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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2763 ..

Thursday, 7 December 1995


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) 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.


MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (10.31): I present the Law Reform (Abolitions and Repeals) Bill 1995, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the Law Reform (Abolitions and Repeals) Bill 1995, which I introduce now, is one of a number of initiatives by this Government in a comprehensive program of measures to repeal, update and simplify ACT laws and regulations. This Bill repeals three archaic common law rules and 50 Acts, comprising well over 100 pages of law. I will briefly describe the common law rules we are abolishing, before I deal with the laws.

The estate pur autre vie are estates granted for life and the common law rule dates back to the tenancies of feudal times. It has not been used for a very long time in any jurisdiction, and never in the ACT, being effectively replaced by modern leasing and ownership concepts, rights and obligations. The common law misdemeanours of criminal, blasphemous, seditious and obscene libel are, as the Community Law Reform Committee has advised, no longer appropriate alongside today's defamation law. The common law right in distress for rent has not been available in the ACT for over 50 years and has long since been replaced by modern remedies. It should be removed from the statute book.

We are repealing 11 old imperial laws. You may recall that the red tape task force report noted that there are some 75 imperial laws applying in the ACT. These old laws operate in the Territory by virtue of laws enacted at self-government to continue the entire body of law then applying and which date back to those inherited by the ACT when it was established in 1911. As well as the imperial laws, the application of some New South Wales law was continued. The imperial laws we are now repealing, drawing on advice from the Law Reform Commission, relate mainly to property and are now unused and superseded. The oldest dates back to the thirteenth century. I may take that as an example. The Statute of Marlborough of 1267 is concerned with the old concept of waste. In this context waste means a deliberate and active change to a property which diminishes the value of the estate, increases the burden on the estate or impairs evidence

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