11 March, 1992
Petition praying that the Forestry Commission of New South Wales be reformed in accordance with the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee and that the House urge the Government to act immediately for the good of our environmental heritage and the health of the plantation timber industry, received from the Hon. R. S. L. Jones.
Petition praying that because duck shooting is extremely cruel and environmentally damaging, the sport should be abolished immediately and permanently, received from the Hon. R. S. L. Jones.
Petition praying that because wildlife is threatened by predatory feral cats, and because unrestricted breeding of cats results in their destruction, starvation, injury and disease, there should be compulsory desexing of all domestic cats other than those with registered breeders, received from the Hon. R. S. L. Jones.
TIMBER INDUSTRY (INTERIM PROTECTION) BILL
Consideration of Legislative Assembly's message of 11th March.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER (Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy) [2.42]: I move:
That the Acting-President do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole for consideration of the Assembly's message on this bill.
Mr ACTING-PRESIDENT: Before I put the question I think I should indicate to the House the nature of the proposed amendments and the special circumstances in which the Legislative Council is invited to consider them. The Legislative Council amended the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill and on 6th March, 1992, transmitted a message to the Legislative Assembly seeking its concurrence in those particular amendments. In ordinary circumstances it would be competent, in accordance with established practice, for the Legislative Assembly to deal only with those actual amendments, either agreeing to them, rejecting them, amending them, or possibly making some further amendment which would be either of a consequential nature or in some way related to them.
In this instance, however, the further amendments proposed by the Legislative Assembly fall outside this scope, and have arisen from a further consideration of the bill in view of the Legislative Council's proposed amendments. Strictly speaking, the Legislative Assembly's proposed further amendments are outside the scope of the standing orders and would normally require the introduction of an amending bill. However, having regard to the special circumstances of this legislation, and the fact that the proposed amendments are in no way in derogation of the principles of the bill, I am of the opinion that it is competent for the Committee to consider the Legislative Assembly's proposed further amendments. In reaching this decision, I am mindful that the Legislative Assembly has given reasons for its request and stated that such action not
be drawn into a precedent by either House. Such a course of action has been adopted on previous occasions when amendments to a bill have been made which have been held to infringe on the prerogatives or privileges of the other House, on the proviso that such action should not be drawn into a precedent.
Motion agreed to.
Consideration of Legislative Assembly's message.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER (Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy) [2.45]: I move:
That the Committee do not insist upon its amendments Nos. 2, 8 and 9 disagreed with by the Assembly.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN (Leader of the Opposition) [2.46]: The Opposition welcomes the Government's backdown on the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: Where was the honourable member for Blacktown the other night when the Leader of the Opposition appeared on television?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Why would the Minister for Conservation and Land Management not debate with me on the "7.30 Report"? All along the Opposition has recognised that because of the bungling of this Government and the Forestry Commission, the jobs of timber workers could be at risk. That is why we have agreed all along that there needed to be an interim exemption of some forestry and logging activity from part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, that is, the part of the Act which requires environmental impact statements for any development which might -
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: On a point of order. It is impossible for Hansard to record any of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition because there is so much interruption from the Government benches.
The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: On the point of order. It is not only impossible for Hansard to hear; it is impossible for members on the crossbenches to hear what is being said in the debate. If we are to regard these amendments with any degree of seriousness, we must be able to hear the arguments that are being put forward. I ask that you restrain members on both sides of the Chamber.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (The Hon. Beryl Evans): Order! The Committee is dealing with important amendments to an important bill. I ask that each speaker be heard in silence.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Of course one can understand why Government members do not want to hear what the Opposition has to say on these matters. Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act requires environmental impact assessments for any development which might substantially affect an environment. The exemption to the requirements of part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act is the key provision of the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill. That exemption could have become law last Friday but for this desperate Government's desperate need to divert attention from the Smiles, Packard and Blackmore crises. Last Friday the Government had the numbers in both this House and the lower House to ensure that the bill was passed through both Houses in its unamended form. Instead it deliberately
created a conflict between the two Houses to ensure that the bill could not be passed last Friday. In one of the most amazing, cynical and sinister manoeuvres this Parliament has ever seen, the Government took a dive on the crucial vote in the lower House by pulling four of its own members from the Chamber. They included the Leader of Government in the lower House, Mr Tim Moore, the honourable members for Gladesville and Baulkham Hills and the National Party member for Murrumbidgee.
If the Government's claim is correct, that is why 150 timber workers in this State lost their jobs on Monday and the taxpayers of this State have to foot the bill for the entirely unnecessary recall of Parliament this week. The Opposition makes no apology for the amendments it moved last Friday in the lower House. They would have enhanced environmental safeguards under the bill, without in any way putting jobs at risk. The Government has now proposed its own amendments to the bill. They, and the other undertakings the Government has finally given, substantially meet the purpose and intent of the Opposition amendments. The Opposition will not quibble about whether the amendments are in the Government's words or the Opposition's words; all it cares about is their substance. For those reasons, the Opposition will support the Minister's motion.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [2.50]: Over the past 12 years the Forestry Commission has been quite contemptuous of the environment and of the environmental laws of this State. It has known for some time that it needed to do environmental impact studies of old growth forests before it allowed their destruction, but has resisted doing so. The Forestry Commission has managed to persuade the Greiner-Murray Government yet again to exempt it from the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, as it tried to do during the previous term of that Government. At that time - when the Australian Democrats held the balance of power - this House threw out the legislation. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile voted with the Government to exempt the Forestry Commission from the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Once again, Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile has supported the Government, which has led to the recall of the House and this impasse today. One would have thought that Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile had discovered he had some responsibility as a Christian to protect the environment, but he has forgotten that. His loyalty to the Greiner-Murray Government is stronger than any Christian principles he may hold.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: On a point of order. Under Standing Orders 80 and 81 I ask the honourable member to withdraw his remarks. He has impugned my actions in this House, and this reflects on me.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: On the point of order. I believe what I said is perfectly true and that the honourable member has forgotten his Christian principles about protecting God's Creation. Nevertheless, I withdraw my comments.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The honourable member may continue.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: Gabrielle Kibble made it very clear that the Department of Planning does not have the resources to assess environmental impact statements. In a briefing note dated 25th July, 1991, co-signed by Mr Urwin, Leader of the Natural Resources Unit, and Mr R. Power, Manager of the Heritage Branch, to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, she said:
The submission in support of the nomination . . .
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I remind the honourable member that he must confine his remarks to the amendments only and is not to speak to the bill.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: Absolutely. That is why I am talking about the Department of Planning.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I am not asking whether the honourable member agrees with me; I am telling him that he will speak only to the amendments.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: That is what I am doing, Madam Temporary Chairman. Gabrielle Kibble said that the Department of Planning does not have the ability to cope with the environmental impact statements and:
To judge the technical validity or accuracy of these statements, dealing as they do with animal ecology and the scientific aspects of habitat modification, is beyond the resources of the Heritage Council and the Department of Planning.
The amendment before the Chamber, which provides that the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy is to be the determining authority for logging operations and is subject to the environmental impact statements obtained by the Forestry Commission under this Act, is clearly unacceptable because the Department of Planning does not have the resources to do that. Gabrielle Kibble said the Department of Planning does not have the money, the capabilities or the expertise to assess environmental impact statements. The department has not shown much love for the environment. One or two of its key advisers have come out strongly in favour of environmentally damaging developments. It would seem odd that the Department of Planning should be asked to look at environmental impact statements when it does not have the ability or the inclination to do so and is not biased towards the environment, having made many decisions recently against the environment. Likewise, the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy recently made what appears to be an illegal decision in approving the Micalo Island development, about which honourable members will no doubt hear more in due course. Neither the Minister nor the department has the inclination or the capability to assess environmental impact statements prepared for forestry areas.
It is not appropriate for this Chamber to accept this amendment. It is ludicrous to put the determination of environmental impact statements in the hands of a National Party Minister when the National Party itself is anti-environment. It is like putting a wolf in charge of the hens. It would seem to be singularly inappropriate for the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, who is a National Party Minister, to be put in charge of the determining authority for logging operations that are subject to environmental impact statements. Honourable members have seen the sign on the twelfth floor in the National Party room saying "Greens cost jobs". Whether the so-called Minister for Conservation and Land Management or the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy is put in charge of the hens, both would eat the hens if they were given an opportunity. The so-called Minister for Conservation and Land Management the other day said to a group that not one more stick or tree would be in a national park or a wilderness area. It is clear that neither the Minister for Conservation and Land Management - which is a contradiction in terms in relation this Minister - nor the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy is the appropriate person to look after our forests.
The Minister for Conservation and Land Management should not be called the Minister for Conservation, but more appropriately, the Minister for the destruction of the environment. At least the Forestry Commission will not be the determining authority of its own environmental impact statements. That is a good move. All the environmental impact statements produced by the Forestry Commission of late have been signed by Dr Hans Drielsma. He was a political appointee to the position. The firm of Price Waterhouse, which determined who would be the next person to take over the Forestry
Commission, did not have him on its list. The leading person on its short list was Dr Bruce Leaver from the South Australian Department of Environment and Planning. It transpired that the Minister for Natural Resources at that time asked Price Waterhouse to put Dr Drielsma on the list.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (The Hon. Beryl Evans): Order! Does the Hon. R. S. L. Jones understand the amendments he is discussing?
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: I believe so.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I shall inform him what he may discuss. He may discuss only the numbers being taken out and the licences under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, quarterly reports from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the omission of the words "protected fauna" wherever they occur and the insertion of the words "endangered fauna".
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: Thank you. I should be happy to advert to those. The removal of the Director of National Parks and Wildlife and his replacement by the Minister for the Environment means that once again the reporting will be in the hands of a political person rather than an independent, such as Bill Gillooly. That is designed to make sure that the Government has very tight control over the reporting mechanisms. It is quite clear that the reason this has been inserted after having been removed by the upper House, is that the Government wants to torpedo the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act. The first report is to be made on 31st April, 1992. This now means that the parks service is accountable for its actions, whereas the Forestry Commission is not. It clearly is a move against the National Parks and Wildlife Service and an attempt by this Government to torpedo the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act - which has been blamed for putting many jobs at risk. That, of course, is a total lie. Not one job has been at risk nor ever was at risk, for there are plenty of operation areas available. These lies have been perpetuated throughout the media by various National Party Ministers. Once again the Forestry Commission is not accountable; the National Parks and Wildlife Service is. The Minister for the Environment will be reporting quarterly. No doubt the Government will do everything in its power to remove the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act, because this Government, the Premier and National Party Ministers have absolutely no love for endangered fauna. That is very clear. It can be seen from their statements of late. We do not support the Government on this particular motion.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY [3.1]: I wish to make a few comments about the bill and the amendments which the Government has moved in the lower House, caving in to pressure which has built up around this issue in the past week or two. The fact that the Minister for the Environment has been totally absent from this debate, of course -
What absolute rubbish! The Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy is to be responsible for sections of these amendments. His own departmental head wrote to him in July of last year, after the Chaelundi decision was handed down, to say that the Department of Planning did not have the expertise to deal with the issues which arose. The Minister has said that he can answer that. I hope that the Minister can say that the Premier is giving him either more resources or some expertise so that the Department of Planning can carry out the functions for which it will be responsible under this
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I read out the three amendments. If the member reads those he will find that there is very little that he can say in regard to them. What the member is saying bears no relationship to them. I rule the member out of order unless he speaks only to the three amendments that we are now considering.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: Madam Temporary-Chairman, the first amendment reads:
Clause 3. After clause 3(d) insert:
(e) to provide that the Minister for Planning is to be the determining authority . . .
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. I have been very tolerant during this debate because I do like to allow my colleagues to have their say - particularly those colleagues who were not here when this debate took place last Friday. One does have to ask: where was the Hon. R. S. L. Jones last Friday?
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: On a point of order.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: You cannot take a point of order on a point of order.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: What is your point of order?
The Hon. R. J. Webster: Sit down and I will tell you. The Temporary Chairman has already said that we are talking about amendments 2, 8 and 9. For the edification of the Hon. P. F. O'Grady - and I do not believe he was here on Friday, either -
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: I was here.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: You did not say anything, if you were. It probably would have been better if you had not said anything today. At page 4, clause 8(2) there appears amendment 2. At page 7 - clauses 14 and 15 - are amendments 8 and 9. They are the ones we are discussing. They are before the Committee. As I said to you, when you were prattling on, if you will just wait I will come to the matters of resources and so on later. Just calm yourself down. If you had had something to say on Friday, it might be all right, but you have come into this Chamber today and you are talking a whole lot of rot.
Madam Temporary Chairman, the honourable member is out of order. He is not speaking to the amendments we are discussing.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The amendments we are discussing relate to the third print of the bill, dealing with clauses 8(2), 14 and 15.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: On a point of order. The fact that this debate is taking place at all is due to unusual circumstances, namely, that the amendments which came from the lower House were outside the leave of the bill. Today we have had a ruling from the Acting-President, in which he concedes that they were outside the leave of the bill and were out of order. It is the generosity of the Opposition that has allowed this debate to continue -
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! They are not the matters we are discussing. When they come up, you may have your say. Will you kindly get in order what we are discussing now - from the third print of the bill, clauses 8(2), 14 and 15. They are the only ones we are discussing. If the Hon. P. F. O'Grady wants to continue on those, he may.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: On a point of order. I understood from the comments of the Leader of the Government in the House before the House met that if the amendments were not going to be put in globo - and apparently there is a problem in that regard - at least the debate could be held in globo, otherwise we will have debate on each amendment. One would have thought that to suit the convenience of the Committee, where comments can be made appropriately about the message as a whole, they should be made now rather than in relation to each particular amendment.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On the point of order. The Leader of the Opposition, has in his remarks before the Committee today, totally misconstrued the procedural matters that occurred in the lower House. He is now seeking to flout your ruling. The truth is that there will be ample opportunity later in the debate on the further amendments to be put to the Committee, for the Hon. P. F. O'Grady to raise all the matters that he raised earlier. I chose not to take points of order earlier because I believe, as a former Chairman of Committees in another place, in the spirit of the Committee. May I say that if we are obliged to listen twice to what the Hon. P. F. O'Grady has to say I for one would find that an intolerable burden on my time. I ask you to bring the honourable member back to the leave of the amendments.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I once again read what we are discussing:
That the Committee do not insist upon its amendments Nos. 2, 8 and 9 disagreed with by the Assembly.
If the honourable member wants to speak to amendments 2, 8 and 9 - which is what the discussion is - he may continue.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: I refer to clause 8(2) - that is if I heard the Chair correctly - which relates to the Forestry Commission obtaining environmental impact statements. The reason that the Government has brought this bill before the Parliament is because of the absolute botch-up that the Forestry Commission has made of the timber industry. The person who heads the Forestry Commission is -
We will get to that. The head of the Forestry Commission is here today. He is sitting at the back of the Chamber. It is his organisation which is responsible for the amazing mismanagement of the timber resources of this State.
Not only are we here because of that but, as the Hon. Judith Walker interjects, we are here because -
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. As I say, I am loath to interrupt the Hon. P. F. O'Grady but clause 8(2) says:
Nothing in this section affects any licence or any conditions or restrictions contained in any licence issued under the National Parks and Wildlife Act by the Director of the National Parks and Wildlife.
There is no reference to the Forestry Commission in that clause. I would ask that you bring the Hon. P. F. O'Grady back to the amendments before this House.
The Hon. Jan Burnswoods: On the point of order. Honourable members do not have a copy of the amendments that have been moved. I am trying to work out from the Legislative Assembly's message which clauses we are dealing with at present. Is it not the normal practice for the Government to provide a list of the amendments that it seeks to move?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The Committee is dealing with the Legislative Assembly's message.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: On a point of order. As I understand it, the motion is that the Committee do not insist upon its amendments Nos 2, 8 and 9. Opposition members do not have copies of amendments Nos 2, 8 and 9 and that is why they believe they are debating the message.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: They were contained in the minutes of proceedings last Thursday.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: We would like to know what is being debated. The Opposition has been most generous to the Government this afternoon. Opposition members have permitted debate on a matter that in normal circumstances would be entirely out of order. If we are willing to give the Government that courtesy, we expect the same courtesy in return. We want copies of amendments Nos 2, 8 and 9.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: You have got them.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: The Hon. Jan Burnswoods does not have a copy. I have just been handed a copy.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (The Hon. Beryl Evans): Order! They are contained in the minutes of proceedings for last Thursday. I appeal to the Committee to proceed with the matter that is before it.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: I am still confused about what we are debating. If we are debating amendments Nos 2, 8 and 9 -
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: That the Committee not insist upon those amendments.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: Amendment No. 2 was that clause 8(2) be omitted. Before the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy took a point of order I was referring to the Forestry Commission requirement to obtain environmental impact statements. The Minister's point of order was upheld. Therefore, I seek guidance on this issue. As I was speaking to an amendment which is before the Committee, I ask for some direction. The point I am making is this: I was speaking to clause 8(2), which appears on page 4 of the fourth print of the bill.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: We are dealing with the third print, not the fourth.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. I am amazed by the total ignorance of members of the Opposition. Prior to this Chamber convening today Opposition members had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with what happened in the Legislative Assembly yesterday.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: We have only just been handed the message.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: The Leader of the Opposition is once again misrepresenting the situation. Members of the Opposition merely had to speak to the Clerks to find out what the situation is if they were unable to ascertain the information for themselves. That is exactly what I did. I am not the Minister responsible for this bill in another place; my colleague is. I took the trouble to find out and so should they. The third print of the bill is the bill that we were dealing with in this Chamber last Friday. The fourth print of the bill is the bill as amended by the Legislative Assembly. However, the Committee is dealing with the message relating to the Legislative Council amendments that have not been agreed to by the Legislative Assembly. The sooner Opposition members learn about procedure the better. Instead of complaining to the Temporary Chairman, they should learn about procedure so that they know what they are talking about.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: Last week the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy walked through these gold gates, yet he now speaks about procedure in this Chamber. If we are to debate the third print of this bill then presumably it should be available in the Chamber for honourable members to refer to it.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! If the Hon. P. F. O'Grady does not wish to confine his remarks to the subject-matter before the Committee he should resume his seat.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [3.16]: At this stage I propose to confine my remarks to clauses 8 and 9. The amendments to new clause 8 provide that the Minister for Planning be the determining authority for environmental impact statements prepared by the Forestry Commission. Therefore, I submit it is perfectly correct to speak about the Forestry Commission. A few moments ago a member on the Government benches suggested that that was not possible under the amendment. It has been pointed out already by my colleague and by the Leader of the Opposition that the Minister for Planning is not competent -
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. If the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby and other honourable members want to talk about the Forestry Commission, the Minister for Planning being the consent authority, and a whole range of other issues, they should wait until the Committee is dealing with those matters. At present we are debating amendments Nos 2, 8 and 9. The honourable member knows how the Committee works.
The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: On the point of order. With due deference to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, clause 8 deals with the fact that the Minister for Planning is the determining authority. Therefore, if I talk about the Minister for Planning being the determining authority, I am talking about clause 8.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! At this stage the Committee is debating clause 8(2) of the third print only, and not the whole of clause 8.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: I have a copy of the third print which I obtained last night when I sat in another place to listen to the debate. The Minister has
moved, "That the Committee do not insist upon its amendments Nos. 2, 8 and 9". It does not specify that we should discuss only clause 8(2); it merely refers to clause 8. I will now address my remarks to clause 8(2). This is the crux of the whole problem because it states that any licence, conditions or restrictions contained in any licence issued by the Director of National Parks and Wildlife under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, as originally amended in another place, is not affected by this provision. The Government has seen fit to remove the authority of the Director of National Parks and Wildlife.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: Rubbish!
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: The Minister, by way of interjection, has just said to me, "Rubbish". If what I have said is rubbish, why is it the Government's intention to delete clause 8(2).
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The Government is putting it back in again. It is back in. The honourable member has got it back to front.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: Will the Minister confirm that clause 8(2) will now remain in the bill before the Committee. If so, why was it deleted from the third print of the bill?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER (Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy) [3.21]: In the spirit of co-operation and the general consensus that exists in the Chamber, I say to the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby that the motion before the Chair is "That the Committee do not insist upon its amendments Nos. 2, 8 and 9 disagreed with by the Assembly". It does require some thought but I hope the penny drops.
The Hon. Jan Burnswoods: On a point of order. Would it be possible for honourable members to have the third print of the bill so that they can follow what honourable members are talking about.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On the point of order. It is some considerable time since some honourable members opposite left school. They all know they are members of Parliament; they all knew they had to discuss this bill today. If they did not bring the material to the Chamber with them, they should stop whingeing about it not being here and go and find it.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The third print has been in the Chamber all the time.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [3.22]: In view of the explanation I have been given, not by the Minister but by the Clerk, I will now turn my attention to paragraph (b) of clause 8. This means that the third party rights which were placed in the bill in another place have been removed and that under that clause there is retrospective removal of third party rights to challenge the environmental impact statement.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. The question before the Committee is, "That the Committee do not insist upon its amendments Nos. 2, 8 and 9 disagreed with by the Assembly". They are the only matters that the honourable member can speak to.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby will
address the question before the Committee.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: I now turn my attention to clause 9. Clause 9 deals with stopwork orders.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby should be directing remarks to amendment No. 9, not clause 9. The message from the Legislative Assembly deals with amendments Nos 2, 8 and 9. Those are not the numbers of the clauses; they are the numbers of the amendments.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: Amendment No. 9 deals with clauses 14 and 15, which are the amendment of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Its effect is that now the Minister will be reporting quarterly to both Houses of Parliament on the operation of the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act 1991. It also states that the first such report is to be made by 31st March, 1992. It is our contention that that is too short a period and that the report should be made at a later date. We are now debating this bill on 10th March. It will not be possible for that report to be prepared by the National Parks and Wildlife Service for the Minister's advisers and to be presented to both Houses of Parliament by 31st March. I should like the Minister to address that matter in his reply. Clause 14 as it appears in the third print states that the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act is to be amended by omitting the words "protected fauna" wherever occurring and by inserting instead "endangered fauna". This provision is to remain in the bill. I am glad that the Government has seen fit to admit that it is necessary to protect endangered fauna as much as it is necessary to protect those species that have only been described as protected. There is a significant difference between the two descriptions, especially when we are trying to protect our native heritage. I ask the Minister to explain how the report can be completed by 31st March. At this time the Government should allow for a greater length of time for the quarterly reporting by the Minister to be carried out.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [3.27]: As has been previously stated, the Government moved amendments Nos 2, 8 and 9 and this Chamber supported them last Friday. Following discussions and consultation it has now brought to this Chamber a proposal to retain those three provisions of the bill. The previous amendment would have deleted clause 8(2), the second amendment would have omitted clause 14 and the third amendment would have omitted clause 15. The motion before the Committee will mean the retention of clause 8(2) - and we are quite happy to support its retention - and clause 14 dealing with the issue of protected and endangered fauna. We are happy also to retain clause 15, which deals with quarterly reporting by the Director of National Parks and Wildlife. Obviously concessions must be made. We are pleased that the bill is able to proceed through the Chamber.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER (Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy) [3.28]: I am absolutely shocked at how terribly disorganised and shellshocked the rabble opposite is. Thank heavens for Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile because he is the only honourable member not on the Government benches who actually understands the procedures of this Chamber. Without labouring the point, the Labor Party in this State has just been through the wringer. It is almost bizarre to think that -
The Hon. B. H. Vaughan: On a point of order. The thrust of many of the rulings given today has been that of relevance. I submit to you, Madam Temporary Chairman, that the speech of the would-be member for Southern Highlands is irrelevant.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On the point of order. I have to reply to some of the matters that have been raised by honourable members opposite.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: On the point of order.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: I have not started yet.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The Minister is speaking to the point of order. When he has concluded, the Hon. P. F. O'Grady might seek the call.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: Obviously I have to reply to matters raised by honourable members opposite during the Committee debate. That is exactly what I am doing. The fact that Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is the only member, apart from Government members, who understands the procedures of this House is of great concern to me - and to this House, I suspect.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! No point of order is involved, but I ask the Minister to complete his answer quickly.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I will be as quick as I can. It is bizarre that at a time when the Greiner Government is in office thousands of people should demonstrate outside the Parliament against the Labor Party, a party that purports to represent the workers of this State.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: On a point of order. The Minister is not referring to any of the amendments under consideration. If the ruling which applies to honourable members on this side of the Chamber is to apply to Government members, I submit that the Minister should be directed not to continue with the matters to which he is referring.
The Hon. B. H. Vaughan: On the point of order. Madam Temporary Chairman, I say again that you have been rather strict in some of your rulings given today. You have allowed no irrelevance whatever. However, you are now allowing some irrelevance from a government which, by the end of last month, has taken 50,547 jobs from the people of New South Wales since it came to office in 1988.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I will be firm again. No point of order is involved. The points of order are getting completely out of hand. They are in no way relevant. I ask the Minister to conclude speaking to this motion.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Obviously the matters I am raising are in direct response to matters raised by the Leader of the Opposition. As the Minister who has carriage of this bill in Committee, I believe that I should raise a number of matters. The truth is that the Labor Party has been shellshocked by this debate and by the matters that have been discussed in Committee. It is unprecedented and bizarre to think that thousands of workers, many of them trade unionists, have demonstrated outside the Parliament against the Labor Party when it is in Opposition. Who knows what they will do if the Labor Party ever gets back into government. The matters raised by the Leader of the Opposition and the Hon. P. F. O'Grady in this debate are red herrings. They know that the Labor Party has suffered a massive tactical defeat at the hands of this Government.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: Why did you back down?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: There has been no backdown by the Government. As honourable members would know, 21 amendments were moved by the Government in the lower House, and they were all carried. One amendment was moved by the Labor Party, and it was lost. If that is a backdown, I do not know what a backdown is. I shall not delay the Committee further; I will raise a considerable number of matters later. I want to know, however, the answer to this simple question: when this bill came before the House last Friday, where was the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby and the Hon. R. S. L. Jones?
