Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 16 February 2017) . . Page.. 568 ..
(b) omnibus amendment bills enable legislation to be kept up-to-date and respond to changing circumstances and/or fix errors; and
(2) refers the question of omnibus amendment bills to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure to examine the general basis and use of omnibus amendment bills.”.
As I have had occasion to reflect already once in this sitting of the Assembly, this government is committed to ensuring that the ACT’s legislation remains up to date, agile and adaptive to changing circumstances. The government is committed to best practice administration and taking opportunities to remove unnecessary red tape. Omnibus amendment bills provide an efficient avenue for the government to make policy, technical and editorial amendments to legislation. They are an important tool to ensure that our laws remain effective, up to date and achieve the purpose for which they were introduced. Our government will always welcome opportunities to review our practices and ensure that we are meeting high standards of good governance, transparency and integrity.
For this reason, we would welcome the referral of the question of omnibus amendment bills to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure to examine the general basis and use of omnibus amendment bills. Our amendment to the motion is made in support of the standing committee exercising its own judgement in determining the scope and premise of any examination it decides to undertake with regard to omnibus amendment bills. I commend the amendment to the Assembly.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (10.40): I am happy that Ms Lawder brought this forward. It follows a recent discussion about what should be in these bills. I think that what became clear in those discussions was that much of this is dictated by convention. There are clearly some problems. As Ms Lawder just outlined in her remarks, there are probably some different understandings of what the conventions are and what the various terms are considered to be.
I think it is well worth while for the administration and procedure committee to have a look at this. Whether we can define exactly what those conventions are in a way that is practical remains to be seen. Nonetheless, I am sure the discussion will draw that out. Mr Gentleman has moved an amendment. I am happy to support that. I think it is probably a little more succinct than the original motion but makes the same point. I will be happy to support that amendment.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.41): I will speak to the amendment and close the debate. Thank you, members. I am happy to support Mr Gentleman’s amendment. I certainly agree with Mr Rattenbury. It is not necessarily a simple question. It is not as simple as providing rules. That is why I referred to some guiding principles. But we have seen over the course of a number of Assemblies, and even as recently as earlier this week, perhaps a misalignment in the expectations of different members, including the Attorney-General himself, as to what could or should be in these ominous amendment bills.
I think it is a worthwhile exercise for the committee to have a look at this and for all of us to have at least a basic baseline understanding as to the purpose and intent of