Government bills relating to Snowy 2.0 and the building industry pass the Council, while motions to disallow regulations concerning the management of marine parks and Sydney Olympic Park were defeated. Read more in our blog, House in Review.
Disallowance motion—Marine Estate Management (Management Rules) Amendment Regulation 2018
The Marine Estate Management (Management Rules) Amendment Regulation 2018 rezones certain areas within the Solitary Islands Marine Park, the Cape Byron Marine Park, the Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park and the Batemans Marine Park from ‘sanctuary zone’ to ‘habitat protection zone’ to allow recreational line fishing from the shore in those areas. The regulation also consequentially updates the maps for those Marine Parks.
The House agreed to debate the disallowance motion after formalities on Tuesday afternoon. In speaking to his disallowance motion, Mr Field argued that the regulation would wind back the State’s marine protections and undermine the value of the State’s marine park network. The Government opposed the disallowance, with Minister Blair indicating that the regulation formalised line fishing arrangements in the identified marine park areas that have been in place since 2014. Ms Sharpe also spoke to the motion and indicated that the Opposition would not support the disallowance (see Hansard for a transcript of the debate).
The motion to disallow the regulation was defeated on division (4:30), with The Greens and the Animal Justice Party voting in support and the Government, the Opposition, the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party voting against.
Disallowance motion—Sydney Olympic Park Authority Regulation 2018
Prior to moving the disallowance, Mr Shoebridge amended his motion to specify that he only wanted the House to consider disallowing clauses 4(1)(b) and 5(1)(i) of the regulation. Clause 4(1)(b) prohibits or limits categories of persons from entering Sydney Olympic Park and clause 5(1)(i) states that persons cannot distribute a brochure, leaflet or handbill unless authorised by the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.
Mr Shoebridge sought to disallow these particular clauses as Sydney Olympic Park is public land, and as such, members of the public should be allowed to enter, express an opinion and engage with their families. He noted that the Legislation Review Committee had indicated that clause 4(1)(b) may trespass on the right to freedom of movement and freedom of assembly. Mr Shoebridge argued that the distribution of leaflets should also be allowed on public land and viewed that the Authority had recently abused its power when it prohibited the advocacy group ‘Sniff Off’ from handing out material at a music festival in April. The Opposition supported the motion to disallow these clauses.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Farlow, explained that the previous Sydney Olympic Park regulation was due to expire in September 2018 and that the new regulation merely reinstates the regulation with some minor changes, including the introduction of parking infringements to prevent stopping at no stopping signs. There were no changes to the clauses Mr Shoebridge wished to disallow. The Parliamentary Secretary also noted that extensive consultation had taken place prior to the introduction of the regulation. The disallowance motion was defeated on the voices.
House of Origin: Legislative Council
The bill amends the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Act 1997 to enable Snowy 2.0, a proposed expansion of The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme, to receive the necessary leases and other approvals under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1979. The Legislative Council’s Regulation Committee had previously conducted an inquiry into the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Snowy 2.0 and Transmission Project) Order 2018 which declared the Snowy 2.0 and Transmission Project as critical State significant infrastructure.
Resumption of the second reading debate on the bill commenced after Questions on Tuesday. The Opposition acknowledged that a number of environmental and conservation organisations were opposed to the bill. However, the Opposition stated that it did not oppose the bill on the basis that it supported the Snowy 2.0 project and its capacity to be a major source of new and stored energy. The Christian Democratic Party also supported the bill on the grounds that Snowy 2.0 was a critically State significant project. Members from the Government noted that the Government had sold its 58 per cent shareholding in the project to the Federal Government for $4.2 billion and that all of these funds would go to regional NSW.
The Greens stated that they could not support the bill in its current form as, they argued, the scope of the bill was alarmingly wide and gave the Government a “blank cheque” to override important protections in the National Parks and Wildlife Act. While they would support the second reading of the bill, The Greens foreshadowed that their support for the third reading of the bill would depend on the bill being amended in the committee stage (see Hansard for a transcript of the debate). The second reading was agreed to.
In the committee stage, The Greens moved three sets of amendments; while they drew varying support from the other parties all the amendments were ultimately defeated. Amendments to limit the approvals and leases to Stage 1 of the project did not draw any support (division 4:29), the attempt to ensure the proposed required leases were subject to review and possible disallowance by the Parliament drew the support of the Animal Justice Party (division 5:28), and the set of amendments requiring the maximum use of existing easements and that proposed leases be publicly exhibited, subject to a fee and be non-transferable were supported by the AJP and the Opposition (14:18).
