Our first October sitting day was a busy one! With time set aside for our newest member to deliver her inaugural speech and a ‘matter of public interest’ debate allowing members to discuss school improvement targets, the Council also debated and passed four bills, and begun debate on a fifth…
MATTER OF PUBLIC INTEREST: SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT TARGETS
At the beginning of the sitting day, the House – on the motion of the Hon Mark Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) – agreed to debate as a matter of public importance ‘the failure of the Government’s education policies to meet its own school improvement targets’.
Debate on the motion canvassed school students’ performance under two Government policies – Local Schools, Local Decisions and the more recent School Success Model. Debate particularly focused on students’ performance against targets over the past 18 months, including the impacts of several community lockdowns related to COVID-19 during that period.
As matters of public importance do not require a vote under the House’s standing orders, following contributions from the Minister for Education and several Opposition members, the discussion concluded.
FIRST SPEECH OF THE HON AILEEN MACDONALD OAM
The House’s newest member, the Hon Aileen MacDonald OAM (Liberal Party), gave her first speech in the chamber on Tuesday evening before an audience of colleagues, family and friends. Her speech can be found in the Hansard record.
Mrs MacDonald was elected to the Council in August to fill the casual vacancy caused by the resignation of the Hon Catherine Cusack. She was sworn in by Her Excellency the Governor of NSW later that month, and signed the roll of the House in September. The delivery of her first speech completes Mrs MacDonald’s official ‘new member’ protocols, and she is now able to contribute to debate in the chamber.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION (DUST DISEASES) AMENDMENT BILL 2022
The Workers’ Compensation (Dust Diseases) Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Minister Damien Tudehope.
The bill amends the Workers’ Compensation (Dust Diseases) Act 1942, which covers the scheme providing financial compensation and healthcare to people affected by work-related dust diseases. The bill seeks to ensure that the formulas used to determine compensation payments are consistent, following the identification of a host of formula-related mis-payments made over a number of years. The bill also streamlines payment processes so that payments to affected workers can be delivered more promptly, and removes the income verification requirement for compensation recipients.
After members contributed to a brief debate as detailed in Hansard, the second and then third reading were agreed to on the voices. With no amendments made, the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly to be forwarded to the Governor for assent.
SCRAP METAL INDUSTRY AMENDMENT (REVIEW) BILL 2022
The Scrap Metal Industry Amendment (Review) Bill 2022 was introduced in the House by Parliamentary Secretary Lou Amato on behalf of Minister Sarah Mitchell.
The bill amends the Scrap Metal Industry Act 2016 and the Scrap Metal Industry Regulation 2016 to implement recommendations from a 2020 statutory review of the Act, addressing emerging issues in the evolving scrap metal industry and designed to more effectively meet the policy objectives of the Act, which include preventing property crime through industry regulation.
The bill’s changes include clarifying who a ‘scrap metal dealer’ is; enhancing existing powers to strengthen enforcement and improve administration of the Act; and updating certain penalties to appropriately reflect their seriousness.
Following debate and with the second and third readings agreed to on the voices, the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly without amendment and will soon be forwarded to the Governor for assent.
CRIMES (SENTENCING PROCEDURE) AMENDMENT BILL 2022
The Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the House by Parliamentary Secretary Peter Poulos, on behalf of Minister Natalie Ward.
The bill amends the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, which sets out the legislative framework for courts to impose sentences on offenders. The amendment requires courts to apply current sentencing patterns and practices to all crimes, regardless of when the crimes were committed, except in certain circumstances. It also addresses a drafting issue in the original Act, to ensure intensive correction orders are not available for certain historical sexual offences.
Further details can be found in the second reading speech, which appears in Hansard with members’ contributions to the second reading debate (with the second reading agreed to on the voices).
In committee of the whole, one amendment was moved by Ms Sue Higginson (The Greens) and was negatived on the voices.
Following the committee stage, the bill was reported without amendment, read a third time on the voices and returned to the Assembly. With the bill now passed by both Houses of Parliament, it awaits the Governor’s assent.
CRIMES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (ASSAULT ON FRONTLINE EMERGENCY AND HEALTH WORKERS) BILL 2022
The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Assaults on Frontline Emergency and Health Workers) Bill 2022 was introduced by Minister Natalie Ward. The bill amends the Crimes Act 1900 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 to create new offences relating to assaults on law enforcement officers, frontline emergency and health workers, and people who come to the aid of law enforcement officers. It also seeks to improve the clarity, consistency and coverage of existing offences for assaults and other actions against law enforcement.
Find the Minister’s second reading speech in Hansard, together with the full second reading debate. While some members of the crossbench spoke in opposition to the bill, no amendments were moved. The second and third readings were agreed to on the voices, and the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly for forwarding to the Governor for assent.
ELECTORAL LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2022
The final bill before the Council on Tuesday, the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced by Minister Damien Tudehope on behalf of Minister Natalie Ward.
The bill seeks to make a number of changes to the Electoral Act 2017 and the Electoral Funding Act 2018, to implement recommendations made by the Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in its report on the administration of the 2019 NSW state election.
Among the bill’s 34 proposed amendments are those relating to the regulation of political donations and electoral expenditure, and the public funding of election campaigns and other activities. The bill also covers changes to postal voting provisions, the scrutiny of ballot papers, and technology-assisted voting for the 2023 election and beyond.
During debate, intentions to move amendments to the bill were flagged. With debate on the second reading then adjourned, stay tuned for more.