Full Day Hansard Transcript (Legislative Assembly, 18 November 1997, Corrected Copy)

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Tuesday, 18 November 1997

Mr Speaker (The Hon. John Henry Murray) took the chair at 2.15 p.m.

Mr Speaker offered the Prayer.

Assent to the following bill reported:
    Justices Amendment (Briefs of Evidence) Bill
Ministerial Statement

Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [2.17 p.m.]: As Minister representing the Attorney General in this House I seek leave to table for the information of the House and media organisations advice from the Crown Solicitor’s Office dated 18 November, regarding the risk of prejudice to criminal proceedings involving persons who may be connected with the death of Lauren Barry and Nichole Collins.

Leave granted.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I draw the attention of the House to the significance of today’s date for the Hon. Richard Face, the Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development. Today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of his election on 18 November 1972 as a member of the Legislative Assembly. Members will agree that, as the longest-serving member of this House, he holds with honour the distinguished title of Father of the House. I know that Richard is very proud of that position.

During his parliamentary career he has served the people of the Charlestown electorate with dedication and distinction. Members know that on behalf of his constituents he raises matters of concern with great vigour, and without fear or favour. It is well recognised that Richard holds the institution of Parliament in the highest regard and is always willing to offer wise counsel to new members from all political persuasions on the duties and responsibilities expected of a good parliamentarian.

I remind honourable members that this is the first occasion that anyone has been recognised in this Parliament on such a momentous anniversary. Richard served with distinction as Deputy-Speaker and Chairman of Committees from 1 May 1984 to 22 February 1988 and exhibited a deep understanding of the procedures of the House and Committee of the Whole, with a strong belief in fairness to all members.

Since his appointment as a Minister in 1995 he has continued to act in a proper, responsible and respectful manner. The New South Wales Legislative Assembly has been well served by Richard, and he should be proud of having aimed to achieve the highest standards of ethical behaviour. The Chair acknowledges that a member who has spent 25 years in this House with honour should be recognised. On behalf of all members of Parliament I wish Richard all the best in his endeavours and thank him for the time and effort he puts in to assist new members.

Mr FACE: For the information of members waving their hands, I am not going! I understand that this is the first time that acknowledgment of service has been raised in this House. It only came to my notice earlier today. I thank honourable members for recognising my 25 years in this House. It is a great privilege and honour to be elected to serve the community in the mother of parliaments. Most people come to this House with the best of intentions; those who do not, do not last long. Length of parliamentary service has diminished considerably in the years I have served.

When I was elected in 1972, 20 years service was not unusual, and many members had served 30 years or more. Length of service has changed because of landslide election wins, redistribution and other factors, resulting in an average length of service of less than seven years. That I am the youngest member ever to become Father of the House, and served the shortest term to attain that
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honour after 17½ years service, is testimony to that change. I have never considered my position a job but rather a way of life. I am proud to represent the Charlestown electorate. When all is said and done, it is the constituents who elect members. I have tried to serve them well.

I suggest that members of major parties who are under the mistaken belief that it is their personal charisma that brings them to this place should think again. Obviously, hard work and dedication to the electorate consolidates a member’s position and sometimes can save a member, as may have been the case in 1988, when I held on by the slimmest of margins. But let there be no illusions: I am here because of the Australian Labor Party and its rank and file members. We should not forget whence we came when things do not suit us or may not go our way. Therefore, I thank my party, the constituents of Charlestown and my parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House for their indulgence today.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I draw the attention of the House to the presence in the public gallery of a delegation of the National Conference of the State Legislatures of the United States of America. I welcome them to the New South Wales Parliament.
Governor of New South Wales

Petitions praying that the office of Governor of New South Wales not be downgraded, and that the role, duties and future of the office be determined by a referendum, received from Mr Blackmore, Mr Brogden, Mr Collins, Mr Debnam, Mr Downy, Ms Ficarra, Mr Glachan, Mr Hartcher, Mr Humpherson, Dr Kernohan, Mr Kerr, Mr MacCarthy, Mr Merton, Mr O’Doherty, Mr O’Farrell, Mr Phillips, Mr Photios, Mr Richardson, Mr Rozzoli, Mr Schipp, Mr Schultz, Ms Seaton, Mrs Skinner, Mr Smith and Mr Tink.
Greater Murray Area Health Services

Petition praying that in the Greater Murray health service area the hospital boards and local autonomy be restored, the local hospitals and community health centres not be further downgraded, the provision of specialist services to country areas be expanded, and the planned private hospital in Griffith be constructed, received from Mr Cruickshank.
Camden District Hospital

Petition praying that the maternity ward and birthing centre at Camden District Hospital be retained, and that the hospital be retained as a general hospital, received from Dr Kernohan.
Israel Heroin Addicts Program

Petition praying that the heroin addicts program in Israel be evaluated with a view to establishing a similar program in all States of Australia, received from Mr Rixon.
Ryde Hospital

Petition praying that Ryde Hospital and its services be retained, received from Mr Tink.
Homebush Railway Station Restoration

Petition praying that buildings on Homebush railway station platform 3/4 that were damaged by fire in 1994 be restored in accordance with heritage requirements, received from Mr MacCarthy.
Transmission Structures

Petition praying that telecommunication carriers not be allowed to erect transmission structures within close proximity to residential homes, schools, child-care centres, hospitals, and aged care centres, received from Mr Brogden.
Northside Storage Tunnel

Petition praying that plans to construct a storage tunnel from Lane Cove to North Head be abandoned, and that the allocated funds be used to find a long-term sustainable solution to sewage disposal, received from Dr Macdonald.

Mr COLLINS: I address my question to the Minister for Corrective Services. Did the Department of Corrective Services issue a statement on Sunday saying that more than 1,200 offenders had their periodic detention cancelled in 1996-97 for failing to turn up? Does that not show that periodic detainees are treating the New South Wales prison system like a five-star hotel that they can check into and out of when they feel like it?

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Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Eastwood to order. I call the honourable member for Ermington to order.

Mr DEBUS: The record of the previous Government on the question of periodic detention is a total embarrassment.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Vaucluse to order. I call the honourable member for Wakehurst to order.

Mr DEBUS: The previous Government had the opportunity to toughen up periodic detention but it did nothing.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Bega to order. I call the Deputy Leader of the National Party to order.

Mr DEBUS: It was left to this Government - to me - to tighten up the system.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Leader of the Opposition to order.

Mr DEBUS: The Government did that in June of last year.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Northcott to order.

Mr DEBUS: It passed legislation that trebled the penalty points for non-attendance, which means that a person who does not serve a 12-month periodic detention order can be sent to prison for 13½ months. The Government’s legislation enabled the fingerprinting and photography of detainees, to avoid substitution rackets. The legislation provided that detainees claiming illness could be forced to obtain clearance from the Government medical officer.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order.

Mr DEBUS: This Government has been bringing before the courts in substantial and increasing numbers detainees who have breached periodic detention orders.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order.

Mr DEBUS: Despite the same attendance rate that existed at the time of the previous Government, the department has trebled the number of applications to the courts seeking cancellation of periodic detention. Periodic detention cancellation orders have increased from 420 in the 1993-94 financial year - the last year of the previous Government - to 1,200 this year.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Premier will remain silent.

Mr DEBUS: A system that has always had bipartisan support - with the possible exception of the honourable member for Lane Cove - is being enforced by this Government as it was not by the previous Government. Early next month a major computer upgrade of the periodic detention system will come on line - an upgrade that will generate breach notices for action immediately and will be able to track individual prosecutions. That is something that has not happened before, as no computer existed to enable it to be done.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ermington to order for the second time. I call the honourable member for Bulli to order.

Mr DEBUS: Recommendations from the periodic detention task force and the Judicial Commission, which began a set of investigations last September, will also be acted upon when the report is completed.

Mr LYNCH: I ask the Premier what the Government will do to improve standards and safety in the security industry in New South Wales.

Mr CARR: It is hard to pay attention in the House when one witnesses the constant undermining of the Leader of the Opposition by the honourable member for Lane Cove. What a disgraceful state of affairs for a once great party. At present 46,000 licensed personnel are employed in the security industry in this State - half the national total. That number is increasing at a rate of 2,000 employees every year. Sadly, security personnel recently have suffered a number of deaths and serious injuries. Five thousand security guards are able to carry firearms. Today I announce my Government’s plan to overhaul the current scheme radically - a plan to provide security employees with a safer working environment, a higher level of training and special safeguards to protect the integrity of the industry.

Mr Hartcher: On a point of order. Reluctant as I am to interrupt the Premier, I point out that he is making an announcement of his Government’s policy and intentions, which constitutes a ministerial statement. I ask that you rule accordingly.

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Mr SPEAKER: The Premier is in order and may continue.

Mr CARR: They are pathetic! How we pine for a strong Opposition. The State needs a strong Opposition. I have to go to the State Labor Party conference to get a bit of opposition. Our plan provides special safeguards to protect the integrity of the industry. This Government is determined to weed out the crooks from this industry: it is determined to bounce the criminal element from the security industry. In the Industrial Relations Commission report released in February this year Justice Peterson said:
    The present system of regulation has operated ineffectively, in that it has permitted individuals with serious criminal convictions and others with insufficient qualifications or training to obtain licences entitling them to work in the security industry.

Today I announce the creation of a new licensing and appeal system to overcome these problems. The new system will prohibit people with convictions for certain criminal offences within the last 10 years, and exclude completely those convicted of robbery, firearms offences and other offences such as serious assaults. If at any time persons fail to meet the licensing criteria, their licences will be refused or revoked. No-one will get into the industry unless the Commissioner of Police decides he is fit and proper person to hold a security industry licence. The new licences will have a five-year duration, will not be automatically renewed, and will include a photo licence, which must be worn unless an exemption has been granted.

Honourable members will recall the royal commission’s concerns about the licensing of former police officers. Such applications will in future be referred to the internal affairs division of the Police Service and to the Police Integrity Commission before any security industry licence is approved. Any police officer who has been dismissed from a police service within the last 10 years will not be eligible for a security industry licence at all. There has been wide consultation about these proposals; representatives from the security industry and the security industry consultative committee have been regularly consulted during the drafting process. I am very confident that implementation of the new scheme will mean a better security industry for the people of this State.

Mrs CHIKAROVSKI: My question is directed to the Minister for Corrective Services. How many notices have been issued since 1 July -

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister for the Olympics will remain silent. I call the honourable member for Londonderry to order.

Mrs CHIKAROVSKI: I will start again. How many notices have been issued since 1 July this year to periodic detainees who have failed to comply with their periodic detention orders by not appearing three or more times at a periodic detention centre?

Mr DEBUS: The House will be aware that earlier today the honourable member for Lane Cove gave notice of a bill concerning periodic detention legislation. If I am not mistaken, that will deal with the concept of one strike and you are out - or, one strike and you are in. Not only did you say you were going to do that -

Mr Hartcher: On a point of order. The Minister for Corrective Services knows that he must address his remarks through the Chair and not engage in dialogue directly with the honourable member for Lane Cove.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I uphold the point of order.

Mr DEBUS: The point is that the honourable member for Lane Cove promised to introduce such legislation on 17 September 1996 and has done nothing about it since; nothing. This is sufficient demonstration of the urgency with which she has regarded the matter until now. You have been so busy doing the numbers, that you have not had time to do the bill.

Mr O’Doherty: On a point of order. The Minister is clearly trying to debate a bill, notice of which has been given today by the honourable member for Lane Cove.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No point of order is involved.

Mr DEBUS: It is only today, when your ambition supports such a possibility - it is only today, driven by ambition - that you give notice of such a motion and you get active in the debate of this nature.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Davidson to order. I call the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai to order. I call the honourable member for Northcott to order for the second time.

Mr DEBUS: I mention for the edification of the House that if, as I suspect, the bill of which the
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honourable member has given notice does refer to the proposal that one breach of periodic detention should lead to permanent imprisonment, it is not necessary. It can be done now.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Georges River to order.

Mr DEBUS: In extreme cases the Department of Corrective Services can and does cancel the orders of periodic detainees who fail, without reasonable excuse, to turn up on one day. As to the numbers of people who have been in breach of such orders since July 1997, I shall take that matter on notice and provide an answer.

Mrs CHIKAROVSKI: I ask a supplementary question. Is it the case that corrective services officers have been working overtime since Saturday to prepare more than 700 such notices?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Eastwood to order for the second time.

Mr DEBUS: The administration of the Department of Corrective Services works constantly to improve efficiency.

Mrs BEAMER: My question without notice is directed to the Premier. Did the Leader of the Opposition conduct a review of the Bail Act when he was Attorney General? If so, what was the result?

Mr CARR: That is an astute question and a great credit to a backbencher to carry out the research required - one would describe it as forensic research - to produce such a devastating political bullet. After a morning working on the files - these great dusty files in the Attorney General’s Department, bound together by fragile red ribbons - we have in fact produced evidence of nothing less than a review of the Bail Act conducted by Collins, QC, MP - the greatest, the most towering legal talent since Lord Denning - when he was Attorney General.


You made yourself a QC. There is no reason why you should not do so, if persuaded that you had the talent. There was no reason you were unqualified simply because you were the person awarding it. You would have been unfair to yourself to have ruled yourself out. Fair go for all concerned. I approach this matter with the freshness of an amateur - I have no legal qualifications. But it might be said, apropos of a certain publication distributed in rural New South Wales on the weekend, that I know a bit, and am well advised about the law of defamation.

The review of the Bail Act was carried out in May 1992. It raised 16 areas for the Government to explore reform - areas which a legally qualified or unqualified person would have thought would have led to a great burst of reform, this being the first review of the Bail Act since 1978. Indeed, the great helmsman, the now Leader of the Opposition, and then Attorney General, trumpeted this review as being the first major review of this vital piece of legislation since its introduction back in 1978. Out came the review -

Mr Collins: When did it come out? What is the date?

Mr CARR: I have already said that.

Mr Collins: No, you haven’t.

Mr CARR: Yes, I have. I said May 1992. I said that; Hansard records it. The review came out with 16 areas of reform.

Mr Tripodi: How many did he proceed with?

Mr CARR: I have an alert backbench. I say to our American visitors that despite appearances none of this is scripted.

Mr Photios: On a point of order. It is not appropriate under the standing orders to have cross-Pacific conversation - conversation not just directed at the Premier’s backbench, which would be out of order, but to the public gallery. The Premier is in contempt of the Parliament and he should be brought to order.

Mr Collins: On the point of order. The Premier has said that this document is dated May 1992. I challenge him to table the document, because he is lying.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order.

Mr CARR: The Leader of the Opposition commissioned this review and of the 16 areas of potential reform - to respond to the question raised with me then by my colleague - only three were proceeded with. Lest honourable members think they were of titanic importance, one of them - oh, brave reform - proposed a regulation allowing de facto
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spouses to make a bail application on behalf of an accused. Big deal!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will remain silent.

Mr CARR: Let me mention just two of the areas of reform raised in the paper on which the Leader of the Opposition, QC, MP, a member of Cabinet in the former Government, failed to act. First, on the issue of changing the presumptions regarding bail following a further offence being committed, no action was taken. Second, on the issue of people absconding on bail, no reform was taken by the previous Government. They were issues of potential reform raised in the paper commissioned by the Leader of the Opposition but rejected by the former Government.

Mr Hartcher: On a point of order.

Mr CARR: Disraeli.

Mr Hartcher: I am complimented by the Premier referring to me as Disraeli. The Premier is now quoting, and has quoted extensively, from a document and I ask that he table it.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is for the Premier to decide whether to table it.

Mr CARR: In relation to the review the former Premier - a chap called Fahey; fading in the mist of time - told the House on 15 September 1993 -

Mr Collins: He is doing all right privatising Telstra; a bit better than you with electricity.

Mr CARR: The honourable member for Lane Cove is doing a bit better than you on prisons, and on counts in the party room she is doing much better than you. The late and unlamented former Premier, Mr Fahey, told the House on 15 September 1993 that overall the Act was found to be working well. He said:
    . . . the Government has been conscious of the importance of balancing the need to protect the community and victims against the rights of accused persons.

When the Leader of the Opposition was Attorney General, he missed his opportunity to reform the Bail Act.

Mr Collins: I started it.

Mr CARR: The Leader of the Opposition said he started the reform. No, let us get this very straight: the Leader of the Opposition started the process but then wimped out. Nothing happened.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order for the second time.

Mr CARR: There is his picture in the report, an ID like one of the new cards issued by the security industry.

Mr Photios: On a point of order.

Mr CARR: I am happy to conclude my answer to the House.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Premier has concluded the answer. Does the member wish to proceed with a point of order?

Mr Photios: Yes, I do. Mr Speaker, whilst you have ruled in relation to a Minister and to the Premier about addressing remarks through the Chair, the Premier continues to flagrantly flout your ruling and treats his backbench like a bunch of pen pals.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order.

Mr ARMSTRONG: My question is directed to the Minister for Corrective Services. Did a man, now suspected of murder, previously fail to turn up for periodic detention for three weeks running, the last occasion being five days before an alleged murder? Given that the law provides for the imprisonment of any offender who misses three periodic detentions, why was not this man put behind bars when he failed to show up for periodic detention the third time?

Mr DEBUS: The Minister for Police - the Leader of the House - has circulated Crown Solicitor’s advice which absolutely clearly recommends to Ministers of this Government that they should not in any way reflect upon or discuss the matters to which the Leader of the National Party has so extraordinarily irresponsibly referred.

Mr NAGLE: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Police. What action is the Government taking to cut the level of corruption in the Police Service?

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Mr WHELAN: Undercover police have long been recognised as a vital part of the fight against serious crime and corruption. Indeed, if police are to be successful in catching crooks, they need the power to beat them at their own game, to get down to their low level and meet them on their own dirty turf. Today I am pleased to inform the House that the Government has approved the necessary legislation to protect law enforcement officers involved in covert operations to catch corrupt police and serious criminals in this State. The Law Enforcement (Controlled Operations) Bill that I will introduce this session means that the Carr Government is putting criminals and crooked cops on notice: the next drug deal they do, no matter how big or small, could be with an undercover cop.

This law will protect undercover police who could be doing a drug deal, supplying heroin, participating in money laundering or using an assumed name. Successful prosecutions in New South Wales - indeed, across Australia - are proof that undercover operations are vital for law enforcement officers to collect the evidence needed to prosecute the corrupt and those involved in organised crime. The royal commissioner in his final report recommended that legislation be passed to protect police involved in covert operations.

This problem was sharply highlighted in the 1995 High Court case of Ridgeway, in which evidence collected by undercover police during a controlled drug deal was ruled inadmissible. In response, Federal legislation was introduced to provide immunity from prosecution for police officers involved in unlawful activities as part of an authorised criminal investigation of Commonwealth offences. However, as the Commonwealth - and later Justice Wood - recognised, its success depends largely on the introduction of similar State laws with equally strict controls and accountability mechanisms.

These new laws will regulate the conduct, control and monitoring of controlled operations. They require strict criteria for approval including written applications, including an operational plan; details of the serious criminal or corrupt conduct to be investigated; and specifics of the unlawful activity to be undertaken. Controlled operations must be approved according to criteria which require that the commissioners of the approved agencies are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person is engaged in, or is about to engage in, serious criminal behaviour or corrupt conduct or, in the case of a police officer, he or she is engaged in serious police misconduct, and the social harm of the criminal or corrupt behaviour, or the public interest, justifies a controlled operation.

The Government’s new laws will also become an important weapon in the fight against police corruption through the integrity testing program. As a result of an earlier royal commission recommendation, last year the Parliament passed legislation to allow integrity testing of police officers. The Police Service has begun targeted integrity testing through sting operations directed at officers suspected of corruption or serious misconduct. Integrity testing not only weeds out corrupt cops; it means that the vast majority of honest police can demonstrate their commitment to combating corruption. The integrity testing program is already working and has achieved impressive results. Already, 29 integrity testing operations have been carried out.

Those 29 tests have led to 10 officers being criminally charged or dismissed, or resigning, under the commissioner’s confidence powers. Another 10 officers have been disciplined and one departmentally charged, and criminal or departmental action is pending against another six. It is important to note that 14 officers have passed integrity tests. The behaviour of those officers will be continually monitored by their commanders, according to the guidelines of the program. Another 23 integrity testing operations are being developed and a further 35 targets have been identified.

The controlled operations bill will greatly enhance and expand this program. The new laws will also be utilised by the Police Integrity Commission, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the New South Wales Crime Commission and the New South Wales Police Service. Importantly, it will become a powerful weapon for the Police Integrity Commission in its role as a watchdog on corruption within the Police Service. This legislation, coupled with recently acquired telephone intercept powers, will ensure that the Police Integrity Commission has every available law enforcement tool it needs to ensure that police involved in serious criminal activity will be identified and expelled from the New South Wales Police Service.

Ms NORI: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Fair Trading, and Minister for Women. What is the impact on working mothers in New South Wales of the Federal Government’s cuts to child-care funding?

Mrs LO PO’: The honourable member for Port Jackson always has an interest in child care. A report on the community help line organised by the New South Wales Council of Social Service, as well
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as focus group research commissioned by the Department of Community Services, released today paint a disturbing picture. New South Wales parents are telling us that they are suffering terrible effects from the Howard Government’s savage $820 million cuts to child-care funding. New research on the plight of New South Wales working women is alarming. Make no mistake - they are angry. Their feelings are summarised by a comment from a caller to the hotline, who said, "I hope John Howard comes back as a woman."


Members opposite may well laugh. Some of John Howard’s party wish he had been born a man.

Mr Photios: We are not sure about you.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will ignore that interjection.

Mrs LO PO’: We do not expect any better from the honourable member for Ermington. The assault on child care is a three-generational attack on families: it attacks children who must suffer lower quality child care, it attacks working women and it attacks grandparents who feel that they must fill the gap left by Mr Howard either with their retirement savings or their time. Some things are perfectly clear from the hotline and the focus group research. Women are extremely angry at what they see as Mr Howard’s intention to force them from the work force. More comments were made on this issue than on any other issue. We were concerned to hear from callers who had been forced to quit their jobs altogether. And how many did we not hear from? Many others felt that their jobs were under threat, given the rising costs of care and the ad hoc child-care arrangements they are being forced to use. Lemonade and biscuits in front of the neighbour’s television seems about to become Howard’s way on child care, and we believe that it will prove to be Howard’s end.


This is an important issue and members opposite should want to listen. They have these problems in their electorates but they are too stupid to know. Callers said that their marriages and relationships were under increasing strain as they struggled with the extra financial burden that these cuts have imposed on working families. In some cases partners battled over who should give up work. I was dismayed to learn that grandparents felt under pressure to help out more than they felt they were able to. Some older women who had never had the benefit of child care with their own children suddenly found themselves faced with weekday responsibility for their grandchildren. In other cases grandparents feel driven to sacrifice part of their scarce retirement income to pay soaring fees.

The fact that women are generally paid less than men means that it is most often the woman who must give up work. They have been robbed of their income and the self-respect that comes from holding a job. It may well cost women their futures as well. Periods out of the work force can ruin women’s long-term job prospects in later life and their retirement income. One family said that the loss of the woman’s job meant that the man had to work a second job to make ends meet. These couples must rarely see each other. Some callers said that they were unable to pay the rent because of child-care fees. What about families with a mortgage? Families may be forced out of their homes. I want Hansard to record that this matter is of great amusement to the honourable member for Georges River. She has the same callous approach to women and child care as John Howard.

Mr Photios: On a point of order. The protocols of the House provide that if members want to launch an attack on another member, they should do so by way of substantive motion. The Minister’s reference to the honourable member for Georges River is in violation of the proper conduct of the House; it is conduct unbecoming.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the honourable member for Georges River did not interject it would not be necessary for points of order to be taken.

Mrs LO PO’: What would the honourable member for Ermington know about proper conduct?

Mr Hartcher: On a point of order. That comment is a slur on the honourable member for Ermington and a slur on every member of this House. I ask that it be withdrawn.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member may make a personal explanation at the conclusion of question time.

Mrs LO PO’: Women respondents perceive these changes as a direct attack on them. They believe that women are being punished rather than promoted; that mothers are not valued; and that the Howard Government is engaged in social engineering to "take us back to the 1950s", making women the scapegoats.

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Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Pittwater to order.

Mrs LO PO’: Mr Howard - I do not know why I call him Mr - is attempting to rig the unemployment figures by forcing women from the work force. In the words of one caller, "Howard does not want women to work, to disguise unemployment figures. But many women want to work and need to work."

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Pittwater to order for the second time.

Mrs LO PO’: The report also highlights the impact on the working lives of sole parents. Those callers believed that the changes undermined their efforts to work and be self-reliant. Howard tells them to go out and get a job, but he does nothing to help them. One caller said, "It is hardly worth working when the dollars disappear in fees. Staying at home on a benefit might be easier for single parents." Small business women are also badly affected. Many work alongside their husbands or partners to maintain a family business. They reported that as child care became less affordable their businesses suffered, because they have to mind the children themselves.

One said, "Stress on care will decrease the ability of our business to expand and employ people." Child-care workers, who are predominantly women, are also being affected. They face job losses, tougher working conditions as staff is reduced, and ruined job satisfaction as they spend their time trying to cut costs and raise money to keep centres going rather than care for the children. Howard must be forced to realise that he is not just attacking women’s rights -

Mr Cochran: On a point of order. Just as members of this Chamber are entitled to be addressed by their correct titles, the Prime Minister is also entitled to be correctly addressed.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will refer to the Prime Minister in the proper manner.

Mrs LO PO’: Mr Howard is not only attacking the rights of women, which does not appear to bother him at all, and certainly does not bother the Opposition, but this unashamedly old-fashioned man, to use his own words - and is he ever - is also attacking children, grandparents and struggling families with this flint-hearted, mean policy.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Baulkham Hills to order. I call the honourable member for Davidson to order for the second time.

Mrs LO PO’: The Carr Government respects the rights of women to choose to work or study, and their entitlement to decent, affordable child care. The Government is proud to deliver this message from parents to the Howard Government: New South Wales parents demand that the Federal Government reverse this cruel folly of destroying affordable child care in Australia, and the Carr Government is happy to support them in that demand. The Federal Government tried but failed to reverse the aged-care problem.

Mr TINK: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Corrective Services, Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister Assisting the Minister for the Arts. Has the Minister removed Mike Hall from the administration of periodic detention, requiring the transfer of a senior officer from Silverwater to clear up the periodic detention mess?

Mr DEBUS: The honourable member for Lane Cove took at least nine minutes to draft that question. It was passed back and forth between various members of the front bench before the honourable member for Eastwood took another five minutes to prepare his draft.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Davidson to order for the third time. I call the honourable member for Eastwood to order for the third time.

Mr DEBUS: I have said already that reform and restructure of the Department of Corrective Services is continuing, and that change may be a part of that reform and restructure.

Mr McBRIDE: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Roads. What action will the Government take to improve safety on our roads in the coming holiday period?

Mr SCULLY: I acknowledge the honourable member’s interest in road safety. The December-January holiday period is one of the most dangerous times on the road. It demands extra care from
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drivers and intense efforts from road safety and enforcement agencies. January this year was particularly horrific on our roads, with 69 people killed. That was three times more than the number killed on the roads in January 1996.

Mr Cochran: On a point of order. Question time is an important time for members to ask questions of some significance and receive a reply. But it is patently clear that Ministers use this time to make ministerial statements, denying members on both sides of the House the opportunity to ask questions that are relevant to their electorates. I ask you to rule the Minister out of order; he is making a ministerial statement.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No point of order is involved.

Mr SCULLY: In January this year 69 people were killed on our roads; last January only 23 people were killed. The Government intends to do something about that, unlike the honourable member for Monaro. That horrific road toll led to the Government, during the last Easter long weekend, trialing the imposition of double demerit points for speeding. That trial was successful, resulting in the lowest level of fatalities since statistics were recorded in 1949. I have decided to extend that provision on long weekends for a 12-month period, with extended application over Christmas and New Year. As the shadow minister for roads would be aware, the Government is also undertaking a comprehensive trial of a general urban speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour. Excessive speed on roads remains a major concern and is involved in one in three fatal crashes. Surveys indicate that 45 per cent of drivers regularly speed.

Mr Hartcher: That is devastating information.

Mr SCULLY: Hansard will record the attitude of the honourable member for Gosford in voicing that remark. It is appalling that he would regard as flippant something that is so important, and he should be ashamed of himself. The Government has decided to take tougher action to prevent speeding over the Christmas-January holiday period, and to introduce a new licence disqualification category for speeding. This provision will reduce by 15 kilometres per hour the level at which motorists face licence disqualification.

Under current provisions the penalty for speeding by more than 45 kilometres per hour is six demerit points, three months licence disqualification and a fine of $1,036 for heavy vehicle and coach drivers and $690 for other drivers; and the penalty for speeding by more than 30 kilometres per hour but not more than 45 kilometres per hour is four demerit points and $517 for heavy vehicle and coach drivers and $345 for other drivers. Speeding by more than 30 kilometres per hour but not more than 45 kilometres per hour has never involved licence disqualification. The Government has decided to amend the Traffic Act to provide a one-month licence disqualification for drivers speeding by more than 30 kilometres per hour but not more than 45 kilometres per hour. The special penalty will apply for more than five weeks over the holiday period, from 24 December 1997 to 31 January 1998 and will operate in tandem with the application of double demerits.

Mr Phillips: On a point of order. Mr Speaker -

Mr SCULLY: Is the member not interested in road safety, not interested in saving lives?

Mr Phillips: If the Minister were genuine he would announce these changes by way of a ministerial statement. During question time today a number of ministerial statements have been made. I refer you, Mr Speaker, to rulings of Speaker Kelly from 1976 to 1978 on pages 2176, 6214 and 11665, on which he ruled:
    Ministerial statements are covered not by the standing orders but by usage and practice. Statements of public importance which announce and touch on some policy of or proposed action by the Government constitute a ministerial statement.

I ask you to uphold those rulings.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That ruling was superseded by a 1988 ruling by Speaker Rozzoli which said:
    If in giving factual information in an answer a minister touches on matters of Government policy it does not necessarily make the answer a ministerial statement.

Speaker Rozzoli also said:
    In answering a question a Minister may give facts about certain things or give facts about matters and initiatives which are proposed by the Government.

I uphold that ruling.

Mr Cochran: On a point of order. My point of order relates to the claim that the Minister’s answer is a ministerial statement. In response to
Page 1955
your ruling, which I respect, his answer introduces new information, which the Minister in his dialogue has referred to as an announcement - it is new information not heard before. I, together with the entire House and the people in the gallery, would interpret this as a ministerial statement with new information. That is the only way it can be interpreted.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Chair has interpreted it quite differently. The Minister may continue.

Mr SCULLY: It is obvious that the only lives that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Gosford and the honourable member for Monaro are interested in saving are their political lives. The other members of this House are interested in improving the appalling road safety fatality record that occurred in January this year, when 69 lives were lost. I am the Minister for Roads and I intend to try to do something about it. I am disgusted at the reactions of honourable members who resist the Government’s agenda. The Government is trying to do what the public expects by introducing an important measure to make drivers slow down and improve their behaviour, which will save lives.

The application of the new penalties will operate in tandem with the application of double demerits from midnight on 23 December 1997 to midnight on 4 January 1998 and then from midnight 23 January to midnight 26 January. When announcing the trial of double demerits I indicated that that move was not a revenue-raising exercise. The new licence disqualification decision is in that same category. The Government does not want speeding motorists over the Christmas-January holiday period to pay extra fines, it simply wants dangerous drivers off the roads.

The Government has made significant progress in road safety. The number of road deaths in 1996 was the equal lowest since 1949. After the very poor start to this year, the 1997 road toll now stands at 507 - only two higher than at the same time last year. The Government is determined to do as much as it can to make our roads safer. Its message on speed is clear to everyone except the honourable member for Gosford: speeding is unacceptable. Speed kills and maims; people who speed risk losing their life and killing or injuring others. All motorists should be aware that if they speed over the Christmas-January holiday period they will face Australia’s toughest penalties.

Questions without notice concluded.
Personal Explanation

Mr COLLINS, by leave: Earlier in question time the Premier referred to a review of the Bail Act allegedly undertaken by me as Attorney General in 1992. The House will recall that I repeatedly interjected and asked the Premier to table the document to which he referred. It is correct that I initiated a review of the Bail Act. I have obtained from the Parliamentary Library a copy of the document which the Premier refused to table. I did indeed initiate a review of the Bail Act in May 1992 and I stand by everything I said on that occasion. I was right about it then, and I am right about it now. The Premier sought to mislead this House by not disclosing that this document was released in May 1992 and that a few weeks later, on 3 July 1992, before any report was prepared on this document, I ceased to be Attorney General.

Mr Scully: On a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition is required to convince the House that in some way his reputation has been impugned. He is attempting to debate the issue, which he knows he is not allowed to do. He is quite outside the leave of the standing orders and ought to be told to sit down.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister’s statement has some veracity. The Leader of the Opposition has strayed into an attack on the Premier, which is not within the ambit of a personal explanation. He must explain to the House how his personal integrity has been besmirched or maligned.

Mr COLLINS: Back in 1992, and again now, I was deeply committed to the need for a reform of the Bail Act. The community is crying out for reform. The Premier, by his comments, has impugned my reputation and integrity as a member of this House. I stand by what I said then. The production of this document proves that what the Premier said was a completely false reconstruction of what occurred in May 1992. The document is an issues paper, not a final report.
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders

Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [3.29 p.m.]: I move:
    That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow consideration forthwith of business with precedence order of the day No. 1.

Page 1956

Mr HARTCHER (Gosford) [3.30 p.m.]: Unlike Government members, the Opposition holds in high regard the office of Governor of this State. It would never allow an Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor to be used simply as a filler when the Government has nothing else to debate and then suddenly to be curtailed without notice to the House. If there is one debate that operates on the consensus of the House, it is the Address-in-Reply debate. Opposition members did not find out that the debate was to be concluded until a statement from the Leader of the House was pushed under members’ doors before lunch saying that the bus conveying honourable members to the Governor would leave at 3.45 p.m. Members are ready to debate the motion, so the only way the bus can leave at 3.45 p.m. is if the debate is gagged. The forced closure of debate in this House on a loyal address to His Excellency would be unprecedented. The Address-in-Reply debate enables all members of the House to pledge their allegiance to His Excellency. The motion states:
    We assure Your Excellency that our earnest consideration will be given to the measures . . .
    . . . We join Your Excellency in the hope that our labours may be so directed as to advance the best interests of all sections of the community.

We, the members of the Legislative Assembly, are to be denied the right to pledge our loyalty to His Excellency the Governor. We are not to be allowed the right to debate the merits or otherwise - or otherwise - of the Governor’s Speech, which was prepared for him by the Premier. Members opposite laugh and think it is funny, but if ever there is a day when the Crown and the prerogatives of the Crown are trammelled in this House, it is when honourable members are denied the right to reply to the Speech from the Crown. The Speech from the Crown has never before been gagged.

The Leader of the House has so prepared the House’s agenda that he has had to suspend private members’ days, all notices of motion and all private members’ bills, and cancel everything until Christmas so that he can ram Government business through. Let us not forget that he deleted two weeks from the sitting program at the end of the year and said, "I’ll push everything through by denying members their right to speak." Finally, the greatest insult of all is to the Governor, to the Crown and to the people of New South Wales by denying honourable members their right to express their loyalty to His Excellency as part of their right to reply to the Governor’s Speech.

Question - That standing and sessional orders be suspended - put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 50

Ms Allan Mr Markham
Mr Amery Mr Martin
Mr Anderson Ms Meagher
Ms Andrews Mr Mills
Mr Aquilina Mr Moss
Mrs Beamer Mr Nagle
Mr Carr Mr Neilly
Mr Clough Ms Nori
Mr Crittenden Mr E. T. Page
Mr Debus Mr Price
Mr Face Dr Refshauge
Mr Gaudry Mr Rogan
Mr Gibson Mr Rumble
Mrs Grusovin Mr Scully
Ms Hall Mr Shedden
Mr Harrison Mr Stewart
Ms Harrison Mr Sullivan
Mr Hunter Mr Tripodi
Mr Iemma Mr Watkins
Mr Knight Mr Whelan
Mr Knowles Mr Woods
Mr Langton Mr Yeadon
Mrs Lo Po’
Mr Lynch Tellers,
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Mr McManus Mr Thompson
Noes, 47

Mr Armstrong Mr O’Doherty
Mr Beck Mr O’Farrell
Mr Blackmore Mr D. L. Page
Mr Brogden Mr Peacocke
Mr Chappell Mr Phillips
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Photios
Mr Cochran Mr Richardson
Mr Collins Mr Rixon
Mr Cruickshank Mr Rozzoli
Mr Debnam Mr Schipp
Mr Downy Mr Schultz
Mr Ellis Ms Seaton
Ms Ficarra Mrs Skinner
Mr Fraser Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Hartcher Mr Small
Mr Hazzard Mr Smith
Mr Humpherson Mr Souris
Dr Kernohan Mr Tink
Mr Kinross Mr J. H. Turner
Mr MacCarthy Mr R. W. Turner
Dr Macdonald Mr Windsor
Mr Merton Tellers,
Ms Moore Mr Jeffery
Mr Oakeshott Mr Kerr

Page 1957

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.
Ninth Day's Debate

Debate resumed from 21 October.

Mr SPEAKER: The question is, That the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion say "Aye".

Mr O’Doherty: Mr Speaker -

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai.

Mr O’DOHERTY (Ku-ring-gai) [3.40 p.m.]: The back-to-school allowance is a $55 million cut to the classrooms of New South Wales and to the education budget of this State. The Government has taken $55 million, ripped it up into 1.1 million little pieces and scattered it across New South Wales. That is a waste of education funding which could have been spent on literacy teaching.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the House in that I inadvertently gave the call to the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai and did not follow the proper procedures. The question is, That the motion be agreed to.

The House divided.

[In division]

Mr O’Doherty: On a point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The division is in progress. There is no point of order. The member will resume his seat.

Mr Hartcher: Mr Speaker. I ask that you call off this division and that you allow debate to resume on the motion that was moved by the honourable member for Badgerys Creek, which is order of the day No. 1. The suspension of standing orders that the House carried allowed for order of the day No. 1 to be called on in precedence. That was done. You then gave the call to the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai to speak to that order of the day, which he was doing. I submit that there has been confusion in then putting the motion. I ask you to call off the division and allow the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai to resume his speech under the call which you have given him.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! What the honourable member for Gosford says is correct, with one exception. After the order of the day was called I was in the process of putting the motion. The honourable member for Ku-ring-gai then stood. I put it to the member that I was putting the motion. The member indicated that he wanted to talk. I thought he was standing on a point of order.

A member is entitled to take a point of order. At that stage, after having put the motion, I gave the call to the member. I did so in the belief that he stood on a point of order. I listened to the member, and it seemed obvious that he was attempting to make a speech. I therefore went back to the original question. Given the volume of noise within the Chamber, some members may not have heard the Chair put the question. I assure members that the Chair put the question. I have discussed this matter with the Clerk, who concurs that the Chair did put the question. If in the noise of debate the honourable member for Gosford did not hear the Chair put the question, I shall put it again.

Mr Hartcher: I put it to you that it is not appropriate for you to put the question as the debate has not concluded. The only way that the debate can conclude is by the honourable member for Badgerys Creek closing the debate or the question being put by resolution of the House. Neither of those two things have happened.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Gosford has brought a second element into the argument, that the honourable member for Badgerys Creek must reply. I advise the House that the Clerk had advised that there is no need for the mover of the motion to reply. Hence, I put the motion. I appoint the honourable member for Broken Hill and the honourable member for Rockdale tellers for the ayes, and the honourable member for Cronulla and the honourable member for Oxley tellers for the noes.


If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition talks while the Chair is speaking, he will be removed from the Chamber.

Mr O’Doherty: On a point of order. I assure you that as the order of the day was read I was on my feet taking the call. The question had not been put by the time I went to the rostrum. I put to you that you are not entitled to put the question if a member is on his feet seeking the call.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member is revisiting a situation that the Chair has already ruled on.

Mr Phillips: On a point of order. I was sitting here watching the whole incident occur. The
Page 1958
honourable member for Ku-ring-gai, who was in very close proximity to you, rose to his feet when the order of the day was read and called for your attention. At no time did he seek to take a point of order or mention the words "point of order". You called him and he went to the rostrum and immediately began to speak to the motion. They are the facts of the incident that occurred.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member -

Mr Phillips: It is your responsibility -

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will ask the Serjeant-at-Arms to remove the member if he continues to talk over the Chair. I have already explained to the House and to the member that I had put the motion. Though the member may have stood and yelled out, the Chair did not recognise him until after the question had been put. At that stage the member moved to the rostrum and the Chair recognised him.


The Leader of the House and the honourable member for Ermington will remain silent.
Ayes, 50

Ms Allan Mr Markham
Mr Amery Mr Martin
Mr Anderson Ms Meagher
Ms Andrews Mr Mills
Mr Aquilina Mr Moss
Mrs Beamer Mr Nagle
Mr Carr Mr Neilly
Mr Clough Ms Nori
Mr Crittenden Mr E. T. Page
Mr Debus Mr Price
Mr Face Dr Refshauge
Mr Gaudry Mr Rogan
Mr Gibson Mr Rumble
Mrs Grusovin Mr Scully
Ms Hall Mr Shedden
Mr Harrison Mr Stewart
Ms Harrison Mr Sullivan
Mr Hunter Mr Tripodi
Mr Iemma Mr Watkins
Mr Knight Mr Whelan
Mr Knowles Mr Woods
Mr Langton Mr Yeadon
Mrs Lo Po’
Mr Lynch Tellers,
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Mr McManus Mr Thompson
Noes, 47

Mr Armstrong Mr O’Doherty
Mr Beck Mr O’Farrell
Mr Blackmore Mr D. L. Page
Mr Brogden Mr Peacocke
Mr Chappell Mr Phillips
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Photios
Mr Cochran Mr Richardson
Mr Collins Mr Rixon
Mr Cruickshank Mr Rozzoli
Mr Debnam Mr Schipp
Mr Downy Mr Schultz
Mr Ellis Ms Seaton
Ms Ficarra Mrs Skinner
Mr Fraser Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Hartcher Mr Small
Mr Hazzard Mr Smith
Mr Humpherson Mr Souris
Dr Kernohan Mr Tink
Mr Kinross Mr J. H. Turner
Mr MacCarthy Mr R. W. Turner
Dr Macdonald Mr Windsor
Mr Merton Tellers,
Ms Moore Mr Jeffery
Mr Oakeshott Mr Kerr

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

The House proceeded to Government House at 3.53 p.m., there to present to the Governor its Address-in-Reply to the Speech His Excellency had been pleased to make to both Houses of Parliament on opening the session.

The House returned at 5.20 p.m.

Mr Speaker reported that the Address-in-Reply to the Governor’s Speech had been presented, and that His Excellency had been pleased to give thereto the following answer:
Office of the Governor
Sydney 2000
18 November 1997
    Mr Speaker and Honourable Members
    of the Legislative Assembly,
    It gives me much pleasure to receive your Address and to convey my appreciation of your expression of loyalty to Her Majesty The Queen.
    I am also glad to have your assurance that earnest consideration will be given to the measures to be submitted to you and the necessary provision for the Public Services made in due course.

Page 1959
    I have every confidence that your labours will advance the general welfare and happiness of the people of this State.
Gordon Samuels
    The Honourable The Speaker
    and Honourable Members of the
    Legislative Assembly of New South Wales

Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted.

Mr CLOUGH (Bathurst) [5.21 p.m.]: I criticise the State Rail Authority, particularly its FreightCorp section, for its plans to transfer the rostering section from Lithgow and other areas to Parramatta. One of the Government’s policies is to encourage employment in country New South Wales, and the Premier has recently foreshadowed the appointment of the honourable member for Clarence as a special Minister to look after the interests of country New South Wales. It is obvious to me that the State Rail Authority and FreightCorp do not give a damn about what the Government says and does concerning employment in the bush. They made a unilateral decision to transfer the FreightCorp rostering section from Lithgow to Parramatta. That will mean that roster clerks in Lithgow will have two options: to take a forced transfer to Parramatta or to take redundancy. A forced transfer to Parramatta will mean they will have to travel 2½ hours each way by train to get to work at Parramatta. The transfer will also mean the loss of those jobs to the Lithgow economy. The other day my colleague the honourable member for Tamworth mentioned that Werris Creek rostering staff were also to be transferred to Parramatta.

I cannot condemn the attitude of FreightCorp too strongly. FreightCorp is managed by an arrogant and self-important group of people who believe that because they have been corporatised they are not subject to any control by the New South Wales Government or individual politicians. Prior to its corporatisation on 30 June 1996 FreightCorp management said, "We only have a few days to go and then we will be out from under political control." Most of those running FreightCorp are rank amateurs who have little State Rail experience and have generally come to FreightCorp from the private sector. Those who do the rostering at Lithgow, the train drivers at Lithgow and the general railway staff would leave them for dead. Those running FreightCorp are so inefficient that they insist that Lithgow to Port Kembla coal trains operate with one crew from Lithgow to Enfield, from where an Enfield crew takes the train to Port Kembla. Port Kembla and Lithgow train drivers are capable of working the trip in one shift. However, that does not suit FreightCorp.

FreightCorp actively discourages business in my electorate. Coal is the major industry in Lithgow, where six million tonnes are produced each year. FreightCorp is not content with that; it proposes to get rid of the roster clerks at Lithgow and centralise them at Parramatta. The only reason for that decision is empire building and giving FreightCorp more personal and firm control over those associated with rostering. The State Rail Authority, after having been split into three sections by the previous Government, now has five sections. They each have a management structure with numerous managers, who are sacking those who do the real work on the railways at an alarming rate. I will not stand idly by while the roster clerks from Lithgow and other country centres are transferred to Parramatta because some FreightCorp manager believes that is the most efficient way of doing things. Country New South Wales needs every job it can get; it does not want jobs transferred to the metropolitan area. As I said when I commenced my remarks, the policy of the New South Wales Government is to encourage employment in the bush, not to kill it.

Mr KINROSS (Gordon) [5.26 p.m.]: I am pleased that the Minister for Education and Training is at the table, as I called his parliamentary office a moment ago to notify him about the urgency of this matter. On behalf of my constituents in St Ives generally, specifically the parents and friends of St Ives North public school, I bring to the attention of the House the active work undertaken by the parents and citizens association of that school and the representations I have made to secure a multipurpose library for the school. The history of this matter is fairly lengthy and because of the amount of correspondence in relation to it I should like to start by quoting from the most recent letter, which is from the Minister to me dated 8 October, in which he said:
    The recent 1997/98 State Budget allocated funding for Department of School Education capital works projects which were considered to be high priority. These included projects where there is a need to complete existing works in construction, build new high schools in areas of high
Page 1960
    population growth and to improve the facilities in schools in a limited number of cases.

The letter continues, if I may say so with respect, with the usual bureaucratic gobbledegook that the library will be considered against competing claims. I want to draw the attention of the Minister to the relevance or a more direct performance measure, that is, a school’s population growth rather than the surrounding demographics. When I became a member of Parliament about five years ago this school had an enrolment of about 310 students. It now has an enrolment of 650, and it is envisaged that it will increase next year to 670 with 20 per cent of students coming from outside the area. The department has indicated that the number of students attending from outside the area militates against the school’s merits for consideration of the project.

With its good reputation and its gifted and talented unit the school is drawing people from as far afield as Mona Vale, The Hills, towards the Minister’s electorate of Riverstone, Eastwood and the south. The parents ought to be extremely proud of that - as should the Government. The Government should acknowledge that a doubling of the student population in a little over five years, an increase that equates to a compound growth rate of more than 15 per cent, merits immediate and urgent consideration of the library proposal. That is important because of the school’s reputation and because the project, under the Minister’s own criteria, is worthy of consideration.

The Minister may recall that I also raised an issue about St Ives High School. St Ives public school has been modelled to the world by the Department of School Education and the Premier’s Department. A State Minister for education from Nagoya, Japan, the education Minister of Thailand and representatives from public and private schools across New South Wales have visited St Ives public school. When a school such as St Ives public school is marketed across the world as an example of educational excellence, as indeed happened also with St Ives High School, why is the school not rewarded with substantial improvements in its facilities?

At present the school’s library consists of two demountable classrooms. I put it to the Minister that the construction of a multipurpose library would free up those two classrooms to cater for the demand for entry to the school coming from areas as distant as St Marys. This excellent school needs to be able to meet the educational standards so proudly espoused by the Premier and the Minister for Education and Training. It is about time that the Government engaged in less class warfare and gave an undertaking that it will consider factors according to more relevant statistics, such as school growth rates. A 15 per cent compound growth rate is significant. I challenge the Minister to identify a school with a greater rate. [Time expired.]

Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [5.31 p.m.]: On hearing that the honourable member for Gordon was to be the first member of the Opposition to speak in this evening’s private members’ statements, I imagined that he would apologise to His Excellency the Governor for snubbing him by not going to Government House to present the Address-in-Reply. I have been a member of this place for 16 years and today is the first occasion to my knowledge that an Opposition has snubbed the Governor, Her Majesty’s representative. That is exactly what happened this afternoon. I should have thought that the honourable member for Gordon, a noted monarchist, would be somewhat abashed by the attitude adopted by the Opposition. I will be plain and specific in relation to the issue he has raised. St Ives public school is to be commended for the marvellous job it is doing in presenting good educational outcomes for its students. The school has a reputation that has enabled it to increase its enrolment markedly, as has St Ives High School.

I reiterate to the honourable member for Gordon the point I made to him in correspondence, which he claims was gobbledegook, that this is a matter of competing priorities. The honourable member has referred to class warfare. Far from that, the issue is that because of the neglect of the previous Government some students in this State have been subjected to Third World standards in education accommodation. Whilst it is acknowledged that St Ives public school may need a new hall and a new library, it is also acknowledged that there are competing areas. I am speaking particularly of schools on the fringes of Sydney, on the north coast and on the south coast that need new school facilities, which must be provided as a priority. I shall pay astute interest to accommodating the requirements of the students of St Ives North public school, but those who need classrooms must take priority.

Mr SHEDDEN (Bankstown) [5.33 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of the House the outstanding dedication shown by management and staff of Bankstown City Council during and after the council’s recent $30 million fire. On 1 July, the first day of the new financial year, the Bankstown Civic
Page 1961
Centre building was destroyed by fire. The fire, which was claimed to have been the worst of its kind in the State, robbed 270 staff of their workplace and the community of its civic home. The fire started at approximately 11.00 p.m., with fire brigades bringing it under control by 2.00 a.m. While the building was still burning Bankstown City Council management conducted its first meeting to outline its recovery plan. The fire was devastating for the council. However, the Sydney Morning Herald headline "The council that kept its head after the roof fell in" was appropriate. Bankstown City Council started its disaster recovery plan, Operation Phoenix, while the building was still alight. The council responded strategically at every stage and acted very quickly.

Customer service staff were taking phone inquiries only two hours after normal opening time and established a public counter in the open car park before a portable office arrived. Although there were some delays, generally none of the council’s services stopped. For example, Meals on Wheels continued even on the day of the fire. Building inspections continued on the days immediately following the fire. The Bankstown community threw its support behind the council in the wake of the fire. Many offers of help came in from the public for office space, equipment, stationery and expertise. The community also displayed great patience and co-operation during the recovery process. One major hurdle the council faced as a result of the fire was a lack of files. Some 102,000 files were removed from the basement of the civic centre. The paper files, although not damaged by fire, were water damaged. They were sent to Melbourne for treatment to prevent further deterioration.

The files were then sent back to Sydney and stored in an empty room at Marrickville hospital, thanks to the generosity of Marrickville Council. Bankstown City Council staff undertook the massive task of sorting out the jumbled piles of files. Plans are under way to have many of the files digitised, so that they can be accessed by computer. Four months down the track, council staff are located in their medium-term work accommodation, where they will stay until a new civic centre is created. A decision on the new building should be made within the month. Testing has been conducted on the remaining concrete slabs of the civic centre to determine their integrity. These results will play a major role in the decision on the new building. Since July the Bankstown City Council has worked solidly to ensure that services to the community suffered only minimal interruption due to the fire. The council’s management and staff deserve congratulation, and I repeat the description in the Sydney Morning Herald: "The council that kept its head after the roof fell in."

Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [5.38 p.m.]: I commend the honourable member for Bankstown for his words of praise for Bankstown City Council, which suffered a devastating fire. On behalf of the Premier and the Government, I also extend congratulations to council staff for their valiant work carried out under extreme adversity. Those of us who have a background in local government realise how loyal and how closely attached council officers are to the work they do and to the instruments of council. The sudden devastation of fire meant that the council’s historical and working records were almost destroyed. That so much of Bankstown heritage went up in flames is a matter of great concern not only for the council but for the whole of the Bankstown community.

On behalf of the Government I commend the honourable member for Bankstown for the humble way in which he has conducted his work since the fire. He has given admirable support to the Bankstown City Council and to his constituents affected by the fire. The Government trusts that the adversity caused by the fire will be overcome relatively quickly and that Bankstown will once again be able to construct an edifice that will do its community and the city of Sydney proud.

Mr OAKESHOTT (Port Macquarie) [5.40 p.m.]: I should like to place on record some of the issues I have worked towards resolving during the past 12 months, my first 12 months in Parliament, and to reiterate the challenges facing the electorate of Port Macquarie. I note that today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the election of the father of the House, the Hon. Richard Face. As the baby of the House, I congratulate him on achieving that tremendous milestone. On 30 November it will be exactly one year since the Port Macquarie by-election at which I was elected. The past year has been extremely positive locally, both for the broader community and for me. I thank all who have contributed to that achievement, in particular my office staff, who have settled into the job fantastically well, my family and friends, those whom I have met and developed a working relationship with during the year, and those I have known for many years who continue to provide loyal support.

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Many positive issues have been dealt with during the year by the entire team, which has worked to improve the Port Macquarie electorate. A topic of great excitement is the continued progress of the Pacific Highway upgrade, particularly stage two of the Herons Creek deviation and the Bulahdelah mountain bypass. That project will save lives and improve business on the mid-north coast, and I confirm that it has my full support. The other major project of significance during the past 12 months has been the selection of the Camden Haven High School site and the development of a multipurpose centre on that site. After much deliberation on both issues, the community is generally supportive of the current situation and urges the Minister to fulfil the timetable of the first intake of students before the end of the century.

The Port Macquarie electorate has been the centre of a great deal of activity during these past 12 months. One example is the traffic management study in Wingham, which is being undertaken thanks to the efforts of Sue Druce, my representative on the Greater Taree City Council Traffic Advisory Committee. Other activities include the launching of the National Party forestry document at the Wingham log; the inclusion of Laurieton in visits by the Cancer Council breast screening van, which means much less travelling for those in Camden Haven; the acceptance in principle of expanded blood bank services in Port Macquarie, which means Port Macquarie is recognised as the centre of medical expertise on the mid-north coast; and the charting of the Hastings River, which has dispelled many negative myths about the river - the first north coast river charting for many, many years.

Whilst they are examples of positive activities in the Port Macquarie electorate, a great many challenges still face the electorate. They include improving the economic hamstringing of essential industries such as the timber industry in Wingham and the fishing industry throughout the mid-north coast. Workers compensation is affecting many businesses on the mid-north coast, for example, Wingham abattoir. That issue must be addressed urgently so that the abattoir can employ more workers for the benefit of the Wingham community. The dairy industry is also facing an unsure future because of the dangers of deregulation. It is imperative that the New South Wales Government stands by the dairy farmers during the coming months, and fights for an industry that is working and wants to continue to work. Many health issues need to be addressed in the electorate of Port Macquarie. Renal services must be improved, and dental health services and mental health services also need enhancement. The relationship between Port Macquarie Base Hospital and the current Government is capable of improvement. For example, the section 20 council must receive support from the Minister for Health and he must make the desperately needed appointments to that council.

Other examples of challenges before the Port Macquarie electorate include much-needed improvements to the Kew-Comboyne road; improvements to our waterways, for example, the acid sulphate run-off affecting Hastings oyster farmers; and much-needed consumer price equity in petrol prices on the mid-north coast. I note that the price has again crept over 80¢ cents a litre. These are merely some examples of the many challenges that will face the Port Macquarie electorate in the future. Much has happened in the electorate during the past 12 months and I am very appreciative of the support that has been forthcoming throughout the year from all quarters. However, as I said, there are a great many challenges ahead and I hope that the support that has been forthcoming throughout my first year as a member of this House will continue throughout 1998 and beyond, with the primary aim of improving life in the Port Macquarie community and on the mid-north coast generally.

Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gaudry): Order! I acknowledge the tribute paid to the father of the House by the baby of the House. I note the ruling of Speaker Rozzoli that a private member’s statement can encompass two completely different subjects and that the honourable member has been given an amount of latitude in order that he might refer generally to his electorate.

Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [5.44 p.m.]: I extend my congratulations to the baby of the House, the honourable member for Port Macquarie. I also acknowledge that today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day on which the Hon. Richard Face was elected as member for Charlestown and that earlier today this House acknowledged his position as father of the House. I was pleased to note the many positive comments made by the honourable member for Port Macquarie about achievements in his electorate. However, the honourable member’s reluctance to visit the Governor today and pay his due respects to His Excellency during the presentation of the Address-in-Reply was probably because he was led astray by more experienced members on his side of the House who should have known better. I warn the honourable member that whether one is the baby of
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the House or the father of the House does not matter very much. Elected representatives should exercise their own judgment. If the honourable member believes that his colleagues are leading him astray, he should tell them so. He should not stand mute: he should stand up to them and make sure that he does the right thing in future.

I was pleased to note the many achievements in the electorate of Port Macquarie to which the honourable member referred. I note that those achievements would not have been possible if it had not been for the way in which the Carr Labor Government co-operates with members on both sides of the Chamber. From my own perspective, I am sure that the honourable member for Port Macquarie was only too grateful that I received a recent deputation from his electorate. The Camden Haven multipurpose centre is under way and there have been a number of other positive achievements. I congratulate the honourable member and extend my best wishes to him for his future career in this House. He has achieved a great deal during his first year. But that is the sort of Government we are - we help all members.

Mr MARKHAM (Keira) [5.46 p.m.]: I also extend my congratulations to the baby of the House and to the father of the House. Honourable members will note the age difference of 24 to 25 years between the baby and the father. The contributions of both of those members are what this place is all about. I want to bring to the attention of the House a letter addressed to the BHP board of directors by the United Mineworkers Lodge of Cordeaux Colliery. It is an open letter and reinforces the view that I have held for some time about the mining industry on the southern coalfields. It is a lengthy letter but it stated in part:
    On Friday 3rd October, 1997, it was announced that the workforce at Cordeaux Colliery would be reduced from approximately 340 down to approximately 100 by the 31st May, 1998. We feel the need to express to you and your Board, our complete disgust at this decision and in this letter we aim to raise a number of issues which we feel demonstrate that this company has demonstrated a total disregard for its loyal employees.

Some weeks ago I raised the issue of BHP’s total disregard for its loyal employees on the southern coalfields. At that time I accused BHP of toying with the lives of mineworkers who had given continued loyal service to that company. The letter continued:
    The first issue we would like to address is the undisputed proud record that exists at Cordeaux Colliery. In excess of 25 million tonnes of coal have been produced by this colliery in its period of operation . . . In recent uncertain times all performance and safety targets have been met, resulting in the colliery being awarded the NSW Minerals Council OHS in Mining gold award. This and other achievements have placed Cordeaux Colliery at the leading edge of underground coal mining in Australia.
    The second issue we would like to raise is the company’s complete lack of loyalty to the work force . . .
    The third issue concerns the Wongawilli (#3) seam project, which to this day we believe remains a very viable project if considered in the light of the effort and dedication previously demonstrated by the Cordeaux workforce. On several occasions the workforce have been assured by senior management of Collieries Division that the project had been given the green light.

As I said earlier, BHP collieries are toying with the lives of these mineworkers. On the one hand, they are being told that their commitment to efficient coal production in the safest environment possible is not good enough. BHP has indicated that if workers meet certain criteria it will go ahead and mine the No. 3 Wongawilli seam. No wonder the mineworkers at Cordeaux Colliery are so upset. The lengths the miners have gone to, writing to the board of the company by which they are employed, shows their great concern not only for themselves but for the coal industry generally on the southern coalfields. It amazes me that BHP has turned its back on loyal workers. The board needs to act on this letter. The board should tell BHP colliery division that what these workers are asking for will result in their loyalty to the company. The last section of the letter states:
    In conclusion, we the workers at Cordeaux Colliery and our families condemn BHP for the latest decision and seek that the Board review their position on this matter.

I support that statement. I call on the board to do exactly what the workers at Cordeaux Colliery have asked. The coal in No. 3 seam belongs to the people of New South Wales and it should be mined.

Mr MARTIN (Port Stephens - Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries) [5.51 p.m.]: In response I wish to record some facts and comment on the mine. Cordeaux Colliery is owned by BHP and is located in the southern coalfields. Recently BHP announced that Cordeaux Colliery would scale back production from 2.3 million tonnes to 1 million tonnes from 1 June 1998, with a progressive work force reduction from 316 to about 100. BHP has the objective of achieving a productivity level of 10,000 tonnes per man per year, compared with the current figure of 7,500 tonnes per man per year. Cordeaux Colliery is
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currently producing from the Bulli seam but reserves in that seam will be exhausted within two years.

The mine also has reserves in the Wongawilli No. 3 seam but that seam is of a lower quality than the Bulli seam and is therefore less economically attractive. BHP plans to continue operations at Cordeaux Colliery by mining the Wongawilli seam on a limited scale. However, it would require an investment of about $80 million to fully develop that seam for high-level production. That is not an economic possibility while coal prices are at their current levels. The work force at Cordeaux has been highly productive and a model for many mines. However, the scaling back in operations is a consequence of the exhaustion of the reserves in the Bulli seam. BHP has offered voluntary redundancy packages to Cordeaux mineworkers and that offer has been accepted by almost 40 miners. The offer will remain in place until May 1998. BHP is adopting a consultative approach to the difficult situation at Cordeaux.

In view of the concerns raised by the honourable member I will take the matter up with BHP and make sure that these matters are considered. It is important that the coal industry gets its act together, so that companies do not undercut each other and go out of existence. In the end we all deserve a better go from the coal industry, particularly those who put the blood, sweat and tears into that industry and are working so hard to make it happen for the people of New South Wales. We have to get rid of the queue of ships; we have to get it right. The burden should not be carried by the workers alone. It should be fairly shared amongst everyone. There should be cooperation with the work force.

Mr FRASER (Coffs Harbour) [5.53 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of the House a matter concerning the Coffs Harbour Future Development Corporation regarding Olympic tendering. A letter from Mr Paul Sullivan, General Manager, Coffs Harbour Future Development Corporation, to me states:
    The New South Wales Government sent representatives to a number of regional centres including Coffs Harbour as part of the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics to give public assurances that regional centres would be treated exactly the same as metropolitan centres when it came to tendering for Olympic projects, even to the extent that (they claimed) a special allowance would be made to cover such extra expenses as freight. Coffs Harbour Future Development Corporation was convinced of the genuineness of these statements, and of the opportunities that the Olympic preparations promised, and decided to act to positively promote the interests of Coffs Harbour in securing Olympic tenders.
    We orchestrated a radio and press campaign pushing the message that Coffs Harbour businesses could compete on equal terms with metropolitan companies, encouraging them to register with OBIS - the Olympic Business Information Service - to become part of the tendering process, and to win some of the contracts for regional New South Wales. As a result of this campaign we now have a register of over 70 local companies interested in bidding for Olympic work, and they get a regular update from us of information provided to us by OBIS . . .
    We are now faced with disturbing evidence that perhaps the playing field is not so level after all.
    A local manufacturer put in a tender worth over $1 million for work at the Olympic site. The manufacturer in question has a proven track record of performance with tenders of this magnitude, with successfully-completed contracts in Sydney, Queensland and in Hong Kong and China. The company has Enterprise Agreements with the appropriate unions in Queensland where they do the bulk of their business.
    The tender submitted by the Coffs Harbour company satisfied the criteria of the head contractor as to price and delivery, and satisfied the criteria of the project architect as to capacity and quality. There can be no doubt that the tender was very competitive, even without allowing for the freight differential.
    We are advised however that the crucial consideration was neither quality, delivery or cost: it was the fact that while the Coffs Harbour contractor had an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement with the relevant unions in Queensland, it had no Agreement as such with the NSW unions.
    The Coffs Harbour company approached the Queensland unions to ascertain the status of their Enterprise Bargaining Agreements in New South Wales and was told that the New South Wales unions are more inflexible, that there are special site agreements in respect of the Olympic site and that the politics on the Homebush site are a significant issue. Additional site-specific payments to workers were listed in the tender documentation. Allowance for such extra payments was considered in the tender.
    In the circumstances, quality, price and delivery became less important than the industrial implications, and the contract was awarded to a sub-contractor already working on the site. As it turned out, we have been advised by the architect that the items tendered for are not even the core business of the successful tenderer, who will in all probability sub-contract them out. In the big picture of the Sydney industrial scene a contract for $1.1 million may not be a major consideration, but in the context of Coffs Harbour it means jobs for 20 people for the duration of the contract, and a significant boost for the local economy.
    A review was conducted by OCA - the Olympic Co-ordinating Authority - but immediately they realised that the issue was one of industrial relations rather than the merits of the tender, they declined to intervene: they totally abandoned their responsibilities, with the result that the Coffs Harbour manufacturer still failed to gain a tender which he could quite reasonably have expected to gain.
    Their failure to take action has made a mockery and a farce of the commitments of both the Government and SOCOG that
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    regional companies would be treated on an equal footing with metropolitan companies, and that the commercial opportunities created by the Olympics would be appreciated outside of Sydney. It nullifies the grand undertakings that were given to not only Coffs Harbour but to Albury-Wodonga, Orange, Bathurst, Dubbo and others and it shows that the major contractors are not serious about spreading the benefits of the Olympic preparations outside the unionised metropolis.
    In the simplest terms, there was no question of either price or quality: the question was simply of a local company in Sydney winning the tender on industrial relations issues that should have no basis in fact and no relevance to the project.
    Naturally we recognise that the matter of the awarding of such a tender is a matter solely between the head contractor and the sub-contractor, but in the face of such an extreme situation as this, the role of OCA is thrown into question: this would appear to be a classic example of the very situation which a watchdog authority such as OCA exists to control, a situation where the public interest and the process for the expenditure of public money are in question, yet it does nothing. A decision is made between a head contractor and a sub-contractor on criteria other than price, quality and delivery, but no action is taken to upset the industrial/political status quo.
    We have no expectation of recovering this tender for our local manufacturer - we accept that the tender is won and lost: we do however have serious questions as to the process involved, and the parts played by the various players. If OCA does not exist to protect the integrity of public spending on such a massive scale, to prevent industrial expediency subverting the fair, honest and open process of public tendering, what does OCA exist for? If tenders are not awarded for price, quality or delivery, why are tenders called, and if OCA does not represent the interest of the taxpayer, who does?
    . . . We are concerned that the proclaimed level playing field is in reality no such thing, and we seek your advice on the political reality of businesses based in Coffs Harbour tendering successfully for work on the Sydney Olympic site. Do we in fact have to tell all the potential tenderers that they have no chance of winning tenders at any price, that the whole registration process is meaningless and that competitive tendering does not exist?

[Time expired.]

Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [5.58 p.m.]: In view of the very rushed way in which the honourable member for Coffs Harbour presented his private member’s statement this afternoon, I presume that the only reason he chose to boycott the Governor and not to attend the presentation of the Address-in-Reply is because he was hurriedly preparing his private member’s statement this afternoon. But that will not get him off the hook because the action by the Opposition of boycotting His Excellency the Governor is an absolute disgrace.

Mr Fraser: On a point of order. The Minister for Education and Training must respond to private members’ statements, not cast aspersions on the action taken earlier today by the Opposition, which reflected on the Government, not on the Governor of New South Wales.

Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gaudry): Order! The Minister was making only passing reference to that matter. I am sure he will not return to it.

Mr AQUILINA: If the honourable member for Coffs Harbour wishes to defend his action in boycotting the Governor, that is his business. From time to time honourable members raise in the House issues relating to the procedures adopted for tenders for various Government projects. Parliamentary privilege allows members to canvass issues that may not be canvassed in the normal business world. However, this is a very difficult and complex issue. I caution the member that it may be better to obtain specific legal advice, rather than try to obtain a specific advantage in relation to a specific tendering process by using parliamentary privilege in this way.

Mr NAGLE (Auburn) [6.00 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of the Parliament the sudden death of my constituent, good friend and longstanding member of the Australian Labor Party, John Sullivan of Regents Park. Robert Louis Stevenson profoundly said:
    So long as we are loved by others, I should say that we are almost indispensable as no man is useless when he has a friend.

John was never without friends, as was reflected by the number of people who attended his funeral; the church was packed. I was asked to deliver the eulogy but because of parliamentary commitments and the failure to be given a pair I was unable to do so. I first met John in the early 1960s when I joined the Australian Labor Party. I respected John and his views. He used to tell me about the old days in the Lidcombe area, about the Depression years and about the suffering of his fellow Australians. The Depression years had a profound effect on his teenage years. The former Prime Minister Paul Keating called the people of western Sydney true believers. John was a true believer, a true, blue-ribbon Labor man. John was born on 28 February 1930 at Narrandera, New South Wales. He was baptised by Father Hartigan around the boree log. John’s family moved to Sydney in 1932, taking up residence at Regents Park. John started school at St Peter Chanel primary school - the same primary school I attended - before progressing to Marist Brothers Lidcombe and St Patrick’s College, where he gained his leaving certificate.

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He was a brilliant student. He played cricket and rugby league and participated in athletics at school. After leaving school he served his apprenticeship as a powerhouse operator before moving into the Government Stores Department, where he worked as a clerk for the rest of his working days. John’s life was not always easy. He was married at the age of 22 and then lost his wife, Fay, to an asthma attack at the age of only 28. They had one son, Raymond, who is a good friend of mine and of my family. John never married again; he dedicated his life to raising his son and looking after his extended family. He was a real family man and he loved all the children around him. John played cricket for Regents Park. He was a foundation member, life member and patron of Regents Park Cricket Club. He was also a member of Regents Park Bowling Club. John raced pigeons with his brother Kevin and had much success over 17 years, winning the Hylton Nagle trophy on a number of occasions and receiving $50 for so doing. That trophy is named for my father, a well-respected member of the Labor Party. If more people in the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the National Party could be like my father we would have a great country.

All in all, John was respected in the community. He always had a cheeky smile. He was always willing to give a hand to those who needed him. John lived for 67 years through hard times, including the bitter Depression and a pitiful and vicious Second World War. After the war, he worked in the powerhouse and did many great things for the people. John was always loyal and worked hard for the Labor Party in his local community. He should have received recognition but unfortunately he was such a quiet achiever that that recognition never came his way. He was the returning officer in my branch and I never lost an election. At one stage he was a delegate to the ALP Auburn State Electoral Council. As Sir Samuel Johnson, the great English philosopher, proclaimed:
    It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not important, it lasts such a short time.

John lived life to the fullest. We are all a little better for knowing him. He will be missed because of his true commitment to the community. The words on my mother’s headstone reflect on John Sullivan:
    To live in the hearts of those left behind is not to die.

John lives on in his son Raymond and Raymond’s wife, Gina, John’s granddaughter, Arianne, his brothers, Kevin, Ronnie and Les, and his sisters, Norma and Margaret. His mother, now deceased, was a loving Catholic woman who raised her large family in quiet and difficult times. The Sullivans were one of the first families in my local area to get a television set, in about 1955 shortly after television came on the market. They were a popular family to visit on many occasions. I love the Sullivan family. I loved John and I will miss him greatly. He will be missed by my family, my friends and ALP branches. Lest we forget. John, rest in peace.

Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [6.05 p.m.]: The honourable member for Auburn paid a moving tribute to John Ernest Sullivan, to his long years of dedication to the Australian Labor Party and, indeed, to everything wholesome and decent and everything we uphold as being righteous in the Australian way of life. Many times we cross the paths of ordinary people who are great in their own way and who do not get the opportunity to be lauded in the way John Ernest Sullivan has been lauded today by the honourable member for Auburn.

On behalf of the Government I join the honourable member in paying a compliment to a rank and file party member who for 38 years toiled for the Labor Party doing all those thankless jobs and, in an honorary capacity, doing those tasks which are so vital to helping honourable members on both sides of the House get elected to the position of representing the people. I might take to task the statement of the honourable member that John Sullivan was the returning officer of the Auburn branch and the honourable member for Auburn never lost an election in that period. We in the Labor Party have ways and means of doing things and, obviously, John Sullivan put honesty above good choice in that regard.

John Ernest Sullivan went to St Peter Chanel primary school and Marist Brothers Lidcombe. Many great and famous Australians, ordinary people who became great and famous Australians, attended those schools. Indeed, I think Michael Wenden, the Olympic swimmer, attended Marist Brothers Lidcombe and completed his schooling at St Patrick’s College at Strathfield. That great school, which has many great names to its credit, is continuing its great reputation. To John Sullivan’s family, our sincere best wishes and sympathy. May John rest in peace.

Mr GLACHAN (Albury) [6.07 p.m.]: I raise the matter of bovine and ovine Johne’s disease
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because of the enormous problems it is causing many people on the land today. Unfortunately not enough is known about the disease, and the experts are divided on exactly what steps should be taken to control or perhaps even attempt to eradicate it. The disease is so well established in New Zealand that they have decided simply to put up with it, to suffer the losses, whatever the percentage might be, and to make the most of a very difficult situation. In New South Wales we hope that something is done to eradicate the disease; many people would like to see that. However, they have no confidence as to how that might be achieved. As I said, even the experts are divided on how this disease should be approached.

Much more research into the disease needs to be undertaken. I understand that there is no animal- specific test. Trying to identify affected animals is difficult; how they become infected is not clearly understood. I have been told that it is possible that, with two adjoining properties, if manure from affected animals on one property is washed through the fence onto another property animals there can be affected, although it may be two years, three years or more before we know whether they have been affected. Everyone is completely in the dark about how to deal with it. A cattle breeder in my electorate has spent many years breeding a first-class herd of cattle. Some years ago he bought a bull from a well-regarded stud. He was later advised by officers of the department that the bull came from a herd that was affected by Johne’s disease and that he could not sell any of his cattle for stud purposes but could sell them only for slaughter. His earnings from cattle have been greatly reduced, and his years of hard work have been for nothing. He is devastated that he can sell his cattle only for slaughter.

He has made inquiries, but no-one can tell him how to deal with the problem. Another of my constituents breeds sheep and on-sells wethers, first-cross ewes and weaners. He had arranged to sell a consignment of sheep, which were born on his property, to someone in Victoria, but was informed that his sheep and property were under suspicion, although it was not certain that Johne’s disease was present on his property. Years earlier he had bought some rams from an infected flock, and although those rams were used in his own operation and sold for slaughter when he no longer needed them, he was still under suspicion. He was told he could not on-sell to anyone but could sell only for slaughter.

He has been devastated by the situation. He owes money to the bank, he has a financial program that depends on his ability to sell stock, but he has been told he cannot do that. His whole operation has been destroyed. Many people are at a loss to know what to do; they need direction and assistance. I have spoken to the Minister, who is aware of the situation. He told me he is especially sympathetic to stud breeders, and is doing all he can to assist them. But the situation is desperate, and action needs to be taken to relieve it. Many people are rich in assets, they have bred first-class stock, but they cannot do anything with them. Their whole operation is in jeopardy because of this disease and the uncertainties that surround it. I appeal to the Minister to do all he can to relieve this problem which threatens agriculture in New South Wales.

Mr AMERY (Mount Druitt - Minister for Agriculture) [6.12 p.m.]: I thank the honourable member for Albury for the responsible way in which he has raised this matter. I will not be able to give him a detailed answer in the two minutes allowed to me in this debate, but I guarantee him a fully comprehensive written response to his concerns. I do not disagree with anything that the honourable member for Albury has said. He is concerned about the effects on cattle breeders of bovine Johne’s disease and on the sheep industry of ovine Johne’s disease, which has been well documented. He has stated their case very well this evening.

Only today I wrote to the Hon. John Anderson, Federal Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, asking the Federal Government to make a financial commitment to the program which was agreed upon by all State Ministers and the Federal Government at the last meeting of the Agricultural Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand - ARMCANZ. I stated in that letter:
    ARMCANZ at its Darwin meeting in August agreed "to endorse the proposed National program for Control and Progressive Eradication of Ovine Johne’s Disease subject to consultation within jurisdictions" . . .
    Despite this agreement, the Commonwealth Government has not yet financially committed itself to the program. This failure has already seen the anticipated start time of this campaign delayed from 1 December, 1997 to 1 January, 1998 . . .
    If a positive signal regarding financial commitment by the Federal Government is not immediately forthcoming it could mean that the campaign cannot commence this summer and that the start of the campaign will need to be delayed for 12 months.

I will ensure that further details of that letter are provided to the honourable member for Albury for distribution to his constituents. New South Wales is considered to be a market leader, certainly an
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industry leader, in the control of bovine Johne’s disease. The market assurance program across the country is dominated by the cattle industry in New South Wales. The honourable member raised a number of concerns about individual constituents. I will follow those matters up to see whether there is any way in which the department can resolve the problem. The honourable member’s comments about the plight of sheep breeders is well documented, and that is one reason for all governments to get together to eradicate these diseases from the industry.

Mr McMANUS (Bulli) [6.14 p.m.]: I raise a matter of serious concern to my electorate, the delay in the construction of the east Heathcote bridge. I call on Sutherland Shire Council to honour its commitment and reallocate the finances required to complete the project in the interests of schoolchildren, members of the community and rail commuters. In its last budget the State Government allocated $0.5 million for construction and safety works for the bridge. An amount of $200,000 was allocated in the 1996-97 budget, when a different local government was in control, to ensure that bridge works would be carried out under a State Government-local government agreement.

With a change of government, Councillor Redmond and Councillor White have been active in ensuring that the $200,000 is removed from their budget. On 19 May 1997 Councillor Redmond issued a flyer to the people of east Heathcote, which indicated that ratepayers should not have to foot the bill for the bridge. I have two advertisements that were issued prior to the last council elections. In one of them, David Redmond, the Liberal councillor, said he would construct a new bridge to east Heathcote. His partner, the D-ward Independent, Tom White, a neighbour of David Redmond, indicated that he would secure a new bridge for east Heathcote. They have turned their backs on the electorate and ignored it. It is time something was done about it. Councillor Redmond appears to believe that the State Government has overall control of the bridge. Some years ago the previous Minister for Transport, Bruce Baird, wrote to the Hon. Robert Tickner and expressed his concerns about the bridge and indicated that the construction and design of the bridge was the council’s responsibility. It was that letter which precipitated this Government going ahead with the proposal to construct a bridge jointly with the council.

The current situation is ridiculous. There is political manoeuvring by one Liberal councillor and his so-called Independent mate to embarrass me as the local member. This situation cannot be condoned. The bridge has a 27-tonne limit. Fire trucks cross it regularly. Heavy concrete trucks will soon be unable to travel to the isolated community of east Heathcote, and schoolchildren from Heathcote High School have to put up with traffic chaos every afternoon trying to egress east Heathcote to get to Heathcote and Engadine. The emergency exit from east Heathcote is particularly important in times of bushfires.

For your edification, Mr Acting-Speaker, east Heathcote is an isolated community which abuts the Royal National Park. When a bushfire threatens, urgent action is necessary to egress people from east Heathcote over the Wilson Parade bridge near Heathcote railway station. That bridge was constructed at the instigation of the Minister for Transport, and I appreciate that. However, this bridge will not be able to handle the amount of traffic needing to cross it during a bushfire. Everyone knows that the Royal National Park could experience a bad bushfire season, and I call on Sutherland Shire Council to honour its commitment by reallocating funding to replace this bridge and to stop playing political games, because lives are at stake.

Mr LANGTON (Kogarah - Minister for Transport, and Minister for Tourism) [6.19 p.m.]: It is quite correct that the Rail Access Corporation has provided $500,000 in its current works program for work on the overbridge at east Heathcote. The corporation allocated that money in good faith on the basis that some time ago there was an agreement that council would contribute $200,000 towards the replacement of the bridge - because of the development that council had permitted at east Heathcote. On 16 July Sutherland Shire Council wrote to the Rail Access Corporation as follows:
    I wish to advise that Council at its meeting of 14 July 1997 resolved that Council is not prepared to contribute to the replacement of the East Heathcote Railway Bridge.

That resolution broke the agreement that council had made some years earlier. The Rail Access Corporation therefore advised the council that it was required to re-evaluate the project. That re-evaluation resulted in the postponement of the commencement of the widening of the bridge. The corporation has an obligation to maintain the existing structure and has instructed its contractor,
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the Railway Services Authority, to honour its commitment.

The council is permitting development in east Heathcote and is collecting section 94 contributions. If the council is fair dinkum it should acknowledge its responsibility under its agreement to contribute to a widening of the east Heathcote overbridge; in the meantime the Rail Access Corporation will play its part. The corporation has budgeted $500,000, which it will spend on maintaining the existing bridge. Sutherland Shire Council cannot renege on agreements it has made with the Rail Access Corporation; it cannot renege on its basic commitment to look after the wellbeing of its residents; and, as the local authority, it cannot renege on its obligation to cater for development that it has permitted and for which it collects section 94 contributions.

Private members’ statements noted.

[Mr Acting-Speaker (Mr Gaudry) left the chair at 6.21 p.m. The House resumed at 7.30 p.m.]
Western Sydney Orbital Road Construction

Mr LYNCH (Liverpool) [7.30 p.m.]: The arguments supporting priority for my motion can be encompassed in two short points. First, the motion is substantially about job creation in western Sydney; and, frankly, nothing should have precedence over discussion about job creation in western Sydney. Second, unless the decision is taken to commence construction of the orbital road with associated funding, the project will be delayed immeasurably, which would be very detrimental to my constituents and, indeed, to all residents of western Sydney.
Periodic Detention Order Breaches

Mr COLLINS (Willoughby - Leader of the Opposition) [7.31 p.m.]: My motion is urgent because the people of New South Wales learned at the weekend that their safety from dangerous offenders can no longer be guaranteed. Last Sunday they opened newspapers to read, again, that this State’s law and order systems under the Carr Government are in crisis. The honourable member for Londonderry is about to take his traditional point of order, but I thought I might have been able to say a few more sentences at least.

Mr Gibson: On a point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The point of order is premature. The Leader of the Opposition may continue.

Mr COLLINS: This matter is urgent because at the moment the State has a bail system designed to lock up high-risk suspects, but instead lets them walk free. Our weekend detention system is designed to punish criminals but fails to notice when they do not turn up. This motion is urgent because these problems have emerged after the Government promised in March 1995 to get tough on law and order and to make it harder to obtain bail.

Mr Gibson: On a point of order. Under Standing Order 120(4) the Leader of the Opposition must establish why his motion is more important than that of the honourable member for Liverpool. The mere fact that he mentions 1995 proves to everybody in the Chamber that his motion is not as urgent as he maintains. He is not allowed to go into the substance of his motion. For three hours last week the House heard about relevant points of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition was debating the motion rather than giving reasons for precedence. I uphold the point of order.

Mr COLLINS: I note the point that has been made, but it is difficult for coalition members to establish priority when the honourable member for Liverpool did not address his motion. I at least am trying to spell out why my motion should have priority. For example, how can people skip weekends in gaol and still go unnoticed by the Government? How can prisoners be allowed to turn up only when they feel like it, treating our gaols like five-star hotels? These are the urgent issues.

Mr Gibson: On a point of order. Under Standing Order 120(4) -

Mr Hartcher: You listened to me last week.

Mr Gibson: That is right. Actually, I listened to the honourable member for Gosford for four hours. The Leader of the Opposition must establish why his motion is more urgent than that of the honourable member for Liverpool. He is not at liberty to go into the substance of the debate. The standing orders are quite clear, and you have ruled that way many times, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I uphold the point of order.

Page 1970

Mr COLLINS: How can any citizen confidently walk the streets when our bail system is in tatters? Our periodic detention system is in absolute chaos. These are urgent matters, and the Parliament has a right to debate them. My motion is urgent because the Government cannot and will not answer those questions. All it offers is stony silence. All we get from the Carr Government on this issue is stonewalling. The people of this State have been presented with the clearest imaginable examples of how our law and order system is in chaos. It is no longer a system. The two safeguards of bail and weekend detention, designed to protect the community from serious crimes, have been rendered useless by the Carr Government through its constant abuse that we read about every weekend. These matters are urgent and must be debated by this House. The people of this State have a right to have bail and periodic detention debated in this Chamber as a matter of urgency. [Time expired.]

Question - That the motion for urgent consideration of the honourable member for Liverpool be proceeded with - put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 48

Ms Allan Mr Markham
Mr Amery Mr Martin
Mr Anderson Ms Meagher
Ms Andrews Mr Mills
Mr Aquilina Mr Moss
Mrs Beamer Mr Nagle
Mr Clough Mr Neilly
Mr Crittenden Mr E. T. Page
Mr Debus Mr Price
Mr Face Dr Refshauge
Mr Gaudry Mr Rogan
Mr Gibson Mr Rumble
Mrs Grusovin Mr Scully
Ms Hall Mr Shedden
Mr Harrison Mr Stewart
Ms Harrison Mr Sullivan
Mr Hunter Mr Tripodi
Mr Iemma Mr Watkins
Mr Knight Mr Whelan
Mr Knowles Mr Woods
Mr Langton Mr Yeadon
Mrs Lo Po’
Mr Lynch Tellers,
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Mr McManus Mr Thompson
Noes, 48

Mr Armstrong Mr O’Doherty
Mr Beck Mr O’Farrell
Mr Blackmore Mr D. L. Page
Mr Brogden Mr Peacocke
Mr Chappell Mr Phillips
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Photios
Mr Cochran Mr Richardson
Mr Collins Mr Rixon
Mr Cruickshank Mr Rozzoli
Mr Debnam Mr Schipp
Mr Downy Mr Schultz
Mr Ellis Ms Seaton
Ms Ficarra Mrs Skinner
Mr Fraser Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Glachan Mr Small
Mr Hartcher Mr Smith
Mr Hazzard Mr Souris
Mr Humpherson Mr Tink
Dr Kernohan Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Kinross Mr R. W. Turner
Mr MacCarthy Mr Windsor
Dr Macdonald
Mr Merton Tellers,
Ms Moore Mr Jeffery
Mr Oakeshott Mr Kerr

Mr SPEAKER: The vote being equal, I give my casting vote with the ayes and declare the question to be resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.
Urgent Motion

Mr LYNCH (Liverpool) [7.45 p.m.]: I move:
    That this House:
    Joins with the Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board in calling upon the Federal Government to commit to:
    (a) the funding and construction of the entire western Sydney orbital by 2002; and
    (b) the completion of stage one of the orbital from the M5 to Prestons, through to Elizabeth Drive at Cecil Park and onto the M4 via Wallgrove Road by 1999.
    Calls on the Federal Government to give these commitments regardless of the final site for the Sydney west airport.

The development of the western Sydney orbital road is of crucial significance and importance for the
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economic development of Sydney’s west. Job creation is incumbent upon economic development, and both job creation and economic development will be grossly retarded unless this orbital road is constructed. The former Federal Labor Government announced in 1994 that planning would commence for a major road in the greater western Sydney region. That proposal was part of the national highway. It is that road which is now known as the western Sydney orbital road. The actual road is proposed to extend from Prestons to Cecil Park, then to Rooty Hill and then to west Baulkham Hills.

Stage one of the orbital road takes the road from the M5 to Prestons through to Elizabeth Drive at Cecil Park and on to the M4 by Wallgrove Road. Stage two takes the road from the M4 at Eastern Creek to link with the M2 by Phillip Parkway. The initiative of the Federal Labor Government recognised that the construction of the orbital road was very much a Federal Government responsibility. Apart from that acceptance of responsibility, the scope of the road clearly means that its funding is a Federal responsibility, a fact that has not been disputed by the current Federal Government at any stage. The orbital road has a proposed link of some 43 kilometres. It will have a divided carriageway and grade-separated intersections. The cost of the project is estimated at $800 million. [Quorum formed.]

In calling for a quorum, Opposition members demonstrate that they have no interest in western Sydney. In its May 1995 budget the Federal Labor Government allocated some $260 million for the project. Construction of stage one, for which the allocation was made, was scheduled to begin in 1996. A further $220 million was committed by the Federal Labor Government in August 1995 for the second stage of the road, between Cecil Park and Eastern Creek, construction of which was to begin in 1998. The plans and projections have been turned on their head by the current Federal Government, which could be accurately described as the enemy of western Sydney. In November 1996 the Federal Minister announced that the only allocation to be made would be $109 million over five years. The allocation commenced with $5 million in 1996-97 and a further $5 million was allocated in 1997-98. Those are derisory and offensive amounts, indicating the contempt with which the current Federal Government views the residents of western Sydney and the greater western area.

