Page 2331 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022
“himself” or “herself” are removed and replaced by either the noun that is the subject of the sentence—for example, “the chairperson”—or by using “they”, “their”, “them” or “themselves”.
The pronouns “they” or “their” are used to refer to a singular subject in everyday speech; this has been adopted in writing for many centuries. This language has become increasingly more common in drafting practice across Australia and internationally. Indeed, since 2016, “they” or “their” have been used to refer to a singular subject in legislation drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office.
Following passage of this bill, some legislation in the ACT statute book will still contain gendered language. These references are being removed incrementally, in part through statute law amendment bills such as the one that is before the Assembly for debate today.
For legislation that still contains gendered language, section 145, paragraph (a) of the Legislation Act ensures that a reference to a gender includes a reference to every other gender.
The use of gender-neutral language is an important part of creating an accepting and inclusive Canberra. Language, as I think we are all aware in this place, is important and powerful. Canberra is home to many gender diverse people, and we are inclusive and welcoming. It is only right that our statute book reflects that. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (6.20), in reply: As has been touched on, the Statute Law Amendment Bill 2022 carries on the technical amendments program that continues to develop a simpler, more coherent and accessible statute book for the territory through minor legislation changes. It is an efficient mechanism to take care of non-controversial, minor and technical amendments to a range of territory legislation, while conserving resources that would otherwise be needed if the amendments were dealt with individually.
The technical amendments program is managed by the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office. The guidelines and practice note are publicly available on their website. I thank the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office for their ongoing work.
Although each individual amendment is minor, when viewed collectively the amendments are a significant contribution to improving the operation of the affected legislation and the statute book generally. Much like taking your car for a service, these amendments may seem minor, but neglecting to do them will, over a period of time, substantially impair the accessibility and usability of our statute book.
Schedule 1 of the bill will make a minor amendment to the Territory Records Act—section 36, paragraph (e). The paragraph provides that the minister may end the appointment of the Director of Territory Records if the director is absent from duty for 14 consecutive days, or 28 days in any 12 months, except on leave given by the minister. The words “except on leave given by the minister” create a requirement for