Two members farewelled the House and the House returned eleven bills to the Legislative Assembly.
Valedictory speeches—Ms Dawn Walker and Hon Scot MacDonald
At 5.30 pm, valedictory speeches were given by The Greens member, Ms Dawn Walker (elected in 2017) and the Liberal Party member, the Hon Scot MacDonald (elected in 2011), each bidding an emotional farewell to the House.
Ms Walker, who was sworn in on International Women’s Day in 2017, celebrated her achievements since she arrived in the Council. She described her proudest moments as being the opportunity to work with other women to encourage greater representation of women in Parliament, represent grass roots movements, support farmers in their fight against development projects and support TAFE. Ms Walker then concluded her speech by thanking both her party and other parliamentary colleagues.
Towards the end of Ms Walker’s speech, proceedings were interrupted momentarily by a disturbance in the public gallery which prompted the President to leave the chair until order was restored.
In his speech, Mr MacDonald said that he was proud to have been given the opportunity over the last eight years “to put regional communities back in the heart of government” and highlighted the promised $470 million new hospital for Armidale and the $340 million Gosford Hospital renewal as examples of what had been achieved. Following a few anecdotes regarding some of his colleagues, Mr MacDonald then concluded his speech by thanking his family, especially his wife Aileen, who has supported him throughout his parliamentary career.
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 victims 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 to give effect to recommendations arising from a statutory review of the principal Act. It includes amendments concerning access applications, review of agency decisions and public interest considerations against disclosure.
The second reading debate resumed to allow the Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Farlow, to give his speech in reply in which he addressed some of the matters raised by members during the debate that took place on Tuesday evening (See Hansard for a transcript of Mr Farlow’s speech).
The second reading of the bill was agreed to.
In the committee stage for the Justice Legislation Amendment Bill, Greens amendments to remove the provisions that would extend the timeframe for backup charges for summary offences to be instituted when a conviction for the primary charge is appealed and set aside did not garner any support. During the second reading debate both the Opposition and The Greens had indicated their opposition to making the proposed increase in the retirement age for judicial officers retrospectively. In that debate, the Greens argued that it would have the effect of delaying the necessary generational change in the senior judicial ranks, while the Opposition believed it brought judicial arrangements into the arena of political controversy and risked creating a community perception of self-interest on the part of the judiciary. Both the Opposition and the Greens had circulated identical amendments that sought to remove these provisions, with the Opposition moving the amendments in committee. The amendments were defeated on division (15:19), with the Government and the Christian Democratic Party voting against the amendments.
In the committee stage for the Government Information (Public Access) Amendment Bill, Opposition amendments to require that all government agencies accept electronic GIPA applications were defeated on the voices. Greens amendments that sought to require government agencies to determine up front whether a ‘public interest’ 50 per cent fee reduction applies to an application and also to remove the proposed expansion of the definition of ‘Cabinet information’ were both defeated on divisions (15:19), with The Greens, Opposition and Animal Justice Party voting for the amendments and the Government and the Christian Democratic Party voting against the amendments in both cases.
The three bills came through the committee stage without amendment, and were then read a third time and returned to the Assembly.
House of Origin: Legislative Assembly
The Community Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 contains a number of provisions that have the aim of enhancing community safety. The bill facilitates the implementation of the Terrorism (High Risk Offenders) Act 2017, including to insert mandatory conditions applying to supervision orders. The bill increases the maximum penalty to 21 years for an offence of intentionally causing a fire and being reckless as to its spread to vegetation on any public land. The bill also sets aside statutory prohibitions on the publication or disclosure of information relating to certain mercy petitions. The bill creates a new offence of supply of drugs causing death, following a recommendation for such an offence by the Expert Panel established by the Government after the death of two people at the Defqon.1 music festival in September 2018.
The bill was received from the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday morning and declared an urgent bill. Mr MacDonald introduced the bill later that day on behalf of Minister Harwin. During the second reading debate Mr Searle indicated that the Opposition would not oppose the bill, but placed on the record the concerns of the NSW Bar Association regarding the introduction of the supply of drugs causing death offence (See Hansard for a transcript of the debate). Mr Shoebridge indicated that The Greens also held concerns about the new supply offence, which he noted makes a person who supplies a drug criminally responsible for homicide despite the fact that the person who died after taking the drug had independently and voluntarily chosen to self-administer the drug.
In committee, Mr Shoebridge’s amendment regarding the drug supply offence was negatived on the voices. The third reading of the bill was agreed to and the bill was returned to the Assembly without amendment.
Surveillance Devices Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill 2018 and cognates Terrorism (Police Powers) Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill 2018 and Road Transport Amendment (National Facial Biometric Matching Capability) Bill 2018
House of Origin: Legislative Assembly
The Surveillance Devices Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill enhances the safeguards and scrutiny around the use of surveillance devices. It implements recommendations arising from the Acting Ombudsman’s Operation Prospect report and from the statutory review of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007. Operation Prospect was a four‑year investigation which examined allegations about the conduct of officers of the NSW Police Force, the NSW Crime Commission, and the former NSW Police Integrity Commission in relation to the improper application for and use of listening devices during police internal affairs investigations from 1999-2002. The Ombudsman’s investigation was itself the subject of two Legislative Council Committee inquiries in 2015/16 (Read the first and second committee reports here).
The Terrorism (Police Powers) Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill implements recommendations from the statutory review of the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002. The review made 13 recommendations to ensure the Act’s framework for governing special police powers, use of force, investigative and preventative detention, and covert search warrants are operating effectively. The bill seeks to implement these recommendations by better aligning police powers under the Act with powers under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, implementing additional safeguards, particularly in relation to the detention of minors and vulnerable people, and extending powers relating to preventative detention orders for another three years.
The Road Transport Amendment (National Facial Biometric Matching Capability) Bill seeks to amend the Road Transport Act 2013 to authorise Roads and Maritime Services to collect, keep, use and release identity information in accordance with an October 2017 Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services which was agreed to at a Special Meeting of the Council of Australian Governments on Counter-Terrorism. Under the agreement, agencies in all Australian jurisdictions will be able to use new identity-matching services to access passport, visa, citizenship and driver licence images primarily for law enforcement purposes.
In late October the House referred this bill to the Law and Justice Committee through the Selection of Bills Committee process for a brief inquiry. The committee held one hearing and reported on 12 November. It recommended that stakeholder concerns raised during the inquiry should be addressed by the Government during debate on the bill. The report noted that in particular the following matters should be addressed:
- the reasons why the bill should proceed before the overarching Commonwealth legislation passes
- whether specific privacy safeguards should be included in the Road Transport Bill
- whether the Government will allow its agencies to enter into participation agreements with local government and non-government bodies to access New South Wales data.
The bills were read a second time on Wednesday afternoon with the Parliamentary Secretary, Ms Cusack, incorporating the Minister’s speech in Hansard. The Opposition and The Greens argued that these was no obvious link between the three bills and that they should not have proceeded as cognates. The Opposition did not oppose the Surveillance Devices and Terrorism Bills, but had some concerns with the Road Transport Bill that were raised in the Law and Justice Committee inquiry. The Greens supported the Surveillance Devices Bill, had some reservations about the Terrorism Bill, and strongly opposed the Road Transport Bill. In reply, Ms Cusack addressed each of the matters raised in the Law and Justice Committee report (See Hansard for debate on these bills). The second reading was then agreed to on the voices.
In committee, The Greens moved two amendments to the Road Transport Bill. The first amendment sought to delete the proposed exemption to the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act which would allow photographs and personal information collected by a government agency to be provided to the identity matching service. The second amendment sought to ensure that data provided to the service cannot be used and accessed by private entities.
The Opposition supported the amendments, while the Government opposed them. Both amendments were defeated on the voices and the bills were then read a third time and returned to the Assembly without amendment.
Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 and cognates:
House of Origin: Legislative Assembly
The Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 makes amendments to various Acts with respect to the making, duration and variation of apprehended domestic violence orders, eligibility for victims support and creation of a simpler offence of strangulation to capture domestic violence incidents.
The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment Bill 2018 encompasses ‘cyberbullying’ by clarifying beyond doubt that the offences of stalking and intimidation can be committed by using the internet or any other technologically assisted means. The bill will be colloquially known as “Dolly’s Law” in tribute to Amy “Dolly” Everett who tragically took her own life in 2018 following persistent bullying and abuse including cyberbullying.
The Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Amendment (Victims) Bill 2018 amends the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act and other legislation with the intention of giving victims of forensic patients a stronger voice in forensic mental health proceedings.
The Victims Rights and Support Amendment (Motor Vehicles) Bill 2018 extends access to financial support through the Victims Support Scheme to close family members of victims of vehicular homicide. The bill will be known colloquially as “Nick’s Law” in tribute to Nicholas McEvoy, who was tragically murdered by use of a motor vehicle in 2014.
The second reading debate commenced late on Wednesday evening, with the Parliamentary Secretary incorporating Minister Harwin’s speech in Hansard. Following contributions from Ms Voltz (Opposition), Reverend Nile and Mr Green (Christian Democratic Party), and Mr Shoebridge and Ms Faehrmann (The Greens) and then Mr Farlow’s speech in reply, the second readings of the bills were agreed to (See Hansard for a transcript of the debate). During the debate, Reverend Nile foreshadowed that he would move amendments to the Crimes Legislation Amendment bill, and Mr Shoebridge advised that he would move an amendment to the Victims Rights and Support Amendment (Motor Vehicles ) Bill
In the committee stage for the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill, the Christian Democratic Party amendments relating to police variations to Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders were agreed to notwithstanding some concerns from the Opposition and The Greens regarding the amendments that lessened the requirement for a police officer to have regard to the views of the protected person before making a variation to an existing order.
In the committee stage for the Victims Rights and Support Amendment (Motor Vehicles) Bill, The Greens moved an amendment to have the provisions of the bill apply retrospectively, and did so in particular that it could apply to the McEvoy family. In moving the amendment, Mr Shoebridge noted that the McEvoy family never asked for these benefits to be made retrospective. The amendment was not supported by the Government who noted that the office of the Attorney General continued to work with the family to ensure that the reforms operate as the family intended.
The bills were read a third time and the Crimes Legislation Amendment was returned to the Assembly with amendments, while the three cognate bills were returned without amendment.
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate:
- Mr Moselmane – White Ribbon Campaign
- Mr Khan – Deputy President and Chair of Committees
- Ms Cusack – Mambo Wetlands / Port Stephens Electorate Liberal Party Candidate Jaimie Abbott
- Mr Searle – Department of Planning Mine Titles Operations Unit
- Mr Field – Mr Jeremy Buckingham, Member of the Legislative Council
- Ms Faehrmann – Mr Jeremy Buckingham, Member of the Legislative Council
See Hansard for details of the debate.