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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 August 2009) . . Page.. 3200 ..

The policy reason for this bill is enhancing the community’s ability to access the laws passed here in the Assembly. To pursue that policy objective, this bill amends the ACT statute book to make it simpler and more consistent. A simple and consistent statute book will more readily be accessed by the public than one that is overly complex and convoluted. The ACT Greens support this bill on the basis that it simplifies the statute book and therefore encourages community access.

A simpler and more consistent statute book is a worthy aim in any jurisdiction. Here in the ACT, we have statute law that has originated from a diverse range of sources. This comes from our unique history of progress towards the self-government that we enjoy today, and that diverse source of statute law means the task of ensuring consistency across the ACT statue book is that much more important.

As Mrs Dunne has noted, parliamentary counsel play a central role in ensuring that the community have access to the laws that affect them, and PCO play the lead role in drafting amendment bills of this type. I understand that the work required to simplify the statute book is, conversely, complex and requires the technical skills and leadership of PCO. However, a simple and consistent statute book is of no use if the public cannot readily access it, and PCO maintain the ACT legislation register to meet this access requirement. I believe the ACT legislation register is an example of best practice in Australia and I congratulate PCO on their continued good work. I also thank them for their continued good work because accessing ACT law is made that much easier for me and my staff because of the register.

I would like to conclude by looking at one of the amendments contained in this bill and drawing out exactly how it will simplify the ACT’s legislation. There are many other amendments made by this bill but the way this amendment operates makes a good illustration of the point. The amendments to the Environment Protection Act 1997 are a good example because they quite literally clean up the original legislation. The current operation of that act means that an authorisation issued under the act may remain as a current authorisation indefinitely. This has the potential to block up the register with out-of-date authorisations. The register as it currently stands lists nearly 100 authorisations that have effectively lapsed and are no longer required. By simple amendment to the act, this situation has been cleaned up and all authorisations will now lapse automatically and be moved to another section of the register. This is a practical step that will make the register easier and more simple to use.

This bill is an important part of the ongoing work to maintain the ACT statutes, and we fully support it.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (12.07), in reply: I would like to thank members for their support of this bill. This bill carries on the technical amendments program that continues to develop a simpler, more coherent and accessible statute book for the territory through minor legislation changes. It is an efficient mechanism to take care of non-controversial, minor or technical amendments to a range of territory legislation, while conserving resources that would otherwise be needed if the amendments were dealt with individually.

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