Bills Digest No. 178  1998-99 Statute Stocktake Bill 1999


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 1999

Date Introduced: 30 March 1999

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Attorney-General

Commencement: Upon Royal Assent except for the amendments to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 contained in Part 6 of Schedule 2, which do not commence until a section 8AAB is inserted in the Taxation Administration Act 1953. The latter amendments will commence on Royal Assent if a section 8AAB has been inserted by that time.

 

Purpose

This is an omnibus Bill which proposes to repeal redundant legislation, make amendments to other Acts consequential on repeal of that legislation, and make savings and transitional provisions.

 

Background

The repeal of redundant legislation was one of the 1996 election commitments of the current Government. The Liberal and National Parties' Law and Justice Policy stated in 1996 that:

Our laws are an integral part of our intellectual infrastructure. Like any other infrastructure, it requires repair as well as reform.(1)

The Bill continues the process begun by the Statute Law Revision Act 1996. The Bill was initially introduced into the House of Representatives in a substantially similar form on 1 July 1998. House of Representatives debate did not proceed past the Attorney-General's second reading speech before the 38th Parliament was prorogued. The background to the statute stocktake is further discussed in Bills Digest No. 12 of 1998 on the Statute Stocktake Bill 1998 by Moira Coombs and Bills Digest No. 24 of 1996 on the Statute Law Revision Bill 1996 by Ian Ireland.

 

Main Provisions

Clause 2 provides that the Act commences when it receives Royal Assent, except for the amendments to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 contained in Part 6 of Schedule 2, which do not commence until a section 8AAB is inserted in the Taxation Administration Act 1953. The latter amendments will commence on Royal Assent if a section 8AAB has been inserted by that time.

Clause 3 provides that each Act referred to in a Schedule to the Bill is amended or repealed as set out in the Schedule. The repeal of an Act does not affect the operation of any amendment of another Act which was made by the Act being repealed.

Clause 4 repeals the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, an Imperial Act, so far as it forms part of the law of the Commonwealth or an external Territory. It provides that section 8 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, which sets out the effect of repealing an Act, applies to the repeal as if the Merchant Shipping Act had been an Act of the Australian Parliament.

Schedule 1--Acts repealed

Part 1--Repeal

Item 1 of Schedule 1 repeals 95 Acts. The Explanatory Memorandum states that these Acts have "no current or future operation."(2) Due to the large number of Acts which the Bill proposes to repeal, this Bills Digest does not provide an Act by Act analysis of the effect of the repeals. Bills Digest clients who require an analysis of specified Acts being repealed should contact the relevant subject specialist in the Parliamentary Research Service or Fiona Walker on (02) 6277 2513.

A selection of Acts specified in Schedule 1 are briefly discussed:

Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977

The Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977 is one of the Acts which Schedule 1 of the Bill proposes to repeal. Section 7 of the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act provides for the establishing of a National Legal Aid Advisory Committee. The Act also provides for the transferring of certain Commonwealth employees to State and Territory legal aid commissions.(3) Section 9 of the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act provides that the functions of the Committee are to advise and make recommendations to the Minister on issues such as the extent of the need for legal assistance in Australia and the most effective, economical and desirable means of satisfying that need, as well as the level of Commonwealth funds to be provided for legal assistance.

On 2 May 1994, the Access to Justice Advisory Committee, chaired by the Hon. Justice Ronald Sackville, presented its report Access to Justice - an Action Plan to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. The Report noted that NLAAC was not designed to provide a lead in developing Commonwealth strategies on legal aid(4), and proposed to establish an Australian Legal Aid Commission. In May 1995, the then Prime Minister announced the abolition of the National Legal Aid Advisory Committee, which was replaced by the Australian Legal Assistance Board.

