A bill to help make renting fairer across the state completed its journey through the Legislative Council and indeed the Parliament on Thursday, while the Council also agreed to establish a brand-new standing committee for the life of the current Parliament, focused on animal welfare. With another first speech and a special acknowledgement relating to parliamentary service, read on to learn more…
ACKNOWLEDGING THE CLERK OF THE PARLIAMENTS
Hear, hear! As part of formal business on Thursday morning, the House extended a hearty congratulations to the Clerk of the Parliaments (also known as the Clerk of the Legislative Council) Mr David Blunt, for being made a Member of the Order of Australia in the recent King’s Birthday Honours.
The motion was moved by the Leader of the Government in the Council, the Hon Penny Sharpe, and co-sponsored by Leader of the Opposition in the Council the Hon Damien Tudehope. It acknowledged that Mr Blunt has served the Parliament of NSW for more than 30 years, including for 12 years in the role of Clerk.
A NEW STANDING COMMITTEE ESTABLISHED, AND A NEW INQUIRY
The House agreed to establish a new subject-based standing committee to investigate matters of animal welfare and protection in NSW, on the motion of Leader of the Government in the Council the Hon Penny Sharpe. Find details of the debate in Hansard.
Standing committees are appointed for the life of the current Parliament, and have three broad groupings: subject committees, such as the new Animal Welfare Committee; portfolio committees, which are aligned to the portfolio areas of government ministers; and specialist committees, such as the House’s Privileges Committee and Selection of Bills Committee.
Later in the sitting, it was reported in the House that a new inquiry had been adopted by another of its subject standing committees, following a reference from the relevant Minister. The State Development Committee is looking into the feasibility of undergrounding the transmission of infrastructure for renewable energy projects, with details available on the inquiry’s webpage.
PASSED: RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AMENDMENT (RENTAL FAIRNESS) BILL 2023
The Minister for Finance, the Hon Courtney Houssos, introduced the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Rental Fairness) Bill 2023, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly earlier in the sitting week and upon its arrival in the Council was declared urgent (allowing the bill to pass through all stages during the same sitting).
The bill makes changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and related regulations, including to prohibit ‘rent bidding’ by extending the requirement for those advertising properties to do so at a fixed price beyond real estate agents to landlords as well as online rental application tools and platforms. Similarly, it prevents anyone advertising a rental property from asking renters to offer more than the advertised price. The bill also establishes a portable rental bond scheme, which will allow tenants to directly transfer bonds between properties. In her second reading speech – available in full in Hansard – the Minister noted that the bill is among the first steps in implementing the Government’s changes to NSW’s renting laws.
During the second reading debate, contributions were heard from members of the Opposition, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, the Government, The Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, and the Animal Justice Party.
After the second read of the bill was agreed to on the voices, an instruction to the House’s committee of the whole was moved by the Hon Emma Hurst (Animal Justice Party) and agreed to on the voices. Instructions, provided for under standing orders 186 to 188, are most commonly used to authorise the committee to consider amendments not within the scope of the original bill. This was the case on Thursday, with the instruction giving the committee the power to consider amendments to provide for tenants to keep animals on residential premises. Two such amendments were moved by Ms Hurst, and negatived on division (Ayes: 6/ Noes: 28).
The third read of the bill was passed on division (Ayes: 29/ Noes: 5), and the bill was returned to the Legislative Assembly, ready for assent by the Governor.
FIRST SPEECH OF THE HON BOB NANVA
With 11 new members elected to the Council back in March (and casual vacancies filled since), sitting evenings have seen the chamber filled with guests gathered to watch first speeches. On Thursday night it was the Hon Bob Nanva (Labor) in the spotlight. You can find the full record of Mr Nanva’s speech in Hansard, and see photos from the night – and his earlier swearing in – below.
The following motions were agreed to without debate, during the morning’s formal business:
- Specialist child workers in domestic violence, moved by Ms Abigail Boyd (The Greens)
- Birth trauma at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, moved by the Hon Emma Hurst (Animal Justice Party)
REPORTS TABLED AND REPORTED IN THE HOUSE
Documents tabled or reported in the House during the sitting included:
- Regulation of public native forestry (June 2023 performance audit report of the Auditor-General)
- NSW Bushfire Inquiry 2020 Progress Report: Implementation of the NSW Government’s response to the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, for the reporting periods of October to December 2022 and also January to March 2023 (reports of the Department of Premier and Cabinet)
- WaterNSW’s compliance with its operating licence 2021-22 (March 2023 report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal)