Nine items of private members’ business were debated on Wednesday, including three bills and two orders for papers. The House also debated a motion of no confidence in the Premier.
MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE
On Wednesday morning, the House debated a motion of no confidence in the Premier, moved by Ms Sharpe (Labor) on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council. The motion related to evidence given by the Premier to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Monday 12 October 2020 in relation to an investigation into Mr Daryl Maguire for allegedly receiving commission payments from developers.
In speaking to the motion, Ms Sharpe acknowledged that motions of no confidence were rare in the Legislative Council but said the motion was warranted based on the Opposition’s concerns regarding the evidence which had arisen in the ICAC hearings earlier in the week.
Members from all sides of the chamber spoke to the motion. Mr Latham (One Nation) gave his support for the motion, as did Mr Borsak of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers. The Greens also supported the motion of no confidence. Other crossbench members such as Ms Hurst (Animal Justice) and Mr Field (Independent) opposed the motion, as did Reverend Nile. Members of the Government spoke against the motion.
After nearly two hours of intense debate, the House divided with 20 votes in favour and 20 votes against, requiring the President to give a casting vote. The President cast his vote with the noes, in keeping with the established parliamentary principle that a decision should not be taken except by a majority of members.
Private members’ bills
The following private members’ bills were debated:
State Insurance and Care Governance Amendment (Employees) Bill 2020
In the afternoon, debate resumed on Mr Mookhey’s bill, introduced in the previous sitting week. This bill seeks to remove the ability of Insurance and Care NSW (icare) to provide performance-based bonuses and incentive payments to high-level executives and staff. The payment of these incentives – along with the financial performance of icare – has been the focus of much of the Law and Justice Standing Committee’s 2020 Review of the Workers Compensation Scheme.
Speaking in support of the bill, Mr Mookhey referred to the disparity between the salaries paid to executives at icare and other public servants, saying that it was time that icare was treated like any other State-owned corporation. The Greens supported the bill, detailing concerns in relation to the expenditure of the executive team at icare. The Greens commended the bill’s moves to ensure that the money set aside by employers to support injured workers will no longer be paid as bonuses to staff and executives at icare.
The Government opposed the bill on the basis that icare operates under a commercial policy framework. For this reason, they argued it is necessary to offer appropriate remuneration and incentive packages in order to be competitive in the open market and attract specialised industry experts. The Government pointed to multiple independent reviews of icare that are currently underway (including the Law and Justice inquiry) and stated that the bill would limit the ability of these reviews to make appropriate recommendations to improve icare.
The second reading of the bill was agreed to on division (23 votes to 17) with Labor, The Greens, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, One Nation, Animal Justice Party and Mr Field voting in favour of the bill and the Christian Democratic Party and the Government opposing it. The bill was then read a third time and forwarded to the Assembly for concurrence.
Local Land Services Amendment (Land Management and Forestry) Bill 2020
Debate continued on Mr Banasiak’s bill, which seeks to amend both the Local Land Services Act 2013 and Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to allow for certain provisions of the Local Land Services Act 2013 to prevail in the event of inconsistency. These provisions relate specifically to the management of native vegetation, forestry operations and private native forestry operations and their interaction with the State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP] Koala Habitat Protection 2019 (the Koala SEPP).
In speaking to the bill, Mr Banasiak (SFF) expressed his concern that the Koala SEPP unduly restricted the activities that could be carried out on private land and would be detrimental to people in regional and rural areas. Mr Banasiak also was critical of the use of environmental planning instruments such as the Koala SEPP, which cannot be disallowed by Parliament.
On behalf of the Government, Mr Franklin opposed the bill on the basis that the Local Land Services Amendment (Land Management and Forestry) Bill 2020 – introduced by the Government in the Legislative Assembly on the same day – would address many of the issues raised by Mr Banasiak.
In their contribution to the debate, many members referred to the fact that a Government bill addressing similar issues had been introduced in the Legislative Assembly. For this reason, members of both the Opposition and Greens expressed a preference to wait until the Government bill was before the Council and opposed Mr Banasiak’s bill as a result. Ms Hurst (Animal Justice Party) opposed the bill, citing its effect on land clearing and biodiversity laws. Mr Latham (One Nation) confirmed his support for the bill, noting his concern around the mapping used as part of the Koala SEPP and the bill’s rectification of this issue.
The bill was negatived at the second reading stage (4 votes to 36).
Liquor Amendment (right to play music) Bill 2020
Debate on the bill, introduced by Mr Graham (Labor), resumed from the previous sitting week. The bill 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.
In contributing to the debate, many members reflected on personal memories from Sydney music venues, with all members acknowledging the importance of live music. On behalf of the Government, Ms Cusack noted the Government’s support for live music and entertainment but noted that a Government bill had already been introduced in the Legislative Assembly which sought to address many of the same issues. Ms Cusack also said that Mr Graham’s bill was overly complex and did not strike the right balance between the responsible development of the live music and entertainment sector and existing local community needs and expectations.
The Greens gave their support for the bill, with Ms Faehrmann describing the bill as an important step in repairing the State’s ‘decimated live music industry’. Mr Roberts (One Nation) spoke of the importance of maintaining Sydney’s vibrancy, as well as supporting the live music industry and indicated One Nation’s support for the bill.
The second reading was agreed to on division (22 votes to 17) with Labor, The Greens, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, One Nation, Animal Justice Party and Mr Field voting in favour of the bill and the Christian Democratic Party and the Government opposing it. The bill was then read a third time and forwarded to the Assembly for consideration.
The following general motions were debated:
- “Fighting For Our Lives” by Nick Cook (Mr Mallard, Liberal) – Motion noting the release of a book by Nick Cook, exploring the early history of the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON). Motion agreed to on the voices.
- New South Wales Geographical Place Names (Mr Pearson, Animal Justice) – Motion calling on the Government to direct the Geographical Names Board to conduct a review of New South Wales geographical place names to establish a process where Aboriginal people are empowered to deliver recommendations to identify and rename place names. Motion amended and agreed to on the voices.
- Qantas decision to outsource labour (Mr Buttigieg, Labor) – Motion condemning the decision by QANTAS to outsource 2500 jobs. Debate adjourned.
Order for papers motions
The following two orders for papers were agreed to:
- Sale of the Macquarie Generation Assets (Ms Boyd, The Greens) – due 28 October 2020
- Ministerial disclosures of private benefits for Mr Daryl Maguire (Mr Latham, One Nation) – due 21 October 2020