Over the last few months, we’ve had a relatively quiet period for law changes. Below is a summary of recent law changes.

Parliament is now on its summer recess and will resume sitting on 9 February 2021.

What laws have changed recently?

Changes for all sectors

  • The Privacy Act 2020, Privacy Regulations 2020, and new Codes of Practice came into force on 1 December 2020. Some of the key changes in the Privacy Act 2020 are new obligations to report notifiable privacy breaches and stronger enforcement provisions. More detail about the changes is in our previous article Privacy 2.0 . You can also see the Privacy Commissioner talk about the changes in a video of his presentation at Unplugged.
  • On 30 November 2020, further changes to the emissions trading scheme came into force including cancelling certain legacy units held in private accounts from the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
  • On 11 November 2020, the ban on smoking in the workplace was extended to vaping in the workplace. The Smoke-free Environments Act was renamed the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act.
  • On 6 November 2020, a new process for raising and resolving pay equity claims in female-dominated occupations was added to the Equal Pay Act.

Electricity distributors

  • The requirement on certain distributors to offer deferred payment terms to qualifying retailers was removed on 18 November 2020.


  • On 1 December 2020, the requirement was added that information must only be given to MSD under either an information matching agreement or an approved information sharing agreement.

Animal exporters 

  • The prohibition on exporting cattle, deer, sheep, or goats by sea ended on 30 November 2020 and the Animal Welfare (Temporary Prohibition on Export of Livestock by Sea) Regulations 2020 were revoked on 8 December 2020.

What’s coming up?

  • The Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020 is due to expire on 23 December 2020 (but can be revoked earlier or extended). Many temporary COVID-19 changes will be revoked when this notice expires.
  • Further changes to the Arms Act come into force on 24 December 2020. These include a new obligation on health practitioners to consider notifying the Police in certain circumstances about a person’s fitness to use or possess firearms. Information about the December 2020 changes is on the Police website.
  • On 1 January 2021:
    • more changes to the Climate Change Response Act will come into force including new penalties for failing to surrender or repay units, or submit a emissions return by the due date.
    • certain types of plastic waste will be added to the list of goods that can only be imported or exported in line with a permit from the EPA under the Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Act.
  • The Trusts Act 2019 will come into force on 30 January 2021 replacing the Trustee Act 1956.
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