The last sitting weeks of 2022 are upon us – and with them the final sittings in the current, 57th session of the NSW Parliament. On the week’s first day of government business, the Aboriginal Land Rights Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the Legislative Council, and debate began on the Property Tax (First Home Buyer Choice) Bill 2022. Some important statements and messages were also read in the chamber. Read on for details…
The day began with members standing as a mark of respect, following the President’s reading of two statements relating to recent tragedies: one recognising the tragic death of young people in Seoul, South Korea during a crowd crush in late October, and another relating to the recent bridge disaster in Gujarat, India.
PARLIAMENTARY TWINNING STATEMENT: DELEGATION TO SOLOMON ISLANDS
Readers may be aware that the Parliament of NSW is ‘twinned’ with the National Parliament of Solomon Islands through the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s twinning program – which you can learn more about in this Twin Peeks blog (you can also find the full blog series to date here). On Tuesday, President Matthew Mason-Cox made a statement regarding a recent visit to Solomon Islands by a parliamentary delegation, led by himself and including Assistant President Rod Roberts, Legislative Council member the Hon Aileen MacDonald, and Legislative Assembly members Melanie Gibbons and Stephen Bali. Conducted in late October, the visit was a chance for hands-on discussions about parliamentary practices and procedures, and the continued forging of people-to-people links. The President noted that as well as meeting with the Speaker and Clerk of the National Parliament, together with various office holders, the delegation also met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister the Hon Manasseh Sogavare, and governance-focused organisation Transparency Solomon Islands. He added that the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Dr Lachlan Strahan, and staff from the High Commission facilitated a full day program visiting Australian-funded development projects.
ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS AMENDMENT BILL 2022
The Aboriginal Land Rights Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Minister Ben Franklin. Owing to a special ‘cut off date’ procedure that prevents bills being considered if received during the final two weeks of a session, the House agreed to a motion moved by Minister Franklin that the bill be an ‘urgent’ bill under Standing Order 138. This allows consideration of the bill through all stages at any time during the sitting.
The bill would amend the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 – legislation that provides for, among other things, land rights for Aboriginal people in NSW, representative Aboriginal Land Councils and the acquisition and management of land by those Councils, and the provision of related community benefit schemes.
The bill seeks to implement the first stage of recommendations outlined in a 2021 statutory review of the Act – intending to make a range of administrative and operational changes to improve existing structures and provisions to improve the administration of the Act and Land Councils. The bill’s changes relate to land dealings and community benefits, as well as to office holders of Aboriginal Land Councils and membership of Local Aboriginal Land Councils. They deal with Council conduct and disciplinary matters as well, and other miscellaneous matters.
Further details can be found in the Minister’s second reading speech, which – interrupted by the day’s Question Time – appears across the Hansard record both here and here. At the conclusion of the Minister’s speech, debate on the bill was adjourned.
PROPERTY TAX (FIRST HOME BUYER CHOICE) BILL 2022
The subject of a recent inquiry by the Council’s Premier and Finance Committee, the Property Tax (First Home Buyer Choice) Bill 2022 was introduced by Minister Damien Tudehope on Tuesday evening. The bill seeks to provide certain first home buyers with the choice of either paying up-front stamp duty or an annual land tax when they purchase their first property. The choice would be available to those purchasing first homes valued at up to $1.5 million, or vacant land on which to build a first home, valued at up to $800,000. The proposed new tax under the bill would involve a $400 annual fee, plus 0.3 per cent of the land value.
You can find full details in the Minister’s second reading speech in Hansard, which appears together with initial member contributions to the second reading debate. You can also learn more about the bill and the evidence gathered during the inquiry into it in the committee’s report. With debate proceedings interrupted by the House’s ‘hard adjournment’ at 10pm, stay tuned for more.