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Legal Researcher and Agency Engagement Adviser

Fixed term, project-specific role, ideally full time
This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a significant cross-government initiative to improve New Zealand's legislation

The New Zealand Parliament has delegated law-making powers to over 100 agencies, including government departments, Crown entities, and statutory bodies. There is currently no single location where individuals, businesses, or Parliament itself can access all of these items of secondary legislation, or find out what legislation has been made or is currently in force. Ready access to the law is fundamental to a democratic society based on openness and the rule of law, and the PCO is leading the charge through the Access to Secondary Legislation Project.

Be a part of the team that is going to change this situation by making New Zealand’s secondary legislation readily accessible!

The Legal Researcher and Agency Engagement Adviser is a multifaceted role comprising legal research in relation to empowering provisions in legislation, giving drafting instructions for amendments to primary legislation, and engaging with the agencies that administer relevant primary legislation in relation to these matters.

We need someone who is passionate about legislation, and has experience in undertaking legal research, policy advice, and who is also, ideally, skilled in issuing drafting instructions for legislation.

This full time, project-specific role is for a fixed term period expected to finish at the end of April 2019, with a possibility of an extension.

For more about the role and its context see the job descriptionperson specification, and information about the Access to Secondary Legislation Project below.

Applications close:  8am Monday 16 July 2018

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Job description

Workplace

Parliamentary Counsel Office
Reserve Bank Building
2 The Terrace
Wellington

Fixed term

To end of April 2019 with the possibility of an extension

Reports to

Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Access)
Workstream Lead—Legislation and Policy

Liaises with

Access Project team
Parliamentary Counsel Office staff
IT vendors and contractors
Government departments and stakeholders

Purpose and accountabilities

The purpose of the fixed term position is to carry out legal research of empowering provisions and engage with agencies. The research and engagement work will inform the drafting of the Secondary Legislation (Access) Bill (working title). The Bill’s purpose is to amend identified empowering provisions to clearly state what is legislation. As a result, secondary legislation made under those provisions must be published on the NZ Legislation website and will be subject to oversight by Parliament.

The duties will include:

  1. working internally and independently with peers and parliamentary counsel
  2. carrying out legal research of empowering provisions
  3. identifying policy issues and providing policy advice
  4. consulting with agencies on draft amendments
  5. contributing to the preparation of drafting instructions for drafters
  6. contributing to the Departmental Briefing and Reports associated with the passage of the Secondary Legislation (Access) Bill
  7. other duties associated with the project that may utilise additional skills that you will bring to the project. 

Person specification

Qualification and experience

The ideal applicant will hold a legal qualification, and have experience in undertaking legal research and providing policy advice that contributes to the drafting of legislation.  A practising certificate is not required for this role.

Skill requirements

The ideal applicant is expected to have:

  • knowledge of legal research including working with process rigour and pro-actively identifying risks
  • skills in processing large bodies of research to ensure efficient and effective delivery of quality research outputs
  • knowledge of (and ideally) experience working in orthodox Project Governance, Management and Team structures
  • good written and verbal communication skills and attention to detail
  • proven experience in building and maintaining effective interpersonal relationships
  • problem solving skills and experience in actively managing workflow and meeting deadlines.
Competency requirements
  1. Interpersonal Savvy: Relates well to all kinds of people, up, down, and sideways, inside and outside the organisation; builds appropriate rapport; builds constructive and effective relationships; uses diplomacy and tact; can diffuse even high-tension situations comfortably.
  2. Customer Focus: Is dedicated to meeting the expectations and requirements of internal and external customers; gets first-hand customer information and uses it for improvements in products and services; acts with customers in mind; establishes and maintains effective relationships with customers and gains their trust and respect.
  3. Priority Setting and Time Management: Spends his/her time and the time of others on what’s important; quickly zeros in on the critical few and puts the trivial many aside; can quickly sense what will help or hinder accomplishing a goal; eliminates roadblocks; creates focus. Uses his/her time effectively and efficiently; values time; concentrates his/her efforts on the more important priorities; gets more done in less time than others; can attend to a broader range of activities.
  4. Integrity and Trust: Demonstrates personal integrity by: upholding ethical standards (including the Standards of Integrity and Conduct for the State Services), maintaining confidentiality, being trustworthy, being open and honest, complying with office policies, taking responsibility; and managing conflicts of interest. Is widely trusted; is seen as a direct, truthful individual; can present the unvarnished truth in an appropriate and helpful manner; keeps confidences; admits mistakes; doesn’t misrepresent him/herself for personal gain.
  5. Listening: Practises attentive and active listening; has the patience to hear people out; can accurately restate the opinions of others even when he/she disagrees.
  6. Perseverance: Pursues everything with energy, drive, and a need to finish; seldom gives up before finishing, especially in the face of resistance or setbacks.

About the Access to Secondary Legislation Project

 Ready access to the law is fundamental to a democratic society based on openness and the rule of law. While all Acts of Parliament (primary legislation) are easily accessible in consolidated form on the NZ Legislation website, most secondary legislation is not published centrally. Secondary legislation is the general term in the Legislation Bill for instruments that make or change the law and are made under a delegated law-making power. Parliament delegates this power, under an Act, to a person or agency. Read more about secondary legislation.

Secondary legislation drafted by the PCO is published on the NZ Legislation website. Secondary legislation drafted by other agencies—which is the majority—is more difficult to find. Some is notified or published in the New Zealand Gazette, some is published on agency websites or in newspapers, while some is not published at all.

This means there is no definitive way to know what secondary legislation has been made or is currently in force. Several inquiries and reports have highlighted the real difficulties faced by individuals and businesses in accessing the secondary legislation that applies to them.

Ministers agreed in late 2016 that the NZ Legislation website should be expanded to provide access to all current secondary legislation. To do this, the PCO set up the Access to Secondary Legislation Project. The Project is integral to the PCO's strategic goal of Great Law for New Zealand. The aim of the project is:

To make New Zealand’s secondary legislation readily accessible

The Project’s work is organised in three broad workstreams:

  1. defining what is secondary legislation through legal research and legislative changes expressed in two Bills (Legislation and Policy)
  2. developing authoring, transformation and publication systems to enable direct publication of secondary legislation by agencies onto the New Zealand Legislation website (IT Systems)
  3. supporting agencies to transition to the secondary legislation world, to locate all secondary legislation and use the authoring and publication systems so that secondary legislation is accessible (Business Implementation).

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