Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Scrutiny of Bills Committee; Report
Mr Deputy President, I do not think that I have had the opportunity to congratulate you on your election. It is well deserved. I present the seventh report of 2008 of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. I also lay on the table Scrutiny of Bills Alert Digest No. 7 of 2008, dated 27 August 2008.
Ordered that the report be printed.
That the Senate take note of the report.
I seek leave to have my tabling statement incorporated in Hansard.
The statement read as follows—
In tabling the Committee’s Alert Digest No. 6 of 2008, I was highly critical of the quality of the explanatory memoranda for the package of four Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) bills. These bills included, among other things, confusing commencement provisions and numerous strict liability provisions, which were poorly explained, or not explained at all, in the accompanying explanatory memoranda.
The Committee’s Seventh Report of 2008, which I am tabling today, includes comments from the Minister for Resources and Energy in response to the issues raised by the Committee about these bills. I would like to congratulate the Minister on his comprehensive and informative response, which provides clear rationale for the strict liability provisions, and addresses other matters that had caused the Committee some concern.
It is unfortunate that this information was not included in the explanatory memoranda to these bills. The Scrutiny of Bills Committee places considerable reliance on explanatory memoranda in determining whether or not provisions in bills raise concerns within its terms of reference. If the explanatory memoranda are lacking, then the Committee must seek additional advice from Ministers, as it did in this case, creating additional work for all concerned.
On behalf of the Committee, I would also like to thank the Minister for his commitment to amend the commencement provisions for these bills. As they currently stand, the commencement provisions are confusing and commonly link commencement of provisions in these bills to the commencement of provisions in other Acts, which in turn were linked to commencement provisions in yet more Acts.
The Minister’s commitment to move amendments, simplifying the commencement provisions of these bills, is welcomed by the Committee. Such amendments will assist the reader to ascertain when it is intended for the various provisions to come into effect.
I commend the Committee’s Seventh Report of 2008 and Alert Digest No. 7 of 2008 to the Senate.
Question agreed to.