Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 18 March 2010) . . Page.. 1108 ..
today. I welcome the fact that Mrs Dunne did bring it forward, even if she had her tongue perhaps planted in her cheek—I am not quite sure of the internal thought processes there. In doing so, I call on the government to make a commitment to only make policy changes through specific bills directed to that objective rather than using omnibus bills to make such changes.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Land and Property Services, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (12.06): I think always with a bill or a motion or a proposal such as this we are confronted really by the reality of difference of opinion in relation to some of the definitions that are used to determine what legislation is pursued in a single legislative sense, in an omnibus bill. And then there are two types of omnibus bills that we pursue in this place, most particularly the SLAB bills, which are purely technical, to correct grammatical issues or drafting mistakes or errors or to update legislation, and provide essentially no change.
So we have a SLAB bill introduced by the Attorney General and we have this series, the JACS bills. In relation to the JACS bills, I do not think anybody would ever suggest that substantive amendments are not made in JACS bills. Substantive amendments are never made in a SLAB bill, which is an omnibus bill. So I think we just need to understand the hierarchy. Individual discrete bills for major new initiatives, major new policy, major new policy settings, would always be pursued through a distinct, separate bill.
We then have bills such as the one we have debated today, a JACS bill. I do not think that anybody is arguing or suggesting that there should not be substantive matters pursued through a JACS bill, though the government’s expectation, or the norm, would be that a majority of the substantive issues pursued through a JACS bill would not be necessarily controversial but they may be substantive. I think that is perhaps the heart of this motion.
I think it is important through a motion such as this and the acceptance that it has from a majority of members of the Assembly that we not be seeking to constrain the capacity of government to pursue legislative change, for purposes of administrative efficiency and for purposes of clarity and of cleaning up the statute book, in omnibus bills of the form that we have debated today.
The government does not agree with the essential thesis around the ACAT bill. The amendments that have been pursued and have passed today in relation to ACAT are essentially consistent with the initial policy settings that were brought to the Assembly by the government in relation to the creation and powers of the ACAT. There is no essentially new policy setting. In fact, what was sought to be achieved today on the amendments which proved to be somewhat controversial was a return, or actually a maintenance, of what the government had intended be the position. I think nobody in this place at the time thought otherwise in relation to the positions that were taken in relation to the debate and the eventual passage of that bill.
My response to the concerns or the perspective that has been put by both the Liberal Party and the Greens in relation to this motion is that the government would not have