Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015

Bills Digest no. 90 2014–15

PDF version  [550KB]

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.

Claire Petrie 
Law and Bills Digest Section 
8 April 2015 

 

Contents

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

 

Date introduced:  18 March 2015
House:  House of Representatives
Portfolio:  Attorney-General
Commencement: Sections 1 to 3 commence on Royal Assent. Schedule 1, items 1 to 3 and 5 of Schedule 2, and Schedules 3 to 6 commence on the 28th day after Royal Assent. Item 4 of Schedule 2 commences retrospectively on 3 November 2014. Part 2 of Schedule 2 commences retrospectively on 1 September 2014.

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill’s home page, or through the Australian Parliament website.

When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw website.

Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015 (the Bill) is to correct technical errors, repeal spent and obsolete provisions and Acts, clarify the operation of certain provisions and modernise the language used in Acts.

Structure of the Bill

The Bill contains six schedules.

  • Schedule 1 amends technical and other errors in 16 Acts
  • Schedule 2 corrects errors in three amending Acts and one amending Regulation
  • Schedule 3 amends provisions in 37 Acts in relation to binding the Crown
  • Schedule 4 updates terminology in 33 Acts
  • Schedule 5 removes spent and obsolete provisions
  • Schedule 6 repeals six spent Acts.

Background

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister notes in his second reading speech that the Bill:

... continues the work of repealing spent or redundant legislation and correcting minor errors in the Commonwealth statute book. By removing obsolete provisions and correcting outdated terminology, the Bill makes improvements to the Acts it amends without making substantive changes to the law.

The Bill improves accuracy and useability of Commonwealth legislation, thereby reducing the burden of regulatory compliance for individuals and businesses.[1]

The Bill was introduced into Parliament as a component of the Government’s 2015 autumn repeal day package alongside the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015[2] and the Amending Acts 1980 to 1989 Repeal Bill 2015.[3] As with similar ‘repeal day’ legislation introduced in 2014,[4] the package is presented as part of the Government’s commitment to reducing regulatory ‘red tape’.[5]

Statute law revision Acts and statute stocktake Acts have been passed on a regular basis since 1934 as a means of cutting ‘dead wood’ from the statute book and correcting mistakes in drafting.[6] They are traditionally non‑controversial and regarded as an ‘essential tool in the process of keeping orderly, accurate and up-to-date Commonwealth statute books’.[7]

Committee consideration

Senate Selection of Bills Committee

The Senate Section of Bills Committee resolved that the Bill not be referred to a Committee.[8]

Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills

The Scrutiny Committee had no comment on this Bill.[9]

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

The Committee notes in its report that the Bill does not appear to give rise to human rights concerns.[10]

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.[11]

Policy position of non-government parties/independents

At the time of writing, the position of non-government parties and independents had not been publically articulated. Whilst supporting the passage of the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2014, Mark Dreyfus, Deputy Manager of Opposition Business and Shadow Attorney-General, questioned the Bill being presented as a deregulatory measure:

The parliament has introduced such bills with regularity since 1934. They are ... a matter of 'housekeeping'. These Bills correct drafting errors, update cross-references and remove spent or obsolete provisions. These Bills serve a worthy purpose—they maintain the tidiness of the statute book. This is an ongoing task for this and other parliaments.

But this is not bold deregulatory reform; it is routine work undertaken by all modern governments.[12]

Financial implications

The Explanatory Memorandum notes that the Bill will have no financial impact.[13]

Key issues and provisions

Schedule 1—Amendments of principal Acts

The proposed amendments to sixteen principal Acts listed in Schedule 1 of the Bill, (items 1 to 18), involve minor amendments to:

  • correct typographical and grammatical errors (for example, errors in punctuation, spelling and paragraph lettering)
  • fix incorrect cross-references, incorrect citations and references to incorrect concepts
  • repeal redundant definitions and
  • remove redundant paragraphs.

These amendments commence on the 28th day after Royal Assent.

Schedule 2—Amendments of amending laws

Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Bill (items 1 to 3) repeals redundant Division and Part headings. Those items commence on the 28th day after Royal Assent.

Item 4 fixes a misdescribed amendment in the commencement provision (section 2) of the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act 2014 (Foreign Fighters Act).[14] Currently item 6 of the table in section 2 of the Foreign Fighters Act provides for an amendment to subsection 487ZI(1) of the Migration Act 1958 to commence immediately after the commencement of table item 1, that is, on 3 November 2014.[15] However, section 487ZI was only inserted into the Migration Act on 4 November 2014, and therefore could not be amended before that time.[16] Item 4 amends item 6 of the table in section 2 of the Foreign Fighters Act, so that it will commence immediately after the commencement of the amendment that inserted section 487ZI into the Migration Act. Item 4 of Schedule 2 of the Bill commences on 3 November 2014.

Item 5 fixes a minor typographical error in the Medibank Private Sale Act 2006.[17] The amendment commences on the 28th day after Royal Assent.

Part 2 of Schedule 2 (item 6) proposes to amend the commencement text of the Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Flight Crew Licensing) Regulation 2014 (2014 Regulation) to clarify the date of the 2014 Regulation’s commencement.[18] Section 2 of the 2014 Regulation currently provides that the Regulation commences immediately after the commencement of the Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Flight Crew Licensing and Other Matters) Regulation 2013 (2013 Regulation).[19] However, parts of the 2013 Regulation commenced on two different dates–on either the day after registration (that is, 18 December 2013) or 1 September 2014. Accordingly, the commencement time specified in the 2014 Regulation is unclear. Item 6 of Schedule 2 of the Bill will amend section 2 of the 2014 Regulation to provide that the Regulation commences immediately after the commencement of Schedule 1 to the 2013 Regulation (that is, 1 September 2014). This amendment commences on 1 September 2014.

