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Statute Law Revision Bill 2012



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ISSN 1328-8091

Parliamentof Australia Departmentof Parliamentary Services

Contents

Purpose .................................................................................................................................................... 2

Background .............................................................................................................................................. 2

Committee consideration ................................................................................................................... 3

Financial implications ............................................................................................................................... 3

Key provisions .......................................................................................................................................... 3

BILLS DIGEST NO. 16, 2012-13 11 September 2012

Statute Law Revision Bill 2012

Leah Ferris Law and Bills Digest Section

2 Statute Law Revision Bill 2012

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Statute Law Revision Bill 2012

Date introduced: 15 August 2012

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Attorney-General

Commencement: Various dates as set out in the table contained in section 2 of the Bill.1

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill's home page, or through http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation. When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw website at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/.

Purpose

The main purpose of the Statute Law Revision Bill 2012 (the Bill) is to correct minor and technical errors in Acts, fix references to amending Acts, modernise language, and repeal redundant provisions and Acts.2 The Bill also updates references to certain regulations concerning aircraft, as well as specific regulations concerning Ministers and Departments, and provides for necessary amendments due to recent changes to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 and the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.3

Background

Statute Law Revision Bills are used to address technical errors that have occurred as a result of drafting and clerical mistakes, and to ensure that obsolete legislation is removed from the statute books. They are ‘traditionally non-controversial and receive the support of the Parliament as they are regarded as an essential tool in the process of keeping orderly, accurate and up-to-date Commonwealth statute books’.4

1. For those provisions that commence on Royal Assent, the operation of a ‘slip rule’ allows the text of the law to be taken as correct as at the date of commencement, despite the error: Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Law Revision Bill 2012, p. 2, viewed 27 August 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr4868% 22. See also D Spooner, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2010, Bills Digest, no. 60, 2010-11, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2011, p. 3, viewed 27 August 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillsdgs%2F544739% 22

2. Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Law Revision Bill 2012, op. cit., p. 1. 3. Ibid.

4. D Spooner, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2010, Bills Digest, op. cit., p. 2.

Statute Law Revision Bill 2012 3

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As stated by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon:

Statute Law Revision Bills have been used for the last thirty years to improve the quality of Commonwealth legislation. The Bills do not make substantive changes to law but still perform the important function of repairing minor errors in the Commonwealth statute books, which accumulated across successive government amendments, and improving the accuracy and useability of consolidated versions of Commonwealth Acts.

5

This view was also confirmed by the Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs and Border Protection, Michael Keenan:

This parliament has a strong tradition of passing statute law revision bills in a bipartisan manner since they were introduced by the Fraser government in 1981. 6

Committee consideration

At its meeting of 23 August 2012, the Senate Selection of Bills Committee determined that the Bill not be referred to any committee for inquiry and report.7

Financial implications

The Bill will have no financial impact.8

Key provisions

Schedule 1 makes minor corrections to a number of Acts, including correcting grammatical and numbering errors.

Schedule 2 makes similar amendments to amending Acts, as well as correcting a number of misdescribed amendments and repealing some redundant provisions.

5. N Roxon, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2012’, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 August 2012, p. 1, viewed 27 August 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2Fe62f1e0d -13c9-446f-9296-82fd78823b75%2F0010%22

6. M Keenan, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2012’, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 August 2012, p. 79, viewed 27 August 2012, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F34fd7cc2 -1683-44b7-ae67-c8a75a3cbdca%2F0169%22

7. Selection of Bills Committee, Report No. 10 of 2012, Senate, Canberra, 23 August 2012, viewed 9 August 2012, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=selectionbills_ctte/reports/2 012/rep1012.htm

8. Explanatory Memorandum, op. cit., p. 1.

4 Statute Law Revision Bill 2012

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Schedule 3 amends a number of Acts to remove references to the Civil Aviation Regulations and instead refer to ‘regulations made under the Civil Aviation Act 1988’. It is considered good drafting policy not to refer to regulations by name, in order to avoid confusion in the event that the name or contents of the regulations are altered.9

Schedule 4 amends a number of Acts to repeal provisions that have been made redundant due to recent amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901. These provisions relate to acting appointments, which are now covered by sections 33AB and 33A of the Acts Interpretation Act.10 Schedule 4 also removes a legislative reference to section 49A of the Acts Interpretation Act, which has since been repealed, and replaces it with a reference to section 14 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, which replicates the content of former section 49A of the Acts Interpretation Act.11

Schedule 5 amends various Acts to remove references to specific Ministers or Departments and replace them with generic references.12 Previously, Ministers and Departments have been referred to specifically in legislation. When changes have occurred to the Administrative Arrangements Orders (AAO), and the names of Departments or Ministers have been changed or made redundant, then it has been necessary for the Governor-General to make substituted reference orders under sections 19B and 19BA of the Acts Interpretation Act. The purpose of these orders is to allow references to specific Ministers or Departments in legislation to be read as though they are references to the Minister or Department specified in the updated AAO.13

As stated by the Attorney-General:

The amendments contained in schedule 5 will greatly reduce reliance on section 19B and 19BA orders and the need for such orders to be made in the future. This is because the amendments insert more generic references to ministers and departments in Commonwealth acts.

For example, instead of referring to the specific title of the minister for finance, after these amendments have been passed they will refer to the generic title of finance minister. This will be defined as 'the minister administering the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997'. The new reference would remain accurate even if the specific title of the minister with that responsibility changes over time. This will improve the clarity and useability of Commonwealth Acts.

14

Schedule 6 repeals obsolete provisions, makes minor consequential amendments and also provides for appropriate saving provisions.

Schedule 7 repeals obsolete Acts and makes consequential amendments.

9. Ibid., p. 26.

10. Ibid., p. 28. 11. Ibid.

12. Further discussion regarding the references to specific Ministers and Departments has been set out in a previous digest, D Spooner, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2010, Bills Digest, op. cit., p. 3. 13. Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Law Revision Bill 2012, op. cit., p. 29.

Statute Law Revision Bill 2012 5

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14. N Roxon, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2012’, op. cit., p. 1.