The Statutes Amendment and Repeal (Simplify) Bill 2018 (SA) ("the Bill") was introduced into the South Australian Legislative Council last Thursday (18 October 2018) by the Treasurer. The Bill has the stated objective of reducing "red tape" and simplifying regulation for businesses and consumers. Introducing the Bill the Treasurer said:
The Bill is intended to reduce regulatory barriers that the Treasurer says can impede competition and prevent small businesses from being created: "Inefficient regulation costs more than just time and money: it makes the economy less responsive to economic trends and global market forces."
The Bill amends 40 Acts and includes changes to 27 Acts to add the option of publishing government notices online. The online option is described by the Treasurer as creating flexibility and decreasing the cost associated with public notice advertisements as well as the time taken to publish notices. The Treasurer points out that where it is considered the best option, publications of notices in newspapers will continue to play an important role, and gives as an example, rural and remote communities where internet access is not always available.
The Bill also repeals 12 "obsolete or unnecessary Acts". The remaining changes implement "red tape reduction", in particular with respect to transport, licensing and registration.
Motor Vehicles and Transport: A significant part of the Bill's reforms are the various amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act 1959. The transport reforms in the Bill include enabling "automatic" progression of a motorcycle licence after a period of 12 months. This removes the need for clients to attend a Service SA Centre to have engine capacity restrictions removed from a motorcycle licence after completing 12 months on a restricted motorcycle licence. This measure is said to provide more flexibility in the accepted means of verifying a learner's test that has been passed. In this way applicants for a learner's permit will not be required to produce a certificate. Changes will also allow testing to be carried out by more delegated government employees. Further, the Bill will amend the Road Traffic Act 1961 to allow low-risk public events to occur without the need for closing of public roads.
Aquaculture and Fisheries: The Aquaculture Act 2001 is proposed to be amended to extend the maximum production lease term that can be given from 20 to 30 years, making the lease terms more attractive to financial institutions. The amendments will also make it clear that if the public register includes a notation that a specified person has an interest in the lease, that person must also be provided with a copy of the written notice sent to the lessee, where the minister proposes to cancel the lease.
The Bill also amends the Fisheries Management Act 2007 to make it clear that a court has the discretion to reduce the number of demerit points that would otherwise apply to a person guilty of offences under the Act, in cases where that person is liable to disqualification from holding a fisheries licence and that disqualification would cause a level of hardship "disproportionate" to the offence committed. The amendments made by the Bill also provide power to make regulations allowing greater flexibility in the prescription of fees, such that fees may be prescribed to apply in different fishing seasons or may include methods of calculation or be varied according to specified factors.
Water Management: The Bill proposes to amend the Irrigation Act 2009 to facilitate new investment in SA's irrigated agriculture sector by enabling irrigation trusts to adopt more efficient and fit-for-purpose business models. A proposal said by the Treasurer to be an ". . . industry-driven proposal responding to market barriers under the existing legislative scheme that will positively impact on irrigators, water supply and business productivity."
Property: The Bill proposes to amend the Real Property Act 1886 to ensure the Registrar-General has the power to mandate electronic conveyancing and a further amendment, allows a revocation of power of attorney or the death of a grantor of power of attorney, to be noted on the electronic copy of the duplicate or copy of a power of attorney.
National Parks and Wildlife: The Bill proposes to amend the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 to make clearer provisions relating to the appointment of the Director of National Parks and Wildlife. The current Act does not include a provision for the appointment of the Director of National Parks and Wildlife. In future the appointment of a director will be simplified by introducing a process whereby the minister may appoint a person to the office of the Director of National Parks and Wildlife and a mechanism will be provided where, if the director is absent and unable to discharge official duties, then the Minister may appoint an employee to the role.
The Bill also proposes to amend the Dog Fence Act 1946 to reduce red tape and implement an amendment that was recommended by the Dog Fence Board. The amendment allows the minister to establish, vary the functions of, and abolish local Dog Fence Boards by declaration. Currently these powers reside in the Governor.
The Bill is currently at second reading stage in the Legislative Council. In his second reading speech, the Treasurer indicated he "anticipates a long Committee Stage" for the Bill, saying:
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Statutes Amendment and Repeal (Simplify) Bill 2018 (60 of 2018) [SA] and second reading speech and explanatory notes as reported by the TimeBase LawOne Service.
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