Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (22 August 1985)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (22 August 1985)


Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Thursday 22 August 1985 'I'm the Parliamentary Draftsman, I compose the country's laws, And of half the litigation I'm undoubtedly the cause. I employ a kind of English Which is hard to understand: Though the purists do not like it, All the lawyers think it's grand. I'm the Parliamentary Draftsman, And my sentences are long: They are full of inconsistencies, Grammatically wrong. I put parliamentary wishes Into language of my own, And though no one understands them They're expected to be known. I compose in a tradition Which was founded in the past. And I'm frankly rather puzzled As to how it came to last. But the Civil Service use it, And they like it at the Bar. For it helps to show the laity What clever chaps they are. I'm the Parliamentary Draftsman And my meanings are not clear, And though words are merely language I have made them my career. I admit my kind of English Is inclined to be involved But I think it's even more so When judicially solved. I'm the Parliamentary Draftsman, And they tell me it's a fact, That I often make a muddle Of a simple little Act. I'm a target for the critics, And they take me in their stride Oh, how nice to be a critic Of a job you've never tried!' Mr Speaker, the language used in Territory legislation has been greatly simplified in recent years and, although much remains to be done, I think both the Assembly and the people of the Territory should be grateful to those responsible. I am sure budding lawyers will take notice of that. Whilst on the subject of language, an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald of 1 January this year ended with these words: 'Simplifying legal language would also mean fewer acidic exchanges between the bench and the bar. In the late 18th century, the Lord Chancellor complained to his adversary, Curran, that the words he was seeking to differentiate, "also" and "likewise", were clearly 1201

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain the names, voices and images of people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content. Please be aware that some collection items may use outdated phrases or words which reflect the attitude of the creator at the time, and are now considered offensive.

We use temporary cookies on this site to provide functionality.
By continuing to use this site without changing your settings, you consent to our use of cookies.