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Regulatory Standards Bill - Policy

18. The National-ACT Confidence and Supply agreement included the commitment that “The Regulatory Standards Bill will be included in the continuance motion for the new Parliament, and the Minister for Regulatory Reform will work closely with the Minister of Finance to achieve a mutually agreed outcome, based on the Treasury's preferred option (option 5), for enacting within the next 12 months.”

19. Option 5 has two core components:

  • A requirement that explanatory notes for bills and regulations (which currently do not have explanatory notes) specify certain information and answer certain questions, e.g. “Does this piece of legislation take or impair property rights?”
  • Increased emphasis on Parliament's role in regulatory quality via standing orders changes and increased support for Parliament in carrying out that role.

20. There are a number of policy choices still to be made. Some of the most significant ones are:

  • What matters should be disclosed in explanatory notes? Should requirements for bills and regulations be different?
  • Should we have a specialist select committee looking at legislative quality matters? If yes, should it be an expanded Regulations Review Committee or a separate standalone committee?
  • What form of increased analytical support is appropriate? In particular, is there a case for a new Officer of Parliament?

21. Since some of these options involve Standing Orders changes, they are within the exclusive responsibility of Parliament. We will therefore work closely with the Office of the Clerk in developing and testing options.

22. Treasury's Option 5 also outlined a number of supporting measures to bolster the two core components, e.g. a 5-yearly report on regulatory quality from the Attorney-General and the reinvention of the Cabinet Legislation Committee as a substantive check on regulatory quality.

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