Bills Digest no. 103 2014–15
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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.
Law and Bills Digest Section
12 May 2015
of the Bill
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights
Key issues and provisions
Date introduced: 18
House: House of
formal provisions commence on the day of Royal Assent and the substantive
provisions come into effect 28 days later.
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
When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they
become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw
To remove a significant number of ‘spent Acts’ – amending
or repealing Acts which are no longer required as the legal changes they were
designed to make have occurred.
The Bill was introduced with the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015
and the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015.
It is part of a package of repeal Bills which include the Statute Law
Revision Bill (No. 2) 2014, the Amending Acts
1970 to 1979 Repeal Bill 2014 and the
Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2014) Bill 2014.
The first two of these earlier Bills were given Royal Assent on
25 February 2015 while, as at the time of writing, the latter is still
before the Parliament.
The Bills Digests to the earlier Bills give the background
to what has been treated as a package of amendments. In summary this Bill
functions as a legislative clean-up, or statute revision Bill, removing from
the list of current Acts a series of Acts which amended or repealed principal
legislation. Since their operative effect is no longer relevant to the body of
Australian laws they may be repealed without any significant consequence. The
amendments or repeals have either taken effect on the principal Act, or the
changes are no longer operative because the ‘head’ Act has been repealed. In
either case, as the Explanatory Memorandum points out, none of the repeals to
be effected by this Bill make any change to the substance of the law. 
However, with an abundance of caution, the Explanatory Memorandum notes that:
It is considered that none of the application, saving or
transitional provisions in the Acts to be repealed have ongoing effect. However,
the operation of those provisions is preserved to provide certainty in the
event that their effect is not in fact completely spent. The Acts do not
contain any other substantive provisions which are not already spent. 
The Senate Standing Committee for the Selection of Bills
resolved not to refer the Bill to a committee.
The Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills
had no comment on the Bill.
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 as it does not engage any
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights had no
comment on the Bill, agreeing that it does not raise any relevant issues.
According to the Explanatory Memorandum the Bill has no
There are arrangements in some Australian
jurisdictions whereby amending Acts, such as the amending Acts being removed by
this Bill, are automatically removed from the statute books. This happens once
their purpose has been fulfilled. Both the ACT (section 89 (Automatic repeal of certain laws and
provisions), Legislation Act 2001 (ACT)) and Queensland (section 22C (Automatic repeal of amending Act) Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld))
have such legislative provisions.
Another drafting practice which is used to
ensure that ‘spent Acts’ do not remain on the statute books is the inclusion of
specific clauses (sunsetting clauses) repealing the legislation in question
once its purpose is complete (or once it cannot be completed). Thus, for
instance, since 2007, Victoria includes in all amending Acts a provision
(generally the last provision) which repeals the amending Act after a fixed
period of time.
The Victorian Scrutiny of Acts and
Regulations Committee suggested this drafting approach on the basis that it
would save the time and expense of having to repeal amending Acts in a statute
law revision Bill.
The Commonwealth has automated the process
of repealing or sunsetting legislative instruments (the Legislative Instruments
Act 2003, Part 5A (Repeal of spent legislative instruments and provisions)
and Part 6 (Sunsetting of legislative instruments)) but has yet to automate the
process of removing spent amending Acts, hence the need for this Bill to remove
legislation that has served its purpose and no longer has any legislative
Schedule 1 repeals 870 obsolete or redundant
amending or repeal Acts. The repealed Acts will continue to be accessible
through the historical databases on Comlaw and other electronic legal sites.
Subclause 3(2) provides that if an Act listed in Schedule
1 includes any application, saving or transitional provision, any ongoing
operation of the provision is preserved.
Section 7 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth)
provides that repealing an Act that repealed another Act (the original Act)
does not revive anything that was in force in the original Act prior to the
commencement of the repealing Act.
The Bill is part of a process of legislative
‘housekeeping’ which is commonly engaged in by all jurisdictions which do not
automate the process of repeal. The repetitive nature of this ‘cleaning-up’
process is shown by the need to package such Bills. The Bill is unlikely to be
Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain
further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2500.
two accompanying Bills and their Digests are:
Parliament of Australia, ‘Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015
homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 30 March 2015; T
Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015, Bills digest, 97, 2014–15,
Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2015, accessed 8 May 2015;
Parliament of Australia, ‘Statute Law Revision
Bill (No. 2) 2015 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 30
March 2015; C Petrie, Statute Law Revision Bill
(No. 2) 2015, Bills digest, 90, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library,
Canberra, 2015, accessed 5 May 2015.
the Bills digest on these Bills, see J Murphy, Statute
Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2014, Bills digest, 48, 2014–15,
Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014; K Magarey, Amending Acts
1970 to 1979 Repeal Bill 2014, Bills digest, 57,
2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014; D Spooner, Omnibus Repeal
Day (Spring 2014) Bill 2014, Bills digest, 62, 2014–15,
Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, all accessed
25 March 2015.
Acts 1980 to 1989 Repeal Bill 2015 p. 2, accessed 12 May 2015.
. Ibid., p. 4.
Standing Committee for Selection of Bills, Report
No. 4 for 2015, The Senate, Canberra, 2015, accessed 2 May 2015.
Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, Alert
Digest No. 4 of 2015, The Senate, Canberra, 2015, p. 1, accessed
12 May 2015.
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at page 3 of the
Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.
Joint Committee on Human Rights, Twenty-first
report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, Canberra, 24 March 2015, p.
1, accessed 12 May 2015.
Memorandum, op. cit., p. 3.
. With respect to this paragraph and others on the topic I am indebted
to the ACT Parliamentary Counsel’s Office for sharing their internal working
documents examining ‘Automatic Repeal’ (‘Automatic repeal of legislation –
research’ and ‘Automatic repeal of legislation – talking points’). These
documents may be requested from the ACT Parliamentary Counsel’s Office.
for example, section 10 of the Corrections
Amendment (Further Parole Reform) Act 2014 (Vic), accessed 2 May 2015.
. ACT Parliamentary Counsel's Office, ‘Automatic
Repeal of legislation – research’, op. cit.
. Legislative Instruments
Act 2003, accessed 12 May 2015.
. Acts Interpretation Act
1901 (Cth), section 7, accessed 12 May 2015.
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