Statute Law Revision Bill 2013

Bills Digest no. 117 2012–13

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WARNING: This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Leah Ferris
Law and Bills Digest Section
24 May 2013

Contents
Purpose of the Bill
Background
Committee consideration
Policy position of non-government parties/independents
Financial implications
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights
Key issues and provisions
Conclusion

 

Date introduced: 20 March 2013
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Attorney-General
Commencement: Varying dates of commencement are set out in the table contained in clause 2 of the Bill.[1]

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill's home page, or through http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation. When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw website at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/.

Purpose of the Bill

The main purpose of the Statute Law Revision Bill 2013 (the Bill) is to correct minor and technical errors in Acts, fix references to amending Acts, modernise language, and repeal redundant provisions and Acts.[2] The Bill also repeals the Air Passenger Ticket Levy (Collection) Act 2001 and the Air Passenger Ticket Levy (Imposition) Act 2001, and provides for necessary amendments due to recent changes to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 and the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.[3]

Background

For the last 30 years, Statute Law Revision Bills have been used to address technical errors that have occurred as a result of drafting and clerical mistakes, and to ensure that obsolete legislation is removed from the statute books.

As stated by the Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus:

The bills do not make substantive changes to law but still perform the important function of repairing minor errors in the Commonwealth statute books and improving the accuracy and useability of consolidated versions of Commonwealth acts.[4]

It would appear that the Office of Parliamentary Counsel encourages the drafting of such Bills and has commented that ‘it is likely there will be a Statute Law Revision Bill in each Spring Sittings’.[5] Statute Law Revision Bills play an important role in correcting minor drafting errors and removing references to legislation that has since been repealed. They are often referred to as a way of ‘cleaning up the statute book’.[6] There is no actual physical statute book in existence; instead the use of the term ‘statute book’ is a conceptual way to encompass the body of enacted Commonwealth statutes.

The Attorney General has also commented that this Bill ‘helps make the law clearer, more consistent and easier to access’[7] and ‘helps to facilitate the publication of consolidated versions of acts by the Attorney-General’s Department and private publishers of legislation’.[8]

Committee consideration

At its meeting of 20 March 2013, the Senate Selection of Bills Committee determined that the Bill not be referred to any committee for inquiry or report.[9]

Policy position of non-government parties/independents

Traditionally, Statute Law Revision Bills have received the support of Parliament.[10]

During his second reading speech on the Statute Law Revision Bill 2012, the Shadow Minister for Justice and Border Protection, Michael Keenan, commented that:

This Parliament has a strong tradition of passing statute law revision bills in a bipartisan manner since they were introduced by the Fraser Government in 1981.[11]

Financial implications

The Bill will have no financial impact.[12]

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth), the Government has assessed the Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act. The Government considers that the Bill is compatible.[13]

Upon considering the Bill, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights stated that ‘the bill does not appear to give rise to human rights concerns’.[14]

Key issues and provisions

Schedule 1 makes minor corrections to a number of principal Acts, including correcting grammatical and numbering errors, as well as removing references to provisions that have since been repealed. Schedule 1 contains seventy six amendments to principal Acts.

Schedule 2 makes similar amendments to a number of amending Acts, as well as correcting various misdescribed amendments and repealing some redundant provisions. Schedule 2 contains sixteen amendments to amending Acts.

Schedule 3 amends a number of Acts to reflect recent amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 and the enactment of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003. Part 1 amends the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983, the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 and the Inspector-General of Taxation Act 2003 to repeal redundant provisions relating to acting appointments, which are now covered by sections 33A and 33AB of the Acts Interpretation Act. Part 2 amends the Fisheries Levy Act 1984 and the Fisheries Management Act 1991 to remove a legislative reference to section 49A of the Acts Interpretation Act, which has since been repealed, and replaces it with a reference to section 14 of the Legislative Instruments Act, which replicates the content of former section 49A of the Acts Interpretation Act. Part 3 amends a number of Acts to repeal and replace references to ‘disallowable instruments’ with ‘legislative instruments’. Schedule 3 contains 342 amendments to Acts of general application.

Schedule 4 repeals a number of obsolete provisions and makes minor consequential amendments. Schedule 4 repeals or amends forty seven provisions.

Schedule 5 repeals the Air Passenger Ticket Levy (Collection) Act 2001 (the Collection Act) and the Air Passenger Ticket Levy (Imposition) Act 2001 (the Imposition Act), which were introduced on 1 October 2001 in response to the collapse of the Ansett group.

