The first sitting week after the seven-week winter recess was busy, with the routine consideration of government and private members’ business interrupted by the valedictory speech of a resigning member and two joint sittings. This week also saw the House debate a motion to disallow part of a statutory rule and the tabling of a document included in a return to an order for papers over which the government had placed a claim of privilege.
During the week one government bill was introduced in the House while a further four were received from the Legislative Assembly. Overall, the House passed five government bills, three of which had been received during the week, while the other two had been received during the last sitting week in June. Two of the Government bills, the Fair Trading Amendment (Short-Term Rental Accommodation) Bill and the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Social Housing) Bill were both considered in committee of the whole, however both were returned to the Assembly without amendment.
The House also saw Mr Field of The Greens introduce the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Marine Plastics Reduction) Bill.
Tuesday evening saw Dr Mehreen Faruqi (The Greens) give her valedictory speech in the Chamber just prior to tendering her resignation as a member of the Legislative Council to the Governor. Dr Faruqi resigned from the Council as she had been endorsed by her party to fill the vacancy in the Australian Senate that was to arise from the resignation on Wednesday of Senator Lee Rhiannon. Wednesday afternoon saw two consecutive joint sittings of the members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council in the Council Chamber. The first joint sitting saw Ms Cate Faehrmann elected to fill the vacant seat in the Council caused by the resignation of Dr Mehreen Faruqi. Ms Faehrmann had previously served as member of the Council from 2010 to 2013. The second joint sitting then saw Dr Faruqi elected to fill the vacant seat in the Australian Senate.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, the House had debated a disallowance motion regarding item 4 of clause 13(1) of the Crown Land Management Regulation, with the motion being negatived on division. That morning, members of the public had gathered outside Parliament to protest against the Regulation, with a number of those citizens then taking a place in the public gallery to observe the debate. On the announcement of the result of the division vote, a number of persons in the gallery reacted volubly, causing the President to leave the Chair while the public gallery was cleared.
During the recess two returns to orders for papers relating to the 2018-2019 Budget and the 2018-2019 Budget Finances were lodged with the Clerk. These were tabled on Tuesday. The return concerning Budget Finances included a claim of privilege over certain documents. Mr Field (The Greens) lodged a dispute regarding the validity of the claim of privilege over one of these documents which dealt with gambling revenues. The Honourable Keith Mason AC QC was appointed as an independent arbiter to evaluate and report on the validity of the claim of privilege. Receipt of Mr Mason’s report by the Clerk was reported to the House on Tuesday. The following two days saw the House agree to motions to first table and make public Mr Mason’s report, which did not uphold the claim of privilege, and, secondly, to table and make public the document in question.
The House now stands adjourned for a further four weeks and is scheduled to resume sitting on Tuesday 18 September. During this adjournment period, the annual Budget Estimates inquiries will commence with the initial round of portfolio committee hearings running from 30 August to 7 September.