Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee

Alert Digest No 15 of 2008

Ministerial Correspondence

[Table of Contents]

Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill 2008

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 9 September 2008 by the Hon. Rob Hulls MLA. The Committee considered the Bill on 6 October 2008.

Committee’s Comment

The Committee considered this Bill at its meeting on 6 October 2008 and within its terms of reference reported on the delayed commencement provisions provided in clause 2.

The Committee adopted the one year rule in Practice Note No. 1 of 2006. The Practice Note seeks to ensure that where a delay in commencement of greater than one year from introduction is proposed that Parliament is fully aware of why such a provision is necessary. By comparison the Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee comments adversely on delays greater than 6 months.

Minister’s Response

Thank you for your letter of 7 October 2008 in relation to the delayed commencement provisions of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill 2008 (ART Bill).

Clause 2 of the ART Bill provides that the majority of the Bill will come into operation by proclamation, with a forced commencement date of 1 January 2010.

However, the intention is to proclaim the ART Act by 1 July 2009, pending satisfactory resolution of any implementation requirements. If it is possible to achieve this, this Bill will commence within the one year period specified in Practice Note 1 produced by SARC.

I note that the Minister for Health has written to you in relation to the commencement provisions of the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Bill 2008 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Bill 2008.

I trust that this letter addresses the Committee’s concerns.

ROB HULLS MP
Attorney-General

21 November 2008

The Committee thanks the Minister for this response.

The Committee notes that it has not yet received a response in relation to its other query relating to the compatibility of clause 45 of the Bill (on the publication of personal views about surrogacy) with the Charter’s right to freedom of expression.

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Coroners Bill 2008

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 7 October 2008 by the Hon. Tony Robinson MLA. The Committee considered the Bill on 27 October 2008 and made the following comments in Alert Digest No. 13 of 2008 tabled in the Parliament on 28 October 2008.

Committee’s Comment

Charter Report

Partial exemption from Charter – Obligation to act compatibly with and give proper consideration to human rights – Extent of exemption – Whether exceptional circumstances

The Committee notes that clause 129 and item 5 of Schedule 2, amending s. 3 of the Charter includes the Coroners Court within the Charter’s definition of ‘court’. This has the effect of exempting the Coroners Court from the Charter’s definition of ‘public authority’ when it is not acting in an administrative capacity, and thus from the Charter requirement that it act compatibly with and give proper consideration to human rights.

The Statement of Compatibility remarks:

When acting in an administrative capacity, the Coroners Court will be a public authority and will be bound by section 38 of the Charter. Further, statutory provisions and discretions in the bill will need to be interpreted, where possible, compatibly with the human rights set out in the Charter.

The Committee observes that coroners are presently bound by Charter s. 38 in all of their capacities and that interpretation of statutory discretions under Charter s. 32 will not necessarily produce the same requirement.

The Committee considers that the Charter’s general protections should not be removed except in exceptional circumstances. The exemption of other courts and tribunals from Charter s. 38 in their non-administrative capacities has the purpose of avoiding constitutional problems arising from Australia’s unified common law and preventing the Charter from affecting private disputes. However, these purposes do not appear to be served by exempting the Coroners Court, which neither develops the common law nor adjudicates private disputes. The Committee is also concerned that the meaning of ‘administrative capacity’ may be unclear in the context of an inquisitorial court.

The Committee will write to the Minister seeking further information as follows:

1. What capacities of the Coroners Court are non-administrative?

2. What exceptional circumstances exist for exempting the Coroners Court in those capacities from the Charter’s obligation to act compatibly with and give proper consideration to human rights?

Pending the Minister’s response, the Committee draws attention to clause 129 and item 5 of Schedule 2.

Rights of criminal defendants – Trial and punishment for contempt – Adoption of any procedure that the coroner sees fit

The Committee notes that clause 103 provides that the Coroners Court may find a person guilty of contempt and may commit an offender to prison or impose a fine. Clause 103(4) provides that, once a coroner has informed a defendant of a charge, the coroner ‘may adopt any procedure that the coroner thinks fit’.

The Committee is concerned that the procedures adopted by the coroner for trying and sentencing contempt under clause 103(4) may fall short of Charter rights of criminal defendants. The Supreme Court recently held that an identical provision permits VCAT to commit people charged with contempt to prison in their absence. By contrast, the Magistrates’ Court is not permitted to impose any custodial sentence in the absence of the defendant.

The Committee will write to the Minister seeking further information as to whether the Coroners Court can adopt procedures under clause 103(4) that fall short of the Charter rights of criminal defendants. Pending the Minister’s response, the Committee draws attention to clause 103(4).

Minister’s Response

Thank you for your letter dated 28 October 2008 regarding the Coroners Bill 2008.

Your letter referred to a Charter Report in Alert Digest number 13 of 2008 and sought my response regarding the following issues:

1. What capacities of the Coroners Court are non-administrative?

2. What exceptional circumstances exist for exempting the Coroners Court in those capacities from the Charter’s obligation to act compatibly with and give proper consideration to human rights?

3. Whether the Coroners Court can adopt procedures under clause 103(4) that fall short of the human rights for criminal defendants that are in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

Non-administrative capacities of the Coroners Court

Although most of the functions of the Coroners Court would be administrative, some of the Court’s powers would be judicial, such as:

    • A decision regarding the release of a body (see clauses 47 & 48); and

    • A decision regarding contempt of court (see clause 103).

Defining the Coroners Court as a “Court” for the purposes of the Charter

As noted above, when exercising the majority of its powers, the Coroners Court will be acting in an administrative capacity and will therefore be bound as a public authority by the obligation in section 38 of the Charter.

In the circumstances where the Coroners Court is acting in a non-administrative capacity, it will be bound by section 32 of the Charter to interpret all statutory provisions in a way that is compatible with human rights, so far as it is possible to do so consistently with their purpose. For example, as discussed below, when exercising the power in clause 103(4) of the Bill, the Court will be bound by the interpretive obligation in section 32 of the Charter.

Accordingly, the amendment to the Charter to include the Coroners Court in the definition of ‘court’ is entirely consistent with the provisions of the Charter. Therefore, the question of what exceptional circumstances exist to justify the amendment does not arise. Section 31 of the Charter provides that, in exceptional circumstances, the Parliament may make an ‘override declaration’ to expressly declare that a provision of an Act which is incompatible with the Charter has effect despite the Charter. The amendment to the definition of ‘court’ in the Charter is not incompatible with the human rights in the Charter or any other provision of the Charter. It is therefore unnecessary to consider whether there are exceptional circumstances for the purposes of an ‘override declaration’.

Clause 103(4) of the Bill

The third question relates to the procedures that may be adopted by the Coroners Court under clause 103(4) of the Bill. Clause 103(4) provides:

“On the person being brought before the Coroners Court, the coroner must cause the person to be informed of the contempt with which he or she is charged and may adopt any procedure that the coroner thinks fit.”

This provision is subject to other provisions in the Bill, including the requirement that a coroner is bound by the rules of evidence and must be satisfied of a person’s guilt on proof beyond reasonable doubt.

The Alert refers to the Supreme Court case of Devine v Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (2008) VSC 410. In that case, the plaintiffs contended that the VCAT decision “breached the plaintiffs’ right to a fair hearing under the Charter”. The Court found that the “Charter has no direct application in [the] case. The VCAT proceeding was commenced and concluded prior to the operative commencement date of Division 3 of Part 3 of the Charter.” That case did not address the implications of the Charter.

The words “any procedure that the coroner thinks fit” in clause 103(4) would be read in accordance with general legal principles of interpretation and would not be interpreted literally. For instance, the words would not empower the Court to adopt a procedure that was contrary to the requirements of procedural fairness. Since the Charter is in force, the words would also be interpreted in accordance with section 32(1) of the Charter, which provides:

“So far as it is possible to do so consistently with their purpose, all statutory provisions must be interpreted in a way that is compatible with human rights.”

Section 32(1) of the Charter applies to clause 103(4) of the Bill and the clause would be interpreted in a way that is compatible with human rights.

If the Committee requires clarification of any of the matters raised in the paper, please do not hesitate to contact my office or Stephen Lodge of the Courts and Tribunals Unit, Department of Justice (9603 9456).

ROB HULLS MP
Attorney-General

17 November 2008

The Committee thanks the Attorney-General for this response.

Gambling Legislation Amendment (Responsible Gambling and Other Measures) Bill 2008

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 7 October 2008 by the Hon. Tony Robinson MLA. The Committee considered the Bill on 27 October 2008 and made the following comments in Alert Digest No. 13 of 2008 tabled in the Parliament on 28 October 2008.

Committee’s Comment

[2]

Delayed commencement – Inappropriate delegation of legislative power

In respect to Parts 2 and 4 the Committee refers to its Practice Note No. 1 concerning delayed commencement provisions exceeding one year from introduction in the Parliament. In such circumstances the Committee will seek to ensure that Parliament has sufficient information to determine whether a delay in commencement is justified. The Committee will seek further information from the Minister.

Minister’s Response

Thank you for your latter dated 28 October 2008 regarding the commencement date for some of the provisions in the Gambling Legislation Amendment (Responsible Gambling and Other Measures) Bill 2008 (Bill) that is currently before the Parliament.

As you will be aware, clause 2(3) of the Bill provides that Part 3 of the Bill comes into operation on the first anniversary of the day on which the Bill received Royal Assent. This delayed commencement date is provided to allow new regulations to be made in relation to the conduct of bingo, which will be required under the new provisions. The deferred commencement will also allow information to be provided to community and charitable organisations that conduct bingo about the new regulatory requirements.

Clause 2(4) of the Bill provides that if a provision of Part 2 or 4 does not come into operation before 1 January 2010, it comes into operation on that day.

This default commencement date is specified to provide some flexibility as to the commencement of the Parts 2 and 4 of the Bill, given that these provisions impose new obligations on certain gambling industry licensees and create new offences relating to minors. The delay in the commencement of these provisions will give industry time to adjust to its new legal obligations. I believe this to be reasonable in the circumstances.

In relation to your specific concern regarding the delayed commencement exceeding one year from introduction in the Parliament, the date of the I January 2010 was selected as it allows the new obligations to apply from the commencement of the new calendar year at the latest, which is a date that is easily understood and clear for industry.

Although this means the provisions may not commence until more than one year after introduction, the provisions are likely to be proclaimed to commence at an earlier date and, even if this were not the case, the provisions would commence at most within three months of one year after introduction. I also believe this to be reasonable in the circumstances.

I hope this provides you with the information you require.

HON TONY ROBINSON MP
Minister for Gaming

14 November 2008

The Committee thanks the Minister for this response.

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Local Government Amendment (Councillor Conduct and Other Matters Bill 2008

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 9 September 2008 by the Hon. Richard Wynne MLA. The Committee considered the Bill on 6 October 2008 and commented on the Bill in Alert Digest No. 12 of 2008 tabled in the Parliament on 7 October 2008. On 10 November the Committee considered the Minister’s response and made the following subsequent comments in Alert Digest No. 14 of 2008.

Committee’s Comment

Further Comments

Presumption of innocence – Whether limited to criminal proceedings – Where meaning of a Charter right is not settled – Need for statement of compatibility to address compatibility issues arising from differing interpretations of a Charter right

11. Disqualifications

(3) After section 29(3) of the Principal Act insert—

"(4) If a Councillor is charged with an offence referred to in subsection (2), the Secretary may apply to VCAT for an order requiring the Councillor to take leave of absence from the office of Councillor until the proceedings in respect of the charge are finally determined.

The Committee notes the Minister’s remark that clause 11(3) will permit VCAT to order a councillor charged with a criminal offence to take a leave of absence ‘on the basis of the charge alone’. The Committee repeats its view that, while the Charter permits interim executive action on the basis of evidence relating to a charge, taking such action merely on the basis of a charge alone may limit a councillor’s Charter right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty.

The Minister cites a recent Supreme Court decision concerning a disciplinary board’s decision to suspend a doctor facing criminal charges for the proposition that the right to be presumed innocent ‘does not apply outside the context of criminal proceedings’. However, while the judge in that decision discussed whether or not the presumption of innocence applies outside of criminal proceedings, she expressly declined to reach any conclusion on that issue. Instead, her only finding was that the particular act of the disciplinary board did not limit the presumption of innocence. Her reasoning on that latter point expressly focused on how the board’s reasoning was based on the evidence before it, rather than the mere fact of the laying of a criminal charge.

The Committee considers that, where a relevant threshold legal question about the applicability of the Charter has been raised but not settled before the courts, it is important that Parliament be fully informed about the compatibility issues that could arise if the issue is resolved differently to the view taken by the government.

The Committee will write to the Minister seeking further information as to the following questions:

• If a court holds that Charter s. 25(1) is applicable in disciplinary proceedings, would clause 11(3) limit the Charter’s right to be presumed innocent?

• If so, would clause 11(3) be a reasonable limit on the right of councillors to be presumed innocent of criminal charges under proved guilty according to the test set out in Charter s. 7(2)?

Pending the Minister’s response, the Committee draws attention to clause 11(3).

Minister’s Response

I refer to the Parliament of Victoria, Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee’s letter of 11 November 2008 and its comments in Alert Digest No. 14 of 2008 regarding section 11(3) of the Local Government Amendment (Councillor Conduct and Other Matters) Act 2008 (‘the Act’).

As previously advised, I am of the view that section 11(3) does not in any way interfere with the right to be presumed innocent.

VCAT provides for a civil justice system, and any order made under section 11(3) is made for the purpose of imposing a civil liability against a councillor charged with a criminal offence. VCAT does not make findings of guilt in respect of the charges, and therefore does not prejudice the role of the criminal justice system nor limit the councillor’s right to be presumed innocent. It is the role of the criminal courts and not VCAT to consider the facts and evidence before it, and make a determination in respect of the charges. It is clear that the right does not apply in these circumstances. As such, it is therefore unnecessary to speculate about hypothetical future court decisions.

As previously noted, requiring a councillor to take a leave of absence until proceedings in respect of charges are determined, ensures that elected councillors undertake their public duty in accordance with the interests and expectations of the community. A councillor who is required to take leave of absence is entitled to receive their full allowance during the leave period, and the required leave of absence ceases if the charges are withdrawn or the councillor is not convicted of the offence.

RICHARD WYNNE MP
Minister for Local Government

27 November 2008

The Committee thanks the Minister for this response.

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Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 2008

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 7 October 2008 by the Hon. Joe Helper MLA. The Committee considered the Bill on 27 October 2008 and made the following comments in Alert Digest No. 13 of 2008 tabled in the Parliament on 28 October 2008.

Committee’s Comment

Charter report

Presumption of innocence – Arbitrary detention – Offence of possessing or selling a fish taken or dealt with illegally – Penalty of six months imprisonment – Defendant must prove lack of knowledge of the illegality and the reasonableness of that lack of knowledge – Whether reasonable limit – Adequacy of section heading

The Committee notes that clause 68 extends the offence of possessing or selling an illegally taken fish in s. 116 of the Fisheries Act 1995 to include the possession or sale or a fish ‘otherwise dealt with’ in contravention of any Australian law. This extension will make it is a criminal offence to possess or sell a fish that has ever been fished, farmed, stocked, possessed, transported, processed, sold or disposed of in breach of any Australian law. Once such possession has been established, the defendant can only avoid a conviction (and a possible sentence of six months imprisonment) if he or she can prove, on the balance of probabilities, that he or she neither knew nor ought to have known of the illegality. The Committee considers that clause 68 engages the Charter rights of criminal defendants to be presumed innocent and to be free from arbitrary detention.

The Statement of Compatibility remarks:

The burden of proof is imposed in respect of an affirmative defence only, and does not apply to essential elements of the offences. Further, before the defence could apply, the prosecution would have to establish that the accused has failed to comply with section 116. The facts which an accused would need to prove in order to avail himself or herself of the defence are peculiarly in the knowledge of the accused and would be difficult for the prosecution to prove.

The Committee observes that a person can ‘fail to comply’ with s. 116 merely by possessing a fish, even if the person knows nothing about how that fish was previously dealt with. So, the offence is considerably broader than the usual regulatory offences that typically attract reverse onus defences. In particular, it is not limited to people involved in the fishing industry but rather extends to ordinary end sellers and consumers (such as workers and shoppers at a supermarket). Such people may find establishing an affirmative defence (containing both objective and subjective elements and concerning a breach of any law in Australia in relation to anything every done with the fish) to the civil standard confusing, distressing, difficult and expensive.

The Statement of Compatibility remarks:

Although an evidential onus would be less restrictive upon the right to be presumed innocent, it would not be as effective in achieving the purpose of ensuring the effectiveness of the regulatory scheme created by the Fisheries Act. Enabling an accused merely to point to or adduce sufficient evidence to raise the defence would undermine the effectiveness of the offences.

The Committee is concerned that people may be convicted of the offence and sentenced to prison despite evidence raising a reasonable doubt about whether or not they have any knowledge about the illegality affecting their fish. Such outcomes may not advance (or significantly advance) the effective regulation of fisheries or fish. The Committee also notes that the headings of the existing offence – ‘Sale of fish taken in contravention of this Act or corresponding law’ – and clause 68 do not adequately describe the scope of the offence, which extends to the possession of such fish. Overseas courts have held that adequate notification of laws is an essential precondition for any law that limits a human right. The Committee considers that it should be made clear that mere possession of a fish, with no intention to sell, may expose the possessor to liability and imprisonment in the absence of an affirmative defence.

The Committee therefore considers that clause 68 may be incompatible with the Charter.

The Committee refers to Parliament for its consideration the questions of:

1. Whether or not clause 68, by requiring people who possess fish that anyone has dealt with illegally to prove that they didn’t know of that illegality and that it was reasonable for them not to know (or face a conviction and possible imprisonment) limits their Charter rights to be presumed innocent and to not be arbitrarily detained?

2. If so, whether or not clause 68 is a reasonable and demonstrably justified limit on their Charter rights according to the test in Charter s. 7(2)?

The Committee will write to the Minister concerning the headings to clause 68 and s. 116 of the Fisheries Act 1995.

Minister’s Response

I am writing to you in relation to concerns raised by the S.A.R.C in Alert Digest No 13 on the Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 2008.

The questions posed by the Committee were in relation to clause 68 of the Bill. Clause 68 amends the current provision in section 116 of the Fisheries Act 1995 that makes it an offence to possess or sell fish that have been taken in contravention of the Fisheries Act 1995. Clause 68 extends the ambit of the provision to also apply where fish were 'otherwise dealt with' in contravention of the Act. This amendment will ensure that there is no loophole where, for example, fish were taken lawfully but then sold unlawfully. Section 116 currently provides that it is a defence in any proceedings for a person charged under this section to prove that it was reasonable for them not to know of the illegality. Thus there is an existing reverse onus of proof that limits the right to be presumed innocent.

The right to be presumed innocent is an important right. However, the courts have recognised, especially in a regulatory regime that it can be subject to limits. In this instance the legal burden imposed is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the regulatory regime that protects important environmental resources.

The burden of proof is imposed in respect of an affirmative defence only and does not apply to essential elements of the offence. Further the illegality must first be proven.

Also, the facts which the accused would need to prove in order to avail himself or herself of the defence are peculiarly in the knowledge of the accused and would be difficult for the prosecution to prove.

The reasoning and justification for the limitation imposed by clause 68 is set out in the Statement of Compatibility that was tabled with the Bill and I refer the members again to the Statement.

I also point out that the Fisheries Act 1995, including s116 with its reverse onus of proof, was reviewed against the Charter of Human Rights in 2007 and found to be reasonable and justifiable.

I am confident that the above addresses the committee’s questions in relation to the Bill. I thank the committee for its work and bringing these questions to my attention.

Joe Helper MP
Minister for Agriculture

(received 11 November 2008)

The Committee thanks the Minister for this response.

Committee’s further comments

The Committee notes that the response does not address the issue that the Committee wrote to the Minister about, which concerned the headings to clause 68 and existing s116 of the Fisheries Act 1995. In its Alert Digest no 13 of 2008, the Committee remarked:

that the headings of the existing offence – ‘Sale of fish taken in contravention of this Act or corresponding law’ – and clause 68 do not adequately describe the scope of the offence, which extends to the possession of such fish. Overseas courts have held that adequate notification of laws is an essential precondition for any law that limits a human right. The Committee considers that it should be made clear that mere possession of a fish, with no intention to sell, may expose the possessor to liability and imprisonment in the absence of an affirmative defence.

The Committee also expresses its surprise at the Minister’s remark that existing s116 was found to be reasonable and justifiable when it was reviewed for Charter compatibility in 2007. The Committee reiterates its concern that exposing ordinary end sellers and consumers to a potential prison sentence merely for possessing a fish that someone else has handled illegally, unless they establish a complex defence in court, may go beyond what is necessary to achieve the purpose of protecting environmental resources. The Committee therefore considers that clause 68 may be incompatible with the Charter’s right for criminal defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Committee will write to the Minister again concerning the headings to clause 68 and s. 116 of the Fisheries Act 1995, and also expressing its concern about these provisions’ Charter compatibility. Pending the Minister’s response, the Committee draws attention to clause 68.

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Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Amendment Bill 2007

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 4 December 2007 by the Hon. James Merlino MLA. The Committee considered the Bill on 4 February 2008 and made the following comments in Alert Digest No. 1 of 2008 tabled in the Parliament on 5 February 2008.

