Mr Speaker (The Hon. John Joseph Aquilina)
Friday 4 June 2004
took the chair at 10.00 a.m.
offered the Prayer.
COURTS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL
Debate resumed from 7 May.
Mr ANDREW TINK
(Epping) [10.00 a.m.]: The Courts Legislation Amendment Bill amends the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act, the Commercial Arbitration Act, the Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act, the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, the Criminal Appeal Act, the Criminal Procedure Act, the District Court Act, the Jury Act and the Protected Estates Act. The procedural changes involved are important to the smooth running of the State's broader justice system. I will address only one matter specifically. That matter relates to juries. However, I put on record two of the matters raised with me by the Law Society. Mark Richardson, the Chief Executive Officer, wrote to me about the bill on 10 May. I am grateful to the Law Society for taking the time and trouble to provide this information. The society is concerned that amendments to the Criminal Appeal Act will have the potential to result in important documents being separated at busy registries and lost in transit.
The Opposition has considered that but does not believe that the bill should be amended in that regard. We trust that procedural steps will be taken to overcome any problems foreseen by the Law Society. The purpose of the amendment is to allow a notice of intention to appeal or application for leave to appeal to be lodged in the Court of Criminal Appeal registry, in the trial registry or with a person in charge of the place where the appellant is in custody. The Law Society's concern is that with multiple points for lodging documents there will be an opportunity for documents to become separated at different registries or lost between registries. I ask that administrative steps be taken to ensure that that does not happen. Schedule 7 to the bill amends the District Court Act to create the position of Judicial Registrar, who will undertake case management functions in the District Court and will have the power to hear some cases to finality. The Law Society says:
... this new power is somewhat extraordinary, given that a Registrar's actions outside his or her own powers would normally be considered ultra vires. It is not clear why a party to proceedings should have to go to the expense and time of making an application to the Court to set aside such a decision.
For many years a number of officers of the court below the status of judge have taken on more and more of the workload of matters which, in the past, might well have been dealt with by judges. These days many such matters are dealt with commonly by registrars. I regard this amendment as an extension of the process. Many years ago when I was in practice the concept of a Master of the Supreme Court was developed from being an officer of the court with a limited jurisdiction to an officer of the court who has jurisdiction in virtually every area of Supreme Court litigation—and there are some fine Masters of the Supreme Court. I do not regard the Supreme Court as being worse off because of that; I regard it as being better off. Whilst I put that concern on the record, I believe it can be worked through, if the history of the court is anything to go by, with the development of the position of master and, increasingly, the position of registrar.
The one matter in relation to which the Opposition has had difficulty concerns the amendment in relation to juries. In recent days juries have been very much in the media. In most respects the amendment is extremely technical, but as I read it will have the consequence of taking away from the indirect oversight of the Parliament the forms that are sent by the sheriff to jurors. There is hardly a telephone book of them; there may be only one form. Nevertheless, to my mind requiring the public to take part in the judicial process is probably the most important piece of the process that emanates from the Government to ordinary members of the public. On our side of the House—I hope this is also true on the Government side—we believe that the central role of the jury is fundamental to the justice system. The role of juries and what they can and cannot do has been the subject of a number of recent debates. A recent decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal said that a jury could not have matters left standing for its decision because, in view of media comment, it was impossible to see how the jurors could safely be left to reach a verdict.
My view is that unless there is clear evidence that a jury has been affected by media comment jurors should be trusted to deliver a verdict. In other words, we believe that juries are central to the process. By and large they are fairly robust, notwithstanding the unfortunate recent incident in which a couple of people went to a crime scene. For what it is worth, I suspect those people, grievously wrong though they were—and the consequences for the trial being most unfortunate— probably went there with good and proper intentions. Had they any remote thought of the eventual consequences of their act they would not have done it. It was just most unfortunate.
In many cases it is highly inconvenient for people to serve on juries, but I believe that the overwhelming number of jurors make an honest attempt to do their best. I suspect that the jurors in question, although grievously mistaken, did what they thought was right. Juries must remain the centrepiece of the criminal justice system. For those reasons the Opposition has real difficulty with the amendments to the Jury Act. The bill amends sections 13 and 26 of the Jury Act to omit the words "in the form prescribed by the regulations". Section 13 in its present form reads:
The sheriff must send to each person whose name is included on a supplementary jury roll for a district, and who appears to the sheriff to be qualified and eligible to serve as a juror, a notice in the form prescribed by the regulations.
I take that to mean that the sheriff must send a notice in the form prescribed in the regulations. The amendment, by deleting the words "in the form prescribed by the regulations", removes the mandatory requirement for the sheriff to comply with the regulations. That creates a problem for the Opposition. The bill amends the Act to insert after section 76 (1):
In particular, the regulations may make provision for or with respect to the following … information … contained in any notice [to the jury.]
So under the direct language of the bill a mandatory requirement will become a matter of choice. The Opposition believes Parliament must continue to have indirect oversight of the forms used by the sheriff to summons ordinary people to participate in the criminal justice system. That oversight is indirect because forms prescribed by the regulations do not come before Parliament. They are gazetted and, upon gazettal, become law. However, either House of Parliament has the power to move on a gazetted regulation within a specified period. In that indirect, but very real, manner Parliament retains an interest in, and some jurisdiction over, those forms.
That jurisdiction is extremely important symbolically and I do not want it to change. Can I conceive of a situation in which a regulation such as this would come before Parliament? To be honest, I cannot. However, Parliament should retain that indirect oversight. It is a sign that Parliament takes juries seriously and respects the role they play in the judicial system. When the State, through the sheriff, issues documents to ordinary members of the public directing them to participate in the criminal process—in this day and age jury duty is probably the most important aspect of citizenship—Parliament should be involved indirectly in the process.
I am grateful to Jackie Trad from the Attorney General's Department for her assistance in this matter. We have had several useful discussions. There may be a way of reaching some compromise that allows Parliament to retain this symbolic oversight while proceeding according to the Attorney General's wishes. I understand that work is continuing on that issue and I hope that we can reach some accommodation. I am grateful for the exchange of communication on that point. The Opposition supports the bill and hopes to reach some accommodation so that we do not have to divide the House over the proposed amendments in schedule 8 to the bill.
Mr PAUL LYNCH
(Liverpool) [10.15 a.m.]: I support the Court Legislation Amendment Bill, which is an omnibus bill that introduces a number of amendments to various statutes. These types of bills are a regular feature of parliamentary sessions and involve comparatively minor amendments. The legislation amended by this bill includes the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act, Commercial Arbitration Act, Crimes (Local Courts Appeal and Review) Act, Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, Criminal Appeal Act, Criminal Procedure Act, District Court Act, Jury Act and Protected Estates Act.
Schedule 7 to the bill amends the District Court Act. One part of the schedule addresses the consequences of the abolition of the Compensation Court and the then workers compensation system and the repeal of the Compensation Court Act. The residual jurisdiction that had been exercised by the Compensation Court will now be exercised by the District Court. That residual jurisdiction includes the jurisdiction to make determinations under section 216A of the Police Act, section 21 of the Police Regulation (Superannuation) Act, section 29 of the Sporting Injuries Insurance Act and sections 16 and 30 of the Workers Compensation (Bush Fire, Emergency and Rescue Services) Act. The jurisdiction also includes section 81 of the Workers Compensation (Dust Diseases) Act 1942 and the jurisdiction to examine, hear and determine all coalmining matters within the meaning of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act, except some matters arising under part 5 of the Workers Compensation Act.
The District Court has the same powers as the Compensation Court, and the costs regime in this jurisdiction is also altered. Section 112 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act will apply to all proceedings in that residual jurisdiction. An appeal on a point of law on admission or rejection of evidence from that residual jurisdiction rests with the Court of Appeal. Those of us who were practitioners in the Compensation Court or its earlier incarnations obviously feel a degree of regret at the final passing of that institution. I refer to a particularly illuminating article in this regard by Judge Garry Neilson that appeared in the December 2003 edition of the Law Society Journal
. The article is an edited version of a speech that the judge gave at the last sittings of the Compensation Court at Bathurst in August last year.
The pedigree of the court, which is finally being buried by this legislation, dates back to 1 July 1926. It was a product of one of the Lang Labor governments. It was then known as the Workers Compensation Commission, with a chairman who was treated effectively as a District Court judge. The first sitting of the commission occurred on 3 August 1926. From the beginning of its operation the commission was treated substantially the same as a court. In 1929 a deputy chairman was appointed, which allowed two courts to function. In 1939 the two lay commissioners were removed when the commission was reconstituted. There were also some changes in the 1980s, with the use of non legally qualified commissioners. On balance, that was not a successful experiment from the perspective of injured workers. The major characteristic of one of its incarnations was the generation of a plethora of appeals. It is interesting that this bill effectively brings an end to that history.
Schedule 7 also creates the position of Judicial Registrar of the District Court, which I understand is an innovation for that Court. The Judicial Registrar will have a number of functions, roles and powers; they are set out in the legislation. My experience of the District Court civil jurisdiction suggest that registrars have performed quite a few of those functions already. However, the proposals also seem to involve a qualitative extension of the functions of traditional registrars. That is appropriate and it is right that a new position be created. The position is a specific statutory position for a term not exceeding five years. As the new positions clearly involve the exercise of judicial powers, the theoretical issue of the independence of the judiciary might arise but I do not believe that will be a particularly severe problem in practice. Traditionally, registrars have certainly carried out many of these functions for a considerable period without that becoming an issue. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr BOB DEBUS
(Blue Mountains—Attorney General, and Minister for the Environment) [10.20 a.m.], in reply: I thank the honourable member for Epping and the honourable member for Liverpool for their support for this set of amendments and for their contributions to the debate. As previous speakers have indicated, these kinds of amendments are introduced in almost every session of Parliament. They arise during the ordinary administration of the law by the courts and by the Attorney General's Department, and it is common practice and good sense for us to move sets of small changes at some stage during every sitting. The amendments are designed to improve the efficiency of the courts and to make them more accessible to legal practitioners and the public. Each of the previous speakers mentioned the Judicial Registrar. The creation of the position is an important advance in improving the practices and procedures of the District Court. Having a registrar as an active case manager will bring consistency and continuity to case management and will enable the court to provide specialist legal procedural advice. Importantly, the creation of the position will free up judge time so that more matters can be heard in the District Court.
A number of the amendments relate to the work that has been carried out on CourtLink to review and streamline the processes in the Supreme Court, the District Court and the Local Court and to build some commonality in the way business is conducted across those courts. CourtLink will link New South Wales courts with the community through the provision of easy access to court services, particularly by the establishment of a single computer system, common work practices for the courts, and the provision of secure Internet access and shared information between justice agencies. That is indeed a revolutionary development in the administration of our courts. The project reflects the Government's commitment to improving access to, and the quality and efficiency of, our court system.
The honourable member for Epping raised several matters to which I should respond. In respect of his concerns about schedule 5, the Attorney General's Department will take into account when it is developing procedural arrangements the matters raised by the Law Society regarding the lodging of appeals in the Court of Criminal Appeal. I understand that the department has already given that undertaking to the Law Society. The honourable member also referred to schedule 8 and the amendment to the Jury Act. The Government will move an amendment in the Legislative Council to ensure that the sheriff must comply with matters that will be set out in the regulations. The regulations will set out the information that should be included in a summons. The amendment will specifically meet the concerns raised by the Opposition. The Government proposes to amend page 23, line 8 by changing the word "may" to "must". That will address the honourable member's concerns. In any event, he is welcome to discuss the matter further with my office before the legislation is considered in the other place. I thank honourable members again for their contributions and I commend the bill to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.
The following bill was returned from the Legislative Council without amendment:
Bail Amendment (Terrorism) Bill
FILMING APPROVAL BILL
Bill returned from the Legislative Council with amendments.
Consideration of the Legislative Council's amendments.
Schedule of amendments referred to in message of 3 June
No. 1 Page 2, clause 3 (1), line 28. Insert "reasonably" after "activity".
No.2 Page 4, clause 4. Insert after line 9:
(3) In determining whether to grant a filming approval to carry out a filming activity in a designated area, the relevant Minister must have regard to each of the following matters:
(a) if the area forms part of land that is reserved or dedicated under Part 4 or 4A of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
or land acquired under Part 11 of that Act:
(i) any heritage values of the land,
(ii) if the approval will authorise the use of any building or structure on the land—the cultural significance of the building or structure,
(iii) any management plan for the land,
(iv) in the case of land that is a wilderness area within the meaning of that Act—whether there is no other feasible location outside of that land within New South Wales to carry out the activity,
(b) if the area forms part of a marine park within the meaning of the Marine Parks Act 1997
(i) any heritage values of the park,
(ii) if the approval will authorise the use of any building or structure in the park—the cultural significance of the building or structure,
(iii) any operational plan or zoning plan under that Act for the park.
No. 3 Page 4, clause 4 (3), lines 10–15. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:
(3) The relevant Minister for a designated area that forms part of a wilderness area within the meaning of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
may not grant approval for the carrying out of any filming activity in the designated area unless the Minister is satisfied that the activity is to be carried out primarily for any one or more of the following purposes:
(a) the education of or the raising of awareness of members of the public about Aboriginal heritage or culture, historic heritage, biodiversity, threatened species, the management of parks, environmental processes, public recreation, bushfire management or visitor safety,
(b) the research or investigation into Aboriginal heritage or culture, historic heritage, biodiversity, threatened species, the management of parks, environmental processes, public recreation or bushfire management,
(c) the promotion of visits by tourists.
No. 4 Page 4, clause 4 (6), lines 23-26. Omit all the words on those lines. Insert instead:
(6) In determining whether or not to grant a filming approval to carry out a filming activity in a designated area, the Minister is to be satisfied of the following matters (and is, if required for that purpose, to impose conditions on any filming approval granted to ensure that those matters are satisfied):
No. 5 Page 4, clause 4 (6). Insert after line 37:
(e) that the filming activity is not inconsistent with any applicable threat abatement plan or recovery plan within the meaning of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
(f) that the filming activity complies with any applicable policy (if any) of the Department of Environment and Conservation concerning filming in designated areas,
(g) that the siting and timing of the filming activity, as far as is practicable, minimises the impact of the activity on the natural and cultural heritage values of the area and on the public enjoyment of the area,
(h) where the activity is to be carried out in a wilderness area within the meaning of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
—that the filming activity will be carried out by the minimum number of persons who could feasibly carry out such an activity.
No. 6 Page 5, clause 4. Insert after line 4:
(8) Subject to the regulations, a relevant Minister may approve fees from time to time for either or both of the following:
(a) the making of applications for filming approvals in designated areas for which the Minister is the relevant Minister,
(b) the granting of filming approvals to carry out filming activities in designated areas for which the Minister is the relevant Minister.
(9) A relevant Minister for a designated area may not:
(a) determine any application for a filming approval to carry out a filming activity in the area unless the fee (if any) approved under subsection (8) (a) for the application is paid by the applicant to the Minister, or
(b) grant a filming approval to carry out a filming activity in the area unless the fee (if any) approved under subsection (8) (b) for the grant is paid by the applicant to the Minister.
No. 7 Page 6. Insert after line 23:
7 Approval holder to comply with conditions of filming approval
An approval holder must comply with each condition of the holder’s filming approval when carrying out the filming activity to which the approval relates.
Maximum penalty: $50,000 in the case of a corporation and $10,000 in any other case.
No. 8 Page 7. Insert after line 1:
8 Restraint of contraventions of this Act
(1) In this section, contravention
includes threatened or apprehended contravention.
(2) Any person may bring proceedings in the Land and Environment Court for an order to remedy or restrain a contravention of this Act (including a contravention of a filming approval), whether or not any right of that person has been or may be infringed by or as a consequence of that contravention.
(3) Proceedings under this section may be brought by a person on the person’s own behalf or on behalf of that person and on behalf of other persons (with their consent), or a body corporate or unincorporate (with the consent of its committee or other controlling or governing body), having like or common interests in those proceedings.
(4) Proceedings under this section in relation to a contravention that affects the validity of a filming approval may only be brought within the period of 14 days after the date on which the approval was granted.
(5) Any person on whose behalf proceedings are brought is entitled to contribute to or provide for the payment of the legal costs and expenses incurred by the person bringing the proceedings.
(6) If the Court is satisfied that a contravention has occurred, or that a contravention will, unless restrained by order of the Court, be committed, it may make such order as it thinks fit to remedy or restrain the contravention.
(7) The Court may not make an order under subsection (6) to remedy or restrain a contravention of a condition of a filming approval in proceedings brought by a person (other than a person who brings the proceedings by or on behalf of the Crown) unless the Court is satisfied that:
(a) the Crown has decided not to take any remedial action in respect of the contravention within 30 days after the contravention, or
(b) the Crown has not made a decision on whether to take such action within 30 days after the contravention.
(8) For the purposes of subsection (7), remedial action
is not limited to the institution of criminal proceedings, but includes action to require the person who committed the contravention to prevent, control, abate or mitigate any harm to the environment caused by the contravention or to prevent the continuance or recurrence of the contravention.
9 Fees to be paid into National Parks and Wildlife Fund
Any fee paid under this Act is to be paid into the Fund within the meaning of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
No. 9 Page 7, clause 8, lines 6–8. Omit all the words on those lines. Insert instead:
(a) any member of staff of the Department of Environment and Conservation, or
(b) a board of management or trust board within the meaning of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
No. 10 Page 7. Insert after line 8:
9 Register of filming approvals to be publicly available
(1) The Director-General of the Department of Environment and Conservation is to cause information on filming approvals granted under this Act:
(a) to be recorded in a register that is to be kept in the head office of the Department and made available to the public, free of charge, during ordinary office hours, and
(b) to be placed on the Department’s website.
(2) Information to be included on the register and website is to include the following:
(a) the name of each person to whom any filming approval has been granted,
(b) the designated area to which the filming approval relates,
(c) the purpose for which the filming approval has been granted,
(d) information as to the terms and conditions of the filming approval, except information that the Director-General would be prevented from disclosing by the Freedom of Information Act 1989
or the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
No. 11 Page 7. Insert after line 19:
10 Nature of proceedings for offences
Proceedings for an offence under this Act may be dealt with summarily before the Land and Environment Court.
Mr BOB DEBUS
(Blue Mountains—Attorney General, and Minister for the Environment) [10.26 a.m.]: I move:
Mr MICHAEL RICHARDSON
That the Legislative Council's amendments be agreed to.
(The Hills) [10.26 a.m.]: The Opposition will not oppose these amendments, although it has some reservations, once again, about the manner in which the Government is permitting filming in national parks. It was not necessary to introduce stand-alone legislation in this manner. The Opposition also has concerns about aspects of the amendments and the way in which they were dealt with in another place. In the context of the necessity for this legislation, I draw the Committee's attention to a memorandum of advice I received from Tim Robertson SC, the well-known Labor lawyer, in which he says, inter alia:
I do not, with respect, accept that the decision of the Land and Environment Court in the Stealth case created any uncertainty about these matters.
That is, about filming in national parks. He continues:
The law was quite clear before the Court's decision. Activities which promote or are ancillary to promoting the objects for the reservation of public land are permissible, or at least may be authorised by the Minister or his delegates. Other activities are not. This has been the law for many years, and numerous decisions of the highest courts in the land have affirmed it. Whether a particular film serves to promote those objects, or whether the filming itself is an act of recreation and is hence consistent with those objects, depends upon the facts of the particular case. Obviously, films about nature conservation wilderness, bush walking, etc could never be regarded as antagonistic or antipathetic to the objects for which such land has been reserved. Photography itself is recreational and hence is permissible, and so on...
However, the question I am asked to address is whether the Minister's fear, that the prescription of factors for consideration in determining whether to grant a film approval could reintroduce by the back door these constraints which the Bill would otherwise remove, will materialise.
He argues cogently that that is not the case. He further states:
There is a fundamental distinction between the statutory conditions which give rise to the existence of a power, on the one hand, and matters which must be considered when that power is exercised, on the other. The law which the Minister fell foul of in the Stealth case concerns the former. The proposed amendments by the environment group address the latter.
In other words, the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the Wilderness Act were clear in their banning of filming in wilderness areas. It was not an acceptable activity to take place in a wilderness area and, indeed, Mr Justice Lloyd in the Land and Environment Court found on six grounds that the Government had transgressed the legislation by permitting filming to go ahead in the Grose Valley wilderness area. The Government introduced the legislation, which was conceived in haste—I understand in only 48 hours—as a result of comments of the Premier that he would ensure that the filming of Stealth
in the Grose Wilderness Area would go ahead regardless of the law and that he would change the law to permit it to happen. That is absolutely reprehensible and tarnishes the Premier's alleged green credentials almost beyond redemption. The law on this matter is clear. The legislation has been reviewed in the upper House and it clearly states that feature filming is not permitted in wilderness areas. That has always been the law and it is not necessary for it to be restated in separate legislation.
Tim Robertson pointed out that this stand-alone law will be the sole legislation to determine whether filming approval should be granted. Instead, the existing legislation could have been amended and relied upon. Mr Robertson has a strong view that the bill is unnecessary. As I have said previously, the Government is using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. The fact that the legislation was drafted in such haste is the reason we are debating this substantial number of amendments, which were negotiated by the environment movement and the Government. The amendments were needed simply to maintain the status quo. We now have stand-alone legislation—the Filming Approval Bill—rather than the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and the Wilderness Act 1987. That is an appalling state of affairs. Amendment No. 2 states:
(3) In determining whether to grant a filming approval to carry out a filming activity in a designated area, the relevant Minister must have regard to each of the following matters: …
(i) any heritage values of the land,
(ii) if the approval will authorise the use of any building or structure on the land—the cultural significance of the building or structure,
(iii) any management plan for the land,
(iv) in the cases of land that is a wilderness area within the meaning of that Act—whether there is no other feasible location outside of that land within New South Wales to carry out the activity,
If the area forms part of a marine park similar sorts of issues are to be taken into account. Any reasonable Minister would take those issues into account anyway and it is unnecessary to spell them out in legislation. I understand that paragraph (iv) of that amendment means that scientific, educational or tourism films will only be allowed in the wilderness area if there is no other place in New South Wales where such filming could occur. In the context of promoting our wonderful national parks that seems to be a retrograde step.
In the upper House a lot of debate occurred in relation to amendment No. 8, which deals with restraint of contraventions of this Act—apparently the major issue for the environment movement. The original legislation—move in haste, repent at leisure—did not allow for third party appeal rights. It was supposed to, but it did not, provide certainty for the film industry without withdrawing any of the rights that currently exist under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. No provision was made for third party appeal rights. Amendment No. 8 will provide for the right of appeal within 14 days after the date on which the approval was granted. The environment movement is concerned that 14 days may not long enough and if it is unaware of the granting of a filming approval, it may not be able to examine all the issues involved and appeal within the specified time. Subclauses (7) and (8) of new section 8 that was inserted in the other place provide:
(7) The Court may not make an order under subsection (6) to remedy or restrain a contravention of a condition of a filming approval in proceedings brought by a person … unless the Court is satisfied that:
(a) the Crown has decided not to take any remedial action in respect of the contravention within 30 days after the contravention, or
(b) the Crown has not made a decision on whether to take such action within 30 days after the contravention.
(8) For the purposes of subsection (7), remedial action
is not limited to the institution of criminal proceedings, but includes action to require the person who committed the contravention to prevent, control, abate or mitigate any harm to the environment caused by the contravention or to prevent the continuance or recurrence of the contravention.
In effect, a 30-day cooling off period is allowed within which the Crown can decide to order a remedy to be brought for environmental damage at a filming site. That contradicts the whole notion of reinstating third party appeal rights. I am particularly perturbed by the reference to criminal proceedings in relation to these matters. As I understand it, these subsections were taken from anti-pollution legislation and there is little relationship between a massive oil spill in Sydney Harbour, for example, and filming activity in a national park. I do not believe that the inclusion of subclauses (7) and (8) is necessary.
The Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans moved an alternative amendment that did not incorporate those two subclauses. There seems to have been a cosy deal between the Greens and the Government in relation to that matter. I feel in this regard that Mr Ian Cohen has sold out the environment movement. The Opposition would have supported the amendment of the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, but we were not given the opportunity to do so because it was not presented first in the upper House. There was a degree of subterfuge typical of the Government's attitude towards the Parliament and democratic principles.
Three Government amendments were to have been moved in the other place, but the Government forgot to do so! That is unbelievable! The Government thought long and hard about this legislation. It realised that it had to provide for some sort of fee structure for filming and that legislation had to determine whether those fees remained with the park, went into consolidated revenue or went to the National Parks and Wildlife Fund. But in the upper House, all the amendments that had been moved by the Greens, the Democrats and the Outdoor Recreation Party were dealt with and debate on the bill was concluded. The bill then had to be recommitted to enable the Government to move its amendments.
This state of affairs demonstrates not only the incompetence of the Government but the fact that this legislation is not foremost in its mind. The Government did not want to provide for third party appeal rights, it did not want to ensure that parks were protected appropriately when filming is undertaken, and it did not want to simply maintain the status quo. Without amendments that would allow the Minister to establish a schedule of fees, and without provision for those fees to be paid to the National Parks and Wildlife Fund, one wonders what accounting procedures would have been in place regarding the moneys received from filming.
The Hon. Jon Jenkins moved an amendment to ensure that the fees are paid to the park in which the filming takes place and that they are used for the control of noxious weeds and feral animals. I had some discussion with the Hon. Jon Jenkins about that issue. We believe that the money ought to be paid into the National Parks and Wildlife Fund. We are concerned that if the money stayed with the park and was used for general purposes, the parks that enjoy the greatest natural advantages, probably because of their proximity to Sydney, would benefit the most from filming activity. We also believe that parks should be encouraged to raise more of their revenue.
The Opposition strongly supports more money being made available for conservation measures within parks, particularly given the $30 million the Government has now taken away from the Department of Environment and Conservation. I understand that a significant portion of that money will come from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Given the significant increase in the number of hectares currently within national parks in the State, one wonders how a Government that was struggling to manage and maintain the park network beforehand will be able to look after those national parks after that significant cut in funding. As I said, the Opposition will not oppose the amendments, but the fact that there are 11 of them and that three of them had to be moved by the Government—and that the Government forgot to move its own amendments in the upper House—does not reflect at all well on the Government, its management of the national park estate and its commitment to the film industry in this State.
Mr BOB DEBUS
(Blue Mountains—Attorney General, and Minister for the Environment) [10.44 a.m.]: I wish to respond briefly to the contribution of the honourable member for The Hills. First, I point out that within the last couple of years the honourable member for The Hills has voted for bills that sought to introduce horse riding and four-wheel driving in wilderness areas. Having a film company, working under the strictest conceivable conditions and supervised by National Parks rangers, present in a wilderness area for a couple of days is hardly a flyspeck of a problem compared with introducing horse riding and four-wheel driving in national parks. To suggest that it is more than that would surely stretch the credulity of any rational person. Perhaps that level of hypocrisy by the honourable member for The Hills is sufficient to make one reflect upon much of the rest of what he said in his contribution.
As has occurred with many other bills that have been introduced by governments of all colours over about a century, the bill was drafted in 48 hours. It is an insult to the parliamentary draftsmen and lawyers who work in the public service to suggest that somehow or other it is completely impossible to draft a bill in 48 hours. The opinions of Tim Robertson, QC, are one thing. But, unless I am mistaken, the opinion of a single counsel is no remedy to the feeling of uncertainty that will arise at a commercial level in an entire industry on the basis of remarks made by the judge in the Land and Environment Court in the case concerning
the filming of Stealth
. All we need do is talk to the film industry.
In earlier debate on the Filming Approval Bill we drew attention to the specific observations and concerns of the film industry about the effects of that court case on future filming in national parks and permission that might be given for it. The bill eventually restored a situation that we believe had been the legal position before the Stealth
court case, with the exception that we made it absolutely clear that there could be no commercial filming in national parks. But to suggest it was unnecessary to introduce the legislation simply flies in the face of the kind of commercial reality, apart from anything else, that members opposite are normally given to emphasising, especially in the context of the protection of the environment.
Notwithstanding the suggestions of the honourable member for The Hills, the amendments that have been made by the bill are not major. They are the consequence of careful deliberation and consultation with the film industry and the environment industry, and were promised by the Government from the beginning. Although the Government was happy to make the changes, and although in some cases they provide additional legal clarity and more comfort to one or other of the groups most interested in this legislation, the fact is that they are not substantial. I use as a single example third party appeal rights. The honourable member for The Hills is simply wrong in his assertion that the original bill did not allow for third party appeals. Such appeals have always been allowed under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
The amendment that was agreed to in the other place creates a further appeal right, that is, an appeal right under this bill. The environment movement wanted more than 14 days in which to launch an appeal. The film industry wanted no appeal rights at all. The bill, as amended, provides a reasonable, sensible and balanced outcome. Indeed, that is what characterises this bill all-round. The opinion of a single counsel notwithstanding, there was great uncertainty in the film industry, which contributes significantly to the New South Wales economy each year. It was essential for the Government to make crystal clear the circumstances in which filming may be permitted.
For the record, the honourable member's assertion that the Government forgot to introduce its own amendments is disingenuous. The Clerks in the upper House forgot to circulate those amendments, which is not the same thing as the Government forgetting them. The honourable member appears to be willing to blame all sorts of people who are not elected to this House for a number of issues around this bill. The bill has resolved a potentially difficult circumstance. We could have had significant conflict between the environment movement and the film industry; we do not. Both of those groups are now happy with the outcome. The bill is a considerable achievement, and I am happy to commend it to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Legislative Council's amendments agreed to.
Resolution reported from Committee and report adopted.
Message sent to the Legislative Council advising it of the resolution.
NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE AMENDMENT (JENOLAN CAVES RESERVE TRUST) BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr BOB DEBUS
(Blue Mountains—Attorney General, and Minister for the Environment) [10.53 a.m.]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust) Bill has been introduced to assist the Government's karst reserve management restructure. The bill proposes minor amendments to sections 8 and 58ZA of the National Parks and Wildlife Act to allow the Minister to appoint the Director-General of the Department of Environment and Conservation as an alternate to the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust Board. The trust previously held responsibility for the care, control and management of the Jenolan, Wombeyan, Borenore and Abercrombie karst conservation reserves. The amendment will effectively transfer the management of these reserves to the Department of Environment and Conservation, and is part of a package of measures to revitalise karst management in New South Wales.
The Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust was established in 1989 as a self-financing and independent entity relying on income from visitor charges as well as lease revenue from Caves House, which is operated under a 99-year lease. In recent years, however, the trust has only been able to meet its financial resource requirements by deferring capital works and relying on government grants to carry out some essential works. Supplementation was required from the Government in 2003-04. Consequently, the trust board expressed concern to me about the long-term financial sustainability of the trust under its existing business model. Last July the Government commissioned the Council on the Cost and Quality of Government to carry out a special review of the trust.
The review found that although the trust had performed well within the constraint of its existing financial arrangements, the financial structure itself could not be sustained indefinitely. Jenolan was expected to subsidise the maintenance of the other reserves I have mentioned. However, Jenolan was not recovering enough revenue to reinvest sufficiently even in its own infrastructure and product development, and was forced instead to rely, as I have indicated, on government grants to cover the shortfall. Consequently, a backlog of capital works and maintenance has arisen across all four reserves. The review also found that well-recognised karst management and scientific expertise existed within the trust and its staff.
The Council on the Cost and Quality of Government recommended that the four karst conservation reserves should be transferred from the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust to the Department of Environment and Conservation to address the cross-subsidisation issues that I have mentioned and to enable the management of the majority of karst areas in New South Wales to be located in one agency. There is already assistance being provided to the trust from the Department of Environment and Conservation in the form of grants and resources to control feral pests and, via the Sydney Catchment Authority, weeds on the reserves. The Council on the Cost and Quality of Government recommended a capital works program to address outstanding infrastructure works.
The council also recommended that when the term of the trust board expired in January 2004, an administrator should be appointed to review the management of trust, the Jenolan Caves commercial area in detail and to develop a strategy for implementation of the Government's policy decisions. The administrator has made an analysis of the trust's financial and structural arrangements and confirmed the recommendations of the council. Further work is being undertaken to consider the future arrangements for cave tours and other visitor services at Jenolan. The Government proposes to increase the efficiency of management of karst reserves in New South Walers while continuing to maintain the highest levels of environmental protection.
Last week I announced a revitalisation package to conserve the natural and iconic assets of the caves, and to assist local economies by providing regional employment and increased tourism opportunities. The package includes an $18 million program of works on Jenolan Caves Road; a $4 million capital works program to upgrade important cave and above-ground infrastructure; the establishment of a new specialist unit within the Department of Environment and Conservation to ensure best practice management of karst areas throughout the State of New South Wales; the establishment of a Karst Management Advisory Committee under section 24 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, comprised of key stakeholder representatives, including speleologists, local government, traditional owners and the National Trust; and the consolidation of the management of karst reserve areas, ensuring that Abercrombie, Wombeyan, Borenore and Jenolan karst reserves are managed, along with the State's 30 other significant cave systems, by the one organisation
I am pleased that additional recurrent funding has been allocated to the Department of Environment and Conservation to support and implement the revitalisation package I have outlined. To facilitate this comprehensive initiative, the minor amendments to the National Parks and Wildlife Act I have described are required to transfer management responsibility from the Jenolan Reserve Caves Trust to the Department of Environment and Conservation. I commend this bill to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Michael Richardson.
CRIMES (ADMINISTRATION OF SENTENCES) AMENDMENT BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr NEVILLE NEWELL
(Tweed—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.00 a.m.], on behalf of Mr Bob Debus: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The object of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Amendment Bill is to make various amendments to the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999, which is the principal Act that governs the administration of certain sentences. The Act is to be amended to provide for a more severe penalty to be imposed on a correctional centre inmate found with a mobile phone. In addition, the amendments will provide for further improvements to the correctional centre discipline system. The amendments will also make other miscellaneous changes to the principal Act and will clarify certain aspects of the operation of the Act. I shall now outline some of the more significant changes proposed to the Act.
The bill proposes to make it a correctional centre offence for an inmate to possess a mobile phone. The bill provides for a range of penalties to be imposed on a correctional centre inmate found with a mobile phone, any part of a mobile phone, a SIM card for a mobile phone, or a charger for a mobile phone. Mobile phones represent a serious threat to the security, good order, and discipline of a correctional centre. An inmate can use a mobile telephone to contact and intimidate correctional centre staff and their families, to contact and intimidate prosecution witnesses, or to organise an escape from custody. In addition to correctional centre related concerns, an inmate can use a mobile phone to organise or otherwise engage in criminal activity outside a correctional centre. Regrettably, in the current international climate, the activity outside of a correctional centre can include terrorist activity.
On 21 April the Premier announced a range of measures to combat the threat of terrorism. Included in those measures was the proposal for new penalties for possessing a mobile phone in a correctional centre. This bill introduces the new penalties as outlined by the Premier. It is foreseeable that, over the course of time, the State's correctional centres may be required to accommodate a growing number of alleged terrorist inmates. In this era of uncertainty about terrorism, the welfare of those in and outside the correctional system must be protected. A mobile phone that is smuggled into a correctional centre is a possible threat not only to those people in and associated with the correctional system but also to those in the broader community.
The proposed new penalties for possessing a mobile phone in a correctional centre are intended to reduce the risk of a correctional centre inmate accessing a mobile phone while in a place of detention. I assure the House that correctional authorities are continually improving their search practices in respect of mobile phones and other contraband. The reality is, however, that the compact size of mobile phones and the increasingly sophisticated methods used by inmates and their outside associates to introduce mobile phones into correctional centres renders it unlikely that correctional authorities will ever be able to completely prevent the introduction of mobile phones into correctional centres.
The security threat presented by mobile phones is of such significance that I am advised that the Minister for Justice has asked the Department of Corrective Services to investigate other measures to counter this threat. The other measures being investigated include the use of mobile phone jamming equipment. In fact, since July last year the Minister for Justice has been urging the Commonwealth Government to permit the trialling of jamming equipment to block mobile phone use in correctional centres. At present, the use of jamming equipment is prohibited by Commonwealth legislation. The Summary Offences Act 1988 provides a disincentive to persons bringing or attempting to bring anything into a place of detention. A person found guilty of attempting to smuggle a mobile phone into a place of detention could conceivably receive a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment, or 20 penalty units, or both. Paradoxically, a similar sanction cannot be imposed on an inmate who receives and uses a mobile phone. This legislation amends this anomaly.
The Government is of the view that the appropriate authorities should be able to impose a more severe penalty on any inmate found in the possession of a mobile phone. The bill will provide for a range of such penalties. Due to the array of offenders and sentences, there is to be a range of penalties in respect of mobile phones. New section 56A will provide for an inmate to be deprived for up to six months of such withdrawable privileges as the governor of a correctional centre or visiting magistrate determines. The bill makes it a correctional centre offence for an inmate to be in possession of a mobile phone, and provides for the imposition of a penalty within the range of penalties available to a visiting magistrate in respect of a correctional centre offence.
Significantly, the bill also makes it a criminal offence under the Summary Offences Act 1988 for an inmate to have a mobile phone in his or her possession in a place of detention. The bill provides for a maximum penalty for this offence of a term of imprisonment of up to two years to be imposed by a court. The categorisation of a mobile phone offence as both a correctional centre offence and criminal offence—combined with the range of penalties proposed—provides for flexibility in the manner in which mobile phone related offences will be able to be dealt with. The circumstances surrounding the possession of a mobile phone will determine the manner in which such an offence is pursued. Under the proposals in the bill, the Department of Corrective Services will make a judgement on the seriousness of a mobile phone related offence and act accordingly in bringing proceedings against the inmate concerned.
In addition to penalties for mobile phones, the bill provides for various improvements to the inmate discipline system. The bill creates a single category of correctional centre offence by removing the distinction between a major offence and a minor offence. The bill also amends some of the penalties that may be imposed on an inmate in respect of a correctional centre offence. It is imperative that the correctional system is equipped with a quick and effective internal disciplinary system. The bill proposes to introduce greater flexibility into the inmate discipline system. The current division of offences into major and minor offences does not provide the Department of Corrective Services with the flexibility necessary to deal with each correctional centre offence on its merits. There are occasions on which there are minor versions of major correctional centre offences and vice versa. The inmate discipline system therefore needs to be flexible as perceptions and circumstances surrounding offences can vary.
At present, under section 54 of the Act the governor of a correctional centre must refer an offence with which an inmate is charged to a visiting magistrate for hearing and determination if the offence is a major offence or the offence is a minor offence but the governor considers that because of the serious nature of the offence it should be referred to a visiting magistrate. The failure of an inmate to comply with the requirements of any of six particular clauses in the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Regulation 2001 constitutes a major offence. The major offence clauses cover such matters as conceal for the purpose of escape, possess drug, and bribery. Members will no doubt appreciate that there is considerable scope in terms of the seriousness of such offences.
The mandatory referral of all so-called major offences to a visiting magistrate cannot be justified. The circumstances surrounding a so-called major offence may not warrant the referral of the matter to a visiting magistrate, with all the associated costs and administrative requirements. In some cases the referral of a matter will be a poor use of limited resources. Further, in some cases the referral of a matter to a visiting magistrate may be inefficient in terms of inmate discipline. For instance, it generally takes longer for a correctional centre offence matter to be finalised through the visiting magistrate process than it does if the governor of a correctional centre hears the matter. Under the current system, it is possible that an inmate who is on remand or an inmate who is serving a short sentence may be released from custody prior to the finalisation of the visiting magistrate hearing process. An occurrence such as this is clearly not in the public interest.
The bill strengthens the inmate discipline system by amending some of the penalties that the governor of a correctional centre or a visiting magistrate may impose on an inmate for the commission of a correctional centre offence. The bill amends section 53 to increase the maximum number of days for which a governor may deprive an inmate of withdrawable privileges. The maximum number of days will be increased from 28 to 56. The bill also amends section 53 to increase from 3 days to 7 days the number of days for which a governor may confine an inmate to his or her cell.
The bill amends section 55 to make provision for a visiting magistrate to hear a charge on a correctional centre offence by way of audio-video link. The Department of Corrective Services currently has audio-visual links at nine correctional centres. Inmates at those nine correctional centres already appear before courts, the Parole Board, and the Serious Offenders Review Council by way of audio-visual link. The penalties that a visiting magistrate may impose for a correctional centre offence are to be increased to reinforce the position of the visiting magistrate within the correctional centre inmate discipline system. The bill amends section 56 to increase the maximum number of days for which a visiting magistrate may deprive an inmate of withdrawable privileges. The maximum number of days will be increased from 56 to 90.
Significantly, up until now a visiting magistrate has been able to extend by up to 28 days the term of an inmate's sentence. This period is increased to up to six months. Importantly, a visiting magistrate will be able to impose a sentence on an inmate of up to six months. This amendment will give visiting magistrates the power to deal with troublesome inmates who are on remand. The bill introduces a further improvement to the inmate discipline process in relation to damage to property by inmates. Of course, the majority of inmates do not damage Department of Corrective Services property, but on some occasions some inmates cause considerable damage. From time to time, for whatever reason, inmates will smash items such as television sets, light fittings, and toilets. The Government is of the view that inmates who damage the department's property should be made to feel the consequences of their actions.
Under section 59, inmates can be ordered to pay compensation for property damage. At present the amount of compensation that a governor can order an inmate to pay is limited to $100. The amount that a visiting magistrate can order an inmate to pay is at the discretion of the visiting magistrate. To recover amounts of more than $100 currently requires the activation of the visiting magistrate process. The bill, therefore, amends section 59 to increase from $100 to $500 the maximum amount of compensation that a governor may require an inmate to pay for loss or damage to property as a result of the inmate committing a correctional centre offence. This increase in limit will bring many property damage matters to a speedier conclusion and will also eliminate the need for the department to activate the visiting magistrate process in respect of relatively low-level matters.
The Government has been progressively tightening the periodic detention scheme for a number of years. In particular, the provisions in respect of non-attendance have been closely scrutinised. The Government's position is that offenders who flout their periodic detention orders and fail to attend for detention should reap the consequences of their behaviour swiftly and surely. However, the Government also takes the position that an offender who suffers the consequences of failing to attend periodic detention by having his or her periodic detention order revoked should be able to learn a lesson from that experience and have a second chance to comply with the periodic detention order. Accordingly, in the past, the Government has inserted provisions into the Act to give offenders who have had their orders revoked a second chance after serving at least three months of their sentence by way of full-time imprisonment.
The intention of the proposed amendments in respect of section 163 (2) and (2A) is to provide clarification in relation to the second chance provided to such offenders. The amendments to section 163 make it clear that the Parole Board is to revoke a periodic detention order that has been reinstated—after being earlier revoked following an offender's failure to report without leave or exemption on three or more occasions—if the offender fails to report for detention on one more occasion without leave. The amendments also make it clear that, in the case of a periodic detention order that was earlier revoked for some reason other than failure to report, any previous failure to report for periodic detention is carried over on the reinstated order.
Offenders sentenced to full-time imprisonment, periodic detention, home detention and community service can be tested to determine whether the offender has used alcohol or prohibited drugs. The testing technology that the Department of Corrective Services currently utilises to test for prohibited drugs is urine testing. An amendment to section 3 inserts a definition of non-invasive sample. A non-invasive sample is defined to mean samples of specified types of human biological material such as hair and urine, but not blood, that may be utilised to detect prohibited substances. The bill amends section 255 of the Act to provide that on the extension of the non-parole period of a sentence, the date of commencement of a consecutive sentence, which would otherwise commence before the end of the non-parole period of the extended sentence, is extended by the period that the non-parole period is extended. Similarly, a consecutive sentence, which would otherwise commence after the end of the non-parole period of an extended sentence, is extended by the period for which the term is extended. Partly consecutive sentences are possible under section 47 (2) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
Amendments to clause 3 of schedule 2 of the Act provide for minor amendments to the nomination of the deputy of an official member of the Serious Offenders Review Council. Schedule 3.2 to the bill amends the Criminal Appeal Act 1912. Sections 18 (2) and 25A of the Criminal Appeal Act 1912 state that time spent on bail pending an appeal is not to count as any part of any term of imprisonment. These sections create an implied power allowing the court to restart a person's sentence in circumstances where their appeal has been dismissed. This is to ensure that the person serves the entirety of their sentence. A recent case in the Court of Criminal Appeal raised the issue of this implied power. There is no doubt that people on bail should not have this time count as part of their sentence. The Government is, therefore, amending the Criminal Appeal Act 1912 to make it clear that the Court of Criminal Appeal has the power to commence or recommence sentences in all circumstances. These amendments will relate to appeals to the High Court of Australia as well. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Andrew Tink.
CRIMES (INTERSTATE TRANSFER OF COMMUNITY BASED SENTENCES) BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr GRAHAM WEST
(Campbelltown—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.16 a.m.], on behalf of Mr Bob Debus: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for New South Wales participation in a scheme for the formal transfer and enforcement of community-based sentences between Australian jurisdictions. Community-based sentences are sentences that are served within the community, imposed as an alternative to imprisonment, and can be supervised and administered in the local jurisdiction. Community-based sentences are good behaviour bonds, community service orders, home detention orders, and periodic detention orders. At present, all Australian jurisdictions have arrangements in place for transferring the administration of good behaviour bonds. However, no arrangement exists for the bond itself to be transferred. There is also no arrangement for the transfer of other types of community-based sentence.
Currently, if an offender breaches a community-based sentence while in a new jurisdiction, he or she remains accountable to the original sentencing jurisdiction. This situation is less than ideal because it limits the opportunities for enforcement action in the case of an offender who does not comply with their sentence. Extradition procedures are required to return offenders to their original jurisdictions if they do not return of their own volition, which can involve the expenditure of significant time, money, and effort. The project of developing legislation suitable for the formal reciprocal transfer and enforcement of community-based sentences between jurisdictions has been ongoing since 1996. Since that time, the Department of Corrective Services has worked in close consultation with members of a working group comprising representatives from each Australian State and Territory, relevant agencies, and the Parliamentary Counsels Committee on the development of a suitable legislative model.
In 2000 Australian Capital Territory Corrective Services was given the task of drafting initial legislation for this purpose, and the Community Based Sentences (Transfer) Act 2003 was passed by the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly on 20 February 2003. This Act provides model legislation for implementation in all Australian States and Territories. The bill mirrors the scheme provided by the Australian Capital Territory Community Based Sentences (Transfer) Act 2003. It will be trialled between New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in order to establish suitable administrative processes for the efficient running of the scheme. Following an evaluation of the scheme and subsequent discussion and agreement by the jurisdictions, similar legislation will be enacted in each Australian State and Territory.
It is impossible to accurately predict how many persons with community-based sentences would transfer into and out of New South Wales if all Australian jurisdictions introduced complementary legislation to enable the transfer of such sentences. The legislative scheme that already exists for the interstate transfer of parole orders and the current administrative scheme for the interstate transfer of good behaviour bonds provide a rough guide. On the basis of transfers which currently occur under these two schemes, the Department of Corrective Services has estimated that when the proposed scheme for the transfer of community-based sentences has been introduced Australiawide, around 200 additional offenders will transfer into New South Wales each year, and around 400 offenders will transfer out of New South Wales each year. If the scheme proceeds, New South Wales may, therefore, be expected to become a net exporter of persons with community-based sentences.
I move now to the detail of the bill. It will apply to sentences imposed in relation to adults. This is because many jurisdictions, including New South Wales, have separate legislative, administrative, and judicial regimes for adults and juveniles. To provide for a single piece of legislation covering both distinct regimes would be administratively inefficient. Under the scheme created by the bill, an offender with a community-based sentence in New South Wales will be able to transfer the supervision and administration of the sentence to a new jurisdiction on a voluntary basis, provided certain requirements are satisfied. The offender will then be managed in the new jurisdiction as if a court of the new jurisdiction had imposed the sentence, except for the purposes of appeal or review, which will remain the responsibility of the originating jurisdiction.
The scheme will operate in much the same way as the scheme established by the Prisoners (Interstate Transfer) Act 1982 and related interstate legislation. The sentences that may be transferred from and to New South Wales under the scheme are community service orders, home detention orders, periodic detention orders, and good behaviour bonds. The bill will not apply to certain types of sentence that may be served in the community, namely parole orders, sentences to the extent that they impose fines or other financial penalties, and sentences to the extent that they require the making of reparations.
Interstate authorities that will administer the scheme will have a designated authority as the authority for that jurisdiction. Having one local authority for each jurisdiction will ensure that there is a single communication point between an offender and a supervising authority, establishing clear communication procedures and practices. The bill provides that the local authority is to be the Commissioner of Corrective Services, who will process requests for transfer of sentences into and out of New South Wales. Details of the transferred sentences will be recorded and maintained on a register. The local authority will make decisions on the basis of information sent by the relevant interstate authority regarding the offender and sentence, provided specific criteria are satisfied.
The criteria that the local authority will apply when deciding whether to accept a request for transfer are that the offender has consented to the order and has not withdrawn that consent, there is a sentence in New South Wales that corresponds to the sentence imposed in the interstate jurisdiction, the offender can comply with the sentence in New South Wales and the sentence can be safely, efficiently, and effectively administered in New South Wales. The local authority will be able to refuse a request for transfer if the criteria are not met, or otherwise at the local authority's discretion. This will be particularly relevant in a case where the local authority becomes aware of concerns expressed by an individual for his or her safety if the offender were to reside in New South Wales.
Discretion may also be exercised in a case where the offender poses an unacceptable administrative burden to New South Wales because the offender has a history of not complying with directions issued by a supervising officer. If deciding to accept a request for transfer, the local authority may choose to register the sentence, decline to register the sentence or require the offender to meet certain preconditions before registering the sentence. Imposing preconditions provides a means for the local authority to confirm the offender's ability and willingness to comply with the sentence in New South Wales before registration and formal transfer occurs. A precondition may include the offender satisfying the local authority before a stated time that the offender is living in New South Wales or that the offender is reporting to a stated person in New South Wales at a stated time and place.
If the local authority decides to accept a request for transfer
and registers the sentence, the offender will be supervised and administered by the Probation and Parole Service as though the sentence had been imposed in New South Wales. The administration of a sentence includes administering a breach of the sentence. Therefore, if the offender does not comply with the conditions of the transfer order, he or she may be re-sentenced by a New South Wales court according to the laws of this State. The New South Wales court may, however, refer to the penalty range and type that would have been applicable in the original jurisdiction, so as to ensure that the transfer does not serve to avoid the sentencing intentions of the original jurisdiction. Registration of the sentence does not affect an offender's right to seek an appeal or review of the conviction or finding of guilt or the imposition of a sentence in the original jurisdiction.
As a matter of practicality, if the offender seeks an appeal or amendment of the conviction or the sentence relating to the conviction, the appeal will be made to the original jurisdiction and not to a New South Wales court, even though New South Wales is the jurisdiction supervising and administering the transferred sentence. In the case that an appeal or request for amendment of sentence is successful, the amended sentence will be administered and supervised in New South Wales as though a New South Wales court had upheld the appeal or made the amendment. It would be contrary to natural justice to prevent an offender from seeking an appeal or review of their conviction or sentence by virtue of registration in a jurisdiction other than the original jurisdiction. The Government believes that this bill is pivotal legislation.
There are many reasons why offenders may wish to transfer to a new jurisdiction. Notable reasons may be proximity to improved family and community support or the prospect of increased choice of employment or study opportunities. Allowing a transfer to a new area in which the offender has good support increases the probability of the offender fulfilling the order, being positively re-integrated back into the community, and being diverted from returning to the prison system.
The future involvement of New South Wales in the trial of the scheme with the ACT highlights the contribution New South Wales is making to the corrective services framework nationally by the framing of a cohesive national approach to corrective services provision and enforcement. The Government encourages the early passage of the bill to ensure the prompt and efficient implementation of the scheme.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Andrew Tink.
LIQUOR AMENDMENT (RACING CLUBS) BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr GRAHAM WEST
(Campbelltown—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.26 a.m.], on behalf of Mr Grant McBride: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
This bill has its origins in proceedings decided late last year by the Licensing Court of New South Wales. A decision by the Licensing Court has identified an anomaly within the current liquor laws whereby racing clubs may apply for, and be granted, a Governor's license but it is an offence for them to serve alcohol under this category of licence. This anomaly exists because an offence is committed where liquor is sold by an unregistered club. The Liquor Act defines an unregistered club as one that is not registered under the Registered Clubs Act. Currently, an exemption from the offence of selling liquor in an unregistered club applies only where it holds a function or university licence under the Liquor Act. While many racing clubs sell liquor under a function licence and are, therefore, protected by this exemption, a growing number of racing clubs have relinquished their function licence in favour of a Governor's licence.
