Statute Law Revision Act 1973 ~ Hansard Debates.

House of Representatives
12 December 1973

28th Parliament · 1st Session

 

 

STATUTE LAW REVISION BILL 1973

Bill presented by Mr Enderby, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr ENDERBY:
Minister for Secondary Industry and Minister for Supply · Australian Capital Territory · ALP

– -I move:

Honourable members are probably aware that on 9 October this year my colleague the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) made a statement in the Senate announcing that the Government had decided to publish in bound volumes a consolidation of the Acts passed by the Australian Parliament as in force at the end of this year. The Attorney-General pointed out that the reprint of the Acts is a massive task, and referred to the fact that when the last consolidation of Australian Acts took place, which was as long ago as 1950, the publication ran to 5 volumes of Acts and an additional volume of tables, indexes and materials of that kind. The Attorney-General said that the amount of legislation since that time has been such that it is estimated that, by the end of this year, the Acts of the Australian Parliament will run to some 11,000 pages, which is more than twice the size of the previous consolidation, and that the new consolidation will probably extend to some 11 volumes each of about 1,000 pages.

Honourable members are probably also aware that the Government Printer is using new Photon equipment for the printing of Hansard. This equipment will also be used in connection with the printing of the consolidation and should be of tremendous help. The Attorney-General is hopeful that, by using this equipment, the first volume of the consolidation will be published in June 1974 and each subsequent volume will be published at monthly intervals. The aim is to complete the project by June 1975. As the AttorneyGeneral has said, this time-table is an immense improvement on the last consolidation, which took some 5 years to complete, notwithstanding that that publication was only half the size of the one now proposed. As already mentioned, the last consolidation took place a long time ago – in 1950. Notwithstanding the fact that the more important Australian Acts are regularly published in pamphlet form, this new consolidation is long overdue and will be of tremendous assistance to persons, both lawyers and others, in finding provisions in Australian Acts. It is well known to anyone who practises law that one of the greatest troubles that any lawyer faces is finding his law. If he has to spend a lot of unnecessary time finding it, it is expensive and it is reflected in the expense which inevitably, unfortunately, is passed on to the client or the consumer. This consolidation of Acts will help in large measure to overcome that problem and make the law easier to find. The year 1950 is indeed a long time ago..

An important preliminary step in the program of publishing the consolidation is the enactment of the Bill now before the House. To repeat the rather apt phrase that was used in 1934 by the then Attorney-General when introducing the Statute Law Revision Bill of that year, and used again in 1950 by the Attorney-General of that time, the main object of the Bill is ‘merely to cut away the dead wood on the statute-book’. Although this is its main object, the Bill goes further than the repeal of obsolete Acts and provisions in Acts. It also corrects errors and up dates some matters of form. In short, the Bill will clear the way for the consolidation, and will substantially reduce its volume and improve its form. I would like to assure honourable members that the Bill will not effect any change in substance in the law. Having in mind the object of the Bill, particularly when that object is considered as clearing the way for the publication of the consolidation, I am sure that the Bill will be supported by both sides of the House and be given a speedy passage. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.

page 4596

 

 

Senate
13 December 1973

28th Parliament · 1st Session

STATUTE LAW REVISION BILL 1973

Bill received from the House of Representatives.

Standing Orders suspended.

Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.

Second Reading

Senator MURPHY:
New South WalesAttorneyGeneral · ALP

 

 

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I ask that the second reading speech, which is being circulated, be incorporated in Hansard.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-

Honourable senators will recall that, on 9 October this year, I informed the Senate that the Government had decided to publish in bound volumes a consolidation of the Acts passed by the Australian Parliament as in force at the end of this year. I said that the reprinting of the Acts would be a massive task, and made the point that, when the last consolidation of Australian Acts took place in 1950, the publication ran to 5 volumes of Acts and an additional volume of tables, indexes and materials of that kind, but that the 1973 publication would be more than twice that size.

