Legislation (Fees) Bill

Second Reading

Again I find myself thanking the member for Lee for his contribution to this debate and his indication of support from the opposition for the passage of this bill.

To confirm, yes, parliamentary counsel will be relieved of a considerable amount of work. They have been the principal promoters of the reform in this area and not just so that the extraordinary amount of work done is not so burdensome. I think they undertake their work very diligently, but where there is a process that can be developed, in this case to have a notice procedure but with the protection, as set out in the new section 5, of ensuring that subordinate legislation obligations remain with the notice—namely, the obligation to table before both houses of parliament—that means that we protect the interests of the parliament in being able to review this matter just as we would have if they had remained under the regulatory regime. That is an important protection and, indeed, I do not think the government would have even considered presenting such an option.

I am not sure who introduced it, but I am aware of a process in the Department for Environment, where they have a rather novel way of issuing directives to the public other than by regulation. We can have legislation, we then have regulations and sometimes we have rules that might apply to courts, but in the Department for Environment they have this peculiar practice where they can publish a policy—on cleanliness of air and things of that nature. I found out only a few years ago that, having published this policy, it then has the effect of a regulation and you can be prosecuted under it. It is quite bizarre. Nevertheless, that is a power they have.

The poor, hapless person, who might not be trained in understanding all the Department for Environment rules and regulations, might read this policy, thinking, 'Well, this is interesting. This is something that's important for people to learn about and perhaps not just comply with but abide by,' only to find that in fact that any breaches of this type of policy can bring you into significant trouble.

What is important is that the public need to know that when we make laws in here they can be amended by this forum and, if ministers make regulations or any other process under them as an operation of government, similarly there needs to be a review process. That has been maintained and secured. I thank parliamentary counsel for bringing this matter to our attention. I think it will make sure that they are available to all members of parliament to undertake their other important work in the preparation of legislation. I thank the member for Lee for supporting the same. I commend the bill.

Bill read a second time.