Many honourable members would be aware that this Government introduced liquor reforms for the racing industry in 2001 by making horse racing clubs and harness racing clubs eligible to obtain a Governor's licence. These reforms were brought about in recognition of the valuable community assets that are operated by racing clubs, particularly in regional centres. Many racing clubs have taken up the option of a Governor's license because it is more flexible and allows the clubs to make better use of their function and hospitality facilities outside of their usual race meetings. Giving racing clubs the ability to utilise their function facilities for corporate events, weddings and other functions outside of their normal race meetings has ensured that these clubs have a more sustainable future, and a sustainable future for these racing clubs, particularly in country areas, is important for the continuing development of their local community.
Racing clubs are part of the social fabric in many regional communities. The racecourse is an important community asset, and it needs to be maintained and preserved. Racing clubs that are able to offer additional community services through hospitality and functions are able to offset the cost of maintaining their racetrack and associated facilities. This ensures a greater viability for country racetracks. In many regional centres, racing clubs have become much more than a racetrack, a bar, and a bookmakers ring. In many cases, hard-working racing club committees and staff have developed first-class function and conference facilities that have become welcome additions to their local communities. That has helped boost tourism, added to the viability of country racing, and meant that revenue from conferences and functions is kept in the local community.
In this way, racetracks are an important part of the regional economy, providing employment to the local community. This is because a Governor's licence provides far greater flexibility in terms of the way liquor can be sold than is the case under a traditional function licence. The Minister has had the pleasure of visiting many racetracks—both regional and metropolitan—around the State. The feedback he has from the racing clubs has been overwhelmingly positive. These reforms have meant that the expanded catering operations of thoroughbred and harness racing clubs have provided additional revenue streams and employment opportunities for these non-profit clubs. This bill removes any uncertainty surrounding the right of racing clubs to obtain a Governor's license. The other key aspect of the bill is that it gives greyhound racing clubs the same opportunity to apply for a Governor's licence that is already available to thoroughbred racing and harness racing clubs. This is particularly important in ensuring consistency across the racing codes.
Some greyhound racing clubs across New South Wales have developed top-rate function facilities, and they should be granted the ability to apply for a Governor's license. Through this bill, the opportunity is being taken to align the liquor trading entitlements of greyhound racing clubs with those enjoyed by thoroughbred and harness racing clubs. This will add to the viability of greyhound racing clubs that want to maximise the use of their conference and function facilities. Of course, the clubs may opt to retain their current function license, but the bill provides them with the option to take up a Governor's license. The Department of Gaming and Racing will be able to provide assistance to greyhound racing clubs that are interested in obtaining a Governor's licence for their premises. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Andrew Tink.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' STATEMENTS
COASTAL CONSERVATION STRATEGY
Mr MILTON ORKOPOULOS
(Swansea) [11.30 a.m.]: The impact of the greater metropolitan strategy is placing pressure on environmentally sensitive coastal land, particularly around Catherine Hill Bay, the Central Coast and the Hunter. Currently, Catherine Hill Bay and the beautiful surrounding areas are under pressure because of ongoing attempts by Rosecorp Pty Ltd, a large Sydney property developer, to develop the lake foreshore for housing. That development will affect a lot of privately owned land. Rio Tinto is looking closely at the Government's actions on this matter. In October 1995 in a letter to Wyong Shire Council, the then Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, Craig Knowles, requested a review of existing environmental protection zonings in that sensitive coastal area to ensure that environmental protection objectives were achieved, and that the area was not degraded by extensive and inappropriate development.
In April 1996 Minister Knowles asked Wyong's neighbouring council, Lake Macquarie City Council, to "ensure that consistent conservation and scenic protection policies are implemented throughout the [Wallarah] Peninsula". Lake Macquarie council complied with that request, but, nearly 10 years later, Wyong council has not. When one considers the pressures in my electorate for coastal and lake development, especially in the context of the population stesses that are building over time in the greater metropolitan region of Sydney, it is imperative that State environmental planning policy [SEPP] 71, which implements the Government's coastal policy, be put into practice immediately. I believe also that Wyong Shire Council's draft conservation strategy, which I argued passionately for last year and this year, should be implemented. But does Wyong Shire Council have the presence of mind to ensure that the draft conservation strategy is implemented?
After nearly six years of development, late last year the council had an opportunity to place that strategy on public exhibition and seek comment. But that did not happen. In fact, the reverse is the case. Next Wednesday Wyong Shire Council will consider dropping the draft conservation strategy in its entirety. If that happens, without the draft conservation strategy and without the protection of SEPP 71 population pressure will be paramount the coastline of the Central Coast and in the Hunter. That pressure will be felt mainly on the Central Coast with flow-on effects into the Hunter. In that context Wyong Shire Council should immediately adopt the draft conservation strategy so that it can be placed on public exhibition for community comment and planning can take place.
Without the draft conservation strategy and without SEPP 71, our coastline and natural environment is under dire threat. The community would be mortified if it realised that. Of course, the Wyong conservation strategy was part of the political game by the Tories who masquerade as independents in local government elections. On the day before the recent local government election a full-page advertisement read "Labor land grab". The conservatives, who are supported by property developers, were promoting a Labor land grab and characterising the draft conservation strategy as an attempt by the Labor Government to appropriate lands. That is patently and completely untrue. Yet next Wednesday the draft conservation strategy will be dumped. That should not happen; if it does our coastline will be vulnerable.
Mr ANDREW TINK
EPPING TO CHATSWOOD RAIL LINK
(Epping) [11.35 a.m.]: This morning I visited Ian and Grace Blackie, constituents of mine who live in Abuklea Road, Eastwood. Recently tunnel-boring machines used for the construction of the Epping to Chatswood rail line passed under their property. They described to me an extraordinary situation in which their house, which is built on a concrete slab, literally vibrated, and they had to take pictures off their walls. They described the noise, which they endured 24 hours a day, as being at the level one might experience at the back of a 747 aircraft in flight, together with the physical and vibratory sensation of an operating grinding machine. The tunnel-boring machine has been operating in my electorate for about a month. According to Mr and Mrs Blackie, for about three to four weeks the machine was heard as it approached, when it was under their house, and when it was going away.
A petition was presented to me by 75 residents of my electorate who have also experienced distressing levels of night-time rail tunnel construction noise. With the Blackies I went to a house in Gunyah Place, Eastwood, where not only the same vibration is felt but cracks are also appearing in the internal walls of the house and the swimming pool is starting to lose water. A noise-detection machine has been placed in a house in Wood Street, Eastwood, where the decibel levels fluctuate between 60 and 80. I understand that the Environment Protection Authority recommended that construction would be permitted outside normal business hours only if the resulting noise did not exceed 35 decibels within affected homes. The levels experienced are more than double that. In my 15 years in Parliament I have never seen anything like the mitigation measures detailed by the Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation. They state:
Complaint management for residents >40dBA or >35dBA for more than 7 consecutive days:
Residents who make a formal complaint and who reside in the 40dBA and above contour as assessed … will be offered a choice of one of the following options:
Free movie ticket (or similar) in compensation for the impact, or
Free transportation to a friends or relatives house, or
This is not only disgraceful, it is absolutely disgusting. It is a complete and utter joke. The consortium is door-knocking people, one by one, and picking them off one by one with that garbage, those disgusting offers. Instead, Thiess should be calling meetings with affected residents, in advance, to advise them of what will happen and what it is prepared to offer. The only civilised manner in which to deal with affected residents is to do so collectively, abandon the current practice of picking them off one by one, and advise them truthfully of the nature and extent of the disturbance. If the work is to continue after hours, irrespective of the degree of disturbance to residents, there should be proper consultation with affected residents and the corporation should establish a proper advance program of relocating them elsewhere.
Members on this side of the house have tried twice to have passed through this House a property guarantee similar to the one the Government offered to residents affected by the M5 East. In its response, the Parramatta Rail Link, as it was then called, said, "No, the funds should not be spent on that. They should be better directed into reducing the impacts on properties particularly in relation to potential noise and vibration." These places are literally rocking on their foundations. There is no sign of any such money. Frankly, the Minister for Police, should get off his backside and give bipartisan support to a property guarantee for affected residents.
A review of the environmental factors at Epping station was undertaken. I was invited to make, and I made, a lengthy submission. This morning the honourable member for Willoughby and I received in our letterboxes this morning another glossy brochure entitled "Epping to Chatswood Rail Line", which sets out what will happen to Epping station, although we have not been paid the courtesy of a formal response to the submissions we made. That shows the level of arrogance and incompetence surrounding this project. The concept of the project is good. However, people who have never been told that the project would involve construction under their houses—because the project had not been planned when they bought their houses—are effectively underwriting the project at their own personal risk for the general benefit of the community. The community should provide them with a property guarantee; they should not have to be self- insurers for such a community project.
MATS JUNIOR TALENT SEARCH
Mr ALAN ASHTON
(East Hills) [11.40 a.m.]: On 23 May I had the privilege of opening a function at Revesby Workers Club. The focus of the function was the conclusion of the 'MO' awards national junior talent search, or MATS as it is known inaugural grand final of the junior talent search. Initially more than 1,000 acts from 19 clubs performed in the junior talent quest, and 12 clubs were represented at the final held at Revesby Workers Club. The final was a great celebration of young talent, with many professional entertainers turning up to see what talent we have. Many of us are used to seeing shows like Australian Idol
and the like. Some of the talent on those shows is not aptly named, but the talent I saw on display for three or four hours on Sunday at the workers club was excellent. I pay tribute to Tom McDonald, who ran the event and made it such a success.
MATS is a nationwide project designed to provide a platform for young performers to develop their skills and to provide exposure, experience and performance opportunities with the endorsement of the Australian Entertainment 'MO' awards. MATS is proudly supported throughout New South Wales by ClubsNSW, which recognises the MATS junior talent search as a potential gateway to the future of live entertainment across Australia. ClubsNSW will be promoting this initiative as a regular part of the annual Clubs Week program. I pay credit to ClubsNSW.
The final reminded me of the great advantage of seeing live talent. At about 9 o'clock in the morning my daughters watch television programs that show largely American rap dance performances and efforts without music or a real beat but with plenty of advertisements for soft drinks and the like. We should not forget that one reason the Australian pop music scene has been so great is that many young people develop their talents and skills on what we might call the hotel and club circuit. I remember seeing a group called Midnight Oil in a hotel in Milton many years ago. The honourable member for South Coast will be interested to know that.
Mr Thomas George:
Give the clubs back their taxes!
Mr ALAN ASHTON:
We can talk about that at another time. The performance was tremendous. Within a couple of years Midnight Oil had released an album and the group was on its way. One could see talent like that. The MATS grand final had various categories, and I acknowledge the winners of them. The winner of the under-13 dance category was Keiynan Lonsdale from St Marys Leagues Club, the under-13 vocals winner was Emma Rodgers from Windang Bowling Club, the under-18 dance winner was Ruwan Brell from the Woonona Bulli RSL, the under-18 vocal winner was Natalie Marie Colavito from Wests Leagues Club, Leumeah, and Luke Koteras from Club Menai was the winner in the variety group.
Many clubs participated, including Campsie RSL, Dee Why RSL, and Mingara Recreation Club. This year was the inaugural year for the MATS awards, and even more clubs will participate next year. On the day of the awards the auditorium at the workers club, which can hold more than 1,200 people, was crowded with people watching these live performers. Next year there will be all-new MATS awards, which will cover all of New South Wales and eventually all of Australia. All of the acts, from the initial 1,000 to the final 13 who performed on the day, did a tremendous job. I acknowledge the sponsors of the final: Chrysler Jeep, the Torch
newspaper, the Cumberland Newspaper Group and Insinkerator from Melbourne. Everyone involved enjoyed a great day. It was a tremendous experience for the performers, and the quality of the acts was superb. Indeed, one girl about five or six years of age sang as well as I have ever heard anyone sing. Congratulations to all involved.
COUNTRYLINK RAIL EVICTIONS
Mr THOMAS GEORGE
(Lismore) [11.45 a.m.]: One of my constituents, Mrs Shirley Murphy, has approached me about a problem that I believe exists in all country towns that have CountryLink or XTP train services. The letter from Mrs Murphy stated:
This morning I was awoken by a banging on the front door!
When I opened the door there was a young man, in his mid-to late twenties, who asked me to ring the 000 number as he was concerned about being assaulted by 3 youths. I did and handed the phone to him.
At 4.09am. I made the third call to 000 to inform them, that I had taken this person to the railway station to wait for the next southbound train, and Yes, I no longer required officers to attend.
Apparently four youths who were allegedly intoxicated had been travelling on a train from Sydney to Brisbane. They had played up on the train and were subsequently ejected at the next station, which was Casino. The four youths were fighting among each other on the train. The police were called and they removed the youths from the train and left them in Casino. What happened then? The fight did not stop. These four youths were left in a community they did not know. One of the youths needed support, so at 2.00 a.m. he approached the residence of a lady living on her own and knocked on her door. As outlined in the letter, the police were called but did not arrive because no-one was available. Sadly, Casino does not have 24-hour policing.
The issue is that the staff on the train had no alternative but to eject the youths from the train. There is a major problem when people are ejected from a train in a country community and the next train is not scheduled until the next day. Those people are not the responsibility of State Rail, and they are not the responsibility of the police until they cause further trouble. One of the youths did not even have enough money to buy another ticket to go all the way to Brisbane, where he intended to get some money when he got home. I tried to ring both the Ministers concerned to inform them that I was highlighting this concern. Situations such as this create a problem for country communities. If people are unloaded into a community in the middle of the night they become the responsibility of the community, because they do not have homes or families there. That should be taken into consideration before they are evicted, willy-nilly. What happens to people who are 14 or 15 years old and are too young to have their own transport, but are evicted?
I highlight this matter because it was a problem for Mrs Shirley Murphy. She said, and I agree, that ordinary people should not be involved in these types of events. She was happy to report that she and her family did not become involved to the point of being injured; they did not suffer anything other than being woken in the night and having a number of people arguing in her yard. Violence and crime on trains throughout the State are escalating. I want State Rail to be aware that when these people are evicted from trains they become the responsibility of the community, and it concerns me that the community is left with a problem it did not cause in the first place.
Mr GRAHAM WEST
(Campbelltown—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.50 a.m.]: I appreciate the honourable member's concern regarding this serious issue. I undertake to refer the matter to the Minister for Transport Services and the Minister for Police for their further consideration.
ST VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY LIVERPOOL OUTLET OPENING
Mr PAUL LYNCH
(Liverpool) [11.50 a.m.]: I draw to the attention of the House an event that was held in Liverpool on Sunday 16 May. It involved the opening and official blessing of the new Liverpool retail outlet of the St Vincent de Paul Society, operated by its Liverpool regional council in Macquarie Street. The blessing and opening were performed by Bishop Julian Porteous. Also present was Father Robert Fuller from Liverpool Parish. Peter Thelander, regional president, and Paul Brien also addressed the opening. It struck me as fairly melancholy that at this stage of human development charitable institutions are still necessary and that our society still generates such substantial and obvious poverty. I am acutely aware of the work performed by Vinnies through the experiences of my electorate office. There seems to be an increasing need for such organisations.
Two things seem to have happened. While those doing well in our society are increasingly doing very well, those that are not doing well are doing worse. The disparities in the distribution of wealth and incomes are increasing. As well, the doctrines and philosophies known as neo-liberalism and economic rationalism have gained much support, and this reduces the role of government, placing greater stress upon organisations such as Vinnies. Of course, these are perspectives very familiar to the St Vincent de Paul Society. As its social justice national web site says:
We are called, as Vincentians, to feed, clothe, house and assist our brothers and sisters who are forced onto the margins of society.
We are also called to ask why they are left out and pushed out?
Of course, this does not always mean that everyone is relaxed about Vinnies. Several years ago Vinnies made what I thought was a valuable and impressive submission to the Senate inquiry into poverty in Australia. Of course, the society was condemned by all the usual right-wing ideologues and tabloid ranters posing as journalists and accused of all sorts of heinous crimes. I was reminded of the words of Brazilian Bishop Helder Camara, who said:
When I give bread to the poor, they call me a saint; but when I ask why people are poor, they call me a communist.
No doubt some conservative people in Australia still regard Bishop Camara as a communist. I, for one, hope that St Vincent de Paul continues to not only help the poor in the practical sense it does in Liverpool, but, more importantly, to question why people are poor and argue for policy and political positions to change this. The Vinnies submission to the inquiry into poverty in Australia highlighted that 20 years of economic growth and 10 years of an economic boom in Australia had not provided prosperity for everyone. In fact, the gap between rich and poor is growing. Over the past 30 years in Australia the bottom half of society has been receiving less of total income while the top half receives more. Poverty is experienced as both inadequate income and unaffordable costs for the essentials of life. Low incomes and rising prices are trapping the poor. As St Vinnies notes:
Australia does have a safety net which has proven to reduce the levels of poverty. The social security system, however, does not cater to the wide variety of circumstances faced by Australians in an increasingly insecure labour market. Neither is it adequate in its level of income support.
Vinnies also notes the quite callous exercise of breaching recipients of welfare, allowing governments an excuse to withdraw from their obligation to provide welfare support. It is particularly absurd in a society in which there are simply not enough full-time jobs to go around. The figures on the distribution of wealth are quite concerning:
The wealthiest 20% of Australian adults hold 62% of the total wealth while the poorest 20% hold only 1%. It is estimated that in 2030 the top 20% will have 70% of wealth and the bottom 50% about 4.9%.
Vinnies has not left these issues with the Senate inquiry. I have noticed media comments from Vinnies in the past several months on these topics, most recently in the recent Federal budget. The society's spokesman on social justice, Terry McCarthy, described tax cuts in the budget as weapons of mass destruction for society, because they destroyed the prospect of a fair society. Australia is the fourth-lowest taxing country among OECD developed nations. It also has the fourth-highest level of poverty among these nations. The Vinnies alternative is a national strategy to combat poverty, similar to European models. Mr McCarthy was quoted as saying
Tax cuts would give further benefits to the top 20% of the population who already owned two-thirds of all Australian's wealth, while those at the bottom paid the price of having fewer services.
These perspectives are primarily driven by Vinnies' practical experience of seeing daily the poor who cannot put food on the table, who lose the roof over their heads, who watch children suffer unnecessary illnesses, who have a casual job that does not even pay for school shoes, who realise their children will be highly unlikely to escape the cycle of poverty, and who face their children empty-handed on birthdays and at Christmas. The appropriate note to finish on is a quote from Franz Fanon, cited in the Vinnies Senate submission. He said:
What counts today, the question which is looming on the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity must reply to this question, or be shaken to pieces by it.
HELPING HANDS PROGRAM NOWRA
Mrs SHELLEY HANCOCK
(South Coast) [11.55 a.m.]: This morning I speak about the Helping Hands Program mental health volunteer service, which has been operating for a number of years in Nowra, thanks to the significant efforts of volunteers and for the benefit of those in our community suffering mental health problems. My motivation in speaking this morning is twofold: to praise the unbelievable efforts of volunteers working for this program and to condemn the latest moves by the Illawarra Area Health Service to cut its fairly meagre funding to this program. The program is supported by the local branch of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of New South Wales and is currently funded by the Illawarra Area Health Service. It aims to help consumers of mental health services to live independently in the community by assisting in their access to community, socialisation and enhancement of quality of life.
The role of the volunteers is either to provide transport or company for consumers or to teach literacy, assist with daily tasks such as shopping, budgeting, bill paying and/or cleaning. Volunteers may also accompany individuals to the gymnasium or to adult education classes. I am told that there are currently 36 volunteers, each one linked to at least one consumer of the Illawarra Area Health Service mental health service. The last group was trained last year and a further 15 are currently being trained, five of whom are consumers. The role of the volunteers in this program cannot be adequately described in this short address. Suffice it to say that without them people suffering from a wide range of mental health problems would be left without assistance and at the mercy of a State mental health system that is chronically underfunded and incapable of appropriately assisting those who are most vulnerable in our society.
It must also be noted that the Schizophrenia Fellowship auspices this project and has assisted the Helping Hands Program to grow and develop since taking over responsibility for Helping Hands from July last year. Its involvement has led to an increased number of volunteers, an increased range of activities for consumers, revision of volunteer training, improved statistical recording, and membership of Volunteering Illawarra and volunteers having access to mental health first aid courses, to name just a few of the things it does. The Helping Hands Program has grown and developed over a relatively short period of time and it seems now that Illawarra Area Health Service will not be providing the meagre sum of $51,000 to permit appropriate volunteer reimbursement.
There is also a need for a vehicle as the workload increases and the provision of an assistant co-ordinator in the southern part of the Shoalhaven. Funding applications have been made for these items and there is some potential for this program to attract other funding sources in a triennial funding arrangement with the area health service whilst the program remains under the auspices of the fellowship. Much valuable work has been done, and invaluable work continues to be undertaken, largely by volunteers. It seems that this service is severely undervalued by the Illawarra Area Health Service and the Government, who are about to cut the small amount given to this program. The ramifications of this decision are serious. If the program folds due to lack of support from the Government, consumers will no doubt be unable to seek assistance from any other government department, and their needs will remain unmet.
As we all know, the Government has neglected the funding needs of those suffering a diverse range of mental health problems, and it would make sense to fund a program like Helping Hands in Nowra. In the long run this would be a cost saving for it. I call on the Minister for Health to peruse carefully all the correspondence, documents and letters of support that I have sent to him from various individuals, organisations and community groups, including the Schizophrenia Fellowship, and to ensure that any decisions to cut funding are re-evaluated. I will now quote from some of those letters of support to which I referred. The Department of Housing says:
Already our mental health service is not coping and this reflects in the increasing homelessness and tenancy problems that are presented to me directly. I cannot believe that the current Government has such little foresight into what is already an acute problem. To cease funding these types of services will definitely increase the costs to our already struggling health budget.
The Schizophrenia Fellowship states:
It is very disappointing to learn that the Illawarra Area Mental Health Service is currently having difficulty identifying funds to continue funding the Helping Hands Program in the forthcoming financial year. Whilst we understand the financial constraints on the budget, this program is extremely cost-effective, and we respectfully request that you reconsider the decision.
An organisation called Shoalhaven Community Options says:
There is no other service in the Shoalhaven which supports people with mental health issues in this way. Our volunteers and mainstream-funded services are reluctant to take on clients with mental health issues as their volunteers or paid workers do not have training or are uncomfortable working in this area.
They are just three of the letters I have received. There are probably another 50 in my electorate office, and more are arriving every day. I ask the Minister to seriously consider this issue.
COUNTRY ROADS SAFETY SUMMIT
Mr MATTHEW MORRIS
(Charlestown) [12.00 p.m.]: I wish to talk about the recent Country Roads Safety Summit held in Port Macquarie. I must firstly place on record my thanks to the Minister for Roads, the Hon. Carl Scully, for organising this important event. I acknowledge that during this week we have heard comments regarding the summit by other honourable members in this place. I share many of their views regarding road safety and acknowledge that today we still see too many deaths and serious trauma accidents across this nation. There is clearly no simple fix to eliminate road-related deaths. However, it is imperative that we continually implement programs and regulations to reduce the current statistics or, better still, have a zero road death rate. The summit was a terrific opportunity for all attending to better understand the issues, while recognising the need to work together to save lives. During proceedings working groups were established and each met to discuss a key issue relating to road safety.
I joined working group 6 to discuss post-crash trauma care. Our working party participants included a range of emergency service staff, medical staff and rehabilitation staff. I must make particular mention of the working group's chairperson, Mr Jamie Vernon, the Northern Operations Centre Manager with the New South Wales Ambulance Service. Mr Vernon kept the group focused while ensuring that its mix of representatives had plenty of opportunity to contribute to the discussions. Also within our group was Mrs Cathy McDonald, who is the area trauma co-ordinator with Hunter Area Health Service. Cathy's experience and her role with Hunter Health allowed her to provide important advice to the group in finalising our recommendations. During the summit it was clear there was a primary focus on road safety strategies and programs to help prevent accidents in the longer term. Whilst that is important, we must also acknowledge that accidents are happening day after day and often, following the crash, when the vehicles are cleaned up and the media find another story to run, we quickly forget about those involved in the accidents and their care.
Post-crash care imposes a significant cost on society through our health services and all too often injuries are lifelong. I know a young gentleman who was involved in a serious crash which resulted in his becoming severely disabled and requiring frequent medical assistance for the rest of his life. He would rather have died at the scene than now have a life ahead of him that is highly restrictive and with little quality. Many of our nursing homes contain a range of persons who require a high level of care following road trauma. Their families struggle not only to come to terms with the incident itself but also with the long-term impacts of serious road trauma. Issues considered by our working group included first-aid training, at-the-scene co-ordination, emergency service protocols, equipment resourcing, helicopter services, treatment options, response times, accident management, medical resourcing, accident location identification, contacting emergency services and the cost of road trauma.
One simple issue that came to light during our discussions was that many people in our community are trying to contact emergency services by dialling 911. We know this is the American emergency number, yet many people in Australia are ringing that number rather than 000. Telstra should establish an automatic transfer for those who ring 911, linking it to our 000 service, while a public campaign is introduced to ensure our communities know how to access emergency services. Although that appears to be a trivial issue, it is of paramount importance that emergency services get to accident scenes quickly to commence treatment. It is vital that all tiers of government recognise the importance of post-crash care and strive to prevent road trauma. In view of the emotional impact on individuals and families, combined with the cost to society, additional funding of road safety measures by all governments would be a wise investment.
WOOLGOOLGA RED CROSS BLOOD BANK DONATIONS
Mr ANDREW FRASER
(Coffs Harbour) [12.05 p.m.]: I highlight an issue of concern in Woolgoolga, a town in my electorate about 15 kilometres north of Coffs Harbour. For the past 14 years the Red Cross Blood Bank, with the assistance of Rotary, has regularly visited Woolgoolga to accept blood donations. The median age in Woolgoolga and on the rest of the North Coast is probably above average. Older people find it hard to travel into Coffs Harbour because the public transport service is not good. It is not like Sydney, where people can just jump on a bus. The blood bank has been a great service to these people, who have been happy to donate blood regularly to the Red Cross. The Red Cross in Woolgoolga is a marvellous organisation. Many people there are still involved. I had the privilege to be at the Red Cross annual meeting last year and the year before, and I congratulated them on the great job that they do. I know that Robyn Rooth, the regional co-ordinator for the Red Cross, is very active in getting people to give blood.
