We’re back! The Legislative Council’s first sitting day for 2021 was Tuesday, 16 February. Read on for a recap…
On Tuesday, the Council received a number of messages from the Assembly, including one disagreeing to Council amendments to the Appropriation (Parliament) Bill 2020. The Council also agreed to repeal the take-off and landing limits at Warnervale Airport, and marked the 100th birthday of a former member, the Hon. Dr Elisabeth Kirkby OAM.
Receipt of messages from the Legislative Assembly
At the start of the sitting day, the President reported receipt of a number of messages from the Legislative Assembly. While messages between the two Houses are common – and in fact vital for a functioning parliamentary system – the subjects of the two messages received on Tuesday are worth exploring further.
Appropriation (Parliament) Bill 2020
The first message was received in response to a message sent from the Legislative Council on 25 November 2020, in which the Council requested the Legislative Assembly’s agreement to amendments to the Appropriation (Parliament) Bill 2020. (Wondering what these amendments were? Read more here.) In its response, the Assembly told the Council it disagreed with the amendments and, pursuant to section 5A of the Constitution Act 1902, would send the Bill to the Governor for assent, notwithstanding that both Houses had not agreed to the final text of the bill. You can read an in-depth explanation of what exactly section 5A says here.
Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Bill 2020
The second message also related to Council amendments to a bill – this time, the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Bill 2020. We reported previously that an amendment moved by Ms Hurst (Animal Justice) was agreed to by the Council on 25 August 2020. This amendment would prevent strata schemes from passing by-laws to unreasonably prohibit an animal from being kept within an apartment.
The message said the Assembly disagreed with this amendment because it had not been subject to consultation with the NSW strata community and only provided for one factor to be taken into account when deciding what was a reasonable prohibition on the keeping of an animal —that is, the needs of the animal. The message proposed three amendments agreed to by the Assembly, designed to address the issue.
Later that day when the Council was considering the Assembly’s amendments in committee of the whole, the Parliamentary Secretary (Mr Franklin) moved a motion that the Council not insist on its amendment to the bill and agree to the three amendments proposed by the Assembly. He highlighted the cooperation between the Government, Animal Justice Party and Mr Greenwich in the Assembly to develop these three amendments – sentiments echoed by the Opposition, Animal Justice, Greens and Reverend Nile. The motion was agreed to on the voices and a message forwarded to the Assembly informing them of the Council’s resolution.
Statement by the President – 100th birthday of the Hon. Dr Elisabeth Kirkby OAM
Early in the sitting day, the President made a statement recognising the 100th birthday of the Hon. Dr Elisabeth Kirkby OAM, a member of the Legislative Council from 1981 to 1998.
Elected as a member of the Australian Democrats in 1981, Dr Kirkby – along with Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile of the then-‘Call to Australia’ party – was one of two first crossbench members elected to the Council.
With Dr Kirkby and her family sitting in the President’s Gallery, members from all sides made statements celebrating Dr Kirkby’s milestone, congratulating her on her various life achievements.
Warnervale Airport (Restrictions) Repeal Bill 2020
The bill – full details of which can be found here – seeks to immediately remove the current airport flight restrictions contained in the Warnervale Airport (Restrictions) Act 1996, and repeal the remainder of the Act within three years. In doing so, it seeks to enact recommendations of an independent review (the Goldberg Review) undertaken in 2020, which was initiated following ongoing community concern about the operation of the airport.
The Goldberg review recommended that the 1996 Act be repealed as soon as possible, but if there was a delay, that the airport flight restrictions be removed immediately. The review also recommended the Central Coast Council, which owns and operates the airport, adopt a clear framework to govern the airport’s future management and that safety issues affecting the runway should be addressed.
Prior to its introduction in the Council, the bill was referred to Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment for inquiry and report. The committee’s November 2020 report noted the weight of support for the bill and recommended that debate in the Council proceed, with the committee’s observations and stakeholder concerns to be addressed during debate in the House.
During debate in the House on Tuesday, Mrs Ward (Parliamentary Secretary) highlighted the two-stage repeal approach contained in the bill. She said that this would allow for the recommended immediate repeal of the flight restrictions, along with a longer timeframe to establish governance frameworks, local planning controls and site works before the repeal of the Act, as recommended by the review.
Mr Searle (Labor) indicated that the Opposition did not oppose the bill and Revd Mr Nile (CDP) also expressed support for the bill.
The Greens opposed the eventual repeal of the 1996 Act as proposed by the bill and in committee, moved five amendments to remove these provisions. Ms Boyd argued the Act had been effective in preventing the construction of a broader-scale airport – something the local community does not want – and should be amended to address concerns raised by the review, not completely repealed.
The Greens amendments were negatived on division (4/32).
The bill was read a third time and returned to the Assembly without amendment.