The war is over. Punctuation has been defeated and the Government’s semi-annual skirmishes against hyphens and semi-colons have come to an end.
After four rounds in the arena of red tape reduction, the Government’s third minister responsible for Repeal Days, Peter Hendy, has declared victory.
Repeal Days have often been accompanied by much hype about the success of the Government’s war on the punctuation, but what has been achieved?
On the first Repeal Day, the Defence Act 1904, which related to the definition of naval officers and state navies, was repealed.
The states haven’t had navies since 1913, but just in case Queensland or Western Australia got any ideas, this Government was on to them.
Owners of mules and bullocks were also given a reprieve, with the repeal of laws requiring the animals be registered for military purposes.
The Government has also claimed red tape reductions in the updating of spelling, grammar and punctuation on the statute books.
Such pressing updates include changing the word “e-mail” to “email” and “facsimile” to “fax” across numerous pieces of legislation.
In a series of Statute Law Revision bills, the Government removed 40 hyphens, one comma and one inverted comma; changed two full stops to semi-colons, one semi-colon to a full stop; and inserted two commas, one full stop, one colon and one hyphen.
But there has been a more serious and consequential side to the Government’s red tape agenda.
Under the smokescreen of “red tape” the Government has tried to water down consumer protections through attempts to amend the Future of Financial Advice reforms, and cut the wages of cleaners through the abolition of the Commonwealth Cleaning Services Guidelines.
It shows the character of this Government that it views consumer protections and a minimum wage for Commonwealth Cleaners as “red tape”.