Social Security Act (Secrecy) Amendment Bill

Social Security Act (Secrecy) Amendment Bill

Member's Bill

Explanatory Note

This bill amends the Social Security Act 1964 to impose additional obligations of secrecy on the Ministry of Social Development with information about beneficiaries, in line with the obligations imposed upon the IRD with respect to taxpayers.

Social Security Act (Secrecy) Amendment Bill

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1. Title
This Act is the Social Security Act (Secrecy) Amendment Act 2017.

2. Commencement
This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it received the Royal Assent.

3. Principal Act
This Act amends the Social Security Act 1964.

4. New Section 11CA inserted (Officers to maintain secrecy)
After section 11C, insert:

11CA Officers to maintain secrecy
(1) A Social Welfare officer must maintain, and must assist in maintaining, the secrecy of all matters relating to this Act, and the officer must not communicate any such matter, except for the purpose of carrying into effect this Act or under subsection (2).
(2) Despite subsection (1), an Inland Revenue officer may communicate a matter if—
(a) the communication is for the purpose of executing or performing a duty of the Chief Executive, or for the purpose of supporting the execution or performance of such a duty; and
(b) the Chief Executive considers that such communication is reasonable with regard to the relevant purpose described in paragraph (a), and with regard to the following:
(i) the Chief Executive's obligation at all times to use best endeavours to protect the integrity of the welfare system; and
(ii) the importance of promoting compliance by beneficiaries, especially voluntary compliance; and
(iii) any personal or commercial impact of the communication; and
(iv) the resources available to the Commissioner; and
(v) the public availability of the information.
(3) A Social Welfare officer does not breach subsection (1) in relation to a communication of a matter by a Social Welfare officer who—
(a) makes the communication to a person (the recipient) who is a Social Welfare officer officer or a person to whom section 87 of the Tax Administration Act applies; and
(b) makes the communication at a place, and in conditions relating to the secrecy of information, in which the Chief Executive expects Social Welfare officers to perform their duties; and
(c) does not intend, and takes the care that is reasonable in the place and conditions to prevent, the receipt of the communication by the recipient.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (1), before a Social Welfare officer performs their first official duty as an officer, they must make a declaration of secrecy and fidelity in the form prescribed by the Chief Executive.
(5) The declaration may be made before—
(a) the Chief Executive; or
(b) a Social Welfare officer; or
(c) a person authorised by or under the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 to take statutory declarations.
(6) Without limiting the generality of subsections (1) and (2), no Social Welfare officer shall be required to produce in any court or tribunal any document or to divulge or communicate to any court or tribunal any matter or thing coming under the officer’s notice in the performance of the officer’s duties as an officer of the department, except when it is necessary to do so for the purpose of carrying into effect this Act, or any other Act, whether repealed or not, at any time administered by the department.


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