Incomplete Legal Resources Left New Zealanders in the Dark
In 2016, there was no single place where New Zealanders could go to understand all of their legal and regulatory obligations. The New Zealand legislation website, legislation.govt.nz, included some legislation and regulations drafted by Parliament. But, the Parliamentary Counsel Office identified over 100 different makers of secondary legislation, and the website often did not include regulations made by these bodies. Consequently it was difficult for people to find secondary legislation and to know whether they had the latest version if they did find it. Additionally, it also meant that there were significant variations in the formatting of published legislation and regulations, making it harder to draw comparisons and understand the differences between versions.
Expanding The Scope to Secondary Legislators
With the knowledge that better access to information has the power to increase citizens’ trust in their government, New Zealand committed to expand the scope of legislation.govt.nz.
A commitment included in the 2018-2020 action plan served to add secondary legislation drafted by government departments, Crown entities, and statutory bodies, and by other non-government bodies, to the website, allowing it to serve as a single site for all of New Zealand’s laws and regulations.
The implementation required a complete list of all makers of secondary legislation and a plan to encourage them to create comprehensive lists of their legislation, advise them of additional materials to accompany the list, and embolden them to make their active legislation publicly available. Finally, a technical expansion of the website, including explanatory materials, and interdepartmental links, was required.
The updated website is a user-friendly public source of all federal legislation and regulations, improving the ability of citizens and businesses in New Zealand to access and understand their legal rights and obligations.
This expansion has been praised by both civil society and the government.
It ensures that anyone with questions about legal issues will know where to start looking. This is an inherent public good, and as it progresses, more resources to explain laws and to provide links between legal bodies will be added to it. For the public, businesses, legal institutions, and civil society actors, this represents a significant improvement and a fundamental resource for understanding the legal system.
Check out these resources for further information.