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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3911 ..

Position Paper on Scrutiny of National Schemes of Legislation

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to present a position paper prepared by the Working Party of Representatives of Scrutiny of Legislation Committees throughout Australia. I also ask for leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MS FOLLETT: I present a position paper entitled "Scrutiny of National Schemes of Legislation" which was prepared by the Working Party of Representatives of Scrutiny of Legislation Committees throughout Australia. The position paper that I have just presented does represent, as many members will know, a number of years of work by successive scrutiny committee chairs and members. In this Assembly, that includes Mr Paul Osborne and Mrs Ellnor Grassby, as chairs; Mr Whitecross and Mr Humphries, as deputy chairs; and, of course, the current members of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee. A number of us have had a hand in this task. The paper that I have presented is being presented by my committee counterparts in all parliaments of Australia. It follows the presentation of a discussion paper to all Australian parliaments in August last year and the receipt of a number of submissions which commented on that discussion paper.

Mr Speaker, the position paper has been prepared to address the development of national schemes of legislation. As members will be well aware, ministerial councils often approve national schemes of legislation on a variety of topics; and, as a result of that approval, uniform national legislation is usually presented to each Australian parliament. Members will recall a variety of such uniform schemes - for example, the mutual recognition legislation, the competition policy, uniform credit laws and, of course, most recently the uniform gun control laws. I realise that the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General is also developing a uniform criminal code. We have seen a vast array of uniform legislation schemes presented to this chamber. Once such legislation is presented to each parliament, the members of that parliament have invariably been told that the legislation cannot be amended because it would put one jurisdiction out of kilter with the others.

Whilst the scrutiny committees have no problem in principle with the process of Ministers coming together to agree on a common legislative scheme that is for the good of Australia, the committees do have a problem with the process of enactment of the legislation and the lack of real opportunity for scrutiny of that type of legislation at critical stages in the course of its debate and passage through the parliaments. As is stated in the foreword to the position paper:

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