Companies (Acquisition of Shares - Fees) Act 1980

The Companies (Acquisition of Shares - Fees) Act provides for fees to be paid for the lodgment, registration, production, issuing, and so on of documents under the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Act 1980. As the 'parent' Act has been replaced by Chapter 6 of the Corporations Law, which regulates the acquisition of shares, the Companies (Acquisition of Shares - Fees) Act is now redundant.

Companies (Fees) Act 1981

The Companies (Fees) Act 1981 provides for fees to be paid for the lodgment, registration, production, issuing, etc. of documents under the Companies Act 1981. As the 'parent' Act has been replaced by the Corporations Law, the Companies (Fees) Act is now redundant.

Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946

The Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act was enacted primarily to make provision for the security and defence of the Commonwealth during the post-World War II transition from war conditions to peace.

Environment (Financial Assistance) Act 1977

The Environment (Financial Assistance) Act 1977 provides for financial assistance to the States for environmental projects. Section 4 of the Act allows the Minister to agree with a State on financial assistance, which may be in the form of a loan, to be provided by the Commonwealth to the State under the Act in respect of amounts spent by the State or an approved body on projects related to the environment.

Item 2 provides that despite the repeal of this Act, States must repay to the Commonwealth any amount that they would have been obliged to repay had the Act not been repealed.

Matrimonial Causes Act 1971

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1971 makes certain provisions for purported decrees under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959, which was repealed by the Family Law Act 1975.

Telecommunications (Interception - Carriers) Act 1992

The Telecommunications (Interception-Carriers) Act 1992 was enacted to delay the commencement of certain changes to the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979. Section 3 provides that certain definitions in the Telecommunications (Interception) Act are taken to have continued in operation until immediately before the licensing time, which is the latest time when a licence granted under the Telecommunications Act 1991 (now replaced by the Telecommunications Act 1997) came into force. The operation of the Telecommunications (Interception-Carriers) Act 1992 is therefore spent.

Part 2--Savings provisions

Part 2 of Schedule 1 makes savings provisions for some of the Acts where this is relevant. The Explanatory Memorandum states that in doing so, the Bill "does not infringe rights that anyone else has now."(5)

Item 2 provides that States must repay to the Commonwealth any amount they would have been obliged to repay if the Environment (Financial Assistance) Act 1977 had not been repealed.

Item 3 provides that despite the repeal of the 1978-1984 and 1988 States Grants (Schools Assistance) Acts, the conditions placed on grants under these Acts, and any obligation to repay money to the Commonwealth if the conditions were not met, apply as if the Acts had not been repealed.

Item 5 continues the exemption from liability in section 7 of the Temple Society Trust Fund Act 1949. The Act provides for arrangements in relation to the payment of money by the United Kingdom to the Commonwealth. The payments arose due to the immigration of certain members of a communal body known as the Temple Society, which was situated in Palestine. Section 7 of that Act provides that neither the Commonwealth nor the Minister are liable in connection with anything done or omitted to be done in relation to the Fund or in relation to any payment of money under that Act.

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

Item 1 removes references to two repealed Acts from section 33 of the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988. Consequently, the section only permits the Minister from deducting money out of an amount payable to a State, authority or organisation, where the State, authority or organisation owes money to the Commonwealth under the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988.

Item 2 repeals section 40 of the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988. The section provides for the closing of two road development and land transport funds at the end of 30 April 1989, or an earlier date if determined by the Minister. Section 40 made provision for the repayment of money under the repealed Australian Bicentennial Road Development Trust Fund Act 1982 and the Australian Land Transport (Financial Assistance) Act 1985 into the Reserve. The section provided for the payment of money in an existing fund to the States and approved organisations prior to closing the funds on 30 April 1989, and for the repayment of money into the Australian Land Transport Development Reserve after the funds were closed. Section 40 also provides that where projects were approved under particular provisions of the two repealed Acts any money that would have been paid out of an existing fund may only be expended on a project or program approved by the Minister.

Item 3 repeals Schedule 1 of the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988, which provides monetary limitations on allocations made before 1 July 1989 for State and Territory arterial roads and local roads.