Motion agreed to.
Legislative Council's amendments Nos 2, 8 and 9 not insisted upon.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER (Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy) [3.34]: I move:
That the Committee agree to the further amendments Nos. 1 to 11 proposed by the Legislative Assembly.
I am aware of the undertakings given on my behalf in another place with respect to the nature of the determination and report required for environmental impact statements and the requirement that the Forestry Commission consult with the Director of Planning regarding the nature of environmental impact statements. In particular, I confirm that the determination of reports furnished by me as Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy will conform to regulation 64 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. I also confirm that the Forestry Commission will be required to consult with the Director of Planning on the director's requirements for environmental impact statements. I have much pleasure in commending these amendments.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [3.35]: Though the Opposition received this new set of amendments rather late, we have examined them and we will not oppose them. However, we have some remarks to make on them. I shall tell the Committee why we have been somewhat strident today. I would liken what we have seen in the past few days of the activities of the National Party and the Forestry Commission and statements that we have heard today to the biggest sting since Fine Cotton. I have a warning for the Forestry Commission - not just for the obscurantists of the National Party. I have looked at what the Public Accounts Committee has had to say about the Forestry Commission in New South Wales and I have read what the Resources Assessment Commission of the Commonwealth of Australia has said about the Forestry Commission. The matters referred to by those bodies are the reason that we were so insistent that there should be ministerial involvement in the activities of the Forestry Commission. The same should be said for the National Parks and Wildlife Service. We need to return government to the people of New South Wales and to the Parliament - not to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, judicial commissions and the like, which run the State as they like.
Honourable members will find in the Daily Telegraph Mirror and the Sydney Morning Herald summations of the amendments and comment on the extent to which the amendments which have now come to this Committee mirror the proposals of the Australian Labor Party. That is exactly what they do. I remind the Minister, who continually refers to the Labor Party's interest in jobs, of what I said only a moment ago: that the Liberal Party has knocked 50,000 people out of employment since 1988. When honourable members analyse the amendments today, they will understand why we were
prepared to stand and fight. One could only imagine what would have happened if the state of the parties in the upper and lower Houses were not as they are. We have right on our side. We believe that this has been a triumph for us.
The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: Why did Bob Carr not address the workers outside Parliament House?
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: The Hon. R. T. M. Bull, the Deputy Government Whip of the Legislative Council, has just asked: why did Bob Carr not address the workers?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition should confine his remarks to the amendments.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: I am terribly involved with the amendments. Those who demonstrated outside are the victims of the scam which I spoke about. They still do not know what this legislation is all about. Was it not extraordinary that, when the Sydney Morning Herald went to the trouble of asking over a loudspeaker for anyone among the demonstrators who was unemployed to come to the microphone, not one came forward. I happen to know what people in Grafton and New England have been told by sawmillers. A person told me this morning on the telephone what the National Party has been saying about this legislation. The Minister or his nominees have acted in this way either by way of absolute deceit or because they do not understand what the legislation is about.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [3.40]: It is singularly inappropriate to have the Minister for Planning as the determining authority. I have spoken briefly on this matter previously. The evidence to support my contention is contained in court case No. 40157 of 1991 in the Land and Environment Court, which explained why the Minister should not be in charge of environmental impact statements of the Forestry Commission. The judgment in that court case makes it clear that the Minister acted outside the law by not applying the interim conservation orders sought in respect of three compartments of Chaelundi State Forest. The Minister has demonstrated that he has absolutely no love for the forest or understanding of the values of wildlife. This forest has the richest wildlife areas in the whole of Australia, along the east coast of New South Wales. The Minister did not use his powers as he was obliged to by placing an interim conservation order on those compartments. In that case the judgment stated:
It cannot be entertained that a consideration of fauna by an EIS and by the Forestry Commission in its determination can displace or nullify the discretion conferred upon the decision-makers under the Heritage Act.
The judgment found further:
. . . it is clear that the Minister applied the policy without regard to the merits, that is, a general policy not to look to the Heritage Act to protect the natural environment where a State agency is the land manager and had assumed responsibility to look after the State's heritage and the planning route under Part V of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act had been pursued. It seems to me that the Minister had adopted and carried on the policy adopted by his predecessor, by the Planning Department and the Heritage Council.
The judgment continued:
The issue of the merits of the application, it appears to me, was avoided in the decision-making. The merits were not addressed because of the policy which more or less abandoned the application of the Heritage Act in respect of the State's natural heritage, except in very rare instances. In my opinion this is impermissible. It misapprehends the administrative duties imposed by the statute.
This course of action was recommended by the Department of Planning, by Gabrielle Kibble in her memorandum of 25th July, 1991, and co-signed by Mr N. Urwin, leader of the Natural Resources Unit and R. Power, manager of the heritage branch. They recommended:
. . . that the Minister decline to use section 136 of the Heritage Act for the protection of compartments 181, 198 and 200, Chaelundi State Forest.
All of this is related to the first amendment, which will enable the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy to be the determining authority on environmental impact statements, which is, as I said, like putting the wolf in charge of the chickens. As sure as anything those chickens will all die. The Minister acted on the incorrect advice of the Director of Planning. Therefore it is clear that neither the Minister, the Director of Planning, nor the Department of Planning is capable of being the determining authority. In that same memorandum the Director of Planning said:
To judge the technical validity or accuracy of these statements, dealing as they do with animal ecology and the scientific aspects of habitat modification, is beyond the resources of the Heritage Council and the Department of Planning.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. I am loath to interrupt the honourable member, but the applications of the Heritage Act are not related to these amendments. The honourable member is quoting from a judgment of a particular court. The truth is that the Heritage Act has no relevance to the matters before the Committee at present. I ask that the honourable member be brought back to deal with the amendments.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: On the point of order. The Minister was not listening to what I was saying. I was referring to a briefing, which presumably the Minister has not read. That briefing talks about the capability of the Department of Planning to assess wilderness values. The department claims that it is incapable of making that assessment. Obviously the Minister either misunderstood what I said or did not listen. What I said is relevant to the first proposed amendment.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! No point of order is involved, but I ask the Hon. R. S. L. Jones to confine his remarks to the amendments being considered. Furthermore, I ask that he precis the material contained in the documents to which he is referring and not read them at length.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: I intended to read only that one sentence. I hope the Minister is aware that his department is completely incapable of assessing wilderness values.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: That was last July. I shall tell the honourable member about the present situation.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: Do you think things have changed in the last five or six months?
The Hon. R. J. Webster: Yes.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: Are you going to give them more resources?
The Hon. R. J. Webster: Yes.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: I wonder who? Is it perhaps Neville Apitz? The Minister has been shown to have no love for the environment, even though on many occasions in the past three or four years he has mouthed environmental concerns and used recycled paper for press releases. By his actions he has shown that he has no genuine love for the environment because recently he made what was apparently, according to our legal advice, an illegal decision to approve the Micalo Island development. The Minister is suspect when it comes to handling environmental impact statements. He approved an environmentally damaging development and even telephoned the proponents of that development before making public his decision. That was astonishing to many people up north. The Minister has used his powers under section 101 on two or perhaps three occasions to approve developments that were environmentally highly contentious. Though the Minister makes grand statements about replanting shrubs around coal-fired power stations and all the small details about using recycled paper, when it comes to big decisions the Minister is on the side of his development mates and makes decisions against the environment. Clearly the Minister should not be making decisions about environmental impact statements. At least it is a good thing that the Forestry Commission itself will now be unable to sign its own environmental impact statements. Over the past 12 years it has been loath to produce those studies but has been forced to do so by a series of court cases. The Forestry Commission and the commissioner have been reluctant to produce those studies because the appointment of Dr Hans Drielsma was a political appointment by Mr Ian Causley. Dr Drielsma was not recommended by Price Waterhouse. They spent a lot of taxpayers' money investigating the next appointment.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. I find it increasingly intolerable that under parliamentary privilege the Hon. R. S. L. Jones on this and other occasions has impugned the character of people. The truth is that Dr Hans Drielsma and the Director of Planning, Gabrielle Kibble - both of whom have been referred to by the honourable member - were appointed by the Government following a public selection process. They are non-political public servants. Their reputations should not be impugned by any member of this House. If an honourable member chooses to do that, he should do so by way of substantive motion, not in the snivelling, weaseling way in which the Hon. R. S. L. Jones has done.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: On the point of order. I can understand the Minister's sensitivity in regard to the issues he has raised.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: I have not raised them; the Hon. R. S. L. Jones has raised them.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: You have raised them in taking the point of order.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: Do you disagree?
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: Given the role that the Director of the Forestry Commission has played in orchestrating this campaign -
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (The Hon. Beryl Evans): Order! The honourable member will address the Chair.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: I submit that it is within the ambit of this debate -
The Hon. R. J. Webster: To attack an individual is not within the ambit.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: - that the Director of the Forestry Commission and the Director of Planning be referred to.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: On the point of order. Obviously the Minister does not have the information that I have, which is that Hans Drielsma was not on the Price Waterhouse short list and was not chosen by the independent consultant but was put on the list by Mr Ian Causley. Even though he was on the bottom of the list, he was put on it at the request of Ian Causley and then he was made the commissioner.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I uphold the point of order. I ask the Hon. R. S. L. Jones to withdraw his remarks.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: To withdraw which remarks?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I uphold the point of order taken by the Minister. It is not in order for a member to make disrespectful remarks about members of the public service. The Minister has accused the honourable member of having done that, and I ask the Hon. R. S. L. Jones to withdraw those remarks.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: I cannot withdraw those remarks. They were perfectly true. That person is not a member of this Chamber or the other Chamber and I am not obliged to withdraw the remarks.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! Does the Hon. R. S. L. Jones refuse to withdraw his remarks?
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Yes, I am afraid I do. I do not believe I am obliged to withdraw those remarks, because they do not refer to a member of this House or the other House.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: Further to the point of order. I seek clarification of the remarks that the Minister is seeking to have withdrawn.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: I cannot recall the exact words used by the Hon. R. S. L. Jones but he impugned the professional reputation of both the head of the Forestry Commission and the Director of the Department of Planning by inferring or saying that they were unsuitable to hold those offices.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: I did not impugn the head of the Department of Planning. I merely quoted from a document by her in which she gave incorrect advice, which is on the public record, to the Minister, who then took that advice and made an illegal decision.
The Hon. B. H. Vaughan: On the point of order. So that all honourable members may know what is happening - because on occasions in this House they do not - I ask whether the remarks that the Hon. R. S. L. Jones is being asked to withdraw are his remarks or in something he quoted?
The Hon. R. J. Webster: His remarks.
The Hon. B. H. Vaughan: His own remarks?
The Hon. R. J. Webster: His own remarks.
The Hon. B. H. Vaughan: I thought the Hon. R. S. L. Jones said that they were not his remarks, that he had read them somewhere?
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Further to the point of order. Some confusion has occurred. The Minister referred to two people, Gabrielle Kibble and Dr Hans Drielsma. The information or remarks about Gabrielle Kibble came from a briefing paper to the Minister signed by Gabrielle Kibble. They were recommendations by her not to use his powers under the Heritage Act. That decision, as determined in a court case, was incorrect. That court determined that she gave the Minister incorrect information, which the Minister then acted upon and made an illegal decision.
The Hon. Jan Burnswoods: On the point of order. I understood that the Hon. R. S. L. Jones was referring to the events of the briefing organised by the Minister for Conservation and Land Management last week, during which the point was made on many occasions that the Director of the Forestry Commission - by being present when people from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and other relevant bureaucrats, including the Director of the Department of Planning, were not present - had put himself in a situation of appearing to be politically involved in this matter. A heated debate took place for several hours at that briefing. I thought the Hon. R. S. L. Jones was referring to the situation in which the Forestry Commission had been placed, partly through the actions of both the Minister for Conservation and Land Management and the Minister for the Environment.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: On the point of order. Madam Temporary Chairman, could you enlighten me on the source of your authority, whether by standing order or President's rulings, to require the Hon. R. S. L. Jones to withdraw remarks about two public servants?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I ask the Minister whether his point of order was in respect of a member or a person?