Committee’s Comment

Charter Report

Keywords: Reasonable limits on rights – Regulation of a sport – Discrimination on the basis of impairment or physical features – Medical treatment without consent – Privacy – Statement of compatibility

Charter s. 7(2) provides that human rights may be ‘subject to such reasonable limits as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society’.

The Committee notes that the Bill’s subject-matter relates to the regulation of a sport. The Committee observes that such legislation inevitably engages a variety of human rights, but that reasonable provisions will typically satisfy Charter s. 7(2), as well as internal limits on particular rights.

The Statement of Compatibility identifies several provisions of the Bill that are said to engage the following Charter rights:

• Discrimination on the basis of impairment or physical features (Charter s. 8(3)): provisions requiring the deregistration of registered professional contestants where a doctor reports that the contestant is unfit to engage in professional contests generally or the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board considers that it is against his or her interests to engage in professional contests (clause 13, substituting s. 10B into the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Act 1985)

• Medical treatment without consent (Charter s. 10(c)): provisions giving the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board a discretion to deregister registered professional contestants who fail to present for a medical examination at various times (clause 13, substituting s. 10B of the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Act 1985)

• Privacy (Charter s. 13(a)): provisions requiring medical practitioners to notify the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board about any professional contestant’s unfitness to compete (clause 15, substituting s. 12 of the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Act 1985).

The Statement of Compatibility contends that the Charter’s right against discrimination is either not limited or reasonably limited by the Bill, and that the Charter’s rights against medical treatment without consent and to privacy are not limited by the Bill. Having considered the above Charter rights and provisions, the Committee is satisfied that the measures so engaged do not warrant any special mention or adverse comment in respect to possible incompatibility with human rights. In particular, the Committee considers that clause 15, by replacing an existing criminal offence for failing to submit to a medical examination in the current s. 12(1) of the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Act 1985 with a discretion to deregister a professional contestant in such circumstances, promotes the Charter’s right to freedom from non-consensual medical treatment.

The Committee observes that the Statement of Compatibility does not identify by clause or section number any of the provisions it discusses. The Committee reiterates its view, stated in Alert Digest No. 14 of 2007, that –

‘the absence of express references to clause or section numbers in relation to a complex Bill may render the statement of compatibility incapable of informed consideration by members of Parliament.’

The Committee draws attention to its Practice Note No. 2 concerning the content of Statements of Compatibility and the Committee’s practice in reporting on them where the Committee considers that they are inadequate or inaccurate.

The Committee will raise these concerns with the Minister.

Minister’s Response

I refer to your letter of 5 February 2008 regarding the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee’s comments in respect of the Statement of Compatibility for the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Amendment Bill 2007.

I apologise for the delay in responding. I have been advised, however, that the Committee’s comments were noted by relevant departmental officers immediately following the receipt of your letter and have been taken into account in the preparation of Statements of Compatibility sine that time.

JAMES MERLINO MP
Minister for Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs

30 October 2008

The Committee thanks the Minister for this response.

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Sheriff Bill 2008

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 7 October 2008 by the Hon. Rob Hulls MLA. The Committee considered the Bill on 27 October 2008 and made the following comments in Alert Digest No. 13 of 2008 tabled in the Parliament on 28 October 2008.

Committee’s Comment

[2]

Delayed commencement – Inappropriate delegation of legislative power

The Committee refers to its Practice Note No. 1 concerning delayed commencement provisions exceeding one year from their introduction in the Parliament. In such circumstances the Committee will seek to ensure that Parliament has sufficient information to determine whether a delay in commencement is justified. The Committee will seek further information from the Attorney-General.

Minister’s Response

Thank you for your letter dated 28 October 2008 regarding your Committee’s consideration of the Sheriff Bill 2008 (the Bill). You sought further advice on the need to delay commencement of the legislation for more than one year.

The Bill introduces a number of new and extended powers for the sheriff, as well as placing some existing powers in legislation for the first time. This will require additional training for sheriff’s officers, and substantial changes to policy and procedures manuals. New legislatively mandated documents will also need to be created to support the practices of the sheriff. Further, computer systems may need to be updated to reflect the changes made by the Bill.

Accordingly, the commencement date has been chosen to allow adequate time for passage of the Bill through Parliament and for these updates to be completed. Depending upon passage through Parliament, it is hoped that most aspects of the Bill will commence prior to 1 January 2010.

I trust this information is of assistance.

ROB HULLS MP
Attorney-General

26 November 2008

The Committee thanks the Minister for this response.

Committee Room
1 December 2008

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Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee
Parliament of Victoria