On Wednesday, Parliament in New Zealand approved the Plain Language Bill to promote the use of plain English in official documentation, websites and communication.
The aim of this Bill is to “improve the effectiveness and accountability of public service agencies and Crown agents, and to improve the accessibility of certain documents that they make available to the public, by providing for those documents to use language that is (a) appropriate to the intended audience; and (b) clear, concise, and well organized.” It maintains that every citizen has the right to comprehensible information from government organisations.
Upon being passed, the Public Service Commissioner will be required to produce material for agencies to be able to comply with plain language requirements. One of the Bill’s focuses is to improve accessibility of documents for people with disability, as well as people who speak English as a second language. From now on, all reporting agencies will appoint plain language officers who will comply with the legislation.
The passing of the Bill came with robust debate, with some claiming it will only add further bureaucracy, but advocates have claimed to the contrary and have said it will also save money.
With support of the Labour, Green and Māori parties, the Plain Language Bill was passed and is now awaiting Royal Assent.
For further reading, please refer to The Guardian.