The Hon. R. J. Webster: I took a point of order because I took offence at attacks on two senior public servants by the Hon. R. S. L. Jones. I suggested to you, Madam Temporary Chairman, that you should ask the honourable member to desist from those attacks. That was the substance of my point of order.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: On the point of order. It is now quite apparent that the point of order has no basis at all. If the Minister thinks that by taking a point of order he can require another member to either withdraw comments made about a person who is not a member of this House or to desist from making those comments, he has a very strange idea of the rights of honourable members to speak in this Chamber. Parliamentary practice requires that honourable members may not reflect adversely upon other members. During all my association with parliaments I have never heard the proposition that a member can be forced to withdraw comments made about people who are not members of Parliament. Whether one agrees with the comments made by the Hon. R. S. L. Jones is not to the point. I am not suggesting that the Opposition, in supporting the Hon. R. S. L. Jones on the point of order, agrees in any way with the comments that he may have made. If the point is upheld, a very dangerous precedent may arise whereby members may be prevented from making comments about members of the community, whether they are members of the public service or not. If a ruling were to restrict a member's right to speak freely in the Parliament, the Opposition would regard that ruling as very dangerous and would have to dissent from it.
The Hon. B. H. Vaughan: Further to the point of order. I agree with what the Leader of the Opposition said but I believe no precedent will arise out of what has happened because the member did not breach standing orders. However, a convention
is that members ought not to reflect upon a judge, a public servant or even people outside on the street - though reflections on people outside on the street are made in this Chamber every day of the week.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: Further to the point of order. That was exactly the point that I took. Despite the statesmanlike remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, he knows full well that it has always been a tradition of this Parliament that attacks on public servants should be made by way of substantive motions, not in the snivelling manner it has been done in this Chamber. The suggestion that Hans Drielsma is a political appointment by the Government is a slur on Dr Drielsma's professional integrity. I have no hesitation in suggesting that the Hon. R. S. L. Jones should desist from making those remarks and withdraw them.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: Further to the point of order. The Minister apparently resents the fact that I am saying that Dr Hans Drielsma was a political appointment. It is patently obvious that the appointment was political at the direction of the Minister for Natural Resources. The Minister directed Price Waterhouse to put Dr Hans Drielsma on the second list of people to be appointed. Hans Drielsma was not on the first list; he was put on the second list, at the foot of it, at the direction of the Minister to Price Waterhouse, who did so reluctantly. As a result of that, the Minister for Natural Resources chose the candidate least preferred by Price Waterhouse. Mr Drielsma was not the choice of Price Waterhouse. That firm, at great expense to the taxpayers, was asked to produce a list of people. That list was not necessary because the Minister chose the person he wanted.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I shall abide by Standing Order 80, which states:
No Member shall use offensive words against either House of the Legislature, or any Member thereof; nor against any Statute, unless when moving for its repeal.
However, I remind honourable members that in their parliamentary behaviour they should not seek to destroy the reputations of others or be disrespectful of public servants.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: I was not being disrespectful of Dr Hans Drielsma; I was merely pointing out that he was a political appointee.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The Hon. R. S. L. Jones should continue his remarks.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: The Forestry Commission has been in charge of our forests for many years. In that time the commission has not planted any eucalypts but has sold out our forests for the lowest possible royalties. That is why the State is in crisis. That is why the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill is being debated. The Forestry Commission has mismanaged our forests for many years through an hereditary hierarchy that has carried on a policy of destroying forests and giving them away to companies such as Harris Daishowa for almost nothing. A handful of jobs would not be at risk if the Forestry Commission had managed our forests properly during the past 40 years and if it had started eucalypt plantations 40 years ago, as it should have done.
Progress reported and leave granted to sit again.
The ACTING-PRESIDENT: Order! Pursuant to sessional orders, business is interrupted for the taking of questions.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
ROYAL NORTH SHORE HOSPITAL WARD 9C
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Does ward 9C at Royal North Shore Hospital provide specialist hand surgery, rheumatology and orthopaedic care? Is the hospital planning to close ward 9C within the next few months as a cost-cutting measure? Does the hospital have to save $700,000 as a result of the Minister's productivity cuts? Will he intervene to keep ward 9C open?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I am not aware of the matters to which the honourable member refers. The question of the way in which hospitals manage their affairs is very much a matter for their boards, and they take those decisions in consultation with practitioners in the area. As the matter falls within the administration of my colleague the Hon. Ron Phillips, I will draw it to his attention and provide an answer as soon as possible.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: Earlier today the Leader of the Opposition asked me a question concerning hospital beds on the North Shore. I am able to advise the House that my comments made at that time about the way in which this would be dealt with by the hospital were correct. I am able to indicate to the House that during the budget deliberations a number of options were considered for that hospital, one of which was the possibility of closing some beds across various services within the hospital. I am informed that at present more hospital beds are operating this year in that hospital than operated in the past year. I am able to confirm that if the hospital were looking at the reduction of beds, it would consult with the professional staff. In fact, it did consult with the professional staff, and I am now able to state that the hospital board has indicated in its budget deliberations this year that no hospital beds will be closed at that hospital.
SOUTHERN WOMEN'S RESOURCE CENTRE STAFF
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Will the Minister inform the House if it is his intention to move the Outreach workers from the Southern Women's Resource Centre to the refuge in Bega? If so, will the Minister explain his reasons for arranging that Outreach workers, who have a variety of community service functions to perform, be tied to work in a refuge which has one highly specific function, to care for women and their families fleeing from situations of domestic violence and harassment? Is the Minister aware also that in a small town like Bega many women do not wish to go into a refuge in case people who know them believe they are suffering from domestic violence; but they do want to go into resource centres, which provide information and advice on other matters which are not connected with domestic violence?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I am not aware of such a proposal. Only yesterday, while I was in Queanbeyan, I spoke with the Department of Community Services district manager who is responsible for that particular area. That is not a matter which he drew to my attention. However, he did draw to my attention that new and significantly enlarged facilities will be opened in Bega, and more workers will be moved
into those facilities in conjunction with other workers, such as home care and other service providers. If that particular proposal is being considered, I would have expected it to be drawn to my attention. However, I will seek further clarification.
HEALTH MINISTRY AND Dr SCARF
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Has the Chief Executive Officer of the Central Sydney Area Health Service been removed or has he been allocated to another position? If he has been allocated to another position, what is that position? Is the Minister setting up a unit to be called the Health Ministry, or some such title, within his department? If so, how many people will it employ and is he concerned that his activities are being overshadowed by those of the Minister for Health Services Management, the Hon. Ron Phillips?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I thank the honourable member, especially as the question raises a very important issue, that is, the role of the former Chief Executive Officer of the Central Sydney Area Health Service. I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for the opportunity to deal with that question. He is right: Dr Christopher Scarf who, as he will appreciate, is an outstanding officer of the department, has resigned from his position as Chief Executive Officer of the Central Sydney Area Health Service and taken up the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health and Community Services. The ministry was gazetted Friday week and, at the same time, Chris Scarf was appointed as head of that ministry. The ministry will have 30 to 40 members at this stage, transferred from the department. That will occur at the same time as the head office manpower is reorganised, which will result in a reduction in the number of people within the head office of the Department of Health. Chris Scarf is currently organising that manpower, and those positions will be created and filled either from within the department or advertised. But there will not be a net increase in the total number of head office staff. In fact, we will make use of all of the infrastructure of head office to ensure that there is a net reduction.
At the same time I will transfer the Office of Social Policy from the Department of Community Services to the ministry. That will involve 20 positions in the Department of Community Services as well as the transfer of 20 staff members from the Office on Ageing and the Office on Disability. The role of the ministry will be to take over what was in part the Office of Health Policy within the Department of Health. It will also concentrate within the ministry all of the work which was done by a disparate number of people in the department in the creation of statewide policy. Previously, different officers within the department spent 5 per cent to 10 per cent of their time in managing the development of statewide policy. Now, instead of having a large number of officers conducting different projects, project officers within the ministry will be responsible for specific tasks. They will drive the development of statewide policy and manage it. That may well involve operational people either within the areas or within the department working on different projects, but they will now be driven from one unit under the management of Chris Scarf. There is absolutely no doubt, from whomever one talks to within the department, that Chris Scarf is regarded as one of the best brains and policy development officers within the department. A large number of health innovations that came from the western Sydney region were instigated and developed by Chris Scarf, and he is welcomed into that position, from which he will drive the future direction of the health policy of the State.
Dr MAKIL MORCOS MURDER INVESTIGATION
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: I ask a question without notice of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council, representing the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and the Attorney General, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Minister for Arts. Is the Government still conducting an investigation into the sinister, brutal murder of Dr Makil Morcos, President of the Australian Coptic Commission and a prominent community leader, who was shot on Friday, 12th April, 1991, outside his St Mary's surgery and died 12 days later in hospital? Has his file been closed? Will the Government consider the institution of a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the murderers of Dr Morcos?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I am not sure why Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile asked the question of the Attorney General and the Premier through me. In fact the subject-matter of the question is very much within my area of responsibility and not that of the Premier or the Attorney General. Doctor Morcos was shot dead outside his surgery, as was said by the honourable member, and the Police Service continues to investigate the matter as a serious crime. That investigation is ongoing. I am able to make that assertion because I have taken a personal interest in the investigation. That is an unusual step for a Minister.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: Not operational?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I am not operational, but that does not mean I cannot take an interest in a particular operation. I have called for a number of reports from the Police Service as to the progress of the investigation because there is a suggestion that the doctor was killed for political reasons, to put it in its broadest context. Were that to be true, it would be obviously a matter of grave concern to myself and the Government. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile would well know that the doctor's surgery was burnt down, I think two nights ago, incurring substantial loss to the doctor's wife. I can assure the honourable member that as recently as the last couple of days, I have had communications with the commissioner and have been continually assured that this matter is being investigated most rigorously. There is no doubt at all that the matter is not in any way the subject of a closed file.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: Is there any chance of a reward?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The honourable member reminds me that his question asked about a reward. The police are reluctant to ask me to provide rewards in investigations until such time as the Police Service is satisfied that it has exhausted all leads and has virtually come to a dead end. That is not the situation at the moment and therefore a request for a reward has not been made. Obviously if the investigation comes to a dead end, I will not hesitate to authorise a reward.
ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE
The Hon. J. H. JOBLING: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. Is the Minister aware of a new national comparison of the performance of the electricity utilities of various States published by the electricity supply industry? If he is, will he inform the House how the New South Wales industry faired compared with other States?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I am aware of the publication to which the Hon. J. H. Jobling has referred. Its findings reflect the effort put in by the electricity industry in New South Wales to lift its performance in line with the Government's reform policies.
It should also be noted that these figures aggregate the various utilities in this State, and therefore reflect both the work of Pacific Power as the State's electricity generator and that of county councils as suppliers. Having said that, I am happy to report that during the survey period from 1987-88 to 1990-91 the electricity industry in New South Wales was clearly the most improved performer. In terms of percentage change during the four-year period, our State industry performed best in a wide range of key indicators.
The Hon. Ann Symonds: Did the Minister's performance improve during those years?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I would like to think so. Certainly in financial performance, New South Wales was clearly the front runner in positive change, lifting its return on assets by more than 50 per cent and achieving the most significant improvement in capital ratio, that is, total liabilities over assets. Of 20 indicators the New South Wales industry performed best in 10 and second best in another five. This clearly outpoints the most comparable State, Victoria, which faired best in only three categories and second best in another two. This means that electricity consumers in this State are reaping the benefit of the reform and efficiency drive which is under way in our power utilities. This nationwide improvement has been recognised by the Federal Minister for Resources who has acknowledged that the Electricity Supply Association of Australia report provided concrete evidence that reform in the industry was well under way. He noted that Australia now has the third lowest electricity prices among member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and that this could make the difference between investment coming here or going to other countries. That was a well-made point by Mr Griffiths, who is certainly one of the more outstanding members of the Federal Government, and there are not too many of them. Finally it should be noted that the real price of electricity in New South Wales fell in each of the four years surveyed for residential, commercial and industrial customers.
ROYLESTON CHILDREN'S COURT BUILDING
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: I address a question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services. After juvenile justice was transferred to the responsibility of the Department of Courts Administration, did the Minister's department demand the return of the Royleston Children's Court building? What is the Government's plan for this building?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I note that this question is the subject of a matter of public interest on the notice paper and therefore should be properly dealt with in that way.
LOOK AT ME NOW HEADLAND DEMONSTRATOR POLICE ARREST COSTS
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: I ask the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council is he aware that the District Commander, Chief Superintendent Ian Campbell, told the Coffs Harbour media that he intended to attempt to recoup police costs incurred arresting protesters who were attempting to prevent the breaking of the law at Look At Me Now Headland? Is it normal for police to attempt to recover costs from protesters arrested for trying to uphold the law? How will Chief Superintendent Ian Campbell recover these costs?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I do not know whether it is true that Chief Superintendent Ian Campbell made such a statement, but I will certainly take the trouble to find out. If I accept the hypothetical question put before me, obviously such a
statement would be inappropriate. The Police Service in no way performs its duties with an eye on the money that might be recouped by way of fines or other activities. It would certainly be completely out of the question for any police operation to seek to recoup its costs by the process of law, particularly as fines that might be imposed are paid directly into consolidated revenue and do not come anywhere near the Police Service in the first place. I would be very surprised indeed if Chief Superintendent Ian Campbell made such a statement. However, as the Hon. R. S. L. Jones has raised the matter, I will ascertain if he did make such a statement.
