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Legislation Help

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Table of Contents

Introduction to Legislation

Bills: Proposed laws are known as Bills. Bills have to be passed by a parliament and be assented to before they can become Acts of Parliament. Acts do not necessarily come into operation immediately on assent, although this is common. An Act may specify a particular date for commencement, perhaps retrospective, or the day of a specified event, or a date to be decided later by the government and proclaimed by a notice (known as a proclamation) in a government gazette. If no commencement date is specified in an Act, the relevant Interpretation Act will generally provide when the Act commences to have effect.

Second reading speeches: The most important and interesting stage of a bill is the second reading. At this stage, the Minister responsible for introducing the Bill explains its purpose and the general principles of the Bill are debated. The second reading debate may also cover such things as why the Bill should be supported (or opposed), the necessity for its proposals and alternative means for achieving the same objectives. Second reading speeches are published in Hansard.

Explanatory memoranda, explanatory statements: Most Bills that are introduced into Parliament, and many regulations that are made by Parliament, have an explanatory memorandum/statememt which explains what the Bill or regulation is about. This explanatory material may also provide detailed notes on the individual provisions of the Bill or regulation which explains how they will operate and may be used by a Court as a source of information about the meaning of a specific provision of an Act or regulation if it is unclear.

Legislation: Legislation comprises the laws passed by parliament. In addition to Acts passed by a parliament, there is subordinate or delegated legislation or Regulations which are rules set by a person or body to whom parliament has delegated some of its lawmaking powers. Delegated legislation operates under the authority of its enabling Act.

Proclamations and Notices: An Act of a Parliament can come into operation on a day or days (where different parts of the Act come into operation on different days) to be fixed by proclamation. A proclamation is a notice which is generally published in the government gazette proclaiming the date(s) on which the Act, or a part of it, comes into operation. Apart from proclamations or notices required for the commencement of an Act, the provisions of some Acts also provide for proclamations or other notices to deal with certain matters (eg the dates of public holidays).

Consolidated legislation: NZLII carries Act "consolidations" which are versions of acts that include amendments made after their original enactment and which are currently in operation.

Numbered/Sessional/As made legislation: Numbered versions of acts and regulations are the versions of acts or regulations as they were originally enacted without any subsequent amendments. You may need to look at the numbered version of an act or regulation if it has never been amended because there will have been no consolidation produced. Note, however, that you should always first check to see if there is a consolidated version of the legislation in which you are interested.

Repealed legislation: Repealed legislation is legislation which is generally no longer in operation, although some repealed legislation continues to operate in limited circumstances.

Searching for Legislation

To find a piece of legislation where you know its name, choose the relevant database from the database list and then use the alphabetical table of contents to locate it by name.

A full list of the legislation databases available from NZLII may be found on the NZLII Databases page.

Using for Legislation

Each Act is preceded by a number of hypertext links in square brackets. The meaning of these is as follows:

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