It was a busy day on Wednesday, with 21 items of private members’ business debated, including seven bills, ten orders for papers and four motions. The House also considered a Remembrance Day motion, following a minute’s silence at 11.00am. Read on for more.

Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Drug Detection Dogs and Strip Searches) Bill

The bill, introduced by Mr Shoebridge (the Greens) seeks to amend the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (LEPRA) to ensure that drug detection dogs are only used in instances where a warrant has been obtained and seeks to limit and define the circumstances in which strip searches can occur.

Mr Shoebridge described the bill as placing necessary limitations on the power of police through a number of means. This includes removing the ability of police to strip search children under the age of 16 and limiting the circumstances in which a child aged 16-17 can be searched. The bill also inserts a definition of strip search into the Act, bans strip search quotas and requires that a transgender and non-binary person only be searched by a police officer who is of the gender of that person’s choosing. The use of drug detection dogs is also restricted to circumstances where a warrant has already been obtained, with a requirement also imposed on the Commissioner of NSW Police to keep accurate records of warrants issued for drug dog operations.

Debate on the bill was adjourned for five calendar days.

Remembrance Day

Following a minute’s silence at 11.00am, the House debated a Remembrance Day motion in which members paid tribute to those who served, and are still serving, in the Defence Force, and those who died or suffered during wars and armed conflict. A number of members contributed to the debate, with many referring to the 60,000 Australians who tragically lost their lives in the First World War. Members also spoke of the importance of support services for veterans, paying tribute to organisations such as the Returned and Services League of Australia and Legacy. Many members shared personal anecdotes of family members who had served, including parents and grandparents.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Increased Penalties) Bill

This bill, introduced by Ms Hurst (Animal Justice Party) seeks to increase the penalties for people convicted of animal cruelty offences under the Prevention of Cruelty Animals Act 1979 and establish mandatory minimum monetary penalties for certain animal cruelty and aggravated animal cruelty offences. Ms Hurst told the House that currently, an individual act of animal cruelty is punishable by a maximum of just $5,500 or six months’ imprisonment, or both, while an individual act of aggravated animal cruelty has a maximum penalty of just $22,000 or two years’ imprisonment, or both. These maximum penalties are significantly less that those existing in other States and Territories.

Ms Hurst said that the introduction of mandatory minimum monetary penalties will establish a “penalty floor”, ensuring that courts better understand how seriously they should be viewing these offences. The bill will also ensure that any person convicted of aggravated animal cruelty under the Act, or serious animal cruelty or bestiality under the Crimes Act 1900, is prevented from owning or having involvement with an animal for the rest of their life.

Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.

Casino Control Amendment (No Compensation) Bill

Introduced by Mr Field (Independent), the bill proposes that Crown Group companies would have no right to compensation should the State or the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) vary licence conditions or take action which has a material adverse effect on the companies as a result of the inquiry established on 14 August 2019.

In his second reading speech Mr Field expressed the view that the State and ILGA could be constrained in their response to the casino inquiry, as under the current agreement the Crown Group could pursue compensation for at least $200 million should licensing conditions be changed or negative financial impacts occur. Mr Field said the bill will ensure that ILGA and the Minister can effectively respond to the evidence and findings of the inquiry, which has investigated casino operations and alleged links to organised crime and money laundering.

Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.

Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Review of Land Decisions) Bill  

The bill, introduced by Mr Banasiak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) seeks to amend a number of acts to allow the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council to disallow environmental planning instruments made under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). It would also allow disputes stemming from decisions made under the EP&A Act – such as an application for development consent – to be mediated through a structured negotiation process and provide access to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal if the dispute cannot be resolved.

Mr Banasiak said the bill will increase parliamentary scrutiny of environmental planning instruments and create a disallowance process similar to that used for regulations in the House. Mr Banasiak also said that access to mediation would provide a more affordable alternative to litigation and allow regular property owners to have their concerns aired in a way that ‘will not break their banks’.

Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.

