A Week in Review: Several New Proposed Laws in WA

In a busy legislative week the Western Australian Parliament has introduced several new Bills, items of proposed legislation, and following is a an overview of some of the more important aspects of those Bills

Legal System

The first of the new Bills is the Courts Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (Bill 23 of 2017 [WA]). The Bill was introduced on 6 September 2017 by the Honourable Sue Ellery (the Leader of the House) and makes amendments to several procedural items of legislation, namely the:

  • Civil Judgments Enforcement Act 2004 (WA), 
  • Magistrates Court Act 2004 (WA), and the
  • Supreme Court Act 1935 (WA).

The Bill proposes increasing the mandatory retirement age for magistrates from 65 to 70 years of age. The abolition of the retirement age disparity between magistrates and judges is to " . . . acknowledge and reflect the changed nature of the office of magistrates as part of the independent judiciary".

In the second reading speech the government indicates that increasing the retirement age for magistrates will bring the Magistrates Court Act 2004 (WA) into line with the District Court of Western Australia Act 1969 (WA) and the Judges’ Retirement Act 1937 (WA), which requires judges of the District and Supreme Courts to retire at the age of 70. Currently WA and South Australia are the only jurisdictions to place a limit on magistrates, with the retirement age across Australia otherwise being 70 or 72. 

Further, the Bill amends the Civil Judgments Enforcement Act 2004 to explicitly state that the power under the Act to make regulations includes the power to prescribe fees in respect to the registration of judgments under the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Cth).

Finally, the Bill amends the Supreme Court Act 1935 to remove an outdated and unnecessary provision. Section 31 of that Act is deleted by clause 11 of the Bill as there is no longer any need for a specific distinction between interest for the loan of money or other contracts and interest in other proceedings for debts and damages.

Dangerous Sexual Offenders

The second of the new Bills is the Dangerous Sexual Offenders Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (No. 22 of 2017 [WA]), also introduced into the Assembly on 6 September 2017 by Mr JR Quigley the Attorney General. The Bill proposes amendments to the Dangerous Sexual Offenders Act 2006 (WA) (the DSO Act) and the Bail Act 1982 (WA) (the Bail Act). 

In Part 2 the Bill are contained amendments to the Bail Act which seek to strengthen the overall Dangerous Sexual Offender (DSO) regime by introducing a presumption against bail for dangerous sexual offenders who are charged with breaching a DSO supervision order. 

In Part 3 the Bill sets out the amendments to the DSO Act by amending a number of sections to require a court to be satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the offender will comply with all "standard conditions" placed on them before making a community supervision order and the dangerous sexual offender will bear the onus of proving this.

Further, a new section 27A which relates to interim supervision orders is proposed, this is an amendment in part required as a result of issues raised in the case of State of WA v Narkle [No 5] [2017] WASC 46, to deal with circumstances where a further application against a person under a DSO supervision order is not yet disposed of and the current supervision order is due to expire.

Finally, the Bill attempts to make clearer the definition of "commit a serious sexual offence" in the DSO Act to ensure that where an offender is not already before the court, only a warrant and not a summons may be used to bring the offender before the court to face contravention proceedings and to facilitate applications for section 23 orders when a charge has already been laid against an offender for breach of a supervision order.

Electoral Matters

The third of the new Bills, the Electoral Amendment (Access to Ministers) Bill 2017 (No. 27 of 2017 [WA]) was introduced into the Council on 6 September 2017 as a Private Member Bill by the Honourable Alison Xamon and its purpose is stated as being to prevent the promotion of functions, gatherings, meetings or events to raise funds for a political party or purpose in a way that suggests that attendees will gain access to a Minister. Subject to limits on its operation the Bill:

  • Proposes the inclusion of a new provision in the Electoral Act 1907 (WA) that will make it an offence
    • for any person to promote a political fundraising event in a way that suggests that attendees will have access to a Minister at the event or in association with it; and
    • for any person to organise, hold or conduct a political fundraising event that is promoted in a way that suggests that attendees will have access to a Minister at the event.
  • Makes a person found guilty of either offence liable for a maximum penalty of $10,000.

Health Matters

The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill 2017 (No. 28 of 2017) [WA] is the fourth Bill introduced on 6 September. It was introduced in the Council by the Honourable Alanna Clohesy (Parliamentary Secretary). It seeks to amend the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 (WA) as follows:

  • by providing various measures to protect children and young people from exposure to tobacco products;
  • improving and strengthening existing provisions in relation to the retail sale of tobacco products; and
  • simplifying and streamling administrative arrangements fo tobacco licences.

 This Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation and Statutes for review.

Government Procurement to Create WA Jobs 

The fifth and final Bill, introduced into the Assembly on 6 September 2017 by the Premier Mr M McGowan (also the Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade) is the Western Australian Jobs Bill 2017 (No. 18 of 2017 [WA]) whose purpose is to use the State Government procurement process to enhance local industry participation in the supply of goods and services to or for agencies of the State, with a particular focus on benefits to small and medium enterprises.

Ahead 

Both houses of the WA Parliament sit again this week (from 12- 14 September 2017) and the above are likely to be progressed further. LawOne subscribers will be updated through their subscriptions. 

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

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