The Senate has approved a Bill protecting the Child Development Agency (CDA) and its employees from any action flowing from a 2005 blunder, in which the Child Care and Protection (Children’s Homes) Regulations were gazetted before being approved by Parliament.
The Bill effectively validated and confirmed acts done “in good faith” by the CDA and any person having official duties under the Child Care and Protection Act, in enforcing the provisions of the Regulations between 2005 and 2007, when these regulations were still unapproved. It was passed in the Senate on Friday, July 16.
Attorney General, Minister of Justice and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, piloted the Bill, which was originally tabled in the House of Representatives by Minister of Health, Hon Rudyard Spencer, under whose portfolio the CDA falls.
She explained that the Bill seeks to address an error that was made when the Regulations were gazetted on April 5, 2005, before the necessary approval of Parliament was obtained. The process is for Bills to be approved by Parliament, assented by the Governor-General and implemented after they are published in the Gazette.
“Consequently, those regulations were not lawfully laid,” she explained.
Senator Lightbourne noted that Section 91 of the Child Care and Protection Act empowers the Minister of Health to make regulations, subject to affirmative resolution, providing for, among other things, the licensing, regulation and control of children’s homes. Between April 5, 2005 and June 8, 2007, the CDA, in the belief that the regulations were lawfully laid, went about licensing, registering and regulating children’s’ homes pursuant to the unapproved Regulations.
“This error in gazetting the 2005 Regulations without parliamentary approval was subsequently discovered, so that in 2007 when regulations were again being promulgated, the proper procedure was employed. In fact, the Child Care and Protection Children’s Home Regulations 2007 were lawfully published in the Gazette on June 8, 2007, having been affirmed by both Houses of Parliament,” Senator Lightbourne said.
She stated that acts done by the CDA, between the April 5, 2005 and June 8, 2007 under the 2005 Regulations, must be validated and confirmed by legislation, to indemnify the CDA and persons employed to the agency from any liability in respect of such acts.
“Such persons would have acted in good faith, notwithstanding that the 2005 regulations which they sought to enforce were not lawfully laid,” she said.