Completion of Consistency 2000 1/2

Margaret Wilson Associate Minister of Justice

Completion of Consistency 2000

Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson

August 2001

Associate Minister of
Justice Margaret Wilson today introduced the new Human Rights Amendment
Bill.

This legislation is the long awaited outcome of the Consistency 2000 Audit
Project that was cancelled under the previous government but was revived and
completed under this government.

The Bill:

  • Introduces a new Human Rights Commission, which will be more representative
    of New Zealand society. It will comprise a full-time Chief Human Rights
    Commissioner and Race Relations Commissioner, plus five part-time Commissioners.

    The Commissioners will have a new focus on strategic leadership, advocacy and
    education.

  • Introduces a new dispute resolution process to provide fairer and faster
    problem solving services.

There are no changes to human rights for the private sector. Changes only
relate to government activity which includes policies, practices regulations and
legislation.

Under the Bill the government will be liable for discrimination in the public
sector.

All discrimination by the government will only be justified if it can be
demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Individuals will be able to take complaints about discrimination against the
government policies and practices and receive the full range of remedies under
the Human Rights Act. These include damages, restraining orders, declarations
and any relief the court see fit.

Where discrimination is required by legislation the Court may grant a
declaration of inconsistency which must be brought to the attention of the House
along with the Executive's response to the declaration.

The Bill amends a number of other Acts to align them with the Government's
human rights policy.

The legislation will receive its first reading later this week and be
referred to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee where public submissions
will be heard. It is important that the new law be in place before the end of
the year to address the expiry of the current government exemption in the Human
Rights Act.

The Government is committed to the development of a robust and sustainable
human rights culture in New Zealand. The introduction of the new Human Rights
Amendment Bill is a first significant step towards achieving this goal".