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Turning policy into legislation

This page provides an overview of the main principles and procedures that apply to the development of government-initiated legislation.

Developing government-initiated legislation

Chapter 7 of the Cabinet Manual provides an overview of the main principles and procedures that apply to the development of government-initiated legislation.

The Parliamentary Counsel Office has also published a useful step-by-step guide that identifies and describes the steps required to turn policy into a Bill for introduction to Parliament, and then to see the Bill through the Parliamentary process.

Support for good legislative design

The Parliamentary Counsel Office, the Legislation Design and Advisory Committee, and the Ministry of Justice provide expert support and guidance for government agencies on different aspects of legislative design and drafting practice.

The Legislation Guidelines (2018 edition) and associated supplementary materials are the key point of reference for assessing whether draft legislation conforms to accepted legal and constitutional principles.

Exposure drafts of legislation

The release of an exposure draft of legislation for targeted or public consultation can be a useful way to identify and resolve practical problems with the legislation before it is made or introduced to Parliament. It can be particularly helpful for complex or technical regulatory requirements, though should be part of a wider consultation process.

The Legislation Design and Advisory Committee has issued guidance on the nature and potential benefits of exposure draft Bills, and the process for their release.

Disclosure statements for government-initiated legislation

Departments are required to publish a disclosure statement for most government Bills and substantive Supplementary Order Papers at the time of their introduction. It provides factual information about the policy background, development and content of the proposed legislation. Disclosure statements are published on a dedicated website:

More information about the nature and purpose of disclosure statements can be found here:

For templates and guidance on preparing and publishing a disclosure statement, please refer here:

The legislative process

Chapter 5 of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives sets out the main rules that apply to the legislative procedures of the House of Representatives.

A useful overview of the House’s legislative process is provided here:

Access to New Zealand legislation and treaties

New Zealand legislation can be accessed online at the:

International treaties that New Zealand is party to, and hence binding on New Zealand under international law, can be accessed online at:

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 22 December 2020