Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3284 ..
Debate resumed from 16 May 1996, on motion by Mr Humphries:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MS FOLLETT (11.28): When I first saw this Bill tabled in the Assembly, Mr Speaker, I got quite excited, thinking that it was something to do with bringing on the republic. I think it might have just been wishful thinking on my part.
MR SPEAKER: I am glad it was, Ms Follett. I was concerned myself, actually.
MS FOLLETT: I thought there may have been a few overnight conversions in the conservative ranks. Mr Speaker, when I came to examine the Bill, those hopes were dashed. I had a further thought about whether "republication" was the right word to use. It is not a word that I was particularly familiar with. When I read the Bill, I thought the word used should have been "republishing" or some other word that more closely suggested what the Bill was about. However, I did some research in the library and I discovered that the word "republication" is virtually a technical term. It refers in a technical way to either religious or legal tenets which are being restated, so I guess it is the correct term technically. I think it is a bit of a shame that it does not actually convey what the Bill is about to perhaps the majority of people. Nevertheless, I do not propose to move an amendment to the title.
The Bill will be supported by the Opposition. I support the thrust of this Bill. I understand that the work towards the production of this legislation was started by the Scrutiny of Bills Committee back in 1993 when they saw similar provisions in operation in the Queensland Parliament. The Bill provides a mechanism for the laws to be republished with editorial and stylistic amendments. In particular, the effect of the Bill, as Mr Humphries has said, is to facilitate a less cumbersome means of statute law revision to avoid the cost of printing large Bills effecting purely technical or formal changes for consideration by the Assembly. It is expected also to speed up the revision and modernisation of legislation and to improve accessibility to, and the readability of, legislation through clearer language, shortening and simplification and improved style of presentation. I think it is on that last objective of the Bill where, as I have explained, I think the title of the Bill might fall down to a certain extent.
I think it is necessary that we have this legislation, particularly in view of the number of Statute Law Revision Bills which have been through this Assembly, often on relatively minor matters. I know from experience that it can sometimes be in the Government's best interests to have a few Bills on statute law revision up their sleeve to pad out an otherwise rather scanty Assembly agenda, just as they trot out a series of motor traffic amendments from time to time as well. I think it is a courageous step that Mr Humphries has taken to do himself out of that little method of padding out Government business.