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Regulatory Reform Bill - First Reading - Hon Rodney Hide

Hon Rodney Hide

Minister for Regulatory Reform

Speech

Regulatory Reform Bill – First Reading

Hon Rodney Hide speech to the First Reading of the Regulatory Reform Bill; Parliament; Tuesday, February 15 2011.

Mr Speaker,

I move that the Regulatory Reform Bill be now read a first time. At the appropriate time I intend to move that the bill be referred to the Commerce Select Committee.

Today I present to the House the Regulatory Reform Bill. The Regulatory Reform Bill amends 13 Acts and is designed to reduce compliance costs and the regulatory burden on business. It is intended that the bill be divided into separate bills at the Committee of the whole House stage.

The Acts put forward for amendment by Ministers from eight portfolios have been identified through a number of avenues including through the regulatory scanning exercise undertaken by government departments. Agencies have been asked to undertake scanning of their legislation as part of the commitment this Government has to the Government Statement on Regulation: Better Regulation Less Regulation. The Statement was announced in August 2009 and sets out the Government’s commitment to:

• Introduce new regulation only when satisfied that it is required, reasonable and robust; and

• Review existing regulation in order to identify and remove requirements that are unnecessary, ineffective or excessively costly.

This is the second of what I intend will become an annual bill in this House. It forms a key part of the Government’s commitment to an on-going process for amending legislation to remove requirements that are unnecessary, ineffective or excessively costly. Such an omnibus bill will ensure that smaller regulatory fixes do not fall off the legislative agenda and are able to be progressed in a timely fashion to deliver the flow-on benefits to business and the economy.

A key benefit of this bill is the efficient, cost effective method of collectively amending the 13 Acts through a single omnibus bill without having to proceed with 13 separate pieces of legislation.

The maintenance of a quality regulatory environment in New Zealand requires a body of legislation that is easy to use, up to date, and fit for purpose. The changes proposed in this bill cover a diverse range of policy areas and legislation, but they are all aimed at the same objective - reducing the compliance burden on business. This objective is the unifying theme of the clauses in the Regulatory Reform Bill, which I am introducing to the House today.

In October 2009, I wrote to all Ministers requesting suggestions for amendments to discrete pieces of legislation that would reduce the compliance burden upon business, and were suitable for inclusion in an omnibus bill. I would like to thank my colleagues who have responsibility for the Acts put forward for amendment in this bill: Hon Simon Power, Minister of Commerce; Hon Steven Joyce, Minister for Communications and Information Technology; Hon Phil Heatley Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture; Hon Kate Wilkinson, Minister for Food Safety and Minister of Conservation; Hon Maurice Williamson, Minister for Building and Construction and Minister of Statistics; Hon Nathan Guy, Associate Minister of Justice and Minister of Internal Affairs. Your prioritisation of these amendments will contribute to businesses being better able to reach their full potential and greatest opportunity for growth.

Some of the changes are aimed at removing requirements and streamlining processes. These include:

• amending the Companies Act 1993 to allow companies to choose whether or not to use electronic shareholder participation. It is estimated this change could save New Zealand companies a total $1.5 million each year.

• Amending the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997, the Animal Products Act 1999 and the Wine Act 2003 to align and streamline the procedures for recognition under these three food safety related Acts will save businesses from potential compliance costs of approximately $100,000 per year. People or agencies wanting recognition for functions such as sampling, testing, analysing, evaluating and verifying compliance under these Acts should find the process simplified and being recognised under more that one Act significantly less complicated...

and

• Amending the Fisheries Act 1996 to allow for consolidation of Gazette notices to make it easier for commercial fishers to find what restrictions apply to particular stocks. Consolidation of Gazette notices will mean that there could be one notice for example that will cover all quota management stocks and set the total allowable catch and the total allowable commercial catch for all stocks. This will reduce the time and resources needed by business to determine compliance.

Several changes are aimed at increasing flexibility. These include:

• Changes to the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 to modernise labelling requirements by allowing rating and classification labels to be printed. Currently distributors must arrange for the imported DVD or computer game to be unwrapped, the printed slick (the leaflet or notice containing information about the DVD or computer game that is inserted inside any sleeve or display case) removed from the case, a label placed over the printed foreign classification label on the front, and then the slick put back in the packaging. This bill will mean that labels can, in addition to being physically attached, be printed directly on to slicks. Giving businesses flexibility as to whether they print on or fix an adhesive label allows choices to be made about the most cost effective method for supplying the rating or classification label. This will reduce compliance costs by an estimated $2.4 million in the first year and $3.1 million in year five.

and

• amending the Unit Trusts Act 1960 so financial statements and accounts can be distributed electronically. This will result in savings for printing and postage costs.

The Regulatory Reform Bill is just one of the essential measures needed to implement improvements to regulation in New Zealand. It forms part of the broader regulatory reform agenda that will improve the body of regulation in New Zealand.

Last November I introduced the Regulatory Reform (Repeals) Bill proposing the repeal of 31 spent Acts. I am also preparing a Regulatory Reform (Revocations) Order which proposes the revocation of spent and obsolete regulations. This set of legislative vehicles is designed to improve the stock of regulation in New Zealand and will make sure New Zealand has an evolving regulatory environment that is relevant, up to date and best placed to meet the dynamic economy that will help New Zealand grow.

I move that the Commerce Select Committee consider the Regulatory Reform Bill.

ENDS


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