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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 3989 ..



The enhancement of the ACT statute book through the technical amendments program is also a process of modernisation. For example, laws need to be kept up to date to reflect ongoing technological and societal change. Also, as the ACT statute book has been created from various jurisdictional sources over a long period, it reflects the various drafting practices, language usage, printing formats and styles throughout the years. It is important to maintain a minimum level of consistency in presentation and cohesion between legislation coming from different sources at different times so that better access to and understanding of the law is achieved.

Statute law amendment bills deal with four kinds of matters. Schedule 1 provides for minor, non-controversial amendments proposed by government agencies. Schedule 2 contains amendments of the Legislation Act 2001 proposed by the Parliamentary Counsel to ensure the overall structure of the statute book is cohesive and consistent and is developed to reflect best practice. Schedule 3 contains technical amendments proposed by the Parliamentary Counsel to correct minor typographical or clerical errors, improve grammar or syntax, omit redundant provisions, include explanatory notes or otherwise update or improve the form of the legislation. Schedule 4 repeals redundant legislation.

The bill contains a large number of minor amendments and has detailed explanatory notes, so it is not useful for me to go through them now. I would like briefly to mention several matters in the bill.

First, an amendment of the Building and Construction Industry Training Levy Act 1999 ensures that the actions of the Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Board for the period 1 November 2002 to 18 July 2003 are not invalid because the notification and tabling requirements under the Legislation Act were not satisfied for all of the appointments made to the board during that period. The members were reappointed by an instrument of appointment beginning on 19 July 2003.

Second, the bill includes amendments of the commencement provisions of the Legislation Act. New section 75A makes it clear what retrospective commencement means, and new section 75B states that a retrospective commencement of a legislative provision requires a clear indication. These provisions are complemented by revised section 76(2) which makes it clear that a statutory instrument may not provide for the retrospective commencement of a prejudicial provision of the instrument, unless under the authority of an act.

The amendments of the commencement provisions clarify, rather than alter, the operation of the provisions. To assist users of the legislation register to know what the law is at any time, the register provides information about when a law or instrument, or a particular version of a law or instrument, became effective or ceased to be effective. In the absence of a general rule about retrospective commencements, it can be difficult to work out whether a retrospective commencement of a registrable instrument is intended or a registrable instrument is simply notified later than the time that was envisaged. If it is simply notified late, the instrument will commence on the day after its notification day. By requiring a clear indication if a retrospective commencement is intended, the amendment will enable questions of that kind to be decided more easily and with greater certainty. It would also assist in ensuring greater transparency in the operation of statutory instruments.

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