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Thursday, 26 May 1983
Page: 1093


Mr SPENDER(10.58) —The Opposition supports the Statute Law ( Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No. 1) 1983. My remarks on it will be brief. It has become recognised that there is a necessity to bring in, year by year, what might be called a housekeeping Bill where, what has been described by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Lionel Bowen) in his second reading speech as non-contentious matters, are dealt with. The definition of non-contentious seems to be becoming increasingly elastic, and I suppose that that is one of the problems that all governments face. Flowing from that is the problem of advisers, the legal profession, accountants and the like, and those who have to pay tax, in keeping up with what is happening.

In this Bill we have more than 90 amendments. I instance two only. One is a sensible amendment to the Acts Interpretation Act. It provides that where a periodic report has to be furnished to a Minister and no time is specified for its furnishing then it must be done in a specified period. That, of course, is sensible. As well, there is a proposed amendment to section 80 of the Trade Practices Act. I refer to that amendment because it has an important practical application in the conduct of trade practices cases and, of course, in the rights and liabilities of parties in courts. That kind of amendment I should have thought ideally should have been brought down in a Bill of its own because it can easily become lost when it appears in an omnibus Bill of this kind. I will not spend time referring to the guidelines which were mentioned by the Deputy Prime Minister in his second reading speech, save to observe that they do tend to become stretched in practice. On the dissemination of information about the Bill, he said:

To assist the dissemination of the contents of this Bill, the Attorney-General' s Department has now forwarded copies of the Bill and explanatory material to the Law Council of Australia so that that body can inform the profession through its member State bodies.

I ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he would consider having the Attorney- General's Department disseminate the Bill and the explanatory memorandum also to professional bodies in all States, such as the Bar Association of New South Wales, and to publishers of professional and legal literature so that those bodies can be kept up to date. It would make it very much easier. I am sure he would agree that whilst housekeeping measures are useful it is essential to try to keep the public and professional advisers as well informed as possible of legislation which deals with a wide variety of matters in the one Act of the Parliament.