Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No 2) 2015

18th November 2015

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [6.25 p.m.]: I contribute to debate on the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No 2) 2015. This bill is part of a longstanding parliamentary process. It is a housekeeping bill that tidies up aspects of several Acts that have come to the attention of the Government over time. For example, page 5 of the bill deals with Act No. 38 of 1994, the Fisheries Management Act. Item [1] of schedule 1.6 of the bill states:

Schedule 4 Endangered species, populations and ecological communities

Insert an asterisk before "Posidonia australis" (appearing under the heading Marine vegetation) in Part 2.

Posidonia australis is one of the great seagrasses of Australia, which is found off coastal New South Wales. In schedule 4, part 4, of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 the bill inserts an asterisk before Vanvoorstia bennettiana, appearing under the heading "Marine vegetation". Likewise, the bill inserts an asterisk before Bidyanus bidyanus and Epinephelus daemelii. Learned members would be well aware of those species. Schedule 1.7, also on page 5, makes a change to the Health Care Complaints Act 1993. It says:

[1] Part 2, Division 5, note

Omit "unregistered". Insert instead "non-registered".

I will jump ahead, for the sake of brevity. Schedule 1.9, on page 6, proposes changes to the Mental Health Act 2007, Act No. 8 of 2007. I do not want to make light of that Act. Item [2] of schedule 1.9 states:

[2] Section 127 Certain private health facilities to be licensed

Omit "private hospital within the meaning of the Private Hospitals and Day Procedure Centres Act 1988" and "the hospital".

Insert instead "private health facility within the meaning of the Private Health Facilities Act 2007" and "the private health facility", respectively.

It goes on and on. I note that the bill contains very minor housekeeping provisions. No doubt it is important to tidy up legislation. From time to time the Government makes mistakes in the drafting of legislation that need to be tidied up. Mistakes may not be noticed in the short term. They might be noticed by legal practitioners, brought to the attention of the Government and corrected. I turn to page 8 of the bill and schedule 1.13. The heading is "Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Act 1978 No 72". I have had scant discussion with the Government about this. Members in the Legislative Council and in this House who have considered this legislation seem to have missed this part of the bill. In a bill that deals with relatively minor amendments to a raft of legislation, this schedule seems anomalous. It states:

Schedule 4 Savings, transitional and other provisions

Insert at the end of the Schedule with appropriate Part and clause numbering:

Part Leases and licences to Australian Rugby Union

Limited and University of Technology Sydney

This is a very significant departure from the tone of the rest of the legislation. The bill deals with the ability for the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust to provide a further lease of up to 75 years to the Australian Rugby Union to construct a building on part of the car park. I acknowledge the Minister for Sport, whom I have discussed this matter with—not the Attorney General, who has carriage of this legislation—but I believe Cabinet, including perhaps the Attorney General, should have asked some questions about the appropriateness of this particular inclusion in the bill. I thank the Minister for Sport for the information he provided to me earlier. I listened to earlier contributions by the member for Sydney, the member for Newtownand the member for Heffron, who was rightly indignant that although this land is within his electorate he had received no briefing on this proposal. However, I understand that there may have been some oversight in Opposition processes and that the matter was brought to the attention of the Opposition but, unfortunately, the member for Heffron was not a beneficiary of the information.

A short time ago the Minister showed me the mapping. The actual percentage of space lost within the precinct is relatively minor when one considers what is being provided for the Australian Rugby Union. I say straight up that I support the Australian Rugby Union and I would love to see it have a new home within that area generally. I have not had the benefit of a detailed briefing on this matter or a discussion about the merits one way or the other, but to include such a substantial matter within a bill such as this when clearly it warrants its own dedicated piece of legislation does no credit to the Government. I believe there was some discussion about whether an amendment could be made to excise this proposal from the legislation and that the member for Sydney may move such an amendment.

I am not here to attack the Government on every piece of legislation it puts through this place. I acknowledge that it is a complex business running the State of New South Wales, but I believe it is an abuse of process to insert a significant matter into a bill that deals with relatively minor issues. While the general public may ultimately be supportive of the suggestion that the car park land at the Sydney Cricket Ground be made available to the Australian Rugby Union and the University of Technology Sydney, I am sure they do not know about it. It is a real concern for a proposal like this to be bundled into such a bill that deals with relatively minor matters. On that basis, I hope that the Government will see its way to support the amendment foreshadowed by the member for Sydney. I certainly will be. I cannot say I am overly hopeful, but I hope that the Government understands this is not the appropriate legislation to deal with the use of this site.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Lee Evans): I welcome to the public gallery members of the Panthers on the Prowl Kokoda Leadership Project: Brad Waugh, General Manager, Panthers on the Prowl and his wife, Mandy, Nikki George, Vicky Dunn, Debbie Robertson, Daniel Myer, Analiese Langer, Cassie Fitzpatrick, Aimee Carlin, Sheriden Page, Jessica Tibbett and Nicole O'Haire. I welcome you all. I am sure it was a tough time on the Kokoda Track. Congratulations.

Mr JAMIE PARKER (Balmain) [6.34 p.m.]: I make a contribution on behalf of The Greens to debate on the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No 2) 2015. A lot of legislation comes before the House and many small changes are made through numerous machinery bills that improve legislation—and this should be one of them. But hidden in this legislation is a lease to allow for the development of the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground. I will speak about two things: what this bill will allow to happen and why it is so disappointing that this provision has been included in the bill. I quote part of the second reading speech given in the upper House by Parliamentary Secretary the Hon. David Clarke:

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No 2) 2015 continues the statute law revision program that has been in place for more than 30 years. Bills of this kind have featured in most sessions of Parliament since 1984 and are an effective method for making minor policy changes and maintaining the quality of the New South Wales statute book. Schedule 1 to the bill contains policy changes of a minor and non-controversial nature that are too inconsequential to warrant the introduction of a separate amending bill.

These miscellaneous provisions bills deal with small things that need to be changed in legislation that do not require their own bill because they are minor, non-controversial and not an issue. This particular inclusion is not minor, it is controversial and it is an issue. The Government has included in this legislation—which usually deals with minor matters—a significant change. The Government is changing a law that would allow for the granting of a lease or a licence to the Australian Rugby Union Ltd and to the University of Technology Sydney when there has been almost no consultation with the local community. Indeed, a consultation process is currently underway.

Instead of introducing a separate bill dealing with the way that the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust can manage the site, the Government is sticking the amendment into a miscellaneous provisions bill. These bills have come before the Parliament since 1984 and they are all about minor, inconsequential matters. If there is a significant matter that is controversial it should be put in a separate bill and debated. Public feedback should be sought and we should have a proper argument about it. The Parliamentary Secretary in the upper House said in his second reading speech:

I am sure that honourable members will appreciate the straightforward and non-controversial nature of the provisions contained in the bill. However, if any amendment causes concern or requires clarification, it should be brought to my attention. If necessary, I will arrange for government staff to provide additional information on the matters raised. If any particular matter of concern cannot be resolved, and is likely to delay the passage of the bill, the Government is prepared to consider withdrawing the matter from the bill. Withdrawn proposals can also be dealt with in a second bill, using the procedure for splitting bills in the Legislative Council, which can be dealt with in each of the Houses in the same way as an ordinary bill.

Members of the upper House are not local members and do not understand the specific issues that are raised regarding the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust. People trust the Government not to put controversial issues in this bill. It looks sneaky. If the Government is serious about changing the trust's arrangements in relation to leases, it should introduce a separate bill. This does not look good; it does not reflect the spirit of miscellaneous provisions bills, which deal with non-controversial issues. I protest about this because I have trusts in my electorate. If the Government is seeking to change the way the trust is managed I would expect it to introduce a bill to amend the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Act, not to stick such an amendment at the back of a miscellaneous provisions bill, which is a machinery bill.

Matters contained in miscellaneous provisions bills rely on trust: We tell the Government that we will not slow down the miscellaneous issues and allow them to pass. But that is not the case here. The Minister for Sport said that only a little bit of a car park will be developed. Even if we put aside the principle of the matter—which I believe is sufficient to warrant a separate amendment to the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Act—over the years we have seen the constant chipping away at Moore Park, which is a part of the original Governor Macquarie bequest, and increasing development of the site. The cumulative impact is significant.

We will see yet another development on the site. Instead of a car park, a relatively low-impact activity, we will have a six-storey building, including different activities and intensifying development, on the site, against the original intent of the Governor Macquarie bequest. The Greens believe consideration of public lands should be done in an open and transparent manner, not by way of a statute law bill. If it were done through a separate bill members could vote on the bill—and we would probably vote against it. However, this does not pass the test imposed on all of us, which is the test of trust requested of us when dealing with bills of this nature.

I draw the attention of members to debate in the upper House. I know when these bills have been debated Ministers have said, "If there is a problem let us know. We will knock it out and deal with it later." However, the Minister for Sport seems besotted with getting this bill through. He knows this issue deserves its own separate bill so it is disappointing that we cannot debate a separate bill following public involvement and input. Instead, we basically have one day in which to try to resolve the issue. Time should be allowed for consultation. Delaying schedule 1.13 relating to the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Act 1978 No. 2 would enable community engagement, discussion and consultation to take place. It will delay the bill and allow further consultation. Therefore, I move:

That the motion be amended by leaving out the word "now" and inserting instead "on 16 February 2016."

Website: Read full Parliamentary debate

<< Previous | Next >>