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Friday, 22 June 2012
Page: 4234

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (11:22): The Parliamentary Counsel and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 proposes to amend the Parliamentary Counsel Act 1970 to provide for the transfer of the Attorney-General's Department's legislative-drafting functions to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. Currently, respon­sibility for legislative drafting is split between the Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing, the OLDP, and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, the OPC. The OLDP is a division within the department comprising 23 legislative drafters and 50 staff responsible for drafting subordinate legislation as well as for the registration, editing, compilation and publication of all Commonwealth laws. The OPC is an independent statutory agency consisting of a First Parliamentary Counsel, two Second Parliamentary Counsel and 55 staff. Its responsibility is the drafting of government bills and amendments.

Most other Australian jurisdictions combine the drafting of bills and the drafting of subordinate legislation in one office. The Skehill review, entitled Strategic review of small and medium agencies in the Attorney-General's portfolio, has recommended the merger in order to realise efficiencies in the use of specialised technology and to achieve uniformity in drafting practices for principal and subordinate legislation. The measure is considered budget neutral. Its regulatory impact will be positive if the intended outcome of better legislative drafting is achieved. The coalition is happy to support this bill.