Eighteen items of private members’ business were debated on Wednesday, including bills, orders for papers and general motions. In addition the House amended its 2020 sitting calendar to include an extra reserve day.
Amendment to sitting calendar
The House agreed to a motion moved by Mr Latham (One Nation) to add an extra reserve day to the sitting calendar on 20 November 2020.
Mr Latham explained that the House had initially agreed to sit for an extra day in June to allow enough time to examine the budget in detail. However, due to COVID-19, the budget and this extra sitting day did not take place. Mr Latham advised that, with the budget now confirmed for 17 November, the extra reserve day provides the House with the opportunity to have an extensive debate on the budget.
The following private members’ bills were debated:
The bill, introduced by Mr Mookhey (Labor), seeks to ensure that the Chief Executive and staff at Insurance and Care NSW (icare) are not entitled to performance-related bonuses or incentive payments.
Mr Mookhey argued that the bill is necessary as in the past two years at least $12 million has been paid in bonuses to eight executive officers and 200 staff at icare. Mr Mookhey noted his ongoing concerns regarding maladministration at icare and considered that this bonus money should instead be going to sick and injured workers in New South Wales. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
The bill, introduced by Mr Secord (Labor), seeks to amend the Restart NSW Fund Act 2011 to provide that at least 30 per cent of the total payments from the Restart NSW Fund for infrastructure projects be allocated to rural and regional areas in each financial year and for the life of the fund. The purpose is to ensure that rural and regional areas benefit from high-priority infrastructure projects that improve the State’s economic growth and productivity.
Mr Secord stated that the government has claimed that over the life of the fund 30 per cent of Restart NSW funding targets will be in regional and rural areas. However he contended that the phrase “over the life of the fund” provides too much wiggle room for the government and that this target has not been met on a yearly basis. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
The bill, introduced by Mr Banasiak (The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers), seeks to amend the Local Land Services Act 2013, to ensure that native vegetation, forestry and private native forestry operations regulated under the Act take precedence over environmental planning instruments or decisions made under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Mr Banasiak stated that the impetus for the bill is the recently introduced State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP] Koala Habitat Protection 2019 which encroaches on the rights of private landholders by locking up private land for environmental purposes. He noted that there has been a trend in recent times for planning policies, which cannot be disallowed by Parliament, to override legislation to the detriment of farmers and landowners. Mr Banasiak indicated that this bill is the first step in reversing this trend and ensuring that land can continue to be managed according to the environmental outcomes set out in Local Land Services legislation. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
The bill, introduced by Mr Graham (Labor), seeks to amend the Liquor Act 2007 and Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007 to ensure various historic licencing conditions do not restrict and prohibit music at licensed premises – such as a venue having a condition on its licence that requires a band to face in a generally southerly direction.
Mr Graham stated that the bill would give councils the power to remove these historic licence and entertainment conditions that restrict musicians and artists’ right to play at venues across the State. He also noted the recent impacts on the closure of venues due to lockout laws and the pandemic and argued there was a need to prepare for their reopening in order to create jobs for musicians and artists. Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.
Debate resumed on Mr Shoebridge’s (The Greens) bill which seeks to include icare as a government agency for the purposes of the public tender and procurement processes in the Public Works and Procurement Act 1912.
Minister Tudehope advised that the Government did not support the bill. While he acknowledged there were issues concerning procurement integrity and transparency at icare, he argued that an appropriate solution should be based on the conclusions reached by the expanded statutory review of the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015 which is scheduled to report by April 2021. Mr Tudehope also contended that applying government procurement rules to the non-government nominal insurer would be unreasonable and risk an increase in premiums.
The Opposition supported the bill, noting the recent allegations of improper conduct at icare and referencing disclosures contained in documents returned under standing order 52 as evidence that icare should not be exempt from government procurement standards and practices.
The second reading of the bill was agreed to on division (20 votes to 16), with The Greens, Labor, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, Animal Justice Party and Mr Field voting in favour of the bill and the Government and the Christian Democratic Party opposed. The bill passed the Council and was forwarded to the Assembly for its consideration.
Debate briefly resumed on Revd Mr Nile’s (Christian Democratic Party) bill to amend the Crimes Act 1900 in relation to criminal acts resulting in the ‘serious harm to or the destruction of an unborn child’.
Mr Farlow (Liberal) spoke briefly on the bill, echoing comments made by Minister Tudehope the previous week. He indicated that while the Government supports the principle of the bill, it cannot support the bill in its current form. Mr Farlow noted that a Government bill would instead be introduced to address this matter. Debate was then adjourned.
The following general motions were debated:
- Police Remembrance Day 2020 (Mr Roberts, One Nation) – Motion agreed to noting that Police Remembrance Day is an opportunity to honour those police officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the people of New South Wales.
- Coal mining for export (Mr Martin, Liberal) – Debate commenced on a motion calling on the House to recognise the importance of coal mining for export in supporting our economy as well as providing electricity to other nations.
- Meals on Wheels Day 2020 (Mr Franklin, Nationals) – Motion agreed to celebrating Meals on Wheels Day, noting that Meals on Wheels delivers more than 4.5 million meals each year and acknowledging that this is a vital service for many older citizens.
- Immunocontraceptives and wild horses (Ms Hurst, Animal Justice) – Motion agreed to calling on the Government to trial an immunocontraceptive vaccine on wild horses to reduce the wild horse population in Kosciusko National Park in a humane way.
- Protecting biodiversity (Ms Faehrmann, Greens) – Motion defeated on division (18 votes to 20) acknowledging the global role New South Wales must play in conserving biodiversity and calling on the Government to strengthen protections for threatened species and biodiversity.
- Select Committee on the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (Mr Borsak, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) – Motion agreed to establishing a select committee to inquire into the independent regulator of the greyhound industry.
- World Squash Day 2020 (Mr Farraway, Nationals) – Motion agreed to noting that there are over 300,000 competitive squash players in Australia and wishing all participants in World Squash Day the best of luck.
Orders for papers motions
The following orders for papers were agreed to:
- Liddell Taskforce (Mr Field, Independent) – due 30 September 2020
- Insurance and Care NSW, The Treasury and the New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme (Mr Mookhey, Labor) – due 14 October 2020
- Government Asset Management Plans (Mr Searle, Labor) – due 14 October 2020
- Electricity leases and energy operations (Mr Buttigieg, Labor) – due 14 October 2020
- Schools Infrastructure NSW projects (Mr D’Adam on behalf of Mrs Houssos, Labor) – 21 October 2020.
The House returns after the school holiday break for another sitting fortnight. Stay tuned for our next sitting week update.