Senate debates

Friday, 22 June 2012


Parliamentary Counsel and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012; Second Reading

12:09 pm

Photo of Gary HumphriesGary Humphries (ACT, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Materiel) Share this | Hansard source

The national vocational education and training legislation, important legislation, again expending millions of dollars, has got 40 minutes in which the Australian parliament can decide what is important and what is not about this legislation. That is disgraceful.

Senator Bilyk interjecting—

You would be able to get up and have your say as well, Senator Bilyk, except there is no time left. You have cut the time short. There will be no time left for you to have your say about this legislation.

We have here a very serious problem with the process, even though, as Senator Cash pointed out, this legislation is not exceptional. I think it is important for us to be able to bring together the resources of two disparate arms of the Commonwealth drafting function into the one office, the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. That of itself is an important, uncontroversial development that makes it easier for legislation to be properly drafted, and I think that is a rational use of resources. But I have to say that the one thing about this process that fills me with some dread is that by providing for the expanding volume and complexity of Commonwealth legislation to be managed more effectively and efficiently in this one office, we are, sadly, going to abet the process whereby the Australian government has spectacularly dishonoured one of its promises.

I know there is not much point in my getting up here and talking about the broken promises of the Labor Party. That is old news. It is a different story every day; this is only one more story to add to the list. But among the millions of promises the Labor Party appears to have made, it made a promise at the last election that for every piece of regulation it imposed on the Australian community it would take another one off—put one on, take one off. That is a sensible idea for every Australian household, every Australian business, every person in employment, every person who drives a car, every person who operates a farm and everybody subject to thousands of regulations. There are, frankly, too many regulations for the average citizen to understand and be able to work to and obey. So the promise was made to remove some regulations.

That is not what has actually happened. This government has been able to repeal some regulations. It has repealed a total of 86 regulations under the life of the Rudd and Gillard governments. Great, they have removed that burden from Australians. Unfortunately, while repealing the 86 regulations through the consolidated offices we are now considering, they have at the same time added a few more.


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