Statute Law Revision Bill 2012 - Second Reading

Ms BIRD (Cunningham—Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education and Skills) (17:30): On behalf of the Attorney-General, I thank members for their contribution to the debate on the Statute Law Revision Bill 2012. This bill may not be the most controversial to have been introduced in this term of parliament, but it is a testament to the dedication and attention to detail of government drafters to make sure that the Commonwealth statute book is free from error or ambiguity. I am encouraged that such bills continue to attract bipartisan support in this parliament and applaud the speakers for digging deep to find some interesting components of these largely technical changes.

The government is proud to facilitate and support the passage of statute law revision bills, which perform a vital service in improving the quality of Commonwealth legislation. The regular review of legislation by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel enables minor errors in the Commonwealth statute books to be efficiently addressed and improves the accuracy and usability of Commonwealth acts.

These improvements reflect the government's commitment to creating clearer and more accessible Commonwealth laws, an important component of our agenda to improve access to justice. We have seen this in other recent bills, including the Legislative Instruments Act (Sunsetting Measures) Bill, which will assist in the removal of thousands of redundant regulations over coming years, and the Access to Justice (Federal Jurisdiction) Amendment Bill, which will reform court discovery processes and better define and deal with vexatious litigants who clog up court time.

This bill also makes a small but useful amendment by removing specific references to the Civil Aviation Regulations, replacing them with references to the principal act, which are more generic and flexible. Current drafting practice is to avoid referring to particular regulations by name. This reduces the risk of reader confusion and error in cases where the names of the regulations change or the contents of the regulations alter.

Additionally, this bill amends references to specific ministers and departments, and in doing so will have a particular impact on the clarity and usability of a large number of Commonwealth laws. By inserting generic references to the names of ministers and departments, the bill will allow users of legislation to more easily identify the appropriate minister or department with relevant authority under an act, even after machinery-of-government changes occur.

The Office of Parliamentary Counsel works closely with the Attorney-General's Department and other agencies to obtain and assess possible amendments to include in statute law revision bills. I commend the office for the quality of this bill and for its commitment to maintaining the accuracy and clarity of Commonwealth laws. I therefore commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.