The EnAct System
The EnAct Legislation system puts Tasmania at the
forefront of legislative drafting and maintenance technology. The
Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) developed the enabling
technology, the TeraText ™ Database System.
EnAct has attracted a great deal of interest both
interstate and overseas. Key features of the system include:
- automatic consolidation of amendment
legislation on commencement;
- true 'point-in-time' searching of consolidated
legislation (searches are carried out on the legislation database
for legislation relevant at a specified time point);
- innovative automated tools for drafting amendment
- advanced searching and browsing capabilities
with all cross-references and amendment history information stored
as electronic hyperlinks;
- quality control points built into the legislation
- business process tracking for legislation drafting
- multiple format delivery for the publication of legislation allowing paper based products, CD ROM products and HTML publishing via the Internet .
Automatic Consolidation of Legislation
It is the automatic consolidation feature that
provides perhaps the most significant benefits for site users. EnAct
is the first system in the world to provide this kind of functionality.
At the core of the system is an SGML
database. All legislation in the database is broken up into a number
of fragments (ie. one fragment per Section or Schedule). Each fragment
contains the dates for which that piece of legislation is in force.
When legislation is amended, the system automatically builds new
versions of fragments that are affected by amendments and keeps
the old ones for historical reference. Joining together the fragments
relevant at a particular point-in-time generates consolidations.
The database was loaded with legislation consolidated
to 1 February 1997. From that date onwards a complete history of
Tasmanian principal legislation is maintained in the system.
Point-in-Time Access to Consolidated Legislation
So what does 'point-in-time' access really mean?
Traditionally, many legislation users including
lawyers, business people, Members of Parliament and government employees
have prepared their own unofficial paste-ups of consolidated Acts
in order to track the changes to the law. This is a difficult and
labour intensive task involving the manual search of indexes and
tracking of amending legislation, followed by the physical assembly
of text representing the current state of the law. The likelihood
of error increases each time an amendment is applied, while the
readability of the document is significantly reduced.
When exploring the EnAct database, legislation
searches are conducted at today's date or at a date you specify.
This allows topics of interest to be researched through time to
see how the law has changed.
As the legislation history builds, it will allow
the accurate state of the law to be determined at a specific date,
even if the relevant legislation has been amended several times
since. This is very difficult to achieve using a manual system.
Drafting Amendment Legislation
Traditional drafting techniques required legislation
drafters to work from manually pasted-up copies of the legislation
in conjunction with manual indexes. This approach led to the possibility
of legislation changes being overlooked.
The new processes enable amendments to be drafted
by marking up an electronic version of a consolidated Act and provide
access to electronic searching facilities to aid in the preparation
of consequential amendments.
underline format is used to indicate inserted
while strikethrough format indicates an omit operation.
Amendment legislation is automatically generated
by the system from the mark-up of the Principal Act(s). This offers
the following benefits:
- drafters can work from consolidated legislation
to prepare amendments;
- a version of the Principal Act can be printed
showing how it will be affected by amending legislation (the marked
up changes can be read in conjunction with the amending legislation);
- standardisation of wordings for amendment legislation
improves overall readability.