The sitting week commenced with a government business day that saw new member the Hon Chris Rath sworn in, additional Budget Estimates hearings agreed to, and debate on bills regarding motor sports and major events, the regulation of tattoo parlours, and the creation of the Greater Cities Commission. Find out more in today’s blog…
NEW MEMBER SWORN IN – THE HON CHRIS RATH
On Tuesday the Hon Chris Rath (Liberal) was sworn in as the newest member of the Legislative Council, following his election during last week’s joint sitting with the Legislative Assembly.
Mr Rath took the Oath of Allegiance before the President and then signed the Roll of the House – which is the official record of members – while his parents, grandmother, aunt and partner looked on from the gallery. Having been sworn in, Mr Rath can now vote on matters in the House and participate in committee inquiries. The final step in his introduction to the Council will be Mr Rath’s inaugural speech, which he’s scheduled to make during the May sittings. Stay tuned!
Budget estimates – additional hearings
Each year, the Budget Estimates process allows Upper House committees to scrutinise the state budget and to explore issues relevant to the expenditure, performance and effectiveness of government agencies. This is done through an intensive series of public hearings, with our committees examining each Ministerial portfolio, as well as the Legislature (the operation of the parliament itself).
Due to the impact of flooding in northern NSW and the unavailability of witnesses and members, the Budget Estimate hearings scheduled for Monday 28 February 2022 (Emergency Services and Resilience), Wednesday 9 March 2022 (Deputy Premier, Regional NSW, Police) and Thursday 10 March 2022 (Premier) were unable to take place.
The House agreed to a motion moved by Mr Graham (Labor) to amend the House’s original schedule for the Budget Estimates hearings; extend additional Budget Estimates hearings for 2021-2022 to 31 May 2022; and instruct Portfolio Committee No. 6 – Transport to refrain from undertaking an inquiry investigation on matters arising from the shutdown of Sydney Trains on Monday 21 February 2022 that had been referred to the committee on 16 March 2022.
While new hearing dates for Estimates were agreed to in the morning, they were revised again on Wednesday – can find them on the Budget Estimates website here.
Restoration of the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2021
The House debated a motion from the Leader of the Government to restore the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2021 to the Notice Paper. The bill relates to compensation rights of workers who contract COVID-19. In November last year, the House referred the bill to Portfolio Committee 1 for inquiry and report. The committee tabled its report in February, recommending that the Council reject the bill. (You can find information about the committee inquiry, including the committee’s report, on the inquiry webpage.)
When a bill is referred to a committee, its progress in the House is paused until the committee tables its report. The bill must then be placed back on the House’s agenda, or ‘restored to the Notice Paper’. A motion to restore the bill had been defeated on the day the report was tabled last week, so the Leader of the Government, Mr Tudehope, moved to restore the bill on notice this week. A number of points of order were raised in debate, with members noting debate should focus on the question before the House – whether the bill should be restored – rather than the substance of the bill itself. Read the debate in Hansard here. The motion was agreed to on the voices and the bill was restored to the Notice Paper.
Motor Sports Bill 2022 and Major Events Amendment Bill 2022 (Cognate debate)
The Motor Sports Bill 2022 seeks to replace current event-specific legislation that governs individual motor racing events in NSW by creating a state-wide framework for motor race events. The bill repeals and replaces the Mount Panorama Act 1989, the Moto Racing (Sydney and Newcastle) Act 2008 and the Motor Sports (World Rally Championship) Act 2009.
The Major Events Amendment Bill 2022 intends to simplify various aspects of the Act by enabling regulations to be made rather than requiring an order of the Minister to be published, and describes a new definition of a major event area to replace the definition of major event venue or facility.
As the bills were related to each other in terms of subject matter, they were presented to the Parliament as ‘cognate bills’ – a package for simultaneous consideration. The second reading of the bills was agreed to on the voices.
In committee of the whole, the Government moved 7 amendments and the Opposition moved 6 amendments to the Motor Sports Bill, all of which were agreed to. The Government also moved one amendment to the Major Events Amendment Bill 2022, which was agreed to. You can find the full transcript of debate in committee here.
The third reading was agreed to and the bill was returned to the Assembly for consideration of the Council amendments.
Tattoo Parlours Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill 2022
The Tattoo Parlours Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill 2022 amends the Tattoo Parlours Act 2012 to strengthen the regulatory framework for the tattoo industry, by increasing transparency around the licensing application process, excluding criminal organisations from applying for licences, and making the Commissioner of Police sole authority responsible for regulating the industry.
Although the Greens indicated that they would not be supporting the bill, the House agreed to the second and third reading on the voices. The bill was returned to the Assembly without amendment. You can read the second reading speech given by Parliamentary Secretary Mr Poulos (Liberal) here, and the full debate in the Hansard record here.
Greater Cities Commission Bill 2022
In the evening, the House received the Greater Cities Commission Bill 2022 from the Legislative Assembly. The bill establishes the Greater Cities Commission to replace the current Greater Sydney Commission. The Greater Cities Commission would have a broader remit than the Greater Sydney Commission, covering the following six city regions:
- The Eastern Harbour City
- The Central River City
- The Central Coast City
- The Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City
- The Western Parkland City
- The Illawarra-Shoalhaven City.
The bill also amends the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 in relation to the six city regions and makes consequential amendments to other legislation.
The bill was read a first time and, after a short debate (which you can read in the Hansard here), the second and third readings were agreed to and the bill returned to the Assembly.