Page 928 - Week 03 - Thursday, 19 March 2015

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The government has inserted two mandatory provisions in the bill that will require consultation with industry participants where there are standards to be introduced that affect how the operators conduct their business.

The bill will also repeal part 2 and part 3 of the Public Baths and Public Bathing Act 1956. This act will be renamed the Public Bathing Act 1956 and will retain those provisions that concern public bathing in our waterways. There will also be consequential amendments to the Uncollected Goods Act 1996 to reflect the new terminology in the bill.

I would like to thank the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, in their legislative scrutiny role, for their review of the Public Pools Bill 2014 and their kind comments on the overall standard of the bill’s explanatory statement. I have carefully considered the comments made by the committee and will not be proposing amendments based on those specific comments.

The committee raised concern that the bill’s exemption powers under clause 11 replaced the authority of the Assembly by virtue of the principles raised in the High Court case of O’Donoghue and Ireland in 2008. The matters in that case specifically related to inter-jurisdictional issues where the authority of state parliaments was replaced by the state executive. That is not the case here as, firstly, the Assembly is considering this bill today and, secondly, an exemption is a disallowable instrument and therefore will have the oversight of this Assembly.

Furthermore, the committee commented on the two standards, clauses 13 and 14, which include legislative consultation provisions while others do not. While I appreciate the committee’s view that extending consultation to clauses 12, 15, 16 and 17 would not be onerous, the request must be viewed in the context of the overall policy framework. Mandatory consultation is not proposed for these clauses as these are areas that either relate to national standards or adopt industry best practice.

As I mentioned earlier, the government is committed to developing fit-for-purpose policy that meets the needs of operators and upholds the objectives of community safety and wellbeing. This can only be achieved with the assistance and input of stakeholders and the community. The government does consult frequently on many issues without specific legislative requirements to do so.

Although I am not proposing amendments as a result of the committee’s comments, I am tabling today two minor and technical government amendments to the bill. The first government amendment revises clause 2 to provide that commencement of the bill will occur on a day fixed by written notice, and not on the day after notification. I am sure members will agree that it is imperative that there be no lapse in time between the bill commencing and the regulatory framework being implemented. This amendment will allow a smooth transition for operators, including the ability to train operators and staff on the new early intervention powers of removal.

Secondly, government amendments 2 to 4 relate to clause 17 and provide further clarity relating to an operator’s ability to set fees for a pool facility if none are set by me as minister.

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