Page 2879 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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Statute Law Amendment Bill 2008

Debate resumed from 26 June 2008, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.33): I would not have minded a bit of notice on the Parental Leave Legislation Amendment Bill 2008. We are supporting it, so that is fine, but I make that point. The opposition will be supporting the amendments to the Statute Law Amendment Bill 2008. It is in three parts, and there are minor amendments to four acts.

The Animal Diseases Act, which provides a quarantine declaration, does not have to include anything about restrictions on sale if there are none. Amendments to the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act establish a charitable perpetual care trust for the maintenance of cemeteries and crematoria and provide that future perpetual care trusts may be established for a charitable purpose and endorsed as exempt from income tax. A Government Procurement Act amendment increases the membership of the part-time ACT Government Procurement Board from seven to nine—five public and four non-public employee members. An amendment to the Legal Profession Act provides that if a law firm appoints an external examiner to examine the practice’s trust records the firm must pay the cost; if the examination is ordered by the Law Society the costs are paid from the fidelity fund.

There are some non-controversial structural amendments to the Legislation Act recommended by the parliamentary counsel’s office and some technical amendments to some 63 acts and regulations, again initiated by the parliamentary counsel’s office, which correct errors, update language, improve syntax and deal with other minor changes. In other words, it is a typical statute law amendment bill. There is nothing controversial in it, and the opposition will be supporting it.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.34): Again, because the explanatory statement for this bill assures us that it contains only amendments that are minor or technical and non-controversial in character, I will be supporting the bill.

I understand that those in the section responsible for these regular omnibus statute amendments scrupulously act as vigilant gatekeepers to ensure that only amendments of a noncontroversial and technical nature get into their bills. I understand that their job is not always as easy as one might imagine. We have seen a number—not many, but a couple—of occasions when amendments which were claimed to be minor and noncontroversial turned out in reality to be highly contentious and radically altered the rights or legitimate expectations of the people affected by them. The government appeared to justify calling them minor because they would affect only a small number of politically marginalised people. Of course, this is an unacceptable practice. It lessens the credibility of all future similar claims by any government agency, which is a shame because, in this instance, the agency section responsible has a good, trustworthy track record. In my opinion, these amendments are no exception.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.36): I will not speak for long on this bill since it largely comprises technical amendments. The bill amends the Animal Diseases Act to

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