Schedule 3—Binding the Crown

Schedule 3 of the Bill (items 1 to 38) proposes amending thirty-seven Acts with regards to the operation of provisions ‘binding the Crown’ in right of the Commonwealth, states and territories. A number of provisions which pre-date Northern Territory (NT) and/or Australian Capital Territory (ACT) self-government do not mention one or both of these Territories. The proposed amendments in Schedule 3 clarify that the Crown is bound in right of the ACT and of the NT.

These amendments are for the sake of clarity only—they do not have substantive effect. As noted in the Explanatory Memorandum, section 69A of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988[20] and section 51 of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978[21] provide that if an Act binds each of the states, or the Crown in right of each of the states, that Act also binds the relevant territory, or the Crown in right of the territory, unless it specifically provides otherwise.[22]

Schedule 3 also modernises the language used by these Acts in respect of the Crown’s liability to be prosecuted for an offence. The amendments in this Schedule commence on the 28th day after Royal Assent.

Schedule 4—Terminology changes

Proposed amendments in Schedule 4 of the Bill modernise the terminology used in thirty-three Acts.

Part 1 (items 1 to 45) proposes amending indexation provisions which rely on the Consumer Price Index to remove the phrase ‘reference base’ and replace it with ‘index reference period’. The Explanatory Memorandum states that ‘the Australian Bureau of Statistics now prefers the terminology of “index reference period” rather than “reference base”’.[23] The changes have no legal effect.

Part 2 (items 46 to 47) proposes to amend two Acts to replace the gender-specific term ‘Chairman’ with ‘Chair’. This continues the process commenced in earlier statute law revision Acts of ensuring that legislation contains gender-neutral language.

The amendments in Schedule 4 of the Bill commence on the 28th day after Royal Assent.

Schedule 5—Repeal of spent and obsolete provisions

Schedule 5 of the Bill repeals spent or obsolete provisions in two Acts. Item 1 amends the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977[24] to remove references to the Australian Honey Board, Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation, Australian Wheat Board and Australian Wool Corporation. These bodies no longer exist.

Item 2 repeals redundant sections of the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990[25] which validate certain entitlements on commencement of that Act, continue in force determinations made under earlier legislation, and contain transitional provisions. Item 3 specifies that the impact of any action lawfully taken under the repealed sections while they were in existence is preserved after their repeal.

The amendments in Schedule 5 of the Bill commence on the 28th day after Royal Assent.

Schedule 6—Spent Acts

Schedule 6 of the Bill repeals six Acts which are now spent Acts. These amendments commence on the 28th day after Royal Assent.

Concluding comments

Statute law revision Bills such as this play an important and ongoing role in ensuring that Commonwealth legislation is clear, accurate and accessible and that the statute book remains in ‘proper order’.

 

Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2500.



[1].         C Porter, ‘Second reading speech: Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015’, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 March 2015, p. 8, accessed 30 March 2015.

[2].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 2 April 2015.

[3].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Amending Acts 1980 to 1989 Repeal Bill 2015 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 2 April 2015.

[4].         See, for example, the Statute Law Revision Act (No. 1) 2014; Statute Law Revision Act (No. 1) 2015; Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Act 2014; Amending Acts 1901 to 1969 Repeal Act 2014; Amending Acts 1970 to 1979 Repeal Act 2015.

[5].         C Porter, ‘Second reading speech: Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015’, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 March 2015, p. 5, accessed 30 March 2015.

[6].         J Murphy, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2014, Bills digest, 48, 2014-15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, accessed 31 March 2015; M Coombs, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 1) 2014, Bills digest, 62, 2013-14, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, accessed 31 March 2015.

[7].         D Spooner, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2010, Bills digest, 60, 2010-11, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2011, p. 2, accessed 30 March 2015.

[8].         Selection of Bills Committee, Report No. 4 of 2015, The Senate, Canberra, 26 March 2015, accessed 30 March 2015.

[9].         Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, Alert Digest No. 4 of 2015, The Senate, Canberra, 25 March 2015, p. 36, accessed 7 April 2015.

[10].      Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Twenty-first report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, Canberra, 24 March 2015, p. 1, accessed 30 March 2015.

[11].      The Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at page 3 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.

[12].      M Dreyfus, ‘Second reading speech: Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2014) Bill 2014, Amending Acts 1970 to 1979 Repeal Bill 2014, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2014’, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 October 2014, p. 12484, accessed 31 March 2015.

[13].      Explanatory Memorandum, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015, p. 2, accessed 30 March 2015.

[14].      Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act 2014, accessed 2 April 2015.

[15].      Migration Act 1958, accessed 7 April 2015.

[16].      Section 487ZI was inserted into the Migration Act by item 3 of Schedule 7 of the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act 2014, which commenced on the day after that Act received Royal Assent, which was 4 November 2014. See table item 5 of section 2 of the Foreign Fighters Act.

[17].      Medibank Private Sale Act 2006, accessed 2 April 2015.

[18].      Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Flight Crew Licensing) Regulation 2014, accessed 2 April 2015.

[19].      Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Flight Crew Licensing and Other Matters) Regulation 2013, accessed 7 April 2015.

[20].      Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988, accessed 2 April 2015.

[21].      Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978, accessed 2 April 2015.

[22].      Explanatory Memorandum, op. cit., p. 10.

[23].      Ibid., p. 11.

[24].      Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977, accessed 2 April 2015.

[25].      Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990, accessed 2 April 2015.

 

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