Significantly, Tuesday saw the roll-out of live captioning of proceedings of the House and committees in the Legislative Council, and indeed across the Parliament. The House also debated two censure motions and two Government bills – read on to find out more.
Amendment to broadcasting resolution to allow for live captioning
Minister Tudehope (Liberal) moved an amendment to the resolution of continuing effect authorising the broadcast of proceedings of the Legislative Council, to allow for live captioning of House and committee proceedings. Ms Sharpe (Labor) also spoke to the motion, and the amendment was agreed to.
The President subsequently made a statement to the House noting that the launch of the live captioning service for committee and chamber proceedings will enable more people to access and understand the work of the Parliament by watching the proceedings with subtitles in real time. The captions are available via the live stream on the Parliament’s website, so anyone in New South Wales or beyond can view the text. The President also noted that the Parliament of New South Wales is the first State or Territory Parliament to offer this service, and will continue to work to improve access for people with disability on all fronts.
Suspension of Standing Orders – Censure of the Leader of the Government for failure to table documents
Immediately after, Ms Faehrmann (The Greens) successfully moved a motion to suspend standing and sessional orders to bring on debate on a motion to censure the Leader of the Government, Minister Tudehope, for the Government’s failure to provide documents in response to a series of orders for papers regarding business cases for Dungowan Dam and Wyangala Dam. The motion called on Minister Tudehope to provide the documents by 9.30 am on Wednesday 22 June and stated that, in the event the documents were not provided, it would be open to the House to immediately adjudge Minister Tudehope guilty of contempt and to suspend him from the service of the House.
Speaking to the censure motion, Ms Faehrmann argued while the dam business cases may have informed Cabinet deliberations, they were not Cabinet minutes or a record of Cabinet deliberations and were therefore required to be provided in response to an order for papers. In response, Minister Tudehope reiterated statements made previously that the House does not have the power to require the production of documents if their production would undermine collective ministerial responsibility for government decisions – including documents that directly or indirectly reveal the deliberations of Cabinet.
Proceedings were interrupted for question time, and when debate resumed later that evening the House agreed to an amendment moved by Ms Jackson (Labor) to require the business cases to be provided within 7 days, rather than by 9.30 am the following day. The motion, as amended, was then agreed to on division, 19 ayes to 13 noes. The full debate is recorded in Hansard here and here.
Suspension of Standing Orders – Censure of the Treasurer and Minister for Energy for misleading Budget Estimates
Mr Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) then successfully suspended standing and sessional orders once again to bring on debate on a motion to censure the Treasurer and Minister for Energy, the Hon Matt Kean MP, for misleading a Budget Estimates hearing about his prior knowledge of the early closure of the Eraring Power Station. Speaking to the censure motion, Mr Latham stated that documents produced in response to an order for papers were at odds with statements made by the Treasurer at Budget Estimates to the effect that no owners of coal-fired power stations had told him they were closing early. In response, Mr Poulos (Liberals) stated that at the time the Treasurer gave his evidence, no decision had been taken by Origin Energy to close the Eraring power station, and that the Treasurer’s evidence was therefore true and correct. Other members spoke to the motion before the motion was agreed to on division, 18 ayes to 14 noes. For the full debate, see the Hansard.
Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill 2022
Minister Farraway (Nationals) introduced the Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill 2022, which seeks to amend the Transport Administration Act 1988 to enable the regulations to authorise the use of disused railway lines for certain purposes. In his second reading speech, Minister Farraway explained that the bill would create more streamlined processes for the creation of rail trails and new road and road infrastructure projects that cross disused rail lines, including those that provide access to special activation precincts. On conclusion of the Minister’s second reading speech, debate on the bill was adjourned for five calendar days.
Treasury Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2022
With Minister Tudehope having introduced the Treasury Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2022 earlier in the afternoon, and the House having agreed that the bill be declared urgent, Mr Martin (Liberals) on behalf of Minister Tudehope moved the second reading of the bill. In his contribution, Mr Martin noted that the bill provides a series of miscellaneous amendments to legislation primarily allocated to the Treasurer, and largely serves to catch up on minor and uncontroversial amendments that are normally part of the annual statute law revision program.
The second reading was agreed to on the voices, and in committee of the whole, Mr Martin moved one amendment which was also agreed to on the voices. The third reading of the bill was then also agreed to on the voices, and you can read the full debate in Hansard here.
As per the House’s proposed sessional orders currently being trialled, Statements of Public Interest (SPIs) were tabled in respect of both bills (see our earlier blog post here for more information on SPIs).