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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 2996 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

It is often also the case that we have numbering errors in other Bills, and in fact there are some commented upon. It is a matter that I will refer to, Mr Speaker. I do not think the committee should be a proofreading service, but obviously the proofreading needs to be done. I would suggest that it ought to be done long before a piece of legislation gets onto the table in the Assembly.

Another matter which is a continuing source of some frustration is the repetition of errors of omission and commission in relation to the making of appointments. I think every report I have made in the brief time I have been on this committee has had to make reference to appointments, particularly appointments under the Statutory Appointments Act. There is obviously a need, Mr Speaker, for far more scrupulous attention, not only to the legislation under which the appointments are made but also to the Statutory Appointments Act, in the preparation of these appointments and, again, in the checking of what it is that is actually being determined by the Government. For instance, we have one matter in the report that is before us today relating to the Tenancy Tribunal - something that we would all agree with. The Act appears to make provision for one deputy president, yet three have been appointed. You need some explanation as to how that has come about and where it is covered under the existing legislation, if indeed it is. So I think a more scrupulous approach to the making of appointments would be very welcome.

Mr Speaker, in the report before us the standing committee has taken an unusual step, and that is in revisiting a piece of legislation which we had looked at previously. That piece of legislation is the Animal Welfare (Amendment) Bill, the Greens' Bill in relation to the keeping of battery hens. The particular part of the Bill that we have revisited and commented upon is the walk-through powers and the powers of entry and search aspects of the Bill, because they are somewhat unusual, Mr Speaker, in that they are rather more stringent than similar powers under other legislation. I believe it is a matter that the Assembly should give some attention to. It did seem to the committee that there was something of an oversight in the drafting of those parts of the Bill, although this may not be the case.

Members will be aware, Mr Speaker, that the Standing Committee on Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation does not make comment on policy matters, and I think it is the lack of policy debate within the committee and therefore the bipartisan nature of all of our reports that has served this committee well. However, in our terms of reference the Assembly has asked this committee to look at, amongst other things, the clauses of Bills introduced in the Assembly, to ensure that they do not unduly trespass on personal rights and liberties, that they do not make rights, liberties and/or obligations unduly dependent upon insufficiently defined administrative powers, that they do not make rights, liberties and/or obligations unduly dependent upon non-reviewable decisions, and so on. So we do have under our charter, our terms of reference, an obligation to look at those aspects of Bills, and it is in that spirit that we have revisited the Animal Welfare (Amendment) Bill. Mr Speaker, I commend the report to the Assembly.

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