My motion refers to a proposal with specific time lines that came from the Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board. It is interesting that the board that made the recommendation was appointed by the previous Liberal Government. It would seem to me that a group of people appointed by the Liberal Party for their expertise in economic development - notwithstanding by whom they were appointed - would nevertheless be able to come to the truth about the importance of the orbital road, even taking into account the idiocies of the current Federal Government. The board’s recommendations are contained in a document entitled "Greater Western Sydney Planning and Transport Review and Priorities Study". That detailed study goes through, with considerable detail and competence, the arguments in support of the construction of the orbital road.

The board spent a lot of time consulting with the western Sydney community and, in particular, with centres of business and industry. As a result of a workshop held by the board, a number of conclusions were drawn about the criteria for economic development - that is, the things that need to be done to allow economic development to proceed in Sydney’s west and create further jobs. The most important criterion proposed by business and industry leaders in western Sydney was low transport costs. The construction of this orbital route is, of course, a significant way of reducing transport costs. The third most significant factor out of nine was efficient movement of freight - something that would be dramatically assisted by the construction of the orbital road. Fourth out of nine was good access to employment for employees - once again, something that would be significantly assisted by the construction of the orbital road.

It is also appropriate to note that the call by the economic development board has been supported by a range of other institutions and bodies in western Sydney. A number of councils, including Fairfield, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Blacktown, have supported the urgent construction of the orbital road. The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, WSROC, has been very supportive of the construction from a very early time. In August 1994, the WSROC board moved a resolution supporting the construction of the orbital road as a matter of some urgency. I was the chair of WSROC at that time and I made representations to the Federal Government, urging it to continue with the plans it had discussed. In that context it is particularly regrettable that the current Federal Government decided to overturn all those hopes and aspirations of the people of western Sydney.

One of the definitions of western Sydney is that it is an area where there are more people than there are jobs. A far greater proportion of people
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from western Sydney have to go outside the region to find employment than people from any other part of Sydney. The orbital road deals directly with those sorts of issues. Obviously, the construction of a more efficient and quicker means of transport would allow people to move from the western Sydney region to other regions for purposes of employment, and they would no longer suffer the discrimination they currently suffer in respect of transport. That is simply an equity issue about whether people in the west get the same treatment as people in other parts of Sydney. Second, and quite significant, is the number of jobs that a more efficient transport system will create. At the moment the main transport links tend to radiate from Sydney’s central business district.

The construction of the orbital road will create an efficient and effective north-south link through the western suburbs that will eliminate the existing gaps between roads and highways; it will remove the bottlenecks in the transport system; and it will service the industrial estates. That will lead to a more efficient and more effective sector which will consequently employ more people. A number of other advantages would flow from construction of the orbital road. One important asset would be its ability to move significant amounts of traffic away from residential areas and from local town centres. For example, at Liverpool heavy freight vehicles would no longer have to lumber along in quite the numbers that they do along the Hume Highway and Copeland Street. That would have significant advantages for the amenity of Liverpool. It would also have some advantages for pedestrian safety, which is something of an issue in that area.

Removal of the traffic from Copeland Street and the Hume Highway would also allow easier east-west access into the Liverpool central business district. In addition, the speedier travelling of freight vehicles and their removal from congested highways would, according to many estimates, significantly improve some of the pollution problems that exist in south-western Sydney. That would especially be the case if some of the WSROC suggestions for dedicated bus lanes were to be adopted. Significant benefits would flow from that. Because the Federal Government has pulled the plug on funding for the project, another problem is the uncertainty that has been cast in the minds of many property owners and landowners who live in areas near the proposed routes. That includes a number of community groups: Sule College at Prestons, those who use Hoxton Park Reserve at Hoxton Park, and the prospective users of the Liverpool showground site all have some uncertainty hanging over them because the Federal Government has not been able to provide funding for the construction of this orbital road and has reneged on the commitments made by the previous Government.

Mr SOURIS (Upper Hunter - Deputy Leader of the National Party) [7.55 p.m.]: Honourable members have just witnessed a demonstration by the honourable member for Liverpool that indicates why this matter is not as urgent as the motion proposed by the Opposition. This motion refers to a major project that has been on the drawing board for many years and will remain on the drawing board for a number of years to come because the project is of such magnitude. The matter is not urgent today. It may well be a matter of public importance and a significant issue, but it cannot possibly be as urgent as the Opposition’s motion.

Mr Lynch: On a point of order. Loath as I am to interrupt, it seems to me that the Deputy Leader of the National Party is trying to revisit the precedence debate that decided which of the two motions was the most urgent. That is not what is supposed to happen. If the honourable member is not able to say something substantive about the motion, maybe he should just sit down.

Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Clough): Order! The House has determined that it will hear the motion moved by the honourable member for Liverpool. I uphold the point of order and ask the Deputy Leader of the National Party to debate the motion.

Mr SOURIS: The honourable member for Liverpool knows only too well that a significant aspect of the program for the construction of the Sydney orbital road is the decision in relation to Sydney’s second airport. He has written letters about this subject over many years. In 1994 he wrote to the then Minister on behalf of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, promoting the Sydney orbital road and promoting Badgerys Creek Sydney west international airport. If there has been any delay in the Federal Government getting under way with the remaining part of the Sydney orbital road because of the siting and location of the next Sydney airport, it is because of the division within the Australian Labor Party, and in particular the division amongst members of the ALP representing electorates in the area.

The Federal Government is committed to the Sydney orbital road. In fact, as a result of the proposal of this urgency motion earlier today, I took the liberty of contacting the Federal Minister for Transport, Mark Vaile. I assure the House - relating the conversation that I had with him - that the
Page 1973
Federal Government is committed to the Sydney orbital road. The honourable member for Liverpool has already pointed out that a significant sum of money, $109 million, has been committed for preliminary works and, indeed, there will be a very significant level of funding when the orbital road gets under way. I am pleased that the Sydney orbital road is a matter of debate because today young achievers from Mudgee High School are in the gallery. I am their local member of Parliament. The road to which we are referring, particularly aspects relating to the M4, is significant for people from the Mudgee area. The M4 is the major artery to central New South Wales and the lifeblood of the Mudgee district for commerce, recreation, tourism and various aspects of business. I am sure the students from Mudgee High School used that road to come to Sydney and ultimately will use it on their return.

The Federal Government is committed to the western Sydney orbital road. The starting time for its construction is more dependent upon the decision on the Sydney airport than anything else. Equally, I refer to a statement already made by the Federal Government in relation to a segment of road. The immediate past Minister for Transport in the Federal Parliament, Mr John Sharp, at the time said:
    The orbital route currently proposed extends from Prestons via Cecil Park and Rooty Hill to west Baulkham Hills.

That is the section of road to which the honourable member for Liverpool referred. I must point out that the urgency motion of the honourable member for Liverpool is ridiculous in respect to his suggested timing. He suggested that presumably commencing now the entire western Sydney orbital road could be constructed by the year 2002. Obviously the honourable member for Liverpool has no conception of what is involved in planning studies, environmental studies, the approval process, public consultation, the probity requirements of going through a proper process of tendering and the actual construction itself.

Does the honourable member for Liverpool propose that construction should be under way during the Sydney Olympic Games? That would gridlock the transport system of Sydney and would virtually destroy the Olympic Games. It is madness for the honourable member for Liverpool in an urgency motion to propose that the entire western Sydney orbital road be constructed by the year 2002. To add madness upon madness, the honourable member for Liverpool -

Mr Langton: There is not one person who can make sense of what you are saying.

Mr SOURIS: The proposals of the Minister for Transport when he was the shadow minister have yet to be realised. His colleague the Minister for Roads is still running around promising that the M5 East, chimneys and all, will be ready for the 2000 Olympic Games but he has still not managed to get it started. The M5 East is part of the western Sydney orbital road system.

Mr Langton: I never mentioned the M5 East.

Mr SOURIS: The Minister for Transport may not realise the extent of the western Sydney orbital road and may not have any conception of the methodology of construction and the processes involved. He should ask his colleague the Minister for Roads how long the Labor Party has been in office. In that time not a thing has happened on the M5 East. How does the honourable member for Liverpool propose that stage one of the orbital road, the M5 East to Prestons through to Elizabeth Drive at Cecil Park and on to the M4 by Wallgrove Road, will be completed by 1999? From today that is a mere number of months. How will the processes of planning, designing, consultation, environmental assessment, et cetera, to which I have referred, as well as the construction, be completed in such a minuscule period?

The honourable member for Liverpool is hallucinating by moving an urgency motion of such magnitude. I am pleased that Mudgee High School students are in the gallery to hear the sorts of proposals put forward by the Carr Government in a weak attempt to create embarrassment for the Federal Government. The Carr Government is making a purely political statement through its little mouthpiece the honourable member for Liverpool, who has no idea of the magnitude of the construction task required.

Honourable members will shortly hear laughter echoing all the way from Canberra. To suggest that a Federal government of whatever persuasion would have anything short of a full commitment to the Sydney orbital road system is an attempt to extract political gain for the Carr Government, and it is stupid to suggest that this road is urgent and can be constructed within the period of time suggested. Government members should resolve their differences in respect of Sydney’s western airport?

Mr Lynch: So you are saying it is dependent upon the airport?

Mr SOURIS: It is pretty obvious that the magnitude of traffic will be greatly determined by the location of the second Sydney airport. Therefore
Page 1974
the design of the Sydney orbital road and its missing links is significantly dependent on the location of the airport. If the Government laughs at that, it has no conception of the task it is trying to initiate.

Mr SCULLY (Smithfield - Minister for Roads, Minister for Public Works and Services, Minister for Ports, Assistant Minister for Energy, and Assistant Minister for State and Regional Development) [8.05 p.m.]: The people from Mudgee should appreciate that the Deputy Leader of the National Party is pretending to be a future Minister for Roads. That contribution is the greatest piece of nonsense I have heard from my friend George for a very long time.

Mr Souris: On a point of order. For these purposes I am neither his friend nor George; I am the member for Upper Hunter. It is inappropriate in this debate for my great adversary the Minister for Roads to refer to me as a close friend. The Minister should restrain himself and use my correct title. I may be George to the Minister outside this Chamber but inside he should use the appropriate title.

Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Clough): Order! I accept the fact that you may not be bosom pals. I ask the Minister to refer to the Deputy Leader of the National Party by his title.

Mr SCULLY: I had a discussion about the western Sydney orbital road with the former Federal Minister, the Hon. John Sharp, who indicated that construction of the road had a 10- to 15-year time frame - not a high priority commitment of the Federal Government. I took up discussions with the Hon. Mark Vaile, who, I am pleased to inform the House, has a stronger interest in the western Sydney orbital road than John Sharp ever had. It was an insult that John Sharp allocated just $5 million in the first year of the Howard Government and $5 million in the second year to start planning processes.

Mark Vaile indicated that he believes that the cross-Sydney connections are nowhere near as good as the cross-Melbourne connections and that Sydney has a stronger case for Federal funding than, say, Melbourne. I indicated to Mr Vaile that the New South Wales Government would keep the pressure on the Federal Government to fund the western Sydney orbital road, but that there are no dollars. I should be pleased to hear from the shadow minister for roads that there is money coming from the Federal Government. The messages that I am getting are that the current Minister is more interested than the previous one but there is no money available.

Laurie Brereton allocated about $200 million in the last budget of the Labor Government. The Howard Government has put in about $10 million. The western Sydney orbital road is a vital part of the Sydney orbital network. One and a half million people live in western Sydney. As the honourable member for Liverpool pointed out, the orbital road will be a major freight route between Liverpool and Hornsby and a significant road that will be used by hundreds of thousands of people in western Sydney. It is fair to say that the Federal Government probably will not provide any significant level of funding. The Sydney orbital could be built in a time frame not too distant from the Olympics, and to suggest that it would destroy the Olympics is sheer invented nonsense. This Government will build the eastern distributor. It is in the can; it will be built. The M5 East will be built. The Deputy Leader of the National Party should have a look at South Dowling Street now. I am ready to build the western Sydney orbital road. We can manage the project for the Federal Government. The Deputy Leader of the National Party talks about environmental constraints. I shall let him in on a little secret: I am happy to tell the House that we have substantially completed environmental assessment of the project. There is no problem; we can fast-track its completion.

The only constraint to constructing the western Sydney orbital road is not environmental assessment, community consultation or identification of the route; it is big bucks, which must come from the Commonwealth. I am talking about $1 billion. It is simply beyond the financial capacity of this State to finance the project. The orbital road will be a national highway. At the moment the Cumberland Highway runs through the residential areas of Sydney. The airport is a spur line. I will take the shadow minister for roads to western Sydney and show him that it is a spur line along Elizabeth Drive. The Deputy Leader of the National Party has not heard of Elizabeth Drive. If the airport does not go ahead it does not matter; the orbital road is still necessary. The honourable member for Liverpool will obviously make that point with greater emphasis. We will tell Jackie Kelly, Ross Cameron and other Federal members that members opposite are saying that if there is no airport there will be no orbital road. If there is no airport the orbital road is still necessary. I am pleased to hear members opposite say that the Federal Government will provide the funding. [Time expired.]

Mr RICHARDSON (The Hills) [8.10 p.m.]: It is the height of hypocrisy for the Government to move this motion. Time and again when Government members have nothing on the agenda,
Page 1975
nothing to talk about, no qualitative ideas for advancing New South Wales, they bag the Federal Government. It is their stock in trade; it is about the only thing they can do. The Minister for Transport came to my electorate last Saturday week and said, "We did not want to build the M2." At the time he was opening a new bus route along the M2, which has been spectacularly successful. He said, "I don’t agree with freeways. I don’t want to know about freeways." Yet the honourable member for Liverpool has moved a motion condemning the Federal Government for not providing additional funding for a freeway, a road going around Sydney.

It seems to be the case - and it is consistent with Labor’s stance on every issue - that it is only when the roads and infrastructure are to be provided for Labor electorates that Government members support those initiatives. The Opposition believes in generating infrastructure that will benefit all of New South Wales. That is why a coalition government built the M2, which had been on the drawing board for more than 40 years. The people in my electorate of The Hills sorely and desperately needed the M2 but the Minister for Transport in late 1994 in this House almost stopped its construction.

I have another interest in the Sydney orbital project. The orbital road as initially proposed by the Keating Government would have gone through my electorate as well as through Galston Gorge, which is a particularly environmentally sensitive part of the world, as members opposite who pride themselves on their environmental credentials would be aware. The route, not that section of road, is now under active consideration. The honourable member for Liverpool is nodding his head because he was not aware of that when he moved the motion. The north-west transport forum, which has been formed in my electorate with a good friend of mine, Mr Steve Russell, as president, has been negotiating with the Federal Government on an alternative, more environmentally sensitive route for the orbital road. Obviously, it will be impossible to build the road until the route is determined. I heard the Minister for Roads say that identification of the route was not essential to starting construction of the road. What is the Minister talking about?

Mr Scully: On a point of order. I never said that identification of the route was not essential to the western Sydney orbital project. What a load of claptrap. The honourable member should refer to Hansard. He should clean out his ears.

Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Clough): Order! No point of order is involved.

Mr RICHARDSON: The Minister for Roads said that identification of the route was not essential. He said that it was not necessary to identify the location of the airport before commencing construction of the road. I put it to the House that it is essential to identify the location of the airport and the northern part of the road connecting with Hornsby before construction of the road commences. It is not a matter of simply starting to bulldoze the bush. Those things need to be planned; the entire orbital link needs to be planned before major construction of the road can commence. It is entirely appropriate that the Federal Government should be cautious about commencing major construction of the road. Indeed, when construction commences I have no doubt that the road will be in the right place because the right processes will have been undergone, and the road will be commenced and finished expeditiously.

Mr ANDERSON (St Marys) [8.15 p.m.]: I support the motion moved by the honourable member for Liverpool. I listened with great interest to the debate and it is obvious that the Opposition members who contributed to it do not know a great deal about the importance of this road and its implications for western Sydney. I remember well attending the opening of a major facility in western Sydney by the Hon. Nick Greiner when he was Premier of New South Wales. I remember well his talking about the importance of this road for western Sydney - to bring jobs and economic growth to western Sydney. The developers asked Nick Greiner and the Government of the day to provide proper road infrastructure so that major developers coming to western Sydney would have access to markets in the south to Melbourne and markets in the north to Brisbane. They needed a proper road infrastructure. The orbital road was identified as an important part of the jigsaw puzzle.

At present a major development being constructed in western Sydney will provide warehousing facilities for major food companies. The 1,000 semitrailers a day - not a week or a month - emanating from that development will need proper road infrastructure to access markets not only in the Sydney metropolitan area but also throughout New South Wales. The Sydney orbital road is part of that road structure. Feasibility of the orbital project does not depend on the airport. Enough development is taking place in western Sydney to justify early completion of the Sydney orbital road. This Government and all governments must be committed to providing that facility because without the road infrastructure major traffic problems as well as environmental problems will arise in western Sydney.

Page 1976

The Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board is working hard to attract visitors to western Sydney. The great work of the board was raised last week as a matter of public importance. The outgoing board was congratulated and the new board was welcomed. It is hoped that the new board will carry on the good work of the original board. Western Sydney, which has 1.5 million residents, needs the jobs; it needs the work for its residents. Adequate infrastructure must also be provided. Whenever we talk about bringing jobs and industry to western Sydney we must bear in mind that they need to be supported by infrastructure. That is why the western Sydney orbital is so important. I listened with interest to the comments of the Deputy Leader of the National Party about what is needed before a road can be constructed and about the need for public consultation.

A group of which I am chairman, the Rooty Hill residents action group, has worked with the Roads and Traffic Authority for a number of years in workshops and on planning teams to identify community needs in the provision of this orbital road. That consultation was carried out some years ago. The recommendations are still available for any government that is prepared to pick up the ball and run with it in relation to this road network. The consultation process has been carried out very thoroughly. The records are available for everyone to access. That consultation process identified a number of matters. One was the importance to the people of western Sydney of the early provision of this road. Federal governments of both persuasions have talked about and provided for an arterial road around the whole of Australia, but one section is missing. That section is the orbital. It will fill in a missing part. [Time expired.]

Mr LYNCH (Liverpool) [8.20 p.m.], in reply: I thank the members who participated in the debate, particularly the honourable member for St Marys and the Minister for Roads. However, I should like to deal with some of the comments made by other speakers. The Deputy Leader of the National Party commenced his contribution by suggesting that although this matter might be somewhat important, it is not particularly urgent. That attitude is no longer acceptable to the people of western Sydney. The previous Federal Minister indicated that there would be a 15-year wait for this project. On any view of the matter, that is a disgrace. If the Deputy Leader of the National Party wants to pursue that sort of time frame, he will find precious little support for it from me or from other representatives of electorates in western Sydney.

It is perhaps useful to remember that the previous Federal Government talked about the commencement of stage one of the orbital in 1996 and the commencement of stage two in 1998. The Deputy Leader of the National Party seemed to be a little confused about the Sydney west airport. He seemed to suggest that to a large extent the future of the orbital would depend upon the airport. That is clearly incorrect. Although the airport would obviously have an impact on the orbital, the orbital stands by itself. If there were no airport at Badgerys Creek, if there were no Sydney west airport anywhere in the western suburbs, there would still be an overwhelming case to proceed with the orbital. That has been the basis upon which the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, the Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board and councils have been pursuing this matter for some considerable time.

The Deputy Leader of the National Party also claimed that the timing set out in the motion is ridiculous. There are two responses to that. The first is that the time frame is precisely that which has been set out by the Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board. Secondly, and more importantly, that sort of excuse - and that is just what it is: an excuse - is thrown up time and again when areas like western Sydney try to get their fair share from the Federal Government. To stand back and throw one’s hands up in despair and claim that it is all too hard and it cannot be done that quickly is not acceptable to the people of western Sydney. The days when people from western Sydney were prepared to put up with second best from the Federal coalition Government, or anyone else, have long since gone.

It is also worth reminding the House of the Minister’s comments about the environmental impact statement process having been substantially completed and there being no significant barriers in that regard to the orbital process being pursued forthwith. I was particularly interested in what the Minister had to say in his comments about his conversations with the Federal Minister, Mark Vaile, who seems to be somewhat more interested in what is an absolute priority for western Sydney than the previous Minister, John Sharp. Although that increase in enthusiasm is pleasing to note, that of itself is not enough. Money needs to be provided because the road needs to be built. The road is too important for western Sydney and too critical for our future for it not to be proceeded with.

The honourable member for The Hills seemed to suggest, in what can only be described as a logic-
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defying presentation, that because the Minister for Transport has some reservations about the M2, it is inconsistent to say that the western Sydney orbital is needed. I would have thought that the M2, as the east-west link, is qualitatively and quantitatively very different to the western Sydney orbital. It is not inconsistent to have difficulties about the M2 but, at the same time, to support the western Sydney orbital. Indeed, one would have to be lacking in some of the cognitive faculties to suggest that the argument of the honourable member for The Hills on that point had any substance at all.

It follows from the contribution of the honourable member for The Hills that he does not want the money. If he is saying that there is a problem with the western Sydney orbital because it is a freeway, one can only assume that he does not want the money. That is inconsistent with the claim by the Deputy Leader of the National Party that there is a commitment by the Federal Government to proceed with the orbital. If I can dwell on that point briefly, it seems there is still some confusion in the mind of the Deputy Leader of the National Party - I hope not in Mr Vaile’s mind. Either there is a commitment or there is not. If the commitment is purely dependent on the construction of an airport at Badgerys Creek, it seems that commitment is highly qualified and not a commitment at all. The Federal Government should provide the money and do what is necessary for western Sydney. [Time expired.]

Motion agreed to.
Matter of Public Importance

Mr SOURIS (Upper Hunter - Deputy Leader of the National Party) [8.25 p.m.]: The level of road funding for regional New South Wales is a matter of public importance because the Carr Government is aware of the state of disrepair of rural roads, and that it is a major factor in the death and serious injury of people living in the bush. I was interested to hear the Minister give an answer in question time today which highlighted the importance, to an extent, of the three well-known causes of road fatalities: alcohol, speed and fatigue. He particularly referred to speed.

It is a fact, however, that more than 50 per cent of road fatalities have other causes. Although it is not the exclusive cause, a significant cause of road fatalities is the state of repair or disrepair of the road network and the level of funding for maintenance and safety improvements to the road system. Funding for the creation of new roads and for the eradication of black spots is relevant to the condition of the State’s roads and, therefore, to the contribution they make to the safety of the road system. The annual report of the Roads and Traffic Authority, which was tabled by the Minister only recently, contains a graph showing the condition of the State’s roads. Although the graph categorises roads as good, bad and fair, the overall picture is a sharp increase in funding for the repair of roads up until the change of government. After the change of government in 1995 the graph levels off or gently eases downhill.

That graph is a damning indictment of the level of funding for the repair of roads in country New South Wales and, therefore, their safety. The graph shows the effect of a $50 million decrease in funding by the Carr Government. The western region of the Roads and Traffic Authority covers approximately 54 per cent of the State, extending from Moree in the north-west to Oberon in the south-east and west to the South Australia border. The annual report of the Roads and Traffic Authority shows that revenue to the State Government for road funding will increase this financial year to a record $2,190 million, up from $1,973 million in 1996-97. That is an increase of $217 million.

Contrary to assertions by the Minister for Roads, Federal funding has increased from $321 million in 1996-97 to $390 million in 1997-98. The 3 x 3 levy, which was correctly accredited to the former Leader of the National Party, Wal Murray, was split 60:40 in favour of regional roads when the coalition was in government. It is now being used to prop up marginal Labor Party electorates in western Sydney. That has led to a further deterioration in the level of road funding in regional New South Wales. I want to pose a question to the Minister for Roads which comes about as a result of the recent High Court decision prohibits the States from collecting franchise tax. As a direct result fuel levies, which were previously collected by the States, are now notional components of the Commonwealth’s excise surcharge of 8.1¢ per litre and will be paid back to the States.

The agreement between the Federal and State governments does not differentiate between consolidated revenue and road funding. That is left to the individual States. Although the Carr Government has taken about $160 million in its first term from funding for roads to fund other projects, nevertheless the concept of hypothecation - that is, that the levies and taxes raised from roads would be
Page 1978
spent on roads - was a significant feature of the former Government and, of course, of the first couple of years of the current Government. The Opposition is concerned about the High Court’s decision and wants to know whether 100 per cent of the taxes that will be returned to the State, having been raised by the Federal Government from fuel levies and other tariffs, will be transmitted without appropriation to the roads budget. We need to know whether the Government intends to ensure that the level of road funding and the way it is determined will not alter from the previous arrangements. The Opposition does not want money that would otherwise be spent on roads to be siphoned off for other projects or to fill the enormous black hole in the Carr Government’s budget.

The deficit facing New South Wales is in the order of $500 million. No doubt it would be a huge temptation for the Premier and Treasurer to devote some of the money coming back from the Federal Government that would ordinarily have been used for road funding to filling a little of the black hole. I assure the Government that the people of New South Wales, particularly country people, will not tolerate any diminution in road funding. In the past 3 x 3 levy funding for roads in rural New South Wales has been reduced in order to fund projects in the metropolitan area. There have already been commitments to metropolitan road funding to the tune of a massive $800 million.

The predominant item is the funding of the M5 East from internal sources. Its final cost is estimated to be $624 million. The original estimate was $520 million. An additional $70 million will possibly be incurred as a result of property acquisitions. That is nearly $700 million, to which have to be added commitments for Parramatta Road and for the canopy to be built near the Art Gallery, which is estimated to cost $20 million. That is a massive redirection of road funding for those specific projects. The M5 East should be a tollway. It should not become congested with local car traffic; it should be part of the major trans-urban route for the Sydney metropolitan area and should drain the local area of through-traffic and heavy traffic.

The taking of that amount of money out of the roads budget in three years will have diabolical consequences for the remainder of New South Wales. This matter of public importance focuses on country road funding but the impact of those decisions will be felt in other areas of metropolitan Sydney. I want the answer to another question: is the Minister considering some other form of borrowed funding to construct the M5 East, or does he intend to stay with the original funding proposal, which is take the money entirely out of the roads budget? That will be an impact of over $200 million per annum on the rest of the roads budget.

To put that into perspective, $200 million is approximately what the old 3 x 3 levy raised in its entirety. It is a significant figure. The Minister must come clean and explain how he proposes to maintain the level of funding for country roads, even though he has slashed funding in the preceding period. How does he propose to maintain country road funding, having regard to the massive expenditure on the projects to which I have referred? Is the Minister secretly proposing to borrow money and add to the State’s debt? If so, that would represent a significant financial announcement. It would be important for the financial sector, for the budget sector and for this Parliament to know whether the Minister is proposing to add to the State’s debt or to destroy country road funding.

Mr SCULLY (Smithfield - Minister for Roads, Minister for Public Works and Services, Minister for Ports, Assistant Minister for Energy, and Assistant Minister for State and Regional Development) [8.35 p.m.]: Another hysterical performance from the Deputy Leader of the National Party, the shadow minister for roads! He failed to point out that the Commonwealth Government collects about $12,000 million a year from fuel taxes. I will not accuse him of hypocrisy, because that does not fit well with him. However, he has been seriously inconsistent. It is one thing to make certain comments about funding from the 3 x 3 levy and to claim that fuel taxes are or are not committed to the roads budget. It is another thing to completely ignore the fuel taxes that are collected by the Commonwealth. He cannot ignore Commonwealth taxes and concentrate on State taxes.

If the Opposition has genuine concerns about fuel taxes as a result of the High Court decision it should be spearing it into the Commonwealth and asking where it stands on road funding. Why is it taking $12,000 million every year from the motorists of Australia and handing back not much more than a $1 billion? The shadow minister for roads should be asking why the money the Commonwealth puts into national highway funding is being accessed to finance RONPIs - roads of National Party importance. Why is the national highway fund being plundered to fund roads of National Party importance? Why is it being plundered to finance the Pacific Highway, when the Commonwealth contribution to the Pacific Highway was supposed to be new money.

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The black spots program, which was welcomed by the State Government was also supposed to be funded with new money. The funding is all coming from the national highway program. In an earlier debate the honourable member for Northern Tablelands complained that projects in the New England area were not proceeding because national highway funding has been bled. Hume Highway projects are not being completed because national highway funding has been downgraded. The High Court decision has resulted in some one-off timing losses, of which the honourable member would be aware. The Treasurer has made no secret of that.


If the genius from Luna Park is prepared to listen, there are timing problems between when the State’s excise ran out and when the Federal Government -

Mr Souris: That is only for alcohol.

Mr SCULLY: The honourable member should listen. I am responding to the question about fuel tax. A one-off timing problem has caused some losses.

Mr Souris: About $100 million?

Mr SCULLY: I cannot tell the House the exact figure. Treasury advises that apart from some one-off timing losses there will be no loss to the roads budget from the High Court decision. The Government’s commitment to the roads budget is clear, and its commitment to country, rural and regional road funding is absolutely solid. After looking at the funding of the previous Government for work on the Pacific Highway it is obvious that the honourable member for Port Macquarie should be congratulating me. The Government is spending $1.6 billion to upgrade the Pacific Highway, that is, $160 million each and every year for 10 years. The Federal Government is providing $600 million that it pinched from the national highway program.

I want to outline some of the projects that the State Government is presently funding. The Government is providing $7 million for construction of the dual carriageway from Raymond Terrace to Karuah. On 14 December the Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Development, the honourable member for Port Macquarie and I will attend the exciting opening of the $15 million Taree bypass. I look forward to hearing good comments from the honourable member for Port Macquarie congratulating the State Government on providing this money to country New South Wales.

Mr Jeffery: From the Federal Government.

Mr SCULLY: The project was completed entirely by State funds. The funding is not coming from the Federal Government. The State Government is also providing $13 million for road widening that includes a grade separation interchange at Ghosts Creek, $5.7 million to complete Gobba Bridge at Wagga Wagga, $11.4 million for the Summerland Way upgrade and $2 million to widen the Narrabri to Boggabri road.

Mr Souris: Are you going to wreck the roads budget for the M5 East extension or are you going to borrow the money?

Mr SCULLY: I have dealt with that matter. The Deputy Leader of the National Party raises that matter ad nauseam and I have dealt with it on many occasions. He pretends that country road funding is a problem for the Government. It is not. Country and regional New South Wales will receive $1.24 billion from the roads budget. The honourable member should ring the Mayor of Moree to ask how pleased he is with this Government’s commitment to that area. The honourable member should speak also to the Mayor of Scone. The honourable member for Oxley came to me with a problem and got $3 million in an instant to fix the Belltrees Bridge.

Mr Jeffery: But you are not going to tar Mungindi Road.

Mr SCULLY: The honourable member for Oxley received $1.8 million to fix a bridge and $300,000 to fix the Whalan Bridge. He has received more money than Wal Murray ever gave him, and his colleague the Deputy Leader of the National Party has the gall to put the slipper into me. I am conscious of the need to do whatever can be done to fix roads in rural New South Wales. I have visited the Parkes and Wellington areas. Approximately 300 people from the Baldry community attended a meeting to express concern about the sealing of the Parkes to Wellington road. The Cargo road at Orange is another of the many issues that are put to me.

I like to believe that I am a fairly accessible Minister. Honourable members from both sides of the House ask me to look at roads in their electorates. It might shock members opposite to learn that I travelled Mona Vale Road with someone who could perhaps be the future leader of the coalition - God forbid - the honourable member for Pittwater, John Brogden. I resent the assertion that I am not committed to country road funding. Country New South Wales has as much right to expect its share of road funding as urban areas. My job is to equitably fund the road network between urban and country priorities.

Page 1980

It may not surprise members opposite that mayors from country and city towns form a conga line to come to my office. They all assert that their areas have the worst roads in New South Wales. My job is to ascertain which of 176 roads is genuinely the worst. I classified the bridge in the Upper Hunter electorate as the worst bridge in New South Wales. The Deputy Leader of the National Party suggested at a Road Transport Association meeting that I was delaying the decision about mass limits for bridges. The reason I am delaying the decision is that New South Wales has 12,000 bridges and if mass limits are increased to 45½ tonnes, it will cost local government in country areas hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr Souris: Why didn’t you come to the function?

Mr SCULLY: I cannot attend every function. The honourable member for Ermington was the minister for functions and even he could not attend every function. I hope the shadow minister will join me in defending the weight limits placed on local bridges in country New South Wales because local government simply does not have the financial resources to maintain and repair the damage that will result if the alleged road friendly suspensions are installed on trucks that then can carry 45½- tonne loads. I am not prepared to cop that north of the Murray River or south of the Tweed River.

Mr Souris: All the other States obtained a very satisfactory financial deal.

Mr SCULLY: I am not satisfied. The Deputy Leader of the National Party should talk to all country mayors. The Government is presently undertaking a costing in relation to the bridges.

Mr Souris: Who funded that?

Mr SCULLY: The State Government has to find the funds.

Mr Souris: The Federal Government funded that.

Mr SCULLY: No, it took it from the national highway program. I thank the honourable member for reminding me that the Federal Government pinched $11 million from national highway funding and pretended to hand it back. Fair go! [Time expired.]

Mr SLACK-SMITH (Barwon) [8.45 p.m.]: I support what has been said about road funding in rural New South Wales by the shadow minister for roads, my colleague the honourable member for Upper Hunter. I want to refer particularly to the western region of New South Wales, because my electorate is part of that area. The western region comprises 54 per cent of the State and has accounted for 4.3 per cent of motor vehicle crashes over the past three years. However, it accounts for 9.1 per cent of fatal crashes. It is easy for the Minister to bag the Federal Government when it is not able to defend itself. The Minister should get his act together and provide decent road funding to rural New South Wales.

In 1996 in the western region there were 2,383 crashes that included 49 fatal crashes and 379 serious injury crashes. Fifty-two people were killed and 486 were seriously injured. The economic cost of road casualties in the western region of New South Wales is estimated at $143 million, and that does not take into account the trauma, pain and suffering involved. More casualties occur in the 20-29 years age group than any other. Seventy-six per cent of drivers who crash in the region live in the region; 8 per cent come from New South Wales metropolitan areas; 6 per cent are from other rural areas of the State; and 7 per cent come from interstate. We accuse the Victorians of being lousy drivers on our roads, yet only 3.6 per cent of the crashes involve Victorian drivers.

Alcohol is a contributory factor in road crashes. I was surprised to learn that alcohol is a factor in only 7 per cent of the crashes in the western region, although it is involved in a greater percentage of the crashes in some of the towns in my electorate and in other areas. Alcohol postcode data shows that towns such as Gwabegar, Boggabilla, Lightning Ridge and Walgett suffer from a particularly high percentage of alcohol-related crashes. In Gwabegar, a small timber town in my electorate, alcohol is involved in 50 per cent of fatal crashes. Speeding is involved in 22 per cent and fatigue in 12 per cent of crashes. Fifty-seven per cent of the crashes are attributed to other factors. Those other factors include rough surfaces, bad potholes and corrugations. Without increased funding, our roads cannot cope with the present volume of traffic.

As the Deputy Leader of the National Party said, the State Government has pulled $50 million out of rural road funding and has failed to provide sufficient funding to meet the challenge of the rural roads. The Government has failed the motorists and the people of western New South Wales. Road funding is not adequate for the volume of produce trucks, tourist cars and general traffic in western New South Wales. The 10 routes on which most crashes per kilometre occur are: the Mitchell Highway, with 23 per cent of crashes; the Newell Highway, which goes through my electorate, 23 per cent of crashes; the Great Western Highway, 15 per cent; the Mid-Western Highway, 8 per cent;
Page 1981
Lithgow-Gilgandra, 7 per cent; Goulburn-Ilford, 5 per cent; Orange-Condobolin, 5 per cent; the Oberon loop, 5 per cent; the Barrier Highway, 5 per cent; and the Bells Line of Road, 4 per cent. New South Wales rural roads are a problem. Trucks are able to travel faster, produce is required more quickly and more produce is available for transportation. The Government has to realise that increased funding is needed.

Mr SOURIS (Upper Hunter - Deputy Leader of the National Party) [8.50 p.m.], in reply: I thank my colleague the honourable member for Barwon for his contribution to this important debate about rural road funding and the inadequacies of the current Government’s funding for country roads. I was interested to hear the contribution made by the Minister for Roads. First, he did not deny that funding for rural roads had been cut by at least $50 million. His answer to this important matter was to use the old method of defending the State Government by attempting to divert the debate to an attack on the Federal Government. The Minister could not have been listening when I told the House that the Federal Government has increased road funding to New South Wales from $321 million in 1996 to $390 million in 1997. There is no reason to attack the Federal Government on road funding, because it has increased road funding contributions to New South Wales.

It was also interesting that the Minister indicated that there would be in principle a full flowthrough of the new taxing arrangements between the Commonwealth and State governments for franchise fees, except for a timing anomaly. The Minister was not able to indicate the extent of the anomaly or the amount of money involved. There should be no timing anomaly in fuel taxes. Fuel is a commodity consumed in a relatively regular pattern on a daily basis. The fuel excise is not a tax raised half-yearly or yearly; it is a tax that relates directly to the daily level of consumption. The only minor adjustment would relate to time, perhaps a monthly time constraint. Opposition members accept the Carr Government’s statement, made by the Minister for Roads, that apart from the timing difference there will be a full flowthrough of taxation revenue raised from roads to road expenditure in the same way as existed under the coalition Government and in the early days of this Government. The Opposition will hold the Government to that statement.

The Minister for Roads completely avoided speaking about the way in which $624 million of expenditure for the M5 East would be raised. He did not say whether the money would be taken out of the roads budget, as is proposed, or whether he intends to undertake substantial borrowings to enable the construction of the M5 East. I am pleased that the Minister for the Olympics, the previous Minister for Roads, is in the Chamber. He promised, correctly, that the M5 East would be a tollway.

Mr Knight: I did not. That’s untrue.

Mr SOURIS: The Minister announced the road as a tollway, and that was reversed by the current Minister for Roads.

Mr Knight: I announced the deal to make it a freeway. You called it a tollway.

Mr SOURIS: The Minister initially announced the road as a tollway, and that was changed. The M5 East should be a tollway, in order to keep intact the remaining part of New South Wales road funding. One of the great tragedies to come from the current Government has been the diversion of road funding away from important road safety measures to this project, which should have been a tollway.

Discussion concluded.

Suspension of standing and sessional orders agreed to.

Bill introduced and read a first time.
Second Reading

Mr KNIGHT (Campbelltown - Minister for the Olympics) [8.58 p.m.]: I move:
    That this bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to cure an anomaly in the taxation status of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, otherwise known as SOCOG. It will have no other implications for the way SOCOG does business. Neither the management structure, nor the board nor any operational issue is affected by this amendment. There is only one purpose of this amendment bill - that is, to rectify the anomaly that currently exists in SOCOG’s taxation status. The bill restores the sales and income tax exemptions for the Sydney Olympic Games that existed at the time of Sydney’s bid for the 2000 Games and restores the situation upon which that bid was in fact predicated. During Sydney’s bid for the Olympic Games the then Federal Government promised that the organising committee for the games would be exempt from both sales tax and income tax. In advice from the Australian Taxation Office on 13 January 1994 and again on 28 April 1995 this sales tax exempt status was confirmed.

Page 1982

As a result of these ATO rulings, SOCOG has continued to act as if it were a tax-exempt organisation and therefore all its budgeting has proceeded on this basis. However, earlier this year, as a result of a separate High Court decision which did not involve SOCOG, the Australian Taxation Office reviewed SOCOG’s tax-exempt status. According to the Australian Taxation Office, the High Court decision changed the definition of what constituted a public authority. Following this the ATO issued a new tax ruling in May 1997 removing SOCOG’s sales and income tax exemptions from 1 July 1997.

The Federal Government, however, decided to honour the current Prime Minister’s commitments made during the election campaign that SOCOG would not be out of pocket if any change was made to its tax-exempt status. The simplest way to do this would have been to pass special legislation exempting SOCOG and SOCOG alone from sales and income tax. For reasons relating to precedent the Federal Government decided not to travel down this route. The Federal Government decided instead to reimburse SOCOG for its potential taxation losses. This decision was outlined by the Federal Treasurer in the May 1997 budget.

Unfortunately, this route has proven to be impractical and has resulted in both administrative difficulties and costs for SOCOG and its sponsors as well. For instance, because of the time lag between SOCOG’s sponsors paying sales tax and SOCOG being reimbursed, there is a cost to SOCOG and its sponsors of interest foregone on that money or reductions in the net value of sponsorship. Further, royalties paid to SOCOG from overseas countries including the United States of America, will now attract a withholding tax in those countries. Such taxes are normally within the 10 per cent to 15 per cent range. In the case of royalties from NBC television, for example, the withholding tax would be approximately $60 million. The first payment from NBC to be made since SOCOG lost its tax exempt status is due in January 1998.

Withholding tax payable in foreign countries goes into the treasuries of those foreign countries and is not recoupable by SOCOG from the Australian Commonwealth Government. The overall financial impact of these arrangements is such that the presently anticipated surplus under the SOCOG budget in April 1997 is likely to be decimated and a loss situation arise. In such circumstances New South Wales taxpayers could face a substantial financial risk as the New South Wales Government is underwriter of the Games finances. All SOCOG budgeting has been based on the assumption that its operations would be tax exempt and that any Commonwealth Government charges for services would be notional as indicated in the Commonwealth’s original bid commitment. Fortunately, the State can itself legislate to restore the exemption for SOCOG. SOCOG will be exempt from both income tax and Federal sales tax if it is a State-Territory body, an STB, a term defined in the Income Tax Assessment Act. STBs have a statutory exemption from income tax under section 24AM of the Act and from sales tax under section 3D of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act.

This bill is designed to give SOCOG that status. It fixes the problem for SOCOG by removing all doubt about the issue. Under this legislation SOCOG will distribute all of its profit to the State of New South Wales and thus will automatically qualify as a State-Territory body. This process is quite simple thanks to previous amendments made to the SOCOG Act following on from the historic agreement reached with the Australian Olympic Committee to ensure that the citizens of New South Wales received 90 per cent of any operating surplus from the 2000 Olympic Games. In order to complete the process a similar arrangement has now been reached with the International Olympic Committee in regard to the 10 per cent of operating surplus that they are entitled to. Under this arrangement the IOC will receive a fixed payment of $11.06 million in October 2000. The International Olympic Committee will no longer have any interest in the SOCOG surplus.

On latest figures this actually represents a saving to SOCOG as estimates in the SOCOG budget indicate a potential payment of $12.7 million to the IOC in 2000. I pay personal tribute to President Samaranch and International Olympic Committee Director-General Francois Carrar for their assistance on these matters. They are very supportive of the Sydney Games at all times and this latest example where they have agreed to change the host city contract is an indication of the strong partnership between SOCOG and the IOC. I would also like to thank Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates and Sydney Lord Mayor Frank Sartor for their agreement to changes in the host city contract to make these amendments possible. No Olympic Games can work without the co-operation of all partners in this endeavour; the Olympic movement, the organising committee, governments at all levels - Federal, State and local - the business community and the union movement.

In this regard the Federal Government has a key role to play in making things work. SOCOG is developing a co-operative partnership with the Federal Government to put on the Olympic Games and we will continue to work positively with them to that end. These changes to the SOCOG Act merely take us back to the position we were in prior to 1 July and remove an unintended anomaly caused
Page 1983
by the High Court’s decision. I commend the bill to the House.

Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I welcome to the Parliament members of the Rotary Club of Engadine who, I understand, are guests of my colleague the honourable member for Bulli. I particularly note the presence in the gallery of Mr Simon Schmidt, an exchange student from Switzerland. I welcome you all and I hope you enjoy the processes of the evening.

Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan - Leader of the National Party) [9.06 p.m.]: I lead for the Opposition, which does not oppose the amendment. Indeed, the true bipartisan spirit of the Olympics was evident between the Government and the Opposition of the day in respect of the bid in 1993 and thereafter. Although the roles were reversed in 1995, that bipartisan approach has continued. As the Minister outlined in his second reading speech, the purpose of the bill is to amend the Act to provide that the profits of the Olympic Games are to be distributed to the State and that the net assets of SOCOG are to be distributed to the State on winding up. That will ensure that SOCOG comes within the definition of State and Territory body in Commonwealth legislation and therefore qualifies for income tax and sales tax exemption.

The important point is that when the bid documentation was drawn up and presented, ultimately accepted by the International Olympic Committee and resulted in Sydney becoming the successful bid for the Olympics, the intention was that SOCOG would be exempt from those taxes. Through no fault of its own, or of the Government or the Opposition, and as a result of a High Court case, suddenly SOCOG found itself in the invidious position of being eligible for those taxes. As the Minister explained, there has been a secondary effect, in that it would affect the taxation position of a number of Olympic sponsors. Quite clearly, SOCOG, is independently funded by sponsors and what can be generated from its own merchandising and activities.

The Government believes that it has a responsibility to ease the impact of a possible withholding of taxes in other countries. The amending legislation before the House is simple and will overcome problems for the Federal and State governments and for SOCOG. As honourable members will appreciate, the mechanics of the Federal Government taxing SOCOG and then reimbursing that organisation with similar amounts of money is complex, unnecessarily expensive, and intrusive into a process designed to be very simple and straightforward. They are some of the reasons that the Opposition does not oppose this amending bill and supports the concept that the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games shall continue to be free of the mentioned taxes.

Mention was also made of the projected surplus of the profits of SOCOG at the end of the Olympic period. As members know, the Minister wears two hats: Minister for the Olympics and President of SOCOG. It is incumbent upon SOCOG to ensure that there is a profit and in that regard certain commitments have been made to the Australian Olympic Committee. Tonight another commitment has been made, and it is fundamental to this amendment bill, that there will be a surplus of some millions after the AOC is paid out of about $12 million that has been made. As the Minister said tonight, an arrangement has been made with the International Olympic Committee that it will waive its rights in order that this matter can proceed. I would like to record the appreciation of the Opposition to the IOC for acknowledging the situation. As the Minister said, the decision by this House tonight exemplifies the co-operative spirit of the Olympics.

The enthusiasm for the Olympic process is gathering momentum. A few weeks ago I was concerned that on the streets of Sydney there was little evidence of the public becoming involved, apart from the odd Olympic lapel pin. However, in recent days, and with the onset of warm weather, joggers are on the streets again with baseball caps and T-shirts bearing the latest logos. I am delighted to see some T-shirts with the Paralympics logo. A debate in this place on the Olympics without mentioning the Paralympics, which start two weeks after the summer Olympics in the year 2000, would be incomplete. This morning in the Royal Botanic Gardens I spotted a Paralympics T-shirt, which is a particularly attractive logo. The Paralympic competitors are a dedicated, committed and totally focused group of people. It is with pleasure that the Opposition supports this amending bill.

Mr KNIGHT (Campbelltown - Minister for the Olympics) [9.12 p.m.], in reply: I thank the Leader of the National Party for his strong bipartisan support tonight, not simply for the Olympics but also for the Paralympics. I am grateful for the assistance of the Opposition in not only supporting this legislation but also in expediting its passage through the House. Under previous amending legislation the Minister for the Olympics - the President of the organising committee - and the shadow minister for the Olympics, in this case the Leader of the National Party, are members of the SOCOG board. On this occasion the SOCOG board unanimously endorsed the changes proposed in the bill. I thank the Opposition generally and particularly the Leader of the National Party.

Page 1984

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.
Second Reading

Debate resumed from 12 November.

Mr PHILLIPS (Miranda - Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [9.14 p.m.]: The Opposition will not oppose the legislation as they allow for an allocation of funds for payment to be made to tobacco, liquor and petroleum wholesalers following High Court decisions in relation to section 90 of the Commonwealth Constitution. Refunds of liquor licences to the liquor industry will be approximately $130 million; off-road diesel subsidies, $97.5 million; on-road petroleum and diesel subsidies, $37.5 million; subsidies for low-alcohol beer and wine, $12.5 million; and subsidies for vignerons’ sales and wine tastings $4.5 million. There has been some debate about the impact of the High Court decision upon the New South Wales State budget and its ability to absorb such shocks. The Opposition view is that if ever there was a realisation about the finances of this State, and the methods of raising revenue, it was the High Court challenge relating to the ability of States to charge excises in regard to liquor, petrol and tobacco.

For some time the word around the traps was that, given the composition of the High Court, the States would have extreme difficulties winning the point. But, in spite of the challenge to a vital part of revenue for the State, it appears that New South Wales failed to take any action, let alone adequate action, to protect itself and its budget from the impact of the decision. The Government knew about the High Court challenge; it knew that a truck was coming down the road at it. The problem was mentioned in the last three budget papers. But did the Government take adequate action to protect itself from the impact of a negative decision that may have been taken in the High Court? There is no indication that any defensive strategy was put in place. It is that issue that the Opposition wants to pursue under this appropriation bill tonight. Any private sector organisation has a responsibility to clearly identify in its accounts major contingent liabilities. It also has a responsibility to ensure that it does sufficient defence work to protect itself from circumstances that may arise down the track.

The Government failed in every way to make provision in its budget for a negative decision of the High Court. There was no provision for $200 million or $300 million to be set aside out of a $22 billion budget to cushion the effect of a negative impact of a High Court decision. The Treasurer’s advance account was dramatically cut right from the start of this Government. It is quite clear that the Government’s current budget is so restricted and so committed to expenditure and to its revenue returns that the slightest impact on revenues or expenditure will have a devastating impact. It is quite clear that this decision of the High Court has exposed the fragility of the State budget. The Government is in no position to absorb the normal shocks that come from day to day and month to month transactions occurring in a budget in an economy such as New South Wales. One would have to be concerned that the impact of a High Court decision such as this was, first, not provided for in the budget, and, second, caused such a disaster, and started to drive the budget into deficit because of the tight and inflexible situation of the budget and its inability to absorb shocks. This appropriation bill clearly demonstrates that.

Other States have been able to absorb the shock of the High Court decision because, first, they provided for it; second, their budgets were in a position to absorb the shock; and, third, they had put in place the necessary arrangements to cope with such a change. I shall now refer to some worrying aspects of the High Court decision and its impact on New South Wales. Earlier I discussed how the Treasurer failed to provide in the accounts a cushion for the possible impact of a negative decision. I stress that if, with a High Court challenge imminent, a company in the real world had not provided for such a contingent liability, any good auditors would have qualified that company’s accounts with a statement; otherwise those auditors would have been negligent in their responsibility. In no way did the Government provide for a possible negative decision except as a small note in its budget papers.

But it gets worse. Knowing that there was a High Court challenge in place, and knowing, based on scuttlebutt around town, that there was a distinct possibility that the decision would be negative against the State, did the Government adequately plan its transition arrangements? Did Treasury and the Government hypothesise about what to do if the High Court decision went against them? Any good professional organisation that knew that a negative decision could have such an impact on its budget strategy would plan what to do in the event of a negative decision. Clearly no plan was put in place, because the impact of the decision on the budget and the result of the transition arrangements have left the State budget with a huge hole.

Page 1985

If the Government had made plans it would have put transition arrangements in place with the Commonwealth, because the New South Wales Parliament has enormous legislative powers in these areas, particularly with the Commonwealth, to protect itself in revenue arrangements. What is the result of the Hight Court decision? The State Government is now saying that it is out of pocket to the tune of at least $246 million. Where did the large licks of that money go? Of that amount, $112 million went to the tobacco industry and to retailers as windfall profits. That is an indictment of this Government, which knew that a High Court challenge was in place and that the decision could go against it. The Government had control of the legislation, the figures and the timing of payments.

How did the Government protect itself against the shock of such a decision? It did nothing. The effect was that $112 million in windfall profits went to the tobacco industry and retailers. It is as simple as that. In addition, a windfall profit of $78 million went to the petroleum industry because of the incapacity, inability and lack of management expertise of this Government to understand that a High Court decision could have such an impact. Who will pay the windfall profit of $112 million that has gone to the tobacco industry and the windfall profit of $78 million that has gone to the petroleum industry as a result of the Government’s incompetence? The taxpayers will pay. The Government has admitted that it is heading towards a $500 million deficit; but projections and estimates by independent commentators are that the State budget is heading towards a $1 billion deficit unless the Government brings its expenditure under control.

The taxpayers will suffer in one of two ways. The Government will either cut services such as hospitals, education, law and order and community services - all of which are already stretched past the limit - or introduce new taxes. Speaking of new taxes, we must remember that this Government said - I can vividly remember the Premier’s words - "No new taxes. No tax increases." Those words ring loudly in my ears. What have we had in just three years? We have had 13 tax increases and three new taxes. For the first time in New South Wales history we have a tax on the power generation industry, which will eventually extend to householders. For the first time in New South Wales history we have a tax on the home. Only last week Victoria removed its tax on households; but by extending the land tax to home owners, New South Wales is imposing a tax on people wishing to live in their homes.

A services tax has been imposed on the hotel industry in Sydney’s central business district. At a time when we have taken a hit in the Asian economy we are slugging the tourist industry and the hotel industry with a new tax which will have a huge impact in New South Wales. In just three years those tax increases have delivered an extra $2.6 billion in the kitty for the Government to spend. Where has the money gone? The Government has blown it out the door. It has gone down the proverbial sink, into a black hole. No-one knows where the money has gone. Waiting lists have blown out to record levels. The Police Service, community services and education budgets have blown out; and because members of the public cannot identify any benefits, they do not believe that services have improved.

At a time when the budget is clearly out of control the Government, because of its incompetence, has given a windfall profit of $190 million to the tobacco and petroleum industries. I am sure the honourable member for Manly would be staggered by the Government’s incompetence in failing to protect itself from such an occurrence. All State and Federal Treasury officials knew that the High Court challenge may have an impact on the ability of States to impose these taxes. As the time for the High Court decision drew near, the scuttlebutt was that it could go against the States. And because the State Government made no provision for such a decision, as any good company would do, its budget was greatly affected. Any organisation with a contingent liability would work out what options would be open to it if the High Court handed down a negative decision. But this Parliament, with its legislative powers, took no action at all. Perhaps it would be more of a worry if the Government had actually thought about it, because the final result was devastating.

The Government has allowed a windfall profit of $190 million to go from the pockets of taxpayers into the pockets of the tobacco and petroleum industries. Tobacco users may not realise that during June, July and part of August they paid full price for their cigarettes, including excise, but that the tobacco industry and retailers were putting that money into their pockets, as a profit. Others may not realise that during a similar period of time, when they paid for their petrol and believed that part of that money was going to the State Government in the form of a tax, to pay for hospitals, schools and police, that money was going into the pockets of the petroleum industry. What did the Government do about it? Absolutely nothing. This Government is hypocritical in blaming the Federal Government for failing to come to its rescue. The State Government had a problem and the Federal Government bailed it out to the best of its ability. A letter from the Premier of New South Wales to the Federal Treasurer, the Hon. Peter Costello, states, in its final paragraph:

Page 1986
    In conclusion, the New South Wales Government wishes to thank the Commonwealth for acting on its request and for co-operation in dealing with the consequences for its budget of the High Court decision on business franchise fees. This co-operation is both in the interest of the State and the national interest.

The State Government thanked the Commonwealth for bailing it out, but because of its incompetence it has a huge hole in its budget. The tobacco and petroleum industries have profited by $190 million. In the past three years no issue has demonstrated the incompetence of Treasury more than this. Because the bill is an appropriation bill and provides for the return of moneys to the tobacco, liquor and petroleum wholesalers as a result of the High Court decision, the Opposition will, unfortunately, not oppose it.

Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Mills): Order! I welcome to the gallery members of Rotary from Liverpool West, who are guests of the honourable member for Liverpool.

Mr NEILLY (Cessnock) [9.35 p.m.]: I wish only to respond to some of the comments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. This bill is the consequence of at least three appeals to the High Court. I cannot recall the Opposition, when in government, making a provision within its budget to accommodate a negative decision in the High Court. The High Court decision in this case, which was not unanimous, affected not only New South Wales but all the States of Australia. I would like to know which States, which are mostly conservative, made an appropriate budget accommodation for the High Court’s decision, which came out of the blue.

The decision will result in an additional $282 million being appropriated from the Consolidated Fund. There has been much toing and froing, and much disturbance amongst those upon whom the decision has had an impact, about how the State will derive its revenue and how the Commonwealth resolution will apply. It dawned on me that the Commonwealth is the major beneficiary, because this State will refund $130 million of liquor licence fees. It has been well and truly advocated that if New South Wales had not refunded the liquor industry it would have been double dipping; but the real double dipping comes from the Commonwealth imposing a replacement tax. This State will not receive any benefit from that tax until next financial year, but in the interim it will pay refunds to those who have been advantaged by the High Court’s decision.

Last week the Department of Gaming and Racing sent notifications to all those who will benefit from the refund of liquor licence fees, which will be paid in three instalments, but 81 liquor outlets mistakenly paid money to the coffers of New South Wales when they received their notifications. That shows that the liquor outlets did not understand what was happening. I doubt whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition understands what transpired in the High Court and what transpired as an aftermath of the Commonwealth’s disposal of replacement income. New South Wales is disadvantaged to the tune of $282 million during this financial year; the beneficiary of the additional tax imposed by the Commonwealth is the Commonwealth, not New South Wales.

By its significant loss of $282 million income, New South Wales has suffered extensively from the High Court decision. The State does not have the resources or the backing that the Commonwealth has and it does not have the capability or capacity to raise additional excises, which are readily available to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has done a bit of a trick in the way it managed the introduction of the replacement tax. It is a con job by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to suggest that New South Wales has not done its homework.

Mr Debnam: New South Wales is bankrupt, Stan.

Mr NEILLY: New South Wales is bankrupt because of the determination by the High Court.

Mr Debnam: The Treasurer is out there taking on the unions that you have made bankrupt. He is your Treasurer, not ours.

Mr NEILLY: The Federal Treasurer, Mr Costello, is a conservative; he is not one of us. Mr Costello has raped New South Wales to the tune of the amount derived from the introduction of the replacement tax. Quite ironically - the honourable member for Vaucluse is critical - I recall former Prime Minister Fraser advocating that the States should introduce their own taxes. The consequence of the High Court decision is quite contrary to Mr Fraser’s suggested solution. By imposing these replacement taxes, the Commonwealth Government has raped New South Wales. New South Wales is down the tube to the extent of the High Court decision, and that will ultimately be reflected in our financial outcome this year. New South Wales can survive if the Commonwealth supports it in the true sense by repatriating the replacement tax during the period of its receipt rather than next financial year.

Mr KINROSS (Gordon) [9.42 p.m.]: It is always a matter of personal pride when someone can say, "I told you so," but it is not a matter of personal pride when New South Wales taxpayers suffer. On 13 May 1997 I referred in this House to the cases of Ha and Hammond. Some three months
Page 1987
before the High Court case was brought down I said:
    I do not recall seeing in the budget the issue [Percy Allan] raised about the potential High Court challenge totally blowing out the Government’s alleged or phoney surpluses, as one economic commentator described it. Percy Allan said:
    It could result -
    that is, the High Court’s decision on tobacco taxes -
    in them losing existing business franchise licence fees on cigarettes . . . leaving a hole in the NSW budget of almost $2 billion . . .

It is a matter of some pride to have been proved correct, but the fact that New South Wales taxpayers have suffered enormously should be sheeted home to the Treasurer and, indeed, to the Labor Government. As the shadow treasurer said, this should have started alarm bells ringing within the Government ages ago: it was telegraphed! Indeed, a seminar convened by the Law Foundation, of which I am a board member, and the New South Wales chapter of the Australian Study of Parliament relating to Ha and Hammond was held in the Jubilee Room of Parliament House on 25 September 1997. Russell Agnew, manager of tax policy in New South Wales Treasury, in response to my question as to why Treasury would not provide for such an important contingency, said, "Oh, well, we had a couple of legal opinions on this issue and we just decided to go for the big bang."

In other words, the big bang theory in Russell Agnew’s mind was to not account for the possibility that they may be wrong; it was to be all or nothing. Most accounting firms provide for equivalent value theory or apply some probable expectation value to an outcome. No-one could see that the High Court decision would be 7:0. Russell Agnew conceded that his best estimate was a 5:2 decision at worst, but more likely 4:3. Why did he and, therefore, the Treasurer not at least provide for this contingency in the New South Wales accounts?

On 8 May Percy Allan, who was a member of the Labor Party and a former Secretary to the Treasury, had envisaged the very thing that happened. Yet Michael Egan could not see fit to provide for it or subsequently do something to amend the accounts. That is all I wish to say in relation to these bills. This issue has been long coming, with opinions and so forth by the Labor Party and admissions made earlier this year by Mr Agnew, coupled with Percy Allan’s comments. Labor ought to do a lot of explaining about its failure to recognise this monumental omission from, and hole in, the budget - of its own making.

Mr KNIGHT (Campbelltown - Minister for the Olympics) [9.46 p.m.], in reply: The House was treated to a lengthy speech by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, some of which was about these bills. I am disturbed by his gleeful attitude that the State is placed in a precarious financial position as a result of a decision of the High Court and actions of the Commonwealth Government. Nonetheless, he indicated that he would support, or grudgingly not oppose, the bills. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spent a great deal of time talking about what should have been done based on what he described as "scuttlebutt" around town.

The Government tries not to rely upon scuttlebutt: if it did it would not be listening to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, because the scuttlebutt is that he is about to be replaced by the honourable member for Gosford. The few matters of substance dealt with by the Opposition were effectively rebutted by the honourable member for Cessnock, who clearly understands the bills and the deep history involving all parties in all governments in all States which have had this spectre hanging over their heads for many years, and the need to have a proper resolution of it by joint action with the Commonwealth. I commend the bills to the House.

Motion agreed to.

Bills read a second time and passed through remaining stages.
Second Reading

Debate resumed from 12 November.

Mr PHILLIPS (Miranda - Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [9.48 p.m.]: The Opposition will move an amendment to this bill in Committee, and the reason for our opposition to parts of this bill will be outlined. A rewrite of the old Stamp Duties Act commenced under the former Liberal-National Government and, therefore, has been in progress for some time. The object of the rewrite was to replace the Stamp Duties Act with simple, clear and equitable legislation drafted with contemporary language and presentation. The objective of the rewritten legislation was always subject to the constraint of having to be revenue neutral. The rewrite was designed to tidy up the Act that was first written in 1920, if my memory serves me correctly. The Opposition has two major concerns
Page 1988
about this legislation. First, how many new taxes are hidden within the bill and how much revenue will they raise? Second, how does this legislation fit into the inevitable overhaul of the Federal-State tax system?

This legislation is yet another attempt by the Carr Government, particularly by the Treasurer, to cover up budgetary incompetence. Why do I say that? As one would expect in a rewrite of stamp duty legislation, the Government cannot do anything other than put its clammy hands on a new tax. It was never intended that the rewritten bill should impose a new tax. The rewrite was intended to make the Act simpler to follow and clearer both for the Office of State Revenue and for industry. However, with the change of government the clammy hands of Labor, which is desperate for money, introduced a new tax. It is a tax on intellectual property. The Government is desperate for funds and this is another attempt for Michael Egan to plug up his ever increasing budget black hole.


The Minister for the Olympics, who represents the Treasurer in this House, chortles at what I am saying.

Mr Knight: I was scoffing at you.

Mr PHILLIPS: He is scoffing. He should look at the accounts; he should have a look at the facts. The additional revenue received by the Government in only three years exceeds $2.6 billion. That would be the envy of any Australian State. That increase in income of about 14 per cent or 16 per cent would be the envy of any wage earner. Despite that additional revenue, the Government is heading towards a deficit of between $500 million and $1 billion. The Government does not know what is happening to the money. Michael Egan is sending the money down a black hole, and the Minister for the Olympics sits on the other side of the Chamber and chortles! He does not understand the desperate situation into which the Government, which is depending on year-by-year growth, is driving this State.

When the economy changes, New South Wales will head in the same direction as Victoria, under the leadership of Joan Kirner, South Australia and Western Australia. In a few years that will be on the Government’s political tombstone. The Minister for the Olympics spends as he pleases. His budget keeps increasing as he keeps revising it. He says, "We are on budget", yet capital funding for hospitals, education and everything else is going down. The Minister for the Olympics should not sit on the other side of the Chamber and chortle when he has neither the time nor inclination to examine what is really happening to the finances of this State, which will be exposed to desperate circumstances over the next few years.

Mr Knight: You are a little wound up tonight, Ron!

Mr PHILLIPS: It is a serious matter. The Minister should be talking to the Treasurer to find out what is being done to bring under control the desperate finances of this State.

Mr Knight: You made this speech on the last bill. It is the same speech.

Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Mills): Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for the Olympics will cease conversing across the Chamber.

Mr PHILLIPS: I will keep giving the speech until the Government starts to listen because its budgetary processes are desperately out of control. The coalition will repeat that claim until something is done. The Government has claimed in the briefing package that was given to the Opposition and countless other interested parties that it has consulted widely. A compilation of letters has been included from what the Government calls happy parties to the review of the Stamp Duties Act. However, one major party affected by this legislation which was listed as having been consulted was the Australian Record Industry Association - ARIA.

The Opposition spoke with representatives of ARIA and learned that it is less than happy with this legislation, particularly with the provisions that attract a 5.5 per cent duty on intellectual property. ARIA was consulted, but that was more than a year ago and that consultation concerned the old draft stamp duties legislation that did not include provisions relating to intellectual property. That provision is a new tax. However, New South Wales Treasury does not know how much the new tax will generate, or what impact it will have on musicians, publishers, software firms and record companies, to mention but a few. It has no idea at all. That clearly shows that the new tax will be open to all sorts of interpretations over the coming months and years, and it is clearly designed to be a growth tax. The tax is not in place in any other State. The impact of the new tax on intellectual property will create another evasion industry that the rewrite of the stamp duties legislation is an attempt to overcome. Companies will shift all sorts of transactions overseas and
Page 1989
interstate to overcome this new tax on intellectual property. The Australian Copyright Council recently stated:
    We have concerns that what we understood to be a rewrite of legislation could have enormous financial and practical implications for the copyright industry.

The Australian Financial Review recently reported that the partner in charge of tax and stamp duties at Ernst and Young, Mr Richard Cant, said:
    The stamp duty on intellectual property was an extension of existing taxes. The changes could affected unlisted mining companies which often placed a high value on confidential mining information.

The list of those opposing the bill grows longer. The New South Wales Chamber of Commerce makes a number of recommendations about amendments to the bill, including one designed to remove the provision for intellectual property to be eligible for duty. In correspondence the Property Council of Australia has addressed a number of concerns to which I shall refer briefly. It has said that three main issues remain outstanding. First the council is concerned about the treatment of wholesale trusts. Wholly owned subsidiaries of public entities, that is wholesale trusts, may be caught under the land-rich provisions where public unit trusts are not.

The property council recommends that the treatment of wholesale trusts should be equalised with other public unit trust schemes by excluding them from land-rich provisions. Second, supporting guidelines for corporate reconstruction have not been rewritten. The council has recommended that the guidelines be rewritten to follow the Victorian model. The third concern is that the goal of harmonised legislation between jurisdictions may be undermined if a single drafting template is not used.

It is obvious that the Carr Government has not properly consulted all of the relevant parties on this most important legislation, legislation that got off to a very good start under the previous Government. Had the Carr Government done so, it would not be faced with such an amount of opposition from key industry bodies. The coalition has concerns about the way in which the legislation fits into the overall context of the inevitable reform of the Commonwealth-State taxation system. Despite assurances from Treasury, the coalition has concerns. One of the main reasons for the rewrite of the Act was to provide template legislation for other States on the eastern seaboard. That has not occurred and does not appear likely to occur. Opposition members have contacted some of the other States, which appear to have pulled out of this process. The enormous amount of work put into creating this template legislation to provide some consistency between the States seems to have failed. One must question the rationale of proceeding with such reform when the other key States fail to follow suit. Under this Government the goal of achieving harmonisation of stamp duty legislation is dead.

Another reason that the coalition opposes parts of the legislation relates to the manner in which the bill is being rushed through the Parliament and the tactics adopted by the Government - tactics that the Opposition is starting to become used to but refuses to accept without protest. The Minister’s second reading speech was delivered on the most recent sitting day. This is probably one of the most important revenue bills the Government will introduce, given that stamp duties account annually for almost $3.4 billion of Government revenue. Surely the Government could introduce the bill and then allow for proper overview and examination of the legislation by the many industry bodies affected. That did not happen. The Government made up its mind to shove this bill through quickly. The Government’s attitude demonstrates that it must have a hidden agenda. Opposition members have identified that hidden agenda as the introduction of a new tax, a tax on intellectual property.

The bill is contentious, so I shall detail some of its history. When the draft bill was first released it sent the New South Wales property industry into a spin, due to poor consideration of the land-rich provisions of property trusts. The Australian Financial Review carried headlines such as "Stamp duty plan raises protest". The planned extension of the stamp duty to intellectual property has raised a storm of protest from industries that will have to pay this tax for the first time. This legislation represents another broken promise, bringing to 14 the number of tax increases and new taxes under the Carr Government. The Government when it took office proclaimed that it would impose no new taxes and no tax increases, yet within three years there have been 14 such impositions, including four new taxes.

I point out to the Minister - lest he be unaware of this, despite previous contributions made by my colleagues - that the Government is raising $2.6 billion additional revenue. That money is running through the Government’s fingers, because the Government is still heading towards a billion-dollar deficit this year. The Government has so much money but it does not know what to do with it. As has been stated, the coalition is opposing parts of this bill for three main reasons: because it is yet another tax grab, another new tax imposed by the Government; because it fails in its attempt to
Page 1990
harmonise stamp duty legislation amongst the eastern States and fit into the impending tax reform packages; and because the Carr Government has failed to undertake appropriate consultation, the honest process in such major legislation. At the Committee stage the Opposition will move an amendment designed to delete the section relating to the new tax on intellectual property.

Mr NEILLY (Cessnock) [10.04 p.m.]: I support this bill. It is important to correct comments made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In essence, the 1987 stamp duties legislation was initiated by the coalition Government, which could not put the legislation together properly. It has taken this Government to put the legislation into plain English. Opposition members who cannot come to terms with what has happened between 1987 and today would find it difficult to understand that the basis of this bill is to put the legislation in plain English, bringing it into modern terms, and to provide the capacity to raise stamp duties if the inclination is to do so. The comments made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on what has transpired with New South Wales finances are incomprehensible. New South Wales has been raped by a High Court decision on taxes that had been applied by the State, a decision that had been negated on at least two occasions previously. This State was further raped by the Commonwealth Government, which this financial year has put in its own pocket much of that relating to the tax.

Mr Phillips: This is Egan’s policy.

Mr NEILLY: The honourable member does not have to explain to me that the coalition is guilty; that is a reality. The coalition when in office could not put together stamp duties legislation. Opposition members should not complain about what this Government is doing. Intellectual property is a thing of the moment. Opposition members may not understand what intellectual property is, but they should at least understand that the Commonwealth Government is doing more harm to the Australian music industry than any other Federal government has done. The music industry will be subjected to its greatest financial loss if the Commonwealth Government proceeds with its plans. The coalition should not blame the New South Wales Government for what is happening; it should blame the Prime Minister and the Federal coalition Government. The New South Wales Government is innocent. Opposition members have suggested that this legislation will derive untold income for this State. Opposition members should get in touch and be modern; they should not look back to the 1980s New South Wales coalition Government - that is the way the coalition lost office before.

Mr SOURIS (Upper Hunter - Deputy Leader of the National Party) [10.08 p.m.]: On a professional basis, the rewrite of the Act represents the culmination of several years of work by the Office of State Revenue to produce legislation that would stand the test of national taxation reform and provide leadership in national uniformity. It is my understanding from the briefing I received from Mr Bruce Buchanan and Mr Joe Purcell of the Office of State Revenue that three other States are expected to introduce their legislation in 1998. It is expected that there will be a uniform start date of 1 July 1998. That is yet to happen, but if it takes place this legislation will be template in nature. It was required that the legislation be couched in modern language in order that it might create greater legal certainty in providing improved definitions and increased readability. The narrative form used is designed to make the bill more easily read by people other than lawyers. I am yet to read the bill from start to finish, but shall make it my bedtime reading in the next few days and let the Government know exactly how readable it is.

The bill is intended to be revenue neutral. So far as I am concerned, that will be the significant test of the legislation and of the Government’s integrity in promoting it. The extent to which the definitions in the bill represent the new taxes will also be a significant test of integrity of both the legislation and the Government. I note that there has been extensive consultation and, whilst my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has referred to some consultation, other information provided to me by the Office of State Revenue indicates generally a complete acceptance of this legislation by some of the people who have been consulted, and an encouragement to proceed with it.

Concerns have been expressed about the legislation by the New South Wales Farmers Association. It is a pity that the period for briefings by the Office of State Revenue and consultation with affected stakeholders has been so short. However, at least some time has been available for us to receive and take into consideration the concerns of the Farmers Association. I would like the Minister to acknowledge and respond to those concerns. I propose to read onto the record information received from the New South Wales Farmers Association. I believe it is important that the Minister responds to that association’s concerns in reply and confirms that the contents of the bill represent the Government’s intention and will have a
Page 1991
binding effect on the way that the legislation is interpreted. I refer to a document from the New South Wales Farmers Association, dated 18 November. The document stated in part:
    •The re-write introduces a definition of "associated persons". That definition includes "related persons" - which has been extended to include siblings.
    •This change has been introduced in the interest of uniformity between jurisdictions.
    •Where shares are acquired in land rich private corporations the "interests" (as defined) of siblings will be aggregated in order to determine whether a majority interest has been acquired.
    •For farmers the effect could be a significant increase in liability for duty. For example, where a farmer purchases an interest (say 30%) in a land rich corporation in which another sibling already has an interest (say 30%). These interests would be aggregated and duty charged on the value of the land held by the resulting "majority interest" (60%). We do not know how often this type of transaction occurs under the current law.
    •The Commissioner has discretion to charge duty on the unaggregated interest.
    •The increased liability would also apply where a farmer ‘gifts’ their share of a corporation to a member of the next generation whose sibling already owns an interest in the corporation.
    •The exemption for inter-generational transfers applies only to transfers of land. The exemption from duty is permitted for farm land transfers from a company, trust or natural person to a descendant. The definition of descendant was extended in the 1997/98 State Budget to include siblings.
    •If the exemption were extended to include relevant acquisitions in land-rich companies where the transfer is for the purpose of handing on the farm, this would remove the potential liability that this Bill will add to the transaction costs in passing the farm company on to the next generation. However, this represents a change in principle - which is not intended for "rewrite".

The concerns of the New South Wales Farmers Association should have been dealt with in a better way than they have. Officers of the Office of State Revenue were able to tell me that they believed they had satisfied all the stakeholders but, unfortunately, it seems that the New South Wales Farmers Association has substantial concerns and is quite unsatisfied at this stage. The Farmers Association has told me that it has discussed a number of those issues with the Office of State Revenue during the consultation period and understands that most of those concerns have been addressed, although the association has not seen the latest draft of the legislation.

The outstanding item to which I referred earlier is in fact the main point that I am making now. There seems to be a departure from the current law, namely, the extension of the definition of "related parties" to include siblings. In response to comments made during that association’s consultation with the Office of State Revenue, the Farmers Association has said that a new definition of "associated persons" was introduced for use when the commissioner has discretion to aggregate if he suspects evasion. That, of course, is both in general and in the land-rich provisions. That could have implications for farmers, particularly in determining interest under the land-rich provisions, that is, making farmers subject to the land-rich provisions when previously they were not. The "associated persons" definition refers to the "related parties" definition. The Farmers Association asked the Office of State Revenue to include the text of the "related parties" definition in the "associated persons" definition, but to delete the reference to siblings so as to restore the current definition.

The Farmers Association is not convinced that the discretion provided for is a sufficient safeguard for the interests of its constituency. That is the essence of the point I have made and I ask the Minister to respond in reply to the matters I have raised and the concerns I have passed on from the New South Wales Farmers Association so that his second reading speech will be of significant value in interpreting the Act and in assisting members of the Farmers Association’s constituency to gain a measure of comfort where at present there are apprehensions. I support the points made by my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I trust that the additional points I have made relating to farm aggregation will be of assistance to the constituency and to the Government in interpreting this complex bill. Finally, I congratulate the many people who have been involved in the drafting of the bill. I particularly congratulate the Office of State Revenue on its approach to a job of some magnitude and also on the way the job has been approached as it relates to the other States and to the majority of the constituency.

Mr DEBNAM (Vaucluse) [10.18 p.m.]: I should like to add my comments to those of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the National Party. A number of points in the bill are worth commending and I congratulate those who have been involved in putting it together over a long period of time. The rewrite was commenced under the former coalition Government and it is pleasing that it has finally been presented to this House with the objective of simplifying and updating legislation. However, I want to stress one or two points of concern. The most significant point is that whenever the Government introduces legislation relating to funding, that legislation includes a new tax. It is again the case that the Government has introduced legislation providing for
Page 1992
intellectual property to be dutiable when considered to be a business asset and valuable goodwill. Intellectual property has not been taxed before and this marks yet another breach of the Government’s pre-election promise: no new taxes, no tax increases.

The shadow treasurer pointed out that this Government has introduced or increased 14 taxes in its short 2½ years in office. In that time the increased revenue taken by the Government from the community of New South Wales is $2.6 billion. When the Labor Party came to office the State budget was healthy, as honourable members know, but since that time the management and control of the budget has gone out the window and spending is out of control. From a financial point of view New South Wales is now in a vulnerable position. All honourable members look with some dread to the 16 months prior to the election to see what else Labor can do to the financial health of New South Wales. Heaven help the State if the Labor Party wins another term of office.

The shadow treasurer said the Government claims to have consulted various interested parties about the tax on intellectual property. However, some of those interested parties say they have not been consulted since the draft legislation was issued a year ago. For a Premier who prides himself on liaising with the arts community, this is an outrageous tax hitting the arts community, and I am sure many honourable members do not realise what will happen because of the imposition of this tax.

Honourable members also have to ask why the Government is desperately and continually dragging in extra revenue. All we have to do is to look at the make up of the frontbench. The honourable member for Port Jackson is in the Chamber; clearly she should be in the frontbench bringing a little rigour to financial management in the Carr Government. So far she has not had that chance. Instead there has been Minister after Minister, unable to make decisions, looking at a wish list every year. As a result the Carr Government takes every wish list, but it cannot prioritise matters and just allocates funding. The Minister for the Olympics is spending like there is no tomorrow.

One quick example from my electorate shows why the Government has to bring in new taxes. The Government paid about $1 million for a terrace house at No. 98 Bondi Road and then spent a few hundred thousand dollars fitting it out for an educational institution. On 26 October, with great fanfare, the Minister for Education and Training was sent out to open the house, and there it has sat for a year, empty, unused, unloved and unlikely to be used for another year, but certainly renovated to the hilt at a cost to taxpayers of probably in the order of $1.25 million - an extravagant waste. The arts community should have knocked on the Premier’s door first thing this morning about the new tax on intellectual property. I understand the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be moving some amendments to the bill.

Mr KNIGHT (Campbelltown - Minister for the Olympics) [10.23 p.m.], in reply: I will deal briefly with matters raised by Opposition members. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition gave essentially the same speech on the Duties Bill as he gave earlier tonight on the Appropriation (Refunds and Subsidies) Bill, the Business Franchise Licences (Repeal) Bill and the Petroleum Products Subsidy Bill. However, he raised three new issues that are worthy of response. First, he claimed that the other States will not follow the New South Wales example. He clams that this will not be template legislation. At least three refutations can be found to that assertion. First and foremost, the Office of State Revenue provided me with information tonight that Tasmania wants to follow, South Australia already imposes duty on intellectual property and will be following, and Victoria will substantially be following, although it has a prohibition on taxing intellectual property. A second source of refutation was in the Australian Financial Review of 14 November. Its legal affairs column on page 26 headed "A taxing strategy gets the stamp of approval" made the following key points:
    •The States are less than eight months away from a new era of harmony on stamp duty.
    •Rewritten legislation is before the NSW Parliament, with similar bills in train in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT.
    •The agreement is due to the efforts of Mr Bruce Buchanan, NSW’s Chief Commissioner of Stamp Duties.

Third, the argument of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is refuted by my favourite source on this matter - even if he does get certain matters about road tolls wrong - the Deputy Leader of the National Party, who came into the House this evening after the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had spoken and lauded the fact that other States will be following the example of New South Wales. Another matter raised was the question of intellectual property. Clearly, the Opposition has difficulty understanding the bill. Some would say that intellectual property and the Opposition are strange bedfellows at the best of times. Contrary to the allegation that it is a new tax, I indicate that as long ago as September 1992 when the coalition was in government the Chief Commissioner of Stamp Duties in this State issued a public revenue ruling setting out the principles in determining liability to stamp duty in respect of transfers of intellectual property such as patents, trademarks and goodwill, copyright and registered
Page 1993
designs - the very types of intellectual property now covered so clearly in the bill.

Contrary to the allegations made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Vaucluse that this is a new tax, in fact this legislation makes the existing tax clearer and more explicit. Stamp duty is payable on transfers of intellectual property under existing stamp duties legislation in various circumstances. The bill expressly recognises liability for the first time, introducing greater certainty and adopting a consistent policy of imposing duties on transfers of business assets even when transactions are conducted in different ways. Duty is payable on a transfer of intellectual property only on transactions that are currently dutiable, being transactions in which intellectual property is passing with the goodwill of a business.

For more than 10 years every transfer or change of ownership of the goodwill of a business has been subject to duty in New South Wales. The bill limits the liability to duty on intellectual property with a number of practical qualifications. Firstly, the bill applies only to intellectual property as defined in the Act; not all forms of intellectual property. Secondly, and most importantly, intellectual property is dutiable only if it is transferred with the goodwill of the business. At other times it is not dutiable. Thirdly, intellectual property is dutiable in New South Wales only if the rights have been used or exploited in New South Wales during the previous 12 months. Fourthly, duty is subject to apportionment between jurisdictions if the intellectual property is used or exploited in more than one State, in other words, if the revenue is shared.

[Debate interrupted.]
Extension of Sitting

Motion by Mr Knight agreed to:
    That the sitting be extended beyond 10.30 p.m.
Second Reading

[Debate resumed.]

Mr KNIGHT: The third matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and worthy of response is the suggestion that the Australian Record Industry Association was not consulted. I am advised by the officers of the Office of State Revenue that not only were ARIA constituents consulted but that they will not be affected by stamp duty on intellectual property unless they dispose of an ongoing business. In other words, they will not pay duty on certain transfers of intellectual property, particularly those relating to individual music rights, when those rights are not part of the transfer of a business associated with the transfer of goodwill with the business. So in almost all cases they will be unaffected except in the most explicit matters dealt with by the bill.

The Deputy Leader of the National Party referred to the concern expressed by the New South Wales Farmers Association about anti-avoidance provisions and how such transactions affect siblings. This bill imposes ad valorem duty on dutiable transfers when separate transferees are deemed to be associated. This is to avoid the potential for the same transaction to be split so as to reduce or avoid the duty. One category of persons associated in this fashion is that of siblings. In May 1997 New South Wales Farmers made the valid point that transfers between siblings should not be regarded as unusual and that they should therefore be considered as being within the spirit of the intergenerational rural transfer exemption concession. This argument was accepted by the Government, with rural transfers being exempted if other criteria are met.

The bill also provides for concessional treatment to subsales for siblings. It acknowledges the reality that transactions between siblings are not a rarity and that for this reason revenue should be protected against the potential for members of this generic group to exploit opportunities to split transactions when they have a common purpose. Each provision in the bill which groups associated parties such as siblings also provides the chief commissioner with a discretion not to aggregate when it would not be just and reasonable to do so in the circumstances. I hope that addresses the concerns raised by the Deputy Leader of the National Party. I am happy to commend the bill to the House.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time.
In Committee

Clauses 11 to 28 and Dictionary

Mr PHILLIPS (Miranda - Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [10.32 p.m.], by leave: I move Opposition amendments Nos 1 to 6 in globo:

Page 1994
    No. 1 Page 8, clause 11, lines 1-5. Omit all words on those lines.
    No. 2 Page 8, clause 11, lines 12 and 13. Omit all words on those lines.
    No. 3 Page 8, clause 11, lines 20 and 21. Omit "(other than intellectual property)".
    No. 4 Page 16, clause 28, lines 18-20. Omit all words on those lines.
    No. 5 Page 17, clause 28, lines 10-12. Omit all words on those lines.
    No. 6 Page 212, Dictionary, lines 21-30. Omit all words on those lines.

I refer honourable members to the reasons I gave for the amendments in my contribution to the second reading debate.

Mr KNIGHT (Campbelltown - Minister for the Olympics) [10.33 p.m.]: For the reasons outlined in my second reading speech the Government rejects the amendments.

Question - That the amendments be agreed to - put.

The Committee divided.
Ayes, 48

Mr Armstrong Mr O’Doherty
Mr Beck Mr O’Farrell
Mr Blackmore Mr D. L. Page
Mr Brogden Mr Peacocke
Mr Chappell Mr Phillips
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Photios
Mr Cochran Mr Richardson
Mr Collins Mr Rixon
Mr Cruickshank Mr Rozzoli
Mr Debnam Mr Schipp
Mr Downy Mr Schultz
Mr Ellis Ms Seaton
Ms Ficarra Mrs Skinner
Mr Fraser Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Glachan Mr Small
Mr Hartcher Mr Smith
Mr Hazzard Mr Souris
Mr Humpherson Mr Tink
Dr Kernohan Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Kinross Mr R. W. Turner
Mr MacCarthy Mr Windsor
Dr Macdonald
Mr Merton Tellers,
Ms Moore Mr Jeffery
Mr Oakeshott Mr Kerr
Noes, 49

Ms Allan Mr Markham
Mr Amery Mr Martin
Mr Anderson Ms Meagher
Ms Andrews Mr Mills
Mr Aquilina Mr Moss
Mrs Beamer Mr Murray
Mr Clough Mr Nagle
Mr Crittenden Mr Neilly
Mr Debus Ms Nori
Mr Face Mr E. T. Page
Mr Gaudry Dr Refshauge
Mr Gibson Mr Rogan
Mrs Grusovin Mr Rumble
Ms Hall Mr Scully
Mr Harrison Mr Shedden
Ms Harrison Mr Stewart
Mr Hunter Mr Sullivan
Mr Iemma Mr Tripodi
Mr Knight Mr Watkins
Mr Knowles Mr Whelan
Mr Langton Mr Woods
Mrs Lo Po’ Mr Yeadon
Mr Lynch Tellers,
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Mr McManus Mr Thompson

Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendments negatived.

Clauses 11 to 28 and Dictionary agreed to.

Bill reported from Committee without amendment and report adopted.
Third Reading

Mr KNIGHT (Campbelltown - Minister for the Olympics) [10.40 p.m.]: I move:
    That this bill be now read a third time.

The House divided.
Ayes, 49

Ms Allan Mr Markham
Mr Amery Mr Martin
Mr Anderson Ms Meagher
Ms Andrews Mr Mills
Mr Aquilina Mr Moss
Mrs Beamer Mr Nagle
Mr Clough Mr Neilly
Mr Crittenden Ms Nori
Mr Debus Mr E. T. Page
Mr Face Mr Price
Mr Gaudry Dr Refshauge
Mr Gibson Mr Rogan
Mrs Grusovin Mr Rumble
Ms Hall Mr Scully
Mr Harrison Mr Shedden
Ms Harrison Mr Stewart
Mr Hunter Mr Sullivan
Mr Iemma Mr Tripodi
Mr Knight Mr Watkins
Mr Knowles Mr Whelan
Mr Langton Mr Woods
Mrs Lo Po’ Mr Yeadon
Mr Lynch Tellers,
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Mr McManus Mr Thompson

Page 1995
Noes, 48

Mr Armstrong Mr O’Doherty
Mr Beck Mr O’Farrell
Mr Blackmore Mr D. L. Page
Mr Brogden Mr Peacocke
Mr Chappell Mr Phillips
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Photios
Mr Cochran Mr Richardson
Mr Collins Mr Rixon
Mr Cruickshank Mr Rozzoli
Mr Debnam Mr Schipp
Mr Downy Mr Schultz
Mr Ellis Ms Seaton
Ms Ficarra Mrs Skinner
Mr Fraser Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Glachan Mr Small
Mr Hartcher Mr Smith
Mr Hazzard Mr Souris
Mr Humpherson Mr Tink
Dr Kernohan Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Kinross Mr R. W. Turner
Mr MacCarthy Mr Windsor
Dr Macdonald
Mr Merton Tellers,
Ms Moore Mr Jeffery
Mr Oakeshott Mr Kerr

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a third time.

Bill received and read a first time.

Assent to the following bills reported:
    Inclosed Lands Protection Amendment Bill
    Public Notaries Bill

The following bills were returned from the Legislative Council without amendment:
    Sports Drug Testing Amendment Bill
    Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition (New South Wales) Amendment Bill
    Trustee Amendment (Discretionary Investments) Bill

The following bill was returned from the Legislative Council with amendment:
    Luna Park Site Amendment Bill
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.