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Wednesday, 5 October 1983
Page: 1382

Mr MAHER(5.13) —This afternoon the House is debating the Statute Law ( Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No. 2). This Bill amends in minor areas a large number of Acts that have been passed by this Parliament, the idea being to save time, printing costs and the expense of reporting and recording the amendments separately. The running of Parliament is an expensive exercise. It is an efficient exercise to amend a number of Acts of Parliament by bringing in an omnibus Bill.

We all know that the parliamentary draftsmen and women are under pressure. They have to rush to meet deadlines. Often a Bill is interpreted by a court or the Crown Solicitor in such a way that some amendment is necessary. However, there are dangers in putting through a number of amendments in the one Bill because it is essential for democracy that all legislation be scrutinised. There must never be a hint of legislation going through the House in secrecy, because everyone is deemed to know the law and everyone is covered by the law. If we are to nurture the delicate flower of democracy we must have public debate and public awareness of all legislation. As I said, there must never be legislation by stealth or in secret. The amendments before the House today are only inconsequential matters. I do not believe there has been an attempt by any department to avoid a full second reading debate on any piece of legislation. If they were treated separately, I am sure the matters would be passed very promptly.

I will deal briefly with one or two of the Acts that are being amended. An important provision in the legislation ensures that part time members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal are not entitled to the judges' pension. Of course, the Judges' Pensions Act gives a non-contributory pension to members of our highest courts. It is essential that judges get a good pension. They must be attracted from a very lucrative profession to the bench. They may have to leave the city where their roots are and serve on a Federal court of some type in the Australian Capital Territory.

I refer also to amendments to the Airports (Surface Traffic) Act. As a law student I worked in the Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office in Sydney. I organised the prosecutions under the Airports (Surface Traffic) Act. That was a long time ago, in the 1960s. The penalty was $10. As I remember correctly, the amount was not increased when decimal currency was introduced. For the first time this Bill will change the penalty for overparking at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to $ 25. Of course, this brings the penalty into line with the penalty for parking contrary to a notice in New South Wales, which was increased from $10 to $25 in February this year. Today I talked to Assistant Commissioner McDonald of the New South Wales Police. He explained to me that people were parking on a parking meter at Sydney Airport for the whole day and would only be liable to a fine of $10. They parked wherever they wanted to park. If they put their vehicle into a parking station at the airport the cost would be $8, $9 or $10. So under the existing system it was almost cheaper for them to leave their vehicle illegally parked all day. I am sure the House will have no trouble agreeing that the penalty for over-parking should come into line with that which applies in New South Wales.

The third Act to which I refer is the Australia-Japan Foundation Act, which is being amended to ensure that the directors of the Foundation make a full disclosure of any interests which they have in a company which may deal with the Foundation. This is an important body which the Government is encouraging because Japan is a nation that has not sent many migrants here. Unless there is a real attempt to foster contact with the Japanese people and encourage person to person contact, the Australian people have no way of making contact with Japanese nationals or former nationals in our community. In my electorate there is a large community of Australians who are of Chinese or Vietnamese extraction. Their neighbours tell me how pleased they are to learn about their customs and traditions. No such opportunity has been afforded to Australians with regard to the Japanese people. It is important that the Government is strengthening the Australia-Japan Foundation Act to make sure that the 15 or so members of the Foundation who are appointed for five years make a full disclosure of any matter which, if not disclosed, may cause them embarrassment later on.

I do not want to waste the time of the house. A number of other members have spoken about other amendments. There is a provision to amend the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977 to appoint a representative from community legal aid bodies, which bodies are often serviced by voluntary lawyers. There are important provisions in the legislation with regard to the copyright Act and amendments to the Evidence Act. A significant portion of the Bill amends the Judiciary Act. The Law Officers Act 1964 is amended to ensure that the Solicitor-General, Sir Maurice Byers, is entitled to receive payment in lieu of taking long leave. It is important to attract the most eminent members of the Bar to the position of chief law officer of the Commonwealth-the Solicitor- General-and to attract a man or woman eminent in the law to come to the Australian Capital Territory to advise the government of the day. I commend the amendments to the House. These are the matters I wanted to touch on. There are amendments to the Patents Act, to the Royal Commissions Act and to a number of other pieces of important legislation. I am sure that the House will support this Bill.