Great government roundup


Key developments in public law, regulation and government for the week ending 14 October 2016.

Public law

Parliament has completed its third reading of 23 bills that were initially introduced as the Judicature Modernisation Bill. These bills collectively make a number of important changes to the New Zealand court system, including:

  • Consolidating the Supreme Court Act 2003 and the Judicature Act 1908

  • Reconstituting the District Courts as a single court with different divisions (ie, a Family Court, Youth Court, and Disputes Tribunal)

  • Reorganisation of the procedural provisions for judicial review

The Ombudsman has announced that New Zealand prisons will face greater scrutiny following the release of the Department of Corrections’ report into organised fighting and access to contraband at Mt Eden Corrections Facility.

Parliament has completed the first reading of the Electoral Amendment Bill. The Bill:

  • allows electoral officials in voting places on election day to be able check a voter’s enrolment status by looking up and marking them off electronically, rather than having to rely on paper-based rolls

  • permits the counting of advance votes earlier on Election Day to ensure preliminary results can be announced in a timely manner

  • allows the Electoral Commission to use new methods of providing information to electors via email, in addition to post

  • bans campaigning and the display of campaign material inside and within 10 metres of Advance Voting Places

Regulation

The Commerce Commission has successfully prosecuted Yogurt Story for misleading consumers as to the yogurt content and health benefits of its products.

The Commerce Commission has released its draft report on Fonterra’s 2016/17 Milk Price Manual, and has determined that it is “largely consistent” with the statutory requirements. Submissions are due Tuesday 15 November 2016.

The Commerce Commission has published submissions on its draft decision on cost allocation input methodologies for electricity distribution businesses and gas pipeline businesses. Cross-submissions are due Tuesday 25 October 2016.

The Commerce Commission is consulting on updated draft guidelines designed to assist lenders when setting credit fees. Submissions are due Monday 24 October 2016.

The Electricity Authority is re-consulting on aspects of its proposed amendments to the Electricity Industry Participation Code 2010 to introduce a default distributor agreement. Submissions are due Tuesday 25 October 2016.

The Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, Grant Spencer, has delivered a speech entitled “Informed investment decisions support financial system stability”.

The Assistant Governor and Head of Economics at the Reserve Bank, John McDermott, has delivered a speech entitled “Understanding low inflation in New Zealand”.

Government

Finance Minister Bill English has presented the Crown accounts for the year to June, showing a surplus of $1.8 billion in 2015/16, up from $414 million in 2014/15.

Trade Minister Todd McLay is travelling to Europe for discussions on trade with the European Union and the United Kingdom following the Brexit vote.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced Don Higgins as New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Wendy Matthews as New Zealand’s new Ambassador to Viet Nam, and Lucy Duncan as New Zealand’s first resident Ambassador to Colombia.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully will travel to China this weekend for discussions with his Chinese counterpart Foreign Minister Wang Yi.


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