Thursday, 11 July 2019
Parole Bill 2016: Committee and Remaining Stages
I thank the Senator for her amendment. Section 4 deals with the Minister's powers to make regulations under the Act. Section 4(3), which, as the Senator has already pointed out, is a standard provision in legislation, provides that if the Minister wants to use any power to make regulations under the Act, he must lay a copy of that regulation before each House and that, if either House is not happy with the regulation, it can annul them by resolution. Each House has 21 sitting days to do so. This effectively gives each House a veto on any regulation the Minister proposes to make under the Act.The Senator's amendment seeks to add a further provision, without deleting the first provision, stating that the Houses must pass a resolution approving any regulation made under section 24, that is, to extend parole to other categories of prisoners within 21 days or it will automatically lapse. While a provision somewhat similar to this is occasionally used in legislation, it is very rare. In this case the Minister believes it is unnecessary because the provision already under section 4 is sufficient and the power to annul provided there already fulfils the requirement.
It also unclear whether regulations made under section 24, and therefore covered by the new subsection proposed in amendment No. 1, would also be covered by the existing section 4(3), potentially resulting in an absurd situation in which both provisions apply at the same time and a lack of clarity as to which, if any, would prevail. When we deal with subject matters such as this, it is of the utmost importance that there is legal certainty and that unintended consequences are avoided.
Section 4 also gives the House the power to annul the regulations. How it arrives at this decision is a matter for the House, not the Bill. For these reasons I am not in a position to support the amendments. They could lead to legal uncertainty, unintended consequences and a conflict with what is already in the Bill, which is not being amended at all. I ask the House to oppose the amendment.