I also pointed out that the Government Printer would be using the new Photon equipment in connection with the printing of the consolidation. This is the equipment that is now in use for printing of Hansard. I expect that, with the help of this equipment, the time taken to produce the consolidation will be considerably less than the 5 years taken to produce the 1950 consolidation notwithstanding that the new consolidation will be twice as large as the earlier one. In fact, I am hopeful that the first volume of the new consolidation will be published in June next year and that each subsequent volume will be published at monthly intervals. My aim is to have the project completed by June 1975.

Reprints of the more important Australian Acts are, of course, regularly published in pamphlet form. However, a new consolidation in bound volume is long overdue and, I have no doubt, will be welcomed not only by lawyers but also by others who need to refer to Acts of the Australian Parliament.

An important preliminary step in the program of publishing the consolidation is the tidying up of the statute book by the enactment of the Bill now before the Senate. The main object of the Bill is to get rid of those provisions that are no longer of use or the operation of which is spent. The elimination of those provisions will substantially reduce the amount of material that would otherwise need to be published.

Although this is its main object, the Bill goes further than the mere repeal of obsolete Acts and provisions in Acts. It also corrects errors, and updates the form of many provisions. In short, the Bill will clear the way for the consolidation reduce its volume, and will improve its form. However, I hasten to assure honourable senators that the Bill will not effect any change in substance in the law. Having in mind the object of the Bill, particularly when that object is considered as clearing the way for the publication of the consolidation, I am sure that the Bill will receive the support of all honourable senators and be given a speedy passage.

Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.

page 2835

 

 

 

House of Representatives
13 December 1973

28th Parliament · 1st Session

STATUTE LAW REVISION BILL 1973

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 12 December (vide page 4596), on motion by Mr Enderby:

“That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr KILLEN:
Moreton

– The Opposition supports this Bill and does so instantly and generously. This Bill is long overdue and the prospect of seeing a consolidation of the statutes is one which I personally welcome very much indeed. I suppose that one of the most significant problems which any practitioner faces is to find out where the law is. Today the Commonwealth statutes are, putting it politely, in something of a mess and the officers who will undertake this work undertake what has been properly described as a massive job. I personally wish them well. As a simple illustration of the difficulty of knowing where the law is, I briefly tell the House the story – a true one – of a citizen of the United States who was charged with a breach of a regulation and convicted of that breach. He took the matter on appeal and he ultimately finished up before the American Supreme Court where it was discovered that the regulation which he had allegedly breached had been repealed before the conviction. This is the absurdity that we face. I am sure that legal practitioners throughout the whole of the Commonwealth will welcome the consolidation of the Commonwealth statutes, and I would like to congratulate the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) for his enterprise in having ventured upon this task.

Mr ENDERBY:
Minister for Secondary Industry and Minister for Supply · Australian Capital Territory · ALP

– in reply – Briefly in response to the remarks of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), I can say that the Government is very pleased to be able to introduce this measure because practitioners know that the job involved – or the work involved – in finding the law and wading through those statutes is unnecessarily cumbersome and involved. The last consolidation was completed in 1950 – 23 years ago. Volumes containing all the laws passed since that time have to be perused, studied and gone through if one wants to have any degree of assurance about what the law is. The annual consolidations just do not make up for the defect. I think we are a long way from the ideals that were expressed by thinkers in the 18th century. It was hoped at that time that people would be able to write down their law in some simple, single form so that ordinary laymen not skilled or learned in the law would be able to find where it was and understand it. Society has moved a long way from that innocent view on what could be done. But this measure is a step in that direction.

We all know that if lawyers have to spend hours looking for their law and trying to find out where it is, with the accompanying uncertainty that they might miss something, that is reflected in uncertainty in the judicial process, the decisions of judges and juries, and of course in the cost that ultimately is passed on to the consumer, the client. Anything that can simplify the finding of the law improves the situation. We are very happy to be able to introduce this measure at this time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Enderby) read a third time.

page 4712

 

 


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