CAB WATCH PROGRAM
The Hon. J. F. RYAN: My question without notice is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Will the Minister advise the House of the success of the Cab Watch program, which was launched on a trial basis in the Blacktown police patrol last November?
The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: Cat Wash or Cat Watch?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The term was Cab Watch, not Cat Watch or Cat Wash. I thank the Hon. J. F. Ryan for his continued interest in policing issues in the western suburbs. He is indeed a real representative of the western suburbs.
The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: He is the only one the Government has got.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: Nonsense! Senator Bishop, a vigorous representative, is out there working very hard.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: Is she on your team?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: She has always had my ticket in mind.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: She is organising against you.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: Nonsense! I am pleased to advise the House that the pilot Cab Watch program in Blacktown has had enormous success in increasing the flow of intelligence to the police.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: She will stop you going to the Senate.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I do not want to go to the Senate. Honourable members may well remember that when I launched Cab Watch last year, the program was described as making taxi drivers the eyes and ears of the police. I am pleased to report that more than 100 taxi drivers involved in Cab Watch have kept their eyes and ears wide open and played a major role in local crime prevention programs. Cab Watch is the newest watch program developed by the Police Service in line with its community-based policing philosophy. The bestknown of these programs is Neighbourhood Watch, which recently received a welcome boost in the form of a $500,000 sponsorship deal with the National Roads and Motorists Association. Two other successful watch programs are Marine Watch and Rural Watch. All these programs aim to foster a spirit of co-operation between the community and the police. Their simple message is, "We are on the same team".
The success of this message is being reflected in two very rewarding ways: first, the approval rating of the Police Service has hit a record high of 85 per cent, according to the latest independent community surveys; second, the incidence of many serious forms
of crime in New South Wales has either plateaued or is in decline. Break and enters, for example, are down by 11 per cent. Honourable members will be aware that the aim of Cab Watch is to use taxi drivers in a crime prevention role. Taxi drivers who participate in the program are asked to keep a lookout for people wanted by the police, for cars suspected of being used in crimes and for missing persons. Taxi drivers are also asked to report to police any crimes or suspicious activities they witness or hear about in the course of their job.
Since the pilot program started in Blacktown less than six months ago, numerous offences have been reported to the police. The sorts of offences being reported range from serious assault to parking infringements. Honourable members will be pleased to hear that two notable successes include information as to the location of a person wanted for a serious break, enter and steal offence and assistance with the location of a suspect wanted in connection with a murder. In both cases, arrests took place within an hour. The number of Cab Watch members has risen to well over 100, and my advice from Senior Constable Peter Brooks of Blacktown police - the officer who developed the program - is that many more have expressed an interest in joining the program. Senior Constable Brooks also advised me that requests for details of the scheme have been made by the Australian Federal Police and the Queensland police. Once again, New South Wales is leading the way in community-based policing. The Taxi Council has also enthusiastically supported the program and intends to promote it actively throughout the State. I will continue to monitor the success of this program with a view to considering an extension of Cab Watch throughout New South Wales.
MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS PECUNIARY INTEREST DECLARATIONS
Mr ACTING-PRESIDENT: Order! Before the Hon. Franca Arena asks her question, I remind honourable members that it is hard to hear answers from Ministers. If honourable members wish to conduct meetings, they should do so outside the Chamber.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Does the Minister for Health and Community Services recall that I asked him a question last September inquiring whether doctors who refer patients to their own private hospital had any obligation to disclose their pecuniary interests to their patients? Does the Minister recall that he informed me that the Department of Health was drafting regulations to the Private Hospital Act to ensure that such pecuniary interests were disclosed? Will the Minister inform the House whether such regulations have been finalised and, if so, will he make them available to the House?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I do remember the question, and I remember saying I had some interest in pursuing those regulations. I thank the honourable member for reminding me about that. I shall find out exactly what has happened to those regulations and let her know.
FILM "HENRY - THE STUDY OF A SERIAL KILLER"
The Hon. ELAINE NILE: I wish to ask the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council a question without notice. Is it a fact that the extremely violent film entitled "Henry - The Study of a Serial Killer", which was banned in the United States of America, has been finally passed for screening in Sydney theatres? In view of the warnings of former coroner Kevin Waller, what action will the Government take under its own film censorship powers to prohibit this film, which is a chilling instruction film for potential serial killers on how to abduct, rape, mutilate and kill young women and how to avoid police detection by various diabolical means?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The honourable member raises a matter worthy of mature consideration by the community.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: The issue of its screening or the broader issue?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: With respect to the broader issue. The film has been passed for public exhibition in New South Wales. I am not sure whether that was done by New South Wales.
The Hon. Franca Arena: It has been cut considerably.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: It certainly has been cut. I am not sure whether that was done by the State or the Commonwealth, and I am not particularly interested in that at this point. There is evidence - and I do not put it any higher than that - to suggest that there may be a relationship between violence in our community and the level of violence portrayed in some of the visual media presented particularly to young people and the more impressionable adults. Clearly, there must be a balance between the rights of people to view material and the rights of the community to be protected from any adverse reaction from that material. I recognise that debate can proceed beyond the question of violence into the debate into pornography.
The Hon. Ann Symonds: But it is the censored version that has been released.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: Had the honourable member listened she would have heard me say that. Confining my comment to the question of violent material, as a father and as a grandfather I am genuinely concerned about the possibility - and I do not put it any higher than that - that our society may be adversely affected by the increasing level of extraordinarily violent material to which young people are subjected. One of the strange things I have noticed is that when young people watch violent material they do not appear to be horrified by it; they often appear to be amused. I find that reaction difficult to comprehend and it should sound a note of warning to adult society that possibly we are involved in something that should be looked at more carefully. I know that my colleague the Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith is trying to advance the cause of having this matter investigated - I say no more than that - to determine whether we are adversely subjecting our young people in particular -
The Hon. Ann Symonds: Is the Minister concerned about the violence of Stormin' Norman?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I did not really want to extend my comments to the Gulf War or to war in general. I should have thought that honourable members in this Chamber would be opposed to war. I know I am. I do not think there is a member of this House who is not opposed to war. No one wants war, for goodness' sake. I suppose the history of mankind has shown that wars occur, no matter whether we like it or not. I was not addressing the question of war. I shall not be drawn by the honourable member. I was trying to address a concern in my mind - and I put it no higher than that - that certain material in society today is explicitly violent and I am concerned about its impact upon young people. I do not know as an individual whether it has an adverse impact, but that is worthy of mature consideration.
PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING PRIORITIES
The Hon. ANN SYMONDS: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs. Has Roseville Public School jumped the capital works queue? What was it that persuaded the Minister to fast track
construction work at Roseville? Will the Minister review the needs of the children and teachers at Uki to ascertain whether their overcrowded demountables are deserving of fast tracking work also?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: The honourable member has a bright and agile mind and is often capable of interesting and original thought. Rather than taking a question asked recently in the lower House, she might have done better to have thought of a question. Whether one is talking about capital works funding or recurrent funding within the Department of School Education I assure the honourable member that there has been a significant departure from the practices of the past: all funding in New South Wales is based on need rather than crass political opportunism, which was the basis of funding during the 12 years of the previous Government.
THE ENTRANCE ELECTORATE SCHOOLCHILDREN WALKWAYS
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, representing the Deputy Premier, Minister for Public Works and Minister for Roads. Is the Government aware that, due to insufficient planning, there is a lack of protected walkways for children who may have to cross railway lines and main roads when going to and from school at The Entrance? What does the Government intend to do about danger spots, such as the Niagara Park railway crossing and adjacent road crossings at Lisarow High School, Narara, Holgate, Wamberal Valley View and Lisarow primary and infants schools? There has been a serious fatality on the railway line in The Entrance. That particular problem area has been addressed by a bridge that has been built but there are many other dangerous crossings that are used by schoolchildren daily. I hope the Government will address the problems associated with these crossings also as a matter of urgency.
The ACTING-PRESIDENT: Order! Before I ask the Minister to reply, I remind the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby that honourable members should ask concise questions rather than make statements. I ask the honourable member in future to confine herself to asking questions.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Obviously I do not know the answer to the honourable member's question. I will seek the answer from my colleague and no doubt provide an answer to her in due course.
BLACKTOWN COMMUNITY AID FUNDING
The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS: My question is directed to the Minister for Health and Community Services. I refer to a letter from the Minister's department early last month informing Blacktown Community Aid that it would receive a cheque for $11,574.50 as the support component of the special recession supplement program and to several assurances since then from his department advising Blacktown Community Aid that the cheque was in the mail. Since the cheque has not yet arrived, how does the Minister explain this breakdown in the administration of the special recession supplement program? When will the cheque be issued to Blacktown Community Aid?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I cannot explain the matter, nor can my department. I was angry when I was told that the cheques were not sent. As a consequence, the letters were brought to me yesterday and I signed them yesterday.
SOUTHERN AND EASTERN AUSTRALIAN ELECTRICITY GRID
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. Will the Minister inform this House what progress is being made towards the creation of a southern and eastern Australian electricity grid?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I thank the Hon. R. T. M. Bull for his question and commend his continuing work as chairman of my ministerial advisory committee. Honourable members will be aware that a National Grid Management Council was established by the heads of government at a Special Premiers Conference in July last year. The eight-member council is made up of Federal and State representatives under the chairmanship of Mr John Landels, the Chairman of the State Transit Authority of New South Wales and a former chief executive officer of Caltex. I recently met with Mr Landels and we had a most positive discussion. We canvassed a range of issues which must be addressed to ensure national benefits from the grid in a climate that does not unfairly penalise New South Wales, or any other State for that matter. The National Grid Management Council has been charged with the duty of encouraging and co-ordinating the development of the electricity industry in eastern and southern Australia.
In December the council unveiled at a public seminar here in Sydney a draft protocol aimed at providing the ground rules for a national electricity grid. At this seminar and follow-up seminars in other capitals public comment was invited on the draft protocol. The protocol covers questions such as access to the grid, the basis for user charges, the guidelines for competitive sourcing of new electricity generating capacity, power sales agreements and arbitration procedures. When the deadline for public submissions closed at the end of January, 34 had been received. I understand that these are now being reviewed so that a revised draft can be presented to the next Premiers Conference expected to be held mid-year. Unfortunately, there has been some speculation in the news media - notably the Sydney Morning Herald - that the grid management council is planning a protocol that is likely to stifle competition in the electricity supply industry, at the behest of the existing power authorities. I am pleased to advise the House that this has been strongly denied. A news release issued by the chairman of the grid management council reaffirms the council's commitment to orderly and equitable access to the proposed grid.
It was certainly the intention of the heads of government that there be open access and free trade in bulk electricity for private and public generators and private and public customers. Based on these public assurances by the grid management council, I have every confidence that the final protocol will indeed be fair and open. Here in New South Wales work is well advanced towards developing a spot market for electricity, which will provide a major spur to competition and can be expected to achieve greater efficiency among State power generators. Certainly Pacific Power regards access to the electricity grid with fair and equitable terms for both existing and new private generators as fundamental to the establishment of true market based arrangements for electricity trading. I assure all members of this House that I, as Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy - and indeed the Premier - will not enter into any agreements on behalf of New South Wales unless those basic provisions are included in such agreement.
DUCK SHOOTERS RANDOM BREATH TESTS
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Is the Minister aware that in previous years a number of duck shooters have been under the influence of
alcohol when beginning the shooting of ducks and other wildlife at dawn on the commencement of the season? Will the Minister ensure that police are on hand this year to randomly breath test shooters on the morning of the start of the duck season?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: It has not been drawn to my attention that at the beginning of the season duck shooters are inclined to shoot while under the influence of alcohol. Obviously that would be a most unacceptable situation. Indeed, it is an offence in law to be carrying a firearm while under the influence of liquor. I am sure that if the police, who are responsible for enforcing all aspects of the law, were aware that the duck shooters were inclined to become inebriated prior to shooting - which I would not have thought would have improved their aim any - they would take appropriate action.
ELCOM COALMINES SALE
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. When will the Minister advise the people of New South Wales whether Elcom coalmines have been sold, the price received and whether the mines are to be sold free of debt or the debt is to be picked up by New South Wales taxpayers? Is it correct that Liddell State mine was sold for a reported $6 million but the State picked up the mine's debt of $109 million? Why will the Government not release details of the Liddell mine sale when a successful tender was announced last year?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: This question in a different form has been asked before in this House by other honourable members. I inform the House that, as yet, the tenders for the proposed sale of the Elcom mines have not been fully considered and I have not received a recommendation from Pacific Power or from its board. As I have pointed out to this House in the past, commercial matters involving this Government are not subject to the freedom of information legislation, are of a commercial nature and do not have to be revealed in this Chamber.