However, because of budget cutbacks to the Mid North Coast Area Health Service it has been decided that the blood donation service at Woolgoolga will no longer continue. This is at a time when the Red Cross and the health service generally are crying out for more blood because there is a shortage. Yet the Mid North Coast Area Health Service is failing to fund the collection service at Woolgoolga. It is an absolute disgrace. I suggest that it shows mismanagement of the budget of the health service. The honourable member for Charlestown was just speaking about the Pacific Highway and road upgrades. The local people understand that there have been many road accidents, deaths and injuries. People wishing to give blood will now be forced to drive 15 kilometres each way on that busy highway. As we know, people who give blood can feel tired afterwards. They will have to travel home in their cars on that busy highway, and I suggest that this increases the opportunity for accidents.
It is imperative that the Mid North Coast Area Health Service reinstate the blood collection service so that the people who have donated blood over the past 14 years, with the assistance of Rotary and the Red Cross branch in Woolgoolga, continue to have the opportunity to do so. The Mid North Coast Area Health Service has too much fat in parts of its operations—it has more bureaucrats than it needs—and I believe that it has been negligent, and continues to be negligent, in withdrawing such a service. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary, the honourable member for Menai, to refer this matter to the Minister for investigation. The service should be reinstated at the earliest possible convenience.
PARRAMATTA MARIST HIGH SCHOOL CANTEEN
Ms TANYA GADIEL
(Parramatta) [12.10 p.m.]: Since my election to this place last year I have taken great joy in visiting schools in the electorate of Parramatta. Visiting schools is one of the best things about being a member of Parliament. I note that the Parliamentary Secretary, the honourable member for Menai, agrees. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of visiting Parramatta Marist High School, where I had the honour of opening the school's new canteen. This canteen is no ordinary school canteen—and I bet honourable members they have no flasher canteen in any of their electorates.
Parramatta Marist High School has always produced exceptional young men, but arguably today's students will end their high school days as lean mean fighting machines, ready to tackle university, jobs and life generally—that is, if they avoid the junk food at the shops on the way to school! Members must be wondering why this canteen is better than the canteens that we had when we were at school. First, it is a self-serve canteen and, second, it stocks the most amazing array of healthy food imaginable. The Premier will be pleased to note that there are no fatty sausage rolls and pies in this canteen; its pies are low in fat. The canteen serves everything from yoghurts to fresh salads to spaghetti bolognaise. It even sells popcorn! There is not a can of Coke in sight but there is plenty of water, fruit juice and flavoured milks. The canteen is equipped with two cash registers, two reach-in refrigerators, a bain-marie, a pie oven, a brat pan and a three-phase dishwashing machine. Honourable members will be aware that New South Wales public schools have to phase in the healthy school canteen policy recommended at the Childhood Obesity Summit held in this place in 2002. Resolution 3.14 related specifically to school canteens. It stated:
… that it be ensured that no canteens sell high fat or high sugar foods or drinks through over the counter sales, vending machines, special events or contractors.
The canteen is remarkable because this independent Catholic school had no obligation to follow those recommendations. It was Parramatta Marist High School principal Brother Patrick Howlett who decided that the school should follow the healthy canteen strategy, and I commend him for that decision. I have deep admiration and respect for Brother Patrick, whom I work with on the Parramatta police accountability team. Parramatta Marist High School is lucky to have a principal who is so committed to the welfare of his students.
It is no surprise to honourable members that childhood obesity is a serious issue. The fact is that childhood obesity is on the increase. In the past 20 years rates of obesity in children around the world have risen so dramatically that there is now talk of an international epidemic of childhood obesity. There is thought to be two main reasons for obesity in children: lack of physical exercise and unhealthy eating. The availability of fast foods that are high in fat is undoubtedly a contributing factor. Schools play a vital role in ensuring that children exercise and eat well. The habits learnt at school equip children for the rest of their lives. The canteen was paid for through fundraising by Parramatta Marist High School students and parents. I pay tribute to them for their efforts and their dedication to their school. The canteen was built by Dyldam Constructions. It did a fantastic job and it is a lovely canteen. As I said earlier, I challenge other honourable members to show me a better canteen.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that at the assembly I attended on Tuesday the school paid tribute to Mrs Doreen Fraser, who retired after 22 years of dedicated work at Parramatta Marist High School canteen. That is an amazing accomplishment. It is astonishing to think that a woman dedicated her services to the school canteen for 22 years. That is the kind of commitment that school communities love to see. I know that the teachers and students were very sad to see her go. It was clear that Doreen Fraser will be sorely missed. I join the school in wishing her the very best for the future.
Ms ALISON MEGARRITY
(Menai—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.15 p.m.]: I certainly concur with the honourable member for Parramatta that Parramatta Marist High School produces exceptional young men. That was certainly my view when I attended Our Lady of Mercy College across the road. That was many years ago, but I have no doubt that it remains true today. I join the honourable member in congratulating Brother Patrick and the school community on this wonderful initiative. There has been much talk about how people must comply with the recommendations of the Childhood Obesity Summit and what they must do, but this school has obviously gone above and beyond mere regulation, which, as the honourable member pointed out, it was not obliged to comply with in the first place. The school's achievement is cutting edge—pardon the pun.
I congratulate Doreen Fraser on her 22 years service. I am sure that she is a wonderful woman. So many schools owe so much to so many wonderful women, who over the years have devoted many hours of voluntary service covering every aspect of school life. I am sure every member knows someone like Doreen Fraser, and I think it is appropriate that we acknowledge her in the House today. I thank the honourable member for Parramatta for bringing this initiative to the attention of the House. I congratulate everyone involved. I hope that the school continues to produce exceptional young men, both in physique and in academic ability.
ANGLO-BOER WAR ANNIVERSARY
Mr JOHN PRICE
(Maitland) [12.17 p.m.]: I advise the House of a most important event that occurred in the electorate of Maitland last weekend. It was a celebration of the anniversary of the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa. On 29 May an anniversary dinner was held at Easts Bowling Club in Maitland. It was quite a night. The Premier asked me to represent him at the function, and I was delighted to do so. The dinner was a culmination of a tremendous amount of work by the Maitland RSL sub-branch in refurbishing one of the few memorials to the Boer War at Maitland Park, which is a famous park in the Hunter region. The dinner was certainly unusual in as much as it had an Afrikaans menu. We were treated to food that would have been eaten by the Afrikaans and mainline forces in Africa during the war. It was not bad tucker. If the soldiers had eaten food of the quality we enjoyed at the dinner they would have been very happy.
On Sunday 30 May there was a dedication of the refurbished and extended Anglo-Boer War Memorial, which included the re-establishment of the Transvaal Fountain and the construction of a new memorial wall, bearing the names of 275 volunteers from Maitland and the surrounding Hunter Valley area, including the 44 towns and villages from which they came. The guest of honour was Major General Warren Glenny, AO, REF, ED Ret., who rededicated and opened the memorial. The memorial was blessed by Father Roy Wotton, the oldest living Anglican padre from the Second World War, who lives on the Central Coast. Roy's presence was quite an event for local RSL members, some of whom remembered him from campaigns in Papua New Guinea. Another important guest was Cliff Savage, the RSL State branch country councillor. The Light Horse regiments that constituted most of the New South Wales contingent in the Boer War used a breed of horses, known as "Walers", which are still bred and sold in the Hunter Valley.
There are two Boer War memorials in Maitland. The other memorial at the Maitland Town Hall is a plaque and crossed rifles and it commemorates the memory of Trooper Avard. The Avard family were present at the function, as were a number of other descendents of people whose names appeared on the memorial wall. The family historian, the author Mr Lesley H. Perritt, produced an excellent book about his relative that contained other important facts associated with the New South Wales contribution to the conflict. A number of books were presented at the dinner on the Saturday night. We were reminded of the contents when he spoke again on the Sunday. Representatives from the British High Commission and the Boer community also attended the event. Although Britain is not proud of its part in the Boer War, we have since all learned to live together in South Africa. The change of government in our lifetime has resulted in a much chastened and different community.
I particularly congratulate the sub-branch of the Maitland Returned Services League and its president, John Fenwick, the memorial restoration chairman, Fred Goode, and the Maitland City Council on their financial support. I extend personal thanks to Premier Carr for his involvement by providing a significant grant from his discretionary fund. The grant was provided because the contingent left the country as a New South Wales contingent and returned as part of the Australian Army. Federation occurred during that conflict and circumstances changed. It was a great event for the local community and particularly for the returned servicemen. I give credit to all those involved.
Mr PETER DEBNAM
(Vaucluse) [12.22 p.m.]: I wish to talk about terrorism and the Government's media strategies. In the past 24 hours both Houses of this Parliament have passed the Bail Amendment (Terrorism) Bill. That demonstrates once again that if the Government wants to act on an issue it can do so in a matter of hours. Terrorism has been an issue for some time, as have the problems with this State's bail legislation. Recent events have demonstrated that the Government can deliver new legislation and close loopholes if it wants to within a 24-hour cycle. Over the years, especially during the past decade of the Carr Government, there has been a continual focus on media strategies rather than on delivering positive strategies for the community.
Today I will focus on the continuing problems with terrorism, acts of intimidation and violent crime in Sydney. I have raised the continuing attacks on my local community a number of times in this House. I have also said in this place over a number of years that we have apprentice terrorists in Sydney, but we seem incapable of locking them up. I have reminded a number of people over the past few days that terrorism in Sydney has not been restricted to the events of the past few weeks. The Hakoah Club was bombed 20 years ago, in 1984, and a number of synagogues were bombed during the 1991 Gulf War. The Roscoe Street Synagogue in Bondi was firebombed twice in late 2000 and the Southern Sydney Synagogue at Allawah was firebombed twice in the 1990s, and most recently in 2003. There was an arson attack with minimal damage against the Bondi Mizrachi in April this year, and serious events such bomb threats have occurred on numerous occasions against all manner of Jewish institutions, including synagogues and schools. This situation is not new; my community has lived with it for decades.
It comes down to a question of resources for police investigations. I have raised that issue with successive Ministers, Commissioners of Police and in this House. Not enough resources are allocated to pursuing apprentice terrorists in Sydney. To the best of my knowledge, during the 10 years that I have been in Parliament successive Governments have not locked up these racist criminals, and we should put more effort into doing so. If NSW Police has not already done so, it should review all persons of interest in those incidents over the past 10 years. I know that police officers had contact with a number of suspects in some of those incidents. I want to ensure that the Government has reviewed the activities of those people so that we know what they are doing now. The performance measure in this area is convictions, not the Carr Government's media strategies.
As I said, I have raised this issue a number of times in this House. On 17 November 2000 I spoke about attacks on synagogues. On 26 October 2001 I spoke about terrorism. On 9 May 2002 I spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on my local community, and acknowledged that terrorism is impacting all western democracies, including ours. On 27 September 2002 I spoke about racial vilification. On 22 November 2002 I spoke on the Terrorism (Police Powers) Bill and mentioned the same topics again. On 22 November 2003 I spoke about abandoned vehicles being a security threat in my electorate. On 16 February this year I spoke about anti-semitism. The Government must focus more on policing rather than media strategies.
I made the comment recently in respect of sexual assault that we seem to be encouraging commentators among senior police rather than investigators. The Government promised two investigations. One was an internal investigation by Assistant Commander Peter Parsons of the northern region, but I do not think it has seen the light of day. On 6 May the Premier said that he was happy to have the Cabinet Office provide him with advice on a better protocol governing those situations. These investigations must be conducted. They go to the heart of media management in policing rather than policing strategies. We must come back to that when dealing with terrorism.
TRIBUTE TO MR BRIAN LEE
Ms PAM ALLAN
(Wentworthville) [12.27 p.m.]: On Thursday 20 May I attended a tribute dinner for one of the finest corporate citizens in my electorate. I refer to Brian Lee, the retiring chief executive officer of Baxter Healthcare. Baxter Healthcare Australia is one of the largest providers of health equipment, particularly for hospitals, in Australia. It is an international company, of course, but it established its Australian company, formerly known as Travenol Laboratories, in 1963 at Toongabbie in Sydney. The company is still there. Brian Lee has retired after 27 years of service to the company, the past seven years as the area managing director for Australia and New Zealand. He is also the chairman of the Australian Leukaemia Foundation. In that critical role has played a major part in a number of health debates in the community about leukaemia. Brian will be sorely missed by my local community and his employees. I hope he will continue in the social role he plays in organisations such as the Australian Leukaemia Foundation.
Brian Lee is known to various Ministers—the current Minister for Health, the former Minister for Health and others. The former shadow Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, was present at the tribute dinner, as was the former Speaker, the Hon. John Murray. Brian Lee will be succeeded as general manager of Baxter Healthcare Australia by Ms Maree Coy, another long-term employee of Baxter Healthcare. For that reason alone, I am more than delighted for her to take over stewardship of the company. I have known Maree for many years. In her position at Baxter Healthcare she has become known as one of the most influential women CEOs in this country.
