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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7616

Senator BRANDIS (12:55 PM) —The opposition supports the Statute Stocktake (Regulatory and Other Laws) Bill 2009, though I must wonder aloud when we adopted the practice of describing periodic legislative reviews with the somewhat undignified metaphor ‘stocktake’, rather than the previous, more dignified and appropriate term ‘statute law revision bill’.

Senator Fifield —Hear, hear!

Senator BRANDIS —Thank you, Senator Fifield. Perhaps this is thought by some in the bowels of the Attorney-General’s Department to serve the value of accessibility, but it just goes to show how accessibility can be taken too far. The acts to be repealed are self-evidently obsolete and have been superseded by other legislation. In the acts to be amended, most of the proposals relate to transitional provisions and periods that have expired. Schedule 1 to the bill contains amendments to 17 acts. Schedule 2 repeals eight acts and makes consequential amendments to three other acts. The most notable of the changes affect the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the Telecommunications Act 1997.

The amendments to the Trade Practices Act involve the repeal of part VB. These are the GST price exploitation provisions, which were enacted following concerns that price rises unrelated to the GST might be represented to be caused by the introduction of the GST. Given that the GST has been in place for almost 10 years, it is unlikely that any such representations would be made now. Any misrepresentations of price would, in any event, be covered by other provisions of the act. The amendments to the Telecommunications Act relate to the regulatory framework supporting a digital data capability of 64 kilobits per second and in which Telstra was the declared provider. Telstra’s declaration has been repealed and the market now provides data capabilities far beyond the rate provided for in the act. The bill also proposes to repeal the Income Tax (Franking Deficit) Act 1987.

Senator Fifield —Go on! No, it doesn’t!

Senator BRANDIS —Be still, Senator Fifield. Do not become too excited! This tax ceased to be payable after June 2002. The relevant provision of the Income Tax Assessment Act was repealed in 2006 as inoperable; the 1987 act is therefore redundant. Bills of this nature are traditionally non-controversial and receive the support of the parliament because they are regarded as an essential tool in the process of keeping the Commonwealth statute books accurate and up to date. Accordingly, the coalition is pleased to support the bill and looks forward, on the next occasion we have such a bill, to reverting to the more dignified form ‘statute law revision bill’.