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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23651

Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) (4:39 PM) —Let me reaffirm the point I made in my earlier comments on the Legislative Instruments Bill 2003. This is a question of principle. The Acts Interpretation Act has operated since about 1901. All regulations have been dealt with in this way under governments over a long period of time. It was only in relation to the Minasa Bone that people became alert to the way in which those provisions would operate. The government is certainly not of the view that what happened then was in any way inappropriate, and we certainly would not wish to make amendments that suggested that we accepted that it may not have been appropriate. We put that beyond doubt.

The advice that we have is that what is occurring here may not have any impact on any future regulation excising islands in the way in which we sought to in the regulations that were enacted several weeks ago. That is an issue that we have asked about, as to whether it would affect that. I am told that some advice suggests that there are other forms of legislative instrument that might be affected but not necessarily regulations for the purposes of an excision. But whether they are or not, it seems to me that it is not desirable to have provisions which would operate under the Acts Interpretation Act in one way and, because you have made these amendments, in the legislative instruments act would be dealt with in another. That is an important issue.

I go back to the point that was made in the earlier comments. We do believe that there is a need for certainty, and to have a situation where regulations come in and you have to find a particular point in time in the day that they commence means that you might have to keep precise records of times at which regulations or other instruments are given effect to. You have to record it because, if somebody wants to test that, you have to introduce evidence in a court. It is clearly a much easier route to adopt, for all cases, to have a point of time in the day at which the operation of an instrument would occur. That is the substantial reason, and the measures ought to be supported. I thank you for the facilitation here, and hopefully the Senate will see the good sense of these amendments as I have proposed them.

Question agreed to.