Two was the magic number for Tuesday’s sitting of the Legislative Council. It was the second sitting week for the new Parliament, there were two new members sworn in, and the Upper House passed its first two bills of the new parliamentary session. Read on to learn more…
NEW MEMBERS SWORN IN
During the previous sitting week, a joint sitting of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly was called to fill the casual vacancies caused by the resignation of the Hon Mark Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) and the Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones (Liberal). Both members resigned from the Upper House earlier this year and were re-elected to new terms at the March election. At the joint sitting, the Hon Tania Mihailuk was elected to fill the One Nation vacancy in the chamber, and the Hon Scott Farlow was elected to fill the Liberal vacancy.
On Tuesday, both new members were sworn in – taking the Pledge of Loyalty and Oath of Allegiance respectively – and signed the official roll of the House. With these important formalities undertaken, Ms Mihailuk and Mr Farlow are now able to vote on matters in the House and participate in any committee inquiries.
COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIPS FORMALISED
Following the re-establishment of committees on Wednesday 10 May 2023, members had 7 days to advise the Clerk which members would represent the Government, the Opposition and the Crossbench on all relevant committees. If the Clerk received more crossbench nominations than available positions for a particular committee, a ballot would have to be held in the House to determine the membership on the committee.
On Tuesday, the President advised the House that the Clerk had received nominations for all relevant committees. However in the case of the Regulation Committee, an additional nominee would be required, and in the case of Portfolio Committee No. 1 – Premier and Finance, 3 crossbench nominations had been received for 2 available positions. Under standing order 139, this prompted a ballot for the membership of Portfolio Committee 1.
The Clerk conducted the ballot. With the Hon Robert Borsak, the Hon Jeremy Buckingham and the Hon John Ruddick having been nominated, the President declared Mr Borsak and Mr Buckingham to have received the greater number of votes.
GOVERNMENT SECTOR FINANCE AMENDMENT (GRANTS) BILL 2023
Introduced in the previous sitting week by Minister John Graham, the Government Sector Finance Amendment (Grants) Bill 2023 establishes new requirements for the administration of government grants in order to bolster the grants regulatory framework. This includes amending the Government Sector Finance Act 2018 to stipulate that a minister must not approve a grant unless satisfied that its expenditure is efficient, effective, economical and ethical, and that it would achieve value for money.
The bill also makes changes to the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 and the Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2018 to make more information relating to grants publicly available. Details can be found in the Hansard record of the minister’s second reading speech from Thursday 11 May.
On Tuesday, members from the Opposition, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and The Greens contributed to the second reading debate, with the full debate recorded in Hansard here.
When the House resolved into committee of the whole…
- One amendment was moved by the Hon Mark Latham on behalf of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, which sought to have benefit/cost analyses and other financial information used to approve or decline grant proposals and applications published online. This was negatived on division, Ayes: 18/Noes: 19, with members of the Government, The Greens, Animal Justice Party and Legalise Cannabis Party voting in the negative.
- One amendment was also moved by Ms Sue Higginson on behalf of The Greens, which sought to provide that a grant be considered “ecologically sustainable” as part of approval criteria. This was negatived on the voices.
With no amendments made, the third reading was agreed to and the bill was sent on to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence.
ELECTORAL FUNDING AMENDMENT (REGISTERED CLUBS) BILL 2023
On Tuesday, the House also returned to the Electoral Funding Amendment (Registered Clubs) Bill 2023, which was introduced by Minister John Graham during the previous sitting week. The bill amends the Electoral Funding Act 2018 to prohibit political donations from a registered club, if the business of the club includes wagering, betting or other gambling. You can find further details about the bill in the minister’s second reading speech.
Members’ contributions to the second reading debate can be seen in full in the Hansard record. Contributions were heard from the Opposition, The Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Legalise Cannabis Party.
The House then divided on the question of the second reading, Ayes: 35/Noes: 4, with members from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Liberal Democratic Party voting in the negative.
The bill was then read a second and third time, before being forwarded to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence.
COMMITTEE REPORTS – TAKE NOTE DEBATES
‘Take note’ debates on a number of committee reports took place. See the links below for the full overviews in the Hansard record:
- 2022 review of the Compulsory Third Party insurance scheme and 2022 review of the Lifetime Care and Support scheme (tabled February 2023)
- Allegations of impropriety against agents of the Hills Shire Council and property developers in the region (tabled March 2023)
- COVID-19 classification of the Minister for Health (tabled December 2022)
- Allegations of impropriety against agents of the City of Canterbury Bankstown Council (tabled February 2023).
REPORTS TABLED AND REPORTED IN THE HOUSE
The following statutory reports were tabled by the President in the House on Tuesday:
- Five Years (2017-2022) of Independent Monitoring of NSW Police Force Critical Incident Investigations (May 2023 report of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission)
- Report on the Operation of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009: 2021-2022: Open Government, Open Access, Open Data (May 2023 report of the Information and Privacy Commission)
A selection of the key statutory reports received by the Clerk since the last sitting of the House and announced in the chamber are listed below. A full list can be found in the database of tabled papers and reports here.
- Report by the NSW State Coroner into deaths in custody/police operations for the year 2022 (April 2023 report of the NSW State Coroner)
- Review of Alcohol Delivery Reforms – Stage 1: Supplementary Report (May 2023 report of Liquor and Gaming NSW)
- Managing the affairs of people under financial management and/or guardianship orders (May 2023 performance audit report of the Auditor-General)
- Regulation and monitoring of local government (May 2023 performance audit report of the Auditor-General).