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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (5 September) . . Page.. 3212 ..

Detail Stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole

MR MOORE (6.18): Mr Speaker, I move:

Page 1, lines 7 and 8, clause 2, after "commences" omit ", or shall be taken to have commenced, on 9 September 1996.", substitute "on the day on which this Act is notified in the Gazette.".

The amendment is to the second clause in the Bill, headed "Commencement". As I pointed out, it sets a precedent, I believe, that we have not had time to debate. I think the appropriate thing to do, Mr Speaker, because we have not had time to debate it or time to consider it appropriately, is to go back to a conventional commencement clause and at least not set a precedent. Ms Follett may correct me, but my understanding is that this issue was not discussed in detail, or discussed at all, in the Scrutiny of Bills Committee. It may well be that it is something that the Scrutiny of Bills Committee would like to consider in more detail. That may or may not be the case.

Mr Speaker, it seems to me that this is a particularly neat precedent for private members legislation. From now on we can cut out the Government altogether as far as this goes. By doing that, Mr Speaker, we will have the advantage of not worrying about whether there is a Minister to gazette the legislation or not. We will simply have the situation that each of my private members Bills in the future will be set with a date on it. It may well be, if it sits on the notice paper for some time, that at the last minute we will need to slightly amend the specific date - that is not a difficult thing to do - in the debate. So the legislation in future will be taken to have commenced on a specific date.

One of the problems associated with this is demonstrated clearly by something that went in a way that I did not particularly like. Mr Speaker, you may well remember that in the last Assembly I put up legislation which included the medicinal use of cannabis. That legislation, Mr Speaker, was passed in this house but was not gazetted. This house, unlike most houses in Australia, does not have a method of checking. We do not have a double-checking process by having an upper house. Further, we do not have a triple-check process by having royal assent, or assent, as they have in the Northern Territory, by the Administrator. If we have done something hastily, and the legislation before us today is hasty legislation, the only double-check we have is this process of gazetting legislation, and that is being done away with as far as this legislation is concerned. We now have a new precedent set, as this Act commences, or shall be taken to have commenced, on a specific date. What would have happened, Mr Speaker, had this been the legislation on medicinal cannabis that the previous Assembly decided, albeit wrongly as far as I am concerned, to overturn? The date would have been set, Mr Speaker, and the Bill would have become an Act. It would have become legislation without this final small double-checking method, and it has gone.

Mr Speaker, we have not heard Mr Humphries explain to this Assembly that I am wrong on this issue. I must say, to be fair to him, that Mr Humphries has often discussed at length with me issues of precedent. We have always been concerned about issues of precedent. We have always considered them to be particularly serious issues.

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