Thursday, 9 February 2017
Statute Update (A.C.T. Self-Government (Consequential Provisions) Regulations) Bill 2016; Second Reading
This bill, the Statute Update (A.C.T. Self-Government (Consequential Provisions) Regulations) Bill 2016, will ensure that 18 Commonwealth acts continue to apply to the ACT following the sunset of the A.C.T. Self-Government (Consequential Provisions) Regulations in 2018. At present the text of applicable Commonwealth law in the ACT relies on the A.C.T. Self-Government (Consequential Provisions) Regulations, also known as the ASGR. The ASGR made modifications to the application of 47 acts following the establishment of self-government in the ACT. Whilst some of the modifications made by the ASGR were subsequently incorporated into the relevant Commonwealth acts, in the case of 18 acts they were not.
This bill would make minor technical amendments to those remaining 18 acts across nine portfolios to incorporate the modifications made by the ASGR. This would allow the repeal of schedule 1 and regulation 2 of the ASGR and move the function of the subordinate legislation into the primary legislation. The amendments would not impact on the policy intent or the effect of the modified Commonwealth legislation. This is not been an issue before now because while the texts are the same and Commonwealth laws do not refer to the ACT a court currently reads that Commonwealth acts apply in the ACT because of the operation of the ASGR. The ASGR sunsets in 2018, so this bill will amend the remaining 18 Commonwealth acts to ensure that the legislation will continue to apply in the ACT.
The Statute Update (A.C.T. Self-Government (Consequential Provisions) Regulations) Bill 2016 will ensure that Commonwealth laws apply more clearly in respect of the ACT and, in the spirit of reducing red tape, simplify and reduce the amount of legislation users need to consult when doing business in the ACT.
As it currently stands, some Commonwealth laws rely on the ACT Self-Government (Consequential Provisions) Regulations to apply to the ACT. The text of these laws does not explicitly refer to the ACT. Instead, the regulations modify these laws to apply them to the ACT. This bill will amend these Commonwealth laws to directly refer to the ACT and remove the need to consult the regulations. This reform will reduce the complexity associated with the regulations, simplify the application of Commonwealth laws in respect of the ACT and make it easier for users to interpret the law. Without this reform, many users may not consider the effect of the regulations and may make errors in interpreting the law.
This bill will also address the impending sunsetting of the regulations in 2018. If the regulations sunset and this bill is not passed, the affected Commonwealth laws may no longer apply to the ACT. This bill will ensure that the affected Commonwealth laws continue to apply to the ACT. The operation of the laws themselves will not change. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.