Full Day Hansard Transcript (Legislative Assembly, 28 October 2010, Corrected Copy)

Adobe PDF file Download as PDF  626Kb  |   Printing Tips | Print selected text

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

Thursday 28 October 2010

__________

The Speaker (The Hon. George Richard Torbay) took the chair at 10.00 a.m.

The Speaker read the Prayer and acknowledgement of country.
INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION
Report

The Speaker tabled, in accordance with section 78 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988, the 2009-10 annual report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Ordered to be printed.
ELECTRICITY SUPPLY AMENDMENT (SOLAR BONUS SCHEME) BILL 2010

Message received from the Legislative Council returning the bill without amendment.
SURROGACY BILL 2010

Bill received from the Legislative Council and introduced.

Agreement in principle set down as an order of the day for a later hour.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Notices of Motions

General Business Notices of Motions (General Notices) given.
OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING (ADOPTION OF NATIONAL LAW) BILL 2010
Agreement in Principle

Debate resumed from 20 October 2010.

Mr GREG APLIN (Albury) [10.05 a.m.]: I lead for the Opposition on the Occupational Licensing (Adoption of National Law) Bill 2010. The primary purpose of this bill is to facilitate interstate business by delivering a national occupational licensing scheme to replace the current maze of State-based programs. This legislation has its genesis in Victoria, where the Occupational Licensing National Law Bill was passed by Victoria's upper House on 17 September 2010. The bill adopts the Occupational Licensing National Law from Victoria, giving effect to the Intergovernmental Agreement for a National Licensing System for Specified Occupations signed by the Council of Australian Governments on 30 April 2009. The scheme will apply to seven economically important occupational areas: air conditioning and refrigeration; building and building-related occupations; maritime; land transport; electrical; plumbing and gasfitting; and property-related occupations. The list may expand over time.

The current bill covers four areas: air conditioning and refrigeration; electrical; plumbing and gasfitting; and some property-related occupations. Commencement is set for 1 July 2012 and the next set will follow on 1 July 2013. It is anticipated that all States and Territories will have passed their versions of this bill by the end of 2010. Legislative power is not being transferred to the Commonwealth in this case. The scheme uses mirror legislation in each State. States will establish their own occupational licensing advisory committees to maintain the scheme. Licence structure, scope, duration and eligibility requirement, including qualification, form part of the licence policy being determined by Interim Advisory Committees in each of the seven areas. I note that rather than adopt the alternative court-based option included in the National Law, the New South Wales bill keeps the disciplinary scheme that is currently used in New South Wales for the first wave of occupations. This is an administrative "show cause" process. New South Wales has offered to host the central licensing authority in Sydney.

Let us look at the arguments in favour of this bill. It makes sense to proceed to a national scheme for business licensing. Licensed businesses and workers will be able to operate across Australia without the need to hold multiple licences. The scheme provides for a standard set of rules for all States and Territories. Qualification requirements, including TAFE and other education activities, can be standardised. Businesses will be relieved of the financial burden of having to pay licence fees for each State and Territory in which they trade. This will be of particular benefit to smaller businesses working in border communities, such as in my own electorate of Albury or in the electorates of my colleagues the member for Tweed and the member for Burrinjuck. The scheme may well promote a much more mobile workforce. It is a logical and long-awaited step for which I have been an advocate since being elected to this Parliament. It is very important to me that consumers should also benefit from changes to licensing regimes. The hope is high that through the development of common national registers it will be possible for a consumer to check whether a tradesperson or business is appropriately licensed.

Let us look at some of the concerns expressed about this bill. In my own stakeholder consultation on this bill, it has become clear that after a lengthy period of industry involvement in improving the scheme there is little criticism of this bill. The bill is seen by industry as a useful framework, establishing national licensing, prescribing penalties and so on. That is not controversial. Accordingly, we do not oppose the bill. But we are only a couple of weeks away from the real meat of this national scheme. That is when the troubles might reveal themselves. Real detail is expected for the plumbing and gasfitting industry after its interim advisory committee meeting on 8 November. That is when we expect to find out if there will be a dumbing down of standards to a lowest common denominator across the States. If this happens we can expect outrage from some industry groups. According to the National Occupational Licensing Authority:
      Aspects of the licensing system such as licence structure, scope, duration and eligibility (including qualification) requirements form part of licence policy. The development of licence policy will commence as soon as the Interim Advisory Committees are formed around September 2009. An Interim Advisory Committee will be established for each of the occupational areas covered to ensure that the particularities of each occupation are taken into account.

Each interim advisory committee issues communiqués to record the substance of its meetings and to inform stakeholders of progress. The most recent memorandum from the Plumbing and Gasfitting Occupations Interim Advisory Committee [PGOIAC], Communiqué No. 3, states:
      PGOIAC members also discussed concerns in relation to the lack of consistent quality of training delivery and assessment. This issue has been raised consistently across all Interim Advisory Committees and it has the potential to undermine confidence in the national licensing system. It was noted that there are reforms underway in the national training system, including establishment of a national Vocational Education and Training (VET) regulator and that this provides a significant opportunity to establish systemic links between the national licensing system and the national training system. PGOIAC members agreed to provide examples of poor quality training delivery and assessment and good practice engagement between industry, occupational regulators and training regulators to be used in discussion with the national VET regulator.

      At its next meeting [on 8 November 2010] the PGOIAC will review work done to date on licence policy elements relating to licence structure and scope, eligibility/maintenance requirements, and licence characteristics and resolve any issues that are still outstanding in relation to these policy elements. Following this it is expected that a more detailed report of work done to date will be made available for stakeholders' information.
In short, there is substantial industry concern, expressed at meetings of the four interim advisory committees, that there might be a dumbing down of standards. For example, according to the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association, the minimum education qualification required to obtain a licence in New South Wales is a TAFE Certificate 3. In Victoria the minimum qualification to obtain a licence is the equivalent of our TAFE Certificate 2. Which level of qualification will win the day—the higher minimum standard, which currently protects consumers in New South Wales, or the lower standard required in Victoria? We all know that the line of least resistance in interstate committees that are compelled to work under time pressures is to approve the lowest common denominator. Clearly, if the licensing scheme were to start today, we would all have to make do with a TAFE Certificate 2 or else the industry in Victoria would shut down.

Apart from education levels, these policy committees must also determine work standards. What are approved materials for plumbers and electricians to use? What is the appropriate method of welding pipes of differing metals? There are hundreds of individual details to be determined. This will be a long, difficult process. So today, as we establish the national licensing framework, I remind the Government that the true test of leadership lies ahead. The Opposition will remain in touch with industry stakeholders and consumers to see that the consultation process does not go off the rails and that we do end up with a licensing scheme that improves consumer protection while genuinely cutting red tape for businesses. Finally, I thank the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, the National Electrical and Communications Association, the Master Plumbers Association of New South Wales and the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association for their assistance.

Mr JOHN AQUILINA (Riverstone—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.13 a.m.]: I have much pleasure in supporting the Occupational Licensing (Adoption of National Law) Bill 2010 as it will be of enormous benefit to consumers. Where possible, it is important for us as a nation to streamline the various licensing regimes across all the States to provide greater security for consumers generally and benefits in terms of the economies of scale of having uniform licences across the nation. This important bill will increase productivity in Australia and New South Wales by enabling businesses to work across Australian jurisdictions under one licensing system. It is notable that the previous speaker, who led for the Opposition, represents the electorate of Albury. He would have a strong vested interest in this legislation, as he represents an electorate on the New South Wales-Victoria border.

In Australia we seem to have substantial hangovers from our colonial days, even after more than 100 years of Federation. We still cannot get the railway tracks in order and have standard gauge tracks. Indeed, we are still working towards standardised licensing systems across the States. Achieving that through this legislation will be not only of great benefit to the nation but also of enormous benefit to New South Wales consumers, especially those who reside in electorates close to interstate borders, such as Albury, Murrumbidgee and Murray-Darling, as well as Tweed and other electorates on the Queensland border. The bill implements decisions that have been made by the Council of Australian Governments to create a single national licence for specific occupations across all Australian jurisdictions. It will address current anomalies in licensing regimes across the country to produce a seamless licensing system. Everyone must admit that on face value that is an admirable objective and it is worthwhile working towards that.

This process will lead to increased mobility and flexibility of the Australian workforce and improvements in productivity. In the Australian workforce until now the licensing regimes for a number of professional and trade activities have been the jurisdiction of the States, and that has imposed great limitations on the mobility of workers in terms of moving from one State to the next. That has created inefficiencies as well as various anomalies in the licensing and qualification requirements for the persons being licensed. Under the Council of Australian Governments agreement, the National Occupational Licensing System will commence on 1 July 2012 and will include the categories of air conditioning and refrigeration, electrical, plumbing and gasfitting, and some property-related occupations.

A national licensing system has been a long time coming, and it has not been easy to achieve. I seem to recall during my time as Minister for Fair Trading between 2001 and 2003 putting forward a number of memoranda relating to the desirability of having a uniform licensing regime. Prior to that, during the time I was the Minister for Education and Training, at a number of meetings of the Ministerial Council for Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs we discussed having uniform training across Australia to guarantee the same degree of professional workmanship for air conditioning and refrigeration, electrical, and plumbing and gasfitting. It has taken some time to ensure that all jurisdictions have the same degree of rigour in terms of the courses provided and that the qualifications obtained are of a uniform standard.

From July 2013 several more occupations, including building and building-related occupations, conveyancing and valuing, will be brought into the system. That will be a welcome achievement. Additional occupations may be brought into the system over time. However, under the national law, this can be done, rightfully, only by agreement of the ministerial council, because an overall body must be able to tick off all these things and ensure that uniform standards and agreements have been reached. The national law sets out the high-level framework for the National Occupational Licensing System, including licensing eligibility requirements, disciplinary arrangements, monitoring and enforcement powers and governing arrangements.

The National Law establishes the National Occupational Licensing Authority, which will be governed by a board appointed by the ministerial council. The licensing authority will be responsible for administering the system and developing licensing policy for approval by the ministerial council. The licensing authority will be established on 1 January 2011 and a governing board and chief executive officer will be appointed by 30 June 2011. The Licensing Authority will be supported in its policy development work by Occupational Licensing Advisory Committees. An advisory committee will be established under the national law for each of the occupational areas. The committees will draw upon the expertise of all relevant stakeholders nationally to develop the best possible Australian licensing standards. That will be important for the nation generally in relation to our international connections. People will understand and appreciate the fact that there will now be uniform licensing standards across the whole of Australia, not just in relation to each individual State.

New South Wales has demonstrated its continued commitment to the implementation of a national licensing system through its enthusiastic participation in developing the industry-specific licensing policy to be housed in national regulations. For longer than a decade New South Wales has been pushing and working for that to happen. While these national regulations will be made by the Ministerial Council for Federal Financial Relations, they will be published on the New South Wales legislation website. It is important to acknowledge and accept the fact that although we are looking at uniform legislation right across Australia it is important for the State jurisdictions—and in this case I am a keen advocate for New South Wales—to have control over what is happening in the local area.

There has been extensive consultation with businesses, the community, training organisations and trade unions during the development of the national law, and I know that the consultation has gone on over many years. It is pleasing to note that there has been general agreement between all relevant stakeholders on the need for a national licensing system and on the content of the national law itself. Again I make the point that I do not think anyone would dispute the fact that this is a highly desirable outcome. The issues have basically been about the level of qualifications and the level of the licensing rigour that has been required to make sure that there is uniform acceptability of all of these standards right across the nation. Importantly, this extensive consultation will continue as the national regulations underpinning the national law are further developed. In conclusion, this bill provides us with a vital opportunity to streamline licensing arrangements across Australia. It will have many benefits for workers in all of the participating occupations, it will have benefits for the whole of Australia and it will have benefits for industry. I therefore commend the bill to the House.

Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE (Strathfield—Minister for Fair Trading, Minister for the Arts) [10.22 a.m.], in reply: I thank all members who have contributed to the debate on this very important legislation, the Occupational Licensing (Adoption of National Law) Bill 2010. The National Occupational Licensing System is a significant component of the Council of Australian Governments national partnership for the development of a seamless national economy. The New South Wales Government has been a very strong supporter of this initiative, and officers from New South Wales Fair Trading have played an important role in the development of the scheme. The National Occupational Licensing System will deliver benefits for participating licensees, workers and consumers, with less red tape, reduced costs and improved labour mobility.

I will now address some of the points raised by the member for Albury. First, he was concerned that the result of this legislation will be the dumbing down of standards. The regulations for each industry will still be subject to national consultation on the regulation review process. Secondly, the member for Albury suggested that training standards will be pitched at the lowest national level. I inform the House that the regulatory standards and training will be based on inherent risk and will not be simply a harmonisation of existing requirements. The proposed standards for the first four occupations, including plumbing, about which the member for Albury is particularly concerned, will be released in November 2010 for widespread consultation. I encourage people who have an interest in that area to contribute to that consultation.

It is very pleasing that this legislation has come before the House. I thank everyone for supporting the bill, particularly the member for Riverstone, and New South Wales Fair Trading officers for their invaluable work in preparing this legislation. I also thank my own staff for the ongoing development of this very, very important national reform. I commend the bill to the House.

Question—That this bill be now agreed to in principle—put and resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Bill agreed to in principle.
Passing of the Bill

Bill declared passed and transmitted to the Legislative Council with a message seeking its concurrence in the bill.
SURROGACY BILL 2010
Agreement in Principle

Ms LINDA BURNEY (Canterbury—Minister for the State Plan, and Minister for Community Services) [10.27 a.m.], on behalf of Ms Carmel Tebbutt: I move:
      That this bill be now agreed to in principle.
The Surrogacy Bill 2010 was introduced in the other place on 21 October 2010, and the second reading speech appears in the Hansard galley for that day. The bill is in the same form as introduced in the other place. I commend the bill to the House.

Ms LINDA BURNEY (Canterbury—Minister for the State Plan, and Minister for Community Services) [10.28 a.m.]: I support the Surrogacy Bill 2010. We all know that there will be a conscience vote on the bill in this House. It is interesting to note that recently there have been two conscience votes on legislation—this will be the third—which suggests to me a very strong reformist agenda. The first conscience vote was on legislation dealing with same-sex adoption and the second, just this week, was on legislation dealing with the medically supervised injecting room in Kings Cross. The bill we now have in front of us deals with surrogacy, and demonstrates the vibrancy of the many complex issues that members of Parliament deal with. To be given the opportunity to have a conscience vote on these issues is a very great privilege, one that is taken very seriously by members in this place.

I will cover two points in my comments on this bill. I know that other members will look at many other aspects of the bill. First, I express my support for this bill. It is important that people understand that this is part of a national exercise through the Council of Australian Governments process to harmonise surrogacy laws across the States and the Territories. New South Wales is part of that national agreement and thus we are undertaking this legislative exercise on harmonisation across this very challenging area. I congratulate the Attorney General on his approach to this matter. I believe he has struck a very good balance between the rights of individuals and the views of the community, and importantly, in his words, he has not invaded the privacy in people's lives. I am of the very strong view that this bill achieves those things.

The bill will provide a legal framework for children who are born through surrogacy arrangements. Members know there is nothing new about surrogacy in Australia or in many other parts of the world but what does not exist is a legal framework for the children who are born through those surrogacy arrangements. In essence, this bill is very much about the rights of the children and the protection of children who are born into surrogacy arrangements. By creating a set of rules and guidelines around surrogacy arrangements it will benefit all parties—the commissioning parents or parent and the surrogate mother. That is very important so that vulnerable people are not exploited. Most importantly, the Attorney General has sought to achieve equity so that no matter the circumstances of people, be they wealthy or not wealthy, they can have access to surrogacy. That is a fine recognition by the Attorney General in the drafting of this bill.

If this bill is passed there will be a number of important requirements for people to meet if they wish to obtain a child through surrogacy. For example, prior to a surrogacy arrangement all parties will have to obtain counselling and legal advice. It is critical for there to be a mandatory requirement for people entering surrogacy arrangements—not just the commissioning parents or the surrogate parent but all parties—to have proper counselling not only to absolutely understand the legal framework in which they are operating but also to fully examine whether in their hearts and minds they are ready and fully committed to such an arrangement. Sometimes a surrogacy arrangement can be amongst families. We have all read, particularly in women's magazines, about a sister having children for her sister and, sometimes, a mother having children for her daughter. There is also the possibility of surrogacy arrangements being made among unknown partners.

We also know that sometimes a tragedy brings about the desire and need for a surrogacy arrangement. For example, a young woman could have been hurt in an accident or through illness and can no longer bear her own child. This bill is very mindful of such circumstances. Another matter that is crucial, particularly for the adults involved, is that there must be informed consent. This will take away the possibility of exploitation when people do not fully understand legally the arrangement they are entering into. Another aspect of this bill is that information must be included on a central register held by NSW Health so that in future children will be able to access information about their genetic heritage.

I want to spend a moment on this matter because for me that is so crucially important as we move down the path of putting rules around surrogacy in New South Wales. As Minister for Community Services and also as an individual I know the trauma and dislocation that can happen when a child gets older and cannot access or ever find out about their birth parents' identity. I have been around for a long time and have seen a lot of this in my lifetime, and have had personal experience. When someone does not have their whole story they cannot put all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. When some pieces are missing there is something of that person missing. In the past that could very well have been the case with surrogacy. In that case the best interests of the child are certainly not being served, which could have ongoing and lifelong effects on that child. This legislation provides that a central register be held by NSW Health so that in future children will be able to access information about their genetic heritage, and that is very good. Some really important health aspects that are well understood, without having to make further comment, attach to that.

Importantly, the bill sets out a requirement that the arrangement be altruistic, which is one of the most crucial aspects of the bill for all members to understand. There are two types of surrogacy arrangements. One is altruistic: when there is no payment required for goods or services provided. The other is commercial, which this bill does not endorse. This bill relates to altruistic surrogacy, which is how it should be, an arrangement between families and friends, that is, people who know one another. For example, prior to surrogacy arrangements people have consented and they understand what they are entering into. The bill is unambiguous in stating that commercial surrogacy arrangements are prohibited. This is a good bill, because it provides for an open and rigorous process around surrogacy and it gives legal certainty for children and their parents. That is why I will be voting for this bill. I congratulate the Attorney General and the many stakeholder groups that have had input into what is a complex but very important piece of legislation. My heart goes out to those people who are not able to bear children themselves, not able to conceive, and this is one way in which that very human and real desire can be met.

I foreshadow that I will move an amendment to this bill. It is motivated both by my personal views as a member of Parliament taking part in this conscience debate and by strong advice I have received from my department as Minister for Community Services concerning the interests of children. I have spoken in detail with the Attorney General about my amendment and he has indicated that he is supportive of the proposal. I underscore that. My concern about the bill in its current form is this: While the bill makes clear that commercial surrogacy is prohibited in New South Wales, it is silent on commercial surrogacy that occurs overseas. This is a significant gap in the legislation and one that my amendment will rectify. When people think about it I am sure they will be of the opinion that there cannot be the inconsistency that commercial surrogacy is not acceptable in New South Wales but a couple can go overseas and enter into surrogacy arrangements. I have received horrifying stories about people securing a child in that growing market.

I draw members' attention to the Queensland surrogacy legislation passed earlier this year. In Queensland it is not lawful to enter a commercial arrangement and it is not possible to get around that by going overseas and entering a commercial arrangement in another country. The bill that is currently before us does not specify that the prohibition on New South Wales citizens entering into commercial surrogacy applies whether they do this in New South Wales or in any other jurisdiction. I will have more to say about that as the debate goes on.

My amendment will rectify that situation and in so doing will give effect to the policy position agreed to by all States and Territories in Australia that commercial surrogacy is not supported in this country. We all know that the desire to be a parent is very powerful. That instinct is an important part of humanity's survival. However, in this brave new world we must protect everybody involved, including the surrogate mother. People have had many discussions about and have put a great deal of effort into the crafting of this bill. I also recognise that people will go to great lengths to be in a position to love and nurture a child. I acknowledge the sadness of people who cannot realise that dream. However, gaining access to children by circumventing local laws and travelling overseas to engage the services of private clinics and then bring the children back to Australia is not a practice that we as the lawmakers of this State should encourage. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General was clear on that issue in its 2009 discussion paper.

Commercial surrogacy provides a service to intending parents and in so doing it places their needs above the needs of the child. Commercial surrogacy is a growth industry and most overseas arrangements do not provide all the safeguards set out in this bill. The Attorney General said in his second reading speech in the other place that the Government believes that the children resulting from surrogacy arrangements should have access to information about the circumstances of their birth and their genetic history. That is important for a child's psychological wellbeing and their sense of identity and it allows them to avoid what he calls genealogical bewilderment. That term struck me very deeply. The Attorney General is correct: There is nothing more important than to know who you are and where you come from. It is a fundamental human desire and a right.

This legislation is about the best interests of the child, and they must always be paramount. Any implications for the Adoption Act will need to be carefully monitored. I once again congratulate the Attorney General, his staff and everyone else who has been involved in this very challenging legislative process. We cannot ignore surrogacy; it has probably happened in one form or another since the beginning of time. However, it is gaining momentum, and in ways that had not been envisaged. Those issues will be brought out in this debate. I believe that surrogacy is important and that it should be monitored and regulated. This bill, which has been carefully crafted by the Attorney General, provides the mechanism to achieve that. However, most importantly, it will not over-regulate the practice. I understand that that has been the Attorney General's goal. The Government should not stick its nose into every part of a person's life, but it must ensure that no-one is exploited and that the rights of the child are protected.

Mr GREG SMITH (Epping) [10.45 a.m.]: Surrogacy involves many sensitive and important issues far in excess of those referred to in the Attorney General's second reading speech. In addition to the far-reaching legal changes involved, issues that need to be addressed include: first, the best interests of the child created and whether it is good and beneficial for such a child to go through a surrogacy process; second, whether a child should have access to details of donor sperm and ova or human embryos used to conceive or to bring that child into life; third, the enormous strain that can be placed on a woman who has initially agreed to bear a child for some couple or individual; fourth, likewise, the enormous strain on the couple or individual who wants to be a parent or parents of a surrogate child; fifth, the undermining of traditional family life, generation of children and culture; sixth, whether the community benefits or suffers from surrogacy; seventh, issues such as prenatal diagnosis and whether pressures will be imposed by clinics to have a child aborted lest there be subsequent litigation after the birth of a disabled child; eighth, the separation from the normal birth process; and, ninth, the educative message sent to the community about the desirability of surrogacy and the undermining of normal married couples having a family. I will now deal with those issues in detail. Principle 6 of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which is contained in schedule 3 of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986, states:
      The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible—

and I emphasise this—
      grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children …

We have recently dealt with the Adoption Amendment (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2010 (No 2), and many members contributed to the debate. Sadly, the passion generated in that debate and the closeness of the vote in this House may well have burnt out some members. We have had a series of conscience votes, or least votes on very controversial moral issues, over the past six or eight months in this House, and I agree that those issues should be debated in Parliament. However, this legislation has followed very closely on the heels of other controversial legislation and this debate is being conducted in this House only a few hours after the conclusion of the debate in the other place at 1.50 a.m. That does not do justice to the important issues being raised. Many members are not properly prepared to speak on this very complex issue and we are being overburdened by other pieces of momentous legislation, including a foreshadowed rewrite of the Bail Act that has attracted strong opposition from stakeholders in the criminal justice arena. When comparing this legislation with the Adoption Act one notes that it does not deal with the best interests of the child other than to state that those interests are paramount. The Adoption Act contains various indicia that assist in identifying those best interests. Section 7 of the Act details the objects of the legislation. It states:
      The objects of this Act are as follows:

      (a) to emphasise that the best interests of the child concerned, both in childhood and later life, must be the paramount consideration in adoption law and practice …

This bill does not mention any consideration of later life. I will refer members to situations in which surrogacy has resulted in tragedy and warnings issued by courts of this land, including the Family Court and Supreme Court of New South Wales, that surrogacy is not desirable. I also remind the House that when the Law Reform Commission last considered this issue in its 1988 report it recommended against all surrogacy arrangements.

Section 7 (b) of the Adoption Act makes it clear that adoption is to be regarded as a service for the child concerned. Nothing in this bill refers to surrogacy being a service for the child. The child is pushed aside; it deals with people who want to have a child. I know about the desperation of childless people who would do virtually anything to have a child. I prosecuted a man who murdered his wife. The wife had unsuccessfully participated in an IVF program but had had a child in an earlier relationship. The murder was not related to that issue, but it did create tension in the family. Section 7 reads:
      (c) to ensure that adoption law and practice assist a child to know and have access to his or her birth family and cultural heritage
There is nothing in this legislation which really gives the child that right. For example, in an artificial reproduction situation where there are donor gametes—sperm and ova—there is no right of the child to find out where his or her parents come from, to trace their ancestry, as many of us do. I once spent time in Ireland looking for that information. It was very difficult because of the burning down of part of Dublin castle in the Easter Rebellion, but I tried to work on the parishes. Margaret Somerville, who is probably one of Australia's greatest academics and thinkers on these issues, presented a paper at the symposium on the Jurisprudence of the Family: Foundations and Principles in Bratislava, Slovakia, in May of this year. She is a professor at a Canadian university and has more degrees than you can poke a stick at. In her paper entitled "Children's Human Rights to Natural Biological Origins and Family Structure" she proposed:
      ... the most fundamental human right of all is a child's right to be born from natural biological origins and that children have human rights with respect to their biological parents and families and that these rights must be recognised.

Where are they recognised in this bill? I say they are not. She continued:
      The articulation of human rights is an ongoing process. Children must move from being the "voiceless citizens" to becoming the new kids on the human rights block and nowhere is that more important than with respect to rights regarding their biological origins and biological families.

At page 4 of the paper Margaret Somerville wrote:
      It is one matter for children not to know their genetic identity as a result of unintended circumstances. It is quite another matter to deliberately destroy children's links to their biological parents, and especially for society to be complicit in this destruction. It is now being widely recognised that adopted children have the right to know who their biological parents are whenever possible, and legislation establishing that right has become the norm.

We have that in our Adoption Act. The paper continues:
      The same right is increasingly being accorded to children born through gamete (sperm or ovum) donation.

She went on to talk about America. In the little time I have had to look at the bill I have not seen such a right or guarantee. In England you have the right at 18 years of age to seek access to people who have donated their sperm or ova. But they may not want to know you. That is the problem: it is so impersonal. As Margaret Somerville said, in relation to children who have had an artificial insemination start:
      They—and adopted children—tell us of their profound sense of loss of genetic identity and connection. They wonder: Do I have siblings or cousins? Who are they? What are they like? Are they "like me"? What could I learn about myself from them? These questions raise the issue of how our blood relatives help each of us to establish our human identity. Humans identify closely with their close genetic family, and it seems that we also identify with traits in our family members that we like (and we try to develop the same ones in ourselves), and that we dislike (and vow not to be like that—the positive power of negative identification). In short, from what many donor conceived adults tell us we cannot anticipate consent to anonymous gamete donation—or indeed, to gamete donation itself.

Again I say that children are being deprived. Returning to the rights under the Adoption Act, section 7 reads:
      (e) to ensure that equivalent safeguards and standards to those that apply to children from New South Wales apply to children adopted from overseas

I heard Minister Burney referring to an amendment. It sounded as though she is trying to deal with the situation of children born of commercial surrogacy overseas and whether the parents then have a right to get a court order of parenthood. Section 7 continues:
      (f) to ensure that adoption law and practice complies with Australia's obligations under treaties and other international agreements

Well, they do not. These particular laws do not comply with the clause I read earlier on the declaration of the rights of the child. The right to normally be with one's mother is here being generally abused. Section 7 continues:
      (g) to encourage openness in adoption

Where is openness being encouraged here? You may not know who your parents are. Section 7 goes on:
      (h) to allow access to certain information relating to adoptions

I see no right to that here. Section 7 further states:
      (i) to provide for the giving in certain circumstances of post-adoption financial and other assistance to adopted children and their birth and adoptive parents.

I have not seen anything about that in this bill. Section 8 of the Adoption Act is also important, and these principles are not included in this legislation:
      (b) adoption is to be regarded as a service for the child.

      (c) no adult has a right to adopt the child.

[Extension of time agreed to.]

These things are very interesting and they are things that are taken into account by a court in deciding whether or not to allow an adoption order. As to parenting orders under this legislation, I suggest there is no clear guidance for the courts. I mentioned earlier that the courts have not been happy about surrogacy. Justice Bryson of the Supreme Court, who for some period of time was involved in most of the adoption decisions in this State, said the following in paragraph 8 of his decision on 7 July 2000 in a case called The Application of A and B [2000] NSWSC 640:
      Judicial experience shows the reality of the potential for conflict when views and intentions of parties to surrogacy arrangements alter. A striking example of the course which such a conflict may take is given by the facts and the decisions in Re Evelyn.

That case was in 1993 and it went to the Full Court of the Family Court, which upheld the original decision. Justice Bryson continued:
      That case related to residence and contact for a child of a surrogacy arrangement, and did not relate to an adoption. The course of that dispute illustrates that conduct may differ very widely from earlier professed intentions, and that the intentions and wishes of adults can relate to subjects other than the paramount issue of the welfare and interests of the infant.

Where is this in the legislation? Where is this in the second reading speech? It is not there. This is just another piece of social legislation being pushed through. Where are the care and concern of children looked at? His Honour continued:
      There is potential for grave conflict in surrogacy arrangements, and decisions such as those taken by the parties in this case and the Ethics Review Committee require address to potentially adverse outcomes which parties to the arrangements are unlikely to present forcefully for consideration, or even to be in a position to see clearly. It is difficult for people to have clear and complete insight into their own emotional positions, even contemporaneously, and even more difficult for them to foresee what they will feel in situations of profound emotional involvement which have not yet occurred. Decisions such as these, if made with real address and attention to what they involve, can only be made with great trepidation. In the present case events have proceeded in the uncontentious and happy course which all concerned expected would occur.

The Evelyn case shows a real mishmash of feelings. With the little time we have had to prepare for this debate, has there been proper consideration of these issues? It is unfortunate that these questions are usually discussed by people with entrenched ideological views. This blinds those involved in the debate from seeing the issues objectively. Instead they hurl rhetorical missiles at each other and impoverish debate. Furthermore, opposition to surrogacy should not be the sole purview of one section of the society or among people with particular views about morality and parenthood. There are legitimate matters to be considered by people with serious concerns about the wellbeing of the surrogate mother, the parents seeking a child and the child born from such an arrangement. This should not have to be forced artificially into a left-right or religious secular divide. For example, in a 2008 paper Elizabeth Scott of Columbia Law School wrote:
      The notion that the typical surrogate would coolly relinquish her child conflicted with an ideology of motherhood under which pregnancy was seen as a unique experience through which a sacred bond develops between mother and child. In this regard at least, some feminists shared views about motherhood endorsed by social conservatives.

Indeed, I have always been unconvinced that a woman who carries a child inside her womb would not develop a bond that could well be described as sacred. After all, it is life itself that is growing inside her, and I have yet to meet a person who would not describe life in such terms. One need not be religious or conservative to see this; one need only have an open mind and an honest heart. We should be mindful of the lessons that we can learn from United States litigation in this area. The 1993 case of Johnson v Calvert was fought between the surrogate mother and the intended parents. The court held in favour of the intended parents and one can only imagine the grief that the surrogate mother was forced to suffer as a result. Buzzanca v Buzzanca was a 1998 case where none of the intended parents had a genetic link to the child, yet the court there also held in their favour.

It has been argued that surrogacy is another step towards quality and fairness before the law. The fact of the matter is that surrogacy is just a further complication in the emotional and psychological lives of those involved. In trying to bring the possibility of having children to couples incapable of doing so we may be creating a new matrix of problems involving factors impossible to quantify. One of the more extreme examples of emotional turmoil and conflict between parties involved in surrogacy arrangements is the United States case of "Baby M", which received a great deal of media coverage in the early 1980s. Of course, the present bill is not drafted in identical terms to the laws under consideration in the American cases. Nevertheless, there is still a real concern about the way that both the child and the surrogate mother are "commodified" by the very nature of such arrangements, like an incubator sadly. I do not mean that in any offensive way whatsoever. However, in a sense women are being used to have a child for someone else. It is just not natural.

