Thursday brought a busy agenda to conclude the autumn sitting session, starting with the launch of the President’s new video series, The Immortals. The House then proceeded to agree to five bills, including the appropriation bills, and debated two disallowance motions before longstanding and accomplished member the Honourable Catherine Cusack stood to give her valedictory speech. You can find all the details below.
Launch of ‘The Immortals’ video series
The President commenced proceedings by announcing the release of the first in a new video series to commemorate ‘The Immortals’, the former members of the Legislative Council who are depicted in the marble busts that line the chamber. The videos will explain just who they were in life, and how they came to be commemorated in this unique way.
The President advised that the this first video would explore the life and contribution of the most recent addition to the collection, the Hon Virginia Chadwick, whose marble bust was unveiled in May 2022.
You can find the video discussing the Hon Virginia Chadwick at this link or below, and new videos will be released bi-monthly over the remainder of 2022 and through 2023.
ICAC and LECC Legislation Amendment Bill 2022
The ICAC and LECC Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 seeks to apply certain beneficial provisions relating to judges of the Supreme Court who are appointed to the Independent Commission Against Corruption or the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, to also apply to judges of the District Court, and to ensure consistency between relevant provisions.
The terms of appointment to the roles of commissioner and inspectors of the ICAC and LECC are shortly due to expire and cannot be filled by the current appointees. During the recruitment process, it became apparent that the existing legislation contained discrepancies in the provisions that allow the revival of a person’s judicial commission once the person ceases to hold statutory office: preventing a Supreme Court judge appointed as inspector of the ICAC from having their commission as judge revived, and preventing a District Court judge who had been appointed as either inspector or commissioner from returning to their prior judicial office. The bill seeks to address these discrepancies.
The bill was not opposed by other parties and the second reading was quickly agreed to on the voices – you can find the full debate in the Hansard record here.
In committee of the whole, Mr Roberts (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) moved one amendment. Following an undertaking given by the Parliamentary Secretary that Cabinet would shortly reconsider its position on the matter the subject of the amendment, the amendment was withdrawn by Mr Roberts by leave. You can find a full account of the debate on the amendment here.
The third reading of the bill was agreed to on the voices and the bill was returned to the Assembly without amendment.
Bail Amendment Bill 2022
The Bail Amendment Bill 2022 strengthens the Bail Act 2013 in two respects. In what the Government observed was a national first, the bill will insert a provision to require that any electronic monitoring imposed as a bail condition must meet minimum standards prescribed in the regulations. Secondly, the bill will insert a requirement that bail must be refused following conviction and prior to sentencing where the offender will be sentenced to full-time detention, unless special or exceptional circumstances can be established, in response to three recent bail matters that were widely regarded as out of step with community expectations.
The third reading of the bill was agreed to on the voices, and the bill was returned to the Assembly without amendment.
Appropriation Bill 2022 and cognates
The annual appropriation bills are the ‘Budget Bills’ – key pieces of legislation that allow for funding of government and other services throughout the year. They include:
- The Appropriation Bill. This bill authorises the appropriation of funds from the state’s ‘Consolidated Fund’ (NSW’s main source of funding). These funds are used for services of the government, being allocated to departments of the public service and various special offices, as well as funding capital works.
- The Appropriation (Parliament) Bill. This bill appropriates funds specifically for the services and capital works of the NSW Parliament.
The appropriation bills typically arrive as ‘cognate’ bills, allowing for simultaneous consideration. They can also be bundled with other cognates as part of the appropriate package.
While this year the appropriation package comprised of three bills, on the bills arriving from the Legislative Assembly and the initial procedural motions being agreed to, the Deputy President noted that, according to a resolution agreed to by the House earlier in the day, only the Appropriation Bill 2022 and the Appropriation (Parliament) Bill 2022 would proceed through their remaining stages in cognate. The third bill – the State Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 – would proceed through its remaining stages as a single bill.
On the motion of the Leader of the Government, the House resolved that the State Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 would be set down for debate separately at a later hour, whereas debate on the remaining two bills proceeded immediately. After contributions from a number of members of the Opposition and crossbench, both the Appropriation Bill 2022 and the Appropriation (Parliament) Bill 2022 were passed without amendment and returned to the Legislative Assembly. Read the full debate in the Hansard.
State Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2022
The third of the appropriation bills package, the State Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 amends the Betting Tax Act 2001, the Land Tax Act 1956 and the Payroll Tax Act 2007 to change percentage rates of betting tax and the applicable offsets, and consumption tax. The bill also alters the manner in which the amount of the annual payment of tax revenue to the racing industry is calculated – moving 2% of taxable net NSW wagering revenue generated during a financial year to 33% of point of consumption tax collected during a financial year. Finally, the bill changes surcharge land tax payable on residential land owned by foreign persons to 4% of the taxable value of the residential land, and provides that certain wages paid to employees funded by the Commonwealth Aged Care Workforce Bonus Grant Opportunity are exempt from payroll tax. Consequential amendments are also made to the Totalizator Act 1997.
Following a contribution from the Opposition, the second and third readings of the bill were agreed to on the voices and the bill was returned to the Assembly without amendment.
Motion to disallow the Crimes Amendment (Major Facilities) Regulation 2022
In the evening the House debated two related motions moved by Ms Boyd (The Greens) to disallow certain statutory instruments. The Crimes Amendment (Major Facilities) Regulation 2022 prescribes certain train stations, other public transport facilities, ports and infrastructure facilities to be major facilities for the purposes of s 214A of the Crimes Act 1900. Under this provision, certain conduct is prohibited at major facilities, including conduct that causes damage to major facilities or seriously disrupts or obstructs persons attempting to use the facilities, or conduct that causes the facilities to be closed or persons attempting to use the facilities to be redirected.
During the course of debate, which you can find here in the Hansard record, members discussed the utilisation of these new provisions to curb actual and planned protest and blockade action. Those supporting the disallowance motion argued that the regulation and associated laws were a dangerous attack on democratic rights, while those who opposed the motion stated that while they supported the right to peaceful protest, their position on the protest activity the regulation sought to curb had already been canvassed during the debate that took place on the Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 recently. Referring members back to the matters canvassed in that debate, and the positions articulated on each side, the Government and Opposition opposed the motion.
At the conclusion of debate the motion was negatived on division (6 ayes to 27 noes).
Motion to disallow the Roads Amendment (Major Roads) Regulation 2022
The second motion moved by Ms Boyd (The Greens) sought to disallow the Roads Amendment (Major Roads) Regulation 2022, which amends the Roads Regulation 2018, consequent on the enactment of the Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2022, to prescribe major bridges, tunnels and roads for the purposes of s 144G of the Roads Act 1993. That section of the Act creates an offence for a person who trespasses on a major bridge, tunnel or road if the conduct (a) causes damage to the bridge, tunnel or road, or (b) seriously disrupts or obstructs vehicles or pedestrians attempting to use the bridge, tunnel or road.
Debate on the motion was brief, with the mover noting that the arguments made in the previous debate were equally applicable to this motion. The motion was then negatived on division (6 ayes to 27 noes).
Valedictory speech of the Honourable Catherine Cusack
During the debate on the motion to adjourn the House, the Honourable Catherine Cusack stood to give a valedictory speech to members. During the course of the speech, Ms Cusack acknowledged the opportunities and trust placed in her during the course of a lengthy parliamentary career, including as a senior ministerial staffer, a Committee Chair, Chair of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, a Shadow Minister, a Parliamentary Secretary and most recently as Temporary Chair in the Legislative Council.
In concluding her remarks, Ms Cusack called on the words of her mentor, former minister and President of the Legislative Council the Honourable Virginia Chadwick, who concluded her time in the Council with the words of St Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, and I have kept the faith”. Following Ms Cusack’s remarks, members, officers and guests in the gallery responded with a standing ovation.
Ms Cusack was elected to the Upper House in 2003 and details of her impressive career can be found here, while the transcript of her speech can be found in the Hansard record. Watch the recording below: