No e-legislation till after election

The calling of an early election means two key pieces of legislation will have to await the outcome of the voting booth.

The calling of an early election means two key pieces of legislation will have to await the outcome of the voting booth.

The Electronic Transactions Bill (ETB) and the controversial Crimes Amendment No. 6 Bill (CAB) have been on the government's list of things to do all year. However, as Parliament rises before the July 27 general election, they have yet to make it to their final readings.

The ETB would remove legal barriers preventing the use of electronic technology for communications and record keeping; and it would remove some of the uncertainty about the legal status of electronic communications and related uses of modern technology.

The CAB is commonly referred to as the anti-hacking legislation; however, it includes a supplementary order paper that allows police and security services to circumvent the law if they have the appropriate warrants.

Both bills have been described as vital to the government's plans for a "knowledge economy" and IT and commerce minister Paul Swain has been pressing government to move them up the legislative pecking order for several months. Now, however, they will have to await the results of the election.

Swain's spokesman, Andrew Janes, says the bills should get swift passage if Labour wins enough seats to govern alone.

"If that happens I would expect to see them passed rapidly."

Janes says he cannot put a firm date on when the bills will be passed as it depends on a number of factors.

In March, House leader Michael Cullen's office was reported as saying it was "confident" of the government's ability to pass the legislation before parliament rises for the year. However, no promises were made (Cullen's office makes no promises on e-commerce bills).

Earlier this month the government blamed legislative delays on the Green Party for its unwillingness to allow parliament to sit under urgency more than one day every three weeks (Greens get tardy bill blame).

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