ELCOM COALMINES SALE
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN: I seek to ask a supplementary question of the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. How much in consultancy fees was paid in association with the sale of the Liddell mine?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I do not regard the honourable member's question as supplementary, but I will seek the information.
FANMAC SECURITIES GOVERNMENT GUARANTEE
The Hon. E. M. OBEID: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services, representing the Minister for Housing. Does the Minister recall that on 11th December, 1991, I asked whether he could confirm that the securities of First Australian National Mortgage Acceptance Corporation Limited were covered by State guarantees and whether FANMAC Limited has enjoyed a triple-A credit rating since its inception in 1985? In view of the Minister's response that he would inquire into this matter, why has the Government provided a guarantee for a limited liability company which has no obligation to report to the Minister for Housing, the Treasurer or the Parliament, when the Government holds a minority 26 per cent shareholding in FANMAC Limited?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: From recollection I gave the honourable member a detailed answer, much of which related to the fact that all of these guarantees were established by the Labor Party when it was in office. Obviously this Government is honouring those guarantees given and written by the former Labor Government. As I said at the time, if I need to provide further information I will provide it.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, representing the Minister for Transport. Does the Minister have any information on whether the Pacific Highway Bangalow bypass will be completed on time?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I will seek the information requested by the honourable member and report back to the House in due course.
REDFERN POLICE TRANSFERS
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Will the Minister advise the House whether any police who were serving at Redfern police station during the filming of the program "Cop it Sweet" have been transferred to other areas? If so, how many have been transferred and where were they transferred to?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I cannot advise the honourable member whether any police officers have been transferred from Redfern police station as a result of the program "Cop it Sweet" but I should think that would be most unlikely. I believe that one or more of the officers who featured in the program "Cop it Sweet" have been transferred, but that occurred before the program went to air. I do not think their transfers were related to the program. Clearly, questions of discipline arising out of the program "Cop it Sweet" are the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police, and I would not seek to interfere in that process. I support the comments made by the Premier when he said publicly that the young police officers involved in this program have suffered enough public humiliation and that in his view they have been sufficiently disciplined. Again, that is a matter for the commissioner but I should hope that the commissioner would take some heed of the comments quite properly made by the Premier. It is my intention to visit the Redfern patrol tomorrow at the beginning of each of the shifts to speak to the officers in respect to the program "Cop it Sweet" so that they can keep the program and its aftermath in proper perspective.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: My question is addressed to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, representing the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing and Minister Assisting the Premier. Is it the intention of the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing and Minister Assisting the Premier to relocate the Bega racetrack, when only recently large sums of money have been spent on upgrading facilities at the track? Is it the Government's intention to establish a new track near the Bournda recreation centre? If so, will the Minister inform the House what provisions will be made for public transport for race-goers to attend meetings at the new track, and what is the estimated cost of clearing Crown land and establishing a fully-equipped country racetrack on a new site with stables and grandstand facilities?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I will seek that information from my colleague.
"TEACHER EDUCATION - ACTION PLAN"
The Hon. J. F. RYAN: My question is addressed to the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs. Will the Minister inform the House about the document "Teacher Education - Action Plan"? What is the aim of the document and how will it assist teachers?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I thank the honourable member for his excellent and pertinent question. Today the document "Teacher Education - Action Plan" to which the member referred was released.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: Do not read it.
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: The Hon. J. R. Johnson would find it most interesting reading. I believe that he, like so many people in New South Wales, has a real interest in ensuring that the training of teachers responsible for the education of our young children in New South Wales schools is of the highest calibre. Honourable members will recall that a year ago I released a discussion paper for consultation on the needs of future teacher training. After extensive consultation many recommendations were made, which I accepted, and the action plan is the result. Honourable members would be interested to note that I am in the process of establishing a teacher education advisory council, comprising representatives of all teacher training institutions and representatives of other relevant groups such as the Catholic Education Commission, independent teachers, independent schools, my own department, the Board of Studies and a variety of other important bodies. That advisory council will report to me on the needs of teacher training in this State and any imbalances that should be addressed. Its first task will be the implementation of the initiatives that I announced some months ago at the Macarthur Institute. If honourable members are interested in reading the action plan and the first report -
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: Send us the lot.
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: If the honourable member would like to request a copy, rather than yelling across the Chamber "Send us the lot", I would be happy to oblige.
STATE RAIL AUTHORITY PENSIONS
The Hon. A. B. MANSON: My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in this House, representing the Minister for Transport. Is the Minister aware that, as reported in today's Sydney Morning Herald, 250 former State Rail Authority employees have had their special pensions cancelled? Is the Minister aware that these employees were forced to retire on medical grounds, with no redundancy payment? Is it true that forced retirement on medical grounds has been used as one means to reduce the number of State Rail Authority staff by about 8,000 since 1988?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I am unaware of the matters raised by the honourable member. In view of the obvious importance of the question I will have it drawn to the attention of the Minister for Transport with alacrity.
COMMUNITY AID PANELS
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services, representing the Minister for Justice. Has the Government received three reports on community aid panels? Has the Government
refused access to these reports because they are unfavourable to the community panels, which operate outside all legal guidelines? When will the Government allow access to these reports?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I am pleased to inform the House that I am not aware of any reports.
COUNTRY COURTS FUNDING
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services, representing the Minister for Justice. How does the Minister respond to allegations by the President of the Law Society of New South Wales that country justice is now rushed justice with cutbacks in funding for country courts?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I recall that during the administration of the Attorney General's portfolio by the Hon. John Dowd a significant review of services in country areas was undertaken and a number of changes made. Those changes were welcomed by the Law Society. As a consequence of this review a significant reduction in delays has been experienced in country areas. The then Attorney General introduced a number of new initiatives which ensured people were able to appear before courts and achieve the justice to which they were entitled. The term "rushed justice" used by honourable member is one with which I cannot identify. People in the country will have their cases dealt with more quickly.
SATURDAY LANGUAGE CLASSES
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I ask the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs a question without notice. Will the Minister inform the House whether the administration of Saturday morning schools has been given over to the regions? Will the Minister inform the House why such a decision has been made without any consultation with the ethnic communities? Is the Minister aware that the Ethnic Communities Council and many other ethnic community organisations believe that students will be disadvantaged if the program is regionalised?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I should be interested to hear support for the assertion of the Hon. Franca Arena that many communities believe regionalisation will disadvantage the program. Quite frankly, 2,500 schools across New South Wales are seeking to manage their own destinies within a statewide framework. I cannot imagine why schools with such a proud tradition and enormous community support - as the Saturday schools of community languages, which, because of neglect of previous governments, State and Federal, to survive have had to be masters of their own destiny out of absolute necessity rather than choice - should feel in any way disadvantaged. That is absolutely beyond me. The honourable member may be interested to note that as recently as last week I attended the inaugural meeting of the Ethnic Schools Advisory Council - yet another innovation of this Government that seeks community input and advice. The Government takes advice from the council on the allocation of funds with regard to the teaching of languages other than English. If the Hon. Franca Arena has real concerns, perhaps she might take this matter up with Dr Peter Wong, the chairperson of that council. That would be the appropriate forum if her concerns have any validity, which I doubt.
SATURDAY LANGUAGE CLASSES
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister please answer the question whether Saturday morning schools will be regionalised? She has not answered the question.
The ACTING-PRESIDENT: I rule the question out of order.
SOUTH HEAD SIGNAL STATION
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Is it true that the South Head signal station is to be closed and its highly trained radar and radio communications staff replaced, for the purposes of recreational boating supervision, by coastguard volunteers at Millers Point who have no specialist training and provide no visual surveillance east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Does this raise important issues of safety in the Sydney Harbour region, and does it extend the concept of volunteer policing into marine navigation?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I well recall in the 12 years that I spent in Opposition -
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: It was not long enough.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: It was long enough to know that honourable members are fed this type of information by people in the fond hope that such questions as this will be asked in the House with a view to bringing to the attention of the Government or Minister concerns expressed by people working within the bureaucracy. When one deals with public safety, Ministers and their senior bureaucrats must be especially careful when making decisions affecting public safety. Embarrassing circumstances may arise if care is not taken. I have absolutely no knowledge of the matters raised by the honourable member. However, I say without fear of doubt that whatever advice the Minister for Transport may or may not have received about this matter - and clearly it has to do with public safety - it would be carefully considered advice. Any decision taken by the Minister in this matter - I am not saying he has - would be based on very careful advice. The specifics of the matters raised will be relayed to the Minister, because that is half the object of the question. However, I assure the honourable member that one does not act on matters of public safety without the most careful consideration by many senior and highly skilled members of the bureaucracy.
LOOK AT ME NOW HEADLAND DEMONSTRATOR PROSECUTIONS
The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Is the Minister aware that the solicitor acting for all those charged with offences arising out of the protests at the Look at Me Now Headland wrote to the police on 10th January outlining reasons why charges should not be proceeded with? Is he aware that despite a number of assurances of a speedy reply by Assistant Commissioner Cook, no reply has been received? Will the Minister agree that with all 267 matters due in court again next Monday, 16th March, the failure to even reply to the request of the solicitor is a serious reflection on the administration of the Police Service. Will the Minister agree further that the failure by police to provide the solicitor with any particulars of the charges has made the preparation of a defence extremely difficult? Does he concede that the handling of the whole issue by police will cause serious court delays and waste resources in an already overstretched system?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I do not accept at face value all the assertions in the honourable member's question. I am not in a position to specifically deal with the assertions and, therefore, an unable to deny or confirm any element of her question. I am concerned, however, obviously at the legal fallout, as it were, of the Look at Me Now Headland situation. Indeed, recently I had occasion to ask my senior officers to be especially careful that the matters be handled in a sensible and sympathetic way. I have not had from Assistant Commissioner Cook any feedback through the commissioner's office, but I will pursue the matter tomorrow morning with some vigour in light of the honourable member's question. I have asked the department to look specifically at the questions the honourable member has raised in principle. I am expecting a response from the department in the near future.
COMMUNITY AID PANELS
The Hon. ELAINE NILE: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Is it a fact that there have been encouraging results from community aid panels, with a large percentage of young people appearing before community aid panels no longer coming to the attention of the police for further offences?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I thank the honourable member for drawing that fact to the attention of the House. In light of the question asked earlier by the Hon. P. F. O'Grady, which by implication attempted to denigrate the community aid panel program, I welcome the honourable member's highlighting of the fact that this has been an extraordinarily successful program. In view of the interest shown in the program, at the next question time of this House I shall bring a detailed analysis of the success of the program to date. It is a very successful program for one very good reason: it is co-ordinated by the local chamber magistrate, local police and local concerned citizens, who are all volunteering their time and effort to assist young people who have come to the attention of police and have appeared before a magistrate as first offenders.
The panels are seeking to find out what causes young persons to be in such a position and doing something constructive so that young persons do not reoffend. The recidivism rate for participants in this program - which I cannot give as a percentage at the moment - is extraordinarily low. It leaves for dead similar programs about which I have heard. That is what upsets Opposition members. They hate to see volunteers involved in such programs. They would rather have fully trained, highly paid specialists involved. Departments object to the program because it does not employ a lot of fully paid bureaucrats. It involves people in the community who have a genuine desire to help the young - people who give assistance by providing their time and services. They are highly skilled people.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: Release the reports.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The Hon. P. F. O'Grady ought not come into this Chamber and try to denigrate the program.
TIMBER INDUSTRY (INTERIM PROTECTION) BILL
Consideration resumed from an earlier hour.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (The Hon. Beryl Evans): Order! It has been drawn to the attention of the Chair that there was an administrative error in the message from the Legislative Assembly on this bill in that the Assembly in disagreeing with the Council's omission of clause 15, that is, Legislative Council's amendment No. 9, had in fact agreed to an amendment to clause 15 as follows:
Omit "Director of National Parks and Wildlife", instead insert "Minister for the Environment" and omit "31 March, 1992", insert instead "30 April, 1992".
That amendment is shown in the fourth print of the bill on page 8 and in clause 14. Honourable members should be aware that the Legislative Assembly's message should have contained 12, not 11, amendments. Accordingly, I direct the Clerk to amend the record so that the motion of the Minister reads as follows:
That the Committee agree to the further amendments Nos 1 to 12 proposed by the Assembly.
Copies of the amended Legislative Assembly message have been printed and will be distributed to members.
Amended Legislative Assembly's message of 6th March.
The Legislative Assembly having had under consideration the Legislative Council's Message, dated 6 March 1992 requesting the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly with the amendments to the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill as set forth in the Schedule to that Message, acquaints the Legislative Council that the Legislative Assembly -
(1) Agrees to Amendments Nos. 1, 3 - 7 and 10 made by the Council in the bill.
The Assembly disagrees with the proposed amendment because the provision highlights the requirement to comply with National Parks and Wildlife Fauna Licences.
The Assembly disagrees with the proposed amendment because the clause amends the EPA Act to narrow the scope of the provisions of the EPA Act.