As the bill was not amended in the committee stage, The Greens opposed the third reading of the bill, which was nevertheless agreed to on division (4:28). The bill was forwarded to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence.
Retirement Villages Amendment Bill 2018 and cognates:
House of Origin: Legislative Council
The Retirement Villages Amendment Bill, which amends the Retirement Villages Act 1999, is the first of a series of legislative reforms emerging from the Government’s response to the Greiner review report into the retirement village sector. Among other things, the bill provides that village operators must prepare and maintain an emergency plan and ensure that all residents and staff are familiar with the plan.
The Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Amendment Bill 2018 amends the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999. It seeks to provide greater protections to subcontractors, suppliers and workers in the building and construction industry and promote cash flow and transparency in the contracting chain.
The Fair Trading Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2018 is part of the Government’s package of ‘Better Business Reforms’ and makes amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, the Co-operative Housing and Starr-Bowkett Societies Act 1998 and the Uncollected Goods Act 1995. The bill contains a range of reforms intended to reduce red tape, enhance consumer choice and ensure that the legislation within the Innovation and Better Regulation portfolio remains fit for purpose.
The Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (Asbestos Waste) Bill 2018 imposes stricter sanctions for asbestos-related offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. The amendments seek to send a deterrent message to those who dump asbestos and related waste, by establishing standalone asbestos waste offences, doubling maximum fines, and ensuring that the presence of asbestos is considered by the courts when sentencing offenders.
The second reading debate on these bills resumed on Tuesday evening with the Opposition and Christian Democratic Party (CDP) noting their support, but foreshadowing that they would move amendments during the committee stage (see Hansard for a transcript of debate). The second reading was agreed to.
The bills were then considered in committee. One Opposition amendment was moved to the Retirement Villages Bill which sought to ensure information is provided to residents in a non-digital format. This amendment was lost on division (13:18), with only The Greens voting with the Opposition.
Three CDP amendments were agreed to for the Building Construction Industry Bill in order to provide flexibility to the government regarding exemptions to construction contracts. The Opposition was then unsuccessful in moving four amendments to the Fair Trading Bill to specify that the bill’s remit does not extend to residential homes.
Finally, one CDP amendment to the Protection of the Environment Bill was agreed to. This amendment ensures that the Act will not commence until the establishment of minimum standards for screening waste for asbestos contamination.
All four bills were read a third time and forwarded to the Assembly for concurrence.
Justice Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2018 and cognates:
House of Origin: Legislative Assembly
The Justice Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2018 amends various Acts and Regulations relating to courts, crimes and other matters in the Justice portfolio. It includes provisions for expanding the site of the Anzac Memorial Building in Hyde Park, for the disclosure of information in the administration of the Children (Detention Centres) Act 1987 and for extending the circumstances in which a sexual assault will be treated as an aggravated sexual assault. The bill also increases the retirement age for judicial officers from 72 years to 75 years and for acting judicial officers from 77 years to 78 years.
The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Victims) Bill 2018 makes miscellaneous amendments to various Acts with respect to criminal proceedings involving children, victim involvement in sentencing and the rights of victims of crime and witnesses in court procedure. These include amendments relating to victim impact statements following a review undertaken by the NSW Sentencing Council.
The Government Information (Public Access) Amendment Bill 2018 amends the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the principal Act) to give effect to recommendations arising from a statutory review of the principal Act tabled in Parliament on 10 August 2017. It includes amendments concerning access applications, review of agency decisions and public interest considerations against disclosure.
The Parliamentary Secretary Mr Farlow commenced the second reading debate on the bills on behalf of Minister Harwin, and incorporated in Hansard the second reading speech setting out the scope and intent of the bills. Following contributions from Mr Searle (Opposition), Mr Shoebridge (The Greens) and Reverend Nile (Christian Democratic Party) debate was adjourned (see Hansard for a transcript of the debate). During their contributions, members noted that the bills overwhelmingly represent the Government’s response to various statutory reviews and recommendations for legislative amendments and that the majority of the proposed provisions were worthy and uncontroversial. Both Mr Searle and Mr Shoebridge commented that they could not discern any obvious basis for presenting the bills as cognate bills, and both also foreshadowed amendments to the Justice Legislation Amendment Bill and the Government Information (Public Access) Amendment Bill.
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate:
- Mr Farlow – Australian Population Growth
- Mr Donnelly – University of Sydney
- Mr Green – Shoalhaven Region Achievements
- Mr Franklin – Ballina Electorate
- Mr Moselmane – Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan Appointment
- Mr Borsak – Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party
See Hansard for details of the debate.