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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3482


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(11.06) —That is taking conservatism too far even for the Liberal Party. If some area of legislation is manifestly out of date, spent in its effect and redundant, it is not unreasonable to take any opportunity that conveniently presents itself to clear away the litter from the statute book. This has obviously been done in discussion with and with the agreement of the relevant subject Ministers. It is not just some idea that occurred in passing to the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen). As I understand it, the situation is this: Part VI of this Act discriminates on the grounds of sex in making provision for allowances and loans to female but not to male dependants of ex-servicemen immediately after World War II. The relevant Part of the Act is, I am advised and verily believe, now completely redundant with no practical application at all. The opportunity is simply being taken in this Bill to repeal the whole of the redundant Part of the Act including the discriminatory provisions. I readily acknowledge that it does go wider than fixing up the discriminatory bit. It is just taking a convenient statutory opportunity to do it. I think the provision was thrown into notice by the legislative exercise that went on in the aftermath of the passage of the Sex Discrimination Act to simply scour the statute book to turn up discriminatory provisions. In that environment this whole part of that Act that had been lying there unnoticed and unregarded for the best part of a generation was brought into light. It was needed for the purpose of this exercise to clear away the discriminatory debris and the opportunity was taken to clear away the whole lot. I do not think a sentimental attachment to these provisions ought to justify their continued retention on the statute book. They are in the records obviously for anyone who is concerned to see what the law was at a relevant time in the past.