Before continuing debate on amendments to the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill, the Council resolved that it would first consider a pressing piece of government legislation. This was the Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, which had been amended in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday to include provisions concerning membership of a terrorist organisation.
The bill makes a range of miscellaneous amendments to 26 pieces of justice legislation, including the reinstatement of provisions in the Crimes Act 1900 that had been automatically repealed on 13 September after a sunset clause took effect. A sunset clause is a measure that a law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law. The reinstated provision related to membership of a terrorist organisation.
In moving the second reading, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General, Mrs Ward, explained that the Assembly’s amendment ensured that these reinstated provisions apply retrospectively from 13 September.
All parties supported the bill except for The Greens, Animal Justice Party and Mr Field. The Greens noted that while they did not oppose the substantive bill, they opposed the Assembly’s amendment as they do not support retrospectivity and had opposed the original insertion of these provisions when they were legislated in 2005. The bill passed the second reading (Division: 34 to 5) and was returned to the Assembly without amendment.
Following the Justice bill passing, debate resumed on amendments to the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill – a bill that would decriminalise abortion in New South Wales and instead regulate it as a health matter.
This was the fifth and final day that the Council considered amendments to the bill. The House considered three sets of amendments, of which one set was successful. These amendments involved the committee reconsidering parts of the bill that had already been debated on previous days.
In total 122 amendments were considered over five days encompassing over 30 hours of debate. Following the committee stage, there was a brief debate on the third reading – the final opportunity for members to state their reasons for supporting or opposing the bill – before it finally passed the House (Division: 26 to 14). The bill was returned to the Assembly with 25 amendments.
The Assembly debated these amendments on Thursday and agreed with all of them. The bill will now be delivered to the Governor of New South Wales to become law.
The following table provides a brief snapshot of the views of members on the amendments debated on Wednesday. Debate on many of these amendments was lengthy, with many nuanced arguments from those who supported or opposed the amendments. For the full picture read the Hansard transcript.
* These numbers refer to the amendment sheets on the bill’s webpage.
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate: