Study reveals cost of Parliament
Mon, 14 May 2012 10:20a.m.
By Dan Satherley
Every time Parliament passes a new act it costs the country an average of $3.5 million, according to a new study.
And while even just a piece of regulation costs around $530,000, they're "very good value".
Researchers in Wellington and Otago came up with the figure by analysing the number of acts and regulations passed between 1999 and 2010, and looking at the costs of running Parliament and getting policy advice.
Assoc Prof Nick Wilson of Otago University says the study is a first for New Zealand.
"These studies are rare internationally, with only some published work on the cost of laws produced by state governments in the United States," says Prof Wilson.
The price range for a new act was from $2 million at the low end, up to $6.2 million.
"This is because the size of new legislation varies greatly, from just a few pages to hundreds. So when considering both acts and regulations, we calculated the average cost per page of legislation at $45,000."
The primary reason for the study was to find out if acts and regulations were a cost-effective way to improve the nation's health, compared to media campaigns and GP visits.
They found that changing the law, despite the costs, was indeed an effective way to achieve public health objectives.
"We suspect that public health laws in particular are very good value for money - just like the law that made restaurants and pubs smokefree," says Prof Wilson.
Co-author Prof Tony Blakely says there is now a strong scientific basis for using acts and regulations as a public health instrument.
The study also found compared to the United States, we have a relatively efficient system for enacting laws. In the US, around 82 percent of bills are never enacted, and "partisan posturing" wastes a lot of time and money.
Prof Wilson says despite our system delivering better results for cheaper, there is still room for improvement.
"These changes could include reducing opportunities for partisan posturing and limiting tactics used to stall the progress of legislation for no good reason," he says.
"There is also scope for reducing the number of private members bills which have no hope of progressing."
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