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Minister goes public on Bill of Rights vets

18 February 2003 Media Statement

Minister goes public on Bill of Rights vets

Attorney-General Margaret Wilson has decided Bill of Rights vets of Bills introduced to Parliament will be made public in future.

Until now the advice given by the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Law Office on the consistency of bills with New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 has been withheld due to legal professional privilege.

Margaret Wilson said her decision to make it publicly available would allow select committees and the public to understand the government position on any given bill.

“Many select committees are receiving submissions from lawyers on behalf of lobby groups that raise questions about Bill of Rights issues. Without the Attorney-General’s advice they are not always in a position to properly evaluate these submissions.”

The Bill of Rights legal advice will be made available on the Ministry of Justice’s website once a bill has been read in the House a first time and referred to select committee, Margaret Wilson said. Release of advice provided before January this year will continue to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in response to requests.

Advice (or parts thereof) which could and would be withheld from release under the Official Information Act 1982 (for reasons other than the application of legal professional privilege) will be similarly withheld from publication on the website.

There will be a review of how well the published information and process meets requirements after 12 months, Margaret Wilson said.


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