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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (3 December) . . Page.. 4329..

Report and Statement

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I present Report No. 17 of 1996 of the Standing Committee on Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation and I ask for leave to make a brief statement on the report.

Leave granted.

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, Report No. 17 of 1996, which I have just presented, was circulated when the Assembly was not sitting, on 28 November 1996, pursuant to the resolution of appointment of 9 March 1995. There is one matter in a fairly lengthy report which I would like to draw members' attention to, especially the Government's attention. It relates to the determination of fees and charges which were made under the Health and Community Care Services Act. I am sure the Government recalls that there was a degree of retrospectivity in the determination of those fees and charges.

Mr Speaker, the committee has sought and obtained advice from the Government on that question of retrospectivity and on the subsequent question of whether or not those fees and charges were valid. I would like to point out to the Government that the committee does not accept the arguments that they have put forward, and the committee considers that the Government should have given its attention to section 7 of the Subordinate Laws Act 1989. Had they given their attention to that particular legislative provision, I believe that they would have accepted the committee's view that retrospectivity in relation to those fees and charges is probably not a valid step.

Mr Speaker, I might just read section 7 of the Subordinate Laws Act 1989. It provides as follows:

A subordinate law shall not be expressed to take effect from a date before the date of its notification in the Gazette where, if the law so took effect -

(a) the rights of a person (other than the Territory or a Territory authority) existing at the date of notification would be affected in a manner prejudicial to that person; or

(b) liabilities would be imposed on a person (other than the Territory or a Territory authority) in respect of any act or omission before the date of notification;

and where any subordinate law contains a provision in contravention of this subsection, that provision is void and of no effect.

Mr Speaker, I think that the committee's view that section 7 of the Subordinate Laws Act does have application in relation to an attempted retrospective determination of fees and charges is a valid view, and I would urge the Government to have another look at that matter and perhaps to get back to the committee on it.

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