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External consultation

External consultation in advance of introducing legislation has a range of practical benefits, including:

  • the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the problem, and the earlier identification of potential problems with a proposed policy solution, leading to better quality and more durable legislation;
  • increased public buy-in, because people are more likely to accept the legitimacy of proposals arising out of a fair and open process in which they have had the opportunity to participate; and
  • ultimately, improved understanding of the law and better rates of compliance.

There are no established requirements for external consultation in advance of the introduction of government Bills, but the Cabinet Manual invites Ministers to consult external organisations or undertake a wider process of public consultation with citizens or affected parties before policy decisions are finalised and a Bill is introduced. It also notes that several rounds of consultation may be needed on significant or complex legislation.

While there is usually an opportunity for external parties to comment on a Bill as part of the select committee process, the expectation that external consultation will also occur in advance of introducing a Bill has grown in recent years. This reflects a range of forces, including the wider impact of more open government, the reduced cost of consultation via the internet, and the realisation that substantive policy changes are much harder to make once a Minister or agency has invested time and effort, and secured the necessary political or interest group support, to get a legislative initiative through the policy process to the point of introduction.

Question 3.6

3.6.  Has there been any external consultation on the policy to be given effect by this Bill, or on a draft of this Bill? [YES/NO]

What matters are covered by this question?

  • For the purposes of this question, external consultation is formal consultation undertaken by or on behalf of the government with people or bodies that are not government departments or Ministers.

This means it will include consultation with government bodies that are not departments, such as Crown entities, SOEs, or Offices of Parliament.

  • It is not, however, intended to cover consultation of a political nature between members of the government and other MPs or political parties, or informal consultation and discussion.
  • The question recognises that consultation can occur at different and multiple points in the policy development process, right up to and including release of an exposure draft of a Bill for comment prior to introduction.
  • The consultation need not have covered all aspects of the policy in order to be counted. The matters covered by the consultation will be part of the further information provided.
  • The question encompasses external consultation that may have already been reported in responses to earlier questions - e.g. consultation with the Privacy Commissioner, or reporting on the steps taken to determine consistency with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Cross reference can be made to earlier answers as part of the further information sought.

What is the nature of the further information sought?

If the answer is YES, for each relevant consultation exercise, please refer the reader to an Appendix, and use the Appendix to briefly:

  • describe the form that consultation took, what it covered and when it occurred;  and
  • summarise the nature and extent of feedback received. 

Where possible, cross refer or provide links to existing information about external consultation undertaken, rather than repeat material already available from other answers or in other documents.

It is likely, for instance, that external consultation undertaken during the main policy phase will have been described in any regulatory impact statement reported under Question 2.3, and so reference can be made to the relevant pages of a RIS accessible from the link provided in the text box associated with that question.

If the answer is NO, no further information is required.

You may, however, choose to take the opportunity to briefly explain why no external consultation was undertaken.

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