We have attempted to re-engineer families enough already. This is an added burden to an already confused area of legal intervention and political meddling. The fact that it is a Council of Australian Governments proposal does not cause me in any way to add any legitimacy to it. Did it come out of a politician's own sadness of childlessness? He is in the paper today, Senator Conroy. His case seems to have given it the impetus. I have nothing against him. He is probably a wonderful man and a wonderful parent. I am sure his wife is also a wonderful parent.

Mr Gerard Martin: They have a wonderful four-year-old daughter.

Mr GREG SMITH: Okay. The debate has been couched in terms of personal freedom, individual choice and that science now provides prospective parents with options otherwise unavailable to them. This is well and good but talking about individual choice and technological facility is barely half the issue. What is the right choice? I suggest the right choice is that we should defeat this bill. I do not believe this sort of legislation makes for a better society. I have yet to see any improvement to this society or any other society where they have brought it in. I urge members to vote in the best interests of the child and to defeat this bill.

Mr BARRY COLLIER (Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.04 a.m.]: Those of us with children and grandchildren will know what a delight and a joy a healthy, happy child is. I think it was the philosopher Khalil Gibran in his book The Prophet who said that children are "the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself". This bill recognises that there is a human need within us all, I believe, to have and to care for children. It recognises too that there are couples, because of their genetic inheritance or accident or misadventure, who are unable to have children of their own.

In my mind this bill is not about the morality of surrogacy; it really is about the reality of the surrogacy. It implicitly recognises that surrogacy arrangements can and do exist. The bill fundamentally, in my mind, is about protecting the rights and interests of children born as a result of surrogacy arrangements. With that in mind, the bill has one guiding principle: the best interests of children born through surrogacy arrangements are paramount; the best interests of the child are paramount. That is in keeping with the thrust of the Australian Family Law Act 1975.

The objects of the bill are to make surrogacy arrangements unenforceable, except to the extent that they provide for the payment of a birth mother's costs; to prohibit commercial surrogacy arrangements; to prohibit the advertising of surrogacy arrangements; to provide for the recognition of surrogacy arrangements in certain circumstances by allowing the parentage of a child of a surrogacy arrangement to be transferred to another person; to protect the privacy of surrogacy arrangements; and, finally, to enable a person whose parentage is transferred as a result of a surrogacy arrangement and other affected parties to access birth information in relation to the person, similar to the arrangements for access to information that apply when a person is adopted.

In speaking to this bill I want to draw attention to the mechanisms of the parentage orders, which will make a real and practical improvement to the lives of children born as a result of surrogacy arrangements. The Status of Children Act 1996 creates a rebuttable parentage presumption that a child's legal parents are its birth parents, that generally a woman gives birth to a child, and she and her husband or de facto partner are presumed to be the parents. Additional presumptions arise where a child is conceived using a fertilisation procedure involving a donated ovum and/or sperm from the intended parents. There is a non-rebuttable presumption that a birth mother is the child's mother even if her own egg was not used and her husband or partner is presumed to be the child's father. Where donated sperm is used, the sperm donor is presumed not to be the child's father. The result is that in most cases at birth the intended parents are not the legal parents of the child. The surrogate mother is the child's legal parent from birth and is prima facie responsible for the care and protection of the child.

As the Attorney General stated in his second reading speech, currently the only options for resolving questions of parental responsibility in surrogacy arrangements are adoption or parenting orders following family law proceedings. Neither of these options is ideal. Parenting orders from the Family Court may regularise the intended parents' relationship with a child, specifying where a child is to live and providing for the allocation of parental responsibility. However, parenting orders do not provide full parental rights and the parental status of the birth parent is not extinguished.

The records held by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages are not amended so the names of the birth parents remain on the birth certificate. Further, parenting orders are not permanent and do not apply when the child reaches adulthood. This could raise problems in relation to laws such as intestacy. Further, parenting orders do not flow through to the interpretation of the terms "parents" and "child" under Federal superannuation and tax laws. This means that for the purpose of these laws children are not treated as the children of those adults who are given parental responsibility for them by parenting orders.

While adoption orders provide the permanency not afforded by parenting orders issued by the Family Court, the adoption process is ill suited to surrogacy arrangements. Where a child is born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement, the intended parents may adopt a child as a relative or step-parent of the child. Alternatively, they can apply as a special case adoption. Under the Adoption Act 2000 a "relative" means a grandparent, son, daughter, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle or aunt of a person, whether the relationship is of the whole blood, the half blood or by marriage. A "step-parent" is defined as someone who is not the birth parent of the child but is married to or is the de facto parent of the child's birth parent or adoptive patient. Under the Adoption Act, where the proposed adoptive parent is a relative or a step-parent, the applicant or applicants must have established a relationship of at least two years duration to the child. In addition to the case of step-parent adoption, the child must be at least five years old.

This means that where an intended parent could potentially adopt a child as a relative or step-parent he or she must wait for at least two years and up to five years before an order can be made. If the intended parents do not meet the requirements they will only be able to adopt a child if they go through the special case adoption process, which is reserved for special circumstances. The requirements for a two-year relationship, or that the child is five years old, do not apply to special case adoptions. However, they require the involvement of Community Services and are not certain to be successful.

This is the reality currently faced by parents, their children and their extended families. Families can often include the birth mother, who might be a sister, other relative or friend of one of the intended parents. Although the child is living with the intended parents and has never known any other parents—even though in many cases the child will be genetically related to at least one of their intended parents—they must wait two to five years or rely upon Community Services to determine that theirs is a special case. That is not a criticism of the adoption process. The adoption process in New South Wales is carefully designed and evidence based. Rather, I am making the point that the adoption process was never intended to apply to surrogacy situations. Families are forced into adoption because there is no other option. It is a marriage of convenience, in a sense.

What happens if during the wait for eligibility for adoption one or both of the intended parents pass away, for example, in a car accident? They were the parents of the child for all practical purposes except in the eyes of the law, yet the child will not be able to claim compensation or inherit under the laws of succession. Furthermore, the birth mother will then have parental responsibility for the child whether or not she wants it. Under this bill intended parents may apply for a parentage order between 30 days and six months after a child's birth. The bill provides certainty for children and their families by formalising the child's family circumstances and enabling the intended parents to obtain legal parentage in a timely and straightforward manner.

There are safeguards in place that may inhibit the ability of some parents to utilise parentage orders, though safeguards are appropriate and are intended to encourage people who choose to enter into surrogacy arrangements to undergo counselling and receive legal advice. Their purpose also is to ensure that all parties involved have given very informed consent and to reinforce that these arrangements are not legally enforceable. However, even when these conditions are not met, the court will nearly always be able to make parentage orders if it is in the best interests of the child. It is only where the arrangement is commercial or where there is no evidence that the arrangement was entered into prior to conception that the court will not be able to make an order. In such circumstances the parents will need to turn to the existing legal options.

It should be noted that the requirements for pre-existing surrogacy arrangements are less onerous because these people entered into these arrangements in a regulatory vacuum and cannot be expected to have complied with requirements that are not yet in place. Once again, however, the court will not be able to make an order if the arrangement is commercial in nature or there is no evidence that the arrangement was entered into prior to conception. It is unfortunate that children will not be able to reap the benefits of the bill in the circumstances. However, I believe that commercial surrogacy should be discouraged in the strongest possible terms. I note that the Minister for Community Services has foreshadowed an eminently sensible amendment. Children and parents will still have the avenue of adoption or parenting orders if it is in the best interests of the child. I congratulate the Attorney General on his work on the bill and I commend it to the House.

Mr RICHARD AMERY (Mount Druitt) [11.13 a.m.]: I would like to make a relatively brief contribution on the Surrogacy Bill 2010.

Mr Thomas George: That is unusual.

Mr RICHARD AMERY: I will try to be as brief as I can. The Surrogacy Bill 2010 has been debated at length in the Legislative Council, and the Minister for Community Services and the member for Miranda have given detail on the bill, much of which I have no objection to. The Minister referred to the bill being part of a Council of Australian Governments arrangement of harmonising surrogacy laws around Australia. To harmonise these laws in a general sense to gain consistency amongst the States and Territories should be encouraged. The Minister highlighted that the bill seeks to give some legal arrangements to a child born to a surrogacy arrangement. No-one could argue against laws providing legal recognition to a child born to such an arrangement. The bill will provide protections to a woman entering into an arrangement to produce a child for another couple.

The overview states that the bill will make all surrogacy arrangements unenforceable. A person entering a surrogacy arrangement may have second thoughts down the track and may seek to opt out of the arrangement. The bill provides a person with the right to opt out of the arrangement, and because this is an emotional issue, this measure is welcome. The bill prohibits commercial surrogacy arrangements. I certainly would be uncomfortable with commercial surrogacy, although I understand that it is carried out in some other countries. Therefore, I support the measure in this bill prohibiting commercial surrogacy.

I do not oppose surrogacy as a concept but most people would prefer children to be born in a natural environment. However, many couples in a marriage or a de facto relationship cannot produce a child naturally, and many members would have experience of that. As a result, these couples look to another means to create a family. Obviously adoption is the most common avenue to which couples turn so that their children are brought up in a traditional family. The in vitro fertilisation program is another avenue where a child can be created by one of the couples using, in some cases, sperm donations from an unknown person. That has helped many couples who have been unable to have their own children naturally. Then there is surrogacy, a much more controversial option—a legal minefield but which, hopefully, this bill will clarify. However, I can only imagine the emotional turmoil facing those involved and I do not think any law could ease that.

As a result of the Parliament recently passing adoption legislation, same-sex couples can now adopt. I opposed that legislation and I oppose the provisions referred to in this bill. The Minister stated that the bill is part of a package of reform. She referred to injecting rooms and same-sex adoptions. There is currently a debate at the national level with respect to euthanasia and the like. The member for Miranda spoke about the reality of surrogacy and some of these reforms. It is certainly not something I would be proud of as part of a package of reform involving any Parliament. However, as members of Parliament it is our role make a contribution.

Adoption by same-sex couples is a provision in the bill which I do not support. The bill continues on with that provision. In other words, two males or two females living in a same-sex relationship can come to the same arrangements as a married couple or de facto couple. I believe this undermines the value of a marriage between a man and a woman, or a relationship between a man and a woman. I oppose the bill because it promotes a concept which I find unacceptable.

Although I do not agree with the Same Sex Adoption Bill, at least some advocates argue that circumstances could arise that support a same sex-adoption environment. For example, as I think was said many times during debate on the Same Sex Adoption Bill, there may be the death of a partner or the breakup of a marriage. Many circumstances can lead to a situation where a child is raised in a same-sex environment. Those advocates would say that is why they supported the Same Sex Adoption Bill, and that is why same-sex adoption should be allowed. However, I have never agreed with the concept of "unknown" adoption.

No such qualification exists with regard to the Surrogacy Bill. A surrogacy arrangement relates to the creation of a child to live in a particular environment. That is a different situation from a child who is put up for adoption or, for example, the case of a child of a couple where the death of one partner has come about or there has been a breakup of the relationship. That child is already in existence. A surrogacy arrangement involves people going into this legal and emotional minefield to create a person to live in a certain environment. The bill not only expands the situation where a child can be denied the right to be raised by a mother and a father—which, as I have said, can come about because of certain circumstances—but it will allow a situation where a child will be created especially for that environment. That is a position I cannot support.

This is not an attack on anyone who wants to live in a same-sex relationship; it is just that I do not believe that this is the environment that should be facilitated by statute law. I will not take up the time of the House by moving amendments to redefine the definition of a "couple", because the term has already been defined in the same-sex adoption laws which went through this Parliament after a fairly close conscience vote some few weeks ago. Rather, given that the definition is provided in the bill, and I intend to be consistent with my position on both this bill and the Same Sex Adoption Bill, I will oppose this bill despite it containing many admirable provisions regarding the legal recognition of a child born in a surrogacy arrangement.

I am particularly happy with the provisions of the bill that allow a woman who is entering into a surrogacy arrangement because of second thoughts, emotional considerations, a change of heart, or whatever, to opt out of the arrangement at virtually any time. I believe that protection is very good. Unfortunately, that protection and those admirable provisions in the bill are, I believe, tainted by the fact that the bill also will allow for the creation of a child especially for the purpose of that child being raised in a same-sex environment, thereby undermining the sanctity of marriage or a relationship between a man and a woman to create and raise a child.

As I have said on many occasions, circumstances may come about where that is not the case. But I have never seen law that allows people to create a person especially to live in a certain environment. For this reason, I will not move an amendment to the bill to redefine a "couple". Rather, I will carefully consider the amendments foreshadowed by the member for Epping and, as we are allowed to do, will vote on my conscience on those individual amendments. However, given that I do not support the provision to which I have referred, I oppose the bill despite it containing many positive provisions.

Mr ALAN ASHTON (East Hills) [11.24 a.m.]: I support the Surrogacy Bill 2010. As I have said before, I believe that with regard to these contentious matters where a conscience vote is allowed my electorate has the right to know what I have said in the House and, more importantly perhaps, how I voted. I do not think it is important that I rattle off a whole range of personal and life experiences that lead me to support the bill. The member for Mount Druitt indicated a concern he has with the bill, and that relates to the same-sex aspect of surrogacy. That issue was resolved some weeks ago in relation to the Same Sex Adoption Bill, and I voted in favour of that bill. I do not have any problem with that aspect in relation to this bill either. I do not believe it is germane to the debate. Be that as it may, that is the advantage of a conscience vote. Normally I would not do this, but I want to place on record the main objects of the bill, for the benefit of the constituents in my electorate who read my speech. The provisions in the bill, which spans some 42 pages, are summarised perfectly well in the explanatory note on the front of the bill. As the explanatory note states, the objects of the bill are as follows:
      (a) to make all surrogacy arrangements unenforceable, except to the extent that they provide for the payment of a birth mother's costs,

      (b) to prohibit commercial surrogacy arrangements,

      (c) to prohibit the advertising of surrogacy arrangement,

      (d) to provide for the recognition of surrogacy arrangements, in certain circumstances, by allowing the parentage of a child of a surrogacy arrangement to be transferred to another person,

      (e) to protect the privacy of surrogacy arrangements,

      (f) to enable a person whose parentage is transferred as a result of a surrogacy arrangement, and other affected parties, to access that information in relation to the person, similar to the arrangements for access to information that apply when a person is adopted.
I will support the amendment that has been foreshadowed by the Minister for Community Services. I understand that the member for Epping has foreshadowed moving a further amendment, and that Minister Sartor may move an amendment. I will give consideration to Minister Sartor's foreshadowed amendment in due course.

I think we have moved a long way in many of these areas. As I said in my speech on the Same Sex Adoption Bill, in a sense this goes back to this Parliament's inheritance of bills that were introduced in this place by Neville Wran in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As I indicated on another occasion, we are moving to a point where we are ticking these boxes on people's choice of lifestyle, as we should be doing in 2010. We do not need to totally live in the world of what was Victorian England, or the attitude that "A woman's place is in the home", or some of those more traditional attitudes—comments that were almost meant to be funny but definitely are not funny. Indeed, today such comments are offensive. It is not a matter of political correctness. Comments such as the one I just referred to, and others I will not repeat, are offensive.

Most couples, especially obviously those in a heterosexual situation, have children, choose not to have children or cannot have children. Couples either want a child or do not want a child. In some cases they have a child when they do not plan to. As a teacher for 20 years before I came to this place I taught many young girls. Some were pregnant in year 7. And I have known many, many people who wanted children but who could never have a child. I have often wondered how hard it must be for a student who is so young to have a baby.

When I was teaching in Green Valley a young girl came back to school at the end of year 8 after having had a child. I will never forget the abuse she copped from all the kids in the school because she was a mother at such a young age. I can sort of understand: kids are like that; they do that sort of thing. But I always remember it. Last weekend I ran into two young girls who are former students. I attended seven functions over the weekend. You can always tell when you run into a former student because they do not say, "Hello, Mr Ashton" or "You're the local MP"; they say, "G'day, sir." The women I ran into are now 26 and 30. As I have said before, one of my former students is now the principal of a high school. It makes me realise we are all getting a bit older.

One of the young girls I spoke to is now pregnant for the third time, having had two children by the time she was in year 10. I have seen her many times around the Revesby-Padstow area since she left school and I have noticed that she is a lovely mother. At school she played up a bit, but I have seen her say to her sons: "Come here. Do this. Don't do that. Don't be rude. Sit here and wait." Everything is perfect. As some people go through life they find themselves in unfortunate situations. I also remember teaching a young girl in year 12, a very slight young lady, who had to sit on a cushion. She was the brightest child in the school, but she left in the middle of the year—in July or August—to have a baby. She returned to that Green Valley school where I taught and for that year her results put her in the top four or five students who sat for the Higher School Certificate.

Why am I giving this background? Because those young girls had children that they probably would have preferred not to have had at that time, and they would not have had it easy in the tough schools that I taught in. They also had the support of their parents. Many of the families of the children attending those tough type of schools were, to some extent, dysfunctional—which may have been a factor in those young girls becoming pregnant.

Last Monday evening, whilst attending an Australian Labor Party branch meeting, a couple asked me if the Surrogacy Bill was likely to come up during these sittings. They are conservative people, so I initially thought that they may not be supportive of this bill. However, they indicated that they would like me to support it because their daughter is unable to have children. The lady concerned volunteered that she would like to think that even she could be a surrogate mother for her daughter. That demonstrates to me the personal aspect of this bill. That lady is in her late 40s, so it is physically possible for her to have a child. I appreciate that sometimes we see freak stories, such as the 65-year-old Italian grandmother who gave birth to a baby. That sort of thing gives surrogacy a bad name. When this lady made that point to me I could see her sadness at not being a grandmother but, more importantly, I could see her sadness at her daughter not being able to be a mother.

If passing this bill legalises what is happening anyway, without focusing on it too much, then we will be doing something good. As was the case with the same sex adoption bill, we are not making it compulsory. No government is going to turn people into different types of people. It should be recognised that the bill does not provide for commercial surrogacy; it has to be altruistic, which is critical. I am sure everyone in this place understands the meaning of the word "altruistic"—out of one's good nature or wish to help another person parent a child. Australians do altruism, like volunteerism, very well and that should be recognised. People will be prohibited from touting for business by saying, "I will be a mother at a cost of $2,000 for you" or, if it is a wealthy couple, "I want $5,000 or $10,000 from you." That will not be allowed to happen. If it does, people will be penalised.

The advertising of surrogacy will also be prohibited. For example, there will be no late-night commercials saying, "Do you want a child? Give Sophie a call on …". This very important part of life will not be subjected to the cheapest form of advertising. The changing of a child's situation, for example, by a change in the relationship with his or her parents, will also be recognised. The child will have a full understanding of their situation. I can remember that when I was a younger person—most of us in this place, with the exception of Mr Rob Stokes who is looking at me from the other side of the Chamber, are of a similar age—it was quite an embarrassment for many people to be adopted. I remember it being pointed out to me often when I was growing up, "Yes, that is X and Y, but they are adopted." Even in my own family two of my cousins were adopted, and the casual reference was always made, "Of course, they are adopted." Did that make them not quite my cousins? How does one relate to that? I always felt it was somewhat embarrassing and sad for that comment to have been added—it was as though they did not quite count. I am happy to say that we have moved a long way from that, and we needed to.

It is not a matter of political correctness. It is a matter of being nice. It is a matter of being fair. It is a matter of being appropriate. The same situation applies to a child born of a surrogacy arrangement. You would hope that in this world today, while some people may know of the arrangement, it will not be something that someone has to wear as a medallion around their neck or a bangle on their arm saying, "I am a surrogate child. I was born of a surrogacy arrangement." I admit I have not read every page of this 42-page bill, which is one of the thickest bills I have seen. I congratulate the Attorney General, Minister Burney and all the others on the work they have done in preparing it. It really amounts to whether you believe in something. If you believe in it then you find the words—even at somewhat short notice—to express support for it. While I reserve my right to consider whatever amendments might be moved at a later stage, I support the bill.

[Business interrupted.]
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Suspension of Standing Orders: Routine of Business

Mr JOHN AQUILINA (Riverstone—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.36 a.m.]: I move:
      That standing orders be suspended at this sitting to permit Government business to take precedence of general business prior to 1.30 pm.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE (Wagga Wagga) [11.36 p.m.]: Suspension of standing orders is becoming common practice for this Government. Members enter this place having seen the program for the day posted on the intranet. Members have spent their time today preparing for what is traditionally private members' day from 11.45 a.m. The Government continually makes the excuse that it has so much work that it is necessary to dispense with issues important to the communities of all members in this place. For example, on today's Business Paper motion No. 1063 of the member for Shellharbour concerns breast screening. It is BreastScreen Week and the member for Shellharbour wants to acknowledge the important work undertaken by the Cancer Institute NSW and BreastScreen NSW. Those are matters of importance to this House. She will now be gagged because the Government has not been able to get its act together and run this place in a suitable fashion.

Motion No. 1065 of the member for Wollongong is also important. She wants to talk about investment, which she considers important to her region. She will also be gagged in order for the Government to put forward business that it considers important when it has had years to deal with it. Motion No. 1066 of the member for Murray-Darling is also important. He wants to speak about the confusion caused by dialling triple-0 from mobile phones when emergency service operators have suggested that 112 is the number to be dialled from mobile phone. That is also an important issue to all members in this place.

[Interruption]

Indeed, as the member for Lismore interjects, it has been commented on in the media in the past week. That important issue could also be debated. But again the Government sees fit to gag its own members from moving these important motions that the Opposition would willingly participate in. The member for Pittwater is also present in the Chamber. In motion No. 1068, he has raised the vitally important role that nursing staff play in New South Wales hospitals. He is condemning the Government for proposed cuts to senior clinical positions at both Mona Vale and Manly hospitals. He is also calling on the Government to take urgent action to ensure that the State's most experienced nurses are retained in the public health system. In view of the Government's appalling record in this regard, I suggest that it would be quite embarrassing for the Government to debate this matter.

The member for Manly has a motion on the Business Paper that notes the Government's act of neglect in downgrading health services on the northern beaches including axing nursing positions in infection control, aged care and disaster control at Manly and Mona Vale hospitals, offering redundancies to staff at Manly's Phoenix Unit despite the drug and alcohol centre operating at 99 per cent capacity, and closing the residential assessment program at Dalwood Centre for rural children suffering severe learning difficulties. They are examples of important motions that will be denied because of the suspension of standing orders by this Government, which cannot get its act together. Members of all political persuasions in this place are regularly denied the opportunity of bringing matters that are highly important to their communities before the House.

Mr JOHN AQUILINA (Riverstone—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.40 a.m.], in reply: I have listened intently to the comments of the member for Wagga Wagga. It is farcical for the member to suggest that the Government is acting in a high-handed way because it is moving a suspension motion to continue Government business and that it is somehow depriving Government members of being able to debate their motions. We are used to members speaking in this place with a great deal of sincerity but with a smile in the corner of their mouth. I well and truly put it to the House that the member for Wagga Wagga was speaking in that way.

Mr Thomas George: Point of clarification: I ask the Leader of the House to clarify that these motions will remain on the Business Paper for the next sitting of Parliament.

ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Wayne Merton): Order! That is not a point of order.

Mr Thomas George: I took a point of clarification.

ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Wayne Merton): Order! I am certain that the member for Riverstone will accede to the member's request.

Mr JOHN AQUILINA: I was about to say that whilst it is the Government's intention to continue with Government business until such time as the Government is satisfied it has either completed or sufficiently progressed Government business to be able to move on to other matters, it is still our intention to deal with notices of motions (general notices) sometime this morning. I fully suspect that both the BreastScreen NSW motion and the Port Kembla new copper casting facility motion will be debated, and possibly motion No. 1066 will be debated, if we have the time. The time for Government business would have expired at 11.45 a.m. I intend that the time for Government business be extended to enable us to deal further with the Surrogacy Bill and other important matters before the House, such as, the Courts and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill and amendments from another place to the Parliamentary Budget Officer Bill.

Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.
SURROGACY BILL 2010
Agreement in Principle

[Business resumed.]

Mr ROB STOKES (Pittwater) [11.43 a.m.]: I will make a brief contribution to the Surrogacy Bill 2010. With any legislation where members are entitled to vote according to their conscience, it is my view that it is important for me to put on record the reasons for my vote so that the constituents of Pittwater, whom I am proud to represent in this place, can understand the way in which I have exercised my conscience. As the member for East Hills said, the Surrogacy Bill is a detailed and voluminous piece of legislation. As I see it, it effectively acts to fill a vacuum in the existing law in New South Wales in relation to surrogacy. Whereas the laws in other States in relation to surrogacy arrangements are fulsome, the laws in New South Wales contain gaps. The objects of the Surrogacy Bill 2010 are:
      (a) to make all surrogacy arrangements unenforceable, except to the extent that they provide for the payment of a birth mother's costs,

      (b) to prohibit commercial surrogacy arrangements,

      (c) to prohibit the advertising of surrogacy arrangements,

      (d) to provide for the recognition of surrogacy arrangements, in certain circumstances, by allowing the parentage of a child of a surrogacy arrangement to be transferred to another person,

      (e) to protect the privacy of surrogacy arrangements,

      (f) to enable a person whose parentage is transferred as a result of a surrogacy arrangement, and other affected parties, to access birth information in relation to the person, similar to the arrangements for access to information that apply when a person is adopted.

Effectively, the bill is directed to two parts. The first is commercial surrogacy arrangements and the second is altruistic surrogacy arrangements. I firmly support those parts of the bill that seek to render unenforceable or void any contract in relation to the payment of money for surrogacy arrangements. It is repugnant to public policy for any trade to be established in human beings and it is quite wrong for there to be a trade on the basis of surrogacy. I very much support those parts of the bill. In the area of altruistic surrogacy, there is uncertainty in the legal arrangements in New South Wales. It is appropriate that the bill clarifies provisions relating to so-called altruistic surrogacy.

I am aware, both on a personal level and from members of my community in Pittwater, of a couple that has been unable to have a child and has been desperate to provide a child with a loving home. Surrogacy was the only avenue available to them. My heart goes out to people in that situation. I believe there should be legal arrangements to clarify those types of altruistic surrogacy arrangements. I understand that a number of complications may arise in certain situations, which have been spoken about at some length in the other place. I have had the advantage of reading the speeches of members in the other place. I compliment the members on the quality of the debate in the other place. It has been useful to me in clarifying my views. I understand there are pros and cons, as there are with every piece of legislation. I am satisfied on balance that this legislation ultimately serves those who are desperate to have a child and for whatever reason are unable to conceive themselves. For that reason, I am supportive of this bill and will exercise my vote accordingly.

Ms LYLEA McMAHON (Shellharbour—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.48 a.m.]: It is always useful to have a real-life example when speaking on issues. I will give an example of a family in my electorate. In 2007 I was visited by the Normans, David, Denise and their beautiful baby girl, Emily. Emily is the genetic child of both David and Denise. She was born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement, which David and Denise entered into with the birth parent following years of unsuccessful IVF treatment. When the Normans came to see me they were grateful to the medical profession, their surrogate, her family and all those who supported them and made the dream of Emily possible.

However, they were frustrated with the failure of the law to support them through this process. At the time of visiting me in 2007 Emily's mother, Denise, was unable to take her baby for immunisation shots—she could not and did not get a Medicare card for Emily because she was not the birth mother and therefore not recorded as Emily's mother on the birth certificate. As such, Denise was not entitled to a Medicare card for Emily. Denise and David's only avenue of address was a lengthy adoption process, which at the time they had already embarked upon. They were initially advised that they were not able to start the adoption process until Emily was six years old.

At the time the Normans visited me they were seeking three things that this bill addresses. First, that the adoption laws be streamlined to expedite the adoption process, and recognise the legal and counselling processes undertaken prior to and during the surrogacy. Secondly, that a new birth certificate be issued that recognises the commissioning parents, and in this case the genetic parents, as the legal parents, but the birth parents and genetic information of the child not be lost to ensure that there is no future confusion over the genetic make-up of the child. Thirdly, that the existing requirement to allow time for the relationships and understandings to be established that will support an application for adoption be removed.

I am pleased to say that when I recently met with Mr Norman to discuss the bill and his family's personal circumstances, Mr Norman was extremely happy to see that the bill was addressing the concerns he had raised with me in 2007. He was appreciative of the Attorney General and the committee's membership in the inquiry into legislation on altruistic surrogacy in New South Wales. Mr Norman and his family have been fierce advocates for changes to the laws on altruistic surrogacy. I am pleased that this bill proposes that a parentage order can be sought by the commissioning parents after a cooling-off period of not less than 30 days and not more than six months after the child of that arrangement is born and that the process still involves appropriate counselling and independent legal advice for all parties. I am particularly proud of the fact that in his second reading speech in the other place the Minister said:
      Part 3 of this bill provides a framework for the Supreme Court to grant orders that would transfer full legal parentage of children from their birth parent, or birth parents, to the intended parents under a surrogacy arrangement. This will come as a relief to families who would otherwise have had to turn to adoption processes—
as the Normans did—
      which can be a long and laborious process, or parental responsibility orders from the Family Court, which are not permanent and do not apply when children reach adulthood. The new orders will provide relief and certainty for those who seek to become parents under surrogacy arrangements and who have, to date, had to deal with the existing legal schemes that are not designed for surrogacy situations.

And that was the Norman's experience. I am also pleased that the parentage orders also address the issues raised by the Normans in relation to a birth certificate. I acknowledge the Norman's advocacy not only for their situation but also for all families who face similar circumstances. I have pleasure in reporting that Emily has now been formally adopted by the Normans—she will turn five next year. The process outlined in the bill would have been much more beneficial for the Normans and it would have enabled them to have gone through the adoption process in a much quicker time frame. I support the bill because it supports families like the Normans achieve their dream of having a child.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL (Keira) [11.52 a.m.]: With a great deal of pride I support the Surrogacy Bill 2010. In a well documented case of surrogacy I acknowledge the bravery of Senator Conroy from Victoria in presenting his family situation in such a public way. But I make the point that there are equally many battles of a similar nature that many couples face privately as they go through the process of trying to become parents. Probably every member in this place is aware of some similar cases. I have family members who gone through in-vitro fertilisation, and children of some friends of mine are currently experiencing the challenges of conception. It is in that private sense that I am particularly proud that the Attorney General in another place has introduced this bill and that I have the opportunity to speak to it. I understand that this legislation will make life easier for those families in a way that the member for Shellharbour has just outlined in some detail. It is with that sense of understanding that I support the bill.

It is important to work through the objects of the legislation. The first object is to make all surrogacy arrangements unenforceable, except to the extent that they provide for the payment of a birth mother's costs. As I understand it, that means that the birth mother can opt to keep the child. One can only imagine the emotional strains and pressures on people in such arrangements and circumstances if one has not been through them. Another object of the bill is to prohibit commercial surrogacy arrangements. I absolutely support that. The process should be altruistic, and certainly no commercial surrogacy arrangement should be supported. I note that amendments will be moved in the consideration in detail stage to ensure that the bill bans commercial surrogacy arrangements entered into overseas. I will support those amendments.

Another object of the bill is to prohibit the advertising of surrogacy arrangements. Again, surrogacy should be about altruism and people having some knowledge of the circumstances. I believe advertising would go somewhat hand-in-glove with a commercial arrangement, so it goes without saying that advertising should not be permitted. I do not support any commercial surrogacy arrangements. Another object of the bill is to provide for the recognition of surrogacy arrangements in certain circumstances by allowing the parentage of a child of a surrogacy arrangement to be transferred to another person. This is, again, about providing certainty in the circumstances that the member for Shellharbour referred to, and in a whole range of other circumstances. It provides certainty for parentage and, most importantly, certainly for the child.

Another particularly important object of the bill is to protect the privacy of surrogacy arrangements. These are very personal arrangements and it is important to ensure their privacy. A further object of the bill is to enable a person whose parentage is transferred as a result of a surrogacy arrangement, and other affected parties, to access birth information in relation to that person, similar to the arrangements that apply to access to information by a person who is adopted. It gives the individual an opportunity to understand the genetics, particularly when that knowledge might be necessary for future healthcare or for other reasons. The bill takes action to ensure that what is a reality in our community—that people enter into surrogacy arrangements—has some protections at law. I believe the bill gets the balance right between some of those protections and our becoming a nanny state and interfering too closely with these arrangements.

I understand that the member for Rockdale has foreshadowed that he may move some amendments relating to the age of people involved in surrogacy, particularly the surrogate mother, and I will listen with interest to that debate. On the face of the amendments that the member for Rockdale has circulated, I am inclined to support them on the basis that this is a very complex and emotional area and I believe that it is important for people who enter into surrogacy arrangements to have a little more maturity and have life experience. However, I will listen with interest to the debate before I make a decision. It is with a sense of confidence that I support the bill as it is presented. The bill will provide some certainty for children particularly, as well as for surrogate parents. It is important for this Parliament to recognise something that is a reality in our society, and I am pleased I have the opportunity to take part in the debate. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Thomas George and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
COURTS AND CRIMES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
Agreement in Principle

Mr BARRY COLLIER (Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.01 p.m.], on behalf of Ms Carmel Tebbutt: I move:
      That this bill be now agreed to in principle.

The bill was introduced in the Legislative Council on 20 October 2010 and the second reading speech appears at page 41 in the Hansard proof for that day. The bill is in the same form as introduced in the other place and I commend it to the House.

Mr GREG SMITH (Epping) [12.01 p.m.]: I lead for the Liberal-Nationals in relation to the Courts and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2010. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 to make new Commonwealth offences relating to child sex tourism registrable offences under that Act; to amend the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 to extend the circumstances in which an alleged victim of an offence involving violence is not required to attend committal proceedings; to amend the District Court Act 1973 so that a person who is or has been an associate judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales may be appointed as an acting judge of the District Court even if that person has reached the age of 72 years but only if he or she has not yet reached the age of 75 years; to amend the Solicitor General Act 1969 to ensure that the Attorney General may delegate his or her power to intervene in proceedings to the Solicitor General regardless of whether the power is conferred on the Attorney General in his or her a capacity as Attorney General or as a Minister administering an Act; and to amend the Trustee Act 1925 to allow the regulations made under that Act to prescribe a class of insurers that may insure the repayment of a loan to a trustee for the purposes of that Act.

Amendments are made to the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 as a result of the commencement of the Commonwealth Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences Against Children) Act 2010 on 15 April 2010. The Commonwealth Act repealed part IIIA of the Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 that related to child sex tourism offences committed outside Australia and transferred these provisions to the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995. The definition section of the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000, section 3, amends the definitions of class 1 offences and class 2 offences to reflect the transferral of provisions relating to offences related to child sex tourism from the Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 to the Commonwealth Criminal Code. The amendments also insert new sex offences dealt with by the Criminal Code. As a consequence of the amendments the reporting obligations provided for by the Act will apply to a person sentenced in respect of such an offence. A regulation-making power is also inserted for matters of a savings and transitional nature.

Part 8 inserts a transitional provision that ensures that the amendments extend to offences in respect of which a sentence was imposed before the amendments commenced. The provision also makes adjustments to the reporting obligations of persons who are sentenced in respect of such offences before the amendments take effect. Section 91 of the Criminal Procedure Act provides that a magistrate may direct the attendance at committal proceedings of the person who made a written statement that the prosecution intends to tender as evidence in committal proceedings. However, section 93 provides that victim witnesses are generally not to be directed to attend any committal proceedings in which the accused is charged with an offence involving violence. The magistrate may not direct the attendance of an alleged victim of the offence who made a written statement even if the parties to the proceedings consent to attendance unless the magistrate is satisfied that there are special reasons that the alleged should in the interests of justice attend to give oral evidence.

Section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 defines an offence involving violence. The Attorney General in his agreement in principle speech of 20 October advised the upper House that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions wrote to him requesting that offences falling under section 112 (2) of the Crimes Act 1900—aggravated break and enter and commit serious indictable offences—be included in the definition of "offence involving violence" under section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions advised that it is often the case that the serious indictable offence in section 112 (2) is robbery or reckless wounding. On their own, these offences are an offence involving violence as defined by section 94.

However, if the activity is prosecuted under section 112, notwithstanding the violence involved, it falls outside the existing definition. Consequently, victims of section 112 (2) offences are afforded less protection in relation to attending to give oral evidence at committals than other victims. It is possible that offences involving a combination of elements would equally not be covered by the section 94 definition. That section is therefore amended to provide that an offence the elements of which include the commission of or an intention to commit an offence referred to in section 94 (a) to section 94 (f) are "offences involving violence" for the purposes of sections 91 and 93. A transitional provision ensures that the amendment to the definition of offence involving violence applies only in committal proceedings that a magistrate first starts to hear after the commencement of the amendment.

Section 18 of the District Court Act dealing with acting judges is amended to include a person who is or has been an associate judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Such a person may be appointed as an acting judge even though that person has reach the age of 72 years but not beyond the age of 75. Presently a person who is a current or retired associate judge of the Supreme Court is precluded from being appointed as an acting judge of the District Court.

Section 4 of the Solicitor General Act 1969 allows the Attorney General to delegate the Attorney General's powers and functions to the Solicitor General. The Crown Solicitor has advised the Attorney General that this is limited to the delegation of powers and functions that the Attorney General has in his capacity as Attorney General. It does not therefore include the power to intervene in proceedings before a court or tribunal where an Act simply confers the power on the Minister responsible for that Act and the Attorney General is the Minister responsible for that Act. An amendment to the Solicitor General Act 1969 allows delegation by the Attorney General of any power, authority, duty or function to intervene in proceedings, whether personally or by agent, and whether the power, authority, duty or function to be delegated is conferred on the Attorney General in his or her capacity as Attorney General or in his or her capacity to as Minister administering an Act.

Clause 5 of the Trustee Regulation 2010 lists individual prescribed insurers. This amendment clarifies that it is not necessary to prescribe an individual insurer for the purposes of a definition of prescribed insurer in the Trustee Act 1925 but, rather, a class of insurers can be prescribed. A prescribed insurer is an insurer who can insure a loan repayment to a trustee under the provisions of the Act that specified a maximum ratio of the amount of the loan to the value of the property that secures the loan.

The amendment to the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 ensures that offenders convicted of Commonwealth child sex tourism offences are registrable under the New South Wales Child Protection Register. The amendment to the District Court Act 1973 will permit the use of retired or ex associate Supreme Court justices on the District Court bench. The amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 is in response to a submission from the Director of Public Prosecutions and will assist that office in its prosecutions and achieve consistency for victims of crime. We have received no submissions from interested parties in relation to these proposed changes. Accordingly, we do not oppose this bill.

Mr DAVID HARRIS (Wyong—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.11 p.m.]: In speaking in support of this bill I will address a number of the miscellaneous provisions that the proposed legislation covers. The bill amends the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000. The Commonwealth Government has recently repealed its child sex tourism offences that were contained in the Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 and placed them in the Commonwealth Criminal Code. The amendments to the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 update this Act with the new provisions. These changes will ensure that offenders convicted of these offences are registrable on the New South Wales Child Protection Register.

The bill also amends the Criminal Procedure Act 1986. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions wrote to the Attorney General regarding the offences covered by the section 94 definition of "offence involving violence". The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions advised that the existing definition excluded "aggravated break and enter" and "commit serious indictable offence" matters. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions advised that it is often the case that the serious indictable offence in these matters is robbery or reckless wounding. On their own, robbery and reckless wounding are defined as offences involving violence under section 94. However, if the activity is prosecuted under section 112, notwithstanding the violence involved, it falls outside the existing definition. The result of this is that victims of "aggravated break and enter" and "commit serious indictable offence" matters were afforded less protection in relation to attending to give oral evidence at committals than other victims of violence. The amendment will address this anomaly and provide protection to victims of violence and promote consistency in this area.

The amendments to the District Court Act 1973 also deserve further explanation. Currently the District Court Act 1973 provides for a retired judge of the Supreme Court who is more than 72 years but not more than 75 years of age to be appointed to act on the District Court bench. However, the statutory definition of a judge under the Supreme Court Act 1970 precludes a retired associate judge of the Supreme Court, who is likewise between 72 to 75 years of age, from being appointed to act in the District Court because an associate judge is not deemed to be a judge. The amendment contained in schedule 3 specifically provides for a current or retired associate judge of the Supreme Court who is more than 72 years but not more than 75 years of age to be appointed to act on the District Court bench.

Finally, I will explain further the amendments to the Solicitor General Act 1969. The Solicitor General's office was established in New South Wales in 1824. The Solicitor General Act 1969 New South Wales provides that the Governor may appoint a legal practitioner of at least seven years standing to be Solicitor General. The Solicitor General shall not be a Minister of the Crown. The Solicitor General may act as counsel for Her Majesty and perform such other duties and functions of counsel as the Attorney General directs. The Solicitor General may exercise the powers and functions of the Attorney General when the Office of Attorney General is vacant or the Attorney General is not in the State or is unable to exercise his powers because of illness and the Solicitor General delegates the powers delegated to him or her by the Attorney General under the Act.

In New South Wales the main role of the Solicitor General is to appear on behalf of the State Government in judicial proceedings and provide written and oral advice to the Government on legal matters. However, the Solicitor General also exercises the power of the Attorney General in the absence of the Attorney General and exercises powers delegated by the Attorney General. The powers of the Attorney General presently delegated to the Solicitor General include matters involving charities and charitable trusts, venues of trials and the Surveillance Devices Act 2007.

It may also be desirable for the Attorney General to delegate specific powers and functions to the Solicitor General where, for example, the Attorney General may have a potential conflict of interest in, say, intervening in particular court or tribunal proceedings because of another statutory role that the Attorney General has. However, the wording of section 4 of the Solicitor General Act 1969 appears to limit the power of the Attorney General to delegate his powers and functions to the Solicitor General to those powers and functions that he has in his capacity as Attorney General. This may not, therefore, include the power to intervene in proceedings before a court or tribunal where an Act simply confers this power on the Minister that is responsible for that particular Act and the Attorney General is the Minister responsible for that Act.

The bill therefore amends the Solicitor General Act 1969 to clarify that the Attorney General's ability to delegate powers and functions to the Solicitor General extends to any power or function conferred on the Attorney General as the Minister administering an Act. This will allow the Attorney General to delegate his power to intervene in proceedings to the Solicitor General in appropriate cases, regardless of how that power is conferred on the Attorney General. I commend the bill to the House.

Mr BARRY COLLIER (Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.17 p.m.], in reply: I thank the member for Epping and the member for Wyong for their contributions to the debate. I note that the Opposition is not opposing the bill. The Courts and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 makes a number of important amendments to courts-related legislation and to criminal laws in this State. The amendments will ensure that the court and tribunal procedures and the criminal law and procedures continue to be as effective as possible. The amendments will also support the effective administration of justice in New South Wales. Two of the most significant changes in the bill are: firs, expansion of the definition of offences involving violence in the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 to include offences that include elements of offences already prescribed in the definition. The second change consists of consequential amendments to the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000. Both amendments work to ensure greater protection by the legal system for members of the community.

The Criminal Procedure Act 1986 is amended to expand the powers of the court to make an order that a victim of an offence involving violence is not required to attend committal hearings. This will ensure a greater range of victims are covered by the protections available so they are not required to be present and also potentially be retraumatised by the committal proceedings themselves which take place before the trial. The Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 amendments make Commonwealth offences related to child sex tourism, recently the subject of legislative reform at the Federal level, registrable under the Act. This will ensure that child sex offenders do not escape the Child Protection Register because of changes to Commonwealth legislation, where some offences have been shifted between different parts of that legislation. This bill is an important bill, as I have said, making important changes to courts-related laws and criminal laws in the State and I commend the bill to the House.

Question—That this bill be now agreed to in principle—put and resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Bill agreed to in principle.
Passing of the Bill

Bill declared passed and returned to the Legislative Council without amendment.
ROAD TRANSPORT (VEHICLE REGISTRATION) AMENDMENT (WRITTEN-OFF VEHICLES) BILL 2010
Consideration in Detail

Consideration of the Legislative Council amendment.
Schedule of amendment referred to in message of 28 October 2010

      Page 8, schedule 1 [2], proposed section 16H (1), lines 2–6. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:
          (1) For the purposes of this Part, a vehicle is a total loss if it has been damaged, dismantled or demolished to the extent that its salvage value as a written off vehicle plus the cost of repairing the vehicle for use on a road would be more than:
            (a) the market value of the vehicle immediately before the damage, dismantling or demolition, or

            (b) if the vehicle is insured for a specified amount (known as the sum insured), that specified amount.
          (2) The regulations may:
            (a) prescribe other cases as cases in which a vehicle is a total loss for the purposes of this Part, and

            (b) prescribe exceptions to this section.

Motion by Mr John Aquilina, on behalf of Mr David Borger, agreed to:
      That the House agree to the Legislative Council amendment.

Legislative Council amendment agreed to.

Message sent to the Legislative Council advising it of the resolution.
PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICER BILL 2010
Consideration in Detail

Consideration of the Legislative Council amendments.
Schedule of amendments referred to in message of 26 October 2010

      No. 1 Page 3, clause 3, line 6. Omit "is taken to be". Insert instead "has the functions of".

      No. 2 Page 3, clause 3, line 7. Insert "only" after "this Act".

      No. 3 Page 11, clause 18 (3) and (4), lines 10-16. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:
            (3) A parliamentary leader may only make an election costing request in relation to a policy publicly announced or proposed by that leader.
      No. 4 Page 12, clause 21 (3), lines 21 and 22. Omit "(or who announced or proposed the policy)".

Mr JOHN AQUILINA (Riverstone—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.19 p.m.], on behalf of Mr Michael Daley: I move:
      That the House agree to the Legislative Council amendments.

Mr MIKE BAIRD (Manly) [2.19 p.m.]: It would be remiss of me not to speak on the change to the legislation. The Government's motivation has been exposed by the debate in the upper House. The Opposition supported the establishment of a Parliamentary Budget Office. However, we remain fundamental concerned about the funding levels to be allocated to the office. We have examined the various jurisdictions and note that on a per capita basis Canada has five times the funding level proposed in the bill whereas the United States has three times the funding level. We question also the overall function of the office because the objectives of the bill suggest they will be created on the appointment of the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The Opposition submits that those objectives should have been outlined properly, in consultation with all members of this House and the upper House. Indeed, the creation of the office should have involved overseas consultation as well as consultation with members of the Federal Parliament, using best practice and principles, to provide the best possible resource for the members of this Parliament. Our concerns remain, and in view of the looming election I suggest the Treasurer did not suddenly have a conscience, come to his senses—Opposition members probably question whether the Treasurer has a conscience—and for the good of the Parliament introduce this bill. The upper House debate clearly showed that the Treasurer wanted this independent resource to be used as nothing more than a political weapon in his upcoming election campaign.

The Treasurer wanted parliamentary leaders of all persuasions to have the opportunity to cost at will, for whatever purposes, the costings of every other party. The Opposition supports transparency. However, the Treasurer has used this bill to undermine any party by using an independent office for his own political purposes. That is the conflict. This independent office should not be caught in the crossfire for political expediency but should be an independent resource to provide information, research policy and direction for the Parliament.

The Opposition agrees with the ability to have independent costings, but at the request of respective parliamentary leaders. The Treasurer went out of his tree when the amendment was agreed to. It is clear that his strategy was not to provide Parliament with the resources of an independent office but to use it for his own political purposes. The Opposition is happy to support the amendment provided that office, if established, is independent, not used as a tool for election propaganda. Every party must be accountable for its own costings. I point out, however, that the Opposition cannot submit its costings at this point in time—which are underway and have been underway for 18 months—because the Parliamentary Budget Office does not exist.

The bill provides for the establishment of the office and for the appointment of people. That being said, I am yet to see a deadline that the Government has met so I am sceptical about whether the Government can meet the deadline. However, should the Parliamentary Budget Office be established, the Opposition is willing to discuss the role of its costings in the process, but we cannot do that now. Going forward—a rather unfortunate term—future oppositions and governments will have nine months to provide those costings. From the last budget of a government until election day, which is June to the following March, the Opposition, Government and other parties will have nine months to engage with the Parliamentary Budget Office on their costings.

However, with the upcoming election, the Opposition will have only eight weeks. Costings take time and are critically important. The Opposition is generally glad that an independent costing process has now been established, which is part of the genesis of the office, because we have argued for that. I do not want to run through the whole saga of our original proposal, which was agreed to by the Premier and then changed. It is in the community's interests that an independent costing process be put in place that has independent rigour, involving a candidate independent of an opposition or government. It should not be done at the lowest possible cost or the highest possible cost, depending on the stage of the political equation. The community must have confidence that there are independent costings. We totally embrace the concept.

We remain committed to the principle of the Parliamentary Budget Office but will monitor our concerns on an ongoing basis. Our costings are underway. Many in the New South Wales community will be familiar with Bob Sendt, who has had 30 years experience in Treasury, and who is well respected. The community is fortunate that the Opposition has him overseeing the costings on a rigorous basis, as he has overseen many election costings and has been an Auditor-General. He is independent and has integrity. The people of New South Wales can be confident that, should the office be established in time, the person overseeing the Opposition's hard work has integrity, and professional integrity. We support the amendments and have agreed to the principle of the Parliamentary Budget Office by supporting the bill.

Mr JOHN AQUILINA (Riverstone—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.27 p.m.], in reply: The member for Manly has used this forum to give an exposé of his opinions on the bill. Although he has waxed lyrical about the so-called impact of the amendments, much of what he said does not hold water in that he is alleging the Treasurer was attempting to use the independent costings for his own political purposes. That is a paradox. The Government can easily live with the amendments, which is why it has accepted them. The amendments do not have anywhere near the impact that the member for Manly alleges. Nonetheless, the Government is happy to agree to them. They will refine the bill and open up a new chapter in the preparations and parliamentary costings for elections the likes of which have not happened in the past. We are proud to be part of a Labor Government that has achieved that.

Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Legislative Council amendments agreed to.

Message sent to the Legislative Council advising it of the resolution.

ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Wayne Merton): Order! Government business having concluded, the House will now consider general business.
BREAST CANCER

Ms LYLEA McMAHON (Shellharbour—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.29 p.m.]: I move:
      That this House:

      (1) acknowledges the good work being done by the Cancer Institute NSW, in particular in relation to BreastScreen NSW;

      (2) notes the $26 million invested in digital mammography equipment that provides clearer images, more rapid analysis and more accurate diagnoses;

      (3) notes with concern and sympathy the 12,000 Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer annually; and

      (4) notes that the chances of survival from breast cancer are improving, with a 97 per cent chance of survival if the cancer is detected early, and that deaths from breast cancer have declined by 14 per cent in the last 10 years.
I was very proud to be in my electorate of Shellharbour on Friday 27 February 2009 when an announcement was made that the Illawarra would go digital. Digital mammography technology is now installed in BreastScreen clinics across the Illawarra under the New South Wales Government's $26 million upgrade package, giving women in the region access to the latest breast screening services. Digital mammography is giving women easy access to the latest lifesaving services in the fight against breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates for women in New South Wales are among the best in the world, but we need to continue our commitment to beat this awful disease. This new superior digital technology will provide doctors with clearer images, faster results and better early detection, ultimately saving more lives.

Digital mammography, instead of film, which is analogue technology, enables high-quality breast screen images to be transmitted electronically from screening centres to well-resourced central X-ray reading rooms for analysis by experienced radiologists. Digital technology is particularly important for detecting abnormalities in younger women with denser breast tissue; with less detail in the film, traditional mammography made detection more difficult. The digital BreastScreen service has improved access for Illawarra women and increased their participation. A digital unit has been installed in the BreastScreen site in Wollongong, and another has been installed in Shellharbour, at Shellharbour Square.

In recent years major improvements have been made to the free BreastScreen service, including extending opening hours and locating mobile clinics in more convenient places such as near shopping centres. While these measures—supported by statewide mass media campaigns—have been successful at increasing the number of women having regular mammograms to record levels, more needs to be done. We need to educate women about the importance of screening, particularly the fact that a full recovery from breast cancer is almost always certain if the cancer is detected early enough. Unfortunately, many women are simply not aware of their entitlement to free mammograms every two years or the importance of having one.

Although the breast cancer survival rate in New South Wales is already one of the best in the world, breast cancer remains the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths amongst New South Wales women. No woman can afford to be complacent. One in nine women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and each year more than 900 women in New South Wales lose their battle with the disease. Women aged between 50 and 69 years can make an appointment for a free mammogram with BreastScreen NSW, and I encourage them to do so. Women aged between 40 and 49 years and 70 years and older can also use the free service every two years.

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with an estimated 1.2 million women diagnosed throughout the world in 2002 alone, and the incidence of the disease is projected to increase dramatically in the next decade. In New South Wales this year around 4,400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 900 women will die as a result of their disease. While breast cancer does not discriminate, a woman's risk increases with age, with more than 75 per cent of cases in New South Wales diagnosed in women aged over 50 years. Risk increases in women who have a family history of breast cancer, such as in a mother, a sister or two or more relatives. Other risk factors include excessive alcohol consumption, obesity and reproductive factors, such as not having children or having them after the age of 30 years.

We all know that breast cancer is extremely common. Almost all of us in the House will have been touched by breast cancer in some way, whether it be directly, in a parent, a spouse, a close relative, or a friend. The stark reality is that one in nine women in New South Wales will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. To put all of this into perspective, analysis by the Cancer Institute NSW has found that more than 43,000 women in New South Wales are either currently living with breast cancer or are cured of the disease. It is this prevalence that reveals the good news about breast cancer. Death rates from breast cancer have reduced by 14 per cent in the last decade in New South Wales. This improvement is thanks to both earlier diagnosis through population mammographic screening and advances in treatment and surgery.

Improvements in the early detection and survival of women with breast cancer will ultimately lead to fewer deaths and reduced pain and suffering for the women who are diagnosed and their families and carers. Like many cancers, breast cancer has a high survival rate if detected and treated early. The chances of surviving breast cancer five years after the diagnosis are 88 per cent for all breast cancer patients and 97 per cent when the disease is localised and has not spread before treatment.

The New South Wales Government is investing heavily in the two most effective fronts to improve survival from breast cancer: early detection and cancer research. I have spoken about the $26 million roll-out of digital mammography technology and the success of the roll-out in the electorate of Shellharbour and across the State. This is great news for women and the New South Wales community. I thank the House for allowing me the opportunity to bring this important issue to the attention of members.

Mr STUART AYRES (Penrith) [12.36 p.m.]: I thank the member for Shellharbour for raising the important issue of breast cancer and breast cancer screening in New South Wales. I move:
      That the motion be amended by adding the following words after "Cancer Institute NSW" in paragraph (1):

      along with other advocacy and research and research bodies, including the NSW Cancer Council, the National Breast and Cancer Centre, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation"
    I note that many members have been wearing pink ribbons throughout this week, in acknowledgement of Pink Ribbon Day. Breast cancer across New South Wales—indeed, across the country—is a very serious issue. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women in New South Wales. This year alone about 4,200 women in this State will develop the disease. Approximately one in nine women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Being female and age are the biggest risk factors in developing the disease, with over 75 per cent of breast cancers occurring in women over 50 years.

    Breast cancer ranks equally with lung cancer as one of the two leading causes of cancer death amongst New South Wales women, claiming the lives of more than 900 New South Wales women each year. In the decade from 1997 to 2006 the age-standardised mortality rates for breast cancer fell by 13.8 per cent. Improved treatment and population screening have contributed to the fall in mortality from breast cancer. A 2008 report by the Cancer Institute on the incidence of breast cancer in New South Wales indicated that there were 4,376 new cases of breast cancer amongst females; breast cancer makes up 27.8 per cent of all cancers amongst females; breast cancer is ranked first in all cancers amongst females; the risk of diagnosis by age 75 years is one in 11; the risk of diagnosis by age 85 years is one in nine; and the median age at diagnosis is 60.

    There are a number of other key areas that relate to this issue, and one of them is clearly risk factors. As has already been alluded to, age is a major factor in relation to breast cancer. The 2008 report by the Cancer Institute indicated that there were 1,023 cases of breast cancer in women aged 0 to 49, 1,718 cases of breast cancer for women aged 50 to 64, 1,174 cases of breast cancer for women aged 65 to 79, and 461 cases of breast cancer for women aged 80 and over. Risk factors for developing breast cancer include: increasing age; reproductive factors such as not having children, having them after the age of 30, early onset of menarche, late onset of menopause, and no or limited breast feeding; family history, especially when diagnosed in a mother, daughter or sister; and if there has been breast cancer in two or more relatives or diagnosed in a relative before the age of 50 years.

    Early detection of breast cancer before it has a chance to spread is the most important factor in determining the survival and recovery of a woman from the disease. Regular screening mammograms among women aged 50 to 69 years increases the likelihood that breast cancers are found as early as possible. The work being done by BreastScreen NSW is particularly important. BreastScreen NSW is managed by the Cancer Institute NSW and is part of BreastScreen Australia, a joint Commonwealth and State-Territory program. It offers free screening mammograms for women aged over 40 years. The primary target age group is women aged 50 to 69 years because of their increased risk of breast cancer, and screening mammography is the most effective among this group. The Cancer Institute NSW is therefore committed to increasing the participation of that target group in the BreastScreen NSW program.

    BreastScreen NSW has developed many strong awareness campaigns across various medians, but most members would be familiar with at least a couple of those campaigns. One of the more familiar was the cherry and pea campaign. This campaign was designed to raise awareness about the importance of early detection through self-screening by physical examination. The commercial used in that campaign compared the size of a breast cancer detected by physical examination, represented by a cherry, with that of a breast cancer detected by a screening mammogram, represented by a pea. Women were encouraged to take advantage of the services offered by BreastScreen NSW. Another campaign, moving on from the area of self-analysis and encouraging mammograms, was aimed at what happens if a woman chooses not to do that. It focused on the impact of breast cancer on family and friends. This was The Take You Away campaign, and it was targeted at that age group and demographic. A lot of women find the concept of a mammogram uncomfortable, even though the discomfort lasts a short period of time.

    The motion also deals with digital mammography. I wish to identify how this differs from the film-screen mammography of the past. Digital mammography allows for a computer-generated image to be viewed on a computer and may be printed on film for use in a standard light box, such as those seen in the rooms of general practitioners. The advantages of this include: the image can be manipulated on a computer scheme, multiple copies can be utilised, and it can be used in computer-aided diagnosis, all of which can help improve the identification of breast cancer. I reiterate: the ability to identify breast cancer early goes a long way to saving the lives of many women.

    Breast cancer continues to touch the lives of many people within the electorate of Penrith. Over the years the people of Penrith have been strong supporters of breast cancer initiatives. A screening clinic has recently been set up in the Myer department store at the Penrith Plaza Shopping Centre. I am pleased to inform the House that Myer and the Breast Cancer Institute have also set up screening clinics at Castle Hill, Parramatta and Blacktown. These are known as BCI Sunflower Clinics. The Cancer Council has also received strong support from people attending a lot of local-orientated projects, such as information workshops, drop-in facilities, the Living Well After Cancer community education workshops, community speaker programs, and the Penrith Cancer Support Group.

    The Penrith Panthers offered high-profile support in raising awareness about breast cancer when they took on the Manly Sea Eagles on Friday 25 June. They wore brightly coloured pink jerseys, pink shorts and pink socks, instead of their usual playing kit, to raise funds. That carried on from a successful campaign in 2009 when $50,000 was raised. The funds raised this year were for the Panthers Women in League as well as the McGrath Foundation.

    Recognition should also be given to the work being conducted by the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Only this week the National Breast Cancer Foundation launched Register4.org.au, which gives women aged under 35 years who had their first child at 26 or older, or women over 45 who have not had children, to register on the website to be involved in a voluntary research program. I strongly encourage all women who fall into this category to explore the Register4 concept. This will play an extremely important part in this area of research. My partner has chosen to register on the site, and I encourage others to do so.

    Ms NOREEN HAY (Wollongong—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.46 p.m.]: The Government has delivered on its election commitment: every woman aged 50 to 69 years—those who benefit most from mammograms—now has access to the world's most advanced population breast screening service. The New South Wales Government is also investing in cancer research through the Cancer Institute NSW. The Government has invested $25 million in breast cancer research since 2004. This has funded over 120 grants, including 21 fellowships; a $3.25 million five-year research leaders program; 24 scholarships to support high achieving PhD students; one international-interstate collaboration grant; six infrastructure grants, including funding per personnel; three grants for equipment; 10 research innovation grants to pilot new and innovative approaches to cancer research in this area; and three full-time clinical trial nurse-data manager positions specifically focusing on breast cancer, including support from the Cancer Council NSW.

    This support is leading to greater innovation in cancer research whether in a laboratory or a hospital. In a recent review of cancer clinical trials in New South Wales, the Cancer Institute found increasing participation in established and new clinical trials. There were 40 breast cancer clinical trials actively recruiting patients in New South Wales in 2009, with a further 41 trials with patients in follow-up. At the end of 2009 there were 3,762 patients being treated or followed on a breast cancer clinical trial in New South Wales.

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I have a simple message to all women: Be breast aware! If you are over the age of 50, make sure you book in for a mammogram every two years with BreastScreen NSW by calling 13 20 50. If you notice any changes in your breast, you should talk to your doctor immediately. As has been said by members from both sides of the House this morning, early detection of breast cancer gives the best chance of survival. Along with other members I have been involved with Relay for Life as a patron. I have come in contact with many survivors of breast cancer and have heard their stories of tragic loss. It is encouraging to see so many women now participating in self-examination and having mammograms. They are surviving this terrible curse on women.

    I want to acknowledge the additional facilities for cancer care at Wollongong Hospital, with the Commonwealth and Keneally governments' investment of $14.1 million to expand and upgrade the Illawarra Cancer Care Centre at Wollongong Hospital and the Keneally Government investment to increase the provision of radiotherapy services at the Illawarra regional cancer centre. We were delighted to obtain the current linear accelerator at the Wollongong cancer centre from the New South Wales Government. It has assisted a number of cancer sufferers. These additional resources will make a tremendous difference to the treatment of people who attend Wollongong Hospital from around the region. This will make their life that little bit better by having speedier access to more up-to-date services. I also want to acknowledge the work of clinicians in Wollongong Hospital, particularly the work done in the cancer area by Dr Phil Clingan. I thank him for his dedication and hard work in cancer treatment on the South Coast.

    The networking of services across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven will ensure that residents are able to access high-quality cancer services. It will provide support for quality research, and education and training of a specialised workforce, which is needed to deliver cancer care. I have spoken before in the House of my pride in the cancer centre at Wollongong Hospital. I commend the work and dedication of all the doctors, clinicians and nursing staff in the centre. I also am aware of the hard work and fundraising that is undertaken by local people. Today we are seeing improvements in women attending their doctors for regular checks and mammograms. With early diagnosis and early treatment, women can ensure that they and their families have a long and happy future together, rather than face the tragic and sad stories about which we have all heard.

    Mr ROB STOKES (Pittwater) [12.51 p.m.]: I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this important motion. I commend the member for Shellharbour for bringing the issue to the attention of the House. I also commend the member for Penrith for his amendment, which seeks to broaden the congratulations offered in the motion to recognise the valuable work done by the Cancer Institute NSW, supported by other organisations including the Cancer Council New South Wales, the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The member for Wollongong spoke about the important work done by Dr Phil Clingan and his team in the Illawarra area. It is important to recognise the number of entities that work collaboratively to fight the scourge that is breast cancer. For that reason I support the amendment, as well as the motion.

    I will briefly address each of the four parts of the motion. As I have already stated, I acknowledge the good work done by the Cancer Institute NSW, the Cancer Council New South Wales, the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. In this context, it is impossible, particularly at this time of year, not to mention Pink Ribbon Day and the Pink Ribbon events that are being held, such as the Dragons Abreast Festival this Sunday. This event raises funds for breast cancer research and promotes awareness of breast cancer.

    The dragon boat race this Sunday will include a team from the New South Wales Parliament called the Paddling Pollies, who are entered under the appropriate nomenclature "Moving forward, paddling in the same direction". It is perhaps an overused phrase but one that is appropriate in this context. I mention the wonderful work of the Pittwater Pinks, a dragon boat crew made up entirely of breast cancer survivors in my community of Pittwater. They paddle on the beautiful Pittwater waterways. For the past five years they have promoted and supported breast cancer research and advocacy. They are a wonderful group.

    In relation to the second part of the motion, terrific work is being done by BreastScreen NSW. Whilst I note the Government is investing funds in digital equipment, more needs to be done. The Cancer Institute NSW 2009 annual report indicated that its budget for advertising had been substantially reduced. In relation to the budget cuts, the report states:
        … this has impacted on our planning for the next financial year. This will mean a reduction of the amount of time ads are aired on television and may therefore affect our ability to impact modifiable behavioural risk factors.

    The congratulations that the Government is offering itself must be tempered by an acknowledgement that more needs to be done. Advertising is an important tool in fighting cancer. Research undertaken last year shows that only 56 per cent of Australian women in the core age group regularly attend breast screen centres and that participation in New South Wales is lower than anywhere else in Australia except the Northern Territory. BreastScreen NSW does a great deal of important work. It requires even more support. There is a need for more fixed screening locations. For example, in my community of Pittwater a mobile breast screen unit is located within the car park of Pittwater rugby park. On a number of levels, another location would be more appropriate for a breast screen unit. I urge the Government to consider Mona Vale Hospital as an appropriate location for a fixed breast screening unit.

    The third part of the motion notes with concern and sympathy the 12,000 Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer annually. Breast cancer is not limited solely to women. Men also suffer from breast cancer. Although it is far more uncommon, men are at risk. A calculator is provided by the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre for men to assess their risk. As to the final part of the motion, the chance of survival from breast cancer is improving due to the hard work of the many groups that have been mentioned today. More needs to be done in fighting the scourge of cancer, not only breast cancer but all the types of cancer that continue to plague our society.

    Ms LYLEA McMAHON (Shellharbour—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.56 p.m.], in reply: I thank all members for their contributions to today's debate. I commend them for the bipartisan nature in which debate has taken place on this important motion, which relates to breast cancer and breast screening, particularly in the month of October following on from Pink Ribbon Day. I particularly thank the member for Penrith, the member for Pittwater and the member for Wollongong for their contributions.

    I again acknowledge the work of BreastScreen NSW, particularly in the electorate of Shellharbour where new digital mammography technology has been located at Shellharbour Square. This will increase women's accessibility to and participation in breast screening. I thank the member for Penrith for his amendment. I can advise the House that the Government will accept the amendment, which thanks and acknowledges other cancer care organisations, such as the Cancer Council NSW, the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I acknowledge the comments that men also can be affected by breast cancer.

    Having spoken to people, mainly women, in my electorate who have been affected by breast cancer, I know the tragic impacts it has on them and their families. I particularly refer to young women with children still at school and the difficulties those young people face dealing with a parent who is very ill and receiving treatment. As I and other members have noted, if breast cancer is detected early—and that is the purpose of the expansion of education and breast screening—and treated early, the chance of survival increases to 97 per cent. I once again thank members for their contributions to the debate. I look forward to next year at the same time discussing this issue and noting a further increase in the survival rates for women with breast cancer.

    Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Motion as amended agreed to.
    PORT KEMBLA COPPER CASTING FACILITY

    Ms NOREEN HAY (Wollongong—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.00 p.m.]: I move:
        That this House:

        (1) congratulates the Government and the Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Mineral Resources and Minister for State Development on securing an $11.6 million investment in a new copper casting facility at Metal Manufacturers Ltd in Port Kembla; and

        (2) notes that Metal Manufacturers Ltd is an important regional employer in the Illawarra, supported by a skilled, flexible workforce with access to efficient and leading-edge infrastructure.
    Our State is home to a large, world-class metal manufacturing industry, including copper, which generates billions of dollars for the national economy and is an important enabler of many other manufacturing, service and export industries. Our metal manufacturing industry is supported by a skilled and flexible workforce and has access to efficient and leading-edge infrastructure. The New South Wales metal manufacturing industry is Australia's largest, accounting for 35 per cent of Australia's metal manufacturing businesses and almost one-third of Australia's metal manufacturing employment.

    The New South Wales Government secured an $11.6 million investment in a new copper casting facility at Port Kembla in Wollongong in October 2009. Prior to the Government's decision to invest the money, the Australian Workers Union made representations over concerns that if this facility was not available to Metal Manufacturers it would impede their ability to continue their business and hundreds of people were under the threat of losing their jobs. Hundreds of families in my electorate and the surrounding areas would have suffered quite dramatically. I acknowledge the strong representations made by the Australian Workers Union through its membership at Metal Manufacturers and also the very positive action of the New South Wales Government to secure an $11.6 million investment in the new copper casting facility at Port Kembla in Wollongong.

    The funds, which came in the form of an assistance package provided by Industry and Investment NSW, allowed Metal Manufacturers Limited, trading as MM Kembla or MMK, to install a new horizontal copper billet caster. The project retained 199 existing jobs and brought $11.6 million in new investment to Port Kembla. Additionally, the project provided indirect flow-on jobs and benefits to the Illawarra and New South Wales economies. Sometimes we lose sight of the importance of job opportunities to families that rely on a breadwinner to bring home an income enabling families to survive and grow.

    At that time, MMK was leasing a billet caster on an adjacent site owned by Japanese machinery and commodities trading company Furukawa. But the lease was expiring and Furukawa planned to demolish and remediate the site for sale, and that is why the New South Wales Government stepped in with an assistance package to help MMK invest in a replacement billet caster to ensure its copper pipe businesses could continue in Wollongong and the company could retain 199 jobs. One of the difficulties in trying to secure investment is to ensure that jobs are not only retained but also not lost elsewhere. The important thing is that wherever possible we help to retain jobs and that then, hopefully, minimises the impact on the community as a whole, because other jobs may be lost for business reasons.

    Metal Manufacturers is close to what used to be Port Kembla Copper and is now the Furukawa site. The reason I mention the port of Port Kembla is because it plays a significant role in the Illawarra—it is the region's gateway to the global economy and it generates jobs for the Illawarra. As I have indicated a number of times in this place, each ship is estimated to contribute $511,000 to the New South Wales economy. I may have said it before, but it is worth repeating, that in the 2009-10 financial year Port Kembla saw a record trade, with throughput reaching 31.05 million tonnes, valued at $13.1 billion. I do not think the impact of this kind of activity can be understated in terms of keeping a robust economy and a robust community, particularly in Wollongong but across the board in the Illawarra. That $13.1 billion and the 31.05 million tonnes were matched by record ship visits of 1,001 visits in 2009-10, breaking the previous record that had been set in 2008-09 of 862 visits.

    I reiterate the importance of Government investment in a broad range of areas both in social services and in investment in job-creating facilities. I commend the board of the Port Corporation and Dom Figliomeni for the fantastic work they have done there. I cannot praise them enough for their work. With the investment funds from the New South Wales Government, more than 1,000 jobs were created and the outer harbour expansion proposal is about to proceed. I am already hearing from businesses that are looking at investing and establishing their companies and businesses, creating more jobs in and around the ports of Port Kembla. Again, early investment has led to a whole host of benefits for my area. The car import trade and the inner harbour expansion are undoubtedly key factors of the growth. The $170 million investment in the Port Kembla inner harbour expansion has delivered a modern twenty-first century port. The expansion is creating more than 1,000 jobs for the region and is generating an economic output of more than $200 million a year.

    This brings me to the significance of MMK and the $11.6 million investment by the Government in that company—importantly, 199 jobs have been protected. We can talk about 1,000 jobs in the port and 199 jobs in the new copper casting facility, and yesterday in this place, I spoke about new companies setting up and creating more jobs. That is the point about keeping job creation going: once the companies are up and running we should do everything in our power to assist them to survive, to retain those employment figures and, wherever possible, to grow on those employment figures. Together with the additional funds for training our young people to fill vacancies as they come online, it will help to change the entire social fabric and outlook for youth in the Illawarra, particularly in my electorate of Wollongong.

    Investment in metal manufacturing is extremely important to the community, the people employed in the industry and the companies involved. It means they can go forward in leaps and bounds and improve their profits. The New South Wales Government deserves to be commended for this investment. I am very proud that the Government is protecting jobs in my electorate.

    Mrs SHELLEY HANCOCK (South Coast) [1.10 p.m.]: I am pleased to contribute to this debate on a motion moved by the member for Wollongong last year about the new copper casting facility at Metal Manufacturers Limited in Port Kembla. As I did last night during debate on a motion about jobs in the Illawarra, also moved by the member for Wollongong, I acknowledge her appreciation of the need for job-creation programs in her local area. She is obviously proud of facilities such as this and, of course, the development of Port Kembla.

    Last night I drew parallels with the Shoalhaven region and noted the pride that the member for Wollongong and I take in our communities. They are similar in that they experience high unemployment, particularly high youth unemployment rates, and we must be constantly vigilant about that problem. I must acknowledge the efforts the Government has made in the Illawarra to address unemployment, and business has also played its part. Despite that, almost 6,000 jobs were lost in the area between July and August this year. Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates a fluctuation in those figures, but, as I said last night, the loss of those jobs is very concerning. I believe that this motion should be broadened, and to achieve that I move:
        That the motion be amended by adding the following paragraph:

        (3) calls on the Government to support small business in New South Wales in order to reverse job losses in the Illawarra and business exits from New South Wales.

    The Liberal-Nationals Coalition has worked very closely with businesses and industries in this State for a long time to identify their priorities, the daily challenges they face and their problems. As a result of that consultation, we have developed a number of priorities, policies and strategies. First, we recognise that small businesses are the backbone of the New South Wales economy and that we must support them. As I said, almost 6,000 jobs were lost in the Illawarra between July and August this year, but the number of business exits from the State is also a great concern. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released last Friday indicate that 17,623 businesses exited this State between 2007 and 2009 compared with 2,300 exits from Victoria. Unfortunately, this State is well and truly ahead in terms of business exits. Businesses move interstate for many reasons, but we must address this exodus. The member for Wollongong has talked about a number of successful businesses and industries in Wollongong, but we must implement strategies to stop this exodus of businesses from our State.

    The Coalition has formulated a small business action plan that includes the establishment of a small business commissioner. We believe that small businesses need a dedicated, independent advocate within government to ensure that their concerns are heard. If we are elected in March, the Liberal-Nationals will appoint a small business commissioner. The commissioner will be a statutory officer, will report directly to the Minister and will be required to produce reports to be tabled in Parliament. The commissioner will advocate for small and medium business enterprises and will provide a central point to which complaints about unfair market practices can be referred and addressed in a low-cost and timely manner. The office will resolve disputes between businesses and government agencies and ensure that any impact on business is fully considered in the introduction of new regulations. A similar statutory officer was appointed in Victoria in 2003, which might account for the much lower number of business exits from that State.

    The Coalition also plans to reduce red tape. This issue is raised regularly in discussions with small businesses. More than half of all small business operators in New South Wales say that complying with government regulatory requirements has a moderate to major impact on their operations. In fact, the majority of businesses spend between one to 10 hours a week complying with regulatory requirements and sometimes more than 20 hours. That is unacceptable. The reduction of red tape is regularly raised but nothing has been done. The Opposition is committed to reducing the red tape burden on small businesses. If elected in March, a Coalition government will introduce the one-on, two-off rule for new regulations. That rule stipulates that all departments and agencies seeking to introduce a new regulation must identify two existing regulations that will be repealed. That will ensure the reduction of red tape and will result in agencies making it a priority. In fact, a Coalition government will commit to reducing red tape by 20 per cent in its first term—that represents a 5 per cent reduction each year for four years. The chief executive officer or director general of each agency will be accountable for delivering on that reform goal by making cutting red tape a key performance indicator.

    A Coalition government will also simplify business licensing. In 2001 the Labor Government committed to standardising and simplifying government licences. However, almost 10 years later its strategy to achieve that has not been fully implemented and it will not be finalised by 2014. That is a matter of great concern. The Opposition believes that dealing with government should be easier and much less confusing. It is committed to giving businesses choice and convenience in how they interact with government agencies, whether that be in person, on the phone or, increasingly, over the Internet. The Coalition is committed to reforming customer service for small business by ensuring that business licences are available through a single website, that all government licences can be applied for and renewed online, allowing businesses to choose how they receive correspondence from the New South Wales Government electronically, and so on. It will also subject all new regulations to a risk assessment process. All proposed new regulations will be examined to determine whether they are necessary and whether their impact is proportionate to the issue being addressed.

    These strategies are part of the Coalition's commitment to support small business and they are the result of long-term liaison with small and medium sized businesses across the State, such a metal manufacturers. They are the businesses that we must stop leaving this State in their thousands. A Coalition government will support those businesses. It will also engage in more consultation with small businesses. Businesses in my electorate have found it very difficult to actively engage with this Government. A Coalition government will sponsor active dialogue between government agencies and businesses through regular seminars with Ministers. We are not talking about ad hoc meetings; these will be regular consultations with New South Wales business representatives to enable the new government to work cooperatively to fix New South Wales and to make this State No. 1 again.

    Although members may not have mentioned it in this place, we all confront the problem of government agencies not paying their accounts within 30 days. That is a real impost on small business. The Coalition has adopted the policy of ensuring that State government accounts are paid promptly. That should be a high priority for whichever party wins government in March.

    Mr Daryl Maguire: God forbid that they are re-elected.

    Mrs SHELLEY HANCOCK: Indeed. It is about treating small business with respect and honouring commitments the Government has already made. We would introduce a code of practice that required public sector accounts with small business, supplies involving contracts of up to a million dollars, to be paid within 30 days, bringing New South Wales into line with current Federal Government policy. We would ensure that failure to meet the 30-day deadline resulted in penalty interest. We would direct all agencies to provide quarterly reports about their payment performance with results posted on the Department of Commerce website and we would also direct the Auditor-General to undertake compliance audits of payment systems across government to ensure agencies meet the new on-time bill payment system.

    This is our business action plan. We also have a jobs action plan in which we want to establish the creation of 100,000 new jobs, of which 40,000 are in the regions. We want to target the regions. We want to target decentralisation. We want to revitalise regional New South Wales through our regional kick-start packages. We hear members on the other side moaning about our lack of policies. We have worked very hard to come up with a number of policies that will back business in New South Wales.

    Ms LYLEA McMAHON (Shellharbour—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.20 p.m.]: I thank the member for Wollongong and Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Minister for State and Regional Development for bringing to the attention of this House this very important issue. The New South Wales Government has stepped in with an assistance package to support an $11.6 million investment in a new copper casting facility at Metal Manufacturers Limited in the electorate of Wollongong. I thank the member for Wollongong for her work in ensuring that that took place on behalf of her community and her electorate and, in doing so, saving very important jobs. This Government stepped in with an assistance package to help Metal Manufacturers Limited invest in this replacement casting facility to ensure its copper pipe business can continue in Wollongong and that 199 jobs are retained. Metal Manufacturers Limited is an important regional employer in the Illawarra, making copper tubing for plumbing, refrigeration, the air-conditioning industry and copper rod and wire for most electrical cable manufacturers in Australia. Additionally, over 40 per cent of the output of Metal Manufacturers Limited is exported, thereby generating important foreign exchange revenue for Australia.

    I noted that the member for South Coast was being derisive about the New South Wales Government not assisting small businesses and medium businesses. But, in fact, the motion of the member for Wollongong is an example of the good work that the New South Wales Government is doing in this area. That has come about thanks to the advocacy of the member of Wollongong on behalf of her community. The New South Wales Government is investing $1.7 billion this year in infrastructure and better services in the Illawarra region, supporting jobs, supporting the economy and supporting business. One of those areas is the successful Illawarra Advantage Fund. That fund has seen $10 million invested in 143 projects in the Illawarra region, generating 3,466 jobs. That is real action, helping and supporting small and medium size businesses in the Illawarra region to deliver jobs. It is not a talkfest; it is delivering real action and real jobs.

    The motion of the member for Wollongong refers to Metal Manufacturers Limited being supported by a skilled flexible workforce, with access to efficient and leading edge infrastructure. To help the growth of small to medium businesses, the New South Wales Government invests in education; $644 million has been invested in education services in the Illawarra, through the schools and the TAFE system, not to mention the financial support that the member for Wollongong has been able to secure for the growth of the innovation campus. The research and specialist facilities based at that innovation campus are servicing and supporting the growth of jobs in the Illawarra. I say to the member for Wollongong, "Well done!"

    All this is being done in the Illawarra region to support local jobs. With 2,500 small businesses in the electorate of Shellharbour I am proud to be part of a Government that is supporting those businesses. Over a period of six years the Government has provided $4 billion in payroll tax cuts to small businesses across New South Wales, as well as increase the tax threshold so that 9 per cent of New South Wales businesses no longer pay that tax. This Government has also supported businesses in the Illawarra, with $100,000 going towards the Illawarra Economic Gardening Project, supporting small businesses through diagnostics workshops and mentoring. The Economic Gardening Project has resulted in 95 jobs. In supporting 100 businesses through that process, 95 new jobs have been created. In addition, the Government has provided $50,000 for marketing the Illawarra regional airport project. In all these ways the New South Wales Government is investing in local regions and supporting jobs.

    Ms NOREEN HAY (Wollongong—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.25 p.m.], in reply: I acknowledge and thank the member for South Coast for her contribution and I thank the member for Shellharbour for her contribution to debate on this motion. I state at the outset that the Government does not accept her amendment. What a shame because I thought the member for South Coast and I were on a new path. I thought it was becoming warm and fuzzy but she again tried to score a couple of brownie points on politics.

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: Politics?

    Ms NOREEN HAY: It should be said that she was trying to score political brownie points, which is a shame. It is a shame that she never comes into this Chamber with the spirit intended by the motion, which is to congratulate the Government on helping to save 199 jobs.

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: I did.

    Ms NOREEN HAY: I state in response to the comments of the member for South Coast that my small business community has no problem in getting access to and having discussions with its members of Parliament. Members of my small business community and I meet regularly.

    Mr Daryl Maguire: That is how you do your fundraisers.

    Ms NOREEN HAY: If I were the member for Wagga Wagga I would not be talking about fundraisers.. I might mention a couple of his fundraisers. It is a great shame that members of the New South Wales Opposition once again are talking about their great plan to create 40,000 jobs in regional areas. I keep asking: How many jobs will be created in my region? Where is their plan and where is the detail? Prior to the last election Opposition members were going to sack 29,000 public servants. Of course, they would not want us to go back and refer to the hole left by them—a hole that is now a wonderful cancer unit at Wollongong Hospital. Earlier we were talking about cancer services. A former Coalition Government left a big hole on the site of the Wollongong Hospital, closed Kiama Hospital and a host of other negative things.

    [Interruption]

    ASSISTANT-SPEAKER (Ms Alison Megarrity): Order! The member for Wollongong has the call.

    Ms NOREEN HAY: Motherhood statements are easy when one is in opposition and one does not have to take responsibility for what one says. Opposition members still cannot give us any details. To suggest we need a motion—

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: It is in our policy.

    Ms NOREEN HAY: It took Opposition members 15 years and they still do not have a policy that anyone can understand. What they have to do is to look at the detail. This Government has revealed its policies through its actions and its investment. The amendment moved by the member for South Coast suggests that we have to support small business when that is exactly what this Government is doing. I have referred in this House on a number of occasions to Industry and Investment NSW, the Illawarra Advantage Fund and all the money that has been invested in various ways across the board. I have referred also in this House to the enormous amount of money that is being invested in jobs, infrastructure and the like in Wollongong and in the Illawarra.

    I congratulate the member for Shellharbour on referring to this Government's $1.7 billion investment in our region. The Government has a vision. It is putting out its plans and it is backing up those plans with the funds required for job creation and protection. It is assisting businesses to maintain and increase their profitsand employ more people, along with the training projects in which this Government has invested. Last night I referred in this House to the Job Ready Program in which the Government is investing millions of dollars. Following discussions with Noel Cornish from BlueScope Steel and with Illawarra Senior College, it was determined that a Job Ready Program was necessary. Whilst some of these young people might have achieved high academic results they are not job ready to present to an employer and to succeed. We are looking at filling the gaps. We are providing the necessary training and we are providing financial assistance to those training providers to get young people tothe stage where they are likely to win a position once they front up to potential employers. Companies such as Metal Manufacturers Limited deserve to be commended.

    Pursuant to standing orders business interrupted and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

    [The Acting-Speaker (Ms Alison Megarrity) left the chair at 1.30 p.m. The House resumed at 2.15 p.m.]
    DEATH OF DOT DAWSON

    The SPEAKER: I acknowledge the passing of Dot Dawson, widow of the much-loved country music singer Smoky Dawson, who died at the age of 104—a great innings. I am sure the House will join me in offering condolences to the family. I was contacted by a number of people, including the member for Tamworth. I am sure country music fans across the State will note her passing with sadness.
    BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
    Notices of Motions

    Government Business Notices of Motions (for Bills) given.
    QUESTION TIME
    __________

    [Question time commenced at 2.23 p.m.]
    ELECTION CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: My question is directed to the Premier. Given that New South Wales Labor gives the 22 trade unions officially affiliated with the New South Wales Labor Party a key role in setting Labor's policy agenda and selecting its candidates, why is the Premier, under her so-called campaign finance reform, allowing the trade unions to be considered as "independent" third parties?

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: Today the Government introduces sweeping campaign finance reform to this Parliament. It is an opportunity for New South Wales to lead the nation when it comes to campaign finance reform, and when it comes to introducing transparency and genuine reform into our campaign finance system. The Government has undertaken consultation on the bill with the Opposition, the Greens, and the Shooters and Fishers Party. Indeed, we have offered the opportunity for all parties and Independent members in the Parliament to be consulted before the introduction of the bill.

    When it comes to donation caps and expenditure caps, I refer the Leader of the Opposition to the report that was provided to the Government by Dr Anne Twomey. The report is publicly available. The advice that has been provided to the Government is that if we are to enact expenditure caps alongside donation caps in the system we are proposing, we need to be mindful of the ability for third parties, no matter who they are, to exercise their legitimate right to engage in political communication. In Australia we recognise that third parties have a legitimate right to engage in political communication—

    The SPEAKER: Order! Members will cease interjecting.

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: It does not matter who they are or who they represent, those third parties have that right. Therefore, the expenditure caps that we are proposing—

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Clarence to order. I call the member for Murrumbidgee to order. I call the member for Murray-Darling to order.

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: The expenditure caps that we are proposing are meant to provide a cap on political expenditure so that we do not see, as we have seen in other jurisdictions overseas, what is effectively an arms race, where more and more money continues to pile into—

    The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting. The Premier has the call.

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: It is important that we do not see that arms race, where more and more money continues to pile into the political system. But at the same time, we also recognise that those third parties have a legitimate right to political communication. What we are proposing with this legislation is that unions be subject to these new laws, just like everyone else. They will be subject to the same restrictions on giving donations as everyone else, and they will have the same limitations on campaigning that apply to all other stakeholder groups. This is fair and balanced; it preserves the right to free speech that everyone is entitled to in our democratic society.
    What concerns me is that the Opposition believes that organisations that represent workers, such as unions, should be singled out, and alone denied the right to free speech—the right to advocate on behalf of their members on a range of issues, as they do and as they have always done. If the Opposition is willing to stand in the way of reform, it will stand condemned for this—just as it stands condemned for its support for WorkChoices. I look forward to robust debate on the bill, and I particularly look forward to New South Wales establishing a jurisdictional first in Australia: expenditure caps and caps on political donations.
    WESTERN EXPRESS AND CITY RELIEF LINE PROJECT

    Ms TANYA GADIEL: My question is addressed to the Premier. Will the Premier update the House on the progress of the Western Express and City Relief Line project?

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: I thank the member for Parramatta for her question and her interest in supporting transport infrastructure in western Sydney. In formulating our 10-year, fully funded transport plan we prioritised projects that would provide the most benefit to the most people in the shortest period of time. The $4.5 billion Western Express and City Relief Line project was chosen for guaranteed funding not only because it will deliver an extra 6,000 seats per hour during the morning peak, not only because it will provide faster and more frequent services from western Sydney to the city, but also because it will enable extra trains from all over Sydney to bring people into the city.

    The City Relief Line provides new platforms at Redfern, Central, Town Hall and Wynyard. Together with additional rolling stock, also fully funded as part of the Metropolitan Transport Plan, the Western Express provides capacity for more services into the city from the Bankstown line, the main south line, the Illawarra line for trains travelling from Hurstville to the central business district via Sydenham, the inner west local services, and the main northern line via Strathfield into the city. This is a great investment for all of Sydney, but especially for western Sydney. Who could forget how concerned those opposite were about western Sydney's transport needs back in June?

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Willoughby to order.

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: It seemed that every morning in June there was a live radio cross to the member for Ku-ring-gai standing on a western Sydney railway station. Strangely enough, he has not been seen there since. He once had a new-found passion for the families of western Sydney; it was good while it lasted but it could not last.

    Mr Barry O'Farrell: Point of order: My point of order relates to Standing Order No. 129. I was at Kemps Creek 10 days ago. Where were you?

    The SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order. The Premier has the call.

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: I was busy doing what leaders do: I was solving the problem, not grandstanding. Today we see the proof.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Members on both sides of the House will come to order.

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: Today we finally see in black and white, what we have long argued in this House: the Coalition will abandon the families of western Sydney and scrap the Western Express. Yet another nasty surprise has slipped out of the bottom drawer as the Daily Telegraph reports:
        Taxpayers can expect the Western Express project to be halted in March if the Opposition wins Government.
    That is it. Clearly the by-election in Penrith is over. This is a massive slap in the face for the member for Penrith and the families who voted for him. We waited all morning with baited breath for the member for Willoughby to repudiate this report in the Daily Telegraph but we heard nothing.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Penrith to order.

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: We have yet to see the Leader of the Opposition or the member for Willoughby stand up for the families of western Sydney. We have yet to see the member for Penrith demand that his party stand by the commitments it made in his electorate. We have heard nothing. The silence says everything. The people of western Sydney deserve answers. They deserve to know why the man who claimed to stand for them will leave the commuters of Penrith, Blacktown, Seven Hills, Westmead, Rooty Hill and Mount Druitt stranded on the platform as he turns his back on western Sydney families.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Members will cease interjecting.
    SOLAR BONUS SCHEME

    Mr ANDREW STONER: I direct my question to the Minister for Energy.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Cabramatta to order.

    Mr ANDREW STONER: When was the Minister first advised that approved applications for photovoltaic systems had exceeded the scheme's stated objective of 50 megawatts and if left unchecked could cost consumers billions of dollars, as warned by the New South Wales Liberals and Nationals during debate on the solar bonus bill last November?

    The SPEAKER: Order! Government members will come to order. The Minister for Energy has the call.

    Mr PAUL LYNCH: I can advise that on Monday 16 August I was briefed by the head of the Energy Branch, Industry and Investment NSW, on the results of the first uptake report provided by distribution network providers on the New South Wales Solar Bonus Scheme. I was advised in that report that the total connected capacity to 30 June 2010 had reached the 50 megawatt point and that a ministerial review was then triggered under the legislation. I might also note that irrespective of on what date the Solar Bonus Scheme reached that point, the terms of the scheme were set in legislation. That was legislation, of course, supported enthusiastically by the other side of the House. In fact it was supported so enthusiastically they said it did not go far enough.

    In addition to that we had the Opposition spokesman in the upper House saying a couple weeks ago, "You've got to stop it, and stop it right now. The Government should have done it months ago." That was not provided for in the legislation. In fact, if we had attempted to do that we would have been in breach of the law. That was two weeks after the submission form the Leader of The Nationals to the solar bonus review. The opposition spokesman in the upper House said, "You've got to stop it, and stop it right now." A week before the Leader of The Nationals said it should be extended and continued in his wonderful little email to the "Dear solar bonus team". The normal problem is that the Government says those opposite have no policies. In this case the Opposition has two separate policies. It would be nice if it had worked out exactly what its position was.
    LOCUST PLAGUE

    Mr KERRY HICKEY: I address my question to the Minister for Primary Industries.

    The SPEAKER: Order! The House will come to order. I cannot hear the member for Cessnock.

    Mr KERRY HICKEY: How is the New South Wales Government helping farmers protect their crops against locusts?

    Mr STEVE WHAN: I thank the member for Cessnock for his question. Speaking of pests, I did hear the Leader of The Nationals interject earlier, but I did not quite catch what he said. It was inevitable, was it not? The New South Wales Government is currently in the midst of the most important rural pest control campaign of recent times. We are working with farmers and other rural landholders to tackle the spring locust plague, which is expected to be the worst in 30 years. The Government is investing an unprecedented $18.5 million into a control campaign to minimise the damage caused by these locusts. That sum of $18.5 million is the most the Government has ever invested. In fact, in previous governments, Coalition included, it has always been paid for by livestock health and pest authorities' rates, or their predecessor bodies.

    As this State's farmers bounce back from a decade of drought, with good pastures and the promising $2.8 billion winter crop about to be harvested, locusts remain a massive threat to this recovery. This week is a big week in the locust fight. The first swarm activity has been reported by the livestock health and pest authority in the north of the State, around Bourke and Carinda, with isolated and low-density swarms sighted. It is good news that a low-density swarm has been sighted but it is a reminder that it is essential to target existing locust bands on the ground before they take to the wing—once they take to the wing it is much harder to destroy the locust.

    Recent wet weather has been disruptive, but locust operations continue at every given opportunity. Aerial surveillance has been welcomed widely, and has been of great benefit in assisting landholders to detect locust activity in dense pastures. Aerial surveillance is continuing today in the north of the State. Tomorrow aerial surveillance operations will be focused in the Central West and Lachlan, and down into the Riverina areas of Rankin Springs and Hillston. Aerial spraying is being undertaken around the Cobar area at the moment. As well, the Australian Plague Locust Commission is undertaking aerial spraying in western areas this week. We have already sprayed more than 105,000 hectares of dense bands. That spraying is the key reason why the swarms that have taken to the air have been fairly low density. We need to keep up that sort of coverage. Aerial surveillance has covered 8.8 million hectares, or around 10 per cent of the State.

    Farmers on the ground are the front-line troops and they are tasked with the big job of looking for locusts on their property, reporting and treating them. The latest figures from the New South Wales Locust Coordination Centre show that there are now 2,570 confirmed locust reports around the State. The Riverina is expecting significant locust activity, with 110 reports coming in on a single day earlier this week. Everything possible is being done to minimise damage in those areas. In addition to the $18.5 million investment by the New South Wales Government in the campaign, livestock health and pest authorities and Industry and Investment NSW have committed all available resources needed to assist farmers on the front line. This combined effort aims to protect spring pastures and five million hectares of winter crops, and, if successful, more than $370 million worth of crops. The State's 40,000 farmers can be assured that the Government remains committed to assisting them in the battle against plague locusts.
    SOLAR BONUS SCHEME

    Mr MIKE BAIRD: My question is directed to the Minister for Energy. Given that the Government's modelling estimated that the Solar Bonus Scheme would cost households a maximum $7.47 per annum—a figure John Robertson reconfirmed in January this year—when was the Minister first aware that these figures were inaccurate and that the cost to household electricity bills would be closer to $100 per annum?

    Mr PAUL LYNCH: I note the back-of-the-envelope calculations on electricity prices just referred to by the Opposition. I have already given a record of when I was advised by Industry and Investment NSW. It is extraordinary. Opposition members were prepared to argue that this scheme did not go far enough. That was their position and it has been reconfirmed time and again—not just by the submission of the Leader of The Nationals to the Solar Bonus Scheme but by the rest of The Nationals who were selling this scheme. The member for Barwon was encouraging everyone to get into the scheme. It is extraordinary.
    EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN FROM DISADVANTAGED BACKGROUNDS

    Dr ANDREW McDONALD: My question is addressed to the Minister for Education and Training. How is the Government ensuring that children from disadvantaged backgrounds get the best education possible?

    Ms VERITY FIRTH: I thank the member for Macquarie Fields for his question. The member cares very passionately about this subject.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Murray-Darling to order for the second time.

    Ms VERITY FIRTH: Austral Public School, which is in the electorate of the member for Macquarie Fields, will benefit from this initiative, and Macquarie Fields High School was one of the 13 schools to first benefit from a highly accomplished teacher on staff at the start of this year. The Government is spending an additional $19 million to provide 47 highly accomplished teachers in 53 schools across New South Wales. These super teachers, as they are often called, are outstanding classroom teachers who are recognised and rewarded for doing what they do best, that is, teaching in the classroom. Teacher quality is widely recognised as the single greatest in-school influence on student engagement and student outcomes. In other words, great teachers matter. They change children's lives and turn their lives around. That is why we are dedicating these resources to the schools where they are needed most.

    The Government has been strongly supportive of reforms that provide greater transparency to parents and shining a light on school performance. This is one way that we can achieve better results. The additional 53 schools that have been selected to join this National Partnerships initiative were chosen partly because of their 2010 NAPLAN results. Highly accomplished teachers are externally assessed teachers who receive an increased salary, more than $100,000, on the basis of merit rather than on the basis of seniority. This is the first time that quality has been recognised by performance-based pay in New South Wales schools. It has been a long time coming. The teaching profession is a very noble profession but one that has not always been remunerated in a way that shows we value excellence in teaching. The funding for these highly accomplished teachers has been provided by the New South Wales Government as part of a joint five-year National Partnerships program, which is worth more than $1 billion.

    Mr Adrian Piccoli: It is being provided by the Commonwealth. Tell the truth, Verity.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Murrumbidgee to order for the second time.

    Mr Adrian Piccoli: Where did the money come from?

    Ms VERITY FIRTH: In fact, $230 million of it came from the New South Wales Government—brand new funding, Mr Piccoli.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Murrumbidgee to order for the third time.

    Ms VERITY FIRTH: I am sure it is a lot more than would ever be pledged to low socioeconomic status [SES] schools if the Opposition were ever in power. Our additional funding—the New South Wales Government additional funding of $230 million—will boost the number of government schools that are benefiting under National Partnerships to 609. We want to ensure that every student in New South Wales has the best possible chance with a quality education. It is no secret that, unfortunately, even in 2010, students from low SES communities sometimes perform below their peers. We know that the most important factor in reversing disadvantage in the classroom is the quality of the classroom teacher. Statistics show that putting a great teacher in a classroom can reverse that statistical correlation.

    Highly accomplished teachers are classroom-based teachers who work with all staff in their schools, with a focus on beginning teachers, university students on practical placements and more experienced teachers who are seeking higher levels of accreditation. They coordinate and lead professional learning, forge links with universities and communities and support their colleagues to improve student results in numeracy and literacy. This is about making sure that our best and brightest teachers are working with the students who need them most, and they are rewarded appropriately. It gives our teachers an opportunity for career advancement that has never been available before and an opportunity to have their ability rewarded. National Partnerships are transforming our schools by improving student results and inspiring our teachers from the time they enter the profession until they leave. The expansion of this program is welcome news for all the schools that will benefit.
    SOLAR BONUS SCHEME

    Mr DONALD PAGE: My question is directed to the Minister for Energy. What modelling has the Government undertaken on the job losses in the solar industry as a result of the decision to cut its excessive tariff rate from Australia's most generous at 60¢ per kilowatt hour to now just 20¢?

    Mr PAUL LYNCH: The member for Ballina, together with the rest of the Opposition, voted for this legislation yesterday. It is a little bit late for them to raise these issues now. I point out that there are currently in the vicinity of 50,000 photovoltaic systems connected to the grid. Another 33,000 have been approved but are still to be connected. In addition, we are continuing the Solar Bonus Scheme at a reduced level. The aim of that is to make sure the industry continues.
    HOUSING NSW YOUTH SCHOLARSHIPS

    Mr ALAN ASHTON: Mr Speaker, a person in the gallery is taking a photograph. My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. How is the Government encouraging young people in social housing to further their education?

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: I thank the member for East Hills for his question and his ongoing interest in the grassroots issue of social housing. I can see that the member for Murrumbidgee is intently interested in this answer.

    Mr Adrian Piccoli: Absolutely.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: I have some good news for him.

    Mr Adrian Piccoli: Great.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: I will get to him in a minute. I can advise the House that the Government has a very successful program underway that addresses the very issue that has been raised. The program has been running for the past four years. Housing NSW began the youth scholarships program in 2007 in recognition that something needed to be done to create an opportunity for a better life for young people in social housing. Education quickly became a priority for Housing NSW. Social housing and education are a natural fit because both create better life opportunities for people in need. We know that providing students with a secure home and a solid education dramatically improve their chances of a brighter future. We also know that many of those great parents who live in social housing could use some extra financial support to help their children go as far as possible with their education.

    That is why Housing NSW runs the youth scholarships program. Every year we invite students across New South Wales to apply for social housing youth scholarships, which help them cover the cost of completing their HSC or TAFE studies or at least to stay longer in the education system. To qualify for these scholarships an applicant must be under 25 years of age, live in social housing and come with a recommendation from a school or TAFE institution. Due to the growing number of excellent applications Housing NSW has increased the number of scholarships offered over the past year. This year we awarded 170 scholarships, up 68 on the previous year. For 2011 the number is up again, to 200.

    Each and every scholarship winner will be given $2,000, which will be managed by their school or institution and will be allocated to things such as computers, textbooks or tutoring. To qualify for the scholarship the students need to demonstrate in their application what the barriers are to completing their secondary education and how a scholarship will further their prospects to achieve. Many of these applications are inspirational. For example, a 16-year-old boy from western Sydney explained in his application that his mum and dad are both unemployed and he wanted to be the first in his family to complete years 11 and 12. He told us that he has a great deal of responsibility at home, helping to care for his younger brothers and sisters and that not having to worry about the cost of books and other equipment would help him to concentrate fully on his studies.

    Another example is an application from a 15-year-old refugee now living in Nambucca Heads. Her teacher says she is a motivated student with a 100 per cent attendance record and that the only reason this lady is considering leaving education is because of financial difficulty. Her young life has been very traumatic and she is currently living away from her parents. She thoroughly enjoys learning and recognises that as a pathway to a happy future. They are two stories that clearly demonstrate the need to take part in this initiative. That is what Labor Governments are all about: helping people in need; helping people who are down and out, especially in the area of social housing. That is what we do: we make people's lives better. What a stark contrast to those on the other side of the House. One would think that after 16 years in opposition they would have come up with some kind of policy.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Opposition members will cease interjecting.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: As the Minister for Housing, when I heard, after nearly four years in this place, that the Opposition had finally reduced something to writing I rushed to have a look to see what they had actually reduced to writing as a so-called policy—I will get the microscope in a minute. I finally got to have a look at it. I thought that here was a chance to see the Opposition's policy for social housing. I started looking and I looked and I kept on looking.

    Mr Adrian Piccoli: Point of order: Standing Order 129. He could not find anything because he works in the dark. He admitted it himself.

    The SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order. The member for Murrumbidgee will resume his seat. The Minister has the call.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: Every Thursday afternoon he presses the rewind button; it goes back to the start and the next week he says it all again. I looked in this book for something that said "social housing" or "de-concentration of estates" or "opportunities for people in social housing", or something like the $700 million redevelopment at Riverwood for the member for Lakemba.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Opposition members will come to order.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: I found absolutely nothing. So I had a bit of a break then went back to it and had another look. I thought there must be something there to do with social housing. Then I went back to my office, where we have a special glass that we put things under. And there it was on page 10. I found something!

    The SPEAKER: Order! Members will come to order. I am sure the Minister is about to conclude his answer.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: I found it in the introduction: it mentions the word "homelessness".

    The SPEAKER: Order! Opposition members will come to order.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: This is indicative of this Opposition. It has been written by a group of people who want to be the next Government. It has been written by a group of people who call themselves the alternative Government, and this is how they help the down and out. They have mentioned homelessness in this book and they want to improve the outcome. It says, "Improved outcomes on homelessness can only be delivered from a strong bottom line". We have heard about this before. This is the trickle-down effect, trickling down to the homeless. In other words, whatever people on the North Shore do not get the homeless might get. That is what it is all about. This is a document written by an Opposition—

    The SPEAKER: Order! Members will cease interjecting.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: —and the Liberal-Nationals Coalition are saying to the people of New South Wales, "We have been in opposition for 16 years and aren't we good at it?" That is why this document has been produced. It is an absolute failure: it has nothing at all to do with people who are disadvantaged; it has nothing to do with people who are down and out. On this side of the House we will continue to help people in need and while ever this document is around we will feel pretty comfortable. We will continue to help the people in need while those opposite continue to think about the bottom line. The trickle-down effect is not going to help any of those 350,000 in social housing; it is not going to help anyone at all.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the Minister about the length of his answer. I am sure he is about to conclude.

    Mr FRANK TERENZINI: There are 350,000 people in social housing and not one of them will benefit from this document. The other side of the House continues to do nothing.
    PORT MACQUARIE FIRE STATION

    Mr PETER BESSELING: My question is directed to the Minister for Emergency Services. Given that the Port Macquarie community has been earmarked for a new fire station facility and a site has been selected that co-locates with the Ambulance Service and the State Emergency Service, what is the time frame for both the funding and the commencement of this project?

    Mr STEVE WHAN: I thank the member for Port Macquarie for his question. It is an important question for the people of Port Macquarie. First of all I acknowledge the work that he does in representing the electorate in the emergency services area. He and I had a number of discussions—

    Mr Michael Daley: He has two electorates: he does Oxley as well.

    Mr STEVE WHAN: That is right. The member for Oxley was lost in the flood. The member for Port Macquarie has spoken to me many times about the need for a new boat for the marine rescue group in Port Macquarie, and he was able to secure that through the hard work of that unit and with some assistance from the Government. He made a very proactive effort at the time. He has also spoken to me about the Port Macquarie fire station. I have been to that fire station. I joined the member there one day to hand over a new fire tanker—a new pumper—that is part of the state-of-the-art equipment that we have been rolling out around New South Wales for our emergency services. Port Macquarie was one of the recipients of those tankers.

    I have seen the fire station and I have seen the demountables out the back that are serving as part of the station. I have also noted that the station at Port Macquarie responds to, on average, more than 700 fire and emergency calls a year. As the member for Port Macquarie has said, the fire brigade is planning to relocate its station from the centre of the town to the new Central Road emergency services precinct. I have inspected that site as well. It is certainly very suitable and it is well located for the development that is happening around Port Macquarie.

    Mr John Williams: Oh wow!

    Mr STEVE WHAN: The member for Coffs Harbour would be saying "Oh wow" because I had the pleasure of opening a new fire station in his electorate.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Members will cease interjecting.

    Mr STEVE WHAN: The fire captain and the mayor, who has just recently been elected—

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Bankstown will come to order.

    Mr STEVE WHAN: The fire captain and the mayor was elected recently to be one of the presidents of the Local Government Association, and I congratulate him on that. I understand that the conservative councils were opposing his bid to be elected.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Government members will come to order.

    Mr Chris Hartcher: Point of order: It may have escaped the Minister's attention, but the question is about the fire station at Port Macquarie, not local government elections in Albury.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the Minister of the question before the House.

    Mr STEVE WHAN: I had an entertaining story to tell, but I may come back to it. There has been publicity recently about fire brigade response times in Port Macquarie. The new fire station will be built on the south side of the river, which will allow rapid response times for the new developments in that area. However, it will not have much impact on response times if, as was the case with the incident recently referred to in the media, the fire truck must be put on a ferry to cross the river. The shadow Minister called it a barge in one media interview. A ferry is substantially different from a barge. That reminds me of my confusion about the shadow ministry. The member for Lane Cove was referred to as the shadow Minister for Emergency Services on the ABC website a couple of days ago. Perhaps that was a Freudian slip. I hear on very good authority that the member for Lane Cove has told a number of emergency services staff that he has been made a promise by the Leader of the Opposition—

    Mr Peter Besseling: Point of order: I refer to Standing Order 129. The question was about the Port Macquarie fire station.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the Minister of the question before the House.

    Mr STEVE WHAN: I will get on to that.

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Baulkham Hills will resume his seat.

    Mr STEVE WHAN: I have it on good authority that the member for Lane Cove has whispered to a few people that the Leader of the Opposition has promised him the job if the Coalition wins government. What a vote of no confidence in the shadow Minister! The Port Macquarie fire station is fully operational and it has state-of-the-art equipment. The staff at the station do great work and the station is a terrific asset for the people of Port Macquarie. The new fire station site has been selected and its construction is high on the NSW Fire Brigades priority list. That is a result of the work the Government has been doing to improve facilities and the lobbying of the local member. While I cannot provide a precise start date for construction, I assure him that it has a very high priority. I take this opportunity to acknowledge recently retired station officer John Gardiner, who joined the New South Wales Fire Brigades in 1973 and who was awarded an Australian Fire Services Medal. I put on record this Government's appreciation of his contribution to the State. I mentioned the Coffs Harbour fire captain and his election to local government. I understand that the vote would have been closer had a car load of Liberals not gone to a winery and missed it.

    Mr Adrian Piccoli: Point of order: I know the question was from the member for Port Macquarie, but the answer would make Rob Oakeshott proud.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Is the member taking a point of order?

    Mr Adrian Piccoli: Mr Speaker, I refer you to the length of the answer.

    The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will conclude his answer.

    Mr STEVE WHAN: The member for Murrumbidgee is very subtly criticising one of his former colleagues. "That looks like an Oakeshott tie", was the intellectual contribution from the member sitting two places along. Perhaps we should not say too much. I assure the member for Port Macquarie that his representations to me and to NSW Fire Brigades have resulted in the fire station project being made a very high priority.

    Mr Ray Williams: Point of order: When they build the station can they put the doors—

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Hawkesbury will resume his seat. The member for Hawkesbury will come to order.
    BARANGAROO DEVELOPMENT

    Mr PAUL McLEAY: My question is directed to the Premier. Can the Premier update the House on the status of the Barangaroo project?

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: Yesterday a group of nine leading employment and industry bodies met at their own initiative to formally and publicly express their support for the Barangaroo development. These organisations, which represent some 2.5 million employees, have backed this once-in-a-lifetime renewal project that will grow our economy, create opportunities for careers in Sydney and great new public parklands and confirm Sydney's status as Australia's only global city. The Government looks forward to working with this new alliance, just as it works with all parties interested in elevating public discussion about Barangaroo.

    I note the words of alliance member Patricia Forsythe, the Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber and a respected former member of the other place. She told the Sydney Morning Herald that Barangaroo cannot be "mired by indecision and populist politics". Where would anyone get the impression that that was happening? Perhaps the alliance is recalling how during the last election campaign the Coalition suddenly announced a knee-jerk policy to scrap this $6 billion investment in Sydney. The 9 February 2007 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Liberal Party planning spokesman Chris Hartcher said, "We don't support the planned redevelopment ... we will not be proceeding with it ... we don't agree the CBD needs expanding. It's close to saturation point already." That is the plan announced by what is supposed to be the pro-business party. Members opposite may as well hang out the "closed for business" sign. Perhaps the alliance is recalling the plan of the Leader of The Nationals to move Barangaroo east of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Perhaps he wants to move the bridge west of Barangaroo. I would like him to clarify that.

    Mr John Williams: Point of order: Can the Premier get some new lines. This is the same—

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Murray-Darling to order for the third time.

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: Let Hansard record enthusiastic support of the member for Murray-Darling for Barangaroo. It is not Wyangala Dam or Bundarra; it is Barangaroo. Perhaps when the alliance talks about populist politics it is referring to the pandering that the member for Wakehurst indulged in on 3 August when he was the special guest star at the anti-Barangaroo rally. Members should view the YouTube video of that event. It shows how he played to the crowd and said that the Government had not yet briefed him on the Barangaroo project. Then he took this swipe at the Barangaroo design panel chair, Paul Keating. He said:
        We are also of the view that strong individual personalities may have driven over the top of sound planning policies.

    Of course the former Prime Minister has a strong personality: it is certainly strong enough to drive over the member for Wakehurst. Members may recall how we had to remind the member for Wakehurst that he had had a briefing from the former Prime Minister. He seemed to have forgotten the contents of that briefing, but we now know why his memory is so poor. It gives me no pleasure to tell the House that the member for Wakehurst was so awestruck by the awesome presence of the former Prime Minister at his Barangaroo briefing that he was more interested in getting happy snaps and autographs than getting a briefing. He came armed with his texta to get an autograph. He came armed with his camera and asked for photographs. It was the photo that he had to have! It was just like when Justin Bieber came to town—everyone was all weak kneed. The member for Wakehurst and the member for Pittwater were breathless with excitement as the former Prime Minister stepped out of his car. They went rushing for autographs. They went rushing for pictures to put in the pool room.

    With all this flip-flopping about Barangaroo and with all this pandering on a $6 billion investment, can the Opposition reach a solid, consistent position on Barangaroo? No. The Sydney Morning Herald put that very question to the Leader of the Opposition this morning. What was his answer? He said, "It's very hard to unmake an omelette once it has been made." That is the sound planning policy of those opposite. It is pathetic, quite frankly. The investment totals $6 billion and Sydney's future as a global city is on the line, and the Opposition talks about omelettes, takes photos, collects signatures and has no position.

    Question time concluded at 3.11 p.m.
    COMMISSION FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
    Reports

    The Speaker tabled, in accordance with section 26 of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998, the following reports:
        (1) Report of the Commission for Children and Young People for the year ended 30 June 2010; and

        (2) Report of the New South Wales Child Death Review Team for 2009 (Volumes One and Two).

    Ordered to be printed.
    PETITIONS

    The Clerk announced that the following petitions signed by fewer than 500 persons were lodged for presentation:
    Medically Supervised Injecting Centre

    Petition requesting that the medically supervised injecting centre be relocated from Kings Cross, received from Ms Pru Goward.
    Bowral Public Hospital

    Petition requesting that orthopaedic services be reinstated at Bowral Public Hospital, received from Ms Pru Goward.
    Rail Passenger Security

    Petition requesting adequate levels of security and regular patrols by guards on trains on the Goulburn line, received from Ms Pru Goward.
    Inner Sydney Light Rail

    Petition requesting the development of an integrated light rail network through inner Sydney, received from Ms Clover Moore.
    Bus Service 389

    Petition requesting improved services on bus route 389, received from Ms Clover Moore.
    Religious Education and School Ethics Classes

    Petition opposing the proposed ethics classes and requesting continuation of the scripture classes, received from Mr George Souris.
    Burrill Lake

    Petition requesting the opening of Burrill Lake, received from Mrs Shelley Hancock.
    Shoalhaven Police Station

    Petition requesting funding for the establishment of a new police station in the central Shoalhaven area, received from Mrs Shelley Hancock.
    Pet Shops

    Petition opposing the sale of animals in pet shops, received from Ms Clover Moore.

    The Clerk announced that the following petitions signed by more than 500 persons were lodged for presentation:
    Wagga Wagga Base Hospital

    Petition requesting funding for and the commencement of construction of a new Wagga Wagga Base Hospital in this parliamentary term, received from Mr Daryl Maguire.
    Mona Vale Hospital Maternity Unit

    Petition requesting that the maternity unit be restored at Mona Vale Hospital, received from Mr Rob Stokes.
    BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
    Suspension of Standing Orders: Routine of Business

    Mr JOHN AQUILINA (Riverstone—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.14 p.m.]: I move:
        That standing orders be suspended at this sitting to permit the introduction, without notice, and the agreement in principle speech on the Election Funding and Disclosures Amendment Bill immediately following the conclusion of the motion accorded priority.

    Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI (Murrumbidgee—Deputy Leader of The Nationals) [3.14 p.m.]: The Opposition does not mind the Election Funding and Disclosures Amendment Bill being introduced. However, we want some assurances that we will have an opportunity to consider the bill before it is properly debated, given the Government's record. This is the next stage of the Labor Party preparing to be in Opposition. I wish the Labor Party would run New South Wales as effectively as it operates itself. The Labor Party has done everything it can—from standing orders to legislation—to make life as good for it as possible if it loses the next election.

    If only the Labor Party paid that kind of attention to running New South Wales. Labor's head office in Sussex Street has been completely consumed by preparing for what will happen if it loses Government. If only it had given a fraction of that attention to running New South Wales. This campaign has been very effective. Today the Premier spoke about this campaign's finance reform at her media conference. You could drive a bus through the holes that have been created to benefit Labor. Labor will allow third parties to campaign on behalf of a political party, an approach that will favour Labor. That does take a little bit of work.

    Mr John Aquilina: Point of order—

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Murrumbidgee will resume his seat while the Leader of the House takes a point of order.

    Mr John Aquilina: The member for Murrumbidgee is debating the substance of the motion. I moved a motion that standing orders be suspended to enable the bill to be introduced.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the member for Murrumbidgee that the motion refers to the introduction of legislation.

    Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI: Today the Parliamentary Budget Officer Bill passed through this Parliament. That bill is designed by the Labor Party simply to benefit the Labor Party. If only it put this kind of attention towards improving New South Wales. It has gone to a lot of effort. Much of that effort was undone by an amendment that was passed in the upper House, much to the disgust of the Treasurer and former General Secretary of the Labor Party, Eric Roozendaal. He was completely furious because the amendment means that political parties can ask only for their own policies to be costed. The Government wanted to have Coalition and Greens policies costed. That strategy has been completely undone by the amendment passed in the upper House. I understand that Eric Roozendaal had a big blue with John Kaye over supporting that amendment. It completely undid the Sussex Street strategy in the event that Labor ends up in Opposition. There has not been a change of government yet—the election in March. However, the Labor Party is certainly preparing the ground for itself.

    Mr John Aquilina: Point of order: I draw your attention to the clock and the obvious fact that the member for Murrumbidgee has been speaking for more than five minutes. If the member wishes to make a substantive speech in relation to the bill the subject of the motion he will have plenty of time in which to do so. As I indicated when I moved my motion, this is a motion to suspend standing orders, not to debate the Election Funding and Disclosures Amendment Bill.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I will hear further from the member for Murrumbidgee.

    Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI: I am simply making a point in the dying days of the Keneally Labor Government. If the Labor Party had given a fraction of the attention it is now giving to feathering its bed if it loses the election to running New South Wales properly, and if it had given a lot of attention to the changes that it is making, the State would be a lot better off. For example, trains would be running on time, there would be no congestion on the roads, and we would have a strong economy. Our economy would be like that of Victoria. No, it is all about Labor and about staying in power.

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Murrumbidgee has been speaking for seven minutes.

    Mr John Aquilina: I ask you, Mr Speaker, to draw the member for Murrumbidgee back to the motion before the House.

    Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI: When the Leader of Government Business listens to me it is a metaphysical experience. He has accused me of speaking for seven minutes, yet there is a five-minute time limit in this debate. Labor members are despicable; their head office is despicable. The only thing Labor is interested in is Labor being in power and Labor getting back in power. The former Premier can laugh. He has been a victim of our friends in Sussex Street. He is a good example: he tried to take on the member for Fairfield and Eddie Obeid and he got shafted by Sussex Street. He made the speech himself the very night that he got speared.

    The SPEAKER: Order!

    Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI: He tried to deal with corruption and he got speared.

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Murrumbidgee will resume his seat.

    [Interruption]

    The SPEAKER: If the member for Wakehurst wants to make sure all the speaking time of the member for Murrumbidgee is used, he will continue to interject.

    Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI: I need an extension of time.

    The SPEAKER: I can deal with that request quickly: denied!

    Mr JOHN AQUILINA (Riverstone—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.19 p.m.], in reply: This House has enormous powers—being able to turn five minutes into 10 minutes is one of them! We have just witnessed that. As the member for Murrumbidgee said—I do listen to what he says, as difficult as that isat the beginning of his presentation, "I hope the Government intends to just introduce legislation and not actually debate it and vote on it now. I hope the Government is going to give the Opposition time to consider it."

    That is precisely what I have done in the text of the motion. The member for Murrumbidgee should have listened to the wording of the motion. He would then understand what the Government is doing, rather than this conjecture about what may or may not be happening. The motion states, "That standing orders be suspended at this sitting to permit the introduction without notice and the agreement in principle speech …". That is all the Government intends to do. There will be plenty of time for scrutiny of the bill and the agreement in principle speech. The Opposition will have plenty of time to respond.

    Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

    Motion agreed to.
    CONSIDERATION OF MOTIONS TO BE ACCORDED PRIORITY
    Election Campaign Finance Reform

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL (Ku-ring-gai—Leader of the Opposition) [3.20 p.m.]: It is important that my motion have priority because it would reveal that rather than reform, the legislation that is about to be introduced is a rort—it is a fraud, it is a dodge on the people of this State. Does the legislation that is about to be introduced reduce the amount of dollars washing around New South Wales politics? No! Does this legislation seek to end the donations for decisions culture that has corrupted political process?

    Opposition Members: No!

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: Does this legislation seek to restore public confidence in politics and public administration?

    Opposition Members: No!

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: Does this represent genuine campaign finance reform?

    Opposition Members: No!

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: Does this legislation disprove the claim that Kristina Keneally is the puppet of people outside this Parliament?

    Opposition Members: No!

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: Does this legislation prove that, unlike Nathan Rees and Morris Iemma, Kristina Keneally is prepared to stand up to the factions and the unions?

    Opposition Members: No!

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: This is extraordinary legislation. No-one has fought longer or worked harder to get campaign finance reform in this State than me. The first motion I moved as Leader of the Opposition was for finance reform. The first motion the Government opposed was one to establish a joint select committee to examine all these issues. We need genuine campaign finance reform. People the length and breadth of this State need to know they can have confidence that decisions will be made in their interest. That is understandable after 15½ years of Labor Government. People have been increasingly locked out of decision-making in this State. Decisions seem to be made more and more on the basis of not merit but mates and special interest. People need to have their confidence restored with respect to politics in this State. Doing nothing about the amount of money washing around State politics will not achieve that.

    Of the $24 million raised by the Government in the past four years, $16 million was spent. The caps in this legislation will allow Government members to spend $18.6 million on their own in the next election. But that is not the big rort, the big fraud. That is why this is a matter of priority. With Labor the affiliated union members play a significant role and union bosses pull the strings. Members should not take my word for that but the word of a former member of this House, the Hon. Rodney Cavalier. I refer to his more recent book entitled Power Crisis, where he unveils the way in which the union bosses and the union movement have taken over the Labor Party. He bemoans the loss of ordinary members within the Labor Party and the narrowing of the party's influence as a result.

    This legislation will identify as so-called third parties 22 affiliated unions that will be able to spend $1.05 million each over 12 weeks from 1 January to 26 March next year—22 unions that can spend $23 million as proxies for the Labor Party. This legislation seeks to move funding away from the Labor Party to the union movement.

    Mr Michael Daley: Point of order: Mr Speaker, I ask you to remind the Leader of the Opposition that at this stage he should be trying to establish why his motion should be accorded priority. He is speaking to the substantive motion.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I will hear further from the Leader of the Opposition.

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: My motion should be debated and should have priority because it would expose the Greens. They are supporting this legislation not out of high principle but because the Premier has changed the public funding arrangements to directly benefit the Greens. The Greens will end up with more in their pocket than they would under the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Matters—30 pieces of silver into the hands of those upstairs who too often say that they represent the new paradigms; the purists in this place. Today they are purely evil because they are engaged in a rort on the public of this State.

    They have signed themselves up to the corrupt mob opposite, who are prepared to advance what they call reform but it is no such thing. These people are not prepared to stand up for honesty in politics. They are not prepared to pursue the reforms we want to pursue, which is to put caps on third parties. We believe those who are important in the electoral system are the people who get the vote. Unions do not vote, businesses do not vote and GetUp! does not vote. Only individuals vote. Donations should be restricted to those individuals. We should lower the amount of money washing around State politics. We should get out and engage the community because that is the most critical thing we could do. The community has had a gutful of Labor— [Time expired.]

    The SPEAKER: Order! I remind Opposition members that clapping in the Chamber—even for the Leader of the Opposition—is against the standing orders.
    Locust Plague

    Mr MATT BROWN (Kiama) [3.25 p.m.]: I would like to see better parliamentary behaviour than we have just seen.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Members will remain silent. The next member who interjects or behaves in an unparliamentary manner will be removed from the Chamber.

    Mr MATT BROWN: As I said, I would like to see better parliamentary behaviour in this Chamber from all members present. We have just heard five minutes on why the motion of the Leader of the Opposition should not be accorded priority. He did not give one argument for priority.

    Mr Barry O'Farrell: You couldn't even be here to put your motion.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I extended a considerable degree of latitude to the Leader of the Opposition. He will listen to the member for Kiama in silence.

    Mr MATT BROWN: One of the colleagues of the Leader of the Opposition should tap him on the shoulder and tell him who was in the Chamber at the time. Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, I do not run out of the Chamber when things get a bit hot in here and the Premier is attacking her.

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: Attacking her?

    Mr Thomas George: Are you out of shape today?

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Lismore will come to order.

    [Interruption]
    Mr MATT BROWN: I take offence at the comments of the member for Lismore. Again, the Opposition is resorting to personal comments, showing that it is juvenile and unfit to occupy the Treasury bench. The New South Wales public want their representatives to speak about policy, things that matter to them. They want members to adhere to the standing orders. I am continually being interrupted.

    [Interruption]

    The member for South Coast has not stopped talking since she entered the Chamber.

    The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for South Coast to order. I call the member for Hawkesbury to order.

    Mr MATT BROWN: If the member for South Coast has something to say, she should respect the standing orders, seek the call and have her comments properly recorded by Hansard as part of the debate. As I have been trying to say for the last few minutes—

    [Interruption]

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Kiama does not need the encouragement of Government members or Opposition members.

    Mr MATT BROWN: As I have been trying to say for the last few minutes, the Leader of the Opposition gave every reason why his motion should not be accorded priority. If the member for South Coast would be quiet, I would be able to explain why. The Leader of the Opposition did not seek to establish a priority base for his motion. Rather, he spoke about the substantive aspects of a bill that is yet to be introduced by the Premier.

    Ms Gladys Berejiklian: Point of order: As much as we appreciate the lecture we are copping from the member for Kiama, he has not mentioned the word "locusts" once in his contribution. Four minutes has passed, and I have not heard the word "locusts" come from his mouth once.

    Ms Tanya Gadiel: To the point of order: I do not believe there are any "locusts" in the standing orders.

    The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Kiama may continue.

    Mr MATT BROWN: I want to make sure that there will not be any "locusts" in the standing orders. The Government's policy for eradicating locusts will ensure that. We want to ensure that this very important debate on locusts takes place. We are talking about the livelihoods of farmers, the livelihoods of communities, prices in our supermarkets, and serious Government action on this issue. We are also talking about not a single plan from the Opposition on this issue. That is why I encourage this House to support my motion as the one that is the most urgent to be debated today.

    Question—That the motion of the member for Ku-ring-gai be accorded priority—put.

    The House divided.
    Ayes, 38
    Mr Aplin
    Mr Ayres
    Mr Baird
    Mr Baumann
    Ms Berejiklian
    Mr Besseling
    Mr Cansdell
    Mr Constance
    Mr Dominello
    Mr Draper
    Mrs Fardell
    Mr Fraser
    Ms Goward
    Mrs Hancock
    Mr Hartcher
    Mr Hazzard
    Ms Hodgkinson
    Mr Humphries
    Mr Kerr
    Mr Merton
    Mr O'Dea
    Mr O'Farrell
    Mr Page
    Mr Piccoli
    Mr Piper
    Mr Provest
    Mr Richardson
    Mr Roberts
    Mrs Skinner
    Mr Smith
    Mr Stokes
    Mr Stoner
    Mr J. H. Turner
    Mr R. W. Turner
    Mr J. D. Williams
    Mr R. C. Williams
    Tellers,
    Mr George
    Mr Maguire

    Noes, 46
    Mr Amery
    Ms Andrews
    Mr Aquilina
    Mr Borger
    Mr Brown
    Ms Burney
    Ms Burton
    Mr Campbell
    Mr Collier
    Mr Coombs
    Mr Corrigan
    Mr Costa
    Mr Daley
    Ms D'Amore
    Ms Firth
    Mr Furolo
    Ms Gadiel
    Mr Gibson
    Mr Greene
    Mr Harris
    Ms Hay
    Mr Hickey
    Ms Hornery
    Ms Judge
    Mr Khoshaba
    Mr Koperberg
    Mr Lalich
    Mr Lynch
    Dr McDonald
    Ms McKay
    Mr McLeay
    Ms McMahon
    Ms Megarrity
    Mr Morris
    Mr Pearce
    Mr Rees
    Mr Sartor
    Mr Shearan
    Mr Stewart
    Ms Tebbutt
    Mr Terenzini
    Mr Tripodi
    Mr West
    Mr Whan

    Tellers,
    Mr Ashton
    Mr Martin
    Pairs

    Mr DebnamMs Beamer
    Mrs HopwoodMr McBride
    Mr SourisMrs Perry
    Question resolved in the negative.

    Question—That the motion of the member for Kiama be accorded priority—put and resolved in the affirmative.
    LOCUST PLAGUE
    Motion Accorded Priority

    Mr MATT BROWN (Kiama) [3.40 p.m.]: I move:
        That this House congratulates the Government on helping farmers across the State protect their valuable crops from a spring locust plague.

    As preparations are made to harvest the bumper winter crop in regional New South Wales, our farmers are facing a bitter sweet situation. None of New South Wales is now drought declared; however, moving from the frying pan into the fire, we see another force of nature: the Australian plague locust, which threatens to snatch a much-needed harvest from our drought-weary farmers. Earlier this year experts predicted this spring would see the worst locust plague experienced in 30 years, and by all measures they were right. One does not have to travel too far or talk to too many people to learn of current concern about the locusts. The magnitude of the plague, which we are able to see from the very graphic aerial shots appearing on television, is nothing short of horrifying.

    Ideal weather conditions have resulted in countryside flush with green crops and pastures. While these conditions have broken the record drought, and many people are pleased to see those green crops and pastures, they have had the reverse effect on plague locusts and have bolstered their numbers. To highlight this point, the Deputy Plague Locust Commissioner, Simon Oliver, says that in a normal year only 28 per cent of young locust survive after hatching but this year 80 per cent will survive. Those figures are indicative of the peril we face. Earlier today, my colleague Steve Whan, the Minister for Primary Industries, reported that the first locust swarm has been detected in the State's north-west, around Brewarrina and Bourke, and further south, near Carinda.

    From the outset the Government has made it clear that eradication of the plague locust is impossible, and that remains the case. Although eradication is impossible, much can be done to reduce the impact of these plague locusts. The Government is steadfastly supporting farmers to reduce the damage this insect causes and the flow-on effects that are felt by our rural and regional communities. In fact, all Australian communities will feel the effects of this plague. That is why in July this Labor Government announced an $18.5 million grant to help our farmers battle the locust. This is not a loan: it is a grant. This grant will ease the pressure on farming families that have had a horror decade of drought and hardship.

    Past locust campaigns conducted by Industry and Investment NSW have shown that for every $1,000 spent controlling locusts, at least $20,000 worth of crops and pastures have been saved. That spending is incredibly helpful to the farmers and their local communities, and it also helps with the cost of goods available in the shops and that, in turn, benefits all communities in this State. It is estimated that this funding could help farmers save up to $370 million worth of crops and pastures. That is a significant amount of money. That is $370 million back into the economies of rural and regional New South Wales.

    I am pleased to inform the House that since the Premier's announcement in July, great progress has been made in the development and delivery of the New South Wales Plague Locust Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan. I acknowledge the dedication of the farming community in consulting and working with relevant government agencies. I also acknowledge the dedication of the Minister in this important campaign. I am advised that 105,000 hectares of locusts have been treated by ground and air assault, annihilating billions of tiny locusts before they take to the air. The trick is to ensure that they are annihilated before they take to the air, as this reduces their rapid breeding. Today, more than 100 officers are part of the response, staffing the State coordination headquarters in Orange, local control centres at Dubbo and Wagga, and nine forward command posts situated in known locust hot spots across the State.

    Our response is strategic. It is targeting the very areas where we expect the most locust activity—the areas where our farmers have the most to lose. With a $2.85 billion crop about to be harvested, we have pulled out all stops to minimise the damage our enemy can cause. Our task is a difficult one, as the plague locust is as destructive as it is resilient—not even the recent floods in the State's south will prevent their emergence—and the havoc they can wreak is staggering. For example, a swarm covering one kilometre could eat up to 10 tonnes of vegetation per day. Our $18.5 million campaign is targeting locusts on the ground before they take to the air because it is then that they are at their most destructive, eating all green matter before them. Once they band—which is about 14 days after hatching—the young nymph locusts form dense bands. The best window of opportunity to treat them efficiently and effectively is at that time.

    So far, with the help of livestock health and pest authorities and other government agencies, we have treated 83,000 hectares of locusts from the air and chemical to treat another 23,000 hectares on the ground has been dispatched to farmers and land managers. The total number of confirmed reports is now at 2,570. Proof that the situation is heating up in the south came yesterday, with more than 100 reports received in a single day—the most over any 24-hour period since the campaign began. Our surveillance information is crucial to informing the direction of the overall strategy. I am pleased that the Government is working in consultation with our rural communities to ensure that we arm ourselves as best we can to eradicate these locusts.

    Mr JOHN WILLIAMS (Murray-Darling) [3.47 p.m.]: I have spoken in this House on quite a few occasions about the threat of plague locusts this season. The change in this year's rainfall pattern, which produced extra moisture and green feed in paddocks, was an indication that one of the threats to be faced by farmers would come from plague locusts. It was pleasing that the Government, recognising such a threat, applied money towards this. But I will save my congratulations until after we get through this season and those farmers are able to harvest their crop without it being attacked by locusts.

    Last Saturday, whilst attending the Silver City Races, I spoke to a grazier at Brindeiwilpa Station—one of the bigger properties between Wanaaring and Tibooburra. I asked him about the sort of activity being undertaken around his area, such as aerial surveys, and so on. He advised me that he had not noticed any action being taken to address the problem. If that is the case, I hold some real concerns until these hatchings of locusts are identified, and their locations monitored, for future action in recognition of whether they have reached the second or third instar stage so that spraying can be undertaken prior to their forming a swarm.

    When I travelled around the Western Division I was amazed to see freshly hatched locusts on the ground. In an area of probably 40 metres by 80 metres the ground was covered with hatched locusts. Hatching takes place predominately on hard ground. The female locust will try to lay its eggs on hard ground. It will even lay its eggs on a bitumen surface. That is why people see so many locusts along the roads. It might even try to lay its eggs in a green lounge, if one happens to be available. The eggs remain in the ground until the season is right for hatching. The end of last season is an indication of what we face. Towards the end of the season, around late summer, we saw a major increase in the number of locusts hatching. In Hay I saw an oat crop chewed off to the ground by what would be considered a small threat of locusts. They are effective even in small numbers.

    Plague locusts can form a swarm up to five kilometres wide and they usually cover five kilometres in a day. With a wind behind them, they have been known to cover up to 600 kilometres. No-one is safe. Even in the area where they hatch, they are destructive in the growing phase. They have to form wings and the wings have to harden for flight. If we could learn what triggers locusts forming a swarm, we could prevent a lot of destruction. However, at this stage the trigger is not known. If we find the answer to that question we could solve a lot of the problems because we would be able to deal with them in location. Action is being taken right now. Spraying has been going on for two months in north-west New South Wales. This spraying will need to continue after the end of summer because the first hatchings could create more eggs, which will hatch before the end of summer, and egg beds will be laid for next year. Eradicating this year's locusts does not guarantee that the pests have been eradicated in the long term.

    Through the many years of drought very few locusts were evident. It takes only a slight change in the season to see significant numbers reappear. The number of females and the number of eggs a female can lay guarantee that this plague of locusts will remain a threat for the long term in areas of New South Wales where grazing and broadacre farming takes place. We have to get through this season, harvest the crops and put them in the silo, so that this swarm of locusts does not destroy the crops and take away the income of farmers who are totally dependent on a good harvest.

    Mr DAVID CAMPBELL (Keira) [3.54 p.m.]: I support the motion moved by the member for Kiama and I support rural families who face this locust plague that is building across New South Wales and threatening our farmers' crops and pastures. It has the potential to cause massive damage. As we gather here today, a locust control campaign is in full swing across the State, from the north, through the centre and down to the Victorian border. The locust plague that is building across New South Wales and threatening our farmers' crops and pastures has the potential to cause massive damage. Planes are in the skies over the north-west, central west and the south of the State, either conducting surveillance for locust bands or treating locust bands. On the ground, farmers are monitoring their properties, reporting bands and treating them.

    The locust season is heating up, with the first sightings of locusts taking to the wing reported this week. Isolated and low-density swarms have been sighted in the north-west of the State, in and around Brewarrina and Bourke and further south near Carinda. This is the region where the first hatchings for the State were reported and where the war against this destructive pest started back in August. As the New South Wales Government's $18.5 million attack plan continues to roll out across the State, locust swarms are inevitable in this unprecedented outbreak. Young locusts are strategically targeted while they are grounded and unable to fly, and as they group together in thick bands. This is the most effective and efficient time to control locusts and it is critical to minimising damage to our farmers' bumper $2.8 billion winter crop.

    Swarms are much more mobile and more difficult to treat. Time is of the essence to target banding locusts before they take to the wing. Through a combined effort of the farming community and the State Government, some 105,000 hectares of dense bands have been wiped out, reducing swarm potential. Control efforts are proving extremely effective to date and the aerial and on-ground assault will continue to roll out across affected areas of the State, despite the continual battle with cool and wet weather. With further locust development and swarm activity around the corner, landholders are being urged to remain vigilant in checking for locusts on their properties, reporting activity to their local Livestock Health and Pest Authority and treating young locusts before they start to fly. The coming weeks are critical, as we urgently tackle young, banding locusts across the State.

    Pastures and crops across the State are the best they have been in a decade but they are a prime target for the voracious locusts. Our farmers are breathing a sigh of relief after the decade-long drought has finally broken. Not since June 2001 has New South Wales been free of drought and now we are on the brink of a $2.85 billion winter crop harvest. There is no denying this is great news, but we must recognise that the drought breaking does not mean an immediate return for those farmers, especially with the locust threat persisting. The State's 5.13 million hectare winter crop is still on track for above-average yields, but farmers are nervously watching the weather and locusts. I have learnt from my time in this place and visiting country locations that rain is not always good in the country. Although it is appreciated, it does not always come at the right time. Locusts are a challenge for our farmers at this time.

    Locust damage is the major concern for growers across the State as peak hatching starts to occur through the cropping regions. This 2010-11 locust season is predicted to be the worst outbreak in at least 30 years. This pest can cause amazing damage in a short space of time. A swarm covering one kilometre could contain anything from four million to more than 50 million individual locusts and eat up to 10 tonnes of vegetation per day. These swarms can infest areas up to 50 square kilometres and migrate up to 600 kilometres or more in a single night. Locusts reproduce rapidly, generally maturing within two weeks of becoming an adult.

    By talking to other members in this place and from information provided by Industry and Investment NSW, I have gleaned that the best way to attack this problem is through cooperation. That means Government working with landowners and the Livestock Health and Pest Authority. Local property owners, local communities, the authority and government agencies, particularly Industry and Investment NSW, are working together, focused on the best way to attack this problem. I am sure that the $18.5 million the Government has put on the table will assist in addressing this problem.

    Mr DARYL MAGUIRE (Wagga Wagga) [3.59 p.m.]: As people in the Riverina are coming to grips with the aftermath of torrential rain, storms and floods, further to the north-west communities are rallying to work with Industry and Investment NSW to ensure that this plague of locusts is dealt with. As of today the Land—that great rural journal—quoted 2,412 hatching sightings, up from 1,675. Just a little while ago the member for Kiama quoted the figure of 2,570. So the numbers are escalating. The figure is actually 2,571 because hatchings have been found on our place at Wagga Wagga. As the weather warms up they will continue to be found right across the south-east.

    In places like Bourke, Brewarrina, Louth and Cobar locust activity has been observed and is being dealt with. Surveillance planes are dealing with larger areas day by day. An enormous amount of locust activity is occurring in the Lachlan Valley as the temperatures warm up in the Riverina and also at Temora. I understand that the surveillance covers about 8.8 million hectares. There is enough insecticide to treat about 23,000 hectares. All of that is important because, as other members have said, farmers and landholders work together to report locust sightings and then spray them. The optimum time to spray is when the nymphs are starting to band together.

    Most regions have now had a good season; the drought has broken. There are some magnificent crops. Many of them to the south are still very green because the season is just coming to an end, which is when the crops start to turn. Therefore they make a very good destination for locusts. Locusts can travel up to 900 kilometres a night when they catch the wind. It is crops like that that will be destroyed. Right across the Riverina and across regional and rural New South Wales crops worth many millions of dollars are threatened at the moment. During the last locust plague there were so many of them that you could see them in bands moving through the green pastures, eating everything in their sight. They would congregate on green shade cloth, attacking the shade cloth thinking that it was pasture or something to eat.

    Locusts have no boundaries when they are on the wing. That is why it is important that the authorities and landholders work together to spray them in the early stages. During the last locust plague a charge was imposed on landholders—I think it was about 16¢ per head of stock. I understand that landholders are still paying those charges. I am concerned that the cost of this locust plague to the New South Wales Government and the Locust Plague Authority has been underestimated. I believe it will cost a lot more than the estimate. It is a worthwhile investment, but the question that always remains in my mind is who pays.

    Landholders and farmers have gone through a terrible time. Ten years of drought have been officially recorded but the dry times have gone on for much longer than that. This is the one opportunity that landholders have to get back on their feet. I understand that 100,000 acres of crop are underwater in the area around Urana, in the electorate of the member for Murray-Darling. Crops have been destroyed with all the rain. Although there are good crops, farmers are again under pressure. My concern is that farmers be protected from any increased costs as a result of this plague so that they can have a good season, get their crops in the silos, and go about the business of investing in next year by creating jobs and opportunities, and to ensure landholders in those regional and rural areas keep productive. Farmers treat the environment very well: their living depends on the way they deal with their land. I encourage the Government to do as much as possible for our rural and regional farmers.

    Mr MATT BROWN (Kiama) [4.04 p.m.], in reply: I thank all members for their contributions to this debate. This is a very important matter. The member for Murray-Darling spoke about the huge size of his electorate and referred to a grape crop in Hay that was eradicated. I thank the member for Keira for his contribution. I also thank the member for Wagga Wagga, who spoke about surveillance planes, particularly in the Lachlan Valley, and the effect of the warmer weather in the Riverina and Temora. I am pleased that the Government is doing a lot to eradicate locusts. This program has the support of the Premier, the Minister for Primary Industries, and all the public servants who are working with farmers and regional communities. We are doing whatever we can to eradicate locusts.

    Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

    Motion agreed to.
    ELECTION FUNDING AND DISCLOSURES AMENDMENT BILL 2010

    Bill introduced on motion by Ms Kristina Keneally.
    Agreement in Principle

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY (Heffron—Premier, and Minister for Redfern Waterloo) [4.06 p.m.]: I move:
        That this bill be now agreed to in principle.
    This Government is pleased to introduce a bill that implements groundbreaking reforms to political donations including bans, caps and other restrictions on political donations, and increased public funding of election campaigns. This is yet another area where New South Wales is leading the way. For many years, New South Wales has been pressing the Commonwealth to lead national reforms relating to political donations. To be fully effective, there is a clear need for reforms at all levels of government across Australia.

    In 2009 this Government decided that New South Wales should take practical action to start a national reform process. We announced that New South Wales would proceed with reform of election funding laws, to provide certainty and confidence in the electorate of the impartiality of government decision-making and of the transparency of process in government. Importantly, these reforms are also directed at reducing the advantages of money in dominating political debate. They provide for a more level playing field for candidates seeking election, as well as for third parties who wish to participate in political debate.

    These reforms are about putting a limit on the political arms race, under which those with the most money have the loudest voice and can simply drown out the voices of all others. The reforms will help to give voters a better opportunity to be fully and fairly informed of the policies of all political parties, candidates and interested third parties. As a first step we introduced legislation banning donations by developers. Those reforms prohibited political donations by professional corporate property developers and their close associates. Around the same time we announced that the 2011 State election would be conducted under a public funding model rather than a system in which the cost of election campaigns is significantly met by political donations to parties. To that end, the Government made a reference to the joint standing committee to "inquire into a public funding model for political parties and candidates to apply at the State and local Government levels".

    The committee published its report on 26 March 2010. The report makes numerous recommendations that propose fundamental reform in the area of political donations. It recommended that the Government reform New South Wales election funding laws before the next State election, independent of any action taken by the Commonwealth. I am pleased to say that there was genuine bilateral cooperation during the committee inquiry and that there was broad agreement from all parties that something needed to be done to take action in this area.

    In drafting this bill the Government has been acutely aware that any New South Wales law that interferes with Commonwealth elections or burdens the implied freedom of communication about Commonwealth political matters may be subject to constitutional challenge. Any New South Wales reforms must take into account the elements of the test set down by the High Court in the Lange case—that is, the reforms must be reasonably and appropriately adapted to serving a legitimate end in a manner which is compatible with the system of representative and responsible government. The Government is satisfied that the right balance has been struck in this bill. However, for comprehensive and effective regulation of this area the Commonwealth must introduce similar laws to regulate Federal donations and campaign expenditure. Without Commonwealth action in this area our laws may fall prey to unscrupulous people who use the lack of Commonwealth regulation to attempt to circumvent the spirit of the law. Now is the time for the Commonwealth to follow the New South Wales lead in the interests of achieving a more transparent democratic system of government in this country.

    I now turn to the details of the bill. Donations to political parties and groups will be capped at $5,000 per annum. Donations to elected members, candidates and third parties will be capped at $2,000 a year. Elected members and candidates endorsed by the same party or group will be considered a single entity for the purposes of the donation cap. Donors will be prohibited from contributing to more than three registered third parties, each up to a maximum of $2,000 in a financial year, where those donations are for the purpose of the third parties incurring electoral expenditure.

    Limiting the number of donations and recipients in this area is essential to the integrity of the scheme. Without it there is a serious risk that third party entities will be established for the primary purpose of harvesting donations and avoiding expenditure caps. The limits will ensure that people retain the freedom to support the participation of non-party entities in political communication activities without creating a significant avoidance problem. Of course, if a person contributes to more than three non-government organisations in a financial year to support their political campaigns without understanding that such conduct is unlawful, there will be a defence available.

    The new requirements of the bill also apply to corporations that are related to each other under the definition in the Corporations Act as if they were a single corporation. This will ensure that a single corporate group cannot avoid the caps by donating through different companies or by setting up new shelf companies for that purpose. Party membership and party affiliation fees will be excluded from the caps on political donations. It is no surprise that there is a level of public concern about this matter and the Government appreciates that such a source of non-public funding could be seen as unfair, both by smaller parties and by parties with different organisational structures.

    However, being fair requires recognition that political parties built on a long tradition of supporting workers' involvement in our political system, and they must be able to meet their administrative costs. Therefore, the bill proposes that all registered political parties will be prohibited from using membership and affiliation fees to incur electoral expenditure. However, such fees will still be able to be used to meet party administration costs. Any transfer of funds from an interstate or Federal branch of a political party would constitute a political donation that is subject to the donation cap and its disclosure will be required. Under the bill, any uncharged interest on a loan would also constitute a political donation that is subject to the donation cap, and its disclosure will be required.

    Candidates endorsed by a party in a Legislative Assembly seat will have their electoral expenditure capped at $100,000. The cap for independent candidates for the Legislative Council will be $150,000, which recognises the fact that an Independent will not get the benefit of a general statewide campaign run by registered parties. At a by-election all candidates will be able to spend up to $200,000. In such cases parties will not be subject to an express cap on their electoral expenditure, but if they do incur such costs they will be attributed towards the candidate's expenditure. This approach ensures that there is a disincentive to parties spending unduly large amounts on by-elections, with the consequent impact on the public purse. Any amount not spent by a candidate in their electorate will not be able to be transferred to increase the expenditure limit for the party endorsing the candidate or another candidate endorsed by the same party.

    The bill imposes an expenditure cap for parties endorsing candidates in the Legislative Assembly of $100,000 multiplied by the number of seats being contested by candidates endorsed by that party. So, if a party were to contest all 93 seats, the party expenditure cap would be $9.3 million. Parties and groups endorsing candidates in the Legislative Council that have 10 or fewer candidates in the Legislative Assembly will be subject to an expenditure cap of $1.050 million. However, the bill will ensure that parties may not spend more than $50,000 from within the applicable overall cap substantially for the purposes of the election in a particular electorate. This will ensure that there is no incentive for parties to run candidates in additional seats simply to increase their access to public funding.

    Third parties that spend more than $2,000 on an election campaign will be required to register as a third party campaigner and will be subject to a statewide expenditure cap of $1.050 million. If a third party registers on or after 1 January in the year of election, that cap will be reduced to $525,000. Third parties may not spend more than $20,000 from within the applicable cap substantially for the purposes of the election in a particular electorate. This allows a third party reasonable access to funds to campaign in an electorate on specific local issues without allowing that third party to compromise the integrity of the election outcome by spending more than $1 million in one electorate in relation to an electorate-specific issue.

    It is proposed that only communication costs will be subject to the expenditure caps, including advertising, printing and distribution costs, telecommunications and Internet costs, associated production costs, office rent, and staff wages and salaries. The following items will not be subject to the expenditure caps: travel, accommodation, research, auditing, office rent—in the case of the campaign headquarters of a political party—and the value of volunteer labour. Of course, electorate offices are not included because it is not permissible for such office costs to be used to fund campaigns of incumbent candidates.

    Parties and registered third parties will be required to maintain a separate account for State campaigns. Parties will not be permitted to make payments for electoral expenditure unless the payment was made from the separate State campaign account. As already noted, parties will not be permitted to use any funds received as membership fees or affiliation fees to pay for electoral communication expenditure. Parties will also be prohibited from donating to unendorsed candidates and, conversely, unendorsed candidates will be prohibited from receiving donations from parties.

    In accordance with recommendation 9 of the committee report, and to limit the risk of constitutional invalidity, it is proposed that registered political parties and groups be required to maintain separate accounts with a bank, credit union, building society or other entity prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of State campaigns, other campaigns such as Federal campaigns, and administration costs respectively. This will help to ensure that the proposed caps on political donations do not interfere with fundraising and expenditure for Federal elections, or impact on the flow of funds from New South Wales to the Commonwealth for the purposes of incurring Commonwealth electoral expenditure.

    Caps on donations require a significant increase in public funding to reduce the risk of such caps being invalid under the Commonwealth Constitution. Parties, groups and candidates must have sufficient resources to contest elections and engage in debate about political matters, or there is a risk that the High Court may find that the reforms invalidly limit the implied freedom of political communication.

    To be eligible for public funding, candidates contesting a Legislative Assembly seat will need to receive at least 4 per cent of first preference votes or be elected. Ungrouped candidates in a Legislative Council election will need to receive at least 4 per cent of first preference votes or be elected. To be eligible for public funding, parties will need to receive an aggregate of at least 4 per cent of first preference votes in those Legislative Assembly electorates in which they endorse candidates. Parties or groups not endorsing Legislative Assembly candidates will need to receive an aggregate of at least 4 per cent of first preference votes in a Legislative Council election or have a member elected to the Council. For those who qualify for public funding, reimbursement would only be paid for actual electoral expenditure, and further reimbursement would be in accordance with a diminishing sliding scale, so that public funding of electoral expenditure reduces as a candidate or party spends closer to their electoral expenditure cap. This will act as a disincentive to spend to the cap and will reduce the overall costs for taxpayers of the new public funding model.

    In accordance with recommendation 32 of the committee, the bill establishes a fund to provide for the funding of parties' administration costs. Again, this funding is necessary in light of the fact that donations have been capped. It is also fair and reasonable. Parties with endorsed elected members will be eligible to obtain funding from the Administration Fund so long as they satisfy the annual continued registration requirements. Elected members who are not endorsed by a party would also be eligible for payments from the Administration Fund. Payments from the Administration Fund will be calculated at $80,000 per member of the Legislative Assembly and member of the Legislative Council up to a maximum of $2 million. Those eligible to receive payments would be reimbursed only for actual expenditure up to their maximum entitlement.

    In response to concerns that capping donations may have an adverse impact on the development of new parties, the bill also establishes the Policy Development Fund. A party would be eligible for policy development funding only if it was not eligible for administration funding. The bill provides that a new party would be eligible for policy development funding of at least $5,000 for the first eight years. To maintain transparency, disclosure requirements will be maintained. The current disclosure threshold of $1,000 is retained. In light of the proposed caps on political donations and expenditure, and to improve the Electoral Funding Authority's ability to administer the Act, political donations and expenditure will have to be disclosed every 12 months as opposed to every 6 months, ensuring that the due date for disclosures corresponds with the end of the financial year.

    The bill also includes a requirement that political parties that receive public funding under the new regime must furnish audited financial statements for their separate State, Federal and administration accounts—where applicable—on an annual basis. In light of the proposed reforms to political donations and expenditure, and the Electoral Commissioner's evidence to the committee, the bill also provides additional powers to the Electoral Funding Authority to ensure that the authority is in a position to enforce the new regulatory scheme. The Electoral Funding Authority will have new injunction powers, strong new inspection and enforcement powers, and new powers to enter into compliance agreements. These agreements will be a tool for maximising compliance with disclosure obligations without resorting to court action. Importantly, the authority will also have the power to withhold public funding payable to a political party, group or candidate that has exceeded the applicable expenditure cap or fails to comply with its annual disclosure obligations.

    This bill is only the first step, but it is a big one. In order for there to be comprehensive, effective regulation of this area the Commonwealth and other Australian jurisdictions need to progress similar laws. There are also other issues to address within New South Wales, such as how local government elections should be regulated and funded. The New South Wales Government is proud, however, that we are the first to implement these innovative and necessary laws. Our State has one of the most stable democratic systems of government anywhere in the world. Our society cherishes this, and our commitment to democracy and transparency as a principle is unchanging. But the way we make our democratic process work has changed to meet changing times. New South Wales has seen many evolutions, and has responded to changes in human rights, technology or community expectations. These changes have always been robustly debated and carefully scrutinised by members of our community who rightly seek to protect that unwavering principle of democracy in government.

    In recent years changes in technology and changes in community expectations about openness of information allow us to once again review our democratic process and ensure that it is the best, most open and accountable system it can be. In response to these changes we have proposed a range of reforms to make sure that the way our democracy functions meets the needs and aspirations of modern New South Wales communities. This is about letting the communities of New South Wales know and be confident that the principle of democratic government—with decisions made on merit, made openly and in the public interest—remains at the centre of our State. I commend the bill to the House.

    Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Daryl Maguire and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

    The SPEAKER: Order! Government business having concluded, the House will now proceed to General Business Orders of the Day (for Bills).
    CHARTER OF BUDGET HONESTY AMENDMENT (INDEPENDENT ELECTION COSTINGS) BILL 2010
    Agreement in Principle

    Debated resumed from 23 April 2010.

    Dr ANDREW McDONALD (Macquarie Fields—Parliamentary Secretary) [4.27 p.m.]: I move:
        That this debate be now adjourned.

    Question put.

    The House divided.
    Ayes, 45
    Mr Amery
    Ms Andrews
    Mr Aquilina
    Mr Borger
    Mr Brown
    Ms Burney
    Ms Burton
    Mr Campbell
    Mr Collier
    Mr Coombs
    Mr Corrigan
    Mr Costa
    Mr Daley
    Ms D'Amore
    Ms Firth
    Mr Furolo
    Ms Gadiel
    Mr Gibson
    Mr Greene
    Mr Harris
    Ms Hay
    Mr Hickey
    Ms Hornery
    Ms Judge
    Mr Khoshaba
    Mr Koperberg
    Mr Lalich
    Mr Lynch
    Dr McDonald
    Ms McKay
    Mr McLeay
    Ms McMahon
    Ms Megarrity
    Mr Morris
    Mr Pearce
    Mr Rees
    Mr Sartor
    Mr Shearan
    Mr Stewart
    Mr Terenzini
    Mr Tripodi
    Mr West
    Mr Whan


    Tellers,
    Mr Ashton
    Mr Martin

    Noes, 37
    Mr Aplin
    Mr Ayres
    Mr Baird
    Ms Berejiklian
    Mr Besseling
    Mr Cansdell
    Mr Constance
    Mr Debnam
    Mr Dominello
    Mr Draper
    Mrs Fardell
    Mr Fraser
    Ms Goward
    Mrs Hancock
    Mr Hartcher
    Mr Hazzard
    Ms Hodgkinson
    Mr Humphries
    Mr Kerr
    Mr Merton
    Mr O'Dea
    Mr Page
    Mr Piccoli
    Mr Piper
    Mr Provest
    Mr Richardson
    Mr Roberts
    Mrs Skinner
    Mr Smith
    Mr Stokes
    Mr Stoner
    Mr J. H. Turner
    Mr R. W. Turner
    Mr J. D. Williams
    Mr R. C. Williams

    Tellers,
    Mr George
    Mr Maguire

    Pairs

    Ms BeamerMr Baumann
    Mr McBrideMrs Hopwood
    Mrs PerryMr Souris

    Question resolved in the affirmative.

    Motion for adjournment of debate agreed to.

    Debate adjourned and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
    UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY (KURING-GAI CAMPUS) BILL 2010
    Agreement in Principle

    Debate resumed from 22 October 2010.

    Mr BARRY COLLIER (Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [4.34 p.m.]: I move:
        That this debate be now adjourned.

        Question put.
    The House divided.
    Ayes, 45
    Mr Amery
    Ms Andrews
    Mr Aquilina
    Mr Borger
    Mr Brown
    Ms Burney
    Ms Burton
    Mr Campbell
    Mr Collier
    Mr Coombs
    Mr Corrigan
    Mr Costa
    Mr Daley
    Ms D'Amore
    Ms Firth
    Mr Furolo
    Ms Gadiel
    Mr Gibson
    Mr Greene
    Mr Harris
    Ms Hay
    Mr Hickey
    Ms Hornery
    Ms Judge
    Mr Khoshaba
    Mr Koperberg
    Mr Lalich
    Mr Lynch
    Dr McDonald
    Ms McKay
    Mr McLeay
    Ms McMahon
    Ms Megarrity
    Mr Morris
    Mr Pearce
    Mr Rees
    Mr Sartor
    Mr Shearan
    Mr Stewart
    Mr Terenzini
    Mr Tripodi
    Mr West
    Mr Whan


    Tellers,
    Mr Ashton
    Mr Martin

    Noes, 36
    Mr Aplin
    Mr Ayres
    Mr Baird
    Ms Berejiklian
    Mr Besseling
    Mr Cansdell
    Mr Constance
    Mr Debnam
    Mr Dominello
    Mr Draper
    Mrs Fardell
    Mr Fraser
    Ms Goward
    Mrs Hancock
    Mr Hartcher
    Mr Hazzard
    Ms Hodgkinson
    Mr Humphries
    Mr Kerr
    Mr Merton
    Mr Page
    Mr Piccoli
    Mr Piper
    Mr Provest
    Mr Richardson
    Mr Roberts
    Mrs Skinner
    Mr Smith
    Mr Stokes
    Mr Stoner
    Mr J. H. Turner
    Mr R. W. Turner
    Mr J. D. Williams
    Mr R. C. Williams


    Tellers,
    Mr George
    Mr Maguire

    Pairs

    Ms BeamerMr Baumann
    Mr McBrideMrs Hopwood
    Mrs PerryMr Souris
    Question resolved in the affirmative.

    Motion for adjournment of debate agreed to.

    Debate adjourned and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
    FIREARMS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
    Agreement in Principle

    Mr PETER DRAPER (Tamworth) [4.42 p.m.]: I move:

        That this bill be now agreed to in principle.
    The amendments in the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010, which was introduced in the other place by the late the Hon. Roy Smith of the Shooters and Fishers Party, propose a number of changes to the Firearms Act 1996, the Firearms Regulation 2006 and the Crimes Act 1900. I think this bill, which the Hon. Roy Smith's colleagues refer to fondly as Roy's bill, will be viewed by many as Roy Smith's legacy to his party and also to his constituency, many of whom live in the electorate of Tamworth.

    I am pleased that the new Shooters and Fishers Party member, the Hon. Robert Borsak, has continued Roy Smith's good work and has overseen the passage of this bill through the other place. I had the honour of introducing the Firearms Amendment Bill 2008 into this House, a bill that also introduced changes that simplified some of the red tape and bureaucratic nonsense that so many law-abiding shooters get immensely frustrated with. More than 16,000 licensed shooters live in the electorate of Tamworth. They participate in clay target shooting, rifle shooting and pistol shooting, as well as hunting and pest control programs. I have had a number of interested locals look at this bill. Allen Devine, the President of Boggabri-Gunnedah Gun Club, points out that things are not easy for law-abiding sporting shooters. He went on to say:
        I agree with all aspects of the proposed bill. To give you an idea how hard it is for accredited organizations, we have just held a major shoot where we were donated a shotgun as a prize. As president of the club I had to apply for permission to acquire the gun in my name to be displayed at the shoot. The winner of the gun now has to also pay for permission to acquire. Maybe something can be done to avoid double payment in such situations?

    The proposed amendments to the Act and regulations reduce some of the administrative burden that often frustrates law-abiding shooters and hunters. These amendments have been drafted following extensive consultation with police, the Firearms Registry, and accredited sport shooting, hunting and collecting clubs, and will have no impact at all upon public safety. As these amendments were first introduced in the other place, a Hansard record of their detail exists; however, I will now take the opportunity to briefly outline some of their intended effects.

    The Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 proposes to extend the authority to use a category C firearm possessed by a primary producer in recognition of the fact that pest animals roam across an area defined by habitat, and not by fences or lines on a map. This is a positive step forward, although the Government amendment to limit this to land immediately adjoining that of the primary producer holding the licence most likely will continue to hinder primary producers from conducting full and effective pest control programs. If a fox goes through a fence onto a neighbour's property, it is still a menace to stock and wildlife, so being able to shoot the fox—with the permission of the neighbour, of course—is a positive move. The period for which a permit to acquire another firearm is issued will be extended from 30 days to 90 days. This is a sensible amendment, in that it recognises the lengthy period of time it can take to find and purchase the right firearm, at the right price.

    The bill includes an amendment to fix a drafting error that had resulted in licence holders who sold all firearms of a particular category prior to applying for a permit to acquire another firearm of that category, being denied the exemption from the 28-day waiting period that they would have enjoyed had they not sold those firearms. The Government has amended the provision so that a person will be exempt from the 28-day waiting period if they had a firearm of that category registered to them at any time during the period of 90 days immediately prior to applying for the permit to acquire. This is another very sensible change.

    Firearms dealers can take some comfort from amendments under the bill that will exempt them from having to report to the Firearms Registry on transactions involving firearms that are not required to be registered or where the transaction does not involve a change of ownership. This will reduce the administrative burden for dealers in regard to antique firearms, and also in regard to firearms that are received by the dealership for repair or storage. The Government amendment in the other place in regard to this matter makes it clear that while the Firearms Registry does not need to be advised of the transaction, any other requirements under the legislation to record the transaction in the dealer's records are not waived. Along with his wife, Melissa, John Sleightholme is the proprietor of Tamworth Firearms. John commented to me:
        I am pleased to see the tidying up of the 28 day restriction for licensed shooters who have possessed a firearm of the same category. This overcomes a ridiculous anomaly and will make it that much easier for licensed firearms owners and for traders. The easing of red tape exempting transactions on firearms that don't require registration or a change of ownership, will also benefit those in the trade by reducing the copious amounts of regulations we have to fulfil.

    Pensioners will also benefit from the extension of the exemption from licence fees for pensioners who apply for a handgun licence. This will remove previous discrimination against pensioners who pursue the sport of pistol shooting. Previously they were required to pay a full licence fee, whereas a pensioner who shot a rifle or a shotgun was exempt from this fee. The bill amends the Firearms Regulation so as to extend the period of a range approval from three years to five years. This will reduce the work of the Firearms Registry's range inspector, and it recognises the fact that ranges, once established, do not deteriorate or require frequent re-approval.

    As I said previously, this legislation will be seen as a legacy of the late Roy Smith, but I will point out that it has been amended quite substantially from the original bill introduced by Roy in the other place. For example, the Government removed the provision that would have allowed a person who was legally in possession of a firearm to travel on a public road through a national park with the firearm in the car—unloaded, of course. The intention behind this was to remove the current requirement for persons who travel through a national park on their way to somewhere else to seek written permission from a National Parks and Wildlife Service officer every time they make such a trip.

    All members of Parliament representing country electorates would be aware that quite a few private properties are surrounded by national parks, and that in some instances the only way in or out of the property is on a road that travels through the national park. This provision did not provide in any way for the person to shoot in a national park, yet the Government has viewed the proposal as something sinister and, through its amendments, has reacted as if it were sinister. Bill Caley is the Secretary of Tamworth Pistol Club, an organisation that has seen more than $1 million donated in cash and kind to expand the club's facilities in Tamworth. When completed it will be a world-class facility that will attract competitors from around Australia and throughout the world. I was pleased to obtain $18,000 through the Community Building Partnership to assist the club with the project. Bill commented:
        There is nothing wrong with what's in the bill, but the Government removed a lot of substance from the original proposal, that would not have affected public safety, but leaving unnecessary restrictions for licensed firearms owners who carry out their sport at registered shooting ranges.
        All of our members have gone through stringent training and police checks, and they deserve a fairer go when enjoying their sport of choice, while still ensuring a high level of public safety. They shouldn't be made to feel like criminals or compared to unlicensed shooters who have unregistered firearms and those who commit criminal acts. All we ask for is a fair go and to be treated like law abiding citizens.

    I completely share Bill Caley's sentiments. The Government also rejected some other minor changes to the way in which air rifles are treated under the law, and that is also a shame. Roy Smith will be missed by many, but through this bill his legacy lives on. I commend the bill to the House.

    Mr RICHARD AMERY (Mount Druitt) [4.50 p.m.]: In speaking to the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 I will be saying a few of words of behalf of the Government and perhaps a few of my own. The Government supports the bill, which was passed by the Legislative Council on Thursday 19 October 2010 and referred to this place for concurrence. I support many of the comments made by the member for Tamworth as to the views of his constituents. I also sympathise with some of his concerns about some of the amendments, insisted on by the Government in the upper House, as being impractical and no doubt the Shooters Party will take up the challenge to endeavour to have them amended in the future.

    The member for Tamworth read on to Hansard comments made by some constituents, who are genuine, responsible firearm owners. I give 100 per cent support to those comments. Legal and responsible firearm owners have had to tolerate the ratbaggery of gun control groups and political parties such as the Greens. They have never been able to differentiate between a licensed legal gun owner, on the one hand, and a criminal who uses a firearm obtained illegally for a criminal purpose, on the other hand. When a serious crime, committed by a criminal who has obtained a firearm illegally, is reported in the media we get the usual suspects coming out calling for a reduction in the number of firearms but they do not address the problem at hand.

    I share the frustration of many licensed shooters and firearm owners who have had to cop this sort of nonsense every time a criminal uses a firearm for illegal purposes. I have been a firearm owner since the age of 13 years. In 1964 I purchased my first Gecado Model 1 air rifle at a local hardware store for 15 shillings, and I have been a firearm owner ever since. I enjoy the occasional shoot and, despite the mantra of the fringe elements, it has not turned me into a raving lunatic who runs up and down the street firing off firearms.

    Following considerable debate, the Government moved a range of amendments to this private member's bill, which was introduced by the late Hon. Roy Smith, MLC. Like the member for Tamworth, I extend my condolences to his family, the Shooters Party and the shooters fraternity on the sudden and sad loss of Roy Smith. Roy has been a champion for firearm owners and licensed shooters. I used to take great pleasure in meeting with Roy at the St Marys shooting range during my compliant shoots every year. It was always good to catch up with him and talk about many of the issues confronting firearm owners. I record that the family of Roy Smith held his wake at Rooty Hill RSL, in my electorate, which was attended not only by the Premier but also by many other members. They passed on their condolences at what was a very sudden and tragic loss to his family and the shooting fraternity.

    The amendments moved by the Government to this bill—referred to by the member for Tamworth as Roy's bill—were supported by the Legislative Council and are reflected in the bill before us today. The Government amendments ensure that existing firearms controls are not weakened and that the principles of the National Firearms Agreement and the National Handgun Agreement, which underpin the Firearms Act, are not diminished but are also to reduce red tape and streamline administrative requirements where possible. The member for Tamworth has challenged some of the Government amendments. That probably means that the Shooters Party has more work to do in finding more ways to reduce red tape and some of the silly regulations we do have in firearm laws from time to time.

    For example, the Government has supported an amendment being made to the Firearms Act to provide that primary producers are entitled to use a firearm for primary production purposes on their immediately adjoining next door neighbour's land, as well as their own, provided they have written permission from the owner or occupier of the adjoining primary production land. The member for Tamworth has brought to the attention of the House some discrepancies with that amendment, and no doubt the Minister will give that some attention. It recognises that feral animals do not respect borders and it is important that primary producers are empowered to protect their property from pest animals. Certain provisions in the bill are also supported by the Government on the grounds that they reduce unnecessary red tape, saving valuable time and increasing efficiency for the Firearms Registry.

    Hopefully, this continuing war against red tape in firearm legislation will help many decent, legally licensed firearm owners to conduct their sport and their wish to obtain a legally owned firearm. In particular, I refer to provisions that remove the need for firearms dealers to inform the Firearms Registry of repairs to firearms and transactions involving firearms that need not be registered in the first place. It is incredible to think that repairs to firearms had to be notified to the Firearms Registry. This is a good win for the Shooters Party. These provisions ensure that only the reporting requirements placed on dealers on these two matters are removed. It does not relieve dealers of their record keeping obligations, which are necessary for policing and detective work.

    The bill also provides for the removal of the current requirement for a firearms dealer's licence to be included in an advertisement for the sale of a firearm where the vendor is not a licensed firearms dealer—one would have thought that was common sense. This amendment does not impact on the public safety requirements governing the sale and purchase of firearms. Such transactions must still involve a licensed firearm dealer or be witnessed by a police officer if there is no firearms dealer within reasonable proximity. The vital requirement for the vendor to list his licence number in the advertisement is also retained, making it easy for police to ensure advertised firearm sales are taken place in accordance with the law.

    Through the bill the Government has also agreed to amend the period for which a permit to acquire is in force from 30 to 90 days. It is considered that this represents a reasonable means of reducing red tape but yet still retains a close nexus between the assessment of the permit to acquire application and the purchase of a firearm. The Government supports the amended bill that was passed in the Legislative Council. I urge the Shooters Party to continue to do their good work in finding matters in the firearm laws that need to be amended. With those comments, I commend the bill to the House. I thank the member for Tamworth, who has carriage of the bill in this House. I again pass on my condolences to all concerned on the loss of a champion of the firearms fraternity, the Hon. Roy Smith.

    Mr JOHN WILLIAMS (Murray-Darling) [4.59 p.m.]: I make a contribution to debate on the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010. It is amazing how things have changed since I grew up as a child in Broken Hill. By the age of 12 years just about everyone in Broken Hill possessed a .22 rifle. We used to go out to the regeneration area to shoot at tin cans more than anything, but there was always the belief that some day we would shoot a rabbit. I cannot recall firearms causing any issue at all at that time. In fact, the ownership of firearms was generally an accepted thing. Following the massacre in Tasmania we had firearm reform, which has created emotion, furore and haste. Consequently, firearms were regulated. At last count, about 180,000 firearm owners are registered in New South Wales. That means 180,000 people in New South Wales have put up their hands to comply with the laws. They are law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately, often that is not the way it is perceived and some believe that owning a firearm is illegal.

    People own firearms for many reasons. Recreational use is one of the main purposes. Farmers in rural areas always have a firearm on hand for various purposes, such as dealing with injured or maimed stock, predators and other reasons. When the Firearms Registry was set up, New South Wales rigorously pursued every aspect. Compared to other States, New South Wales had the most punitive laws. The regulations adopted in other States' legislation, which were resisted in relation to the New South Wales Firearms Registry, have clearly demonstrated zero risk. Some of those provisions now form part of this bill. The amendments we are dealing with in this bill have been in place in other States since the Federal legislation was rolled out. Every State adopted its own firearms registry. Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia adopted similar models. The regulations adopted in New South Wales were far more punitive than those adopted in other States. With this bill, we are readjusting to accepted practice in other States. In many ways, this bill recognises the unworkable aspects of the legislation as it exists.

    Today we have the opportunity to amend parts of the Act that are restrictive. Graziers and farmers have told me that when their firearms are in need of repair or replacement they have to go through a permit process. It takes 90 days, if they are lucky, to obtain approval to replace a firearm. That is sheer stupidity. No recognition is given to those who are prepared to put up their hand, apply for a firearms licence and register firearms in their possession. They are of no risk to the State of New South Wales, and the views of these law-abiding citizens should be respected. The amendments in the bill go part of the way to rectifying the situation. More needs to be done. The Firearms Registry in Victoria and Queensland work well. We must moderate our laws in recognition of what is working in other States.

    Firearms will always be on the front page of the newspapers, but those newspaper articles relate to illegal firearms. Some time back I heard that the highest rate of firearm ownership in the world is in Switzerland. The citizens of Switzerland can be called up to the Army and every household in Switzerland has a firearm. In Switzerland the incidence of firearms used for illegal purposes does not exist. Firearms possession is not the biggest threat. It is illegal firearms in the hands of criminals. Today we are moving in the right direction. I commend the bill to the House.

    Mr KERRY HICKEY (Cessnock) [5.04 p.m.]: I want to speak on certain provisions in the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010, which will result in positive amendments being made to the Firearms Regulation 2006. I congratulate Mr Roy Smith on this legislation. We all extend our sympathies to his loved ones on his untimely death. He came to Parliament with a view of changing legislation and making it more manageable. It is pleasing to see this bill before the House.

    In the electorate of Cessnock I have a huge number of firearm owners. I am concerned about the way firearm owners are treated. One example came across my desk just last Monday. I was informed that a firearm owner would not visit his mother and father because they are in conflict with their neighbours. The neighbours have applied for apprehended violence orders [AVOs] against his family members. He will not visit his mother and father for the simple reason that if an AVO were placed on him he would run the risk of losing his firearms. His sisters have to drive his mum and dad to his property to see him. This is a bizarre situation. We have to look at the treatment of gun owners. These people are law-abiding citizens; they have to be able to keep their guns. I question the view of some people towards gun owners. People who apply for gun ownership are law abiding, but the way they are viewed in the community is a matter of great concern. If I wanted to take away a person's guns, for whatever reason, I could apply for an AVO on a fictitious basis and that person would have to prove his or her innocence.

    The member for Tamworth referred to the issue of travelling through national parks with firearms. That is another area that we have to look at. I know of people who go pigging—shooting pigs—in the Warren area. They shoot on one property but to cross from one side of the property to the other they have to go through a national park. We also have to look at the origin of the legislation. The member for Murray-Darling spoke about where these laws originated. The Howard Government implemented a considerable amount of impost on gun owners. As a whole, the bill contains a miscellaneous series of proposals on a wide range of firearms-related themes. The Government approach in responding to this bill through amendments in the upper House was to lend support only to those few components of the bill that generally cut red tape and reduce administrative cost to the Firearms Registry or are consequential amendments to amend previous drafting errors or oversights that have produced unintended practical consequences in the licensing and use of firearms in New South Wales.

    I am pleased to inform the House that none of the Government amendments compromised in any way the public safety objective of this Government's stringent regulations on firearms use and possession in this State. The Government is, wherever possible, always interested in looking at ways to enhance regulatory processes by reducing red tape where this does not compromise public safety or accountability. The Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 has provided the Government with such an opportunity. For example, the Government has supported a provision to amend the Firearms Regulation to extend the period that an approval of a shooting range remains in force from three years to five years. This bill will reduce the administrative burden placed on shooting administrators in New South Wales and will also mean less red tape for the New South Wales Firearms Registry, whilst at the same time ensuring safety standards and accountabilities remain unchanged.

    The Government has also supported a provision in the bill that will result in pensioners being exempt from paying a fee for the issue of a category H or handgun licence. Currently pensioners are only exempt from paying fees for category A and B licences, which cover firearms such as airguns and shotguns. Pistol shooting is a popular sport throughout New South Wales, particularly in the Cessnock area, and this provision will help to ensure the continued participation of pensioners in the sport. In general terms the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 makes a range of minor administrative changes that are aimed at reducing an unnecessary administrative burden whilst providing for the ongoing rights of individuals to possess and use firearms in accordance with the provisions of the Firearms Act and Regulation.

    I highlight the fact that the overriding principle of the New South Wales firearms legislation is to confirm firearm possession and use as being a privilege that is conditional on the overriding need to ensure public safety. In forming its response to the bill the Government has been guided by this principle and the Government will continue to be guided by it. I believe that the bill, as amended in the Legislative Council, should be supported. As the Government's position highlights, the rights of individuals to lawfully possess and use firearms in New South Wales are always, and must continue to be, weighed against public safety and the desire of the Government to retain consistency with the National Firearms Agreement and equivalent legislation in other Australian jurisdictions. This is good legislation. We need to view some of the other areas of the legislation in a way that will free up and allow law-abiding citizens to continue with their sport as they so choose, while not interfering with the safety of others in the community. I believe that the bill, as amended in the Legislative Council, should be supported.

    Mr PETER DRAPER (Tamworth) [5.11 p.m.], in reply: I thank the member for Mount Druitt, the member for Murray-Darling and the member for Cessnock for their contributions to the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010. I also recognise the guidance and the goodwill of the member for Dubbo and the member for Northern Tablelands, who have had deep and meaningful discussions with me about the impact of the current legislation on law-abiding shooters across our State. They have been very supportive of this legislation, which will address some of the anomalies that have been affecting people in a bad way and reduce some of the red tape that so frustrates people in the industry.

    I also reinforce all of the members' good wishes and thoughts that go out to Roy Smith's family. Roy will be sadly missed, and is sadly missed. This legislation is a very fitting legacy for him to pass on to future generations of shooters across our State. The member for Murray-Darling commented on how things have changed through the years. I go back to when I was a youngster growing up at Caroona. Every afternoon after hopping off the school bus I would grab my air rifle. I became quite a good shot with an air rifle. My great-grandmother lived with us in those days and often she wanted me to head shoot a couple of young bunnies for the pot. I remember quite vividly having a great deal of fun doing that until I graduated, as everybody does, from an air rifle to a .22. I am still a registered shooter.

    Mr Daryl Maguire: It was a way of making pocket money.

    Mr PETER DRAPER: As the member for Wagga Wagga points out, it was a way of making pocket money. And in those days fox skins were worth a few dollars, so you would bag a couple of foxes to make a bit of money on the side. Things have changed significantly through the years following the events in Tasmania. In my opinion, people who undertake the sport in a legitimate, thoroughly responsible and sensible way have been discriminated against through the years. The Shooters and Fishers Party still has a lot of work to do. I thank both Roberts—the Hon. Robert Brown and the Hon. Robert Borsak—and their staff. In particular, Pam has been extremely helpful in the preparation of my contribution to this bill. I have been to all of our local gun clubs, I think with the exception of one, and just recently my son and I went to an event at the clay target shooting range at Loomberah, which is not far from my house, where on a very wet and drizzly day we both got to make fools of ourselves.

    Mr Daryl Maguire: I saw your picture in a magazine.

    Mr PETER DRAPER: I believe it has been featured in a magazine recently. The people who come into our district to undertake these activities bring a lot of money and a lot of goodwill. It is a very safe and enjoyable sport and it is carried out by a large number of people in the electorate of Tamworth. I have been out to Barraba, which was successful in receiving some funding to assist them. The Boggabri Gunnedah Gun Club is a marvellous organisation that I have been able to assist over the past year few years. As the member for Cessnock pointed out, this is good legislation. It addresses some of the anomalies and the red tape. It will make the sport more accessible without compromising any issues regarding safety. In conclusion, I am very proud to be able to bring this legislation to the House. I commend the bill to the House.

    ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): I am sure I can say on behalf of every member of the House, and as members have acknowledged, that this legislation will be a legacy of the late the Hon. Roy Smith, MLC.

    Question—That this bill be now agreed to in principle—put and resolved in the affirmative.

    Motion agreed to.

    Bill agreed to in principle.
    Passing of the Bill

    Bill declared passed and returned to the Legislative Council without amendment.
    CENTRAL COAST WATER CORPORATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
    RADIATION CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL 2010

    Messages received from the Legislative Council returning the bills without amendment.

    ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): General business having concluded, the House will now proceed with private members' statements.
    PRIVATE MEMBERS' STATEMENTS
    __________
    SCHIZOPHRENIA

    Mr KERRY HICKEY (Cessnock) [5.15 p.m.]: I raise an issue concerning the Cessnock electorate and the history of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, and in particular the Sunflower Centre in the Hunter region. The Sunflower Centre does a lot of good work for the Schizophrenia Fellowship. Its workers go out into the community and teach families how to deal with schizophrenia. The group addresses many of the impacts upon families that are not addressed by the Government. The concern is that unless funding is increased by $25,000 in the current year, the centre at Newcastle will be forced to close. In 1998, at the invitation of Hunter New England Health, the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW submitted a grant application to NSW Health to establish a Community Development Program in the Hunter region. In 1999 a grant of $37,173 was received from NSW Health to establish the Community Development Program, which was to include the coordination of two mental health support groups, one in Newcastle and one in Cessnock.

    From 1999 until February 2006, the Community Development Program rented a small space from Life Without Barriers at a minimal rent. When Life Without Barriers moved from its Georgetown premises to Carrington in 2006, the Sunflower group had to find other premises to rent. That caused a massive expense for the group, which came out of its grant. From 1999 onwards the Sunflower group called on many other communities to provide outreach services and it set up many support groups such as the FLAMES group—Forensic Mental Health Support and Advocacy—at Morisset Hospital, the Taree Consumer Group, the Greta/Branxton Mental Health Support Group, the Singleton Mental Health Support Group, the Nelson Bay Outreach Group, the Hunter Adolescent Group, and the list goes on. The Newcastle and Cessnock groups continue to operate under the original community development program.

    The concern is that Hunter New England Health has said that the group was operating outside the original scope in 1999. It is now 2010 and we need to ensure that the needs of all communities are addressed. Funding from Hunter New England Health has not increased since 1999; the program still operates on the original budget of $37,173. This situation needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. An additional $25,000 is required to continue to provide a service at the same level that has been maintained for the past three years. In the financial year 2011-12 approximately $35,000 will be required to continue the service into that year.

    We must address this huge problem. Every member understands the impact of mental health problems in their electorate. We deal with them every day and we refer people to these types of groups at least once a month. These people need help now. Not only people suffering from mental illness need our help; schizophrenia also creates dysfunctional families who need our help. The $35,000 annual budget and the $25,000 required for this service to be maintained in Newcastle is a drop in the ocean. If the service does not receive that money by the end of November it will have to close its doorsand who will take on this huge problem? Will Hunter New England Health maintain this outreach service? The group is operating outside the terms of its original contract by establishing focus groups in Newcastle and Cessnock, but we understand the need for that and the issues involved.

    The incidence of mental health problems is increasing faster than any other health condition, but appropriate funding is not being provided. We must not only find the $50,000 or $60,000 required to address this problem in the electorate of Cessnock but also provide funding for groups in other areas. These dysfunctional families are creating problems throughout the State. I am also very concerned that, like all of us, the people caring for suffers of mental illness are getting older by the day. What will happen to adult schizophrenia and other mental health sufferers when their parents die? I hope that the Minister for Health will address this issue.
    KU-RING-GAI PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

    Mr BARRY O'FARRELL (Ku-ring-gai—Leader of the Opposition) [5.20 p.m.]: I again draw the attention of the House to planning problems and overdevelopment in the Ku-ring-gai local government area, which the member for Davidson and I represent. Like other middle-ring suburbs across Sydney, the suburbs of Ku-ring-gai have grown over the past century. That growth was usually matched by improvements in infrastructure and services so that they ultimately became places where people were keen to live, and where they had access to fine schools and good residential amenity. That level of residential amenity was enjoyed in Strathfield and Burwood before they were subjected to gross overdevelopment.

    Despite the devastation wreaked in other middle-ring suburbs, this State Government has refused to learn from the past. It will not ensure that mistakes are not repeated. The Sydney Metropolitan Strategy was the framework for coping with the then projected population growth. In 2006 the Ku-ring-gai Council and the State Government agreed that the area would provide an additional 10,000 dwellings between 2004 and 2031 to accommodate Ku-ring-gai's share of Sydney's expected population growth. Since then, the State Government has overridden Ku-ring-gai Council and more recently has imposed a town centre plan that includes not only commercial space but also residential units.

    Using its part 3A powers, the Government has also supported medium-density developments on sites at Wahroonga and Lindfield. The Sydney Adventist Hospital site has been slated for significant development and the University of Technology Sydney site at Lindfield is the subject of legislation before this House. As a consequence of the original rezonings along the highway, the local environmental plan that has been imposed and the part 3A decisions, that 2006 agreement to provide 10,000 additional dwellings is more than likely to be exceeded.

    If the Coalition is elected next year it will give as much power as possible to communities and individuals to make decisions about services and other areas where government touches upon their lives. I have always believed that local planning decisions are best made locally and that agreements, particularly those between two levels of government, should be respected. As a result of my concerns about overdevelopment, not only in Ku-ring-gai but also more broadly across Sydney and elsewhere, the New South Wales Liberal-Nationals have proposed major planning reforms that include returning planning powers to local communities through their councils; removing planning panels such as the Ku-ring-gai Planning Panel; abolishing part 3A, which allows the Minister for Planning to override local communities on development issue; and rewriting the State's 30-year-old Planning Act to ensure greater certainty, transparency and timeliness and that decisions are based on merit. Decisions should not depend on whom one knows or special interests.

    We must once again put the public at the centre of the planning system. A Coalition government will also have a Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, recognising that they are flipsides of the same coin. One cannot increase population density without providing the appropriate infrastructure. One cannot believe, as the Premier does, that infill medium-density and high-density development comes at no additional cost—it does. A Coalition government will also create a separate heritage portfolio to end the current conflict of interest between a Minister responsible for development and heritage protection. That is a significant issue in suburbs like those in Ku-ring-gai that were established early last century and that are now under threat. A Coalition government will implement genuine reforms to campaign finance legislation that really do reduce the amount of money in politics and limit donations to individuals, put caps on election spending, regulate lobbyists and restore integrity in government by improving the Independent Commission Against Corruption's power to intervene where it believes decisions have been influenced by donations.

    Along with my colleagues, I am committed to whole-of-state development. Sydney is home to 63 per cent of the State's population. Despite that, members opposite expect it to cope with 76 per cent of the State's population growth. The Coalition wants to engage in genuine decentralisation and regional growth for the benefit of regional areas, and to help balance population growth across this city and the State. I remain determined to end Labor's one-size-fits-all approach to planning and to ensure that communities again have the right to determine the shape of their neighbourhoods. Consistent with those views, I will work hard to give local residents a real say on local planning matters if the Coalition wins the next election.
    TOXIC WASTE

    Mr NINOS KHOSHABA (Smithfield) [5.25 p.m.]: Democratic government is one of humanity's greatest inventions. The system under which we live provides each of us with the opportunity to have our say and to address concerns that affect us as individuals, families, communities and as a society. As members of Parliament our position provides us with the ability to shape decisions through our votes and voices in this place, and through our access to decision-makers such as Ministers and public servants. Our ability to shape decisions is a privilege. While we are fortunate to have this opportunity, we must be always mindful that we are here to serve others and to get results for our communities.

    I was the first person to object to plans to move toxic waste from Hunters Hill to Kemps Creek in my electorate of Smithfield. That was an absurd and offensive proposal that would have seen western Sydney used as a dumping ground for the North Shore's toxic waste. As soon as I became aware of the proposal, I spoke to the Premier and made it clear that it was inappropriate and would not be accepted in my community. Premier Keneally listened to my concerns and acted. She ruled out the use of the Kemps Creek site for the storage of waste from Hunters Hill, which is exactly the result my community wanted. Unlike members of the Opposition, who sought to grandstand on this issue, I went straight to the person who could make a decision and got a result for my community.

    Kemps Creek is home to more than 500 people and sits along the main thoroughfare between Penrith and Liverpool. As a semi-rural area within the Sydney Basin, Kemps Creek is the last place where radioactive waste should be dumped. When I spoke to the Premier about this issue she made it clear that she understood exactly how my community felt. She spoke to me of her own longstanding efforts to remove toxic HCB1 waste from the Botany Orica site in her electorate. She told me of the success she and the member for Maroubra had earlier this year in securing an export licence to transfer the waste overseas for processing. I believe the Premier's insights into this issue and her work in her electorate as a local member have been vital in securing the guarantee that the Hunters Hill waste will not come to Kemps Creek. This is what democracy is all about; that is, shaping government decisions so that they cater for more than expediency and being fearless in rejecting plans and decisions that are not in the best interests of the community.

    Unlike those opposite, members on this side of the House are unafraid to put community service ahead of serving ourselves. I note that there was a period of roughly a week between the issue of waste being transferred to Kemps Creek first being raised publicly and the Premier's personal intervention to rule out Kemps Creek as an option. During that time I spoke with the Premier by phone and met her in her office. We had frank and productive conversations and swiftly reached the best outcome for local residents. I would also note at that time, the member for Penrith asked both a question in the House and sought to debate this issue by way of substantive motion. I do not discount these as appropriate measures for a member to pursue a community issue.

    However, I am advised that at no time during that week did the member for Penrith or any other member of the Opposition seek to meet with the Premier or any other Minister to discuss this matter. This might lead a reasonable person to question the motives of Opposition members as to whether they are interested in serving their communities and making a constructive contribution through their representations or whether their first concern is to score a political point in public, without making any other efforts to secure a result. Our responsibility as members of Parliament is to knock on every door and exhaust every avenue in the service of our communities. I welcome the Premier's intervention on behalf of residents in my electorate and I am thankful that, unlike members opposite, she is prepared to take action in the community's interests rather than take the easy path of expediency.

    Mr BARRY COLLIER (Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.30 p.m.]: I congratulate the member for Smithfield on the way he has been representing his community in this place. He has set a fine example of how way democracy really works. There are really two groups in the community, those who get out there and have a go and those who stand on the side line and whinge about those who are out there having a go. Clearly the member for Smithfield has shown the courage of his convictions, his commitment to his community and his concern for their health in going right to the top in the first instance—as soon as this issue raised its ugly head. He has stopped toxic waste going to Kemps Creek in his electorate. He is to be congratulated on his hard work. I am sure he is a fine example for young students in their studies of democracy in his electorate.
    SOUTHERN CROSS K-12 SCHOOL, BALLINA

    Mr DONALD PAGE (Ballina) [5.32 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of the House the fantastic work of the support centre at the Southern Cross K-12 School in my electorate of Ballina. Southern Cross K-12 School is a public school catering for students from kindergarten to year 12. It is a fantastic asset to public education on the North Coast. In addition to its mainstream school, Southern Cross has a distance education centre that offers courses to students in years 7 to 12 who are unable to attend school or who need to study a subject not offered at their home school. It has 250 full-time students and 490 single-course students who come from an area stretching from Coffs Harbour to Tweed Heads and west to Inverell. Southern Cross K-12 School also has a dedicated centre that supports a number of children with special needs. The school's teaching and learning statement, which is "Every child can learn and learn best by doing" applies to all students and this is particularly evident with the work teachers and staff are doing with children with special needs.

    Currently 12 children with intellectual and physical disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, Asperger's syndrome and Down syndrome are enrolled in the Southern Cross support centre. While the New South Wales Department of Education and Training provides the basics for these kids, teachers, parents and community groups have, over the years, worked hard to raise money to provide extras. Just last year teachers and parents organised a fundraising night of dancing, with a local band donating its services. This year teachers launched a cookbook—which, incidentally, members can purchase for $14. The money from those fundraisers went towards a great new project—a bike track and playground especially for children in the support centre.

    This wonderful new learning, exercise and play environment for the children cost $20,0000 and was achieved only through the generous donations of money and in-kind support from parents, local businesses and the school's parents and citizens association. Parents and benefactors do not wish to be specifically mentioned, but one family donated $12,000, and others, including grandparents and the Southern Cross School Parents and Citizens Association, also made substantial contributions. Local businesses and families have also donated goods and services and spent many hours building the bike path and working on the playground to make sure it is safe but also exciting and stimulating.

    The playground was officially opened on 28 May 2010 by Gold Coast Titans player and former Kangaroo and Wallaby player, Matt Rogers, who is the father of an autistic child. It was my great pleasure to attend and meet the committed families, teachers and businesses that hold the work of the support centre in such high regard. The Lennox Head Lions Club has also taken on the project and, in conjunction with a local bicycle shop, is organising a three-day bike ride to raise money for the playground. The playground in the support centre is one of a small number of purpose-built areas for children with physical and intellectual disabilities, and provides a safe, controlled environment for them to play and learn in.

    The new playground provides a large range of educational opportunities for students and has been specifically designed to be stimulating. It will enable students to develop coordination, strength and fitness; it will also challenge their imaginations. It incorporates a bike path, so children will learn important aspects of road sense and bike skills. This new playground is a great example of the generosity of the community, with the $20,000 in costs covered by financial and in-kind donations from individuals and businesses. Prior to this playground being built, students from the support centre shared the school playground with other school students. Whilst mixing with mainstream students is always encouraged, this new playground means students will be able to be more relaxed in their own area without needing to be so mindful of others.

    I commend the work of the Southern Cross School's support centre, which provides a great service to families in the Ballina area and beyond. Each teacher is responsible for a maximum number of 10 students and is assisted by a learning support officer. The aim of teachers is to ensure children develop a positive image of themselves and to teach them important skills such as reading, writing, communication, living skills and activities in the community. Teachers encourage their students to join in mainstream activities including craft, music, library, assemblies, sport and excursions. This gives other students in the school the chance to get to know, understand and interact with children with disabilities.

    The new playground will be used for a range of activities, and has been designed to stimulate learning and enhance educational experiences. Ballina is very lucky to have this support centre. I thank the families, staff at Southern Cross School, businesses and organisations in the community for funding and building the brilliant new playground. I invite the Minister for Education and Training to visit Southern Cross School and its support centre the next time she is in my electorate. If she does I am sure that she will be impressed.

    Mr BARRY COLLIER (Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.37 p.m.]: I thank the member for Ballina for bringing to the attention of the House the Southern Cross K-12 School, and particularly the support centre with its newly developed playground, catering as it does for students with special needs across a wide area. The sponsors and the parents are to be congratulated on developing that particular program and also for their donations, not only financially, but also in kind. I did note the playground was opened by Matt Rogers, who just happens to be a former Cronulla Sharks rugby league player, so there is a bit of a connection there. I ask the member to pass on the best wishes of the House to the teachers, staff, sponsors and local community groups on what is a terrific project.
    WARRAGAMBA DAM

    Mr PHILLIP COSTA (Wollondilly—Minister for Water, and Minister for Corrective Services) [5.38 p.m.]: It is a pleasure to stand here today to talk about some of the wonderful work that has happened in Wollondilly in recent times. It has been wonderful to work with a lot of people who have developed a great vision for Wollondilly, and particularly to focus on our wonderful natural resources. All this was highlighted by the recent events at Warragamba Dam to celebrate its fiftieth birthday. Around 15,000 visitors attended on the day, and I have spoken about this event previously. In the past 12 months or so more than 100,000 people have visited that precinct. We are very proud of the work that the City Catchment Authority and the team have done. I take this opportunity to thank the staff and the hardworking members of the Sydney Catchment Authority for their work on the day of celebration. I must point out that this work is part of a very large and much broader vision for the shire and for the region. Warragamba Dam, its precincts and its attractions are part of that vision.

    The electorate has very notable sites for the locals, and one we hope that the rest of the Sydney Basin will learn about as time goes on is the Burragarang lookout, which overlooks the catchment itself and is some 30 kilometres south of the dam wall. The lookout has undergone a significant upgrade, costing in excess of $600,000, which has once again turned that facility into a glorious visitors' location. All the dams in my electorate, which is home to many of the assets of Sydney's water system, have been upgraded. We have developed a very powerful product for people to visit. We are also in the process of developing the transport rail museum at Thirlmere—more than $20 million of development is occurring there. This will be the largest of its kind in the country. It is an outstanding facility that we are very proud of and that we are looking forward to opening.

    That can be linked with other work undertaken by Wollondilly Shire Council. I thank Lyn Davey and her team, who have done a wonderful job, ably led by General Manager Les McMahon, who has developed a series of products across the electorate in cooperation with the State Government. As a result the region is attracting many visitors from Sydney. The vision will link in with the new local environmental plan that will shortly be adopted. The plan will allow farmers to have on-farm sales, which happen to be in the same area as these other assets. When this all comes together people will be encouraged to travel to the electorate to spend their money not only on tourist attractions but also goods and services provided by the farming community.

    We constitute the southern part of Hawkesbury Harvest. The area is doing well, and we have an exciting time ahead. I congratulate everyone who has shared the vision and worked to develop it. Concerns have been expressed with respect to Thirlmere Lakes and this week announcements were made about work there. In time that asset will deliver a good outcome for the people of the shire. I thank Francis Bodkin and Ed Blakely for their work in the area. Doreen and Ben Lyons have driven many of the programs, visitations and historical projects in the electorate. They have done wonderful work at The Oaks Heritage Centre and in a couple of weeks I will launch another of their great exhibitions. I thank the large number of people in the electorate who have shared this vision. Even though it has taken some time, it has come together very nicely. Our children and their children will benefit from the combined efforts of the community, Wollondilly Shire Council and the Keneally Government. It is very much appreciated.
    TRIBUTE TO NABIL GAZAL

    Mr CHRIS HARTCHER (Terrigal) [5.42 p.m.]: Nabil Gazal was a true Renaissance man—a man of many accomplishments, a man of family and a man of faith. Moving tributes were paid to him by his sons, Nabil and Nicholas, at his memorial service at St Joseph's College Chapel—tributes that told of his early life in Lebanon, his successful business careers in Dubai and Australia, his love of his family and his love of high-adrenaline sports such as high-stakes gambling. Though I was privileged to know him for only five of his 63 years, he made an impact on me that I shall carry for the rest of my days.

    Nabil was modest, thoughtful and talented, a gifted engineer and businessman; a loving husband to Maud, to his four children, Nabil, Nicholas, Nicole and Nora; a loving grandfather, a caring and generous friend and a highly principled businessman. While his business success was legendary and his professional reputation well known, these were not, to him, the marks of his life. The acclaim of success, the knowledge that as a migrant Australian he achieved great material prosperity, though gratifying, were not to him the definition of his life. Rather, his life was marked by two great loves—his family and his faith.

    His family were his great pride. He talked about them, worried about them and planned for them. A relaxed pleasure shone in his face as he spoke of how he met and courted Maud, the beautiful Swedish nurse; of how his daughters had grown up, popular and attractive; of how he looked forward to handing over the reins of his business empire to two his sons. In his last years, as he heroically and uncomplainingly fought a number of serious medical conditions, he willed himself to live just long enough to make sure his sons were ready to succeed him. We had a number of conversations on this topic and I knew he had accepted his inevitable fate when he told me in our last conversation, "Junior and Nicholas can run the business without me!" That sheer strength of will had carried him through two dark years of travail.

    But if willpower kept him alive, it was his second great love—his faith—that sustained him and gave him hope. The Melkite Church, an Eastern Rite Church affiliated to the See of Rome, is the faith of many Lebanese Australians. Nabil was a loyal adherent all his life. In Australia he served on the Eparchy Board of Directors and gave both his time and, during his life in Australia, tens of thousands of dollars in support. Five Melkite priests officiated on the altar at his memorial service and his life will be celebrated at a requiem mass at St Michael's Melkite Cathedral at Darlington on Sunday 21 November 2010.

    Shining through his faith was his personal devotion to the Cult of St Rita. St Rita of Cascia, who lived from 1381 to 1457, is designated "Patron Saint of the Impossible". St Rita was canonised in 1900 and the Cult of St Rita was extended from the Roman to the Melkite Church. As a young man Nabil was introduced to St Rita by his mother. Anxious to enter the American University in Beirut but limited by his lack of English, he believed he had no chance of passing his entrance exams. His mother gave him an icon of St Rita and told him to pray to her. As his son Nabil Junior said in his moving eulogy:
        He prayed to her for days and when the results were finally pinned on the board, he had passed.

    For the rest of his life Nabil remained her devotee. Her icon accompanied him everywhere and to her he offered his intercessory prayers. She guided him, inspired him and protected him. He took his family on pilgrimage to her shrine in Cascia in the north Italian region of Umbria. In his final conversation with me—that memorable conversation where he proclaimed his faith in the capacity of his sons—he also made his final pledge of allegiance to St Rita. He told me:
        The only thing that has kept me alive these last 2 years is St Rita. She and she alone. As soon as I can, I will go back to her shrine and give her thanks.
    Nabil was not destined to keep that pledge. His life was tragically cut short only one week later. However, I know he left this world in peace, comforted by his belief in his family and sustained by his religious devotion to St Rita. Vale Nabil. May he rest in peace.
    FISHING FROM COMMUTER WHARVES

    Ms ANGELA D'AMORE (Drummoyne—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.46 p.m.]: Following overwhelming concerns raised by my local residents and ferry commuters the State Government implemented fishing bans at Abbotsford,·Cabarita, Chiswick and Kissing Point wharves. From 17 June 2010 recreational fishing on these wharves was prohibited from 5.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. each day. My local residents and commuters using these wharves had complained of fishing litter, which was making the wharves slippery, antisocial behaviour towards passengers and staff, and commuter delays caused by fishing lines getting in the way of approaching ferries.

    As the local member of Parliament, I acted on the concerns raised by residents. That led to the State Government launching the Clean, Safe Wharves initiative to ensure commuter wharves on Sydney Harbour are kept clean and safe. This initiative came from discussions with local residents, councils, the NSW Police Force, Sydney Ferries and fishing groups to resolve the issues faced at our local wharves. Typically, the complaints related to the time between 5.00 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. when cleaners, fishermen, ferries and passengers compete for the same space. Prohibiting fishing on those four wharves from 5.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. each day only will allow the wharves to be cleaned before commuters arrive and avoid this competition for space.

    The Clean, Safe Wharves initiative facilitated a coordinated, consistent approach to cleaning of all public commuter wharves on Sydney Harbour. The aim of the initiative was to find a balance for everyone. As part of the package of initiatives, the State Government and NSW Maritime implemented a hotline number to assist with commuter complaints and allow for an immediate wharf clean-up, implementation of a compliance program with local police, NSW Maritime and council rangers to enforce fishing bans and check fishing licences, and strengthening of the on-the-spot fine to $250 if fishing occurs during the hours of the fishing ban, and if the matter goes to court the fine can be up to $1,500. I note that Canada Bay Council will continue to be responsible for the cleaning of local wharves. Under the State Government initiative, council must clean the wharves before 5.00 a.m. every morning.

    The State Government committed to reviewing the partial fishing ban at our local wharves. I am pleased to state that NSW Maritime will meet with concerned residents, stakeholders and my officers on 10 November to review the partial fishing ban and to consider whether further action is needed. This is timely as over the past two months residents and commuters have contacted my office and spoken to me at local wharves about further concerns in respect of local wharves. More than 450 residents have signed a petition circulated by my office and the council calling for a total fishing ban at Abbotsford, Cabarita, Chiswick and Drummoyne wharves. Residents have told me that fishing litter is still evident and antisocial behaviour is still occurring at the wharves. I personally presented a petition seeking a 24-hour fishing ban at our local wharves to the Minister for Ports and Waterways, the Hon. Eric Roozendaal. Currently there is a 24-hour prohibition on fishing on commuter wharves at Circular Quay and Taronga Zoo due to the volume of passengers and high usage of these two wharves.

    The electorate has two recreational fishing clubs: the New South Wales Amateur Fishing Association and the Drummoyne RSL Fishing Club. I have consulted with the membership and committee members on this issue. Both clubs agree with the community regarding fishing bans at some of our local wharves. Unfortunately, the actions of a few anglers who do not follow rules and are disrespectful at our local wharves are ruining the opportunity for our fishing community to enjoy a recreational sport and pastime.

    The fishing community has asked me to put to the Minister for consideration the proposal of providing fishing pontoons at strategically located sites along the foreshore so our local families and the fishing community can continue to enjoy the great pastime of recreational fishing along our 38 kilometres of foreshore. Today I raised the matter with Minister Whan. The State Government does have a program available whereby groups can apply for funding to build fishing pontoons. Obviously, the appropriate processes need to be followed. The funding for the fishing pontoons has come from the fishing licence revenues we collect each year. I look forward to working with my groups to pursue that funding. The fishing pontoon proposal has merit because it would ensure our local commuter wharves are kept clean and safe whilst still providing separate fishing access for the community.

    A second proposal that is supported by some residents is that the Government implement an additional fishing ban in the evening peak—when the majority of commuters are returning home from work and other activities—rather than a total 24-hour ban, which also has merit. I look forward to updating my community on this issue, and I am confident that the Minister and NSW Maritime will look at our concerns with the due respect and give them the attention they deserve. I take this opportunity to thank the many residents and community groups that have worked with me on this issue, particularly the Friends of Cabarita Park community group, which has met with me regularly to resolve this issue. I look forward to updating the House on this matter.
    HOSPITAL PATIENT TRANSFER AND TREATMENT

    Mr THOMAS GEORGE (Lismore) [5.51 p.m.]: Sadly, again I raise a health issue in the electorate of Lismore and a problem with a patient. I will refer to the patient as John. John's son-in-law James is the person who raised the matter with me. Approximately two weeks ago James was in Perth when his wife phoned to advise that James' father-in-law had been admitted to Lismore Base Hospital with a heart condition. Every day James was told that John would be flown to Royal North Shore Hospital to be operated on. On 21 October James phoned Lismore Base Hospital and the hospital advised him, "We can send a fax to Royal North Shore; they have 20 fax machines and the paperwork can just get lost."

    James phoned Royal North Shore Hospital and spoke to the ward manager, who told him, "We are a pretty big organisation and sometimes communication doesn't happen." James then phoned the North Coast Area Health Service and spoke with a male regarding the previous two conversations. James received a call from Lismore Base Hospital and was advised that John would be flown to Royal North Shore Hospital on Saturday 23 October. On the same day, 21 October, James received another call from Royal North Shore Hospital and was advised that John would be flown to that hospital on 21 October and that he was expected to arrive at around midnight. James told Royal North Shore Hospital that Lismore Base Hospital had said that John would be flown to the hospital on 23 October and James was advised, "Well, we will receive him when he arrives. It is the responsibility of the delivering hospital to arrange transport."

    On the same day, 21 October, John was told in the ward that he would not be going to Sydney until at least 26 or 27 October. At approximately 8.00 p.m. on 21 October James received a call from David at Lismore Base Hospital stating that John would be leaving at 10.40 p.m. David asked James, "Who are you and how did you do this?" David stated that in a matter of four hours James had achieved what the bureaucrats could not achieve in two weeks.

    James' wife and mother-in-law got to Royal North Shore Hospital and were advised that John would be operated on some time on 25 October. John is 75 years of age and had been "nil by mouth" since the previous afternoon, 24 October. Some time after 6.00 p.m. on the night of 25 October the tea lady advised John to eat something as he "would not be operated on now". The family feels that this sort of information should be delivered to the patient by a professional staff member rather than the tea lady. On 25 October James' wife was in tears after she sought to discuss the issue with the nurse unit manager.

    Because of the uncertainty of the operation dates and times James' wife and mother-in-law did not have accommodation organised as John was to be released on that day and was to be sent home by train. This was unacceptable, and it was the reason James' wife had driven to Sydney. James spoke with a personal assistant of the director of Royal North Shore Hospital, and he was waiting on a call back when he got in touch with my office again. James then spoke with his wife, who advised him that the family had not seen a doctor or nurse, but that hopefully John would be operated on. Finally John was operated on. Touch wood, everything is now going well. James' wife and mother-in-law are still staying here in Sydney.

    It is appalling that this patient has been brought to Sydney and has had to virtually live on the unknown, not knowing when he is going to be operated on. The family did not know what was happening. I cannot seem to get any answers out of the North Coast Area Health Service. I have written to the service, but no doubt we will get the typical reply: "Sorry, this should have happened earlier." I will make further representations to the Minister to try to get to the bottom of this sort of treatment by the North Coast Area Health Service.
    WORLD VOLUNTEER FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR MICHAEL COWAN

    Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [5.56 p.m.]: I report with some pride the splendid achievements of Mr Michael Cowan in being named World Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year at the Resource Alliance Global Awards held in Amsterdam on 20 October. The Resource Alliance is a peak body made up of volunteer fundraising agencies from all over the world. Its mission is to help voluntary sector leaders worldwide acquire the tools to build the financial sustainability of civil society. Michael Cowan was nominated for this prestigious international award by the Asthma Foundation of New South Wales after an amazing effort in raising $75,000 by cycling 1,000 kilometres on a penny-farthing bicycle.

    This feat was amazing for a number of reasons: It was not just any bike ride, it was on a penny-farthing bicycle that Michael designed and built; it was an amazing effort in making such a long trip on this vehicle; it was an amazing effort in raising a huge amount for charity; it was an amazing achievement by an asthma sufferer who does not let this condition deny him a full and active life; and the effort displayed Michael's amazing dedication in training intensively five days a week for two years to build his strength and stamina for the task ahead. Michael has lived with asthma since he was four years old but he has participated in many physically demanding sports. When his wife, Amanda, gave him a unicycle he not only learnt how to ride it but also undertook a charity ride for the Asthma Foundation of New South Wales in 2006, raising $10,500 whilst increasing asthma awareness in the Lake Macquarie community.

    Michael's commitment to the Asthma Foundation of New South Wales continued and in 2007 he started planning his penny-farthing adventure. Unable to purchase a penny-farthing bicycle, he set himself the ambitious task of making one. After some research Michael settled on a replica of an 1890s model. Over a 12-month period he recreated the components and manufactured them himself. After hundreds of hours he had successfully engineered a magnificent result. Focused on his goal of a marathon ride, he built two replica penny-farthings—in case one broke down during the challenge. Michael started his epic journey in October 2008 in the company of his good friend Craig Bateman on his mountain bike, and Craig would stay with Mick till the end.

    Accompanied by a support team including his wife, Amanda, Michael successfully negotiated the often treacherous New South Wales roads balanced on such a tall bicycle with no brakes and a very small and unforgiving seat. Physically and mentally exhausted after nine days, Michael achieved his goal of riding 1,000 kilometres from Bonnells Bay to Canberra and then on to Orange. In the process he raised an amazing $75,000 for the Asthma Foundation of New South Wales. In nominating Michael Cowan for the Resource Alliance award the Asthma Foundation described him as an exceptional and inspirational individual—and I can only agree. Ultimately, Michael was also considered to be exceptional among a field of international contenders. The nomination's success depended on presenting a credible and outstanding case for both the Asthma Foundation New South Wales and for Michael himself.

    Since 1961 the Asthma Foundation New South Wales has supported people living with asthma and worked towards future freedom from the complaint. It does this by funding asthma research and by increasing asthma knowledge and awareness to create safe environments for the 2.2 million Australians living with asthma. As Australia’s largest independent financier of asthma research, it provides professional and timely evidence-based asthma information and support via Asthma Assist, a comprehensive free information service. It also provides training and education programs to create safer environments for people living with asthma. Working with donors, supporters, volunteers, partner organisations and government to reinforce awareness of asthma, it is an organisation that truly deserves the support that Michael was able to generate. After Michael's journey he said:
        I don’t know where my life will go from here, but I do believe it will be different. You could not go through that much pain and dig as deep for as long and commit yourself so passionately for there not to be a positive change somewhere. I believe I will take many positive moments from the trip and utilise them for good somewhere.

    Michael's effort was truly inspirational and will benefit many people—even Michael himself. Michael now believes that his experience has made him a better husband and father, and that he has discovered a truly magnificent gift—the joy of giving. Michael Cowan has rightly been acknowledged on the world stage for his efforts. I am proud of him not only as an extraordinary resident of Lake Macquarie but also as a personal friend of good humour and great passion. He is a person who literally goes the extra mile to help others. I extend to him my congratulations and profound gratitude.
    COMPULSORY LAND ACQUISITION

    Mr BRAD HAZZARD (Wakehurst) [6.01 p.m.]: On behalf of the 18,000 home owners and residents of Wakehurst, and of New South Wales generally, I express concern as a shadow Minister for Planning and local member at the Government's proposal to compulsorily acquire people's homes. The Government has announced a policy that proposes to resume people's homes for the purposes of on-sale to developers, as opposed to the current arrangements that require there to be a profound need and public purpose for the resumption of land. The residents of Wakehurst reject the proposition, as I believe do the residents of New South Wales. I give notice to the residents of Wakehurst and of this State that as the shadow Minister I have launched a campaign entitled, "Hands Off Our Homes". Residents can sign a petition at www.handsoffourhomes.com.au opposing Labor's plan to allow people's homes to be seized and on-sold to developers.

    It appears that the current Labor Government is intent on achieving this outcome regardless of public concern and regardless of the old maxim that a man or woman's home is his or her castle. I remind the House that Labor has made a number of efforts to achieve this insidious outcome. In 2008 the then Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, introduced amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Not well known is the fact that there was a provision section—section 9A—which was circulated to me as shadow Minister and to a limited number of other people in the context of the exposure draft bill. That provision said:
        9A Acquisition of land in connection with urban renewal proposals or urban land releases
            (1) The corporation, or a designated authority authorised by the Minister, may acquire land for the purposes of, or in conjunction with, an urban renewal proposal or an urban land release, if of the opinion that the proposal or release will result in a net public benefit.

            (2) An interest in land acquired under subsection (1), may, for the purpose of facilitating the urban renewal process or urban land release, be re-sold to, or be conferred on, another person (including a person other than a public authority), whether for profit or otherwise.

            (3) The corporation or a designated authority authorised by the Minister may acquire land that forms part of, or adjoins or lies in the vicinity of, land subject to an urban renewal proposal or urban land release by agreement or by compulsory process in accordance with the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.
      Former Minister Sartor has a track record of attempting to introduce this provision, and it was rejected by me on behalf of the New South Wales Liberals-Nationals Coalition, and on behalf of all residents of New South Wales. The Coalition would not support compulsory acquisition of people's homes for on-sale to developers so that developers may then maximise their profits. We now have the spectre of the current Premier announcing exactly the same policy. When the Premier was questioned on 12 March 2010 on Sky News, she said: "…compulsory acquisition might be part of the future".

      The Premier has not at any point—until today—ruled out that that is exactly what the Government is intent on doing. She did a flip-flop on the issue in March, when she tried to deny that it had even been considered by Cabinet. On 12 March 2010 she said, "This is going through a Cabinet process." On 19 March 2010 she said, "It hasn't even been considered by the Cabinet." The bottom line is that the Coalition is joining with the community in the "Hands Off Our Homes" campaign. We are calling for people across this State, whether in the electorates of Maitland, Wollondilly, Camden or Parramatta, to support this campaign. [Time expired.]
      MACARTHUR JUSTICES OF THE PEACE

      Mr GEOFF CORRIGAN (Camden) [6.06 p.m.]: Last Sunday it was my great pleasure to attend a barbecue held for justice of the peace desk volunteers in Macarthur. Both the member for Campbelltown, Mr Graham West, and I are patrons of the Macarthur branch of the New South Wales Justices Association Inc. It is a great pleasure and honour to be patrons for these hardworking volunteers. I am sure the situation is similar in your electorate, Mr Acting-Speaker. Perhaps I should outline the duties of justice of the peace desk volunteers for members who are not familiar with their work and not as fortunate as the people of the Macarthur area.

      The Macarthur justices of the peace provide a wonderful service to our community. They offer their services at information desks located in libraries and local shopping centres. They include Campbelltown Mall, where services are provided every day; Camden Library, where services are provided daily from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.; Narellan town centre, where services are provided on Saturdays between 10.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m.; and Campbelltown court house, where services are provide five days per week. The justices of peace sign documents and give people advice that might not necessarily be available from the Clerk of the Court. I know that the service provided at the Narellan town centre is very much appreciated, and two justices of the peace are always available. Last Saturday after the Narellan Rhythm Festival I called on those justices of the peace to make sure they would be attending the barbecue on Sunday. They had two people waiting to see them, which was very pleasing.

      The barbecue was held in recognition of the hard work of these volunteers. Justices of the peace are covered by Volunteering New South Wales, and they do a fantastic job. I am sure that all members receive applications from people who wish to become justices of the peace. Of those applications, probably 80 per cent are work based. I always send those applicants who are community-based applications to join the Justices of the Peace Association. I was not aware that justices of the peace pay $57 annually to the association. The association provides its members with backup, a training manual and updates, for which I congratulate it.

      I want to recognise the members of the Macarthur branch, of which Mr Graham West and I are the patrons. The members comprise president Juanita Nolan, vice-president Daniel Bernal, vice-president Denis Timms and secretary Peter Enderby. I want to thank Peter, in particular. The function was held at the new Macarthur retirement village, where Peter lives. He booked the village's wonderful hall for the function and did the cooking, together with another couple of fellows. They put on really good steak and sausage sandwiches, which I am sure the Acting-Speaker [Mr Thomas George] would have appreciated. The treasurer is Ken McDonald and community JP desk coordinator is Peter Enderby. Peter undertakes about five jobs. Peter can be seen at the Camden library any day of the week. He is always there. I also particularly mention program and publicity officer Daniel Bernal. Danny is at every Campbelltown City Council citizenship ceremony. He does a great job. Everyone knows him; he is a great guy. The minute secretary is Beryl Wilson and the welfare officers are Fred Halabi and Linda Reetz.

      I congratulate all those people on the great job they do for the JPs association. The New South Wales Justices Association needs more members. Macarthur has 196 members of the JPs association but only 20 to 30 are active members. They do a great job, but we would like more members of the JPs association. I am sure that every member signs applications every week from people of good character to become JPs. I urge those applicants to join the NSW Justices Association. I thank all the Justices of the Peace. Although they undertake these voluntary activities, they have to pay for association membership. As I understand it, the Government does not give them anything.

      Mr TONY STEWART (Bankstown—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.11 p.m.]: I commend the hardworking and diligent member for Camden for bringing to the attention of the House the great work done by Justices of the Peace in his community through the JP Desk Volunteers. This is the stuff that communities are made of. The member's speech has brought home how a great community such as Camden operates. They work together as a family. The JP Desk Volunteers are part of that Camden family. They provide their much-needed services at Campbelltown mall, Camden library, Narellan town centre and Campbelltown courthouse. My office, and I am sure the office of the member for Camden and other members, is inundated with JP applications. As I said, this volunteer service is the stuff that communities in Australia are made of. We are proud of them.
      BREAST CANCER

      Ms SONIA HORNERY (Wallsend) [6.12 p.m.]: Awareness of this insidious disease in the last decade has become much more prevalent in our society. Government campaigns and celebrities from all walks of life have given their time to help promote its awareness. We have all read about high-profile people who have publicly confronted the disease—some with great success, others, sadly, not so well. One in nine women in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. This shows just how widespread the disease is. Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells developing in the ducts or lobules of the breast and one of the top five causes of death for females in Australia. This is a fact, but it need not be the case.

      Breast screening, or mammography, does not prevent breast cancer. However, it is a very useful and important diagnostic tool. Early intervention is the key to success. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer will return to a normal life, if detection is early enough. Regular testing is vital. Women must have screen tests every two years. For women over the age of 40, thanks to the Government, this service is free of charge. And they should repeat the screening every two years, indefinitely. Sadly, many of us have personal experiences of family and friends afflicted with breast cancer. When I was born and my family were living in Housing Commission accommodation in Edgeworth, Inge and her daughter Belinda were our neighbours. They have had their share of turmoil. I visited Inge when her house was flooded during the 2007 storm and tempest. Inge has had breast cancer and, worryingly, Belinda, too, has been afflicted by this disease. Nine years ago a mammogram revealed aggressive cancer, and Belinda had a partial mastectomy in one breast very soon after it was detected.

      Belinda had regular mammograms. Five years after her first cancer trauma, Belinda's mammogram did not reveal any problems. But Belinda felt that something was wrong and wisely made an appointment with a surgeon. A biopsy revealed more cancer in the other breast. Again, Belinda undertook a partial mastectomy. Belinda has only praise for all the staff at the Christo Road Hospital, the Calvary Mater Hospital, the Breast Centre at Gateshead and particularly her surgeon, Dr Clark. Belinda believes that the BreastScreen service has come a long way and is vital for women in our community. The good news is that Belinda has been clear for four years.

      Belinda's praise of Hunter BreastScreen is well deserved. What is Hunter BreastScreen? It is a national program for the early detection of breast cancer. Established in 1989, it is located at the Calvary Mater Hospital. This is a world-class hospital with a world-class team. A leader of the team is Professor John Forbes, who is Professor of Surgical Oncology at the University of Newcastle and heads the Australia New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, which is based at Calvary Mater Newcastle. Over the past 20 years, his internationally recognised research has improved the treatment and survival outcomes of women with breast cancer. Having this calibre of expertise in our local area is truly gratifying.

      It would be remiss of me not to thank all the wonderful and dedicated staff involved in this endeavour to eradicate this insidious disease. This service is just a phone call away—132 050. When will this important public health initiative be a complete success? When I can stand up in this House and say that breast screening for Australian women is as routine as going to the dentist for a check-up. I look forward to that day.

      Mr TONY STEWART (Bankstown—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.17 p.m.]: I thank the member for Wallsend for bringing this important issue before the House, particularly around Breast Cancer Awareness Week. The member reminds us of the need to be aware of this insidious disease and the services that are available. When I was Minister responsible for the portfolio of Cancer, I had the great pleasure of visiting Wallsend with the member for Wallsend. I was overwhelmed by the empathy and passion the member displayed towards people dealing with this tragic disease. I hope a cure is found one day. I am confident and optimistic that it will be because of people such as the member for Wallsend and the great communities around her who believe in the need to support awareness and the services she described today.

      Private members' statements concluded.
      PLANTATIONS AND REAFFORESTATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010

      Message received from the Legislative Council returning the bill without amendment.
      The House adjourned, pursuant to standing and sessional orders, at 6.18 p.m. until
      Friday 28 October 2010 at 10.00 a.m.

      ______________