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Wednesday, 15 November 1905

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This -is a Bill which, though small in its dimensions, is of very great importance. It will npt require more than two or three minutes to explain it. The intention is that in the printing of our Statutes, any amendments made by means of amending Acts shall be incorporated in subsequent prints. That principle was followed in connexion with the amending Defence Act last year. It will be remembered that we passed a Defence Act a couple of years ago, and subsequently amended it. For the purpose of facilitating reference to the law as it stands,' the Government Printer has printed the original Act, and with it the amending sections, so that the whole law appears continuously in the one document. Where sections have been deleted by amending legislation, they do not appear in the subsequent print. Of course, however, steps of that kind might be misleading in some instances, unless proper precautions were taken. Accordingly

Ave provide in this Bill that where any Act has been amended by the repeal or omission or substitution or insertion of words or figures, then, in the reprint of the Act, the Government Printer shall print it accordingly. But to guard against any misconception or misleading that might be occa sioned in reference to any reprint of an Act, the Bill provides that references shall be made in the margin or in the foot-notes to the enactment by which each amendment is made. So that if any one, in reading the Act, wishes to know whether the particular section which he is reading appears in the original Act, or is the result of an amending Act, the marginal note or footnote will show him at once. We have also provided in a subsequent provision, in which I shall have to make a verbal amendment, that -

On all copies issued by the Government Printer of any Act which has before or after the commencement of this Act been amended a short reference to every Act by which it has been amended shall be made on the first page of .each copy issued.

So that anybody will be able to take up the copy of an Act and see at once the original provisions of the Act, together with amendments and additions, without the provisions which have been deleted by subsequent legislation. On the face of the Act itself there will be an indication to the reader, either in a marginal note or footnote, so that if any individual wishes to consult the piece of legislation which formed the original of the print before him, he will have an opportunity to do so. This will facilitate reference and make our law more easily available, not only to persons who are not engaged in the legal profession, but to those who practise the law or are engaged in the work of legislation. I think it is very desirable that a measure of this kind should be placed upon the statutebook. I may mention that in 1903, in Queensland, it was found desirable to make provision of this character, and that was done in an Acts Interpretation Act. Honorable senators may notice that the Bill before them contains a reference to that Statute. I think that the experience of honorable senators in consulting, Acts will have convinced them of the desirableness of such a measure, so that when any amending Act is passed the Government Printer may. in subsequent prints show the amending sections with the original provisions. I may mention that in the Electoral Bill which we recently had before us, we passed a provision enabling the Government Printer to incorporate the amending sections in any new print of the law. What has been done in connexion with the Electoral Act, and also what has been done without statutory direction, by the Government Printer in connexion with the Defence Act, will, under this Bill, be done in connexion with. all. our legislation.

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