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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 683..


Thursday, 7 March 2002

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Pharmacy Amendment Bill 2002

Mr Stanhope� pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (10.31): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, this bill seeks to amend the Pharmacy Amendment Act 2001, which was passed in August last year. The act was to commence on a date fixed by the minister. As no date has been fixed, the act will automatically commence on 24 March 2002.

During the debate on the bill, the then minister for health, Michael Moore, said that the then government would support the bill, which was introduced by Ms Tucker. No other government member spoke on the bill. The Labor Party also supported it. Mr Moore also said he had been negotiating with Ms Tucker over one issue. He said that there had been a suggestion that the bill might breach a part of the self-government act. He moved amendments to the bill which he said would deal with this issue.

I have now received advice from the Department of Health and Community Care and the Department of Justice and Community Safety that says that Mr Moore's amendments did not deal with the issue and that there is considerable doubt about the whether the Assembly had the power to pass the act.

The doubt arises because section 23 of the self-government act provides:

(1) Subject to this section, the Assembly has no power to make laws with respect to:

...

(h) the matters that are the subject of the laws in force in the Territory relating to:

(i) companies;

(ii) close corporations;

(iii) foreign companies;

(iv) the acquisition of shares in bodies corporate; and

(v) the regulation of the securities industry and the futures industry.

The Pharmacy Amendment Act 2001 may, in the opinion of the Department of Health and Community Care and the Department of Justice and Community Safety, fall within subsection 23 (1) (h). The difficulty that now arises is that, if that advice is correct, pharmacists may arrange their affairs in reliance on an invalid law.


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