The Assembly disagrees with the proposed amendment because the clause provides a reporting mechanism on the operation of the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act 1991 but has re-drafted it below for quarterly reporting by the Minister for the Environment by 30 April 1992 instead.
(5) As a consequence of the consideration of the Council amendments, the Assembly has this day resolved to reconsider all the clauses and schedules of the bill concurrently with the consideration of the Council amendments and accordingly, the Assembly proposes the following further amendments in the bill:
1. Clause 3. After clause 3 (d), insert:
(e) to provide that the Minister for Planning is to be the determining authority for logging operations that are subject to environmental impact statements obtained by the Forestry Commission under this Act; and
2. Clause 6. At the end of the clause, insert:
(2) However, if the Forestry Commission obtains an environmental impact statement after the commencement of this Act in respect of any such logging operations, the Forestry Commission is not to carry out, or approve or permit, those logging operations unless the Minister for Planning has determined it may do so in accordance with section 8.
(3) For the purposes of this section, Part 5 of the EPA Act may be complied with before or after the commencement of this Act.
3. Clause 6A. After clause 6, insert:
Timetable for assessment of wilderness proposals in moratorium areas
6A. (1) The Director of National Parks and Wildlife is to advise the Minister administering the Wilderness Act 1987 in relation to the proposals under section 7 of that Act described in Schedule 1B by the date specified in that Schedule in relation to the proposal, but in any case within the 2-year period referred to in that section.
(2) The Director of National Parks and Wildlife is required to supply a copy of that advice to the Director of Planning.
4. Clause 7. Omit clause 7 (4), insert instead:
(4) If the Forestry Commission obtains any such environmental impact statement and the Minister for Planning determines in accordance with section 8 whether or not it may carry out, or approve or permit, the logging operations to which the statement applies, the suspension of Part 5 of the EPA Act in relation to those logging operations ceases.
(5) However, if the Minister for Planning has not made that determination by the end of the period of 3 months after the completion of the period of public exhibition for the environmental impact statement, the suspension of Part 5 of the EPA Act ceases at the end of that 3-month period.
5. Clause 8. After clause 7, insert:
Minister for Planning to be determining authority for environmental impact statements on logging operations
8. (1) The Minister for Planning is to determine whether the Forestry Commission may carry out, or approve or permit, logging operations on any land specified in Schedule 1, 1A or 2 in respect of which the Forestry Commission has obtained an environmental impact statement after the commencement of this Act unless the Commission decides not to proceed with the logging operations.
(2) The Minister for Planning may make that determination unconditionally or subject to conditions and may revoke or vary any such condition. The Minister's determination (and any decision to revoke or vary a condition) are to be made public.
(3) The Minister for Planning is not to make that determination until the Forestry Commission has complied with the provisions of Part 5 of the EPA Act relating to the public exhibition of the environmental impact statement.
(4) Before making that determination, the Minister for Planning is to obtain a report from the Director of Planning. The Director is to make public that report.
(5) When preparing that report, the Director of Planning is to examine the environmental impact statement, the representations made in response to the public exhibition of the statement and any submissions from the Forestry Commission. In relation to land specified in Schedule 1A, the Director of Planning is also to take into account the advice of the Director of National Parks and Wildlife in respect of the wilderness proposal concerned.
(6) The Minister for Planning must consult with the Minister responsible for the Forestry Commission before making a determination.
(7) When making that determination, the Minister for Planning is to take into account the report of the Director of Planning and any submission from the Minister responsible for the Forestry Commission.
(8) If the Minister for Planning makes a determination under this section:
(a) the determination is, for the purposes of Part 5 of the EPA Act, taken to be a decision of a determining authority, and that Act applies to the determination and the environmental impact statement accordingly; and
(b) the Forestry Commission is not required to comply with sections 112 and 113 of the EPA Act with respect to logging operations authorised by the Minister's determination and, for the purposes of any Act (other than the EPA Act), is taken to have complied with those sections.
However, paragraph (b) does not operate to exclude any requirement which might arise under Part 5 of the EPA Act to obtain a further environmental impact statement after the Minister's determination.
6. Clause 11. Omit the clause (expiry of Act).
7. Clause 15. Omit "Director of National Parks and Wildlife", insert instead "Minister for the Environment" and omit "31 March 1992" , insert instead "30 April 1992".
8. Clause 16. At the end of clause 16, insert:
(2) Immediately after the Forestry Commission obtains any such environmental impact statement, the Forestry Commission is required to forward a copy of the statement to the Parliamentary Librarian to form part of the Parliamentary Library's collection.
(3) The quarterly report tabled for an area for the quarter ending on or including the date specified below is to include a statement of the outcomes of the environmental assessment undertaken under this Act in relation to the area:
(a) Areas 1-4 - 31 December 1992.
(b) Areas 5-7 - 30 September 1993.
(c) Areas 8-10 - 31 March 1994.
(d) Areas 11-13 - 30 September 1994.
(e) Areas 14 and 15 - 31 December 1994.
9. Clause 17. After clause 16, insert:
17. This Act expires on 31 December 1994, except for sections 1, 2, 4, 8 (8), 14, 15 and 17.
10. All clauses of the Bill. After "Schedules 1" wherever occurring, insert ", 1A" and after "Schedule 1" wherever occurring, insert "or 1A".
11. Schedule 1A. After Schedule 1, insert the following Schedules:
SCHEDULE 1A - LAND SUBJECT TO PROPOSALS UNDER SECTION 7 OF WILDERNESS ACT 1987 ALSO SUBJECT TO MORATORIUM ON LOGGING OPERATIONS
Those areas of land the subject of proposals received and being considered, as at the date of assent to this Act, by the Director of National Parks and Wildlife under section 7 of the Wilderness Act 1987 and referred to for the purposes of the proposals as follows:
Mann (but not including that part of the land that is the site of the proposed Mosquito Creek Road)
Washpool (but only including those parts of the land that are within Glen Innes and Casino West Management Areas)
New England (but only including those parts of the land that are within Styx River Management Area)
Werrikimbe (but only including that part of the land that is within the Wauchope Management Area)
Barrington (but only including those parts of the land that are within Gloucester and Chichester Management Areas)
SCHEDULE 1B - TIMETABLE FOR ASSESSMENT OF WILDERNESS PROPOSALS REFERRED TO IN SCHEDULE 1A
Guy Fawkes 31 October 1992
Barrington 30 September 1993
Macleay Gorges 30 April 1994
12. Schedule 2 (as printed). Omit "specified in Schedule 1", insert instead "specified in Schedule 1 or 1A".
The Assembly proposes these further amendments because it -
•provides alternate proposals to the proposed Forestry Committee which was rejected by the Council;
•enhances the operational provisions of the legislation;
•provides for consequential matter in the schedules.
And the Legislative Assembly in requesting the concurrence of the Legislative Council in its disagreement from the Council amendments and the further amendments proposed by the Assembly in the bill wishes to emphasise that the proposed amendments are not in derogation of the principles incorporated in the bill and that it does not desire that its action be drawn into a precedent by either House.
Legislative Assembly K. R. Rozzoli
11 March 1992 a.m. Speaker
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [5.6]: Amendment No. 11 from the Legislative Assembly will provide for a schedule 1A. It will cover a number of matters, and it states:
Those areas of land the subject of proposals received and being considered, as at the date of assent to this Act, by the Director of National Parks and Wildlife under section 7 of the Wilderness Act 1987 and referred to for the purposes of the proposals as follows:
Mann (but not including that part of the land that is the site of the proposed Mosquito Creek Road)
Washpool (but only including those parts of the land that are within Glen Innes and Casino West Management Areas)
New England (but only including those parts of the land that are within Styx River Management Area)
Werrikimbe (but only including that part of the land that is within the Wauchope Management Area)
Barrington (but only including those parts of the land that are within Gloucester and Chichester Management Areas)
It would instructive for honourable members to have some knowledge of the values of these areas. I shall give a brief resumé of each of them. Guy Fawkes wilderness area comprises some 72,464 hectares. The outstanding attributes of this wilderness are as follows: it is underlain by metamorphic rocks, which have been revealed in a deep gorge cut by the Guy Fawkes River; the gorge is surrounded by a scenic rim of granite and basalt; and the flora reflects these strong geologic and topographic influences with the dry sclerophyll forest associations in the gorge and moister forest associations located on the flatter surrounding areas mainly within the State forests. In protected gullies of the easterly and south easterly aspect, rainforests have developed which are part of a vital migration path for many rainforest birds. There are over 20 rare and unusual plant species in the wilderness. About 7,000 hectares of Chaelundi State Forest is in the wilderness. It is part of the second largest area of virgin old growth forests in northern New South Wales. As honourable members would know, north Washpool is the largest area. These forests are probably the most important in Australia. They contain four to five times the arboreal mammal density of the next comparable area. The endangered powerful owl, sooty owl and masked owls, which prey on arboreal mammals, are also found in high numbers. The forests are also home to some of New South Wales's most threatened ground dwelling mammals, including the long-nosed potoroo, the Parma wallaby, the spotted-tailed quoll, the brush-tailed rock wallaby and the Hastings River mouse.
That is the first area included in schedule 1A. From the brief resumé I have given one can realise that it is a valuable region and should be exempt from logging. The problem is that even though it may be reserved until 31st October, 1992, when the assessment has to be made, under the administration of the Minister no guarantee can be given that the area will be reserved from logging thereafter. There is a good chance that even though the environmental impact statement will show it to be an extremely valuable area for the people of New South Wales and for wildlife, the Minister will allow logging in the region and probably the destruction of those wilderness values. That will further endanger the endangered species which live in that wilderness area. That would be a
shame. The Mann wilderness area, according to the New South Wales Wilderness Red Index consists of 40,730 hectares. That will be reduced by the proposal set out in schedule 1A. Briefly, the index states as follows:
The plant communities range from warm temperate rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests, heaths, treeless peat swamps and sedgelands on Gibraltar Range to eucalypt mallees, and dry sclerophyll forests on the radiating ridges, valley slopes and river flats. The wilderness is home to tiger cats, parma wallabies, rufous rat kangaroo, koalas, and rare birds including the rufous scrub bird and the yellow-tailed black cockatoo.
Again this is an extremely valuable area for wildlife. Unfortunately this Government, in particular the National Party, has no love for wildlife and considers that wildlife is dispensable when it comes to selling trees at low prices for very short-term jobs. The next area is the Washpool. This only includes relatively small parts. According to the Wilderness Red Index the size of the Washpool is 37,353 hectares. It is the home of the vulnerable and rare parma wallaby, the common planigale, and the rufous bettong. According to the index:
The wilderness also contains populations of the Eastern Native Cat, which is in imminent danger of extinction, and threatened fauna, such as the Long Nosed Potoroo and Brush Tailed Wallaby . . . The rugged Washpool landscape is developed on Ordovician an Silurian marine metamorphic rocks. Outside the national park, in north Washpool, the siliceous Drake Volcanic outcrops correlate with the best developed rainforest. Subtropical rainforests are intermixed with cool temperate rainforests in sheltered sites and on the better soils along most streams. Good examples of dry rainforest also are found. In lower valley sites, Brushbox and wet eucalypt forests of Sydney Blue Gum and Tallowwood dominants have developed.
As we have learned in recent months, this is an extremely valuable area. Regrettably, it seems likely that the National Party dominated government will allow the destruction of that wilderness area. The next region to which I refer is New England, but only including those areas that are within the Styx River management area. The total area listed in the Wilderness Red Index is 61,000 hectares:
The area contains a rich fauna which includes the rare spaghnum frog, platypus, tiger quoll, and koala. Some 113 bird species have been recorded in the area, including 24 of the 36 rainforest-dependent species found in New South Wales, the rare rufous scrub bird and sooty owl . . . the wilderness consists of a series of impressive cliffs, radiating ridgelines and intervening streams. The bulk of the area is composed of tightly folded metamorphic slates and grey-waces, overlain on the plateau by tertiary basalt and tuffaceous volcanic rocks. The New England wilderness is mostly wet, sclerophyll forest with some rainforest, including cool temperate rainforest elements. There is a demarcation of species composition at about 1,200 metres. Above this level, the eucalypt forest species are adapted to cold conditions.
There are four remaining areas, the first of which is Werrikimbe. The index describes it as follows:
This wet north coast escarpment country is home to ancient Antarctic beech trees.
These are the remnants of Gondwanaland and are ancient forests. The entry continues:
. . . at Mt Boss, Cobcrofts Brush and Fenwicks Brush, in Werrikimbe National Park . . . The Werrikimbe wilderness protects the headwaters of the Hastings and the Macleay Rivers. The Hastings River has cut its gorge through metamorphic quartzites and schists. To the east, the Forbes River runs firstly over granitic rocks that form a gentle valley but then steeply descends through volcanic and metamorphic rocks, plunging over numerous waterfalls . . . Subtropical rainforests occur along the watercourses of the Forbes River valley, with old blue gums and tallowwoods on the valley sides. The vegetation of dryer lower slopes of this valley is comprised of white mahogany, grey ironbark, red bloodwood and stringybark.
