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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1402 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

this, a chance to have their say on that item especially but on other items in this very dry, complicated piece of legislation.

MS TUCKER (11.30): This bill completes the establishment of the legislative framework for the public access to legislation project started in the last Assembly. This has allowed ACT legislation, including subordinate laws and instruments, to be published on a legislation register website. My office is now regularly using this website and has found it very helpful in allowing quick access to ACT legislation. I offer my congratulations to the Parliamentary Counsel's Office for the effective management of this website.

The Legislation Act also brings together all the previous acts relating to the life cycle of legislation, so that all information about the process of how legislation works is brought together in one piece of legislation. The Legislation Act specifies various rules that apply to all other acts and instruments, so that they do not need to be repeated in every piece of legislation.

The bill before us today makes further technical amendments to simplify the legislative process. These mainly revolve around specifying the circumstances in which a particular act or statutory instrument can displace or override a provision in the Legislation Act. These amendments seem fairly straightforward, although I note that Ms Dundas will be moving amendments to do with a couple of issues, amendments I am happy to support.

The bill also transfers the remaining provisions of the Interpretation Act into the Legislation Act. This is a bit more problematic, as the process of simplifying the interpretation provisions has to some extent changed their meaning. I refer specifically to the interpretative provisions which describe how the meaning of ambiguous sections of legislation can be determined. Mr Stefaniak has spoken at length about that and the discussion the scrutiny of bills committee had.

The scrutiny of bills committee spent some time considering the implications of the proposed new section 142 regarding the use of extrinsic material in working out the meaning of an act. Proposed section 142 replaces section 11B of the Interpretation Act but in the process significantly streamlines its wording.

The implication is that there would now be no limits on what extrinsic material could be used, provided that it could be shown to be relevant. Of particular interest is the extent to which international treaties can be used in interpreting our legislation.

The government has argued that this change reflects developments in common law. However, the scrutiny of bills committee raised the point that the wider the range of materials that may be used to give meaning to the words of a law, the less the reader of a law is able to work out what those words mean simply by reading the text of the law.

Secondly, the committee pointed out that the greater the scope for the courts to mould the words of a law to achieve the purpose of the law, the more the courts are made part of the legislative process, which has implications for the principle of separation of powers.

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