Bills, bills, bills! Bills dominated proceedings on Thursday, with six bills being passed by the House. A joint sitting was also held, with the House welcoming a new member. Let’s learn more about the day’s busy proceedings…
VACANT SEAT IN THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL – JOINT SITTING
Proceedings were interrupted on Thursday for a joint sitting of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly to elect a member to fill the seat vacated in the Council, by the resignation of the Hon Catherine Cusack (reported in the House on Tuesday). Ms Cusack gave her valedictory speech earlier in June.
Mrs Aileen MacDonald OAM was elected as the newest member of the Legislative Council. The next steps are for Mrs MacDonald to be sworn in and to give her first speech at an upcoming sitting of the House.
Eagle-eyed long-term fans of the Legislative Council may recognise a familiar face seated beside Mrs MacDonald – her husband and former MLC, Mr Scot MacDonald!
CRIMES AMENDMENT (PROHIBITION ON DISPLAY OF NAZI SYMBOLS) BILL 2022
Mr Poulos (on behalf of Minister Ward) introduced the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022.
Mr Poulos explained in his second reading speech that under the new section 93ZA, a person who knowingly displays, by public act and without a reasonable excuse, a Nazi symbol commits an offence. The offence is punishable by 12 month’s imprisonment or a fine of 100 penalty units, or both, for an individual, or a fine of 500 penalty units for a corporation.
Mr Poulos emphasised that Nazi symbols represent a ‘hateful ideology’, which perpetuates harm and hate to the Jewish community and other groups who were also persecuted under the Nazi regime, including diverse cultural groups, the LGBTIQ+ community and people with disabilities.
Many members made contributions to the second reading debate, with several members sharing their own personal experiences of persecution and intimidation by the Nazis. Contributors included members from the Government, the Opposition, the Greens, Shooters Fishers and Farmers and Reverend the Hon Fred Nile.
A number of members also acknowledged the contribution of the Hon Walt Secord and the Standing Committee on Social Issues in the development of the bill. In 2021, Mr Secord introduced a private members bill: the Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021, which was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Issues.
The third reading of the bill was passed on the voices and the bill was forwarded to the Legislative Assembly, without amendment, for concurrence.
NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE AMENDMENT (RESERVATIONS) BILL 2022
The second reading debate on the National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Reservations) Bill 2022 resumed on Thursday after being introduced by Minister Farraway on Tuesday. The bill seeks to amend the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to revoke certain areas of land from the national parks system to facilitate the upgrade of two highways and a regional road. The bill also provides that the Minister must not transfer the land to the new owner (which is either a local council or Transport for NSW) unless they are satisfied that the appropriate compensation to the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service has been provided.
The Opposition, The Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Mr Field all contributed to the second reading debate. You can find the full debate in the Hansard record here.
Following the second reading debate, the House agreed (on the voices) to an instruction to the committee of the whole, moved by Ms Higginson, to permit the committee to consider an amendment to provide for the reservation of part of Conjola National Park and an amendment to require the Minister to prepare a reservation plan.
In committee of the whole, the Greens moved three amendments, with two negatived on the voices and one negatived on a division (ayes 5, noes 29). You can find out more about these amendments here, here and here.
Following the committee stage, the bill was reported without amendment, read a third time on the voices and returned to the Assembly.
MUSEUMS OF HISTORY NSW BILL 2022
Minister Franklin introduced the Museums of History NSW Bill 2002 on Thursday evening.
The bill provides for the merger of Sydney Living Museums and the State Archives and Records Authority of NSW to form a new cultural institution, the Museums of History NSW. This new institution is designed to improve public access to the State collection of archives and appreciation of history throughout NSW. The bill seeks to ensure continuity and maintenance of the State’s records through improvements in record keeping. The bill implements recommendations outlined in the Legislative Council Social Issues Committee Report of 2020.
Mr Secord (Labor), Ms Faehrmann (The Greens), Mr Mallard (Liberal) and Revered Nile (Independent) all contributed to the second reading debate. You can read the full debate in Hansard.
Following the committee stage, the bill was reported with amendments, read a third time and returned to the Assembly for consideration of the Council’s amendments.
CASINO LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2022
Mr Martin introduced the Casino Legislation Amendment Bill, which implements the recommendations of the Casino Inquiry Report by the Hon. P.A. Bergin SC, by amending the Casino Control Act 1992 and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007. The main changes effected by the passing of the Bill include:
- The establishment of the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission (NICC) as a new independent regulator, and
- The extinguishment of compensation triggers for casino operators in relation to regulatory action taken by the Parliament, Government and the Commission.
Following contributions from a range of parties, the second reading was agreed to on the voices.
The House then agreed to an instruction to the committee, moved by Mr Field, to permit the committee to consider an amendment to the Gaming Machines Act 2001 to limit the amount a customer can gamble in cash on a gaming machine in a hotel or club in a day to $1,000. The motion was agreed to on division (ayes: 30, noes: 3). ‘Instructions’ give the committee a power that would otherwise be unavailable to it – in this case, to consider an amendment that would otherwise be outside the leave of the bill. You can find out more about instructions to committees here.
- The committee of the whole considered amendments circulated by three members: Mr Field moved amendments nos 2, 4 and 6 on this sheet, which were agreed to on the voices. (Interestingly, he did not go on to move the amendment for which he sought the special instruction – no. 7 on the same sheet.)
- Ms Faehrmann moved Greens amendments nos 1 to 16 on this sheet, which were negatived on the voices, and amendment no. 17 on the same sheet, which was agreed to on the voices.
- Mr Veitch moved the Opposition amendment on this sheet, which was agreed to on the voices.
The bill was reported with amendments and forwarded to the Assembly, which concurred with the amendments made by the Council later the same evening.
TRANSPORT ADMINISTRATION AMENDMENT (RAIL TRAILS) BILL 2022
The Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill, was agreed to by the Council on 9 August. The bill inserts a regulation making power into the Transport Administration Act 1988, which will allow the Minister for Transport and Roads, following consultation with relevant stakeholders, to:
- Authorise the temporary re-purposing of all or part of a non-operational railway corridor in non-metropolitan areas, and
- Allow for the removal of tracks and other works from non-operational corridors required for transport infrastructure proposals.
You can find a summary of the second reading debate in our previous blog here.
On Thursday, the House resolved into committee of the whole to consider four amendments made to the bill by the Opposition and the Government in the Legislative Assembly – a copy of which can be found here. Mr Farraway (Government) and Mr Graham (Opposition) spoke in support of the amendments and they were agreed to on the voices. With all amendments having now been agreed to both Houses, the bill awaits the Governor’s assent.
OMBUDSMAN LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2022
The NSW Ombudsman’s Office is an independent integrity agency that oversees the NSW public sector and investigates complaints made against NSW government agencies, local councils and community service providers. The Ombudsman Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 gives effect to a request by the current Ombudsman to further clarify the Ombudsman’s powers and functions which are contained in the Ombudsman Act 1974 and the Community Services (Complaints, Reviews and Monitoring) Act 1993. Specific changes proposed by the bill include:
- Renaming the Community and Disability Services Commissioner as the Community Services Commissioner to reflect the change of responsibilities caused by the establishment of the NDIS,
- Granting the Ombudsman the power to monitor the progress of a public authority’s investigation of a complaint and make recommendations,
- The insertion of a new subsection in section 13AA to ensure that confidentiality or non‑disclosure provisions in other Acts do not prevent public authorities voluntarily providing information to the Ombudsman in response to a request by the Ombudsman under section 13AA,
- Enabling the Ombudsman to review the systems of public authorities for handling complaints, and
- Enabling the Ombudsman to investigate the conduct of an ICAC commissioner, officer or former officer referred to the Ombudsman by the Inspector of the ICAC.
The second reading of the bill was moved by Mr Amato on Wednesday. The bill proceeded through the second reading and third reading stages and was agreed on the voices, with Mr Graham MLC (Labor) and Mr Poulos MLC (Liberal) speaking in support of the bill. The bill passed the House without amendment and now awaits assent by the Governor.
NEW ‘IMMORTALS’ VIDEO – SIR JOHN HAY
Early in the sitting, the President made a statement relating to the Bicentenary of the Legislative Council, announcing the release of another video in ‘The Immortals’ series, which explores the former members and Presidents of the Legislative Council who are commemorated by marble busts inside chamber.
The President advised that the latest video in the series addresses Sir John Hay – the Council’s longest-service President and a gentleman whose rulings held great weight. In fact, many are still referred to some 130 years since his passing! Watch the new video below: