The first day in the final sitting week of 2021 got off to a big start! To start the day, the President gave the third in his series of Bicentenary statements in the lead up to the 200th anniversary of the first sitting of the Council in 2024. Debate on a motion to establish an Independent Complaints Officer also commenced, followed by a disallowance motion moved by Mr Shoebridge. In the evening, the Council’s newest member – the Honourable Peter Poulos – gave his inaugural speech to the Chamber, with family, friends and other supporters watching on from the galleries. Legislation-wise, one Government bill was introduced and five debated and agreed to, with three returned to the Assembly for its concurrence with Council amendments. It’s all covered below, so read on for more!
President’s Bicentenary Statement
The Bicentenary of the NSW Legislative Council will mark 200 years of parliamentary democracy in Australia. In 2023, two centuries will have passed since the Act establishing the First Council was passed in the UK Parliament, while 2024 brings the 200th anniversary of the first sitting of the Council.
For each month that the Council sits between now and 2024, the President will be making an official ‘Bicentenary statement’ in the House. In his statement on Tuesday, he spoke to the historical context of the Council’s beginnings in the colony. Watch the video below:
Independent PARLIAMENTARY Complaints Officer
On Tuesday morning, Mr Primrose (Labor) moved a motion proposing that the House resolve to establish an Independent Complaints Officer, as recommended by the Legislative Council Privileges Committee in its report titled Proposal for a Compliance Officer for the NSW Parliament No. 2. You can read the full resolution amended and moved by Mr Primrose – who is also the Chair of the Privileges Committee – in the day’s Hansard.
At the conclusion of Mr Primrose’s contribution, Minister Harwin (Liberal) commended the Privileges Committee for its report and moved that debate on the motion be adjourned, in order to allow Government members to explore the proposed matters further.
Disallowance motion relating to development application fees
Mr Shoebridge (The Greens) moved that the House disallow a clause in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Compliance Fees) Regulation 2021 – to learn more about this procedure, read our blog on disallowance. The regulation amends the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 to prohibit councils from charging fees in development applications to cover costs incurred in the performance of their compliance and development functions. Mr Shoebridge spoke in favour of disallowing the clause while Parliamentary Secretary Mr Farlow (Liberal) and Ms Sharpe (Labor) spoke against the disallowance – you can read the contributions to debate in the day’s Hansard. The motion was negatived on division (6 ayes to 33 noes), meaning the new provisions remain in effect.
Inaugural Speech of Mr Poulos
After being elected to the Legislative Council in May and sworn in shortly after, Mr Poulos (Liberal) delivered his inaugural speech in the chamber on Tuesday evening (having been slightly delayed, owing to the year’s COVID lockdowns and arrangements). Mr Poulos’ family, friends and other supporters were present in the President’s Gallery and public viewing areas of the chamber to witness his first speech. Inaugural addresses are delivered by new members of the Council to provide an overview of what matters to them and what they stand for.
You can read Mr Poulos’s speech in full in the Hansard record here and see a few images from the evening below:
Motor Sports Bill 2021
The Motor Sports Bill 2021 was introduced on Tuesday by Minister Ward (Liberal). It seeks to support the expansion of motor sports in NSW. The bill would allow the relevant Minister to authorise the use of land other than licensed racing grounds for motor racing and associated events. It would also set out requirements for consultation around and approval of works associated with a race event (such as the creation of service roads, facilities for vehicle refuelling, and structures for spectators). Further provisions in the bill range from road and traffic provisions, including arrangements for public road closures, to the exemption of racing events from certain other legislation.
A full description of the bill can be found in the Minister’s second reading speech in the Hansard record. At the conclusion of the Minister’s second reading speech, debate was adjourned according to standing orders.
Teacher Accreditation Amendment Bill 2021
The Teacher Accreditation Amendment Bill 2021 was introduced by Minister Mitchell (Nationals) last week – you can read an overview of the bill in our earlier blog. On Tuesday, the Opposition, The Greens, and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party contributed to the second reading debate and the second reading was agreed to on the voices, before the House resolved into committee of the whole to consider amendments moved by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and The Greens:
- Mr Banasiak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) moved five amendments (all negatived on the voices)
- Mr Shoebridge (The Greens) moved two amendments to one of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers amendments (negatived on the voices).
Following the committee stage, the bill was read a third time and forwarded to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence. You can find the full second reading debate and committee-of-the-whole proceedings in the day’s Hansard record.
Electoral Amendment (COVID-19) Bill 2021
On Tuesday, the second reading debate on the Electoral Amendment (COVID-19) Bill 2021 resumed. Introduced by Minister Harwin (Liberal) and declared urgent in the previous sitting week – allowing it to be debated within five calendar days of its introduction – the bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act 2017 to allow any State by-elections held during the pandemic to be conducted in a COVID-safe manner. You can learn more about what the bill seeks to do in our blog recap and read Minister Harwin’s second reading speech in the Hansard record from last Tuesday.
At the conclusion of the second reading debate (with the second reading agreed to on the voices), the House resolved into committee of the whole to debate amendments moved by The Greens and the Opposition:
- Mr Shoebridge (The Greens) moved one amendment (agreed to on the voices)
- Mr Graham (Labor) moved one amendment (agreed to on the voices).
Following the committee stage, the bill was read a third time and returned to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence with the amendments. You can read the second reading debate and full committee-of-the-whole debate in the day’s Hansard record.
Greater Sydney Parklands Legislation Amendment (Substratum) Bill 2021
The Greater Sydney Parklands Legislation Amendment (Substratrum) Bill 2021 was introduced and declared urgent on Tuesday by Parliamentary Secretary Mr Martin on behalf of Minister Ward (Liberal). The bill is composed of provisions originally included in the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust Bill 2021, which was agreed to by the Legislative Assembly in the previous sitting week and its provisions referred to a Select Committee by the Council on 19 November (you can contribute to the Parklands Trust Bill inquiry by filling out the committee’s survey here before 19 December). The provisions included in the latest bill seek to enable the acquisition of substratum – that is, the underlying layer beneath the surface of the ground – at Callan Park and Parramatta Park by Sydney Metro. This is to ensure construction of the Sydney Metro West is not affected by the Council’s consideration of the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust Bill 2021.
With the bill having been declared urgent, the second reading debate also took place on the same day – you can read the Parliamentary Secretary’s second reading speech and members’ contributions to the second reading debate in the day’s Hansard record.
At the conclusion of the second reading debate (with the question of the reading agreed to on the voices), the House resolved into committee of the whole to debate two amendments moved by Mr Shoebridge on behalf of The Greens. Both amendments were negatived on the voices. The bill was then read a third time and returned to the Legislative Assembly.
Stronger Communities Legislation Amendment (Children) Bill 2021
The House also received the Stronger Communities Legislation Amendment (Children) Bill 2021 from the Legislative Assembly. The bill makes a number of miscellaneous amendments to address emerging issues, support procedural improvements, and clarify uncertainty in legislation related to children and young people. Some of the changes the bill makes include:
- Specifying that serious animal cruelty offences are disqualifying offences for working with children checks
- Ensuring the Children’s Court has an express power to rescind or vary an order revoking parole
- Ensuring that all magistrates can make bail decisions related to breach of parole by children and young people.
With the bill declared urgent, Parliamentary Secretary Mr Martin gave his second reading speech and Ms Sharpe (Labor), Ms Hurst (Animal Justice Party), and Mr Shoebridge (The Greens) spoke to the bill before the second reading was agreed to on the voices. In committee of the whole, Ms Hurst moved one amendment which was agreed to on the voices. The bill was read a third time and returned to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence.
National Parks and Wildlife Amendment Bill 2021
The final bill considered on Tuesday was the National Parks and Wildlife Amendment Bill 2021. This bill makes various amendments to the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 in relation to national parks and reserves in order to:
- Make changes to how plans of management for national parks are prepared
- Enable the Minister to approve certain actions and projects
- Enable the Minister to create biodiversity credits and deal with carbon sequestration rights over certain land
- Make changes to how land designated as ‘of intergenerational significance’ is managed
- Enable digital images and data to be used for compliance and enforcement relating to vehicles in national parks
- Provide for regulations to be made about the ecological health of parks.
Once the bill was received from the Legislative Assembly, it was declared urgent by the Parliamentary Secretary Mr Franklin. A number of members spoke to the bill in the second reading debate which you can read here before the second reading was agreed to on division (25 ayes, 4 noes). The following amendments were then moved in committee of the whole:
- Ms Hurst (Animal Justice Party) moved two amendments (negatived on the voices)
- Ms Faehrmann (The Greens) moved four amendments (negatived on the voices)
- Ms Sharpe (Labor) moved 27 amendments (all agreed to on the voices).
Following the committee stage, the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence.