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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3700 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

legislation that is, in fact, owned by this legislature? I think it would be a sad thing to have this amount of legislation, and it is a pretty weighty lot, passed over the doubts of some members of this place and then have to defend it for the next 10 years, because there is much in it that at the end of the day members of this Assembly do not agree with. There are some difficulties with it. Maybe none of us - maybe even the Government itself - are entirely confident that this legislation is all good legislation.

My concerns about it are twofold, Mr Speaker. The first is that there were significant deficiencies in this law identified by the scrutiny of Bills committee, and I am not certain that the Government has adequately dealt with those matters. For example, I received the Government's response to that report only an hour ago, and from a quick look at it it seems that the Minister has tended to reject much of what the scrutiny of Bills committee said in its report or has modified it in some way. I am not clear at the moment just what the net consequences of the Government's response to the scrutiny of Bills committee report are, yet I am being asked to debate the matter this afternoon and to vote on it. There were significant matters of law raised about which we are being asked to take the Government's position on faith. I do have some reservations about that.

The other problem that I have is that much of the law is being left to the Minister to make by regulation. When you read through these Bills, we are being asked to give the Minister wide-ranging powers to legislate by delegated legislation. I think it is asking a bit much to expect that we will all take on faith that the Government will produce good subordinate legislation and that at the end of the day, of course, it will be disallowable. But why is so much of it left to regulation-making? It is clear that the regulation of road transport is a very complex activity, otherwise we would not have this inch thick legislation, to use the old terminology, or three centimetres of legislation to deal with.

What the Government has done is produce two flavours of legislation. The first is a statement of principles that are in these Bills. The rest, and I submit a very large part of it, will be set down in regulations that we have not even seen. We are being asked to take all of this on faith, to adopt the legislation today and to give the Government carte blanche to go ahead and do whatever they feel like doing under the law.

The Government is telling us that this all has to be in place by 1 December. I think, then, we should safely assume that the regulations have been written already. If they have not, how can they put it into effect on 1 December anyway? If it has been written, why can't we see it? Why can't we see what kind of subordinate legislation the Minister intends to make so that we can be satisfied at the end of the day that his legislation is comprehensive; that it is good legislation? So I think we are being asked to enact a significant body of legislation in a knowledge vacuum.

I wonder how many members of this place are prepared to enact significant legislation in a knowledge vacuum and with most of the legislation probably yet to come in the nature of regulations issued under these major Acts. I am concerned that we might be stepping into a big black hole, Mr Speaker.

I understand that the Minister is proposing that we shortly adjourn and that during the adjournment break we look at that broader question to see whether or not we should proceed today or at some future time. I think that is a sensible thing to do because, if you

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