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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 (Hansard) 16 May) . . Page.. 1326 ..


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (10.33): Mr Speaker, I present the Legislation (Republication) Bill 1996, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Mr Moore: Is this the one that turns us into a republic?


Title read by Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

It has nothing to do with turning us into a republic, as Mr Moore has just suggested. Mr Speaker, the Legislation (Republication) Bill 1996 provides for the making of formal amendments of Acts and subordinate laws of the Territory in the course of republishing and for the republications to have an authorised status. Those amendments include textual amendments and alterations by way of format, layout or style, or any other presentational aspect in accordance with current legislative drafting practices.

The Bill's origins can be traced to a trip to Queensland in 1993 by the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, of which I was then a member. I noticed that the Queensland Parliament's legislative program seemed not to be sprinkled with the Statute Law Revision Bills which appear on our own program. I discovered that a Reprints Act in that State, in effect, delegated the task of technical amendments to legislation, allowing members to concentrate their parliamentary attention on matters of substance. Previously, amendments of the kind empowered by the Bill were required to be made formally in the ACT by Statute Law Revision Acts. This Bill will make the need for those Acts redundant.

The republications foreshadowed by the Bill form the basis of electronic databases inside and outside the Territory and on the Internet. The use of those databases will be enhanced by the improved quality of the republished laws and, of course, the level of access the citizens have to those laws. The effect of this Bill is to facilitate, through powers to be conferred on the Parliamentary Counsel, a less cumbersome means of statute law revision; avoid the cost of printing large Bills, which the Statute Law Revision Bills almost always are, effecting purely technical or formal changes for consideration by this house; speed up the revision and modernisation of legislation; and improve accessibility to, and the readability of, legislation through clearer language, shortening and simplification and improved style of presentation.

Mr Speaker, this fulfils an important obligation that the Government took to the last election to simplify access to legislation in the Territory and ensure that people are better placed to be able to understand quickly and readily what the law of the Territory might say and to have that law in a form and presentation which is understandable by citizens of the Territory at this time. I commend the Bill to the house.

Debate (on motion by Ms Follett) adjourned.

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