Sasha Borissenko: Now Thats What I Call Legislation – the top bills of 2021

COMMENT:

Between the discombobulation that comes with the holiday season and trying to remedy a year’s worth of burnout in two weeks there are only two things that tend to keep me from napping all holiday-long: food and listicles.

Without further ado, here’s a round-up of all last year’s legislative bills, or perhaps better titled: “Now That’s What I Call Legislation – Volume 1.”

Carmel Sepuloni’s Accident Compensation (Maternal Birth Injury and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was introduced to parliament on December 7 and passed its first reading on the 14th. The aim of the bill is to provide more equitable coverage for injuries covered by the Accident Compensation Scheme.

More on women’s health, the Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Act makes it clear that the unplanned end of a pregnancy constitutes grounds for bereavement leave for the mother and partner for up to three days. Ginny Andersen’s bill came into force in March, having been introduced in parliament in June 2019.

On a wider scale, Michael Wood’s Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Act 2021 came into affect in May. It aims to increase the availability of employer-funded sick leave for employees.

New Zealand is finally catching up with the #metoo movement with Deborah Russell’s Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill, which aims to extend the time available to raise a personal grievance that involves allegations of sexual harassment from 90 days to 12 months. There’s still a long way yet, with it having been introduced in October of this year.

For the bank of historical cases, people will continue to have to make negligence claims or seek resolve by way of the Human Rights Tribunal.

The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Bill has come into force as of December 15. Jan Tinetti’s bill re-enacts the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995; gives effect to the recommendations arising from the Minister of Internal Affairs’ review presented on October 20, 2016; updates and amends provisions in the existing law; and responds to three discrete issues raised in the Law Commission’s review of burial and cremation law. It’s been a long process – the bill was first introduced into parliament in August 2017.

Provided Omicron doesn’t put a halt on the summer festival circuit, ravers will be raving more safely thanks to Andrew Little’s Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Act. First introduced in May of this year, the aim is to try to minimise drug and substance harm by allowing drug and substance checking services to operate legally.

Kris Faafoi almost finished what Andrew Little started with his Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill, which passed its first reading in November of 2021. The omnibus bill aims to repeal elements of the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010.

The Justice Minister has also led the charge to ban conversion therapy – despite opposition from the National Party. The Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill is currently before the justice select committee. The bill prohibits conversion practices that seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

There have been a few wins for the media industry this year, with the introduction of Louisa Wall’s Protection of Journalists’ Sources Bill introduced in September and Chris Hipkins’ Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) BIll, which passed its second reading in November.

The sources bill amends the definition of journalist in the Evidence Act so that it explicitly includes investigative journalists. It also amends the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 to ensure that journalists’ sources are clearly protected subject to police searches and protection orders.

The whistleblowing bill enables people to report serious wrongdoing to an appropriate authority at any time; it clarifies the definition of wrongdoing; and strengthens protections for those doing the whistleblowing.

• This column should really include information relating to the Three Waters reforms and areas outside of criminal and employment, but a friend thought the Three Waters reform involved changes to the drink driving clauses in the Crimes Act. He thought people now needed to drink three cups of water before drinking their one glass of wine before driving). In this parallel universe that said friend lives in I suppose there’s a bit of an overlap.

Sasha Borissenko is a freelance journalist who has reported extensively on the law industry. Contact her at [email protected]

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