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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1377

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I think that I owe it to the Committee to explain that the proposal to repeal this section is linked with a change of practice in the printing of Bills, Acts and reprints of Acts as amended. This has been adopted with the approval of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) with the object of assisting members of Parliament and, more importantly, members of the public who have occasion to refer to Acts. Honourable membe.'s will have observed that in the case of lengthy Bills for new Acts that have been introduced into Parliament recently there has .been attached at the front of the Bill a table of provisions. This table not only shows ,the parts and the divisions of the Bill but also sets out the marginal notes to each section and so constitutes, in effect, an index to the Bill. Examples are the National Insurance Fund Bill and the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill which, incidentally, were not objected to by the Opposition. When Bills having such a table are published as Acts the table will continue to be provided.

This practice makes it quite superfluous to include in these Bills themselves a clause showing the division into parts. Furthermore, I can assure honourable members that in future whenever an Act divided into parts or an Act containing more than 25 sections although not divided into parts is reprinted as amended, a corresponding table of provisions will be annexed to it. This being so, the sections of existing Acts showing the division of the Acts into parts will be superfluous. lt is intended, as opportunity offers, to repeal these sections This will also avoid the necessity of amending the parts section every time that the parts or divisions are altered in a material respect. Clause 4 of the present Bill is merely an application of this general intention. I might add that the practice of having a table of provisions and not a parts section is in line wilh the practice in many other jurisdictions including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Tasmania. I am confident thai it will be welcomed by all users of the Acts and will be of great convenience to members of Parliament. The Mother of Parliaments has decided to do it and that in itself ought to appeal to the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who is probably the most English of all people in the Parliament.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I am told that it is a statutory provision in the House of Commons and not done by administrative control as in this Parliament.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Let me say this: It is quite wrong to suggest that the Parliamentary Counsel has decided to creep up on us and whack this on like they did in the 'Last

Tango in Paris' and say: 'Here you are. Here is your new list.' This is not a pound of butter or something that has been planted on us; this is something which was discussed in my presence in Cabinet with the Parliamentary Counsel.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - It was?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Of course it was suggested to me that this be done. I said: Of course if this is the new procedure I would be very happy to have it done.' In fact I congratulated the Parliamentary Counsel on what I consider to be a marvellous improvement in the setting out of the Acts. I think we owe a lot to him not only for this but for many other changes in the way the Acts are prepared. Honourable members will remember how the previous Parliamentary Counsel used to spell everything out and refer to 'Section one hundred and fifty-six'. Now this is all done in figures. A lot of other beneficial improvements have been . made, and this is one of them. In fact this -

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Are you trying to waste time now so that we cannot get to the substantive amendments that we want to get to?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No, I am not doing that at all. But it is true that there is no statutory requirement. That is to meet the point made by the honourable gentleman who seems to know all about these things. I think it was he who made the point that it is done by statutory provisions in the House of Commons whereas it is not done in that way here. We admit that there is no statutory requirement for the attachment of a table of provisions to reprints but I ask honourable members - I am talking so quickly because I do not want to waste time - to accept the assurance which I give on behalf of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), that the practice will be followed. I only wish that the public - and many people will be listening to me now - could only see the wonderful advantage that it is to have the Act set out - in the way it has been set out. I have in front of me now an Act printed in the form about which we are now talking. It is ever so much better for the ordinary public to be able to pick up the relevant sections than it was under the old-fashioned antediluvian system that the honourable member for Wannon wants to retain.

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