New member Sam Farraway signs the Roll of the House and the Council passes bills concerning electoral funding, payment of fines and online gambling.

Welcome to our new member – Sam Farraway

At the start of the sitting day our new member, Sam Farraway, who was elected at a joint sitting of the two Houses last week, took the pledge of loyalty and signed the Roll of the House.

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Electoral Funding Amendment (Local Government Expenditure Caps) Bill 2019

The bill, which was introduced by Minister Harwin in the last sitting week, implements reforms recommended by the Parliament’s cross-party Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters from the 56th Parliament, including eight different expenditure cap bands for candidates in local government elections to further distinguish between local government areas and wards of different population sizes. The bill also contains provisions regarding caps for mayoral and third party campaigns.

During the second reading debate members spoke in support of the bill and commended the work of the Joint Standing Committee and the former member and Chair of the committee, Dr Peter Phelps. The bill was supported by the House and forwarded to the Assembly for concurrence.

Electoral Funding Amendment (Cash Donations) Bill 2019

The bill, also introduced by Minister Harwin in the last sitting week, makes a single amendment to the Electoral Funding Act 2018 to prohibit the making or acceptance of political donations in cash that exceed the value of $100.

During the second reading debate members noted that the bill would strengthen the ability of the NSW Electoral Commission to identify potential contraventions of political donation disclosure requirements and denounced the corrupt behaviour associated with cash political donations that had recently been revealed at ICAC hearings. While supporting the bill’s closing of a current loophole, members noted that there was more work to be done in reforming the overall political donation framework. The bill was supported by the House and forwarded to the Assembly for concurrence.

Gambling Legislation Amendment (Online and Other Betting) Bill 2019

The bill seeks to regulate new forms of online betting and to restrict inducements to gamble.

Debate on the second reading of the bill resumed from the last sitting week. All members who spoke in the debate expressed support for the bill, but some members noted that further improvements should be made to address the dramatic growth in problem online gambling. The second reading was agreed to.

In committee, 10 Greens amendments were agreed to including: to double the penalty for infringements by online betting agencies; withdraw consent to directly market to a user of a betting service who has not been active on their betting account for 12 months; and clarify the requirement for users to explicitly consent to receive direct marketing from online betting agencies. The third reading of the bill was agreed to and the bill was forwarded to the Legislative Assembly with amendments.

Fines Amendment Bill 2019

The bill amends the Fines Act 1996 regarding the notification, review and payment of fines and the process for disputing penalty notices after enforcement.

Last Wednesday Minister Tudehope indicated that the House would not debate amendments in committee of the whole that week as the Government wanted to consult and negotiate with all parties first.

On Tuesday four Opposition amendments were agreed to in committee. This included an amendment to decrease fines by 50 per cent for people on certain government benefits to reduce adverse impacts on people experiencing financial hardship. A similar amendment moved by the Greens was not supported as members considered its scope to be too broad and would mean that all persons in receipt of a Commonwealth benefit would receive a reduction in fines. The bill was read a third time and returned to the Assembly with amendments.

Adjournment debate

The following members spoke to the adjournment debate: