Two joint sittings: one new member of the Legislative Council and one new Senator elected:
On Wednesday 15 August, the Legislative Council replaced one member, then immediately voted the former member into another Parliament! This is how it happened.
Two joint sittings were held in the Legislative Council chamber. Joint sittings are meetings of members of both the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly and are relatively rare.
Most joint sittings are held to fill a vacancy in the Legislative Council caused by the resignation of one of its members. Unlike the Assembly, where vacant seats are filled by by-election, Council vacancies are filled by a vote of members of the two Houses performing the role of electors.
The second most common joint sitting is to fill a vacancy in the representation of New South Wales in the Senate, caused by the resignation of one of the NSW Senators, which are similarly filled by a vote of Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly members.
The Houses also meet for openings of Parliament and there is a provision in the Constitution for the Houses to meet over a disagreement on legislation, although this provision has been rarely used.
What was unusual about Wednesday’s joint sittings was not only that there were two in one day, but that they were connected, in more ways than one.
The first joint sitting was held to fill the vacant seat caused by the resignation of Dr Mehreen Faruqi of The Greens. As required by the Constitution, the person nominated to fill the vacancy was a member of the same party as the member who has vacated the seat. Ms Cate Faehrmann was elected to fill the vacant seat.
Ms Faehrmann was previously a member of the Council and resigned to run for election to the Senate in the 2013 federal election. Being unsuccessful, Ms Faehrmann went on to be chairperson of Sea Shepherd Australia and later became chief of staff to Greens leader, Richard Di Natale. Ms Faehrmann is welcomed back to the Council and you can find her biographical and parliamentary service details here.
Dr Faruqi was elected to the Council at a joint sitting in 2013 to fill the seat vacated by Ms Faehrmann, who now replaces her!
Dr Faruqi resigned from the Council on Tuesday in order to stand for election to the vacancy in the representation of New South Wales in the Senate which was expected to arise the following day when Ms Lee Rhiannon resigned. Ms Rhiannon is also a former member of the Legislative Council and resigned in 2010 to join the Senate.
Advice having been received that Ms Rhiannon had indeed resigned from the Senate, Dr Faruqi was elected to the Senate at the second joint sitting of the two Council and Assembly. The Department of the Legislative Council wishes Dr Faruqi well in her new role.
Return to order – 2018-19 Budget Finances
As noted in Tuesday’s post/blog, a report of the independent legal arbiter, the Honourable Keith Mason AC QC on the disputed claim of privilege over documents included in the Budget Finances return to order was available for inspection by members of the Legislative Council only.
Later that day, Mr Justin Field of The Greens (the member who lodged the dispute regarding the claim of privilege) gave notice of a motion to have Mr Mason’s report made public. During formalities on Wednesday morning, the House agreed to the motion and the report was accordingly tabled and made public.
Disallowance motion – item 4 of clause 13(1) of the Crown Land Management Regulation 2018 (Mr David Shoebridge, The Greens)
The Crown Land Management Regulation 2018 supports the operation of the Crown Land Management Act 2016. Item 4 of clause 13(1) of the Regulation prescribes that ‘taking part in any gathering, meeting or assembly (except, in the case of a cemetery, for the purpose of a religious or other ceremony of burial or commemoration)’ is an activity that can be prohibited on Crown land by direction or notice under Part 9 of the Crown Land Management Act. The motion of Mr Shoebridge seeks to have item 4 of clause 13(1) removed from the Regulation.
On 20 June the House had agreed that the disallowance motion should proceed as business of the House, but it did not agree that it should be considered on that day. The House agreed to debate the disallowance motion after formalities on Wednesday morning.
In speaking to the disallowance, Mr Shoebridge argued that item 4 of clause 13(1) unfairly impinges upon a person’s right to protest. In the debate, The Greens, the Opposition and the Animal Justice Party spoke in support of the disallowance while members of the Government and the Christian Democratic Party spoke against the disallowance. See Hansard for a transcript of the debate.
The motion was negatived on division (16:20), with the Opposition, The Greens and the Animal Justice Party voting in support of the disallowance and the Government and the Christian Democratic Party voting against the disallowance.
Earlier, members of the public had gathered outside Parliament to protest against the Regulation. A number of those citizens watched the debate on the disallowance from the public gallery. On a number of occasions during the debate, the President was required to remind those present that while visitors were free to observe proceedings they were not allowed to make interjections as this disrupted proceedings in the House. On the announcement of the result of the vote a number of persons in the gallery reacted volubly, causing the President to leave the Chair while the public gallery was cleared.
Residential Tenancies Amendment (Social Housing) Bill 2018
House of origin: Legislative Assembly
The bill amends the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and the Housing Act 2001 to make provision for the New South Wales Land and Housing Corporation and the Aboriginal Housing Office to require and collect rental bonds from tenants, and to issue termination notices where tenants fail to pay rental bonds or are found guilty of fraud. The bill also introduces certain provisions for the tenancy agreements of registrable persons and provides the Secretary of the Department of Family and Community Services access to information and investigatory and recovery powers.
The House received the bill from the Assembly and it was read a first time on Tuesday. Debate on the second reading took place on Wednesday. See Hansard for a transcript of the debate, which also continued later that day.
During the second reading The Greens proposed that the bill be referred to Portfolio Committee No. 2 – Health and Community Services for inquiry and report. The referral was negatived on division (14:21) with The Greens, the Opposition, and the Animal Justice Party voting for the committee inquiry and Government, Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party voting against the inquiry.
The second reading was then agreed to on division (30:5), with The Greens and the Animal Justice Party voting against the second reading.
In the committee stage amendments were moved by the Opposition, and The Greens. The Opposition amendments sought to provide the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal discretion in making termination orders in cases of hardship, introduce provisions for housing condition reports and have rental board guidelines determined by regulation rather than by the Minister. The Greens amendments also sought to vary the provisions concerning the Tribunal’s making of termination orders, as well as remove the provisions relating to rental bonds. However, The Greens and the Opposition amendments were negatived, one on division (14:21) and four on the voices.
The third reading of the bill was agreed to on the voices and the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly without amendment.
Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Amendment Bill 2018
House of origin: Legislative Council
The bill provides for closer alignment of State and National legislation and for greater regulation by the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW) regarding education and care services in New South Wales. This includes: applying the National Law, National Quality Standard, National Quality Framework and fees and penalties to mobile and occasional education and care services; discontinuing State regulation of home based and shopping centre child care services; and other related amendments, including minor changes to Working with Children requirements.
The Minister for Early Childhood Education introduced the bill and gave her second reading speech. See Hansard for a transcript of the Minister’s speech. At the conclusion of the Minister’s speech, debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Fair Trading Legislation Amendment (Consumer Guarantee Directions) Bill 2018:
House of origin: Legislative Assembly
The bill amends the Fair Trading Act 1987 to give the Commissioner for Fair Trading the power to make binding determinations in consumer disputes involving low cost goods and to enhance the power of Fair Trading investigators to enforce the law and protect consumers from unsafe and dangerous goods. The bill also amends the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 to expand the powers of entry by Fair Trading Inspectors. In addition the bill amends the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011 and Regulation to improve Fair Trading’s ability to regulate the sector effectively.
The House initially received the bill from the Assembly and it was read a first time the previous day. Debate on the second reading took place on Wednesday evening. See Hansard for a transcript of the debate.
The second and third readings were agreed to and the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly without amendment.
Paintball Bill 2018
House of origin: Legislative Assembly
The bill removes the regulation of paintball markers from the Firearms Act 1996 and establishes a separate system of permits for the regulation of paintball markers and of paintball venues. The bill includes provision for reducing the paintball age limit from 16 years to 12 years and over, provided that all players under the age of 18 have prior written consent from a parent or guardian.
The House received the bill from the Assembly and read it a first time at the start of the sitting with debate on the second reading taking place at the end of the day. See Hansard for a transcript of the debate. The debate was unusual for the fact that a number of members were granted leave to have their speeches incorporated in Hansard. During the brief debate, the Opposition, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party indicated their support for the Government’s bill, while The Greens stated that they were opposed to the bill.
The second reading and third readings were agreed to and the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly without amendment.
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate:
- Mr Secord – Tweed Hospital Location
- Revd Mr Nile – Death of Lyn Dawson
- Mrs Ward – Tribute to Bruce Notley-Smith, Member for Coogee
- Mr Mookhey – India Independence Day / M4 Toll
- Mr Pearson – Drought and Animal Welfare
- Ms Cusack – Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
See Hansard for details of the debate.