Thursday was private members’ business day where five bills and nine motions were debated.
Unusually for the current Parliament a number of private members’ business items were not agreed to, including one order for government papers concerning koala conservation.
Real Estate Services Council Bill 2019 (Mr Banasiak, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party)
The bill, introduced by Mark Banasiak, seeks to establish a new agency – the Real Estate Services Council – which would advise the Minister on consumer protection, real estate agent education and public information programs. The bill would also create the office of the Property Services Commissioner which would exclusively focus on the regulatory controls for the property services industry.
In his second reading speech Mr Banasiak observed that residential real estate transactions alone are a $107 billion industry annually and it was imperative that the property industry is well regulated. Mr Banasiak stated the bill was developed after extensive consultation and noted that there had long been concern among stakeholders that the Department of Fair Trading lacked the necessary expertise to effectively regulate the property industry. After Mr Banasiak’s speech, debate on the bill was adjourned.
Liquor Amendment (Intoxication) Bill 2019 and Liquor Amendment (Harm Reduction Areas) Bill 2019 (Mr Roberts, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation)
The Liquor Amendment (Intoxication) Bill extends the application of the Liquor Act 2007 to include intoxication from drugs and other substances.
The Liquor Amendment (Harm Reduction Areas) Bill allows an intoxicated person to remain on a licensed premise so they can be safely supervised by the licensee. In assisting the intoxicated person the licensee would be exempt from any offence for having an intoxicated person on their premises.
During his second reading speech, Mr Roberts stated the first bill was needed because licensees require the ability to remove intoxicated persons from their premises without the need to determine what substance caused the intoxication. Regarding harm reduction areas, Mr Roberts stated that licensees would have the option of placing an intoxicated person in a harm reduction zone subject to supervision, where they would be served no alcohol, whilst arrangements are made for the person’s safe transportation home. Mr Roberts argued that this would be a more prudent measure than the intoxicated person being put out onto a public street unsupervised. At the conclusion of Mr Robert’s speech debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Central Coast Drinking Water Catchments Protection Bill 2019 (Ms Boyd, The Greens)
The bill, introduced by Ms Boyd, seeks to protect the Central Coast drinking water catchments by cancelling any mining authorisation granted for land in a protected catchment. The bill would also prohibit any granting, renewal or modification of titles and permits for the exploration and mining of minerals, including coal, petroleum and coal seam gas, in the drinking water catchment areas. At the conclusion of Ms Boyd’s speech, debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Child Protection (Nicole’s Law) Bill 2019 (Revd Nile, Christian Democratic Party)
Revd Nile introduced the bill and gave his second reading speech. He stated that the purpose of the bill is to protect children by requiring the NSW Police Force to publicly release information identifying individuals who have been convicted of child sexual assault. The information would be on the Police Force website and accessible to the public at police stations. More information, such as the full residential address and a recent photo, would be made available to the public about individuals who have committed certain ‘Class 1’ offences such as the murder of a child or the persistent sexual abuse of a child.
Revd Nile indicated that sex offender registers already exist in the UK and a number of US states and argued that there is no reason why New South Wales should not establish a similar register. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2019 (Revd Nile, Christian Democratic Party)
Debate resumed for the fourth time this year on Revd Nile’s bill. Two members made contributions, one in support of the bill (Mr Borsak, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party) and the other in opposition (Mr Secord, Labor), before debate was adjourned.
The following six motions were debated:
- Closure of Brewarrina Yetta Dhinnakkal Correctional Centre – Yetta Dhinnakkal (meaning “right pathway”) was opened in 2000 as a minimum security correctional centre exclusively for Aboriginal men. In September the Government announced that the facility will be closed in mid-2020. Mr Shoebridge’s (The Greens) motion called on the Government to reverse the decision to close the centre and to listen to the concerns of the elders of the community. Mr Shoebridge said that the centre had the overwhelming support of the local community and that particularly in its first ten years of operation had achieved great rehabilitation results. He noted that this was the only occasion he could recall of First Nation peoples asking a Government to keep a gaol open. The Government noted that it had met with local stakeholders including the Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council to discuss the future use of the prison once retired. It noted that the specific Yetta Dhinnakkal program would be relocated primarily to the St Heliers Correctional Centre at Muswelbrook and argued that this would ensure better access for family visits and enhanced rehabilitation programs. The Government moved an amendment to remove the call for the decision to be reversed and to note the consultation it had undertaken. The Government amendment was narrowly agreed to (19 votes to 18) and the motion, as amended, was then agreed to.
- Maternity services at Yass District Hospital – The motion of Mr Secord (Australian Labor Party) called on the Health Minister to restore low-risk maternity services to Yass District Hospital. According to Mr Secord, without such services, women who reside in the Yass valley have to travel up to an hour to give birth at Goulburn or Canberra hospitals. The Government opposed the motion, noting that birthing services across health districts are provided according to birth numbers, availability of staff and to ensure women receive the care they require. The Greens supported the motion, noting that both major parties while in government had reduced maternity services across regional NSW, and highlighting the deleterious impact on the health system generally of the efficiency dividends imposed by the Government. The motion was agreed to on division (22 votes to 15).
- Horseracing industry – Ms Hurst’s motion (Animal Justice Party) noted the investigative report by the ABC’s 7.30 program on 17 October 2019 which revealed the widespread slaughter of racehorses at knackeries, in contravention of Racing NSW policy. It called for the House to condemn the horseracing industry and for the Government to urgently conduct an investigation. While there was support by most members for the bulk of the motion, a number of amendments were moved. Mr Latham sought to significantly alter the motion by questioning the veracity of the report and condemning how the footage was obtained (not supported: 5 votes to 33), while Mr Mookhey successfully moved an amendment (28 votes to 10) which removed reference to the House’s support for undercover investigations to expose animal cruelty and inserted a paragraph noting the House’s support for the establishment of a National Horse Traceability Register. The amended motion was agreed to.
- Climate emergency – Ms Faehrmann’s (The Greens) motion noted a recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, referred to the impacts of climate change in New South Wales, and requested that the House declare a climate emergency and call on the Government to prepare an action plan. Members from all sides of the Chamber contributed to the debate. Ms Sharpe (Labor) spoke in general support of the content of the motion, and then moved an amendment which made the motion identical to a motion moved in the Legislative Assembly by a Greens member. Ms Sharpe’s amendment was agreed to on the voices, however the amended motion was not agreed to (18 votes to 20).
- Narrabri Gas Project – In moving his motion Mr Field (IND) discussed the economics of the south east Australian gas market, and argued that as the cost of gas sourced from the Narrabri Gas Project is forecast to be high, and new proposed gas import terminals would deliver cheaper gas than that sourced from Narrabri, the development of the Narrabri Gas Project would do little to bring down gas prices and subsequently lower electricity prices. Mr Farlow (Government) and Mr Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) opposed the motion, with Mr Farlow arguing that the Narrabri Gas Project at peak production will supply up to 50 per cent of the State’s gas supply. Ms Sharpe (Australian Labor Party) agreed with the substance of the motion, but successfully moved an amendment, calling on the Government to be honest with the public about the capacity of the project to bring down gas and electricity prices. The motion, as amended, was not agreed to (18 votes to 19).
- Land clearing – Mr Latham’s motion (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) concerned the effect land clearing laws have had on farmers’ ability to manage their properties and what he saw as targeted prosecutions of farmers in the Moree district for illegal land clearing by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in retaliation for the death of an OEH officer in 2014. The motion called on the House to support farmers, private property rights and the payment of compensation for diminishing economic worth of private property. While supporting aspects of the motion the Government did not agree that OEH staff had targeted farmers, nor that farmers solely bear the costs of land clearing laws. Mr Farlow (Government) successfully moved an amendment (31 votes to 5) with the effect of reducing Mr Latham’s motion to a statement in support of private property rights and government action to support farmers. The Opposition, Mr Field and The Greens all opposed Mr Latham’s motion. Members spoke in support of the role of land clearing laws in reducing emissions and protecting water, soil and biodiversity and of OEH officers in pursuing illegal land clearing, and of the tragic murder of an OEH officer. The motion, as amended, was agreed to.
Motions – Orders for Papers
The following two orders for government papers were also agreed to:
Avocado Consulting Pty Ltd and testing for NSW Police Force staged firearms and licensing information management system (due 7 November 2019)
Demountable classrooms (due 14 November 2019)
While the following order was voted down by the House:
All orders for papers resolved by the House, including due dates and any documents returned, can be viewed on our Orders for Papers webpage.
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate: