As Senators will have gathered from the explanatory memorandum circulated with this Bill, the measure is intended to facilitate the enactment of a Fisheries (Consolidation) Bill and it may be appropriate to recall at this stage how the process of consolidation now stands. The Consolidation Bill as introduced in 1952 was in March 1953 referred by both Houses to the Standing Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills. That committee completed its work and presented its report in July, 1953, but the Bill was not then proceeded with as it was considered more fitting that it should be revised to remedy certain defects and inconsistencies in the Fisheries Statutes as they stood to which attention had been drawn informally by the committee. The Bill which is now before the House proposes to give effect to the committee's suggestions and also provides for certain other minor amendments of a procedural nature, the need for which has become apparent in the past few years.
The explanatory memorandum gives fairly full information as to the contents of the Bill and as it is proposed that the Bill be sent to a special committee of the House, no detailed comment by me seems necessary at this stage. I should, however, draw attention to groups of sections of the kind already mentioned, namely, those of a procedural nature not suggested by the report of the Standing Joint Committee but suggested rather by experience in administration during the past few years.
The provisions in the first group, Sections 6 to 9, deal with fishery rating and do no more than bring the law on that subject into line with that relating to the rates struck by local authorities as regards liability for rates and the power to issue new or amended demand notes. In point of fact, many boards of conservators had followed local authority practice in these matters, but on taking legal advice it was found that the local government code did not apply here, and what is now being done is simply to restore with legal effect what had until recently been regarded as correct practice.
The second group of provisions, Sections 17 and 18, makes good some defects which were found to exist in the law relating to detention of boats and seizure of gear arising from offences under the Sea Fisheries (Protection) Acts. A number of captures of this kind have been made in recent years and experience in dealing with them has brought to light the need for specific power to detain a boat and if necessary to have the boat moved from place to place and for the purpose of removing forfeited fish or nets and using the boat's own lifting gear for the purpose. I am sure that Senators will have no difficulty in agreeing that these provisions are both desirable and reasonable.
It is intended that on enactment of this measure the new provisions will be incorporated in the draft Fisheries (Consolidation) Bill, which will then be reintroduced at the earliest practicable date.