Bills Digest No. 12  1998-99 Statute Stocktake Bill 1998


Numerical Index | Alphabetical Index

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.

CONTENTS

Passage History
Purpose
Background
Main Provisions
Endnotes
Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Passage History

Statute Stocktake Bill 1998

Date Introduced: 1 July 1998

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Attorney-General

Commencement: On Royal Assent

Purpose

To repeal redundant Acts and to make consequential amendments resulting from the repeal of certain of those Acts.

Background

In the Law and Justice Policy delivered in 1996, the Liberal and National Parties' foreshadowed the repair and reform of laws on the statute book. The policy commented on the convoluted and complex nature of existing Commonwealth statute law and proposed 'a statute stocktake: a long overdue project of repair of existing Commonwealth legislation.'(1)

In November 1996, the Small Business Deregulation Task Force recommended 'that all Commonwealth agencies identify and repeal redundant regulations by 1 September 1997.' (2) The Task Force was concerned with the burden placed on small business by the impact of paperwork and compliance requirements demanded by regulation. The Task Force was concerned with the removal of redundant regulations within the context of maintaining a process of review to 'ensure that the regulations that are in place are still meeting their objectives and that those objectives are still valid.'(3) The Task Force did recognise that the impact of the removal of redundant legislation would in some cases probably be minimal.(4)

In June 1996, the Statute Law Revision Bill 1996 was introduced into the Senate. That Bill commenced the process of the 'Statute Stocktake'. It repealed a number of Acts whose operation had expired, it corrected minor clerical and drafting errors in current legislation and updated references to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973(Cth). It also amended gender specific language in some Acts.

The Attorney-General, Mr Williams, wrote to portfolio ministers in 1997 requesting that they identify redundant legislation still on the statute book and also identify legislation for repair.

It is apparent from the Tables below, that as time has progressed, more Acts have been added to the statute book. This no doubt can be correlated with the increased complexities and nature of modern society where more extensive regulation is required.

In the early part of the century, consolidated legislation was periodically reproduced in the annual volumes of legislation. Later, consolidations of legislation appeared in a two volume set, the first being produced in 1911. The 1973 consolidation by contrast numbered 12 volumes. In the past, consolidated legislation was maintained manually in the interim period before the next printed consolidation of an Act became available. Acts would be cut and pasted, with amendments being inserted into the principal Act at the appropriate place. Hence the names Pasteact and Pastereg in the SCALEPLUS database echo a time when consolidations of legislation were done using this method.

With advances in technology, consolidations of legislation are done much more quickly and are available on the Internet very soon after the amendment has come into existence. Not only can legislation be consolidated more quickly but it can be searched on the Internet much more easily than doing a manual search through hard copy indices as was the case in the past. A search on a particular topic can reveal legislation dealing with aspects of that topic. The important point is that access to the consolidated form of the law is now more quickly and easily available to a greater number of people.

The number of laws added each year to the Statute Book has varied considerably over time. In 1901 there were 17 Acts passed and in 1902 this number increased to 19 Acts. The Table below indicates the increasing number of enactments over certain periods by different governments.

 

Numbers of Acts added to the Statute Book

Chifley Government 1946-1949

1946

1947

1948

1949

81

93

93

87

Election dates: 28 September 1946; 10 December 1949

 

Menzies Government 1950-1956 (first seven years)

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

80

82

109

96

83

71

113

Election dates: 28 April 1951; 9 May 1953 (Senate); 29 May 1954; 10 December 1955

 

Fraser Government 1976-1982

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

1982

209

161

211

191

177

182

158

Election dates: 13 December 1975; 10 December 1977; 18 October 1980

 

Hawke Government 1984-1991

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

175

202

168

184

155

183

144

216

Election dates: 1 December 1984; 11 July 1987; 24 March 1990

 

Keating Government 1991-1995

1992

1993

1994

1995

264

121

184

176

Election dates: 13 March 1993

 

Howard Government 1996-1998 (July)

1996

1997

1998 (July)

84

222

31

Election date: 2 March 1996

 

After some elections, it is evident that the number of Acts passed in the year has increased. This increase can be accounted for by the implementation of new policy initiatives. It doesn't necessarily occur after every election. The figures are similar when compared with similar periods.

Main Provisions

Schedule 1 - Acts Repealed

Item 1 repeals 95 redundant Acts. One of the repealed Acts, the Advisory Council for Inter-government Relations Act 1976 was amended by the Financial Sector Reform (Consequential Amendments) Act 1998. The Act inserts a definition of ADI (authorised deposit-taking institution) and repeals the definition of 'approved bank.' The Advisory Council for Inter-government Relations Act 1976 is no longer an operational Act. This is a good reason why redundant acts should be removed from the statute book.

