The election period
The election period started in late March and parliament did not sit again until the start of July.
This meant that there were less sitting weeks than usual and, therefore, less Bills were introduced than would be expected in a non-election year.
During election periods, there is a reduced amount of drafting work to be done. OPC takes advantage of these periods to undertake a range of projects.
In addition to preparing an incoming government brief, OPC undertook projects including:
- revising a number of training courses;
- reviewing our subscriptions to electronic legal resources;
- updating a range of drafting directions and notes on drafting issues; and
- preparing and presenting seminars on drafting issues.
Demand for legislation from particular portfolios
There continued to be a substantial demand for the drafting of legislation for the Treasury, the Attorney-General’s and Home Affairs portfolios.
Other portfolios that required substantial resources were Finance, Defence, Agriculture and Water Resources, Infrastructure and Regional Development, Industry, and Health.
There continued to be a high demand for parliamentary amendments during the year.
This influences performance because of the resources required to prepare the amendments. These are often done on very tight timeframes.
OPC’s performance measures in relation to Bills are also affected by an increasing government preference, and preference among many of our clients, for exposing draft legislation for public comment before introduction into Parliament. This influences performance because the timeframes to provide resources are tighter for these Bills and further work is often required after consultation.
Since the adoption in 2002 of the Board of Taxation’s recommendations on consultation in the tax area, much of the tax legislation drafted by OPC is exposed for comment, either widely or in targeted consultations, before being finalised for introduction.
There is also an increasing trend towards the release of exposure drafts in other areas.
Sometimes, these exposure drafts are public exposure drafts. At other times, there are exposure drafts that are shown to a limited group with a particular interest in the area covered by the Bill.
Usually, exposure of a draft Bill generates proposals for change, and OPC receives drafting instructions to revise the Bill before introduction.
Sometimes, exposure reveals flaws in the draft Bill. Exposing a Bill for comment also provides an opportunity to improve the drafting of the Bill before introduction. However, the exposure process does absorb extra drafting resources and extends the time taken for the drafting project. This means that, increasingly, the Bills introduced in a particular year may reflect substantial work actually done by OPC in previous years, while work done during the reporting year is less visible.
For instruments, the time required for consultation processes is generally built into the timeframes for development and making. The development period for projects also does not generally extend beyond the financial year.
There has continued to be more demand for instruments to be drafted and available alongside their enabling Bill. This assists Parliament to consider the package of changes as a whole. Instrument drafters work closely with Bill drafters, which can provide significant efficiencies for the broader project. In appropriate cases, the same drafting team will do the Bill and the associated instruments.
OPC’s funding position
OPC’s funding was reduced by $0.078 million in 2018-2019 for the ongoing budget measure Attorney-General’s Portfolio—efficiencies.