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Thursday, 24 February 2011
Page: 1476

Mr SIMPKINS (10:51 AM) —I would like to take this opportunity today to make some comments on the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2010. As has been so well put by the two previous speakers this morning, there are a range of things that need to be fixed up across a great many pieces of legislation. I am sure that that will be the case in the future as well as we either adjust our language or adjust our view of the realities of the current moment. What so many think is the gospel truth now may be seen in a brighter light in the future. I was reminded recently by the member for Tangney, and I support him on this, that these days it seems that when you talk about CO2, you must have as an addition to that the word ‘pollution’. In the future, we might well see changes in law which reflect on the commentary of the current age.

I would like to cover some points with regard to item 6 in schedule 2 of the bill. When you reflect on what this Statute Law Revision Bill will be doing to fix up minor errors in legislation, you will find that it will make a lot of laws easier to understand. Within the context of the item in the schedule, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about some things that happened in the Cowan electorate in the lead-up to the federal election last year. There is a specific address that is very relevant in this matter—64 Wanneroo Road, Marangaroo. About a year and a half ago, the house at this address was reported to me as being derelict. It had squatters living in it. There had been a lot of damage done to it. It was uninhabitable by those who had been there and seen it. So it came to me as a bit of a surprise that this house was taken up by my principal opponent in the last election as an electorate office. Of course, this is completely contrary to by-laws, but the City of Wanneroo did not have any great problem with that. So when we talk about electoral laws a few interesting things can be done. Shortly after that house was taken up as a campaign office, I noticed in this derelict house that is not—

Ms Hall —Madam Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order on relevance. I have had a look at schedule 2, item 6 and I would have to say that the contribution being made by the honourable member for Cowan is not relevant.

Mr SIMPKINS —I will go to that fact: this is about electoral and referendum amendments. When people appear on electoral rolls specifically to gain votes—

Ms Hall —Madam Deputy Speaker, further to the point of order: item 6 refers to changing ‘the’ to ‘a’. It is a very long bow that is being drawn and one that I do not think we can countenance.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms K Livermore)—The member for Cowan does have to make his remarks relevant to the bill currently before the Main Committee.

Mr SIMPKINS —Madam Deputy Speaker, I think that, with regard to pre-poll voting and other measures—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Based on the reminders that have been given to others members in this debate, I do have to ask the member for Cowan to confine his remarks to the content of this bill.

Mr SIMPKINS —Under the circumstances, I guess I can fill the remaining minutes talking about the bill. As has been said, there have been a lot of aspects of Commonwealth law that have been locked in the past. When the member for Blair talked about women and children as chattels—and I know that he was not referring to a law that is actually to be amended here—I noted that that is something we are very glad to have seen the end of. Unfortunately, it is those parts of legislation that do appear in other countries, so it would be good if more countries around the world actually had bills such as the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2010.

When we look through what we have here in the various schedules and amendments, we can see that there are a lot of interesting things that have been changed. I take up an issue that the shadow minister for foreign affairs spoke about: the use of ‘s’ and ‘z’ in the legislation. It always surprises me how things like this can occur, not just when you have things such as US to Australian spellcheckers but also when you have so many people involved in a process—the public servants, the department and the drafters of laws that are tasked with getting these things right—yet these sorts of things still slip through. Mistakes are still made and it is bizarre, isn’t it, how you can have so many people looking over pieces of legislation yet mistakes are still made. That is unfortunate.

A number of unfortunate things have happened in the past and there is plenty of room for further amendments in the future with regard to a lot of laws. Since the Attorney-General is still here, I will say that I think there will be plenty of room in the future to make other changes. Whilst they might not be described as minor errors—they could be major errors—there are a number of aspects to do with electoral law reform and the reform of the way in which the electoral rolls are conducted in this country. As we know, there are some people who will stop at nothing—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The member is straying from the bill yet again.

Mr SIMPKINS —Madam Deputy Speaker, I am merely seeking to encourage the Attorney-General to keep up this good work with regard to statute law revisions and amendments across a range of different bills. We are certain that there has been significant fraud in the past and that we should never accept even one person doing the wrong thing.

Imagine, for instance, a case of people signing on to the electoral roll, with no intention of living at a house, such as occurred in my electorate, with Mr Barson and Mr Pastorelli, who happened to be the main supporters of my Labor opponent at the last election. It is a tragedy.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The member for Cowan is reminded to confine his remarks to the bill.

Mr SIMPKINS —I have appreciated the opportunity to do so and, while I have always thought I could find more things that would be worthy of speaking about in this bill, I see no point in further delaying the business of the chamber with further comments.