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Australian Government Solicitor

 

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Drafting highlights  

Drafting highlights

In 2012–13, AGS worked on a broad variety of drafting projects, including a revision of the Australian Public Service (APS) Values, finalisation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (DisabilityCare Australia).

Public Service Commissioner's Directions

Amendments to the Public Service Act 1999 that commenced on 1 July 2013 revised the former APS Values and introduced a set Employment Principles. The Commissioner's Directions are central to the operation of the Act: among other things they determine as necessary the scope and application of the APS Values and Employment Principles, set out how breaches of the Code of Conduct are to be dealt with and direct agency heads about processes to be followed in respect of a range of other employment matters. The Directions were recast to bring them in line with the amended Act, to make policy changes that the Commission had been considering for some time, and to present the material in a way that agencies would find easier to follow. AGS helped the Commission to reconcile different policy aims, and structure and word the instrument to achieve these aims. James Graham (Senior Consultant Legislative Drafter) prepared the Directions with assistance from Bianca Wellington (Counsel).

Murray–Darling Basin Plan

The Murray–Darling Basin Plan was signed into law on 22 November 2012. AGS's drafting team, led by James Graham and Camilla Webster (Senior Consultant Legislative Drafter) also included Andrew Chapman (Counsel), Rebecca Eldred (Counsel), Michael O'Rourke (Counsel) and Marlowe Thompson (Counsel). The team was supported by Robert Orr PSM QC (Chief General Counsel), Jenny Francis (Senior General Counsel) and Alice Kingsland (Counsel), as well as consultant Megan Dyson. Both Robert and Alice, along with Robyn Briese (Senior General Counsel) assisted with the development of the Water Act 2007, under which the plan is made. Helen Neville (Senior General Counsel), outposted counsel to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, advised the Department and the Minister about the adoption of the plan and oversaw 2 Bills to amend the Water Act, one of which was enacted the day before the Environment Minister adopted the plan.

Food Standards Code

During 2012–13, Michael O'Rourke and James Graham continued working with Food Standards Australia New Zealand to redraft the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. The code is one element in a cooperative arrangement between the Commonwealth, the Australian States and Territories and New Zealand to implement uniform food standards.

A 2008 NSW Supreme Court judgment highlighted problems in the existing code relating to its enforceability and its consistency across jurisdictions and brought to light a range of drafting issues. Following an audit of the code by the former Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing (OLDP), AGS was engaged to undertake a comprehensive rewrite of the code, addressing issues raised by the NSW Supreme Court and by OLDP, and expressing the provisions of the code in a modern drafting style.

Public consultation on a re-draft of the code closes on 27 September 2013.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

In January 2013, a team of AGS lawyers – Leo Hardiman (Deputy General Counsel), James Graham, Jenny Francis, Anna Lehane (Counsel), Michael O'Rourke and Andrew Chapman – was engaged by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to draft legislative instruments (known as 'rules') for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013.

The rules set out criteria that a person must meet to be a participant in the scheme, the kinds of supports that will be funded for participants and the criteria for the registration of persons and entities to provide those supports to participants.

The rules were drafted in a unique style that integrated background and explanatory material with the rules to ensure they are accessible to all affected members of the public.

This is an extract from the 2012–13 AGS annual report