“If Parliament wishes to ban all dangerous weapons, it has to buy them.”
It may sound quirky but that’s what Rodney Hide’s Regulatory Standards Bill is all about.
In that aspect, the point of the principle in the bill, as argued by Senior Lecturer Richard Ekins from the Auckland University faculty of law, is to make it very expensive to limit how property owners may act, “for any property owner who suffers loss from regulatory change is entitled to be made whole”. But some legislation does limit liberty.
Senior Lecturer Richard Ekins pointed out in his witty article that the principle conflates “takings” and “impairment”.
He cited an Act titled the Bakeshop Act 1896 (NY) which prohibits any person from employing another to work in a bakery for more than 10 hours per-day, or 60 hours per-week. This act would depart from parts of Rodney’s bill for it restricts the freedom of contract between employer and employee. It would be up to the courts to consider this rationale, and to decide that the legislation is an unjustifiable limit on liberty.
I believe there are five main reasons why this bill is unworkable.
1: The bill changes the role of Parliament and the courts and requires “certification” by Ministers and Chief Executives, which puts CEO’s in a position to politicise themselves
2: The bill would be applied to new laws, but after existing for 10 years it can apply to existing regulation as well. This could empower the courts to reinterpret provisions in other laws to make them consistent with the principles prescribed in this bill, thus changing the original intention of Parliament when the law was enacted
3: Much of the principles are redundant as they are provided for in other legislation
4: The bill will create legal uncertainty and extra compliance costs for public entities, which will face more onerous annual reporting requirements.
5: This bill aims to fix an aggravated problem. The regulatory impact statement states that although New Zealand lacks its own indicators of legislative quality, the best international surveys available suggest that New Zealand does not have fundamental problems with legislative quality when compared with other OECD countries.