This week, a new inquiry into the CBD and South East Light Rail Project; Portfolio Committee No. 4 visits the Parklea Correctional Centre; the Regulation Committee holds its first hearing; and Portfolio Committee No. 5 tables a ‘bloody good report’ on water augmentation. While our latest activities are summarised below, you can find further information on all current and past inquiries on our website.
New inquiry into the Light Rail Project
On Tuesday 22 May the Public Accountability Committee adopted a self-referenced inquiry into the CBD and South East Light Rail Project. The inquiry will examine the impact of the project on small business, residents and the community within the vicinity of the light rail route, as well as the adequacy of the government’s communication to those affected by the project and the financial compensation provided to local businesses. The closing date for submissions is Sunday 8 July 2018. The committee intends to hold public hearings in August and September and report by 1 December 2018.
You can learn more about the work of the Public Accountability Committee, including the terms of reference for this inquiry, by visiting the committee’s webpage.
A ‘bloody good report’ on the augmentation of water supply
On 14 May 2018, Portfolio Committee No. 5 – Industry and Transport tabled its report on the Augmentation of water supply for rural and regional New South Wales. The committee made 51 recommendations to the NSW Government which all seek to improve the availability, reliability and affordability of water for the state’s citizens.
The report examines a large range of water issues, including projects such as the Broken Hill pipeline; the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and its impacts on agricultural production and socio-economic development of regional communities; managed aquifer recharge as a potential scheme for the augmentation of water; the allocation of water, the water market and water pricing; flood mitigation tools; and how other countries are addressing water supply issues. The government is required to respond to the recommendations by 14 November 2018.
A highlight of media coverage of the report was an article from Broken Hill’s local newspaper, Barrier Daily Truth, which proclaimed it to be a ‘bloody good report’. We trust you’ll agree – you can read through the various recommendations and findings at the links above.
Committee visits Parklea Correctional Centre
On Friday 18 May, Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs commenced its inquiry into the Parklea Correctional Centre and other operational issues, with a site visit to the centre and then an afternoon public hearing at Parliament.
The visit to the correctional centre provided committee members with the opportunity to see the operations of the prison first hand, including viewing security measures and methods of detecting contraband, and to speak with management and officers. The visit provided background for the afternoon hearing where the committee heard from the GEO Group, the private operators of the prison, and Corrective Services NSW. Questioning focused on the management of contraband in Parklea, as well as the effects of changing private operators in March 2019 when GEO’s contract expires. The committee also questioned Corrective Services on new Rapid-Build prisons and the benchmarking of prisons in New South Wales.
The committee will continue to visit other correctional facilities and hold hearings through August and September.
New Regulation Committee holds first hearing
In 2017, the House established a Regulation Committee to operate on a trial basis until the end of 2018. The committee is a first for the Council, and indeed in Australia – while the Council has a long history of committees inquiring into bills and substantive legislation, regulations and other subsidiary legislation have usually been scrutinised via other mechanisms such as disallowance motions moved in the House.
In April, the Regulation Committee was tasked with inquiring into the impact and implementation of a 2018 Order which declares the development of the Snowy 2.0 and Transmission Project to be State significant infrastructure and critical State significant infrastructure. The committee held a hearing on Monday 21 August to take evidence from environmental groups, the Snowy Hydro Ltd and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. The committee is due to report by Friday 29 June.