During the Legislative Council’s three-week run of four-day sitting weeks, we’ll be running shorter-format blogs to bring you all the basics of each sitting day as promptly as possible. We hope you’ll find this handy! Remember, you can further explore the detail of debate using the work of our wonderful colleagues in Hansard – find Tuesday’s full Hansard record here.
Today’s blog covers a bill to implement certain recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, amendments to the Payroll Tax Act 2007 and a bill to reduce plastic waste, as well as a ruling by the President on a point of order taken in the last sitting week.
President’s ruling – ICAC and other Independent Commissions Legislation Amendment (Independent Funding) Bill 2021
In the previous sitting week, a point of order was taken by the Leader of the Government (Mr Harwin) on the ICAC and other Independent Commissions Legislation Amendment (Independent Funding) Bill 2021, a private members’ bill introduced by Mr Borsak. After tabling legal advice from the Crown Solicitor which you can read here, Mr Harwin said that, as the Contingency Fund proposed in the bill would appropriate a part of the public revenue, it was a money bill within the meaning of section 5 of the Constitution Act 1902 and therefore, must originate in the Legislative Assembly. The Deputy President (Mr Khan, Nationals), who was presiding at the time, determined that as the point of order raised constitutional issues, it was appropriate for him to reserve his ruling.
On Tuesday, the President gave his ruling on the point of order, which he said reflected advice received from Mr Bret Walker AO SC. The President said that while much of the bill could be introduced in the Legislative Council, the Contingency Fund provided for in clause 4.6A was an appropriation. Therefore, the bill as currently drafted was a money bill and must be introduced in the Legislative Assembly. However, according to Mr Walker, a new bill excluding clause 4.6A would not be a money bill and could be introduced in the Legislative Council.
Following the President’s ruling, standing and sessional orders were suspended to allow Mr Borsak to move that the bill be discharged from the notice paper. Later in the day, he gave notice of his intention to introduce the ICAC and Other Independent Commissions Legislation Amendment (Independent Funding) Bill 2021 (No. 2). Watch this space for future developments!
Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) Bill 2021
Having passed the Legislative Assembly prior to the COVID lockdown, the Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) Bill 2021 was introduced in the Legislative Council in October. The bill would embed into the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 the Child Safe Standards recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – making the standards a mandatory and primary framework for guiding child safe practices in organisations within NSW. You can recap what members had to say about the bill in the second-read debate in our earlier blog here (scroll down to the final heading).
On Tuesday, Mr Martin gave his speech in reply to conclude the earlier debate, before the bill’s second reading was agreed to and the House resolved into committee of the whole to consider amendments – with an instruction to committee agreed to on the way to permit the consideration of some of the amendments circulated by Mr Latham.
A number of amendments were moved in committee of the whole:
- Mr Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) moved 15 amendments (10 negatived on the voices, four agreed to on the voices and one agreed to on division)
- Mr Martin (Liberal) moved one amendment (agreed to on the voices)
- Mr Shoebridge (The Greens) moved one amendment (agreed to on the voices).
The full committee proceedings can be found in the day’s Hansard record here. The bill was then read a third time and returned to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence. The following day, the House was advised that the bill’s amendments had been agreed to by the Assembly.
Payroll Tax Amendment (Payroll Tax Waiver) Bill 2021
The Payroll Tax Amendment (Payroll Tax Waiver) Bill 2021 aims to amend the Payroll Tax Act 2007 to give a 50% payroll tax waiver for the next financial year for certain employers. Employers would qualify for the waiver if:
- They pay wages of less than $10 million, and
- They had a 30% or greater decline in turnover or qualified for certain 2021 COVID-19 schemes.
The bill forms part of the Government’s COVID-19 business support package. The payroll tax waiver is expected to benefit around 8000 businesses and save businesses around $410 million in payroll tax in the 2021-22 financial year. You can read what members had to say about the bill in the Hansard here.
No amendments to the bill were moved and the House agreed to the third reading of the bill, before the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly.
Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Bill 2021
The Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Bill 2021 aims to reduce plastic waste by phasing out the supply of certain plastic items, such as lightweight plastic bags, single-use plastic straws, plastic stirrers, plastic cutlery, plastic cotton buds and expanded polystyrene food containers. It will also specify design standards for certain items (such as preventing the use of microbeads) as well as establishing a product stewardship framework for packaging of certain products. This would mean that brand owners would bear responsibility for minimizing a product’s environmental impact throughout all stages of its life cycle. To enforce these objects, the bill also sets out various offences and penalties for non-compliance.
The bill would give effect to key reforms outlined in the NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 and the NSW Plastics Action Plan. It arose from a government discussion paper released in March 2020 and submissions responding to the discussion paper, which showed overwhelming support for action on plastics and product stewardship schemes. You can read more in the Parliamentary Secretary’s second reading speech on the bill here.
A number of amendments were moved in committee of the whole:
- Ms Faehrmann (Greens) moved six amendments (negatived on the voices)
- Mr Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) moved two amendments (negatived on the voices)
- Mr Field (Independent) moved one amendment (negatived on the voices)
- Ms Sharpe (Labor) moved one amendment (agreed to on the voices)
- Ms Hurst (Animal Justice Party) moved one amendment. As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote to vote against the amendment.
At midnight, debate in committee of the whole was interrupted according to sessional order and the committee reported progress.