STATUTE LAW REVISION BILL 2011
It is a pleasure to rise and speak on the Statute Law Revision Bill 2011. I would like to thank the many speakers who have made outstanding contributions on this important bill, not least the previous speaker, who talked quite extensively about the fact that with this bill the government was taking some time out to look in the rear-vision mirror, which I am sure members of the house would appreciate this government is profoundly good at. It looks in the rear-vision mirror repeatedly and often. Although this bill addresses housekeeping matters for some 112 acts, this government chose to make it one of the centrepieces of its new legislative program when it introduced it into the upper house because it had no other bills to discuss.
Despite 11 years in opposition there was no policy agenda there.
This bill, with its revision of 112 acts and its wide-ranging subject matter, which so many members have pointed to, reminds me of a children’s story. If members can bear with me, I think they will be pleased with this analogy. Those generation Xs here, of whom I am sure there are many, will remember one of the captivating stories of our childhood years called Are You My Mother? Do members remember that? In this story a bird hatches from an egg during a brief period in which its mother has wandered off, and goes in search of its mother not knowing what she looks like. It asks the dog, it asks the cow, which the Minister for Environment and Climate Change would know a lot about. It even asks a car, ‘Are you my mother?’, to which a firm no is given. Finally the hatchling is reunited with its true parent in a touching scene.
I have no doubt that if this statute law revision bill could speak, it would be asking this government, ‘Are you really my mother?’, because there is a fair amount missing from the amendments that we might have expected this government to include in the bill given its form to date and its stated intentions and if it were acting like a government instead of eating itself for lunch. Based on the contribution the member for Caulfield made to the debate, perhaps such a statute law revision bill would have included a clause 1 which set out the government’s desire to bring back Jeff Kennett.
However, I go to the amendment of two acts relating specifically to indigenous Victorians: the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. According to the explanatory memorandum:
- Item 96.2 amends section 27(1) in order to insert a missing ‘the’ into the definition of ‘limited land use activity’ and to insert a missing comma into the definition of ‘significant land use activity’.
No doubt this government would have been much more comfortable including an additional item along the lines of ‘Item 96.3 removes the longstanding protocol in which our traditional owners are given the respect and the acknowledgement they deserve’ because we have had the abhorrent dumping of the acknowledgement of traditional owners of the land in the welcome to country.
Then we go to the provisions of the bill relating to the Climate Change Act 2010, which other members in this house have spoken about. Two items in schedule 1 of the bill relate to that act: items 13.1 and 13.2, which correct a spelling error and a typographical error respectively.
Perhaps this government, if it were being true to itself, would have also inserted an item 13.3 which would have been to completely expunge its pre-election commitment to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.
Another major act this Statute Law Revision Bill 2011 amends is the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. When we go to the item in the explanatory memorandum about this act, item 8, we see that it says, ‘This item repeals section 47 and the schedule’. Of course we would not have been surprised if this government had also included a new item that said, ‘The new government hopes to repeal every section very soon’.
How can members of this house go past the provisions of this bill relating to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010? In relation to those provisions the explanatory memorandum of this bill states in item 34, ‘This item corrects an outdated reference to the Transport Act 1983’.
Surely it would have been appropriate to add, ‘and includes a whole new bunch of outdated references from another time and place’.
Then we come to the Statute Law Revision Bill 2011 items on environmental legislation. These include the Conservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987, the National Parks Act 1975 and the Parks Victoria Act 1998. Let us go to what the explanatory memorandum says about the provisions of the bill relating to the Parks Victoria act. Item 65 states:
- This item repeals sections 26 to 29 … Sections 26 to 29 have commenced operation and are spent —
spent like the chances of ecologically sensitive flora and fauna surviving under the hoofs of cattle.
Which brings us to the references in the Statute Law Revision Bill 2011 to the Police Regulation Act 1958 and the Police Integrity Act 2008. The explanatory memorandum says that item 73 ‘amends the note at the foot of section 6A’ and that item 72.2 ‘amends clause 18(1) of schedule 1 to insert a missing word –section–‘, and I think the most exciting thing about these provisions is that these amendments, even though they relate to police matters, are supported 100 per cent by both the Liberal Party and The Nationals. There are no public spats, no secret meetings and no threatening to split the government apart. We can all agree that that pesky footnote should be amended. However, I think Victorians would like to know if it is too late to add an item 72.3 to this bill which would insert another missing and desperately needed word in the bill — ‘leadership’.
And so it goes on. The bill amends the Sentencing Act 1991 and the Courts Legislation (Neighbourhood Justice Centre) Act 2006 — and it so pleasing to see the government support that, given that it was referred to by senior members of the current government as the ‘apartheid of the justice system’.
Here we are. There are a wide-ranging number of acts that this Statute Law Revision Bill 2011 covers, and if you had looked at the government’s form on each and every one of those acts and if this government had actually focused on delivering on its intentions — so stated and so scary — this bill may have looked very different to how it looks today, because right now it is a bunch of commas and missing sections.
- An honourable member interjected.
Ms GARRETT — I am so glad I rile you up so badly.
Acting Speaker, we have before us the Statute Law Revision Bill 2011 which the government has presented amending 112 acts. We could have had so many more provisions in this that would have reflected the government’s true intent if it had been at all capable of delivering on some of the things it has said on the issues of equal opportunity, the environment, the human rights charter, the police and looking after command. If you actually wanted the truth and wanted this bill to reflect what this government is doing, you would have had a whole bunch of different provisions which would have made the Victorian people sit up and notice just how scary it has become in this house.
While we do not oppose this bill, because it is about housekeeping, we do note that it became a centrepiece of this government when it was introduced in the upper house because there was not enough other legislation to discuss.
We highlight that of the 112 acts and associated policy areas that this bill covers, on each and every one, including those major issues I have identified and so many others, this government has shown its face, and it is a scary face.