Thursday was private members’ business day where three bills and a raft of motions were debated.
In line with previous weeks seven orders for papers were agreed to, taking the total tally for this year to 47. The day also saw the third private members’ bill to pass the Legislative Council this year.
The bill, introduced by Mr Banasiak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party), seeks to amend the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and the Marine Estate Management Act 2014 to establish an independent statutory body – the NSW Recreational Fishing Council (NSWRF Council).
During his second reading speech, Mr Banasiak stated that the Government had not consulted recreational and commercial fishers in developing fishing quotas and other regulations. Mr Banasiak argued that those impacted by these fishing policies were often the last to know and that decisions regarding fishing management were being made in the interests of political expediency, not fishers. Mr Banasiak asserted that under the bill, the Minster would be required to engage with the NSWRF Council when developing fishing policies and regulations to give due consideration to the needs of fishers. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
The bill, introduced by Ms Faehrmann (The Greens), provides for a licensing scheme to authorise pill testing services for the purposes of minimising harm from drug use. Under the bill, the Secretary of the Ministry of Health may grant fixed premises or mobile testing licences to approved persons.
In her second reading speech, Ms Faehrmann argued that it was time for the Government to change its perspective from simply trying to reduce drug use in the community. Ms Faehrmann said that the bill essentially gives effect to the first five recommendations arising out of the recent inquest conducted by Deputy Coroner Harriet Grahame into the deaths of music festival attendees. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Mr Searle spoke in reply to the second reading on the bill, which had been introduced in May. Debate on the bill had occurred over several days this year, including when the Leader of the Government outlined why the Government would not be supporting the bill.
In reply, Mr Searle refuted the Government’s arguments that, if enacted, the legislation would be in conflict with Federal laws. He indicated that under the Industrial Relations Act 1996 there is a solid framework in place in New South Wales for setting pay and conditions for workers in the transport industry. The second reading was agreed to (20 votes to 11), and the bill was read a third time and forwarded to the Assembly for concurrence. This was the third private members’ bill passed by the Legislative Council in 2019.
The following eight motions were debated:
- Animal Fur Clothing –Ms Hurst’s motion (Animal Justice Party) congratulated Queen Elizabeth II on her decision to eliminate animal fur from her wardrobe, and noted there are a number of humane faux fur alternatives available. Ms Hurst endorsed comments made by the UK’s Humane Society International affirming that animal fur is “well and truly out of fashion”. The Government and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party opposed the motion, with Mr Latham stating that he did so according to the principle of “Who cares?”. The motion was narrowly agreed to on division (20 votes to 19).
- Climate emergency and bushfires – The motion by Mr Shoebridge (The Greens) noted that Glen Innes Severn Council had declared a climate emergency a month before bushfires destroyed much of the area, and commended the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service for supporting the community throughout the disaster. Government members commended the work of emergency services agencies, but successfully moved an amendment (18 votes to 17) which substantially changed the motion by removing all references to climate emergency, instead focussing the motion on the current bushfires in New South Wales. The Opposition supported the wording of the original motion, while Pauline Hanson’s One Nation indicated support for the Government amendment. The motion, as amended, was agreed to
- Bus privatisation in Sydney regions 7, 8 and 9 – The motion from Ms Boyd (The Greens) concerned the Government’s intention to privatise bus services in the northern beaches, Eastern Suburbs, North Shore and Chatswood areas. Ms Boyd called on the Government to halt this privatisation, noting there is always a decline in commuter satisfaction when services are privatised and commended the work of the State Transit Authority (STA) which currently operates buses in these areas. The Government opposed the motion, but it was agreed to on division (22 voted to 13).
- Bus privatisation and the Member for Coogee – The motion from Mr Buttigieg (Opposition) noted that the STA refused Ms Marjorie O’Neill MP, Member for Coogee, entry to Randwick and Waverley bus depots to talk with workers about the Government’s decision to privatise bus services. Mr Buttigieg condemned the STA for this action and called on the Government to keep its election promise and not privatise State assets, including buses. The Government refuted the suggestion that members of Parliament should have unfettered access to workplaces and stated that it makes public transport decisions in the best interests of the commuters of Sydney. The motion was agreed to on division (18 votes to 13).
- Hansard and other operations of the New South Wales Parliament – The House agreed to a motion of Mr Searle (Opposition) which concerned a recent announcement by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly that the provision of Hansard transcripts for certain non-government business of that House would be delayed as a cost cutting measure. The motion also noted other changes to resources of the Parliament, and affirmed the value of a properly resourced Parliament to allow members and staff to undertake their roles. In debate, Mr Searle noted the impact that the government’s efficiency dividends has had on the Parliament and stated that: “Timely access to the record of parliamentary debate is a vital cornerstone of our democracy. If we do not have that there is a lack of scrutiny.” Mr Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party) supported the motion stating that Hansard is a vital community resource in the accountability of the Parliament. Mr Graham (Opposition) spoke to the broader issue of resources of independent bodies that provide some oversight of the role of the Executive in New South Wales and noted that concerns raised about the funding of these bodies was one of the reasons that the Public Accountability Committee is now inquiring into resourcing of the Parliament and independent bodies. Revd Mr Nile (Christian Democratic Party) also supported the motion.
- Sydney Airport working conditions – Mr Buttigieg’s (Opposition) motion argued that airport workers are being exploited, and noted that on 8 November 2019 the Transport Workers’ Union took action to protest their substandard working conditions. Mr Buttigieg argued that Sydney Airport is the highest point in the aviation supply chain, and that it has a direct influence over the entire industry. However, he suggested that current airport contracts undermine the wages and conditions of airport staff, resulting in high staff turnover, chronic understaffing and safety issues. The Government argued that many of the matters raised are not the responsibility of the State Government, and that Inspectorates of regulators are empowered to enter workplaces and investigate, can and will act to protect workers. Revd Nile (Christian Democratic Party) observed that airport prices seem to continually increase and that the operation of Sydney Airport is of interest to all members. The motion was agreed to on division (17 votes to 12).
- Privatisation of public assets – The motion by Mr Moselmane (Opposition) saw the House debate comments by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman, Mr Rod Sims, that the sale of ports and electricity infrastructure had caused the public to lose faith in privatisation and deregulation. Mr Moselmane stated that the privatisation of ports, such as Port Botany and Port Kembla, have seen the creation of monopolies without suitable regulation and that deregulating the electricity market has seen power prices almost double over five years. The Government opposed the motion arguing that its responsible economic management has delivered a triple-A credit rating, surpluses, negative net debt and great infrastructure for the State. An amendment from Mr Latham to condemn the former Baird Government for its privatisation of electricity was agreed to, and the original motion, as amended was then agreed to on division (17 votes to 12).
- In addition, a motion celebrating a century of the National Party of Australia – NSW was briefly debated before being adjourned, while a motion celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Liberal Party of Australia was postponed to a future day.
Motions – Orders for Papers
The following seven orders for government papers were also agreed to:
- Police documents requested in Budget Estimates (28 November 2019)
- Transport asbestos registers (5 December 2019)
- Documents prepared by Monash University in relation to road safety (5 December 2019)
- Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link Business Case (5 December 2019)
- Mascot Towers documents prepared by the NSW Building Commissioner (5 December 2019)
- Cooler Classrooms Program (5 December 2019)
- Barwon Darling Water Sharing Plan (12 December 2019)
The following members spoke to the adjournment debate: