Government drive to lift regulatory quality

  • Steven Joyce
Regulatory Reform

Greater use of exposure drafts of new laws, stronger expectations and reviews of crown regulators, and more transparent cost recovery practices, are among changes announced to improve New Zealand’s regulatory system by Regulatory Reform Minister Steven Joyce.

The Government has accepted, or partially accepted all 44 recommendations from a 2014 Productivity Commission report which noted that New Zealand’s large stock of regulation was not keeping up with a changing world.

“While we have made some progress over the past six years in taking a more thoughtful, balanced approach to regulation as policy changes arise, we acknowledge that there is much more to be done to improve and update the stock of regulation and how it impacts on New Zealanders and New Zealand companies,” Mr Joyce says. 

“The Government has developed a comprehensive work programme to deal with the issues highlighted by the Productivity Commission,

“One change we want to highlight is our desire for a more productive and collaborative approach between regulators and their stakeholders.  We want to use more open book exercises and more exposure drafts, to in effect crowd-source improvements to regulations.” says Mr Joyce.

The changes also place emphasis on departments systematically monitoring and reviewing their regulatory regimes, and on building the capability of regulators right across the government.

“The changes are designed to create a positive culture change amongst regulators, whose attitudes are as important as the laws themselves." Mr Joyce says.

The response sets out the Government’s key areas of focus:

  • Greater use of exposure drafts for significant legislation
  • Stronger expectations and performance reviews of crown entity regulators
  • Improving cost recovery practices through the use of open-book exercises so fee-payers can have more input into agency cost structures
  • Reinforcing department’s responsibility for the monitoring and review of regulatory regimes
  • Improving regulator capability

The changes will have stronger oversight by central agencies and Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regulatory Reform David Seymour will  oversee publication of an overarching strategy for the regulatory management system.

“Regulation is not the highest profile topic in Government,” Mr Joyce said.  “But it affects all New Zealanders and causes a lot of angst when it is not done well.  These changes, and initiatives, like the Regulatory Reform Taskforce, will help improve the regulatory environment and reduce red tape and compliance costs for Kiwis and Kiwi businesses.”

A copy of the Cabinet Paper and the Government’s response are attached.