Tuesday marked the start of the last official sitting week of the 57th Parliament. It brought with it the passage of two bills – one relating to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, and another establishing the criminal offence of ‘coercive control’ – as well as some important statements from the President, and the farewell address of Independent member of the Council Mr Justin Field. Here’s what happened…
STATEMENT OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The day began with the President delivering a statement of acknowledgement on the impact of harmful behaviours in parliamentary workplaces, which included an apology to those who have experienced bullying, sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in any of the NSW Parliament’s workplaces. The statement can be read in full here and followed a year-long investigation by Elizabeth Broderick & Co into these behaviours at NSW Parliament. It was also delivered by the Speaker in the Legislative Assembly, where it was followed by a statement by the Assembly’s Deputy Speaker, the Hon Leslie Williams, in her capacity as Chair of the Parliament’s Advisory Group on Bullying, Harassment and Serious Misconduct.
REPORTS INTO NEW STANDING ORDERS AND THE OPERATION OF STANDING ORDER 52
As Chair of the Council’s Procedure Committee, the President tabled two of the committee’s reports. This included the Second Review of the Standing and Sessional Orders – a report recommending the House formally adopt proposed new standing orders that have been trialled as sessional orders over the last six months, with some adjustments. Look out for more on this in Thursday’s blog.
The President also tabled a report into the operation of standing order 52. The report addresses issues arising from the committee’s recent review of the standing and sessional orders. The review included consideration of the House’s power to order the production of documents by the Executive Government, under standing order 52. You can learn more about these ‘orders for papers’ here.
In respect to managing documents containing personal information, the report recommends that a third category of documents be incorporated into standing order 52 in addition to the existing categories of ‘public’ and ‘privileged’. The new category would be explicitly for documents that contain personal information, and allow a balance between the importance of genuinely personal information being respected, and providing a more efficient means of enabling members to access and use information of interest.
The report also discusses the development of an ‘eReturns’ system for returns to orders, which would enable documents to be produced and accessed electronically. As seen in the President’s report tabling in Hansard, it was recommended that work to develop the system continue in the next term of Parliament, where further decisions will be made by the committee.
ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS AMENDMENT BILL 2022
Following the introduction of the Aboriginal Land Rights Amendment Bill 2022 in the Council during the previous sitting week, the bill was back before the House on Tuesday. It implements the first stage of recommendations outlined in a 2021 statutory review of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 – making a number of administrative and operational changes to improve the administration of the Act and Aboriginal Land Councils. Further details can be found in our earlier blog post here.
With no amendments proposed to the bill, the second and third readings were agreed to on the voices. Having been introduced to Parliament first in the Council, the bill was then forwarded to the Legislative Assembly, where it was passed without amendment the next day.
CRIMES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (COERCIVE CONTROL) BILL 2022
Debate resumed on the Crimes Legislative Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 after the bill’s introduction in the previous sitting week. The bill creates a standalone criminal offence of ‘coercive control’ under the Crimes Act 1900, and makes related amendments to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 and Criminal Procedure Act 1986. Read more in our earlier blog recap.
With the second reading agreed to on the voices, the House then resolved into committee of the whole to consider proposed amendments. In committee:
- Three amendments were moved by Revd the Hon Fred Nile (Independent), all negatived on the voices
- One amendment was moved by Ms Emma Hurst (Animal Justice Party), which was negatived on the voices
- Three amendments were moved by the Hon Penny Shape on behalf of the Opposition, found here and here, which were agreed to on the voices
- Thirty one amendments were moved by Ms Boyd (The Greens), with one amendment (no. 24) agreed to on the voices and the remainder negatived on the voices.
After the third reading was agreed to, the bill was forwarded to the Legislative Assembly for its consideration of the Council’s amendments.
VALEDICTORY SPEECH OF MR JUSTIN FIELD
With his term of service in the Council coming to an end, on Tuesday evening Mr Justin Field (Independent) delivered his valedictory speech to a chamber of colleagues, family and friends.
Mr Field joined the Council in 2016 and in his address reflected on his time in Parliament, the issues important to him, and what lies ahead. You can find Mr Field’s speech in full here. You can also learn more on his page on the Parliament’s website.