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

Item 4 amends the National Crime Authority Act 1984 so that its definition of "legal aid officer" does not use the definition in the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977, which this Bill proposes to repeal.

Item 5 inserts new subsection 87(6AA) into the Public Service Act 1922, so that subsection 87(6) continues to apply notwithstanding the repeal of section 3 and Part IV of the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act. The effect of this is that Part IV of the Public Service Act, which covers officers holding public offices or employed by public authorities, continues to apply to certain persons while they are employed by an approved legal aid commission or hold an approved statutory office within the meaning of the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977, due to the operation of subsection 87(6) of the Public Service Act. Note that Item 304 of the Public Employment (Consequential & Transitional) Amendment Bill 1999 also affects the operation of the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act, Part IV of which it proposes to repeal.

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

Items 7 to 13 make amendments to various Acts consequent to the proposed repeal of various Acts dealing with companies, futures and securities.

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

Item 14 omits references to Acts which Schedule 1 proposes to repeal from Schedule 1 of the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997, which excludes those Acts from the operation of the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act, so far as they relate to intellectual property rights.

Item 15 amends the definition of 'war widow' in the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 so that the definition does not refer to widows receiving a pension or compensation under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946, which Schedule 1 of the Bill proposes to repeal.

Part 5--Amendment relating to primary industry levies and charges

Item 16 repeals a reference to decisions made under the Dried Vine Fruits Equalization Levy Act 1978, which the Bill proposes to repeal.

Part 6--Amendment relating to other tax legislation

Items 17 to 33 make consequential amendments to legislation relating to tax, primarily to remove references to legislation which the Bill proposes to repeal, and make savings provisions.

Items 20-22 remove references to statutes which Schedule 1 of the Bill proposes to repeal, from Schedule 1 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977. Schedule 1 of the AD(JR) Act lists classes of administrative decisions that can not be reviewed under that Act. Item 23 clarifies that the removal of references to statutes which are proposed to be repealed from Schedule 1 of the AD(JR) Act does not make decisions under those statutes become reviewable under the AD(JR) Act.

Part 7--Amendment relating to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1971

Item 34 makes a consequential amendment to subsection 3(3) of the Family Law Act 1975.

Part 8--Amendment relating to the States Grants (Roads Interim Assistance) Act 1977

Item 35 makes a consequential amendment to subsection 35(4) of the States Grants (Roads) Act 1977.

Part 9--Amendment relating to the Tuberculosis Act 1948

Items 36 to 48 make consequential amendments to Acts affected by the repeal of the Tuberculosis Act 1948 and clarify the application of these amendments.

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

Items 49 to 59 make consequential amendments to Acts affected by the repeal of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945 and clarify the application of the amendments.

Item 52 amends the Public Service Act 1922 so that the definition of "returned soldier" is a person who is a member of the Forces within the meaning of section 139 of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945 immediately before its repeal. As the previous definition in the Public Service Act used the definition of "returned soldier" in both section 4 and section 139, it is not clear why the new definition does not make reference to section 4 as well, given that the definitions used in sections 4 and 139 are different.

Part 11--Amendment relating to the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 (Imperial)

Part 11 makes consequential amendments to the Navigation Act 1912 in so far as it is affected by the proposed repeal of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 (Imperial).

Endnotes

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

  2. Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Stocktake Bill 1999, p. 3.

  3. The Public Employment (Consequential and Transitional) Amendment Bill 1999 proposes to repeal Part IV of the Commonwealth Legal Aid Act 1977, which provides for the transfer of certain persons employed by the Commonwealth to Legal Aid Commissions of the States and Territories.

  4. Access to Justice - an Action Plan, Access to Justice Advisory Committee, 1994, p. 248.

  5. Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Stocktake Bill 1999, p. 3.

 

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Fiona Walker
13 May 1999
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 1999

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, 1999.

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