Page 1133 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005
However, the bill serves the important purpose of improving the overall quality of the ACT statute book so that our laws are kept up-to-date and are easier to find, read and understand. A well-maintained statute book significantly enhances access to ACT legislation and it is a very practical measure to give effect to the principle that members of the community have a right to know the laws that they are required to obey.
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 achieve.
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. However, this bill does not include such a schedule.
The bill contains a large number of minor amendments with detailed explanatory notes, so it is not useful for me to go through them now. However, I would like to briefly mention several matters. Schedule 1 includes amendments of the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989 to narrow the grounds on which prohibition notices can be issued.
I should add that the Dangerous Substances Act amendments include one new element that may, at first blush, seem to be an extension of the power to issue a prohibition notice. However, new section 109 (2) (a), which provides for a prohibition notice to be issued for a contravention or likely contravention of an improvement notice, has a considerably narrower scope than existing section 109 (a), which provides for a prohibition notice to be issued for any contravention of the act.
Other amendments in schedule 1 include amendments of the University of Canberra Act 1989 that will assist the university to qualify for increased financial assistance under the commonwealth’s Higher Education Support Act 2003 by giving effect to certain of the national governance protocols under the act.
The amendments of the Legislation Act in schedule 2 reflect the ongoing view by the parliamentary counsel of the act’s operation and the improvement of its usefulness. For example, the legal effectiveness of a registrable instrument that is notified at the request of a person who is not authorised to make the request will be preserved by amendments of section 61. The amendments do not affect the power to make registrable instruments nor the people who can make registrable instruments. Also, chapter 10, which deals with