Bills, bills, bills. The House sat late on Tuesday and Wednesday to consider government legislation, with the House passing seven bills, referring one to a committee and adjourning a ninth bill prior to the consideration of amendments.

The sitting week began with the Law and Justice Committee tabling a report into a bill that introduces tougher penalties for drink- and drug‑driving behaviour. This followed a whirlwind inquiry referred by the Selection of Bills Committee which was completed within a week. The committee’s report informed Tuesday’s committee of the whole debate where the bill was amended.

Also on Tuesday the Selection of Bills Committee recommended that the House refer a bill to the State Development Committee regarding the raising of the wall of Warragamba Dam to mitigate the flood risk in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. The House agreed to this recommendation and the bill was referred the next day at the end of the second reading debate (but prior to the question being put). The committee will report on the bill by 10 October. During Wednesday’s debate the Greens moved to have the bill referred to Portfolio Committee No. 6. This proposal will be considered only after the State Development Committee reports.

Five government bills were passed by the House on Wednesday. This included a bill regarding the Parliamentary Budget Officer – an independent officer who provides information on the costs of election policies proposed by the Government and Opposition in advance of a NSW general election. The bill included a requirement that the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) prepare a draft operational plan within one month of appointment. This plan was provided to Parliament on Thursday, a day after the bill passed. The PBO can now receive policies from the Government and Opposition for costing.

Thursday’s private members’ business day saw two motions and two bills debated, including the finalisation of a motion regarding agricultural shows. Members were very enthusiastic about this issue with the debate stretching over a number of sitting days. The time limit was even extended on Thursday to allow further speakers to address the motion. This was followed by a contested debate about preselections, and further contributions on two private members’ bills.

The House is now adjourned until Tuesday 16 October. There are only four more scheduled sitting weeks before the election. We are expecting some late nights in the coming weeks!

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