Standards infrastructure to be refreshed

Review found that the infrastructure was fundamentally sound but there was room for improvement

The government is planning a major revamp of New Zealand’s standards infrastructure including the development of a web-based information standards “clearing house”.

Subject to Cabinet approval of a two-year infrastructure review, the government will introduce legislation later this year that will repeal the Standards Act 1988 and the Testing Laboratory Registration Act 1972. Both Acts are mainly concerned with appointments to the respective councils and some of the functions and powers of the councils.

Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel told a Standards NZ forum in Wellington last week that sector advisory boards would be created within Standards NZ to develop and manage a strategic plan for standardisation within their sectors.

“A reputable and trustworthy standards and conformance infrastructure is critical to New Zealand’s economic transformation and our international competitiveness,” Dalziel says. “It is pivotal in driving innovation, assisting international trade through meeting international standards and allowing overseas markets to rely on our standards, as well as allowing the government to achieve environmental, health and safety objectives without compromising growth.”

Overseeing the whole standards and conformance infrastructure would be a regulatory forum of policy makers, regulators, standards and conformance bodies and invited representatives to develop regulatory regimes to manage risks to health, safety and the environment, and to facilitate trade.

The current infrastructure includes Standards NZ; International Accreditation NZ, which provides third-party accreditation of testing laboratories and inspection bodies; the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand, which provides third-party accreditation on the competence of certification and inspection bodies; Measurement Standards Laboratory, which provides for the use of uniform units of measurement of physical quantities; and Measurement and Product Safety Service, which has responsibility for legal trade measurement.

The review evaluated New Zealand’s standards and conformance infrastructure against the country’s specific requirements and internal trends and emerging new models.

It found that the infrastructure was fundamentally sound but there was room for improvement.

It recommends the development of a web-based information clearing house as a contact point for domestic and international standards and conformance requirements and the relevant regulations for use by domestic firms and international stakeholders.

The scope and form of the clearing house would be decided by the Ministers of Commerce and Trade in consultation with relevant Ministers.

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