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Technical Update March 2019

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Technical Update March 2019

In this update

Haere mai

This is our first Technical Update under the Access to Secondary Legislation banner.

It’s written for key legal and technical officers in:

  • government agencies that administer primary legislation, and
  • the many entities both government and non-government, that make secondary legislation. Under the new world of secondary legislation, we call these entities “makers”.

Many of you who attended a series of workshops the PCO held late last year told us a regular update would be helpful. This is our first, and we’ll evolve the content and direction as the work of the project progresses. 

To help us do that we invite your feedback to let us know how we can best meet agency and maker needs. We also invite you to share it with others in your organisations who have an interest in the future, online “one-stop-shop” for secondary legislation that we are all building.

More broadly, if what you read sparks questions, you can:

  • talk to the key legal contact in the agency that administers your primary legislation
  • check out the secondary legislation pages on the PCO website; or
  • email us on  

We are also developing a separate newsletter aimed at people with a broader interest in the access to secondary legislation project, which you may want to share with others in your organisation.  Watch this space!

Noho ora mai,
Fiona Leonard, Chief Parliamentary Counsel
Jonathan Robinson, Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Access)

Seeing stars

Access project awarded “star commitment” status

We are immensely proud of the fact that New Zealand's secondary legislation work has been awarded “star commitment” status by the international Open Government Partnership (OGP) Independent Reporting Mechanism. Star commitment status is awarded to exemplary reforms that have a potentially transformative impact on a nation's citizens.

The OGP encourages governments to “adopt bold reforms that address urgent public policy challenges, learning from and inspiring each other along the way”. It views its star commitments as a way to encourage “a race to the top” among OGP members by highlighting ambitious and innovative approaches to their commitments.

It is a special award, and one we plan to celebrate with agencies and makers of secondary legislation in our upcoming workshops (see our Engaging with you story).

It is also a huge incentive for making sure that all of us involved in making secondary legislation accessible online, can successfully deliver on the promise of the project.

Further details on the star award can be found here: See page 22 of their download for more on New Zealand Open Access to Legislation in the OGP Star Reforms.

You can read more about the Open Government Partnership here:

What's been happening?

Legislation: the “SLAB”

All first-draft amendments to primary legislation for inclusion in the Secondary Legislation (Access) Bill (SLAB) have been completed. A highlight has been concluding discussions with the Ministry of Justice on 370 amendments to Acts for which they are responsible.

We’re focused on introducing the SLAB in the second quarter of 2019; this will provide increased certainty for agencies and makers of secondary legislation to start identifying all in-force secondary legislation for which they are responsible. Agencies will need to have agreed the final text of amendments with PCO by 11/04/2019, to enable a paper to be submitted to Cabinet Legislation Committee by 13/06/2019.  Our intention is that amendments that cannot be agreed by that date will be introduced later by Supplementary Order Paper (SOP).

Engaging with you

PCO has stepped up engagement with agencies and others who will be impacted by the enactment of the Legislation Bill and SLAB. This kicked off with five agency workshops at the end of last year, attended by some 50 people, with the purpose of informing and assisting agencies to get ready for their upcoming “list duty” (catalogue) obligation, as defined in the Legislation Bill. We also consulted them on the high-level IT requirements for the future Portal and website. Once built, the Portal will be the vehicle by which agencies will lodge information about secondary legislation to be published as a catalogue on the New Zealand Legislation website.

A new Project Reference Group has been formed to provide a testing ground for engagement and change management activities, including appropriate communication, timing, and support for agencies and makers. It includes several agencies that administer primary legislation, a Crown entity, and a statutory body. The Group has met twice.  At its second meeting in February it provided input into a package of practical support materials that PCO is developing for agencies and makers of secondary legislation.

You can read more about Project milestones in previous online Project Updates.

About the Project

If you are not already familiar with the Project, there’s an overview on PCO’s Access Project overview webpage.

Three parts

There are three key parts to the Project:


There are two bills: the Legislation Bill and the Secondary Legislation (Access) Bill or SLAB. There will also be Implementing Regulations. The Legislation Bill is awaiting its second reading, and PCO is currently drafting the SLAB.

2.   Full text publication of all secondary legislation

This is the end goal of Access to Secondary Legislation.  All instruments with legislative effect classified as secondary legislation will, in the future, be accessible in full text on the New Zealand Legislation website. No date has yet been set for this to be completed.

3.    Catalogue

The catalogue is a critical first step on the path to the ultimate goal of full-text publication.  It puts a ‘list duty’ on makers to publish information about each piece of secondary legislation on the New Zealand Legislation website. Now is the time to find all your in-force secondary legislation in readiness for this duty. The duty will kick off on the commencement of the legislation above and there will be a 12-month window for makers to supply the information on all secondary legislation. This will be done via an organised on-boarding process for makers.


Broadly, the government’s aims are to:

  1. Provide certainty about where people can find all current New Zealand secondary legislation.
  2. Improve transparency and the rule of law through better parliamentary oversight of secondary law.
  3. Support a thriving economy in the digital age.
  4. Improve stewardship of legislative and regulatory systems.
Why are we doing this?

The star award highlights some of the broader benefits for New Zealand arising from the government’s decision to extend the New Zealand Legislation website to include, eventually, all New Zealand’s  secondary as well as primary legislation.

This illustration captures some of the other key drivers that led to the creation of the access to secondary legislation project.

reasons for project, alsoavailable on

Feedback or questions?

Get in touch with the project team at


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