The Government’s response to orders of the House and censure of the Leader of the Government

As discussed in yesterday’s House in Review, the House had resolved that should the business cases and reports previously ordered to be produced regarding Sydney stadiums, the Powerhouse Museum relocation business case and the Tune report on the out-of-home-care system, not be tabled by 9.30 am on Wednesday 6 June, the Leader of the Government would be required to attend in his place at the Table of the House to explain the reasons for continued non-compliance.

Yesterday following prayers, in accordance with the previous resolution, the Clerk was called on by the President to table correspondence received earlier that morning from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, which stated “after considering advice from the Crown Solicitor, a copy of which is enclosed, I advise that there are no further documents for production”.

As no documents were produced, the Honourable Don Harwin MLC, as Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, was then called on by the President to address the House. Mr Harwin advised that the documents ordered would be provided by 5.00 pm on Friday 8 June 2018.

The next edition of House in Review (due to be published Tuesday 20 June) will provide a further update on proceedings.

Government business

Government Sector Finance Bill 2018 and cognate Government Sector Finance Legislation (Repeal and Amendment) Bill 2018

House of origin: Legislative Assembly

The existing legislative framework for public sector financial management in New South Wales has been in place for more than 30 years and consists of four separate pieces of legislation: the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983, the Public Authorities (Financial Arrangements) Act 1987, the Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Act 1984 and the Annual Reports (Departments) Act 1985.

The bills reform that framework by replacing the existing legislation with two statutes. The Government’s reforms are intended to address concerns that the existing financial management framework is outdated, fragmented and overly prescriptive.

The Government Sector Finance Bill establishes the new financial management framework that will cover all public financial management matters, except audit matters, while the Government Sector Finance Legislation (Repeal and Amendment) Bill repeals, renames and amends certain legislation consequent on the proposed enactment of the Government Sector Finance Bill, including renaming the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 as the Government Sector Audit Act (known as the GSA). The GSA will separately address audit matters and the governance of the Public Accounts Committee.

The House received the bills from the Assembly and they were read a first time on Tuesday. The bills were declared urgent and debate on the second reading took place the following day. See Hansard to follow the debate. The second reading was agreed to and consideration in committee was set down for a later hour of the sitting.

The House resumed consideration of the bills after midnight. In the committee stage, The Greens moved three amendments to the Government Sector Finance Bill, regarding additional content of the Budget Papers and performance audits of associated entities (“follow the dollar” audits). The amendments were negatived, on division or on the voices.

The Greens then moved four amendments to the Government Sector Finance Legislation (Repeal and Amendment) Bill to reconstitute the Public Accounts Committee – which is currently a committee of the Legislative Assembly – as a joint committee, comprising four members from each House. Speakers supported the motion on the grounds that the Legislative Council, as a House of review, should be represented on the Public Accounts Committee, to participate in its important oversight work. In response, other speakers suggested that the amendments pre-empt the findings of the Legislative Council’s recently-established Public Accountability Committee, which is currently inquiring into future arrangements for the ongoing scrutiny of public accountability in New South Wales. The amendments were agreed to on division (18:17), with the Opposition, The Greens, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Animal Justice Party and Mr Mason-Cox voting to establish a joint Public Accounts Committee, and the Government and Christian Democratic Party voting against the proposal.

The bills, as amended, were returned to the Legislative Assembly for consideration.

Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018

House of Origin: Legislative Assembly

The object of the bill is to recognise the cultural significance and heritage values of brumbies in the Kosciuszko National Park and sets a framework for their future protection and management. The bill requires the Minister for the Environment to prepare a heritage management plan, identifying areas within the Kosciuszko National Parks where brumby populations will be maintained and to set rules regarding how brumby populations will be managed.

The bill was received from the Assembly on Wednesday afternoon. The bill was declared urgent, allowing it to pass all stages before the winter recess. Debate on the second reading of the bill commenced immediately. During the debate the Opposition sought to delay the passage of the bill by moving a number of amendments. Ms Sharpe moved that the bill be referred to the State Development Committee for inquiry and report, while the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Mr Searle, moved that the House decline to read the bill a second time for two specified reasons (see Hansard for a transcript of the debate). Both attempts to delay the bill were defeated on division (15:20) and the bill was subsequently read a second time.

As The Greens, Opposition and Animal Justice Party had all circulated amendments, the bill was considered in detail. Overall during the lengthy committee stage, 24 amendments to the bill were moved. However none were agreed to as the Government, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and the Christian Democratic Party consistently opposed the proposed changes to the bill.

The third reading of the bill was agreed to just prior to midnight, and the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly without amendment.

Justice Legislation Amendment Bill (No 2) 2018

House of origin: Legislative Council

The bill amends various acts and regulations relating to courts and crimes and other related matters. The amendments aim to improve criminal investigation and enforcement, improve court processes in criminal proceedings, support victims of crime, improve civil procedure, and support the management of offenders and young people in custody and following their release. The bill also introduces amendments to protect the community from offenders who have reached the end of their prison sentence and pose an unacceptable risk of committing a future serious terrorism offence.

Debate on the second reading of the bill resumed on Wednesday. See Hansard for details of the debate. The second and third readings of the bill were agreed to on the voices and the bill was forwarded to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence.

Water Management Amendment Bill 2018

House of origin: Legislative Council

The bill amends the Water Management Act 2000 with respect to management plans, approvals and access licences, Murray-Darling Basin water resources, metering equipment, enforcement and liability, the provision of information and management of environmental water, and other purposes. In his second reading speech, the Minister indicated that the bill implements aspects of the Water Reform Action Plan, which he announced in December 2017 as a blueprint to reform water management in New South Wales.

The Minister introduced the bill, declared the bill urgent and gave his second reading speech on Wednesday (see Hansard for details of his speech). At the conclusion of the Minister’s speech debate was adjourned for five calendar days.

Adjournment debate

The following members spoke to the adjournment debate:

  • Mr Mookhey – Income Inequality
  • Mr Fang – Snowy Mountains Scheme
  • Mr Field – Corporatisation of Government
  • Mr Veitch – Multi-Peril Crop Insurance
  • Mr Green – Religious Freedom
  • Mr Clarke – Christian Persecution

See Hansard for details of the debate.

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