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Watching Brief - August 2020

Home Insights Watching Brief - August 2020

Matter of opinion

Elections in the time of COVID-19

Billboards are up, leaders debates scheduled and arguments for and against the two referenda peppering our social media feeds. All business as usual for an upcoming election that, until this week, was like the rest of us, seemingly unconstrained by a pandemic that was happening elsewhere. The Government and experts were nevertheless cautioning that a breach of the borders was possible, if not inevitable, and so it was, and we are back facing questions asked at the time of the outbreak earlier this year – should the election be delayed?
The National party have a firm view it should be, while Labour is waiting to understand more about the extent of the spread of the community cases. Both are taking advice from the Electoral Commission. Judith Collins also expressed a view in an interview with Kim Hill this morning that, under paragraph 6.9 of the Cabinet Manual, Labour should not take decisions on significant matters such as the lockdown without consulting them. 

Delaying an election

On the first point, we have a range of relatively straightforward options for delaying elections, assisted by some prescient recent amendments to the Electoral Act 1993. This is what you need to know (discussed in an earlier editorial and repeated here):

  • The Government has flexibility within the current legislative framework to defer the September date for up to three months. Under the Constitution Act 1986, Parliament can only remain in session for a period of three years, which means that the last day that Parliament can dissolve is 12 October 2020. Applying the timetable provisions of the Electoral Act, votes would have to be returned by 19 December, indicating a latest election date of 5 December.
  • The Prime Minister is free to change the current date on this basis at any point up until Parliament dissolves, which was planned for Wednesday 12 August 2020 but has been deferred until Monday 17 August 2020. Consultation with the leader of the opposition might be expected, although, as Professor Andrew Geddes noted in an interview this morning, each party will be looking for political advantages, so is consultation or agreement realistic? In his view, the key question should be whether the electorate can safely vote. Another issue is that, even if the election is delayed now, another outbreak could coincide with the revised date. 
  • If the 19 September date remains, or a later date is set, the election can be delayed further by the Electoral Commission if necessary. This is because amendments to the Electoral Act provide the Electoral Commission with powers to address "an unforeseen or unavoidable disruption" that coincides with the election. So, for example, if a Level 4 lockdown was in place, the Chief Electoral Officer could:
    • Stop polling at polling stations and adjourn voting for a period of three days at first, and then for successive week-long periods. While this power can be used indefinitely, it is not ideal for an extended period given there is no sitting Parliament to hold the Government to account. Nevertheless, it is an effective mechanism for managing a coinciding lockdown and/or buying time to put alternative voting mechanisms in place.
    • Make alternative arrangements for voting, for example, extend postal voting currently allowed for overseas voters, to voters in New Zealand. In these circumstances, the ballots would be posted to New Zealanders and can be returned by post or email to the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Act provides a wide discretion in relation to the alternative voting arrangements that may be used. However, we note that electronic voting is currently viewed by our security agencies and IT experts as unsafe for elections, so it is likely that postal voting would be preferred.
    • If the Government considered it necessary to defer the election beyond 5 December 2020, section 17 of the Constitution Act 1986, which prescribes the three-year term, would require amendment. This is an entrenched provision, meaning that 75% of the House would need to vote in favour of the change, so support from the opposition would be required. Technically, the Government could achieve the same result with a simple majority by amending the timetabling requirements in the Electoral Act. However, this is most unlikely to happen, given its effect would be to circumvent a critical constitutional safeguard. We note that extending the electoral term is not unprecedented in New Zealand as it occurred during both World Wars. It is also possible that in order to agree to an extension, the opposition would push for a "Government of National Unity" until such time as an election could be held.

Is the Government expected to confer or work jointly with National on key decisions in the pre- election period?

Finally, as noted above, the National Party suggested that the Cabinet Manual requires the Government to consult or confer with the opposition on important matters such as the lockdown in the lead up to an election. We understand it is accepted that the caretaker convention which applies from the time of an election until a new Government is formed (under which, understandably, important decisions should not be made) does not apply before an election. Rather, reliance was placed on paragraph 6.9 of the Cabinet Manual which provides:

  • In the period immediately before a general election, the government is not bound by the caretaker convention unless the election has resulted from the government losing the confidence of the House.
  • The government might choose to restrict their actions "to some extent" during this time, in recognition of the fact that an election, and therefore potentially a change of government, is imminent.
  • Examples of activities that might be restricted immediately prior to a general election are limited to significant appointments, government advertising or use of officials where this could be perceived as using public funds for party political purposes.

In our view, the Cabinet Manual falls well short of requiring consultation on key Government decisions in the pre-election period. Indeed, given our short electoral cycle it would be impractical and unworkable if a Government was constrained in this way months out from an election. Further, Parliament continues to sit until shortly before the election and allows for scrutiny of Government decisions, following which the opposition can continue to hold the Government to account as it campaigns.  
It is of note that our position is different from that in the United Kingdom where more significant constraints apply from the announcement on an election through to the formation of a new government (previously referred to as purdah). During this period, central and local government are prevented from announcing any new or controversial government initiatives (such as modernisation initiatives or administrative and legislative changes) that could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election or enter into transactions that would be contrary to the manifesto of an opposition party. The difference in the UK may reflect the longer five-year electoral term. Even then, we do not consider the stricter requirements in the UK would impact the operational decisions required in a pandemic. 

Concluding comments

We expect the decision on the election timing will turn mainly on whether the Electoral Commission considers that it is sufficiently well set up to manage postal voting should the country be in a Level 4 lock down, rather than other political considerations. It is possible more time will be needed to ensure this can be put in place in which case the election could be delayed to, say, October or November 2020. Saying that, if we are about to head into Level 4 across the country, the impact of parties' ability to campaign must surely be taken into account.
We know it is a challenging time for many, so from all of us here we send our thoughts to you, your teams, loved ones and whānau. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with your usual contact and let us know if we can be of further assistance to you.

In the news

Electricity Authority releases wholesale market information disclosure consultation paper

The Electricity Authority (EA) recently published its wholesale market information disclosure: review of thermal fuel disclosure consultation paper (Paper) (available here). Recent events and reviews highlighted that the availability of thermal fuel information is a key concern, and led to the EA reviewing the thermal fuel information disclosure rules. The Paper seeks feedback on the EA's proposed actions to improve the availability of thermal fuel information.
The Paper provides four key proposals aimed at ensuring the Code's disclosure requirements are being met and making thermal fuel information easier to find and use. These include:

  • An amendment to the Code introducing mandatory quarterly reporting of disclosure activities and annual certification by some participants. The EA believes this will ensure that those participants consider their clause 13.2 obligations (ie misleading, deceptive, or incorrect information), and provide information to facilitate monitoring and compliance.
  • Updating the thermal fuel disclosure guidelines to provide greater clarity regarding disclosure obligations and to reflect recent developments. For example, the fact that gas producers now disclose all planned outages does not override electricity participants' obligations under clause 13.2A (disclosure information must be made readily available).
  • Raising awareness of existing disclosures. For instance, through a disclosure reference webpage, which links to published information.
  • Clarifying where parties should disclose information regarding their availability being impacted by a fuel constraint (eg via a centralised website such as the wholesale information and trading system).

The EA considers that thermal fuel information is a key driver of electricity prices. As such, the EA expects that these proposals will increase visibility of market activities, and enable participants to better manage risk, with the overall result of benefiting consumers in the long-term through prices that are more efficient.
Interested stakeholders should make a submission by 5pm, 1 September 2020.
Whilst the EA considers thermal fuel information to be the most pressing issue, it acknowledges that other information disclosure issues, not specifically related to thermal fuel, must also be addressed. The EA will address these other issues in the second phase of the project, scheduled for the 2021/2022 financial year.

Investment into "Pumped Hydro" option to support a renewable grid

The Government has announced it will investigate options to "green the grid" in order to pursue its goal for 100% renewable electricity generation. The Government will fund the close examination of a key recommendation by the Interim Climate Change Committee to develop hydro schemes that pump water into reservoirs as a "battery", which can be used to generate electricity at peak demand, during dry hydrological years, and to manage the intermittency of renewable energy (such as wind).
The Government has allocated $30 million to develop a business case for a solution to address New Zealand's dry year storage problem. The analysis will mostly focus on a "pumped hydro" storage project at Lake Onslow in Central Otago, but will also include the assessment of smaller potential locations in the North Island, as well as other alternative technologies. It is estimated that it would take about four to five years to build and two years to fill the reservoir at Lake Onslow, which would amount to a multi-billion dollar project for which separate funding would be required.
The Government also announced a further $70 million investment to increase electrification of industrial and process heat in the lower South Island, with transmission line upgrades, and direct support to industrial users to convert their coal boilers to electricity.
The Minister's press release is available here.

Independent review of the New Zealand Defence Force's Operation Respect

In mid-July, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) issued its report on its Independent Review on the NZDF's progress against its Operation Respect Action Plan (Report).
Operation Respect was launched in 2016 as an organisation-wide programme to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviours in the NZDF and improve the culture of 'dignity and respect'. Key objectives included increased training and education, improvements in sexual assault reporting processes and responses, recruiting more women, and reducing discrimination, harassment and bullying.
The Report outlines 44 recommendations to address issues identified, including:

  • requesting that the Auditor-General audits the NZDF's progress every two years;
  • considering the steps towards establishing a Defence Ombudsman to receive and process complaints; and
  • creating an integrated data management system to collect data and report on complaints and outcomes.

The Report also noted that the work must continue and that it is imperative that the New Zealand public has trust in the NZDF and a measure of that may be that its people work in an internal environment free from unnecessary harm.
Hon Ron Mark, Defence Minister, said that the review was critical and clearly outlines there is more work to be done – noting that New Zealand's Five Eye partners are also struggling to address similar issues in their militaries, as are other Government agencies. The Minister has said that the NZDF has already initiated contact with both the Ombudsman and the Auditor General to discuss potential options and that the NZDF are now focused on addressing the recommendations in the Report.
A full version of the Report is available here. The Minister's press statement can be found here.

Ombudsman's report into prisoners' rights during COVID-19

The Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier has acknowledged that prisons are taking positive steps to keep COVID-19 out, but this has come at the expense of some prisoners' rights. This follows the release of a report summarising the results of an independent inspection under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989, which addresses New Zealand's obligations under the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
The Ombudsman inspected nine prisons from 29 April 2020 to 8 May 2020 (while New Zealand was at Alert Level 3). Inspectors observed generally positive relationships between the staff and prisoners, and noted enhanced health and safety processes were in place and effectively communicated. Prisons had taken measures to support prisoners maintaining contact with the outside world.
Recommendations for improving conditions and treatment were made in relation to seven of the nine prisons. Concerns were raised about some prisoners in some units at four prisons, who were not receiving access to at least one hour of fresh air per day, or given activities to occupy their time. This was especially the case for prisoners who had been placed in medical isolation (either as new arrivals in prison, or due to suspected COVID-19 symptoms). However, it was also an operational issue for all prisons – due to the protections established between "bubbles".
A full version of the report can be found here.

Update on Phase 2 reform of the Reserve Bank

Finance Minister, Hon Grant Robertson has introduced the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bill, which would make changes to the Reserve Bank's governance and accountability. The Bill is expected to be read for a first time after the election.
The Bill is part of the Phase 2 reform to the Reserve Bank Act in relation to the Review of the Reserve Bank announced by the Minister in 2017. Phase 1 (completed in 2018) introduced "supporting maximum sustainable employment" as an economic objective for the Reserve Bank; and created a Monetary Policy Committee with the responsibility for formulating monetary policy.
The relevant key changes in the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bill are:

  • Moving from a single decision maker model, to a board model.
  • Amendments to the Reserve Bank’s accountability and reporting frameworks to better align with state sector practice.
  • Setting out matters that the Reserve Bank board must have regard to when setting, and implementing, its strategic approach to financial stability.
  • Requiring the Reserve Bank and the Minister to agree on a Foreign Reserves Management and Co-ordination Framework.
  • Changes to the funding model to allow for recovery of costs through industry levies and fees.
  • Providing the Council of Financial Regulators with a statutory mandate, which relates to the regulation of the financial system.
  • Expanding the Reserve Bank’s functions in respect of cash, including supporting public confidence in banknotes by enabling the Reserve Bank to set standards for devices that check the authenticity and/or quality of banknotes.

Further work under Phase 2 is focused on the introduction of (among other things) a new deposit insurance scheme for New Zealand. Due to the impact of COVID-19, consultation on this tranche of the reform has been extended until 23 October 2020 and reforms are not expected to be introduced to Parliament until 2021.
The Treasury's consultation page is available here.

New mandatory labelling rules for alcohol

Food Safety Minister, Hon Damien O'Connor, recently announced that New Zealand is introducing mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products.
New Zealand shares a Food Standards regulatory system with Australia so decisions on labelling must be made jointly by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum). On 17 July 2020, the Forum accepted the proposed draft standard for pregnancy warning labels, which was gazetted on 31 July 2020, and is now reflected in changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Since 2011, the alcohol industry has implemented a voluntary pregnancy warning labelling scheme. However, there is no consistency in the type, colour, size and design of the warnings. Other countries, such as the United States and France, legally require pregnancy warning labels on alcohol, and Minister O'Connor has said New Zealand and Australia will now align with that.
The new pregnancy warning labels must be printed in red, black and white. Depending on the size of the alcoholic vessel, the labels must either read "Pregnancy Warning", show the pregnancy warning mark (the pregnancy warning pictogram, the signal words "Pregnancy Warning" and the statement "Alcohol can cause lifelong harm to your baby") or the pregnancy warning pictogram.
The Minister describes the changes as an action taken to reduce the harm caused by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
The changes to the Food Standards Code provide for a three-year transition period to enable businesses to make the necessary modifications to their labels and processes. The changes take effect 36 months from 31 July 2020.

Report on Auckland Port Relocation

In July, the Government released a report, which was undertaken by Sapere and commissioned by the Government, to inform decision-making on the relocation of the Port of Auckland's freight operations. The report considered five relocation options: Northport, Manukau, the Firth of Thames, the Port of Tauranga, and a shared increase in capacity for Northport and the Port of Tauranga.
The report follows the position from the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy Independent Working Group, which identified Northport as the preferred option. The Ministry, along with the Treasury and the Provincial Development Unit, agreed to undertake further work to inform a decision.
Key findings of the Sapere report are:

  • The Port of Auckland currently has 30 years' capacity – which allows a 10-15 year decision-making window.
  • Neither Northport, nor the Port of Tauranga, on their own would pass the gateway test (ie a minimum of 60 years capacity, allowing for a reasonable rate of growth).
  • Manukau Harbour was the highest ranked option – to provide sufficient long-term port capacity at least cost.
  • The economic costs would outweigh the economic benefits for all options.
  • Obtaining consents for any activity that involves coastal environments would be highly challenging. Timeframes for planning and consenting are estimated at 5-7 years for an existing port and 7-10 years for a new port.
  • The large-scale investment and consenting challenges mean that it may be tempting to stay put on the Waitemata Harbour, but a delay in taking a decision will make an eventual shift more difficult.

The report advises that a detailed feasibility study will be needed to test and confirm a range of details relating to port design, commercial arrangements, coastal engineering, landside infrastructure requirements, coastal planning and consenting details, as well as undertaking full engagement with stakeholders.
A full version of the report is available on the Ministry of Transport's page here.

FMA outlines short-term priorities in response to COVID-19

On 27 July 2020, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) released an information sheet on its short-term priorities over the next three to six months as New Zealand responds to COVID-19. The sheet noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the economy. The FMA is focused on ensuring that the financial sector is well-positioned to respond to these future challenges and to support customers and investors.
The FMA's immediate priorities are intended to promote fair, efficient and transparent financial markets, and contribute to the country's economic recovery, through:

  • supporting investors and customers and highlighting risks and issues;
  • providing ongoing support to entities and working with firms to help them respond to the impacts of COVID-19;
  • identifying and addressing misconduct, including scams and other predatory practices related to COVID-19;
  • responding quickly to market disruptions and significant events;
  • setting out its expectations on good conduct;
  • progressing the new financial advice regime which begins on 15 March 2021, and other key policy reforms to enhance oversight of financial markets; and
  • continuing to work with other members of the Council of Financial Regulators and other agencies to monitor developments and ensure effective responses to system-wide issues.

Key regulatory risks the FMA will focus on in the coming months include: 

  • engaging with investors and customers to support their decision-making and provide relevant guidance;
  • continuing to monitor and engage with market participants and frontline regulators including NZX to ensure fair, efficient and transparent capital markets;
  • financial sector resilience and ensuring the FMA is prepared to respond to significant events;
  • reintroducing regulatory activities;
  • outlining its expectations of industry on the treatment of customers and investors, identifying entities at high-risk of misconduct and addressing and deterring misconduct; and
  • responding to scams and fraud, issuing public warnings and alerts to warn investors of potential risks.

The full information sheet can be found here.

Auditor-General Report into Provincial Growth Fund

In December 2017, the Government announced that it was setting up the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), which was launched in February 2018 with $3 billion to invest over a three-year period. Although typically described as a single investment fund, it is actually a collection of separate initiatives and hundreds of projects that several government departments manage separately.
The Auditor-General's report, released last week, follows a decision to redirect up to $600 million from the Fund to the COVID-19 response package.
The Auditor General found that:

  • The PGF was established at pace, which resulted in a number of deficiencies in how appropriations were administered, how conflicts of interest and contracts were managed, and how investments were tracked and reported. These systems and processes have improved over time.
  • An Independent Advisory Panel was expected to provide advice to Ministers on the overall balance of investments. It is difficult to see whether the balance sought has been achieved.
  • It was not always clear why certain projects were considered for funding. It is important for the public and Parliament to have better visibility of how all parts of the PGF operate.
  • Although there have been many announcements relating to individual projects, there needs to be full and relevant reporting about the nature and purpose of the PGF's investments and their impact against the PGF's objectives.

It was recommended that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment:

  • further strengthen transparency about the operation of the PGF;
  • work with the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Transport to enhance consolidated reporting on the PGF as a whole;
  • complete and publish, as quickly as possible, a plan for evaluating the overall effectiveness of the PGF.

The Auditor-General publicly expressed his expectation that officials "demonstrate, to the extent possible, the effectiveness of the $3 billion investment".
The full report is available here.

Report into Oranga Tamariki Released

The Chief Ombudsman recently released an investigation report into policies, practices and procedures for the removal of newborn pēpi by Oranga Tamariki (Report). The timeframe for the investigation was 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2019.
Under section 78 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, the Ministry is able to apply for, and be granted, interim custody of tamariki (pending the determination of proceedings) in cases where other options to ensure their safety are not available. Between 1 July 2017 and 31 June 2019, the Ministry received reports of concern relating to over 4000 pēpi. In this period, approximately 300 were removed from their parent's care. Many of these were done on a "without notice" basis – that is, the newborn was removed without the parents and whānau being notified of the decision to seek interim custody. This process is designed to be used only under urgency, where other legal avenues, such as place of safety warrants and truncated notice periods, are not available.
At a high level, the Report found that:

  • While the content of the Ministry's overall operating policies and guidance were generally adequate, there were a number of gaps.
  • The decision-making practices connected with the removal of newborn pēpi under section 78 were unreasonable.

The Ombudsman went on to make a number of specific recommendations to the Ministry, most of which related to updating and implementing clear guidance and policies to assist with decision-making. The Report recommends that the Ministry report back to the Ombudsman on its progress toward the recommendations on a quarterly basis for the next year, with the first report by 4 November 2020.

A full version of the Report can be found here.

Speeches of note

Minister Parker addresses Trade for All Advisory Board

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker addressed the Trade for All Advisory Board on 23 July, to respond to the Board's recommendations, following the Trade for All consultation.
The Minister raised his concerns about a broader emerging global trend toward protectionism, which was apparent before COVID-19, but the economic impacts of the pandemic risked exacerbating it. The Minister also alluded to three fundamental challenges in the global trading system that he considered needed addressing:

  • Trade and the Environment: The Minister expressed his desire to move rapidly away from fossil fuel technologies. Following the recent decision by the European Union, the Minister is supportive of a discussion on border adjustments for high carbon goods.
  • Digital Trade: The increasing reliance on digital trade presents new challenges in international economic policy, including the appropriate way to tax digital activity. Digital levies will be considered in New Zealand.
  • Challenges to International Institutions: Our hosting of APEC in 2021 will take place virtually. APEC is increasingly important due to the loss of the WTO appellate body, and the withdrawal of support from major economies in a range of institutions.

