This page was last updated on 22 March 2021
This page gives you, in one place, the key information you need to know for working with the PCO to turn policy into law. The above templates and planner are useful practical tools. But it’s also important to understand the broader context of the different roles on the team and how to make the most of them.
The drafter’s role is to implement the Government’s policy in legislation that is fit for purpose, constitutionally sound, and accessible to users. Your role, as instructor, is to translate the Government’s policy into drafting instructions. There are always choices and questions that arise when turning policy into law, however well-developed or tested the policy. Usually these are questions around the second order policy issues, choices around legislative design, or detailed legal or drafting issues. But sometimes the task of turning the policy into law can raise bigger issues for the policy itself.
There are 5 key building blocks to help your drafter to do their job well and to ensure that together you make the best choices possible:
- Ensure your drafter understands your policy at both the big picture and the detail levels. Good instructions, as well as a strong working relationship, are vital for this. The PCO’s instruction templates will help with the key ingredients at both the big picture level (why) and the detail level (what and how). You don’t have to use these templates - the content of instructions is more important than the form. However, the template is designed to explain, in one place, what we usually need to know to draft workable legislation. FAQ 1.14 gives advice on whether you can send instructions to the PCO before they are complete.
Allow enough time
- Allow enough time to design, draft, and review the legislation. You also need to allow time for proper agency consultation, peer review, editorial checks, and Bill of Rights Act vetting, with time built in for resulting changes. To secure this time, and get proper coordination, good project planning is vital. The PCO’s Bill planner and other FAQs will help you on this.
Obtain good policy approvals
- Obtain Cabinet authorisation for the policy. This is critical to ensure the Government is already committed and on the same page for the legislation. FAQ 1.2 will help you to pitch the policy approval at the right level. Approved policy that is pitched at the right level will speed up the process and lower risks of later problems, as well as being vital for collective Cabinet responsibility.
Obtain a legal analysis of the instructions
- Ensure that the instructions have had a legal analysis before they come to PCO. Active engagement from your lawyers who know your legislation simplifies the drafting process significantly and lowers risks of missed or unintended consequences. Your drafter will not know your legislation the way your lawyers do and your drafter will need to mainly focus on the drafting. Your drafter cannot be expected to carry out the first legal analysis.
Remember the Government’s legislative priorities
- Remember that PCO needs to draft in accordance with the legislative priorities of the Government overall. PCO uses the legislation programme to plan and prioritise its work, as we expect you to do.
In practice, the reality can challenge any guide, but a strong working relationship with PCO should provide support to resolving issues. See FAQ 0.1 on what to expect from your drafter and always remember to talk to your team manager if you need help.
PCO contact details
Parliamentary Counsel Office
Level 12, Reserve Bank Building
2 The Terrace
PO Box 18 070
Phone 04 333 1000
Contact details for the individuals given below will change from time to time. Please use the general PCO contacts given above if you are unsure.
Drafting Team Managers
Phone 04 333 1030
For departments: Attorney-General; Customs; Financial Markets Authority; Housing and Urban Development; IRD; Justice (occupational licensing and insurance/contracts, etc); MBIE (commercial and consumer affairs, mining, science); Reserve Bank; Takeovers Panel; Treasury
Phone 04 333 1042
For departments: Culture and Heritage; Defence; DIA (except passports, citizenship, gambling); DPMC; MBIE (ACC, workplace relations, health and safety, immigration); MFAT; Parliamentary Service; Remuneration Authority; SSC; Statistics; Transport
Justice and Social
Phone 04 333 1057
For departments: Corrections; Crown Law; DIA (passports, citizenship, gambling); Education; Justice (except occupational licensing and insurance/contracts, etc); Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki; Police; Public Trust; Rules Committee; Social Development
Resources and Treaty
Phone 04 333 1083
For departments: Conservation; Environment; Health; LINZ; Pacific Peoples; Primary Industries; Te Arawhiti; Te Puni Kokiri Publications Unit
Phone Publications Unit on 04 333 1002.
To notify for Legislative Instruments made by an agency other than the Executive Council.