Government Reviews Consistency 2000

  • Paul East

The Acting Minister of Justice, Hon Paul East, said today Cabinet had decided to review the Consistency 2000 project and had asked officials to report by August 31.

Over the last 18 months Government departments, the Human Rights Commission and the Race Relations Office had worked hard to identify areas where existing legislation and Government policies and practices might be in breach of the Human Rights Act, he said.

'Consistency 2000, an analysis of every statute, regulation, policy and practice of every government department, has proved to be an enormous undertaking,' Mr East said.

'On reviewing progress, Cabinet noted that there would be advantages in adopting a different approach. This would involve Government departments being subject to the Human Rights Act where policies and practices, such as employment and access to buildings, are essentially the same as those undertaken in the private sector.

'Alongside, there would be a permanent exemption for the Government in respect of legislation and the development and implementation of Government policy.

'Cabinet noted that many Government policies and practices involve discrimination for legitimate policy reasons.

'For example, on the face of it special protections under the Children, Young Persons and their Families legislation and retirement income discriminate on the grounds of age.

'They are just two areas where the Government believes discrimination is justified.

'The Government would need to look at a mechanism to ensure all new legislation and policy complies with the Human Rights Act or that any discrimination is reasonable.

'Existing legislation which comes up for review should also be scrutinised in a similar manner or amended.'

The officials report at the end of August would advise on the legal, legislative, administrative, international and other implications of the approach being considered by Cabinet.