Trialling a drafting template

The PCO is developing a template for agencies to use for drafting subordinate instruments. The template will help ensure that instruments contain a minimum set of information (title, empowering Act and provision, date of commencement, the maker, the date of making, and the administering agency) that will assist in meeting the publication requirements of the revised Legislation Act. From May this year, the PCO will begin trialling the template with a small group of agencies to test and refine it.

We are also investigating technology to enable instruments drafted in the template to be automatically converted into HTML format so they can be published on the NZ Legislation website in much the same way as Acts of Parliament are now.

Access project is part of PCO’s legislative stewardship initiatives

The access project is a key element in the PCO’s legislative stewardship initiatives. The PCO will soon be engaging with agencies about the best ways for us to assist and work with agencies to support and promote legislative stewardship in other areas.

See earlier news »

Agencies that can make subordinate instruments

There are over 100 agencies we know of that can make subordinate instruments. View the list identified to date »

Contact the Access to Subordinate Instruments Project team »

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