War on punctuation. The government has announced that its biannual party of red tape reduction is no more, with assistant minister for productivity Peter Hendy saying that most of the work has already been done in repealing laws with unnecessary red tape. Labor finance spokesman Tony Burke used the announcement to send out a press release saying that hyphens and semi-colons have been given a reprieve:

On the first Repeal Day, the Defence Act 1904, which related to the definition of naval officers and state navies, was repealed.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.”

So now the war against red tape is over, we hope the red tape that goes with it is also done.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form