The Minister produced examples of responses to some specific recommendations (including a funding boost to NZTE and MFAT, an uptake in proactive reporting, and the development of a new trade and environment framework). The speech finished by the Minister requesting that the Trade for All Advisory Board be retained to help the Government to chart a course for New Zealand, and that the Board meet with the Minister every six months to advance this.
A full transcript of the speech is available here.

In the week ahead

What’s coming up?

Last week was the final sitting week of the 52nd Parliament. On Thursday 6 August, the House closed its proceedings with the adjournment debate. Parliament will not sit again until after the 2020 election.
Returned and newly elected MPs must meet in Wellington to form the 53rd Parliament no later than six weeks after the return of the writ with the final election results. The Business Committee must recommend a new sitting programme. The House will meet continuously on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays every week until a new programme is recommended.

Progress of legislation

Bills introduced

Accident Compensation (Notice of Decisions) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Paulo Garcia
This Bill seeks to amend the Accident Compensation Act 2001 to broaden the range of circumstances that give employers the right to apply for a review of the Accident Compensation Corporation's (ACC's) decisions related to a claim.
The Bill includes a requirement on the ACC to inform the employer and employee of decisions in respect of aggravation or re-injury of a work-related injury and provide for a review by the employer of that decision.
Adverse Weather-affected Timber Recovery on Conservation Lands Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Maureen Pugh
This Bill would allow the Director-General of Conservation to grant access for removal of specified trees from certain conservation areas, irreversibly damaged by an adverse weather event.
Ahuriri Hapū Claims Settlement Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Andrew Little
This Bill relates to a deed of settlement signed by the Crown with Ahuriri Hapū. The Bill:

  • records the acknowledgements and apology given by the Crown to Ahuriri Hapū in the deed of settlement dated 2 November 2016 between the Crown and Ahuriri Hapū (the deed); and
  • gives effect to the deed, in which the Crown and Ahuriri Hapū agree to a final settlement of all historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of Ahuriri Hapū.

Ahuriri Hapū comprise approximately 1,505 registered members. Ahuriri Hapū are based in and around Napier, in the Hawke’s Bay region. Their area of interest is bounded by the sea to the east, the Kaweka Range to the west, the Ngaruroro River to the south, and the Esk River to the north. The Ahuriri Hapū is one of six large natural groups negotiating the settlement of the historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of Ngāti Kahungunu, the third-largest tribal group in New Zealand.
Companies (Limited Partnerships Identical Names Prohibition) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Chris Penk
This Bill seeks to rectify an anomaly between the Companies Act 1993 and the Limited Partnerships Act 2008 in relation to identical or nearly identical names across entity types. The only substantive provision of this Bill is an amendment to the section of the Companies Act 1993 stating the basis on which the Registrar of Companies may approve the reservation of a new company name. That section (as amended) will refer to the names of limited partnerships and overseas limited partnerships registered under the Limited Partnerships Act 2008.
Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Louisa Wall
The Bill provides a regulation-making power to set up safe areas up to 150 metres around specific abortion facilities.
Prohibited behaviour would be defined as:

  • intimidating, interfering with, or obstructing a protected person where that behaviour is likely to cause emotional distress, or frustrate that persons purpose; or
  • communicating with or recording, a person in a manner that would cause emotional distress to a protected person.

The decision to create safe areas would be made on a case-by-case basis on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, in consultation with the Minister of Justice, and would be set out in the regulations made for specific premises.
Corrections (School Notification of Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in charge: Matt Doocey
This Bill seeks to amend the Corrections Act 2004 to ensure that when a sex offender is placed in a community, the principals of the local schools are notified of this placement.
Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in charge: Hon Eugenie Sage
This omnibus Bill seeks to amend the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and the Land Act 1948, with a single broad policy to amend these Acts to end tenure review and redesign the regulatory system to alter Crown pastoral land outcomes.
This Bill intends to ensure that Land Information New Zealand would administer Crown pastoral land in a way that maintains or enhances the ecological, landscape, cultural, heritage, and scientific values of the land for present and future generations, while providing for ongoing pastoral farming of the land.
In effect, these changes are intended to manage and control any further development or intensification of pastoral farming activity on Crown pastoral land and encourage sustainable ongoing use of the land for pastoral farming and recreation.
The changes include:

  • Ending the tenure review process, which has resulted in former Crown pastoral land being freeholded and subject to more intensive farming.
  • Moving towards an outcomes-based approach to encourage pastoral farming that is sustainable, and decision-making that recognises impacts on inherent values.
  • Providing a more transparent statutory decision-making process, with more accountability mechanisms and opportunity for public input.
  • Supporting Crown-Māori relationships and recognising the relationship of tangata whenua with their ancestral lands.

The Bill also outlines arrangements that alter the transition process for leaseholders.
District Court (Protection of Judgment Debtors with Disabilities) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in charge: Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki
This Bill seeks to amend the District Court Act 2016 to prohibit the seizure of goods of a judgment debtor with a disability, where the item proposed to be seized is necessary for the judgment debtor’s care, support, or independence.
At present, the District Court Act 2016 requires good judgment to be exercised by bailiffs to act fairly and reasonably. This does not prohibit bailiffs seizing property that enables independence, such as mobility vehicles.
Electoral (Integrity Repeal) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in charge: Rt Hon David Carter
This Bill seeks to reverse the changes made to the Electoral Act 1993 by the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2018. These changes concern public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system and the maintenance of the proportionality of political party representation in Parliament as determined by electors.
Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill (No 2)

Type of Bill: Government
Member in charge: Hon Andrew Little
This Bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act 1993 to remedy inconsistencies in its provisions about enrolment of sentenced prisoners that were introduced by the amendments in the Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2020.
The Bill corrects these inconsistencies by repealing the changes that were made to the Electoral Act 1993 by SOP 518 so the law is internally coherent, and consistent with the intended policy of the Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2020. In particular, the Bill:

  • Only requires Corrections to assist prisoners received into prison to enrol to vote if they are sentenced to less than three years’ imprisonment (and therefore qualified to enrol to vote).
  • Reinserts the requirement on Corrections to assist prisoners sentenced to three years’ or more imprisonment to enrol to vote before they are released.
  • Requires the Electoral Commission to remove from the electoral roll when notified by Corrections the names of prisoners who are disqualified from enrolling to vote.

