Short Digest of Bill
The purpose of the Bill:
To amend the Acts Interpretation
Act 1901: To facilitate future changes in the Administrative
Arrangements Order, to clarify certain matters as a result of the
High Court decision in the Seas and Submerged Lands Act case, to
repeal sections 4, 19A and 19B of the Principal Act and substitute
new sections 19B and section 19BA in lieu thereof, to provide for
revocation of orders under the proposed new sections 19B and 19BA
respectively and related matters, to provide for formal amendments
to the Principal Act.
Clause 3 would provide for repeal of
section 4 of the Principal Act and the substitution in lieu thereof
of section 4 (1) (6) inclusive concerning the exercise of power to
make an appointment or to make an instrument of a legislative or
administrative character between the passing and commencing of an
Act so that the Act concerned can have effective operation on the
date it comes into force. Clause 3 would make it clear that in the
exercise of the power conferred under section 4 of the Act that in
addition to instruments no other thing that may be done under the
power shall take effect before the date on which the Act concerned
comes into operation, unless the contrary intention appears in the
Act concerned itself.
Clause 4 would provide that a new
section 15B be inserted into the Principal Act to make it clear
that, except so far as the contrary intention appears, every
Commonwealth Act and all future Commonwealth Acts have effect in
and in relation to the coastal sea of Australia as if the coastal
sea of Australia were part of Australia. The coastal sea in
relation to Australia is defined to mean (i) the territorial sea of
Australia; and (ii) the sea on the landward side of the territorial
sea of Australia and not within the limits of a State or internal
Territory and includes the airspace over, and the sea bed and
subsoil beneath, any such sea. The coastal sea in relation to an
external Territory is defined to mean (i) the territorial sea
adjacent to the Territory; and (ii) the sea on the landward side of
the territorial sea adjacent to the Territory and not within the
limits of the Territory, and includes the airspace over, and the
sea bed and subsoil beneath, any such sea.
Clause 5 would amend section 17 of
the Principal Act by (1) extending the definition of the word
Minister , (2) omitting paragraphs (p) and (pa) and substituting in
lieu paragraph (p) which combines the definitions concerning
Territory et al. in the former paragraphs (p) and (pa). (3)
omitting paragraph (m) and substituting
a new paragraph (m) so as to redefine the word Gazette by reverting
to the meaning Commonwealth of Australia Gazette .
Clause 6 would amend section 17A of
the Principal Act by extending the terms which, appearing on a
paper or document, will be deemed to
refer to the Government Printer.
Clause 7 would insert section 18A
into the Principal Act to provide that other parts of speech and
grammatical forms of a word or phrase defined in an Act are to have
Clause 8 would repeal sections 19A
and 19B of the Principal Act and substitute in lieu thereof
sections 19B (1) (3) inclusive, 19BA (1) (5) inclusive, 19BB (1)
(2) inclusive, 19BC.
The proposed new sections 19B and
19BA would empower the Governor-General to make orders to adapt
statutory references to specified Ministers, departments, or
permanent heads to altered administrative arrangements. The
proposed new section 19BA would require that when a function is
transferred from one Minister to another without the designation of
the former Minister being altered then it would be mandatory for
any order of the Governor-General that requires that relevant
references in Acts to the former Minister be applied to the latter
to be laid before each House of the Parliament within fifteen
sitting days of that House after the making of such an order.
Either House may disallow the order, in the same way that
regulations may now be disallowed but under sub-section (5) of the
proposed section 19BA where an order is disallowed or is to be
deemed to be disallowed each provision of the order has effect from
and including the date of the disallowance as if the disallowed
order had not been made.
The proposed new section 19BB would
empower the Governor-General to revoke any order made under the
proposed sections 19B and 19BA.
The proposed new section 19BC would
provide that all orders made under the proposed new sections 19B,
19BA and 19BB be published in the Gazette.
Clause 9 provides for formal
amendments to the Principal Act as set out in the Schedule.
The High Court decision in the Seas
and Submerged Lands Act case (17 December 1975) is one of the most
important in Australian constitutional law with respect to
Commonwealth State relations. The case
raised extremely complex and controversial questions of
international and constitutional law. The Bill would make clear the
constitutional position of the Commonwealth vis vis the States in
the light of the High Court decision, inter alia, that (1) the Seas
and Submerged Lands Act 1973 was a valid exercise of
Constitution Section 51 (xxix) the external affairs power;
(2) that the seaward boundary of State territory for the exercise
of sovereignty and legislative power was constituted by the low
water mark; (3) the provisions of the Act dealing with sovereignty
over the territorial sea, its sea-bed, sub-soil and superjacent air
space were valid.
In future if it is necessary for
appointments to be in force before the commencement of a relevant
Act, then that Act concerned must provide specifically for this to
be done, and it will not be possible to make any such appointments
under provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act.
The provisions of Clause 8 would
provide the means of overcoming difficulties experienced in
applying legislation due to changes in ministerial offices, in the
names of departments and in the Administrative Arrangements
The procedure under the proposed new
section 19BA recognises that such an order by the Governor-General
would have the effect of changing the operation of an Act which
conferred functions on a specified Minister by transferring those
functions to another Minister, and Parliament is given the
opportunity of insisting that the Minister specified in the Act
continue to carry out those functions and that they be not
transferred by order to another Minister.
4 November 1976
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services
This paper has been prepared to support the work of the
Australian Parliament using information available at the time of
production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position
of the Information and Research Service, nor do they constitute
professional legal opinion.
Published by the Parliamentary Library, 2006.