Part 2 - Saving Provisions

Part 2 saves obligations or conditions imposed by certain of the repealed Acts. For example, the repeal of a number of States Grants (Schools Assistance) Acts does not affect the conditions under which those grants were made or any obligations to repay money to the Commonwealth should those conditions not be complied with. (Item 4)

Schedule 2 - Amendment of other Acts consequential on repeal

Part 1 - Amendment relating to the Australian Bicentennial Road Development Trust Fund Act 1982 and the Australian Land Transport (Financial Assistance) Act 1985.

Section 33 of the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988 is repealed and a new section substituted (Item 1). Section 40 of the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988 is repealed. It referred to the closing of certain existing Funds (Item 2). Schedule 1 is repealed. It dealt with limitations of allocations to States made before 1 July 1989 (Item 3).

The repealed section enabled the Minister to deduct from payments to the States etc under the Australian Land Transport Development Trust Fund, amounts repayable under the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988, the Australian Bicentennial Road Development Trust Fund Act 1982 and the Australian Land Transport (Financial Assistance) Act 1985. New section 33 will enable the Minister to deduct from the amount payable out of the Reserve to a State etc any amount repayable by the State under the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988.

Part 2 - Amendment relating to the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977

The amendment to the National Crime Authority Act 1984 changes the definition of 'legal aid officer' that is currently defined with reference to the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977. The latter Act is repealed in Schedule 1.

The amendment to the Public Service Act 1922 preserves section 3 and Part IV of the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977. Section 3 is a definitions section which contains a definition of 'legal aid commission.' Part IV is concerned with the transfer of certain persons employed by the Commonwealth to legal aid commissions of the States or Territories (Item 4).

The amendment to the Superannuation Act 1976 (Item 6) preserves 'approved person' as defined in Part IV of the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977 in relation to section 244 of the Superannuation Act 1976 which relates to elections to join Public Sector Superannuation Scheme.

Part 3 - Amendment relating to companies, futures and securities legislation

All amendments, with the exception of those made to the Companies and Securities (Interpretation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1980 (Items 11 & 12), refer to fees payable under the Companies (Fees) Act 1981 which is repealed by this Bill. Amendments to the Companies and Securities (Interpretation and Miscellaneous Provisions ) Act 1980 refer to the Companies (Acquisition of Shares-Fees) Act 1980 which is repealed by this Bill.

Part 4 - Amendment relating to the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946 and the Defence Transition (Residual Provisions) Act 1952

Item 14 omits references to two repealed Acts from the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.

Item 15 repeals a part of the definition of 'war widow' in the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 which refers to the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946. The latter Act is repealed by Schedule 1.

Part 5 - Amendment relating to primary industry levies and charges

Item 16 repeals paragraph 28(9)(c) of the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991. This removes a reference to the Dried Vine Fruits Equalization Levy Act 1978, one of the Acts repealed in Schedule 1. The Schedules of the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991 are amended by removing references to repealed Acts (Items 17-19).

Part 6- Amendment relating to other tax legislation

Items 20-22 amend Schedule 1 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977. Schedule 1 of the AD(JR) Act list classes of administrative decisions that are not reviewable under the AD(JR) Act. Items 20-22 remove references to statutes that are repealed by Schedule 1 of the Bill.

Item 23 is a saving provision. It is intended to ensure that the omission of references to the repealed statutes from Schedule 1 of the AD(JR) Act does not mean that relevant decisions made under those statutes become reviewable under the AD(JR) Act.

References to repealed legislation are removed from the remaining Acts listed in Part 6. Item 35 is a saving provision that provides in the Taxation (Interest on Overpayments and Early Payments) Act 1983 where elements of the definition of 'relevant tax' have been removed by Item 34, a person does not thereby become entitled to interest.

Parts 7 and 8 involve minor amendments.

Part 9 - Amendment relating to the Tuberculosis Act 1948

References to the Tuberculosis Act 1948 that is repealed by Schedule 1 are removed from three statutes (Items 39, 42, 45, 48 & 49). Consequential changes in punctuation and other minor changes are also made (Items 38, 41, 44 & 47). Items 40, 43, 46 and 50 are applications provisions which apply the changes made from their commencement.

Part 10-Amendment relating to the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945

References to the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945 which is repealed by Schedule 1 are removed from four statutes or amended (Items 51, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59 & 60). Other minor amendments and application provisions are also made. (Items 53, 58 & 61).

Endnotes

  1. The Liberal and National Parties' Law and Justice Policy, 23 February 1996.

  2. Time for Business-Key findings and recommendations. Report of the Small Business Task Force November 1996, p. 26.

  3. Time for Business. Report of the Small Business Task Force November 1996, p. 120.

  4. Ibid, p. 120.

 

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Moira Coombs
26 August 1998
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services (IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members
and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 1998

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1998.

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