ICAC and Other Independent Commissions Legislation Amendment (Independent Funding) Bill

The bill, introduced by Mr Borsak (Shooters, Fisher and Farmers) seeks to amend the means by which four independent agencies, namely, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC), the New South Wales Electoral Commission (NSWEC) and the Ombudsman’s Office, are funded. Specifically, it would remove these agencies from the Premier and Cabinet cluster and require an appropriation made by the annual Appropriation Act to be paid directly out of the Consolidated Fund to each agency. It would also require the relevant parliamentary oversight committee for each of these agencies to review their annual budget submissions and make recommendations as to funding priorities, and create a ‘set contingency fund’ for use by these agencies in special circumstances. The funding arrangements for these agencies are being examined in a Public Accountability Committee inquiry, of which Mr Borsak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) is Deputy Chair.

In his second reading speech, Mr Borsak noted the importance of ensuring the independence of these agencies. He also said that the bill gave effect to each of the four recommendations made by a special report of the ICAC tabled on the previous sitting day.

Debate was adjourned for five calendar days.

Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill

Debate resumed on Reverend Mr Nile’s (Christian Democratic Party) bill to amend the Crimes Act 1900 to criminalise the ‘serious harm to or the destruction of an unborn child’ (see House in Review 23 September).

Speaking in reply, Revd Mr Nile thanked members for their contributions and reiterated that the focus of the bill was on dangerous driving which resulted in the death of an unborn child, and that abortion and medical procedures were excluded from the operation of the bill. Revd Mr Nile also acknowledged current community concerns and the need for reform, and expressed his support for foreshadowed Government legislation.

During her contribution to debate Ms Boyd moved a this day six months amendment which would dispose of the bill and prevent it being reconsidered this session. On the second reading debate concluding, the question on the amendment was negatived on division (10/29), with The Greens, Animal Justice Party and Mr Field voting in support of disposing of the bill and the Christian Democratic Party, Government, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation opposed. Members of the Opposition were given a conscience vote and so voted both for and against the motion according to conscience.

The second reading of the bill was then put to the House and also negatived on division (6/33), with the Christian Democratic Party, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Mr Mason-Cox (Liberal) voting in support of the second reading of the bill and all other members opposed.

Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Prohibition of Waste to Energy Incinerators) Bill 2020

Debate resumed on the bill, introduced in a previous sitting week by Ms Faehrmann (The Greens), which seeks to prohibit new development of waste to energy incinerators. Leading for the Government, the Parliamentary Secretary (Mr Franklin) opposed the bill, stating that the current planning system already provides a sufficiently robust framework in which to assess and manage the development of energy from waste facilities. He also said that there is no evidence to support the bill’s prohibition on new energy from waste facilities.

The Opposition also argued against the bill, but challenged the Government’s position that the current planning system is effectively dealing with the complexities of waste to energy and called for reform in this area. Mr Justin Field supported the bill, arguing that waste to energy incinerators pose a variety of health risks.

The second reading of the bill was negatived on division (6 ayes/34 noes) with the Greens, Animal Justice Party and Mr Field in support, and all other members opposed.

General motions

  • Suicide monitoring systems (Mr Farraway, Nationals) – Motion agreed to noting the launch of NSW’s first suicide monitoring system.
  • NAIDOC Week (Mr Shoebridge, The Greens) – Motion agreed to noting NAIDOC Week 2020 runs from 8 to 15 November 2020 with the theme Always Was Always Will Be.
  • Mr Vic Alhadeff (Ms Ward, Liberal) – Motion agreed to noting the retirement of long-term CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Mr Vic Alhadeff.
  • Ms Dawn Trewitt (Mr Shoebridge on behalf of Ms Faehrmann, The Greens) – Motion agreed to calling on the Government to immediately provide adequate resourcing to the Western NSW Local Health District.

Orders for papers motions

  • Ferry System Contract with Transdev  (Mr Searle, Labor) – due 1 December 2020
  • Newcastle Education Precinct (Mr Primrose, Labor) – due 1 December 2020
  • Renewable Energy Zones in New South Wales (Mr Latham, One Nation) – motion as amended by Mrs Maclaren-Jones due 1 December 2020
  • School Infrastructure NSW Hall Projects (Mrs Houssos, Labor) – due 8 December 2020
  • Revenue NSW Investigations (Mr Mookhey, Labor) – due 1 December 2020
  • New Intercity Fleet (Mr Buttigieg, Labor) – due 8 December 2020
  • New Dubbo Bridge Project (Mr Veitch, Labor) – due 8 December 2020
  • Park’N’Pay App (Mr Searle, Labor) – due 1 December 2020
  • MAAS and Powerhouse Parramatta (Mr Borsak, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) – due 10 December 2020.

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