New Frontiers in Public Consultation

The New Zealand government has recently opened a wiki (i.e. an online page where anyone can make revisions and suggest phrasing) for the country’s Policing Act, intended to substantially revise the Police Act 1958. According to Superintendent Hamish McCardle, who is overseeing the legislative review, this “novel” approach to public consultation “will yeild a range of views from people interested in having a direct say on the shape of a new Policing Act” (NZ Police press release).

This is a truly innovative approach to law-making and given that the proposals will gop before a parliamentary committee and the Bill will proceed in the normal parliamentary fashion following the closure of the wiki-page there should be relatively little risk of unwise, overly reactive or sensational provisions being enacted (at least, it is unlikely that the risk is greater than normal). This strategy appears to take ‘participatory democracy’ to a potentially exciting level and, with the appropriate safeguards, ought to act as an interesting experiment for other governments to consider.