Week in Review
This was the second last sitting week of the year and began with the President making a statement commemorating the Centenary of Armistice Day. This was the 77th statement by the President marking significant events from World War One and their impact on the people of New South Wales. Following the statement, a bugler played the Last Post and the Rouse and members and officers stood in their places as a mark of respect.
The Council passed three bills on Tuesday, the first dealt with a range of health matters including reproductive technology and the Mental Health Commission, while the others concerned St Paul’s College at Sydney University and Government procurement following the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership earlier this year.
Wednesday saw the House focus on two significant pieces of Government legislation. The first implemented changes to the State’s child protection system proposed in a 2017 Department of Family and Community Services discussion paper. The bill proved controversial with some members arguing that it ran ‘the risk of creating an instrument by which we would create the potential for another stolen generation of children to be removed from their families’. Thirty-one amendments were moved to the bill, but none were successful. The bill passed following a six hour debate.
The second significant bill concerned government sector finance legislation. The House had in fact already passed this bill with amendments in June. However the amendments, which sought to establish the Public Accounts Committee as a Joint Parliamentary Committee, were rejected by the Assembly. While the Council resolved to ‘not insist’ on the amendments, therefore passing the bill in the same form as the Assembly, there was an unsuccessful attempt to amend the bill again.
On Tuesday and Wednesday valedictory speeches were also delivered by Mr David Clarke and Mr Rick Colless. Both members are retiring from the Council and will not be seeking reelection. They fondly reminisced about their time as members, particularly working on parliamentary committee inquiries.
Thursday saw the House debate whether to disallow a regulation into cemeteries and crematoria concerning interment rights. This followed a committee inquiry into the regulation which raised some concerns. The disallowance motion was ultimately defeated. That debate was followed by the introduction of a ‘clean air’ bill regarding emissions from coal-fired power stations, a spirited debate on the performance of the current government, and a brief debate on the bill known as ‘Zoe’s Law’.
The Council will sit again tomorrow for the final sitting week before the State election in March. We expect the Council to clear the decks and consider all Government legislation on our Notice Paper. The week will also see valedictory speeches from Ms Dawn Walker, Mr Jeremy Buckingham, Mr Scot MacDonald and Mr Ernest Wong.