Family Court (Supporting Children in Court) Legislation Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Andrew Little
This omnibus Bill amends the Care of Children Act 2004 and the Family Dispute Resolution Act 2013 with the objective of increasing child wellbeing in care-of-children proceedings, both directly and by assisting parents to resolve parenting disputes. The final report of the Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice system reforms found that there is limited participation by children in issues that affect them and there is concern as to whether their voices are heard, and whether their views are taken into account both in and out of court.
Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Louisa Wall
This Bill would make it an offence for a person to knowingly post a digital communication of intimate visual recordings of another person without their consent. The Bill would also provide for the court to make orders to remove or disable the digital communication.
Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Julie Anne Genter
This Bill would establish an oral fluid testing regime, to test for drivers driving under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. Under the regime a police officer could stop any driver of a motor vehicle and administer an oral fluid test without cause to suspect a driver has consumed drugs, consistent with the existing approach to drink driving enforcement. If a person twice fails an oral fluid test they can elect to take a blood test. Infringement penalties would be aligned to drink driving penalties.
The Bill includes clauses to allow for the introduction of criminal penalties through an Order in Council.
Lawyers and Conveyancers (Employed Lawyers Providing Free Legal Services) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Chris Bishop
This Bill, in conjunction with amendments to the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008, would allow a lawyer who is an employee to do free legal work, other than for the lawyer's employer, with permission of the employer, on specific conditions set by the New Zealand Law Society. The aim of this Bill is to improve access to justice without compromising the standards of professional conduct and client care.
Local Government (Customer Focus) Amendment Bill

This member's Bill failed at first reading
Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Stuart Nash
This Bill intends to improve the allocation and transfer process provided in the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 to better enable the allocation and transfer of aquaculture settlement assets to iwi. This Bill arises in the context of iwi in some regions facing indefinite delays in receiving their aquaculture settlement assets from the trustee, Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited.
This Bill would provide Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited with a limited discretionary power to allocate and transfer aquaculture settlement to iwi in certain circumstances.
Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill (No 2)

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Dr Shane Reti
This Bill would amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 to provide a regulated scheme mechanism for medicinal cannabis which will allow cannabis to be prescribed like any other medicine. Specifically, this Bill would:

  • allow for the licensing of domestic medicinal cannabis production;
  • regulate controlled access by health practitioners; and
  • facilitate pharmacist dispensing.

The regulated cannabis extract would be manufactured as oils, capsules, tablets, and oral sprays.
Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill 

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Chris Hipkins
This Bill would replace the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. The Bill:

  • clarifies the definition of serious wrongdoing;
  • enables people to report serious wrongdoing directly to an appropriate authority at any time;
  • strengthens protections for disclosers; and
  • clarifies the internal procedure requirements for public sector organisations and the potential forms of adverse conduct disclosers may face.

All workplaces would be covered by the Bill, although some provisions apply specifically to public sector organisations and to public funds and functions.
Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Grant Robertson
This Bill would provide for the objectives and functions of the Reserve Bank and its governance, accountability, transparency, and funding arrangements. The Bill would also increase coordination between public agencies responsible for the financial system and would create a new framework to better manage the use of New Zealand's foreign exchange reserves. This is the first of two bills resulting from the Phase 2 review of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989.
Social Security (Financial Assistance for Caregivers) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Tracey Martin
This Bill would amend the Social Security Act 2018 in order to implement two financial assistance initiatives for caregivers that receive the orphan's benefit (OB) and unsupported child's benefit (UCB).
If passed, the Bill would extend eligibility for the OB and UCB to caregivers who provide care for less than 12 months (by removing the 12-month rule) and would extend the Christmas and birthday allowances to caregivers receiving the OB and UCB at the same rates as those received by caregivers receiving the foster care allowance.
Subordinate Legislation Confirmation Bill (No 5)

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Chris Hipkins
This Bill would prevent the revocation of certain subordinate legislation, that by virtue of the Act under which it is made, is revoked at a stated time unless earlier confirmed by an Act of Parliament. The Bill relates to items of subordinate legislation made in the year ending on 30 June 2020.
Taxation (Annual Rates for 2020-21, Feasibility Expenditure, and Remedial Matters) Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Stuart Nash
This Bill is an omnibus bill, which seeks to amend a range of legislation, including the Income Tax Act 2007, Tax Administration Act 1994, and the Goods and Services Tax Act 1985.
The Bill proposes that the annual rates of income tax for the 2020-21 tax year will remain unchanged. Further, the Bill contains clarifications regarding when taxpayers may deduct expenditure incurred in considering the feasibility of making investments, and the rules relating to the habitual buying and selling of homes and business premises. The Bill also proposes amendments to the rules governing how parties to a "mixed supply" asset sale allocate the total sale/purchase price between the various assets for tax purposes. Additionally, the Bill proposes to amend the eligibility criteria for accessing the R&D tax credit, and a new income-spreading arrangement for farmers that have derived unexpected income from the culling of their herds.
In relation to the Goods and Services Tax Act, the Bill proposes to make amendments in relation to mobile roaming services, as well as the treatment of a supplier that issues a GST credit note.
The Bill also proposes to address a range of additional remedial matters and maintenance corrections.
Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Hon Judith Collins
This Bill would introduce more requirements to the information disclosure regime for prospective purchasers of units. It also adds further governance arrangements in relation to the body corporate in a unit title complex and greater standards on body corporate managers.
Water Services Bill

Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Nanaia Mahuta
This omnibus Bill gives effect to a number of key changes relating to the regulation of drinking and source water, and further targeted reforms to improve the regulation and performance of wastewater and stormwater networks. Specifically, the Water Services Bill makes a number of key changes by:

  • Placing duties and obligations on drinking water suppliers to provide safe drinking water to consumers, ensure sufficient quantities of water, and register their supply with Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator.
  • Regulating source water bodies by imposing risk management plans and compulsory monitoring of water quality in conjunction with regional councils.
  • Enforcing national-level reporting, monitoring and advisory functions for wastewater and storm water.
Bills awaiting first reading
Bills defeated
Bills withdrawn
Bills before Select Committee

Note: as the 52nd Parliament has now adjourned, all closing dates for submissions will be determined by the 53rd Parliament after the September election.

Submissions open


Select Committee

Closing date for Submissions

Arms (Firearms Prohibition Orders) Amendment Bill (No 2)

Justice Committee


Child Support Amendment Bill

Social Services and Community Committee


Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill

Environment Committee


Education (Strengthening Second Language Learning in Primary and Intermediate Schools) Amendment Bill

Education and Workforce Committee


Electoral (Integrity Repeal) Amendment Bill

Justice Committee


District Court (Protection of Judgment Debtors with Disabilities) Amendment Bill

Justice Committee


Insurance (Prompt Settlement of Claims for Uninhabitable Residential Property) Bill

Governance and Administration Committee


New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Fair Residency) Amendment Bill

Finance and Expenditure Committee


Oranga Tamariki (Youth Justice Demerit Points) Amendment Bill

Social Services and Community Committee


Overseas Investment Amendment Bill (No 3)

Finance and Expenditure Committee


Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill

Education and Workforce Committee


Rights for Victims of Insane Offenders Bill

Justice Committee


Submissions closed


Select Committee

Closing date for Submissions

Building (Building Products and Methods, Modular Components, and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

Environment Committee

27 Nov 2020

Fair Trading Amendment Bill

Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee

12 Aug 2020

Food (Continuation of Dietary Supplements Regulations) Amendment Bill

Primary Production Committee

28 Nov 2020

Gas (Information Disclosure and Penalties) Amendment Bill

Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee

28 Nov 2020

Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill

Transport and Infrastructure Committee

4 Feb 2021

New Zealand Bill of Rights (Declarations of Inconsistency) Amendment Bill

Privileges Committee

27 Nov 2020

Organic Products Bill

Primary Production Committee

19 Sep 2020

Subordinate Legislation Confirmation Bill (No 5)

Regulations Review Committee

2 Jan 2021

Taxation (Annual Rates for 2020-21, Feasibility Expenditure, and Remedial Matters) Bill

Finance and Expenditure Committee

24 Dec 2020

Bills awaiting second reading
Bills awaiting third reading
Acts assented

Appropriation (2019/20 Supplementary Estimates) Act 2020 

This Act makes or varies appropriations that authorise the Crown and Offices of Parliament to incur expenses and capital expenditure during the 2019/20 financial year, and during more than one financial year. The Act also authorises, or varies existing authorisations for, the Crown to make capital injections to specified departments and Offices of Parliament during the 2019/2020 financial year. The appropriations and capital injections are set out in Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of the Act.
Appropriation (2020/21 Estimates) Act 2020 

This Act makes appropriations that authorise the Crown and Offices of Parliament to incur expenses and capital expenditure during the 2020/21 financial year, and during more than one financial year. The Act specifies appropriations to which output expenses may be charged against third-party revenue during the 2020/21 financial year, and authorises the Crown to make capital injections to specified departments and Offices of Parliament during the 2020/21 financial year. The appropriations are set out in Schedules 1, 2, 3 and 4. The Act also repeals spent Appropriation Acts.
Arms Legislation Act 2020

The amendments in this omnibus Act deal with an inter-related topic that can be regarded as implementing a single broad policy. That policy is to increase public safety by adjusting legislative frameworks to impose tighter controls on the use and possession of arms. The Act intends to provide a regime that would minimise the likelihood of, and subsequent harm caused by, the misuse of firearms.
Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Act 2020

This Act updates the purpose of the Climate Change Response Act to include meeting New Zealand's Paris Agreement obligations.
The Act:

  • enables a cap to be set on emissions covered by the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme;
  • removes the current fixed price option and provides for a cost containment reserve of additional units to manage pricing;
  • imposes a sinking cap for all industrial allocations from 2021 to accelerate in 2030;
  • makes more data publically available, to allow public scrutiny of companies' performance under the Act;
  • brings Agricultural emissions into the Act to be priced at farm level for livestock emissions and processor level for fertiliser emissions from 2025 and provides an option to charge for all at processor level from 2022; and
  • introduces average accounting for post-1989 forests registered from 1 January 2019.

COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Act 2020 

This Act aims to support a public health response to COVID-19 by enabling the Government to recoup some of the costs of maintaining managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) services to endeavour to ensure they can continue.
The Act provides a framework that:

  • requires prescribed charges for MIQ facilities to be paid by certain people who are required, or elect, to be isolated or quarantined at a government-designated facility, unless they are exempt or the charges are waived;
  • provides for certain classes of people to be exempt from the requirement to pay the charges;
  • allows regulations to set the level of the charges, and the manner and timing of payment of the charges;
  • allows regulations to provide for exemptions, waivers, and refunds of the charges.

COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 

The Act provides a fast-tracked resource consenting process for 12 listed projects and allows some small scale repairs and maintenance on existing infrastructure to proceed without resource consent.
There is also a clause that allows the Minister for Environment to nominate further projects.
The Act establishes consenting panels to determine the applications in place of the relevant Council.
The Act will self-repeal in two years.
COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act (No 2) 2020 

This omnibus Act has a single broad policy to make amendments relating to administrative matters, such as timelines for financial reporting, and to taxation legislation that are aimed at assisting the Government and New Zealanders to more effectively manage and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. This Act amends eight enactments:

  • Accident Compensation (Experience Rating) Regulations 2019:
  • Crown Entities Act 2004:
  • Crown Research Institutes Act 1992:
  • Income Tax Act 2007:
  • Local Government Act 2002:
  • Public Finance Act 1989:
  • State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986:
  • Tax Administration Act 1994.

Crimes (Definition of Female Genital Mutilation) Amendment Act 2020 

This Act amends the Crimes Act 1961 to update the definition of female genital mutilation (FGM) to ensure all types of FGM are illegal in New Zealand and all women and girls are adequately protected from FGM. Section 204A makes it an offence to perform on any person, or cause to be performed, any act involving female genital mutilation. This includes arranging for a child to be sent or taken outside New Zealand with the intent of female genital mutilation being performed. Consent is not a defence to the offence.
Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Act (No 3) 2020 

This Act amended the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to remove some regulatory requirements that were no longer necessary, support and encourage better environmental performance of the dairy industry, provide Fonterra with more flexibility to manage some aspects of its operations, and provide increased clarity on aspects of the regulatory regime for Fonterra and other dairy industry stakeholders.
Education and Training Act 2020 

This Act updates education legislation to reflect current policy and practice. The Act will replace the Education Act 1964 and the Education Act 1989, and import parts 7, 7A and TB of the State Sector Act 1988 and provisions of the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 that are subject to delayed commencement.
The Act makes a number of changes to regulations affecting early childhood education, primary and secondary schooling, tertiary and vocational education and training, and school governance. The Act also makes amendments aimed at giving better effect to The Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Key elements include:

  • A new structure that follows the journey of students through the education system, progressing from early childhood education, to primary and secondary schooling, and then tertiary education and vocational training.
  • Locating in one place the key provisions in the Act that recognise the Crown's responsibility to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Act also enables the Ministers of Education and Māori-Crown relations: Te Arawhiti, after consultation with Māori, to jointly issue a statement specifying what education agencies must do to give effect to public service objectives that relate to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • New powers for the Secretary for Education when a state of emergency, transition period or epidemic notice is in place.
  • Prohibiting the provision of NCEA offshore, except in certain circumstances.
  • Expanding the powers of the Education Review Office to request information.

