Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's fiance, Clarke Gayford, caused a debate this weekend by saying the Government had passed more legislation in the first seven months of this year than any other in the previous decade. Is this true?
Since Parliament resumed sitting in February, a total 44 pieces of law have been made or changed, according to the official list of bills that have been given "royal assent", or final sign-off.
Comparing that to the number of laws signed-off by the same time in each year over the past decade, it's far from the highest. In fact, it's the third-lowest, after 2018 (26) and 2009 (28).
In 2010, 105 bills received a royal assent and the last year of the previous government saw 45 pieces of legislation passed.
In making NZ a better fairer place, a big congrats to the NZ Government for officially passing/changing more legislation in the last 7 month period than any government has FOR THE LAST DECADE.— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) August 25, 2019
Imagine if the job was full time eh.
Labour says those figures don't tell the real story.
Leader of the House Chris Hipkins says the numbers count law changes that were divided into multiple bills - for technical reasons - meaning one piece of law could get multiple "royal assents".
For example, of the 69 bills that received assent in 2015, 33 were actually a single bit of legislation – the Statutes Amendment Bill – which made a whole swathe of changes.
Hipkins says recent changes by Parliamentary Counsel mean bills that get divided up are now much rarer - and that a better method would only count each bill once before they were divided up.
"The former practice inflated artificially the number of acts passed," a spokesman for his office said.
If we don't divide bills up (counting each bill as one law change) Labour passed 38 bits of legislation by the end of July.
That is the highest in the year to July in the past decade.
The next closest would be 2014, when 32 laws were passed.
However, the figure to the end of August will likely be very similar to 2014 and 2017 - currently standing on 40.
For those suddenly interested in the workings of Parliament, until recently Bills got ‘divided’ to reflect the number of different Acts of Parliament they amended. So one Bill going through the House could end up being several or more. We don’t do that anymore. #nzpol— Chris Hipkins (@chrishipkins) August 25, 2019
Does it matter?
Shadow leader of the house Gerry Brownlee says the Government has actually broken up laws that previously would have been single bills, using up more of Parliament's time with minor changes.
"It's actually an admission of gross inefficiency," he says.
Hipkins says it's the exact opposite of that.
"By any measure it makes the process more efficient," he says.
Brownlee says the number of bills passed shouldn't be a measure of success either way, and that legislation introduced by the previous government would also be counted on the list.
"If they have that doesn't necessarily mean it's good government. It means they've just passed a lot of laws."
So is it true? : Mostly. If we're counting just the number of "bills" that have technically had a final sign-off, then no. But if we count the number times legislation has been passed through the house to the end of July, it's true. It may not hold true for August, however.