House of Origin: Legislative Assembly
As noted in earlier posts, on Tuesday the Treasurer tabled the 2018-2019 Budget Papers in the Legislative Assembly and later that day, Minister Harwin tabled the Budget Papers in the Legislative Council and moved a motion for a ‘take note’ debate on the papers which will resume during the Spring sittings. On Wednesday the House agreed to the timetable for this year’s Budget Estimates inquiry and made two orders for papers relating to the budget.
On Thursday, after Question Time, the Appropriation Bill 2018 and cognates, the Appropriation (Parliament) Bill, NSW Generations Funds Bill, Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund Bill and the State Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill were received from the Legislative Assembly. There was a very brief second reading debate on the bills, with the Minister incorporating his speech into Hansard and a short contribution from the Leader of the Opposition and Mr Field (The Greens). The bills were passed by the House without amendment and returned to the Legislative Assembly.
Message stick presented during introduction of Aboriginal Languages Bill 2017
The House agreed to a motion of Mrs Mitchell, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, in relation to a message stick passed between Aboriginal elders representing Aboriginal Language groups during a special ceremony to commemorate the introduction of the Aboriginal Languages Bill 2017. The message stick was then handed to the Minister and presented to the Parliament later that day.
The motion authorises the President to make arrangements to facilitate the permanent display of the message stick in the Chamber, and to authorise the placement of the message stick on the Table during proceedings such as the opening of Parliament. On such occasions a nominated elder from an Aboriginal Language group will be invited to address members in language and hand the message stick to the Usher of the Black Rod for placement on the Table.
Private members’ business
Compliance with orders for papers (Mr Searle, Australian Labor Party)
The extent of the powers of the House to compel the production of documents has been the subject of ongoing debate in the House in 2018.
The motion of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Searle, considered by the House on Thursday noted that, after resisting various orders by the House for the production of documents on the basis that the documents were Cabinet documents, on 8 June 2018 the Government had provided the documents to the House ‘on a voluntary basis’. The motion went on to reject the assertion that the documents had been provided voluntarily and to express concern at statements made by the government concerning the extent of the House’s powers. The motion also asserted that the test to be applied in determining whether a document is a Cabinet document captured by an order of the House is, at a minimum, that articulated by Spigelman CJ in Egan v Chadwick (1999) 46 NSWLR 563.
During debate on the motion Mr Searle noted that the Government had claimed privilege in relation to some of the documents it had provided to the House but that a person who provides documents voluntarily waives their privilege claim and the recipient is entitled to publish the documents. He further noted, however, that the House exercises restraint in relation to the publication of privileged documents to avoid publication which would harm the public interest. He noted that the House’s view is that it can call for Cabinet documents except those which reveal actual Cabinet deliberations, and argued that the Government should work with the opposition and other parties to find a responsible way for dealing with the issue.
Minister Harwin, Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, spoke to the motion, as did members of The Greens, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and the Christian Democratic Party. During debate members reflected on matters including differing interpretations of the judgments in Egan v Chadwick and on the approaches of successive governments to responding to orders for papers by the Council. See Hansard for details of the debate. The motion was agreed to by the House on division (21:20) with the Opposition, The Greens, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Animal Justice Party and Mr Mason-Cox voting for the motion, and the Government and the Christian Democratic Party voting against.
Modern Slavery Bill 2018 (Mr Green, Christian Democratic Party)
The bill seeks to combat modern slavery through the establishment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The bill is also intended to raise awareness of modern slavery, detect and expose risks of modern slavery in supply chains, introduce mandatory reporting, and provide assistance and support to victims. While the bill introduces criminal penalties in relation to forced child marriage and cyber-sex trafficking, the Commissioner is expressly prevented from investigating individual cases. Instead the bill focuses the role of the Commissioner on strategic planning, providing advice and expertise, and information exchange with law enforcement agencies.
On Thursday 3 May the bill was passed by the Legislative Council and forwarded to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence. In the Assembly, the government moved 22 amendments which were all agreed to. On Thursday 21 June the Legislative Council considered the Assembly’s amendments in committee of the whole.
In moving the amendments Mr Green stated that the amendments concerned five issues: (1) appointing the Anti-Slavery Commissioner under the Government Sector Employment Act 2013, and ensuring the commissioner is independent in relation to advisory and advocacy functions; (2) giving the proposed Modern Slavery Parliamentary Committee a broad remit to inquire into and report on matters relating to modern slavery; (3) ensuring that the supply chain reporting obligations in the bill do not overlap with any future Commonwealth regulation of modern slavery; (4) imposing a requirement on government agencies to take reasonable steps to ensure that goods and services procured by and for the agency are not the product of modern slavery; and (5) removing from the bill a requirement for a modern slavery course in the school curriculum.
Members of the Government, Opposition and Christian Democratic Party spoke in relation to the amendments. In debate the Opposition indicated that it did not support five of the 22 amendments as they diminished the independence of the proposed Commissioner. In the result, 17 of the amendments were agreed to on the voices, while the five amendments to which the Opposition objected were agreed to division (21:18) with the support of the Government and Christian Democratic Party.
The bill amends the Animal Research Act 1985 to reduce the number of deaths of dogs and cats used in connection with animal research by making provision with respect to the homing of those animals. The bill requires a research establishment to take all reasonable steps to home a dog or cat that is no longer required for animal research purposes unless a vet has determined that the dog or cat is not suitable to be homed. The bill also provides that a dog or cat is taken to be no longer required by a person for animal research purposes if the dog or cat has been kept by the person for more than six months.
Mr Pearson introduced the bill and gave his second reading speech on Thursday (see Hansard for details of his speech). Mr Pearson argued that at present dogs and cats no longer required for research purposes are killed with a lethal injection but that they should be afforded a reasonable opportunity to be homed. He indicated that the bill is in line with reforms in a number of US states, was developed in consultation with experts and had its genesis in a trial homing program. At the conclusion of the member’s speech debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Central Coast Food Futures Forum (Mr Martin, Liberal Party)
The motion noted that as part of the Central Coast Food Innovation Initiative, the Central Coast Food Futures Forum was held in Tumbi Umbi on Thursday 26 April 2018. The motion further notes the significant contribution of the food industry to the State’s economy, outlines the strategic regional goals of the Central Coast Food Innovation Initiative and the incorporation of these goals into the Central Coast Regional Plan. The motion concludes by congratulating the Government on driving economic growth on the Central Coast.
Mr Martin spoke to the motion and debate was then adjourned until the next sitting day. See Hansard for Mr Martin’s speech.
United Nations’ World Refugee Day and Australian refugee policies (Dr Faruqi, The Greens)
The motion noted that United Nations’ World Refugee Day, which honours persons forced to flee their homelands, is observed on 20 June each year. The motion also notes that there are currently the highest levels of displacement on record, discusses Australian refugee policy, and concludes by calling on the Government to recognise the plight of refugees, protect their basic rights and provide funding and full support to resettle refugees in New South Wales.
Dr Faruqi spoke to the motion. Debate was then adjourned until the next sitting day. See Hansard for Dr Faruqi’s speech.
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate:
- Dr Faruqi – Government Accountability
- Mr Clarke – Western Civilisation Course
- Ms Voltz – Parramatta Heritage Preservation
- Mr Field – South Coast Youth
- Mr Khan – Safe Access Zones
- Mr Moselmane – Public Broadcasting
- Mr Farlow – Minister Pru Goward
- Mr Harwin – Adjournment Debate.
See Hansard for details of the debate.