Retaining large parts of the previous education legislation, which was transferred into the Act unchanged, albeit with some updated language.
Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2020 

This Bill amends the provisions of the Electoral Act 1993 to allow prisoners who are serving a sentence less than three years to enrol to vote at elections and referendums. In addition, the Bill facilitates better participation in the electoral system of prisoners set to be released after a term longer than three years by assisting them to enrol.
Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act (No 2) 2020 

This Bill amends the Electoral Act 1993 to repeal inconsistencies in its provisions about the enrolment of sentenced prisoners, which will be amended in the Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2020.
Equal Pay Amendment Act 2020

The purpose of this Act is to increase the process for raising and progressing pay equity claims, and to eliminate and prevent discrimination on the basis of sex in the remuneration and employment terms and conditions for work done within female-dominated jobs. Pay equity is the principle that work predominantly performed by women should receive the same remuneration as work that may be different, but is of equal value to work done by men. This is different from equal pay claims, the principle of which is that women and men doing the same job should be paid the same.
The Act amends the Equal Pay Act 1972 to establish a bargaining process for pay equity claims, while still largely retaining the existing processes for equal pay and unlawful discrimination claims. The Act also makes consequential amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 and repeals the Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960.
Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Commercial Video on-Demand) Amendment Act 2020 

This Bill will amend the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993. Commercial video on demand material providers would be required to display consistent and appropriate labels on material made available in New Zealand. These labels would provide information about the content's rating or classification, and a description.
Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Act 2020 

This Act requires the compulsory registration of forestry advisers and log traders. Regulations can be made on the recommendation of the Minister to set entitlements to registration, and exemptions, as well as the obligations on registered persons, and other related matters. The Act establishes the Forestry Authority to act as the regulatory body for forestry advisers and log traders. The Act also gives the Forestry Authority (or its delegate) rule-making powers to set forestry practice standards and a code of ethics. The Act amends the Forests Act 1949 by inserting new Part 2A.
Fuel Industry Act 2020

This Act is the Government's response to a market study into retail fuel, conducted by the Commerce Commission. The Act introduces changes to the wholesale market arrangements in the fuel sector to improve transparency of pricing and to provide for rules to ensure that wholesale contracts are transparent and fair.
The Act would:

  • Increase competition by introducing a wholesale pricing regime and a regime that governs contract terms between wholesale suppliers and their wholesale customers.
  • Require retail outlets to display certain information relating to the price of fuel and require some fuel industry participants to record and disclose certain information.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Amendment Act 2020 

The Act Amends the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Amendment Act 2016, it is intended to remove the powers granted by s 71 of the original Act allowing the Minister to bypass certain provisions of the RMA regarding Council plans and documents, It also disestablishes Regenerate Christchurch from 30 June 2020. The Act preserves and extends specific powers enabling land title reconfiguration work in the Otakaro Avon River Corridor.
Imprest Supply (First for 2020/21) Act 2020 

This Act authorises expenses and capital expenditure to be incurred by the Crown and Offices of Parliament during the 2020/21 year in advance of appropriation in an Appropriation Act, as well as capital injections made to departments and Offices of Parliament during the 2020/21 year in advance of authorisation under an Appropriation Act.
Imprest Supply (Second for 2020/21) Act 2020 

This Act authorises expenses and capital expenditure to be incurred by the Crown and Offices of Parliament during the 2020/21 year in advance of appropriation in an Appropriation Act, as well as capital injections made to departments and Offices of Parliament during the 2020/21 year in advance of authorisation under an Appropriation Act.
Infrastructure Funding and Financing Act 2020 

The Act creates a new finance and funding tool to raise private capital for infrastructure relating to water, transport or certain community or environmental amenities. Finance could be raised through Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), a joint venture that is legally distinct from Councils. The SPV would then finance the infrastructure and this would be recouped by a levy on those expected to benefit from the infrastructure. All assets built by the entity would then transfer to the relevant council who would collect the levy through normal rates mechanisms for the SPV.
International Crimes and International Criminal Court Amendment Act 2020 

This Act amends the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000 to incorporate a series of amendments made to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2010 and 2017.
These "war crimes amendments" expand the list of war crimes subject to the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction and allow the court to hold individuals criminally responsible for them. The amendments make it a war crime to employ the following in non-international armed conflict:

  • poison and poisoned weapons;
  • asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gases, and analogous liquids, materials, or devices; and 
  • expanding bullets.

Further, the amendments make the following war crimes in both international and non-international armed conflicts:

  • weapons that use microbial agents, biological agents, or toxins;
  • weapons that injure by fragments that are undetectable by X-rays; and
  • blinding laser weapons.

The Act enables New Zealand to ratify the war crimes amendments and allows proceedings to be brought in New Zealand for these offences.
Land Transport (NZTA) Legislation Amendment Act 2020 

This Act reverses some procedural changes enacted by the Resource Management Amendment Act 2017. It also removes the prohibition on councils considering the effects of climate change when making regional policy statements or plans and, furthermore, from 31 December 2021 they must add emissions reduction plans to the list of factors to be considered. The Act also establishes a separate planning process for freshwater planning. Councils must notify to the Chief freshwater commissioner changes made to regional plans and policy statements in order to meet the coming national policy statement for freshwater. The freshwater commissioner will then appoint a freshwater hearings panel, which will make recommendations to the relevant council. If a council rejects the recommendations then submitters may appeal to the environment court, whereas if the changes are accepted, submitters may only appeal to the high court on points of law.
Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Act 2020 

This Act brings Kiwirail Holdings Limited's heavy rail network under the planning and funding regime of the Land Transport Agency through the establishment of a statutory rail network investment programme. The New Zealand Transport Agency will advise the Minister for Transport as to how rail fits into the overall land transport programme. Currently, rail and roading investment decisions are made separately. The Act will also allow track charges to be distributed into the national land transport fund.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Act 2020 

This Act provides for the establishment of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission in response to recommendations 36 to 38 in He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. The Commission would be established as an independent Crown entity, with the role of contributing to better and equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for New Zealanders. The Act also seeks to contribute to improving equity for Māori, Pacific peoples, disabled people, rainbow communities, and other groups that experience poorer mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Vesting Act 2020 

This Act transfers the Institute’s assets and liabilities to Te Puia NZMACI Limited Partnership (the Partnership), while providing for the Institute’s current functions to continue. This gives effect to an agreement between the Crown, the NZMACI, the trustees of the Whakarewarewa Joint Trust, the HTK Te Puia Trust, the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust, the Wahiao Tuhourangi o Whakarewarewa Trust, and the Te Puia NZMACI Limited Partnership. The purpose of the vesting would be to recognise the long relationship of Wahiao Tuhourangi and Ngāti Whakaue with the NZMACI and the underlying land, and to further strengthen the Crown’s relationship with Wahiao Tuhourangi o Whakarewarewa and Ngāti Whakaue.
New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension Legislation Amendment Act 2020 

This omnibus Act addresses social assistance for older people. The single broad policy is to modernise and simplify New Zealand superannuation and the veteran’s pension by shifting toward an assessment of entitlement on an individual basis. The Act also seeks to improve the consistency and clarity of policy and legislation.
Privacy Act 2020 

