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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1857

Senator COONEY —I give notice that, nine sitting days after today, I shall move:

That the Credit (Amendment) Ordinance 1987, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 4 of 1987 and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.

That the Electricity (Amendment) Ordinance 1987, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 5 of 1987 and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.

That Public Service Board Determination No. 4 of 1987 made under section 82d of the Public Service Act 1922, be disallowed.

That Australian Meat and Live-stock Order No. MS 11/87, made on 27 February 1987 under the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act 1977, be disallowed.

That the Postal (Staff) By-laws, being Amendment No. 1 of 1987 made on 16 April 1987 under the Postal Services Act 1975, be disallowed.

I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a list of the instruments which the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances has been examining, along with a short explanation of the Committee's concerns.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-


The Committee has written to the Minister for Territories requesting his explanation for some very significant increases in the level of penalties for offences provided for under this Ordinance. In some cases the penalties are of the order of 20 times higher than those prescribed when the offences were first created in 1985. The Committee, under its Principles, will examine the criteria used in raising the penalties to determine whether the increases are so excessive as to call for reconsideration.


The Committee has written to the Chairman of the Australian Postal Commission about these by-laws which provide for internal avenues of redress for employee grievances. The Committee has sought clarification of a number of points arising from the way the legislation is drafted. These points concern the provision of reasons for certain decisions, some duplication of procedures and the practical scope of one particular avenue of appeal.


This Ordinance enables the Minister for Territories to exempt certain kinds of credit providers or credit transactions from the scope of certain provisions of the Principal Credit Ordinance. The instruments of exemption are legislative in character. It was originally provided that they be made by means of A.C.T. Regulations. It is now proposed that the exemptions be made by means of ministerial declaration. However, parliamentary oversight through the mechanisms of tabling and disallowance will remain. Nevertheless, the Committee has a long standing concern about differing standards of presentation and clarity as between regulations and other forms of disallowable delegated legislation like declarations, notices, determinations, principles, guidelines, etc. It is sometimes the case that when these instruments are subject to disallowance, they are presented to Parliament without any explanatory note to assist parliamentarians in general and the Committee in particular quickly to appraise their legislative authority and general impact. Sometimes too, these instruments are not sequentially numbered for ease of identification and citation nor is the legislative history of previous instruments annotated in amending instruments to facilitate access to the completed legislative provisions. The provision of explanatory notes, and numerical citations and annotations would not, in the Committee's view, be a costly innovation but it would very significantly enhance the presentational quality and clarity of instruments for the Parliament, the public and the professionals who make use of them. Citation and annotation are elementary improvements and often, with very slight amendment, the submission that accompanies an instrument to a Minister for approval and signature could become a useful explanatory note. The Committee perceives a need for uniform standards of presentation in regard to all delegated legislative instruments which are not statutory rules. The Committee has written to the Minister for Territories in regard to his proposed use of declarations, inviting his comments and co-operation in this matter. The Committee has also written to a number of other Ministers along similar lines and significant progress is possible to provide for consistency in presentation and clarity of instruments.


The Committee has written to the Chairman of the Public Service Board seeking his advice on the implications of certain apparently subjective discretionary powers conferred by this Determination on Secretaries of Departments. To assist the processes of fair and unbiased administration the Committee favours objective drafting and reference to objective criteria when powers are conferred.


The Committee has written to the Minister for Primary Industry seeking his assistance in ensuring that, in future, these important Orders are tabled in Parliament with Explanatory Notes describing their legislative authority and general impact. A brief explanatory document is an important aid to Parliament, the Committee, the public and professionals who make use of the delegated legislation. (See also the comments made under the heading Credit (Amendment) Ordinance, above). The Committee has also sought the Minister's advice regarding the drafting of certain clauses of this instrument which are somewhat unclear.

The Committee is very hopeful that all of the issues referred to above will be resolved in its discussions with Ministers.

Senator COONEY —I seek leave to make a short statement.

Leave granted.

Senator COONEY —The Committee has scrutinised the instruments of delegated legislation included in this list. It has written to Ministers about them and to ensure that adequate time is available to address and resolve the issues I have moved these protective notices of motion.