Baxter Healthcare has probably been the major corporate citizen in my community in the years that I have been a member of this House. It is a significant contributor to public schools in the electorate. Every time I attend a function at Toongabbie Public School, which is close to Baxter Healthcare, I see a representative of Baxter Healthcare. There is always evidence of its financial contribution to the school. On behalf of Rick Riddle, the principal, and Stewart Smith, the President of the Parents and Citizens Association of Toongabbie Public School, and Toongabbie West Public School and Winston Hills Public School, I reiterate my appreciation for the work done by Baxter in the past for those schools, and I look forward to its continuing contribution.
Baxter has also generously sponsored various local community causes. Most recently in this Chamber I referred on several occasions to the celebrations in my electorate for the two-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Vinegar Hill and the Battle of Constitution Hill, which preceded it. When I needed funds for the activities connected with that anniversary, Baxter Healthcare at Toongabbie was the first company that I approached and it responded appropriately. Baxter has also given on many occasions during the years to similar causes and has worked closely with Parramatta City Council at various times.
Baxter is located on land that has been flood prone. My first encounter with Baxter came in the mid to late 1980s when the area around Toongabbie, in particular Oaks Road, where Baxter is located, suffered urban flooding. Baxter has been proactive on safety issues on the site, and has been supportive of the environmental significance of its location on the banks of Toongabbie Creek. I cannot fault Baxter Healthcare. I wish I had 20 other companies operating in my electorate that are as good as Baxter Healthcare has been—and I am confident will continue to be—in contributing to both the social wellbeing and the physical wellbeing of my local environment. I particularly thank Brian Lee and wish him all the very best in his retirement. I look forward equally to working successfully with the current chief executive officer, Maree Coy.
BAIL LAW REFORM
Mr PETER DRAPER
(Tamworth) [12.31 p.m.]: Last night the Parliament passed amendments to the Bail Act restricting bail to anyone charged under Commonwealth terrorist offences. Over the past week a series of decisions to give bail to terror suspects made national headlines, sparked public outrage and led to the fast-tracking of these amendments. Our society at large is becoming increasingly concerned about our judicial system's attitude to bail, and it is no different for communities in my electorate. The Bail Act, which the Attorney General himself has described as "a confusing patchwork of amendments", is currently undergoing its first thorough rewrite since its introduction in 1978. That is long overdue but I welcome this window of opportunity to speak about amending section 25A of the act, as I strongly believe there is room to increase police powers to appeal against bail decisions.
In the electorate of Tamworth, a series of Local Court bail decisions has resulted in people accused of violent crime being released back into the community and subsequently making headlines. One example this week in the Northern Daily Leader
was "Arrest warrant issued for bashing accused". The story detailed how police issued an arrest warrant for a 28-year-old man who failed to appear in court after allegedly attacking two neighbours. The man had been released on bail on charges of aggravated break and enter with intent, aggravated break and enter while armed, entering enclosed lands, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and escaping police custody. It is alleged the man bashed his female neighbour before attacking her male partner with a steel bar and embarking on a three-week run from police. Despite that history, he was given conditional bail but failed to appear on his set court date.
Another case involved a man who was also released on bail after being arrested and charged with assault over a particularly violent public attack on a male victim. Police strongly opposed this suspect's bail as they had a compelling cache of evidence that included the incident being caught on video. The man was a registered sex offender and with his history was likely to receive a custodial sentence. His bail conditions stated he was not to enter Tamworth but within a short period of time he allegedly returned to the city and was caught bashing on somebody else's door. The Local Court in Tamworth is an extremely busy place, processing hundreds of defendants each month, and in the majority of cases the right decisions are being made in relation to keeping violent offenders behind bars. But I am greatly concerned that in cases where the police prosecutor strongly believes the decision has been inappropriate, his powers under section 25A of the Bail Act are limited.
Police reflect community expectations of the judicial system and I share their concerns that habitual or violent offenders are being released on bail contrary to police recommendations. According to NSW Police bail statistics, in the 12-month period between 1 January 2002 and 31 December 2002 police refused bail in 105,773 matters while the courts released more than 65 per cent of those suspects on bail. As the Act stands today, if a suspect is free on bail police can ask for a bail review, particularly if they have fresh evidence that strongly indicates the accused could pose a threat to society. The review of a bail decision is pursued through a higher court but it is not popular with police. It is not only a time-consuming, lengthy process requiring reams of paperwork; it comes too late because the suspect has already been released.
To circumvent that process an amendment was recently introduced through the Bail Amendment Bill 2003, which inserted section 25A into the Bail Act. That amendment permits police prosecutors to stay certain bail decisions made by magistrates or justices at the accused person's first appearance in the Local Court. Once lodged, the stay of proceedings will keep the suspect in custody, and the bail application is heard in the Supreme Court. The offences that are subject to the stay include murder, any offence that carries life imprisonment and certain sexual offences committed on children under 16 years of age. I share the belief of police that section 25A does not go far enough in its application. I believe the section should apply to offences in relation to which there is no presumption in favour of bail, such as serious personal violence offences.
When dealing with serious criminal offences against victims in the Australian Capital Territory the relevant Act stipulates that if there is any potential threat to the victim or likelihood of violence then the rights of that victim outweigh the rights of the defendant to bail. In South Australia provisions similar to those of section 25A apply to all offences. I concede there could be some fears of the system becoming clogged due to stays being lodged left, right and centre, but South Australian police report that as a rule, a stay of proceedings allows the prosecution case to stand on its merits and they lodge a stay only where appropriate.
The New South Wales Attorney General has gone on record stating there is room for improvement in the Bail Act. Despite amendments to the Bail Act being enacted as recently as December, I submit there is a strong case for section 25A to be reviewed again, particularly in regard to expanding police powers. Victims who have been beside themselves with fear have come into my office looking for help because the person responsible for inflicting their injuries has been released back into the community. That has shown me the system must be tightened and, as far as I can see, the police should be given every possible assistance to do their job properly in protecting members of the community from those who seek to do them harm.
INVERELL TRANSPORT MUSEUM
Mr RICHARD TORBAY
(Northern Tablelands) [12.36 p.m.]: Inverell, in the Northern Tablelands electorate, has a well-earned reputation for being a can-do community. Not long ago, with the backing of Inverell Shire Council and the assistance of the Minister for Roads, and Minister for Housing, the community opened one of the best tourism and transit facilities in the north. It was built on a magnificent site that had previously belonged to a bowling club which had closed. Today I want to speak about a similar project in the town which began when a use was sought for a former snack food factory that had been empty for six years. The Inverell Business Enterprise Centre organised a competition for suggestions and the most positive was that the factory should become a transport museum.
Reg Wilkins, who was at the first meeting of about 30 people interested in starting the museum, has been its president from the start. He said that he and others had some concerns at that stage about whether it was a feasible proposition. However, within a month, through the hard work of the committee and the generosity of 20 local car collectors the museum had 50 veteran and vintage cars and motorcycles to display. Many came from the active local Ford GT Club, Motor Cycle Restorers Club and Antique Car Club. The Inverell East Rotary Club, the RSM Club and many other organisations pitched in with financial help to get the venture under way. In October 1998, only three months after that first meeting, there was a display of vehicles valued at around $500,000 on the former factory floor when the new Inverell Transport Museum opened its doors. Through the support of volunteers it has been open between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. every day since then except Christmas Day. It has become the second-biggest transport museum in Australia, after the General Motors Holden Museum at Birdwood in South Australia.
Since it opened its doors the Inverell museum has received loans of cars from throughout the eastern States. In the collection it has the only 1908 Dayton of its type in the world, former Prime Minister Harold Holt's ministerial Armstrong Siddley, which was used by the Queen during a visit to Australia, a doubledecker bus from Sydney and a local black and white bus from the 1950s which has clocked up 1½ million miles—it must have belonged to a country member! It also houses pre-war pedal cars, trikes and scooters, scale model and collector cars, a sewing machine collection, the first Australian registered Ultralite and many other items of interest. Last year 20,000 people visited the museum, many on coach tours and school tours and from caravan and other clubs. It has become the centre for car shows, concours and other events. As its patron I can say that the Inverell Transport Museum has been an outstanding success.
Four years ago the museum committee applied to have the museum become the home for an historic motor vehicle collection left to the National Trust by the Butler Estate. Mr Butler, an engineer, who lived close to Centennial Park in Sydney, had dreamed of opening his own museum, and even bought a site close to his home, but for many reasons his dream was not realised before his death. The National Trust called for expressions of interest to conserve and display the valuable collection, and the Inverell Transport Museum put up its hand, strongly supported by Inverell council and the community. The collection includes motor vehicles from the 1920s, petrol bowsers, typewriters, machinery, cash registers, dashboard clocks and speedometers. There was only one other bid and the announcement of where the collection will go is expected within the next two months. The Chairman of the National Trust, Barry O'Keefe, has visited Inverell and has made it known that he is keen to extend his organisation's interests into the regions. He was most impressed by the Inverell bid.
An important component of Mr Butler's bequest is that it comes with financial backing of up to $1.5 million to restore many of the vehicles and to display the collection. Inverell proposes to build a new wing for a living museum where local apprentices would work on site with a trained mechanic to build the cars in full view of the public. That would offer a wonderful opportunity for young people interested in heritage trades training, as well as creating interest for visitors to the museum. Along with the Inverell community I am hopeful that the museum will be successful in its bid to house the Butler collection. The members have shown an outstanding dedication and enterprise, and they have the support of many volunteers who work every day to keep the museum doors open. It is a success story that demonstrates what can be done with an empty factory building when the community works together constructively.
LAKE MACQUARIE ELECTORATE SCHOOLS
Mr JEFF HUNTER
(Lake Macquarie) [12.41 p.m.]: On 20 May I had the opportunity to mark Public Education Day by visiting three government schools in the Lake Macquarie electorate. The purpose of my visit to the first two schools was to provide assistance in gaining improvements to the schools. Later in the day, together with the local Federal member of Parliament, I attended a school assembly to assist in presenting awards to students. First I visited Cooranbong Community School, at the request of the school's parents and citizens association. Over a number of years I have assisted the parents and citizens association in gaining improvements to the school. Following my visit I received a letter from the president of the parents and citizens association, Leonie Cutts, which reads:
Thank you for your visit to Cooranbong Public School last Thursday, it was much appreciated. Thank you also for arranging for Barry Wheeler from the School Services Unit to join us in the inspection.
As you requested, I am writing to provide you with a prioritised list of projects and works to be undertaken at the school.
The first project referred to is the construction of a covered outdoor learning area [COLA], for which the parents and citizens association had raised funding. In her letter Leonie Cutts sings the praises of such facilities, and states that when the COLA is installed it will improve the amenity of the school. Under the heading "Maintenance" she refers to "paths to nowhere". The school previously had a number of demountable buildings, and the concrete paths that were constructed for those buildings now need to be removed because they are a safety hazard. The letter lists 10 capital works projects that need to be carried out at the school. It continues:
It is clear that if we were to focus on the COLA area and levelling the playground paddock area, improvement to the school would be immense. As you noted on your visit, the paddock is a dust pit—unclean and undesirable for our children to use as their play area …
I thank you, on behalf of the P&C and the students, for your assistance in these matters.
Leonie Cutts urged me to raise the issues with the Minister for Education and Training in the hope of ensuring a favourable outcome for the school. I have made written representations to the Minister urging him to closely consider the list of improvements put forward by the school.
The second school I visited was Toronto High School, my old high school. It followed a previous visit to the school about a month ago. At that public function I spoke to the principal about some of the works that needed to be carried out at the school. Barry Wheeler from the Property Services Unit accompanied me on the visit. We met with the principal and other school representatives and were taken on a tour of the school. Following my visit the principal supplied me with a detailed list of a number of maintenance improvements that need to be undertaken at the school. I have made written representations to the Minister for Education and Training on behalf of Toronto High School, and I ask him to see what can be done to assist the school with a number of outstanding maintenance improvements that need to be addressed. The third school I visited on Public Education Day was Fennell Bay Public School. Following my visit I was pleased to see an article appear in the Lake Macquarie News
under the heading "Early start for kids". The article reads:
Fennell Bay Public School got off to an early start on Public Education Day last Thursday with a 7.30 a.m. barbecue breakfast. At 2 p.m. there was an assembly with presentation of awards for the Paint the Family competition by local MPs Jeff Hunter and Kelly Hoare.
The article shows a photograph of the local Federal member and me with two of the winners, with the caption "Winners: Taking honours in Fennell Bay School's Paint the Family art competition were Renna Whaleboat and Napoleon Utai of Year Six, pictured with Jeff Hunter and Kelly Hoare". I congratulate those students and all the other students who participated in the Paint the Family art competition.
At the assembly I took the opportunity to compliment the school choirs who sang and Ray White Real Estate for its sponsorship of one of the school's choirs. I also took the opportunity to speak about the merits of public education, and to outline the views of the Minister and the Government about values in public schools. In this regard I referred to the Minister's statement "Value in New South Wales Public Schools". The visit also gave me an opportunity to acknowledge the dedication of the teachers and staff of Fennell Bay Public School. I commend the principal, Neilsine Oxenford, and the teachers and staff for their great work and dedication to the school. There are some fantastic programs running at Fennell Bay Public School, and the staff deserve all the praise they get. I am very pleased to be invited to the school on regular occasions, and I look forward to visiting the school again in the near future. [Time expired.
Private members' statements noted.
The House adjourned at 12.45 p.m. until Tuesday 22 June 2004 at 11.00 a.m.