This Act repeals and replaces the Privacy Act 1993, as recommended by the Law Commission's 2011 review of the 1993 Act. The Privacy Act 2020 has the intention of promoting people's confidence that their personal information is secure and will be treated properly. The Act also intends to give effect to internationally recognised privacy obligations and standards in relation to the privacy of personal information, including the OECD Guidelines and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Public Finance Amendment Act 2020

This Act amends the Public Finance Act 1989. The Act introduces new reporting requirements for the Government and the Treasury. The Act requires the Government to report annually on its wellbeing objectives when delivering its fiscal strategy report (presented immediately after delivery of the Budget). The Act also requires the Treasury to report at least every four years on the state of wellbeing in New Zealand, how it has changed over time, and the sustainability of, and any risk to, the state of wellbeing in New Zealand. 
Public Finance (Wellbeing) Amendment Act 2020 

The Public Service Legislation Bill was, following the Committee of the Whole House stage, split into the Public Service Act 2020 and the Public Finance Amendment Ac 2020. This Act amends the Public Finance Act 1989 to provide financial powers and reporting obligations for various organisational arrangements.
Public Service Act 2020

The Public Service Legislation Bill was, following the Committee of the Whole House stage, split into the Public Service Act 2020 and the Public Finance Amendment Ac 2020. The Public Service Act 2020 repeals the State Sector Act 1988. The Public Service Act 2020:

  • clearly establishes the purpose, principles, and values of an apolitical public service, as well as its role in government formation;
  • recognises the role of the public service to support the Crown in its commitment to its relationships with Māori;
  • provides a more flexible set of options for organisational arrangements to support the public service in better responding to priorities and joining up more effectively;
  • increases interoperability across the public service workforce and preserves the future public service as an attractive and inclusive place to work;
  • strengthens leadership across the public service, and provides for system and future-focused leadership.

Racing Industry Act 2020 

The Act replaces the Racing Act 2003 and empowers the three racing codes to govern their own respective industries including clubs and venues. Racing New Zealand is established as a representative body of the three racing codes in New Zealand in negotiations and interactions with other industry bodies. The Act establishes TAB New Zealand as the sole betting provider in New Zealand and gives it the aim of maximising profit for the industry whilst reducing problem or underage gambling. The Act also establishes the Racing Integrity Board which is to be responsible for ensuring integrity within the racing industry, including investigating and adjudicating breaches. The Act also creates a legislative framework that allows for vesting of venues owned by local clubs that are no longer required to be vested into the relevant racing code. It would then likely be sold, allowing the capital to be reinvested elsewhere.
Rates Rebate (Statutory Declarations) Amendment Act 2020 

This Act amends the Rates Rebate Act 1973. The Act replaces the requirement for applicants for the rates rebate scheme to make a statutory declaration to verify that their information is true and correct, with a requirement to verify the application in a manner and form approved by the Secretary for Local Government. Removing the requirement for a statutory declaration will enable territorial authorities to offer an online application process alongside a paper-based one.
Resource Management Amendment Act 2020 

The Act reverses some procedural changes enacted by the Resource Management Amendment Act 2017. It also removes the prohibition on councils considering the effects of climate change when making regional policy statements or plans and, furthermore, from 31 December 2021 they must add emissions reduction plans to the list of factors to be considered. The Act also establishes a separate planning process for freshwater planning. Councils must notify to the Chief freshwater commissioner changes made to regional plans and policy statements in order to meet the coming national policy statement for freshwater. The freshwater commissioner will then appoint a freshwater hearings panel, which will make recommendations to the relevant council. If a council rejects the recommendations then submitters may appeal to the environment court, whereas if the changes are accepted, submitters may only appeal to the high court on points of law.
Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020

This Act makes a range of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, including:

  • increasing security of tenure for tenants;
  • promoting good-faith relationships in the renting environment;
  • modernising and clarifying the Act to reflect the modern renting market and environment;
  • enhancing powers and tools for the chief executive of the department responsible for the administration of the Act; and
  • supporting tenants' ability to assert their legal rights.

Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020

This Act broadens the scope of products under the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 to include vaping products and heated tobacco products. The Amendment Act acknowledges that vaping products and heated tobacco products have lower health risks than smoking, and aims to support smokers to switch to these less harmful products. The Amendment Act also:

  • proposes different advertising and marketing restrictions for vaping products than for tobacco;
  • allows for retailers approved by the Director-General of Health to become specialist vape retailers;
  • restricts a generic vape retailer selling three classes of vape flavours; and
  • introduces a notifying regime for manufacturers and importers of regulated products.

Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Amendment Act 2020 

This Act amends the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017, which formalised a pay equity settlement between the Government and many care and support workers. The amendments incorporate the terms of two later settlements with other groups of support workers into the framework of the principal Act. These groups are:

  • mental health and addiction support workers (agreement signed by the Crown and the relevant parties on 17 July 2017)
  • vocational disability workers engaged by Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Social Development (agreement signed by the Crown and the relevant parties on 25 July 2018).

Taumata Arowai—the Water Services Regulator Act 2020 

This Act establishes Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator as a new Crown agent and provides for its objectives, functions, operating principles, and governance arrangements. Taumata Arowai is a Crown entity for the purposes of section 7 of the Crown Entities Act 2004. The objectives of Taumata Arowai as set out in the Act are to:

  • protect and promote drinking water safety and related public health outcomes; and
  • effectively administer the drinking water regulatory system; and
  • build and maintain capability among drinking water suppliers and across the wider industry; and
  • give effect to Te Mana o te Wai, to the extent that Te Mana o te Wai applies to the functions and duties of Taumata Arowai; and
  • provide oversight of, and advice on, the regulation, management, and environmental performance of wastewater and stormwater networks; and
  • promote public understanding of the environmental performance of wastewater and stormwater networks.

Te Ture Whenua Maori (Succession, Dispute Resolution, and Related Matters) Amendment Act 2020 

This Act includes a suite of amendments to Te Ture Whenua Maori Act designed to:

  • enhance the intergenerational wellbeing of owners of Māori land;
  • simplify the complexity and requirements that owners of Māori land encounter when engaging with the Māori Land Court;
  • promote the efficient operation of the Māori Land Court; and
  • ensure that the Māori land tenure system is fit for purpose.

Urban Development Act 2020 

The Urban Development Act will seek to provide Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, with the ability to enable a new type of development called specified development projects, which are projects which currently struggle to progress due to:

  • a status as a fragmented land parcels;
  • uncoordinated decision-making processes;
  • poor and aging infrastructure; and
  • restrictive planning requirements. 

Veterans' Support Amendment Act (No 2) 2020 

This Act implements recommendations made by the 2014 Paterson Report. It focuses on:

  • improving access to services for veterans;
  • improving support for veterans' families;
  • supporting veterans and their families at the end of the veteran's life; and
  • removing provisions of the Veteran's Support Act 2014 deemed by the Report to be 'unfair'.
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