Page 1480 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2006

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Any discussion about Timor-Leste needs to acknowledge the failings of previous federal governments to support the East Timorese in their struggle for independence, as I have mentioned. Unfortunately, this federal government has seen fit to impose its own form of colonialism, with ongoing disputes with Timor-Leste about the control of oil.

It is fantastic to see that institutions in the ACT and in particular the students from my electorate of Brindabella are leading the way in developing real and sustainable links with Timor-Leste. I hope our federal counterparts can see the lessons in learning and supporting, rather than imposition and control. I urge you all to support this motion.

Motion agreed to.

Legislation Amendment Bill 2005

Debate resumed from 21 September 2005, on motion by Dr Foskey:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (4.01): Dr Foskey presented the Legislation Amendment Bill in this Assembly in December last year. The intent of this legislation, as Dr Foskey’s explanatory statement indicates, is to ensure that all bills are presented to this Assembly with an explanatory statement and that those statements contain a report on any consultation that has occurred in relation to the bill. In reality, Dr Foskey, through her bill, wants the Legislation Act to impose the discipline on opposition and crossbench members that already applies to the presentation of government bills. As a matter of good practice, the government presents bills together with an explanatory statement setting out the purpose and operation of the proposed legislation so as to guide a reader’s understanding of the legislative provisions.

This bill also seeks to impose a consultative discipline on all members to disclose the people or organisations that were consulted during the development of a bill. Dr Foskey’s rationale rests on the proposition that these disciplines would result in better scrutiny of legislation by encouraging policy makers to embrace community feedback and enhance the democratic notions of accountability and transparency. While these concepts are commendable, Dr Foskey’s bill is unlikely to achieve these aims. For a number of important reasons, therefore, the government will not be supporting the bill.

At first glance, the explanatory statement seems an appropriate vehicle for presenting information about consultation. To achieve that end, this bill proposes three changes. Firstly, because there is no existing statutory framework for presentation of explanatory statements, the bill proposes a new section 38A, which seeks to define the nature of an explanatory statement; secondly, proposed new section 38B requires that an explanatory statement be presented at the time a bill is presented in the Assembly; and, thirdly, proposed new section 38C requires each explanatory statement to contain a report on the consultation that has been undertaken. I note that the explanatory statement for this bill says the amendments will ensure that statements include a report on any consultation that has been conducted in developing the bill.

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