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Key Features of the Administrative Requirements

Disclosure must be prepared for all new government Bills and Supplementary order papers as outlined in this guidance and must be presented as a Departmental Disclosure Statement in the template provided. The disclosure statement sets out questions that must be answered about processes undertaken in the development of the legislation, and about the content of the legislation. Further information relating to a question is required to be disclosed when a response to a question is affirmative.

A disclosure statement is generally grouped into four parts:

  • Part One: General Policy Statement

Part One requires that a statement be prepared whichoutlines the policy objectives that the legislation seeks to achieve. It is intended to assist the reader in understanding the purpose of the policy and what it seeks to achieve.

  • Part Two: Background Information and Policy Information

Part Two relates to important background material and policy information about the legislation. It is intended to provide ready access to existing material that throws further light on the policy issues addressed by the legislation, and on the early stages to the policy development process.

  • Part Three: Testing of Legislative Content

Part Three relates to information about the testing of the content of the legislation. It is intended to provide information about the quality assurance work undertaken to test the content of the legislation.

  • Part Four: Significant Legislative Features

Part Four relates to information about particular features that may be contained in the legislation. It is intended to highlight provisions that provide for significant powers or that are unusual and likely to raise interest.

Guidance on what must be disclosed in each of these parts is outlined from page 14.

Departmental responsibility for preparing disclosure statements

The department(s) responsible for the preparation of a government Bill or SOP must prepare a disclosure statement on behalf of the government for that Bill or SOP.

The disclosure statement is a departmental document, not a Ministerial document. The disclosure should reflect the knowledge and understanding of the department(s) in developing the legislation. Departments are responsible for preparing the disclosure statement because it is intended to factually record:

  • processes that the department was responsible for undertaking during the development of the legislation's policy; and
  • content of the legislation that the department was responsible for advising on and designing.

Individual departments will need to decide who is best placed within the department to prepare the disclosure statement. This may vary between departments depending on how responsibility for developing policy and legislation is split. However, it is likely that preparation of a disclosure statement will require input from multiple teams within the department. For instance, the policy team will be aware of the processes undertaken during the policy development, but may require input from the legal team on the content or effect of particular provisions contained in the legislation.

Quality assurance

No formal independent quality assurance check is required of the disclosure statement. It is expected that departments will use existing internal quality assurance processes to ensure the quality of disclosure statements they prepare. However, departments may wish to consider developing new processes (or fitting in with existing processes) to ensure that the disclosure they prepare accurately reflects the process undertaken during the policy development and the content of legislation.

As a part of the internal quality assurance of the content of the disclosure statement, departments should ensure that any hyperlinks used to refer to information are active (or ready to be active if the information is not published at this time). Departments must ensure that at the time of publication all linked material is available.

Departmental approval

Disclosure statements are required to be approved on behalf of the department. Departments will need to decide who will be responsible for approving the disclosure statement on behalf of the department. This is likely to be the person who is responsible for the development of the legislation which the disclosure relates to. The introductory material of the disclosure statement must name the department(s) responsible for its preparation.

Timing of disclosure preparation

Departments should begin thinking about preparing the disclosure statement early within the legislative drafting process. Early preparation will result in better disclosure as the policy work is still fresh in the mind, and the key people involved are less likely to have moved on to other tasks or positions. It should also mean that there are not any surprises when the disclosure statement is completed and approved. Parts One and Two of the disclosure statement particularly should be able to be prepared at an early stage as they relate to information from the policy development phase that should have already been completed prior to the drafting of legislation.

The disclosure statement must be prepared so that it is ready to be submitted to Cabinet when approval is sought to introduce the legislation it relates to. This will generally be when the legislation is considered by the Cabinet Legislation Committee, although legislation is occasionally submitted to other Cabinet Committees for approval.

Cabinet consideration

The Cabinet Manual expects that reports of a substantive nature relating to government policy will be submitted to Cabinet. As the disclosure statement is essentially a departmental report on the process of policy and legislative development for particular pieces of legislation it must be provided to Cabinet for its information.

However, formal Cabinet approval of the disclosure statement is not required as the disclosure statement is a departmental document. It is important though that Ministers are aware of the contents of the disclosure statement before it is published in case it leads them to recommend further work be done on the legislation itself. The disclosure statement will provide useful information about the legislation when Cabinet is considering the whether or not to approve the legislation for introduction.

Public release

All disclosure statements must be published in their entirety when the legislation the disclosure statement relates to is introduced to Parliament. The Parliamentary Counsel Office will arrange for publication electronically when it publishes the legislation on the New Zealand Legislation website. Further detail on providing a disclosure statement to the Parliamentary Counsel Office for publication is available on page 10.

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