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Disclosure Statements for Government Legislation: Technical Guide for Departments

Overview: New Disclosure Requirements for Government Legislation


The government wants to ensure that its policies get translated into legislation that is robust, principled and effective. To support this aim Cabinet has agreed to certain disclosure requirements for new legislation (both Bills and disallowable instruments) that the government produces.

The requirements draw on existing expectations about what makes good legislation to:

  • bring attention to specific features of a piece of proposed legislation and/or the key processes through which it was developed and tested;
  • make this information publicly available in an accessible and cost-effective way; and
  • thereby facilitate greater and more effective scrutiny of that legislation by Parliament and the general public.

The increased provision of information, and scrutiny of that information, is expected to improve legislative quality over time by increasing the attention given to follow good practices during the development of legislation.

Administrative trial period ahead of proposed legislation

Disclosure is ultimately intended to be a legislative requirement. However, while legislation is being developed for this purpose, Cabinet has directed the Treasury to administratively introduce the disclosure requirements as soon as possible. This guidance outlines the disclosure requirements for an initial administrative period ahead of the passage of legislation. The administrative period starts from the week beginning29 July 2013.

No disclosures required for disallowable instruments during the administrative period

During the administrative period, disclosure statements will only be required for government Bills and associated government Supplementary Order Papers. This will allow testing of the widest range of proposed disclosures while limiting the costs on departments during the initial start-up phase.

Once disclosures become a legislative requirement, disclosurestatements will also be required for all disallowable instruments drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel Office (within the meaning of section 38 of the Legislation Act 2012). Disclosure will only be required for a subset of the matters required for Bills. Further guidance on this area will be provided closer to the time.

Learning and adapting during the administrative period

The administrative period is an opportunity to test the content, presentation and production requirements before the legislation is finalised and comes into effect. We are not quite sure whether it will be possible to provide effective disclosures for some matters identified by Cabinet for testing, but we will be giving these a try during the period. And while we have tried to anticipate the main issues and scenarios that departments will face when preparing disclosures, there may be unforeseen circumstances that we have not provided for in the requirements, guidance, and templates.

Consequently, problems may be encountered, and some adaptations of templates and process requirements may be needed on occasion. There may be times when you will have to exercise your own best judgement on how to:

  • complete a particular disclosure within the general expectations outlined;
  • work within the structure and formatting of the template; and
  • satisfy the disclosure presentation and publication requirements.

We (the Regulatory Quality Team in the Treasury, and the Prepublication Unit in the PCO) would like to hear about any problems you do identify and your proposed approach to addressing these. Ideally, please discuss these with us in advance of settling on an answer, especially if you plan to alter the disclosure statement templates, in case we can help or provide advice on what approaches others have taken.

Monitoring during the administrative period

The Treasury will be monitoring the disclosure statements prepared during this initial period to inform the passage of legislation implementing the proposal, and the future refinement of the operational requirements and processes. The monitoring process may include asking departmental staff to provide feedback from time to time on their experience completing a disclosure statement.

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