The New Zealand Law Society has recommended several substantial changes to the rules and procedures of Parliament, which address what the society described as “long-standing systemic defects” with the country’s parliamentary process.
“The Law Society supports recent measures to improve the quality of New Zealand’s legislation, but further changes are needed to ensure better public engagement and to strengthen select committee and parliamentary scrutiny of proposed legislation,” said Law Society spokesperson Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC.
The Law Society highlighted three recommendations in its submission on the current review of Parliament’s Standing Orders.
The first change suggested by the organisation is for allotting adequate time both for public submissions to select committees on bills and for the committees’ review of the submissions.
“Unrealistic deadlines imposed on the select committee process seriously hinder the public’s input into legislation and the proper scrutiny of Bills,” Law Society spokesperson Philip Joseph said.
Another recommendation is to ensure closer examination of substantive amendments to bills late in the legislative process, which includes requiring the attorney-general to report on whether amendments are consistent with the bill of rights.
The Law Society also said that Parliament should consider structural reform to trim legislative backlog, which will give more time to examine future bills.
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