On the first sitting day in October, the House bid farewell to Nationals member Niall Blair and passed a bill to dissolve Roads and Maritime Services and transfer its functions to Transport for NSW.
Farewell to Niall Blair
At 6.00 pm Mr Niall Blair gave his valedictory speech. Mr Blair had been a member of the Legislative Council since 2011, a Minister from April 2015 to April 2019 and Leader of the Nationals in the Legislative Council from February 2017 to 2019.
Mr Blair reminisced about his time in Parliament, noting the importance of a strong Upper House to hold the Government to account and praising the work of the committee system.
We wish Mr Blair all the best in his next steps – including as Professor of Food Sustainability at Charles Sturt University.
The bill dissolves Roads and Maritime Services and transfers its assets and functions to Transport for NSW. The objective of the restructure is to provide a more integrated and customer‑focused transport system.
There was a sense of déjà vu in the chamber during consideration of the bill as similar provisions had been considered by the House in June as part of the State Revenue and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 – a cognate to the Appropriation Bills. However on that occasion the Council voted to omit these provisions due to concerns there had been a lack of consultation with the unions about the potential effects of the change on RMS workers.
In speaking to the second reading of the bill, the parliamentary secretary (Mr Farlow) indicated that the Secretary of Transport for NSW had continued consulting with the unions since June. He noted that a memorandum of understanding had been signed with Unions NSW on 31 July to acknowledge that the bill will not impinge upon RMS staff or the application of the RMS industrial awards.
The Opposition and The Greens stated their support for a merged transport agency to improve transport planning. The second reading was agreed to.
In committee, the following five amendments from the Greens and the Opposition were agreed to (with many of the Greens’ amendments also being amended by the Opposition):
- 4 Greens amendments
- no forced redundancies of RMS or Transport for NSW staff
- no privatisation or outsourcing of RMS or Transport for NSW work
- a minimum number of Transport for NSW regional employees
- RMS awards not to be merged into Transport Service awards
- 1 Opposition amendment
- certain industrial disputes regarding the dissolution may be resolved by the Industrial Relations Commission.
The Government, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Christian Democratic Party opposed the amendments, but they were agreed to on division (18 votes to 17) as the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Animal Justice Party and Mr Field, voted with the Greens and the Opposition.
The bill was read a third time and returned to the Assembly with amendments. The Assembly will need to consider its response to these amendments. Stay tuned for further updates later this week.
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate: