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Role of the PCO

The Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) is New Zealand's law drafting office. It is responsible for:

  • drafting New Zealand Government Bills (except Inland Revenue Bills) and some secondary legislation
  • publishing all New Zealand Bills and Acts, and the secondary legislation drafted by the PCO, online on the New Zealand Legislation website and in hard copy.

See Legislation drafted and published by PCO for details of what the PCO drafts and publishes.

The PCO is constituted as a separate statutory office by the Legislation Act 2019. The PCO is under the Attorney-General's control or, if there is no Attorney-General, the Prime Minister.

The PCO is not part of the core Public Service under the Public Service Act 2020, and thus is not under the direct control of the Public Service Commissioner. However, the PCO is subject to certain provisions of the Public Service Act 2020, including those that relate to the setting and enforcement of minimum standards of integrity and conduct.

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Objective and functions

Under the Legislation Act 2019, the objective of the PCO is to promote high-quality legislation that is easy to find, use, and understand and, to that end, to exercise stewardship of New Zealand's legislation as a whole.

The functions of the PCO are to:

  • draft, publish, and consolidate legislation
  • revise Acts in accordance with the current revision programme
  • examine local and private Bills, and Members' Bills that the Attorney-General directs to be examined, and report to the Attorney-General on their effect
  • advise departments and agencies on the drafting of secondary legislation not drafted by the PCO
  • guide, support, and review practices relating to the design, drafting, and publication of legislation.

The Inland Revenue Department is authorised to draft certain Inland Revenue Bills (see the Inland Revenue Department (Drafting) Order 1995).

The PCO also supplies printed copies of Bills and Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) to the House as required.

Legislation administered by the PCO

Find more information about the Legislation Act 2019 »

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