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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 315 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Apart from those matters which I have foreshadowed I will seek to make some amendments to, the Labor Party supports this bill. The Labor Party thinks that the principles underlying this bill are excellent and should be supported. It is, I think, a tremendous advance to see these sorts of amendments being made, particularly to the capacity for legislation to be made so much more broadly and cheaply available to the citizens of the ACT.

MS TUCKER (11.42): The Greens also will be supporting this legislation. I have just been speaking to members here and there seems to be agreement that we will not go into the detail stage because 20 pages of amendments have been tabled by the government. There also are amendments from Labor on which I have just had a quick briefing from someone in the chamber, but that is just not good enough. I want time to have a close look at what these amendments are. Some quite serious issues have just been raised by Mr Stanhope that I think I need to give serious thought to, so hopefully someone will adjourn the debate, or I will anyway, after the in-principle stage.

As other members have said, and as stated in the tabling speech, this is about changing the emphasis on publishing legislation and related documents from printed to electronic form. Of course, printed versions of legislation will still be available, and it is very important that that is always the case. I see also that Internet users will be able to download and print material, so this is about making the laws of the ACT more accessible, and that is worthy of support. Electronic publishing is a more efficient process. It can allow for faster publication and updating of legislation. The public also will be able to access only those parts of legislation of interest to them at a particular point in time without having to buy sets of documents that may quickly go out of date.

There is, of course, always the question of access to the technology, the so-called digital divide, and that is why it is important, obviously, always to have printed versions, and also to make sure that there are policies and programs in place to facilitate people becoming familiar with the technology if they so desire. Access to the hardware, of course, is also something that has to be ensured. Electronic access to information is not totally free. People have to have their own computer or have to be able to access one, and the cost of printing material is also something that people have to carry.

On balance, I believe this bill is worthy of support. The issues of access that I have briefly raised are currently being looked at by means of the task force of the government that is looking at issues of access, so that will be a debate that continues.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (11.45), in reply: Mr Speaker, I want to add briefly to this debate by commenting, first of all, on the broad thrust of the legislation. I think it is very important that there is recognition in this legislation of the changing nature of people's access to legislation. Legislation needs to respond and to adapt to changing circumstances, and the support from around the Assembly for legislation being updated to reflect that is welcome.

I want to make a brief comment on the arguments put by Mr Stanhope for his amendment, which is being circulated in the chamber, about the power of the executive to make regulations. Mr Stanhope originally put his legislation to this effect on the table quite some time ago and appeared to have lost interest in it, but now he has returned to

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