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Role of the PCO

The Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) is New Zealand's law drafting office. It is responsible for:

  • drafting New Zealand Government Bills (except Inland Revenue Bills) and Legislative Instruments
  • publishing all New Zealand Bills, Acts, and Legislative Instruments, both in hard copy and online on the New Zealand Legislation website.

The PCO is constituted as a separate statutory office by the Legislation Act 2012. The PCO is under the Attorney-General's control or, if there is no Attorney-General, the Prime Minister.

More on the role of the Attorney-General in relation to the PCO »

The PCO is not part of the core Public Service under the State Sector Act 1988, and thus is not under the direct control of the State Services Commissioner. However, the PCO is subject to certain provisions of the State Sector Act 1988, including those that relate to the setting and enforcement of minimum standards of integrity and conduct.

Functions

Under the Legislation Act 2012, the functions of the PCO are to:

  • draft government Bills and Legislative Instruments
  • publish Bills, Acts, Legislative Instruments, and reprints of legislation in electronic and printed forms
  • prepare reprints of Acts and Legislative Instruments
  • prepare Bills to revise Acts in accordance with the current revision programme
  • advise departments and agencies on the drafting of disallowable instruments that are not drafted by the PCO
  • examine local and private Bills, and Members' Bills that the Attorney-General directs to be examined
  • advise on and assist with the drafting of all local and private Bills, and draft Members' Bills on the Attorney-General's direction.

From time to time, the PCO may also draft certain other instruments at the direction of the Attorney-General or the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.

The Inland Revenue Department is authorised to draft certain Inland Revenue Bills (see the Inland Revenue Department (Drafting) Order 1995).

The PCO is responsible for supplying printed copies of Bills and Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) to the House.

Objectives

The PCO's goal is to contribute to parliamentary democracy under the rule of law by supporting Parliament and the executive in their law-making roles and contributing to the Government's objectives by ensuring that:

  • legislation that is necessary to change the law to implement Government policies is effective, clear, and consistent with other legislation, the general law, and international law
  • legislation, including Bills and SOPs, is accessible to the public in both printed and electronic forms, and printed copies of Bills and SOPs are provided to the House
  • Acts and Legislative Instruments are published with official, authoritative status.
Legislation administered by the PCO

More information about the Legislation Act 2012 »

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