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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3270

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsDeputy Manager of Opposition Business) (18:10): I have a question for the member for Kooyong. By way of preface to that question, I feel I should point out that I have had occasion to look at several of the 1,120 amending acts that are to be repealed by the Amending Acts 1901 to 1969 Repeal Bill, one of the three bills before the House. One of those acts, No. 180, is the Statute Law Revision Act 1934. This act happens to be the first statute law revision act ever put through this parliament. As the member for Kooyong's great predecessor, the then Mr Latham, the Attorney-General, said in his second reading speech introducing the bill, the practice of using a statute law revision bill had been in place and had been actively pursued in England since 1861. He referred to no fewer than 37 occasions where similar acts had been passed by the British parliament. He also said, on the first statute law revision bill passing through this parliament:

The object of this bill is merely to cut away the dead wood on the statute-book. It is not a consolidation of the statutes, but a Statute Law Revision Bill. There are various circumstances which make acts no longer useful, and which justify their removal from the statute-book. This bill is designed to remove obsolete and useless matter, and will correct a few mistakes that have been discovered in the legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament during the last 34 years.

He went on to say that it was an 'entirely routine action', saying, again:

It is the purpose of this bill to repeal such obsolete and unnecessary acts.

There was not, in the long list of acts that one sees in the Statute Law Revision Act 1934, anything that had continuing effect. The same applies to the Amending Acts 1901 to 1969 Repeal Bill, before the House now. Not one of the acts in this bill has the slightest effect, because all of them are spent, all of them are obsolete and none of them have the slightest legal effect. The only effect removing the more than 1,000 acts will have is to liberate some pixels from the duty of representing, in digital form, the names of these spent and obsolete acts.

Nothing in the speech of the former Attorney-General and member for Kooyong, then Mr Latham, suggested savings to the people of the Commonwealth. It did not suggest in any way that red tape was being eliminated. They were perhaps simpler times, but there were none of the circus tricks and stunts that we have seen in the exercise here today, on repeal day, when the government pretends that the repeal of these 1,120 acts—let alone what is in the Statute Law Revision Bill, which is also before the House and which is all about the removal of hyphens and commas—will save money. There was not the slightest suggestion made in 1934 that the routine housekeeping exercise was going to save anybody any money.

I ask the member for Kooyong, who is apparently the member of the executive responsible for this stunt of repeal day, to identify a single cent of savings to any Australian business or any individual in our country derived from the Statute Law Revision Bill or the Amending Acts 1901 to 1969 Repeal Bill, both of which are the bills under debate. I am not asking a question about the omnibus bill. I am not asking a question about any of the other bills that have been spoken on, none of which are before the House. I am asking the member for Kooyong to identify any savings and specify what those savings are—not to speak in generalities and fluff, which is all we have heard from the member for Kooyong up until now. I ask whether he can identify, with precision, what are the savings for an Australian business from the Statute Law Revision Bill—concerned with removing hyphens and commas and correcting the spelling of 'committing' in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act. I would also challenge him to do the same for any individual in the community. I challenge him to explain to the House how these are to be properly regarded as some massive exercise of removing red tape or implementing savings for the Australian community.