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Disclosure Statements for Government Legislation: Technical Guide for Departments

Disclosure for Government Supplementary Order Papers

Disclosure is required for “substantive” government amendments to non-exempt government Bills that are introduced as a supplementary order paper (SOP). These will fall into two categories:

  • those involving material changes to the policy being given effect by the Bill; and
  • those that may not involve material policy changes, but nonetheless would require an affirmative answer to at least one of the questions in Part Three (Questions 3.4 and 3.5 only) or Part Four of the matters for disclosure.

If the SOP meets neither of these criteria, it is not a substantive amendment and no disclosure statement is required. Disclosure is not required for SOPs where the Bill was originally exempt from the disclosure requirements.

Disclosure must be completed using either the Departmental Disclosure Statement template for material supplementary order papers or the short-form disclosure template for supplementary order papers. The templates are intended to ensure consistency of response and assist the Parliamentary Counsel Office in publishing disclosure statements; they can be found on the Treasury's website (www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/guidance/regulatory/ disclosurestatements). General instructions on how to complete the template are outlined on page 11.

Amendments involving material policy changes

What constitutes a material changes to a Bill's policy will be a matter of judgement. Indicators that a policy change is material may include:

  • material changes to the nature or size of the potential costs or benefits of the policy;
  • the need for further policy approvals from Cabinet;
  • the need for an updated or supplementary regulatory impact statement; and
  • external consultation on the proposed amendments ahead of tabling the SOP, or a recommendation to refer the resulting SOP back to select committee.

Where material policy changes are proposed, the department should provide a disclosure statement for the amended Bill (that is, the Bill as it would be with the SOP changes incorporated). This is intended to help the reader consider the changes in the context of the Bill and the Bill's development process as a whole.

Departments can either provide an updated version of the original disclosure statement (most suited to extensive and multi-faceted policy changes), or a supplement to the original disclosure statement (most suited to policy additions or relatively contained policy changes), depending on which is likely to be most helpful for the reader.

A consequence of producing disclosures for the Bill as amended is that it will also pick up any relevant changes made at the select committee stage. These changes can be noted, without any expectation that these need further departmental explanation or justification.

Amendments affecting disclosure for Parts Three or Four

Where the policy changes may not be material, but the amendments have features that would require an affirmative answer to at least one of the questions in Part Three (Questions 3.4 and 3.5 only) or Part Four, the department can provide a short-form disclosure statement for the SOP alone. The short-form disclosure statement would be limited to answering questions in those parts.

Supplementary order papers with no original disclosure

If there was no original disclosure statement (because the Bill was introduced before the disclosure requirements came into force), and the disclosure is required for an (as outlined above), there are two options to complete disclosure.

  • If the SOP is to be referred back to a select committee, the department should provide a complete disclosure statement for the amended Bill.
  • Otherwise, the department should provide a short-form disclosure statement as outlined above.
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