Two bills were passed in the Legislative Council on Thursday, including the First Home Buyer Legislation Amendment Bill 2023. The day also saw a further two bills introduced, and the House agree to its first order for papers for 2023. Meanwhile, the chamber was once again full for the first speech of another of the Council’s cohort of new members. Read on for more…
CONSIDERATION OF LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENTS
On Thursday, a message was received from the Legislative Assembly that the Electoral Funding Amendment (Registered Clubs) Bill 2023 – which was agreed to by the Council in the previous sitting week – had been passed in the other House with amendments.
The House briefly resolved into committee of the whole to consider the Assembly’s two amendments, which included one amendment to limit the bill’s exemptions for registered clubs to provide in-kind donations, such as in the form of space for electoral fundraisers, the use of staff and facilities, and similar. The other amendment was to include a person who is “a close associate of a registered club” to the bill’s list of persons who are captured in the meaning of a registered club.
The Assembly’s amendments were agreed to on the voices, and a message was returned to the Assembly advising of this outcome. The bill will now be forwarded to the Governor for assent.
INTRODUCED: PARLIAMENTARY REMUNERATION AMENDMENT BILL 2023
Minister John Graham introduced the Parliamentary Remuneration Amendment Bill 2023, which would amend the Parliamentary Remuneration Act 1989 to provide for a freeze on increases to the basic salary of members of both Houses of Parliament. The freeze would be in place until 30 June 2025.
Members’ remuneration is determined by the Parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal and consists of a basic salary (under Part 2 of the Act) and additional entitlements (under Part 3 of the Act). The tribunal would ordinarily make a determination annually, with the most recent on 24 May 2022 taking effect from 1 July 2022. While the Government’s bill freezes the basic salary, it does not affect the tribunal’s determinations regarding members’ additional entitlements. Minister Graham noted the importance of members’ entitlements in his second reading speech, noting that they support members to perform their duties and serve their constituents effectively.
After its introduction to the House, debate on the bill was adjourned for five calendar days, according to standing order.
INTRODUCED: STATUTORY AND OTHER OFFICES REMUNERATION AMENDMENT BILL 2023
Similar in theme to the above bill, the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Amendment Bill 2023 was also introduced by Minister Graham on Thursday. It would give rise to changes that would freeze increases in remuneration for senior public servants for the next two years – preventing the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal from making any determination on an increase in remuneration that would take effect before 1 July 2025.
By ‘senior public servants’, the bill specifically refers to office holders under Part 3 of the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Act 1975, and executive office holders under Parts 3A and 3B of that Act, until 1 July 2025. These roles include many chief executive and senior executive roles across various public sector departments and agencies. The bill would not, however, affect public servants covered under the state’s various Crown employees awards.
With the bill introduced debate was adjourned for five calendar days, according to standing order.
PASSED: FIRST HOME BUYER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2023
Passed by the Assembly earlier in the sitting week, the First Home Buyer Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 was before the Council on Thursday, being introduced by Treasurer Daniel Mookhey. It makes changes to assistance schemes relating to first home buyers, including by ending access to the recently instigated First Home Buyer Choice land tax scheme – amending the Property Tax (First Home Buyer Choice) Act 2022 so that after 1 July 2023, a person can no longer elect to pay property tax instead of stamp duty on a transfer of land.
The bill also amends the Duties Act 1997 to revise values for properties eligible for the First Home Buyer Assistance Scheme – including increasing the first home buyer stamp duty exemption threshold from $650,000 to $800,000, and the concession threshold from $800,000 to $1,000,000. Under this same Act, the bill also requires a person to hold the property in question as their principal place of residence for a continuous period of at least one year to be eligible for a duty exemption or concession. The bill also places this same requirement on a person’s eligibility for a First Home Owner Grant under the First Home Owner Grant and Shared Equity Act 2000.
Further details of the bill can be found in the Treasurer’s second reading speech in Hansard. With the speech interrupted by Question Time, find the remainder here.
During the second reading debate, contributions were heard from members of the Opposition, The Greens, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and Animal Justice Party. The House divided on the second reading of the bill (Ayes: 21/Noes: 17), with members of the Liberals, Nationals, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Liberal Democratic Party voting in the negative.
The House then resolved into committee of the whole to debate a number of amendments moved on behalf of the Opposition. These included:
- Two Opposition amendments to remove the bill’s principal place of residency requirements. These were negatived on division (Ayes: 17/Noes: 21).
- Three Opposition amendments to allow for victim-survivors of family or domestic violence to access a duty exemption or concession, a First Home Owner Grant, or opt to pay a property tax, rather duty, without needing to be a first home buyer. These were negatived on division (Ayes: 17/Noes: 21).
- A further nine Opposition amendments, to amend the bill’s new exemption thresholds – indexing them by varying the thresholds in September each year. These were negatived on division (Ayes: 16/Noes: 19).
- A final Opposition amendment to remove the bill’s changes that would end the First Home Buyers Choice scheme. This amendment was also negatived (Ayes: 16/Noes: 20).
With no amendments made, the bill’s third reading was agreed to and it was returned to the Assembly, ready for the Governor’s assent.
PASSED: CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT (SYDNEY WATER AND HUNTER WATER) BILL 2023
Introduced on Tuesday, the Constitution Amendment (Sydney Water and Hunter Water) Bill 2023 was back before the House on Thursday evening. The bill amends the Constitution Act 1902 to ensure continued public ownership of the Sydney Water Corporation and the Hunter Water Corporation, with further details available in our earlier recap.
During the second reading debate, contributions were heard from the Opposition, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, the Government, The Greens and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. While the debate was interrupted by inaugural speech proceedings, contributions can be read across the Hansard record here and here.
With the second reading agreed to on the voices, the House then moved into committee of the whole, where eight amendments were moved by the Hon Sam Farraway on behalf of Opposition. Among these amendments were changes to expand the scope of the bill to include not just Sydney Water and Hunter Water, but water corporations and utilities more broadly, and changes to limit the ability of water corporations to enter into leasing and other partnership arrangements. Moved in globo, these amendments were negatived (Ayes: 15/Noes: 21).
With no amendments made, the question of the third reading was put to the House. The Hon Sarah Mitchell (Nationals) spoke to the third reading to explain the Nationals’ position on the bill, which can be read in Hansard here. The House then divided on the bill’s third reading (Ayes: 32/Noes: 5), with members of the Nationals and Liberal Democratic Party voting in the negative. The bill was then returned to the Assembly, ready for assent.
FIRST SPEECH OF THE HON CAMERON MURPHY
In a week that saw several new members deliver their first speeches, the Hon Cameron Murphy AM (Labor) rounded out the week. Having been sworn in during Opening of Parliament proceedings in early May, Mr Murphy delivered his first address in the presence of colleagues and family on Thursday, with the transcript of his speech available here.
Welcome to the Upper House, Mr Murphy and all recently elected members!
REPORTS TABLED AND REPORTED IN THE HOUSE
Just one report was reported in the House by the Clerk on Thursday – Natural Disasters, a June 2023 financial audit report of the Auditor-General.
Statements of Public Interest accompanying bills were also tabled, and can be found in the Tabled Papers Database.
The following motions were agreed to without debate, during the morning’s formal business:
- Government responses to committee reports, moved by the Hon Damien Tudehope (Liberal)
- One order for papers (see below)
ORDERS FOR PAPERS
On Thursday, the first order of papers was agreed to in the Council for this new parliamentary session:
|Request (click link for details)||Moved by||Agreed to?||Due date|
|Papers regarding the reliability of NSW electricity supply||The Hon Mark Latham (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation)||Yes, during formal business, as amended||22/06/2023|