This week, the Law and Justice Committee reviews the impact of proposed new drink and drug driving offences; the Regulation Committee examines a controversial plan to offer voluntary 25-year renewable interment rights to re-use grave sites; and the Social Issues Committee commences a new inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes between 1970 and 2010. You can find further information on all current and past inquiries on our website.

 Proposed new drink and drug driving offences reviewed by Law and Justice Committee

Last week, the House, on the recommendation of the Selection of Bills Committee, referred the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Penalties and Other Sanctions) Bill 2018 to the Law and Justice Committee due to concerns about the potential changes to the penalties for drink and drug driving offences and the impact on the community and road safety. This is the second bill referred from the Legislative Council’s trial of a Selection of Bills Committee.

The bill amends the Road Transport Act 2013, Roads Act 1993 and other road transport legislation to reflect the New South Wales Government’s Road Safety Plan 2021. The amendments include: introducing licence suspension and penalty notices for low range alcohol and drug driving first offences; expanding the mandatory alcohol interlock program to include more offences; providing for the imposition of vehicle sanctions for certain repeat drink-driving offences; and provisions requiring drink and drug driving offenders to complete an education course.

The Law and Justice Committee undertook an abridged inquiry process by examining the bill within a one week turnaround time. The committee received three submissions and held a short hearing on Monday 24 September to take evidence from legal organisations, policy experts and the government.

Today the committee tabled its report, which recommended that the Legislative Council proceed to consider the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Penalties and Other Sanctions) Bill 2018 and consider amendments in the committee stage that address stakeholder concerns raised in the inquiry.

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The Law and Justice Committee take evidence this week

Plans for cemeteries and crematoria under scrutiny by new Regulation Committee

Last Friday 21 September, the Regulation Committee held a public hearing for its inquiry into the Cemeteries and Crematoria Amendment Regulation 2018.

The committee heard from a range of stakeholders including Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW, Rookwood General Cemetery, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, and the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The hearing canvassed a number of matters relating to the regulation, including: the limited availability of land in metropolitan Sydney for cemeteries and the regulation’s attempts to address this issue by offering voluntary 25 year renewable interment rights to re-use grave sites; protections for religious and cultural practices; and the government’s process of consultation in developing the regulation. The committee also received evidence regarding issues such as funeral poverty, the process by which consecrated land is allocated for religious or cultural burials, and the types of materials used in coffins. During the hearing, inquiry participants questioned whether the proposed length of 25 years for renewable interment as specified in the regulation was appropriate, or should be extended to a minimum of 50 years.

The committee will table its report on the regulation by 9 November 2018.

Social Issues Committee to inquire into gay and transgender hate crimes

On 19 September, the House referred to the Social Issues Committee a new inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes that took place between 1970 and 2010, with reference to the May 2018 report of ACON, In Pursuit of Truth and Justice, and the progress made by NSW Police Force through Strike Force Parrabell.

The committee will examine whether there existed impediments within the criminal justice system that impacted the protection of LGBTIQ people in New South Wales and the delivery of justice to victims of LGBTIQ hate crimes and their families, with reference to case studies of particular matters including but not limited to Alan Rosendale, Scott Johnson, John Russell and Ross Warren, and whether such impediments have been addressed by current policy and practice. The committee will also consider the role the so-called ‘gay panic’ defence played in the culture of LGBTIQ hate crimes, the delivery of justice and the treatment of gay men during hate crime investigations and court proceedings.

Further information about the new inquiry can be found on the committee’s website.