Another bumper Thursday. One new bill was introduced while the second reading debate resumed for another, three orders for papers were agreed to and four motions debated.
Special guest in the Chamber
For the first time since the introduction of the new sessional order regarding infants, a very special member of the Legislative Council family was in the Chamber on Thursday … toddler Oscar joined the Opposition backbenchers with his mum, Ms Jackson.
Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (Coal Seam Gas Moratorium) Bill 2019
The private members’ bill imposes a moratorium on coal seam gas mining in New South Wales, establishes an expert advisory body on coal seam gas and reintroduces ‘the public interest test’ as a relevant ground when considering petroleum titles.
Mr Field (Independent) introduced the bill and gave his second reading speech (see Hansard for a transcript of the speech). He indicated that this was not the first time the Council had considered a moratorium bill on coal seam gas: two previous bills were introduced in 2015 to either restrict or prohibit prospecting for, or the mining of, coal seam gas, and a Legislative Council committee examined the issue comprehensively in 2011/12.
Mr Field stated that coal seam gas has had a detrimental environmental impact on the Pilliga Forest and its surrounds and noted that the Minister for Planning will likely refer Santos’s Narrabri Gas Project – a proposal to drill 850 coal seam gas wells in the Pilliga Forest – to the Independent Planning Commission. At the conclusion of Mr Field’s speech, debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2019
Mr Borsak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) spoke in support of the bill introduced last sitting period by the Revd Mr Nile, stating that the current legislation does not recognise the loss of an unborn child to reckless negligence or a criminal act, as it is currently a crime of grievous bodily harm to the pregnant woman. In support of the bill, he indicated that the Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2019 provides clarity on the issue as it recognises any negligence or a criminal act resulting in the loss of an unborn child to be a punishable criminal offence.
The debate was adjourned until next sitting day.
ORDERS FOR PAPERS
On Thursday, another 3 orders for papers were agreed to by the House:
- NSW Firearms Registry
- Opal Tower development
- Contamination at power station associated sites.
Following Government members’ comments last Thursday that the administrative burden imposed by orders for papers was extremely onerous and costly, a Minister this week acknowledged the efforts of two members for narrowing the scope of their orders, thereby reducing the administrative burden placed on officers and departments.
The House also agreed to an amendment to an earlier order for papers relating to the recruitment of the CEO of Landcom.
All orders for papers resolved by the House, including due dates and any documents returned, can be viewed on our Orders for Papers webpage.
In addition to the motions for orders for papers, four other motions were debated:
- Ms Sharpe’s (ALP) motion condemned the Government for awarding significant manufacturing contracts to overseas companies and demanded that the Government stop off-shoring New South Wales jobs. An amendment successfully moved by Mr Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) noted a report by the Australian Energy Market Operator which discussed the threat to the manufacturing industry posed by blackouts, and urged the Government to increase the supply of dispatchable power in New South Wales to keep the manufacturing sector viable. Ms Sharpe’s motion as amended was agreed to on division (23:16).
- The motion moved by Ms Faehrmann (Greens) called on the Government to immediately impose level 3 water restrictions in the Greater Sydney Region in anticipation of continued severe drought. Ms Sharpe (ALP) moved an amendment to omit reference to the level 3 water restrictions and instead called on the Government to present an action plan for the Greater Sydney Region to address the anticipated continued severe drought. The motion as amended was agreed to.
- The House agreed to a motion moved by Mr Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) which noted that the Appropriation Bills for 2019-2020 were rushed through Parliament in the final sitting week before the Winter recess, restricting debate on legislation and that the House expected the Government in future budget years to allow sufficient time for the Council to fulfil its role as a House of Review. Several members commented on the powers of the Legislative Council in relation to Financial legislation.
- The motion moved by Mr Shoebridge (Greens) noted the work of Special Constables at Parliament House and elsewhere, and that their base salary was not fair compensation for their work. The motion called on the Government and the Minister for Police to ensure Special Constables receive fair pay and conditions. Mrs Ward (The Liberals) sought to remove certain paragraphs from the motion and instead highlight the fact that it was before the Industrial Relations Commission, and that the Minister for Police was meeting with the Public Service Association to discuss the matter. The amendments were defeated on division (15:24) and the original motion agreed to.
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate:
- Mr Secord ― Superannuation
- Mr Martin ― Energy Market
- Ms Jackson ― Criminal Justice Law Reform
- Ms Faehrmann ― Arctic Wildfires
- Mr Amato ― HIV-Aids
- Ms Boyd ― Renewable Energy
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