Page 2041 - Week 06 - Thursday, 7 May 2009

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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 affect them.

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 and presentation and cohesion between legislation coming from different sources at different times so that better access to and understanding of the law is achieved.

This Statute Law Amendment Bill deals with four kinds of matters. Schedule 1 provides for minor, non-controversial amendments proposed by a government agency. Schedule 2 contains amendments of the Legislation Act 2001 proposed by the parliamentary counsel to ensure that 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 language, omit redundant provisions, include explanatory notes or otherwise update or improve the form of legislation. And Schedule 4 contains repeals of obsolete or unnecessary legislation proposed by government agencies or the parliamentary counsel.

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 contains amendments of the Environment Protection Act 1997 and the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994. The Environment Protection Act requires public notice by way of notification on the ACT legislation register of the making of applications for environmental authorisations and the granting or review of environmental authorisations. These authorisations can cover things as diverse as holding outdoor concerts to running pest control operations.

Once a notice has been notified or, in the case of applications for authorisations, the period for public consultation has ended, there is little value in the notifications remaining current. While further notices may include expiry clauses, this amendment inserts a provision in the Environment Protection Act that automatically expires notices once they have served their purpose. The expired notices will still be available on the register but will appear under the repealed heading. This will ensure that only truly current instruments are included under the current heading on the register, making it easier to access them.

The amendment to the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act inserts a standard provision in the act to make it clear that officials exercising functions under the act are protected from any civil liability that may arise in the proper exercise of those functions. The liability attaches instead to the territory.

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