Tuesday, February 5

kiwifoo 08

Back this afternoon from another awesome kiwifoo experience in Warkworth, north of Auckland. Some discussions there about the use of the internet to provide better accessibility to legislation and policy issues before Parliament. As well as working on my web start up I am a part-time consultant training others about the Machinery of Government and Parliament, so I am supportive of initiatives that help demystify the evolution of policy and the law.

Much work has already been done by those responsible for the administration of Parliament and the legislative process to ensure that legislation is available in an up-to-date digital format for the public to view over the internet at www.legislation.govt.nz. However, the legislation is more meaningful set in context - what stage is it at? has it been amended? what did the select committee think about the bill?

Parliament through its website www.parliament.nz is now aggregating information in a more meaningful way for members of the public, media, lobby groups and even the MPs themselves. For example, you can search on the Parliamentary site for the Copyright Bill . If you click on that link you see a quick summary of the bill's progress to date, and if look to the right under the downloads panel you can access a copy of the latest version of the bill. It's called "Bill 102-2", which essentially means it was the 102nd bill of this Parliament and that it's the second (-2) version of the bill as amended by the select committee. From this page you can also access the First Reading debate and see what the MPs said in the House when the Bill was first introduced. You can view the select committee's report on its consideration recommending changes to the bill and setting out the reasons why. In a relatively recent development a select committee summary links to a page where you can access all the submissions received and advice provided by officials to the select committee. One MP has already circulated proposed amendments for debate at Committee of the Whole House stage (the last opportunity for amendments before the bill is passed into law) - see SOP 154. SOP stands for Supplementary Order Paper - effectively an advertisement of proposed amendments to bills in draft form. All parties can circulate amendments by way of SOP, including the Government. If accepted by a majority in Parliament they will be incorporated into the bill.

Most people rely on others to interpret the processes and policy developments for them, rather than seek information from the original source. However, if you want it straight from the horse's mouth so to speak - try exploring the Parliamentary website and check out all the party websites. Ministerial press releases and speeches are aggregated at www.beehive.govt.nz and you can even stream question time live to your desktop.

Some ability to decipher the legal language, the processes and political spin will still be required to help demystify what's going on in relation to certain policy issues, but the Parliamentary website is certainly a great leap forward in making the laws and Parliament more accessible to us all.


follower said...

Wow, that was a really informative post. You should do more of this type of thing. :-) Maybe more insight into this bill and/or the process?


Anonymous said...

It was great catching up with you at Foo - and thanks for the links....^

Rochelle H.