The history behind the introduction of these Bills is set out in the Explanatory Memorandum:

The legislation provided for a $10 levy to be placed on air tickets sold within Australia to fund (under the Special Employee Entitlements Scheme for Ansett group employees, or SEESA) the paying of: all unpaid wages, annual leave, long service leave, pay in lieu of notice and up to eight weeks of redundancy payments for former employees of the Ansett Group.

The levy remained in effect until 1 July 2003, as the then Minister for Transport and Regional Services notified in the Gazette (as per section 12 of the Collection Act) dated 18 June 2003 that the levy would conclude after June 2003.

The final SEESA report (as required under section 24 of the Collection Act), covering the year to March 2012, noted that all eligible former Ansett group employees have now received 100% of the SEESA payments they are entitled to and any further payments were the responsibility of the Ansett administrators, KordaMentha. KordaMentha advised the final distribution of funds occurred in September 2011.[15]

As the levy is no longer in place and all the funds that were collected had now been distributed by KordaMentha, the Collection Act and the Imposition Act are now considered to be obsolete and can therefore be repealed.

Conclusion

In summary, the Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus notes that this Bill represents a:

…continual process of statutory review [which] complements the Government’s commitment to creating clearer Commonwealth laws.

There is no doubt that the review process undertaken in the preparation of this Bill serves to ensure the statute book contains less clutter, in the form of out-dated cross-references, and by repealing obsolete Acts.[16]

Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2430.


[1].     For those provisions that commence on Royal Assent, the operation of the ‘slip rule’ allows the text of the law to be taken as correct as at the date of commencement, despite the error. The amendments ensure that the text of the law accords with how it would be interpreted: Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Law Revision Bill 2013, p. 4, viewed 10 April 2013, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fems%2Fr5014_ems_2ec377e6-5eff-4986-bfcc-98a416c7b68f%22. See also D Spooner, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2 ) 2010, Bills Digest, no. 60, 2010–11, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2011, p. 3, viewed 10 April 2013, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillsdgs%2F544739%22

[2].     Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Law Revision Bill 2013, op. cit., p. 2.

[3].     The Bill amends 109 principal and amending Acts (including 22 Acts to repeal spent and obsolete provisions), as well as repealing the Air Passenger Ticket Levy (Collection) Act 2001 and the Air Passenger Ticket Levy (Imposition) Act 2001.

[4].     M Dreyfus, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2013’, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 March 2013, p. 2714, viewed 10 April 2013, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F8143f75e-7f37-4128-8d3b-e62455d99a32%2F0036%22. This comment was also made by Nicola Roxon when introducing the Statute Law Revision Bill 2012: N Roxon, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2012’, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 August 2012, p. 8643, viewed 17 April 2013, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2Fe62f1e0d-13c9-446f-9296-82fd78823b75%2F0010%22

[5].     Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC), Statute law revision amendments, Drafting direction no. 4.4, OPC, Canberra, August 2008, p. 3, viewed 16 April 2013, http://www.opc.gov.au/about/docs/drafting_series/DD4.4.pdf

[6].     M Dreyfus, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2013’, op. cit., p. 2714. In his second reading speech, the Attorney-General stated that the Bill will ‘ensure the statute book contains less clutter’.

[7].     Ibid. The Attorney-General also referred to ‘the Government’s commitment to creating clearer Commonwealth laws’: Attorney-General’s Department (AGD), Developing clearer laws: quick reference guide, AGD, Canberra, viewed 16 April 2013, http://www.ag.gov.au/LegalSystem/ClearerCommonwealthlaws/Documents/ClearerLawsQuickReferenceGuide.pdf

[8].     M Dreyfus, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2013’, op. cit., p. 2714.

[9].     Senate Selection of Bills Committee, Report No. 4 of 2013, Senate, Canberra, 20 March 2013, viewed 17 April 2013, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=selectionbills_ctte/reports/2013/rep0413.htm

[10].   D Spooner, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2010, op. cit., p. 2.

[11].   M Keenan, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2012’, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 August 2012, p. 9629, viewed 17 April 2013, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F34fd7cc2-1683-44b7-ae67-c8a75a3cbdca%2F0167%22

[12].   Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Law Revision Bill 2013, op. cit., p. 2.

[13].   Ibid., p. 3.

[14].   Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Sixth report of 2013, Joint Committee, Canberra, 15 May 2013, p. 127, viewed 24 May 2013, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=humanrights_ctte/reports/index.htm

[15].   Ibid., p. 24.

[16].   M Dreyfus (Attorney-General), ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill 2013’, op. cit., p. 2714.

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