The House’s final Wednesday of the year was a big one, bringing not one but three valedictory speeches from long-standing members, and involving 12 bills. Of note, while Wednesdays are the day for private members’ business in the Legislative Council, the House agreed to consider government business for part of the day too – and to allow more business to be dealt with, the 10pm hard adjournment was suspended for the day, which saw the House sitting until 1:45am. Read on for the details…
VALEDICTORY SPEECHES OF REV THE HON FRED NILE, THE HON ADAM SEARLE & THE HON WALT SECORD
It was a big day for valedictory speeches on Wednesday, with the House hearing farewell speeches from three members across the day…
Rev the Hon Fred Nile
A member of the Council for some 41 years, Rev the Hon Fred Nile (Independent) is among the 10 longest-serving members in the history of the NSW Parliament, and the Council’s fourth-longest-serving elected member. He delivered his valedictory speech in the afternoon, reflecting on his years in the chamber and his achievements. Read the full speech in the Hansard record here. You can also learn more about Rev Nile’s time in Parliament on his members’ page.
The Hon Adam Searle
In the evening, the Hon Adam Searle (Labor) gave his valedictory address before colleagues and guests in the chamber. Mr Searle was first elected to the Council in 2011, served as Leader of the Opposition in the Council for six years, and worked across many parliamentary committees. His valedictory can be read in full in Hansard, and further details on his time in Parliament can be found on the Parliament’s website.
The Hon Walt Secord
The final valedictory speech of the day – and for this session of Parliament – was delivered by the Hon Walt Secord (Labor). A member of the Upper House for 11 years, during his time at Parliament Mr Secord served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Council for four years and held numerous shadow ministries. Revisit his valedictory speech in full in the Hansard record (scroll partway down the page to find his section), and see his member’s page on the Parliament’s website for more details.
WEAPONS PROHIBITION AMENDMENT (SILENCERS) BILL
In the last sitting week, debate on the Weapons Prohibition Amendment (Silencers) Bill 2022 was interrupted by the night’s hard adjournment. On Wednesday morning, the House returned to the question of the second reading of the bill, which was introduced by the Hon Robert Borsak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party) to allow for the issuing of firearm silencer permits to those with a “genuine reason” for needing the suppression of recreational or sporting gun noise, as evidenced by a medical certificate.
Following a division (5 ayes from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Independent Rev the Hon Fred Nile to 24 noes), the second reading was not agreed to. You can find the proceedings and the votes in the Hansard record here.
HEALTH SERVICES AMENDMENT (NURSE-TO-PATIENT AND MIDWIFE-TO-PATIENT RATIOS) BILL
Ms Cate Faehrmann (The Greens) introduced the Health Services Amendment (Nurse-to-Patient and Midwife-to-Patient Ratios) Bill 2022. The bill would introduce a minimum staffing level and nurse-to-patient ratios in public hospitals. The bill was introduced with the support of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association.
According to standing order, following Ms Faehrmann’s second reading speech, debate on the bill was adjourned for five calendar days.
FORESTRY AMENDMENT (TIMBER HARVESTING SAFETY ZONES) BILL
The Hon Mark Banasiak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party) introduced the Forestry Amendment (Timber Harvesting Safety Zones) Bill 2022. The bill would amend the Forestry Act 2012 to make it an offence for unauthorised people to enter ‘timber harvesting safety zones’ (certain areas in which timber harvesting operations are carried out) as well as increasing the maximum penalties for certain obstruction offences.
Mr Banasiak explained in his second reading speech that the bill aims to protect forestry workers, authorised personnel and security personnel from those who would disrupt the work of forestry operators.
Following its introduction, debate on the bill was adjourned for five calendar days according to standing order.
COMPANION ANIMALS AMENDMENT (PUPPY FARMS) BILL 2021
The Companion Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms) Bill 2021 was considered in the committee of the whole on Wednesday, after its second reading debate in the House last week. The bill amends the Companion Animals Act 1998 to regulate the breeding of companion animals, including requiring businesses that breed and sell dogs and cats to register with local councils, with councils also granted inspection and enforcement powers. Read further information on the bill in our previous blog.
In committee of the whole:
- Three amendments were moved by Ms Hurst (Animal Justice Party), which were agreed to on division (18 ayes, 17 noes)
- Twenty four amendments (found here and here) were moved by Mr Veitch (Labor), which were agreed to on division (18 ayes, 17 noes).
The House then agreed to the third reading of the bill on division – 18 ayes to 17 noes, with members of the Animal Justice Party, The Greens and Labor, as well as Independents Mr Justin Field and Rev the Hon Fred Nile voting in support of the bill. The bill was then sent to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence.
MEDICINES, POISONS AND THERAPEUTIC GOODS BILL 2022
At 5pm, as previously agreed, the House switched from private members’ business to government business, and the first government bill of the afternoon was the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Bill, introduced by Parliamentary Secretary Lou Amato on behalf of Minister Bronnie Taylor.
The bill re-writes the 55-year-old Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 in response to an extensive review. The Act governs the supply chain for medicines and poisons, which the bill updates to reflect contemporary and safe business practices – this includes by setting out who is authorised to wholesale and non-wholesale supply scheduled substances and therapeutic goods, issue prescriptions, and purchase wholesale products. The bill also makes improvements to the enforcement regime and integration with Commonwealth and other relevant NSW legislation regulating illicit and therapeutic substances.
Further information on the bill can be found in Mr Amato’s second reading speech, which appears together in Hansard with members’ contributions to the second reading debate. With the second and third readings agreed to on the voices, the bill was passed without amendment, ready to be forwarded to the Governor for assent.
NSW RECONSTRUCTION AUTHORITY BILL 2022
The NSW Reconstruction Authority Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Minister Natalie Ward. The bill would implement the recommendation of an independent inquiry into the preparation for, causes of, responses to and recovery from the major flooding events that occurred across the state in 2021 and 2022.
The relevant recommendation was for the establishment of a permanent state-wide agency dedicated to disaster recovery, reconstruction and preparedness. The inquiry recommended that the new authority be established under dedicated legislation as soon as possible and modelled on a similar Queensland authority. The bill would therefore establish the NSW Reconstruction Authority to facilitate prevention, preparedness, recovery, reconstruction and adaptation for the impact of disasters in NSW, to improve resilience for potential disasters and to provide for the functions and powers of the authority.
You can find the full details of the bill in Minister Ward’s second reading speech, while members’ contributions to the second reading debate can be found across the Hansard record here and here.
With the second reading agreed to on the voices, the House resolved that consideration of the bill in committee of the whole would occur on the next sitting day.
PRIVACY AND PERSONAL INFORMATION PROTECTION AMENDMENT BILL 2022
The Privacy and Personal Information Protection Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Minister Natalie Ward. The bill amends the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 to introduce a mandatory notification of data breach scheme; to extend the Act’s application to state-owned corporations that are not subject to the Commonwealth’s Privacy Act 1988; to give the Privacy Commissioner the power to investigate, monitor, audit and report on public sector agencies in relation to data breaches; and to require public sector agencies to publish a data breach policy and keep a data breach register.
After the second and third readings were agreed to on the voices, the bill was returned to the Assembly, ready to be forwarded to the Governor for assent.
DISTRICT COURT AMENDMENT BILL 2022
The District Court Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Parliamentary Secretary Shayne Mallard on behalf of Minister Natalie Ward.
The bill amends the District Court Act 1973 to increase the jurisdictional limits of the District Court so that it can hear civil matters up to $1.25 million (up from $750,000) and equity proceedings up to $100,000 (up from $20,000).
You’ll find Mr Mallard’s full second reading speech in Hansard here, along with the House’s contributions to the second reading debate. Once the second and third readings were agreed to on the voices, the bill was returned to the Assembly before being sent on to the Governor for assent.
CRIMES AMENDMENT (PROTECTION OF CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYERS) BILL
The Crimes Amendment (Protection of Criminal Defence Lawyers) Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Parliamentary Secretary Shayne Mallard on behalf of Minister Natalie Ward.
Currently, sections in the Crimes Act 1900 provide for the protection of key officers of the courts, including prosecutors, from threats, intimidation and reprisals, with a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. However these protections have not been extended to defence lawyers, and so the reforms proposed in the bill address this gap. The bill therefore extends legislative protections for judges and public justice officials against injury, detriment and threats, and also for lawyers who act for a defendant in a criminal matter or in connection with criminal proceedings.
A number of members contributed to the second reading debate – seen in Hansard here together with Mr Mallard’s complete second reading speech – before the second reading was agreed to on the voices and the House resolved into committee of the whole to debate amendments.
In committee, three amendments were moved by the Hon Mark Banasiak on behalf of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, which were negatived on the voices.
With the third reading then agreed to on the voices, the bill was returned to the Assembly without amendment, then onwards to the Governor for assent.
POINT TO POINT TRANSPORT (TAXIS & HIRE VEHICLES) AMENDMENT BILL
The Point to Point Transport (Taxi and Hire Vehicles) Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Minister Sam Farraway on behalf of Minister Natalie Ward. The bill amends the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Act 2016 in response to the Point to Point Transport Independent Review 2020.
The bill contributes to the further deregulation of the taxi industry – including deregulating the supply of taxi licences, removing operating areas, and deregulating rank and hail fares. The bill also provides transitional arrangements to a new scheme under which taxi licences will be available on demand by application to the Point to Point Commissioner, and renewable every 12 months. There will be no limit on the number of taxi licences that can be issued, there will be no public auctions, or buying, selling and leasing of licences, and licences can be used anywhere across the state. The transitional arrangements include financial assistance for current taxi licence holders.
When the House resolved into committee of the whole eight amendments were moved by Mr Banasiak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party), all negatives on division.
With the third reading then agreed to on the voices, the bill was returned to the Assembly without amendment, ready to be forwarded to the Governor for assent.
FISHERIES MANAGEMENT AMENDMENT (ENFORCEMENT POWERS) BILL 2022
The Fisheries Management Amendment (Enforcement Powers) Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Minister Ben Franklin. It amends the Fisheries Management Act 1994 to give greater clarity to the powers of Fisheries Officers, who are empowered to manage the fisheries of the state. In his second reading speech, the Minister noted that such clarity is required after a series of District and Supreme Court decisions cast doubt on the source of the search powers of such officers.
After the second reading was agreed to on the voices, the House resolved into committee of the whole to consider three amendments moved by Ms Sue Higginson (The Greens). Two of the amendments were negatived on the voices, while amendment 3, limiting the powers of Fisheries Officers with respect to Aboriginal persons suspected of committing a fisheries offence, was agreed to on the voices.
With the third reading agreed to on the voices, the bill was then returned to the Assembly for concurrence, with the Assembly agreeing to the amendments on the same day. The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s assent.
GOVERNMENT SECTOR AUDIT AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2022
The Government Sector Audit and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the Council by Minister Damien Tudehope. The bill amends the Government Sector Audit Act 1983 and the Local Government Act 1993 to enable the Auditor-General to conduct ‘follow the dollar’ performance audits of government-funded activities conducted by non-government entities for or on behalf of NSW and local government entities. This is to assess whether activities are being carried out effectively, economically, efficiently and lawfully.
The bill also amends both Acts to implement recommendations of the most recent review of the Audit Office, intended to assist the Office in maintaining and improving performance in a changing public sector and auditing environment.
Both the second and third readings of the bill were agreed to on the voices, before the bill was returned to the Assembly, ready to be forwarded to the Governor for assent.
One general motion was debated, moved by Mr Justin Field (Independent), concerning impacts on evidence-based natural resources policy in NSW. It was negatived on the voices.