13 Oct 2015

Govt to chop 10% of laws on statute books

6:29 am on 13 October 2015

Archaic, redundant, or just plain quirky laws on New Zealand's statute books dating back to 1879 are set for the chopping block.

Computer technician Colin Jones puts the finishing touches to his "2000-Live" website in Gisborne 30 November 1999 which will broadcast on-line (www.2000-Live.com) the dawn of the new millennium via five remote-controlled video cameras.

On 30 November 1999, Gisborne computer technician Colin Jones gets ready to broadcast the dawn of the new millennium. Sixteen years later, the Year 2000 Information Disclosure Act 1999 - designed to help New Zealand prepare for Y2K - may be cut from the government's statute books. Photo: AFP

The government is asking the public for feedback on its plans to cut at least 120 Acts, or about 10 percent of its laws, which it says are redundant and superfluous.

Steven Joyce talks about Sky City deal with the Government.

Steve Joyce Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Endangered laws include the Year 2000 Information Disclosure Act 1999, which was in place to encourage information sharing without legal risk in the lead up to Y2K - the feared "Millennium bug".

Other laws past their use-by date include the Hawke's Bay Earthquake Relief Funds Act 1931, the Rugby World Cup 2011 Act and the Wheat Board Amendment Act 1986.

Sixty-one Finance Acts are also likely for the chop.

Minister for Regulatory Reform Steven Joyce said it was about removing some clutter.

"It's a definite spring clean. First time in just about 100 years or more, so there's a bit of stuff to clean out of the attic... It's just part of the overall story of trying to make the legislation simpler and easier to deal with."

Mr Joyce said he was also eyeing up some regulations that looked past their use-by dates.

There are also some private Acts for repeal, which include the Michael Connelly Appointment Validation Act 1936, which validated the appointment of Mr Connelly, Esquire, to the legislative council.

"This is an act in favour of a particular individual. I'm presuming that Mr Connelly has moved on since and so we probably don't need his appointment validated anymore," he said.

Epsom electorate MP David Seymour

David Seymour Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

ACT leader David Seymour, as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regulatory Reform, has been working on the repeal project with Mr Joyce.

He said it was definitely time the statute books got a clean up.

"If you don't trim your hedge regularly then you end up with a bush that is really quite out of control," he said.

"Regular maintenance is a way that we can actually ensure that we have a statute book that is clean and accessible and easy for everybody to access the law."

Mr Seymour said some of those old laws, which favoured a group or individual, showed just how far the country had come.

"I just like the Fishing Vessel Ownership Savings Act of 1977. It takes you back to a quaint New Zealand where it really was such a small place that if you wanted a problem solved, like to save up for a fishing vessel, you'd actually go to Parliament and ask them to make a specific piece of legislation."

Labour's Chris Hipkins was not quite so excited by the project.

"There's plenty of other things the government could be doing around the state of the economy and so on. So clearly they're not ready to tackle the big issues and this is something they can do to keep themselves occupied in the meantime."

Submissions on the Statutes Repeal Bill close on 4 December.