Once more that is a valuable area containing rare species of plants, including the filmy king fern. The index continues:
The wilderness is the stronghold of the Hastings River mouse and the rare rufous scrub bird. The Parks Service has recorded forty-six species of reptiles and amphibians, fifty-two species of mammals and over one hundred and thirty species of birds.
Once again, this is a rare and valuable area that is currently being destroyed by this National Party dominated Government which, unfortunately, is allowing logging in large areas of that wilderness. The Barrington Tops wilderness is listed in the Red Index as having an area of 64,271 hectares, which will be reduced considerably by schedule 1A. Again that area has antarctic beech within it, that remnant vegetation from the super continent Gondwana. The entry in the index states:
A number of rare and endangered animals are found in the wilderness proposal, including the rufous scrub bird and the Hastings River mouse.
If allowed to remain pristine, the Barrington wilderness would protect one of the largest areas of primitive rainforest remaining in the State. The Wilderness Red Index states:
Its pristine valleys contain lush subtropical rainforests . . . The heart of the wilderness is basalt plateau rising to over 1,300 metres. The plateau supports snow gum woodlands and sphagnum swamps. It is the largest sub-alpine ecosystem of this type north of Kosciusko. The wide range of ecosystems in the park provide habitat for the 215 species of birds and 53 species of mammals that have so far been recorded. Of the mammals, 15 are currently on the list of Australia's threatened species.
The Macleay Gorges are listed in the New South Wales Wilderness Red Index as Oxley. This is an extremely valuable area with a total size of 89,866 hectares. The entry reads:
The wilderness is home to the Macleay tortoise, a recently discovered species, and the rare mammal, the Hastings River mouse. The valley forests support koala, spotted tailed quolls, red necked pademelon, parma wallaby and swamp wallaby. The area has a high bird diversity offering habitat to tropical, inland, temperate and high altitude rainforest birds. Green catbirds can be seen with inland species like the little button quail nearby. The abundant wildlife supports a number of predator species, including the little eagle and peregrine falcon.
The Macleay and Apsley Rivers have developed deeply incised river valleys into Ordovician sedimentary, metamorphic and intrusive rocks. The park has 13 major waterfalls, including Wollomombi, the highest in Australia with a drop of 330 metres. A grassy eucalypt forest of broad-leaved stringybark and yellow box characterise the tableland, with silvertop stringybark growing on the escarpment edge. A low woodland of forest red gum and black cypress pine characterise the steep valley sides and majestic river oaks line the stream banks. Several rare plants are found in the wilderness, including an undescribed eucalypt, Hillgrove box, and the Wollomombi wattle. On the sheltered slopes are found dry rainforest dominated by shatterwood and native olive tree species.
Last but not least is an extremely valuable area, the Deua wilderness, which has a total size of 80,000 hectares and is also under threat from destruction by the logging industry and the Forestry Commission. The Federation of Bushwalking Clubs nominated the Deua wilderness in 1989. In contains more than 20 rare and endangered plants including also the rare long nosed potoroo, eastern native cat, white-footed dunnart, peregrine falcon and the Australian grayling which are found in the area. The Wilderness Red Index contains the following:
The extreme moods of river and mountain are defined by the many elements which form this wild landscape. The hills of limestone at the foot of the escarpment stand out blue-green with their covering of wattles. The conglomerates and sandstones of the high Minuma Range make a stark contrast to the rolling granite tableland on which the Shoalhaven River starts it journey north.
The wilderness core is drained by the Deua River. To the south, Woyla Creek is part of the headwaters of the Tuross River. While Diamond Creek on the eastern flank is one of the most spectacular creeks in the Deua catchment and contains a series of waterfalls varying in height from 10 metres to 50 metres in a rainforest lined valley. The wilderness area is clothed in a mixture of wet and dry old growth forests, ranging from sub-alpine to coastal communities. A walk across the tableland takes you through the naturally treeless swamps in headwaters of the Shoalhaven. On reaching the escarpment, however, you enter continuous forest belt of silver top ash, brown barrel and monkey gum.
All the listed areas are under threat, and may well be largely destroyed by the Government if it is allowed to remain in office too long. The last assessment of these wilderness proposals must be made by 30th September, 1994 - two-and-a-half years down the track. I hope that eventually a good portion of the listed areas will be preserved for ever for the people of New South Wales as wilderness areas and not be allowed to be destroyed for short-term gain. Returns from logging those areas would not come close to their value as retained wilderness to maintain the endangered species gene bank and for future tourism. Tourism is the main growth industry in New South Wales and will be worth about $25 billion by the year 2000. These areas should be maintained in pristine state so that tourists of the future may wonder at our amazing tracts of wilderness. The Forestry Commission should not be allowed to sell timber in these areas for almost zero return to the people of New South Wales. In any case, the Forestry Commission is subsidised by the State's taxpayers. The Government wants to rubber- stamp the bill through the House as quickly as possible. The Legislative Council used to be a real House of review, not a rubber-stamp, before Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile gained the balance of power.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: On a point of order. Under Standing Orders 80 and 81 I ask the Hon. R. S. L. Jones to withdraw his remark, which imputes poor motives on my part and reflects on my character.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: On the point of order. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is such a delicate flower that he cannot take any criticism; he withers at the first breath of adverse comment.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (The Hon. Beryl Evans): Order! I request that the Hon. R. S. L. Jones withdraw his remarks.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: I shall certainly withdraw the remark. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is such a delicate flower that he bruises easily.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The honourable member should withdraw that remark.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: I withdraw my remark. Proposed clause 7(5) requires the Minister to make a determination. If the Minister does not make a determination within three months, part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act will cease to have effect. The Minister may do nothing at all and the Forestry Commission may log regardless. The Minister will be required to be on his toes to get information in time to make a determination. No doubt the Minister, being a National Party member and dominated by logging interests, will say: "Go ahead, log the forests, destroy our wilderness. Who cares as long as we get five cents out of it? Who really cares about wildlife? Who really cares about endangered species?" The National Party does not care, nor does the Premier, who has had terrible problems with the White River Timber Company.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: Certainly not the watermelons, anyhow.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: Watermelons?
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: Yes: green on the outside, red on the inside.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: Needless to say the Australian Democrats are opposed to these amendments. We are sad that some members of the lower House caved in to the lies peddled in particular by the Minister for Conservation and Land Management about jobs at risk that were not at risk at all. No one has yet been able to prove that one single job is at risk, or that other than plenty of resources are available to the loggers. No one - neither I nor any Australian Democrats voter or supporter, nor the Opposition, nor the Government - wants loggers to lose their jobs. Our recall today to this House to deal with the bill is a political stunt; the amendments could have been dealt with last week. Instead the Government chose to play political games with people's lives. That is shameful. I am saddened that people who had been manipulated by the Minister for Conservation and Land Management had to travel to Sydney yesterday to demonstrate when they could have been working and earning money for their families. They all lost one day's pay.
The Australian Democrats oppose these amendments, which will water down protection for wilderness and other extremely valuable areas listed in schedule 1 to the bill. Unfortunately, the whole measure is a bit of a con job because the listed areas undoubtedly will be logged if the Government stays in power too long. Those wilderness areas are extremely valuable as wildlife habitat and for development of tourism in this State, which is and will be far more valuable than the logging industry. Those areas will be damaged and destroyed and species will become extinct as a result of the legislation and subsequent logging. The Forestry Commission will be delighted, having sought open slather for logging for several years, to have it now without having to pay heed to environmental laws. The Australian Democrats believe that the Forestry Commission should not be exempt and should submit to the environmental laws of this State. It is disgraceful that logging industry workers have been manipulated by the Government and made to believe that jobs are at risk. The Australian Democrats oppose the amendments.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [5.27]: A message has been received by the Legislative Council and a motion has been put proposing that the Committee agree to further amendments Nos 1 to 11, as proposed by the Legislative Assembly and now corrected to Nos 1 to 12. I join my colleague the Hon. R. S. L. Jones in stating that the Australian Democrats do not agree to the further amendments Nos 1 to 12 proposed by the Legislative Assembly. By way of interjection in relation to the previous amendments, the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy asked, "Where were the Democrats on Friday night?" I place on record that on Friday night I was in the office of the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs discussing blood lead levels at a school at Boolaroo and the possible impact of those blood lead levels on children attending that school.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby may make a statement about that topic later if she wishes but for the moment she may speak only to the amendments.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: Whether the Minister admits it or not, the amendments will create two laws for New South Wales: laws for the southeast and laws for the northeast. In the northeast of this State stopwork orders do not apply, nor do site-specific environmental impact statements, but in the southeast they both apply. That is illogical and will only lead to future pressures to also exempt the southeast of the State. I have just returned from that area. On Monday night I addressed the far South Coast
Labor Council, which includes loggers and representatives of the Forestry Commission. I am well aware of people's feelings in that area about job losses. I am appalled that job losses have never been quantified. I call on the Government to make an impact statement on exactly how many job losses would have occurred if the bill, as previously amended, had been passed. Such a study has never been made and we are dealing with fictitious figures. The amendments to proposed clause 8 make the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy the determining authority for Forestry Commission environmental impact statements. It is an interesting indictment of the Forestry Commission that it is the only statutory authority in this State that no longer has power to determine its own environmental impact statements. I do not believe that is a bad thing, and I hope that the Government will soon expand that measure beyond the Forestry Commission so that the Roads and Traffic Authority, the Department of Water Resources and the Water Board will no longer be able to determine their own environmental impact statements. I believe that is a step in the right direction.
However, there is a problem, as was pointed out in earlier debate. It has been stated by competent authority - and I believe that to be a senior public servant in the Department of Planning - that the department does not have the resources to undertake the required examination. If the department is given further resources, perhaps in his reply the Minister will explain what those further resources will be and when they will be put into place. Resources cannot be dragged out of the air; it frequently takes a long time before people can be employed to do the necessary work. Further, this part of the bill is to be extended indefinitely; it is not to be covered by the expiry date, which is the end of 1994. In that time a great deal of damage can be done, particularly in the wilderness areas and those areas that will be exempt under schedule 1 to the bill. But there is a further danger, because the bill is to be extended indefinitely and the original sunset clause has been removed.
The other problem is that the Minister for Planning is the determining authority for only three months after the exhibition of the environmental impact statement. If a determination is not made within that three-month period the process then reverts to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act procedure and to Forestry Commission determination. This time limit of three months imposes a most significant time constraint on the director in carrying out the examination, particularly of environmental impact statements for such a very large management area. Three months is a very short period of time to carry out a truly competent environmental impact statement for an area that may have serious problems because of its locale, its geographic area, and the possibility that endangered species may be living and making their habitat in that area.
The amendments, as I previously said, will remove the sunset clause. That would override the Jarasius case as it applies to the northeast. Therefore, although it is called Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill, it is in fact no longer an interim bill. The Jarasius case, for the benefit of honourable members who know nothing about it, found that a site specific environmental impact statement can be required after the management environmental impact statements are done, as they will be done under the Act. This is resource security by stealth and, as all honourable members are very well aware, the Australian Democrats, both federally and in this State, oppose resource security. It does not allow for changes in a project or new information to be subject to an environmental impact statement. For example, what if the northeast of the State were subject to major expansion in woodchipping? Under this bill there would be no opportunity for an environmental impact statement; there would be no opportunity for public comment.
Another significant problem envisaged by the Australian Democrats - this has been mentioned already, but I wish to emphasise it - is that stopwork orders under the Endangered Fauna Act do not apply to State forest or private land. As I told honourable members earlier, I returned from the southeast of the State where there is one particular area of private land which a developer is trying to log. Prior to the passage of this bill he was not in a position to log that area. I refer to the area surrounding Wallaga Lake. It is environmentally very sensitive but now, with the changes in the legislation, it will be possible for that area to be logged. I believe that there could be severe environmental problems and certainly there could be environmental damage to the lake because of siltation.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. The honourable member is now right off the target. Wallaga Lake has absolutely nothing to do with this legislation. I ask that she be directed to speak to the amendments before the Committee.
The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: On the point of order. I was merely giving an example of an area of private land. Previously it was possible to prevent logging on private land, but now that the legislation has been changed that protection has been removed. Therefore, I believe it is germane to the debate.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: I remind the honourable member that she must speak to the amendment.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: New schedule 1A, which applies to wilderness areas subject to nomination and consideration by the Director of National Parks and Wildlife, is incomplete. It is incomplete because it does not include areas that are designated for imminent logging and areas that could be placed on the World Heritage List. For example, the New England area is mostly unprotected. Mann is split in two and parts of Werrikimbe and north Washpool are exempted totally. Probably one of the most dangerous facets of the further amendment introduced by the Government yesterday is the removal of the third party rights. New clause 8(8)(b) provides the retrospective removal of third party rights to challenge an environmental impact statement. Retrospective legislation in itself is abhorrent to the Australian Democrats and certainly in this case I believe it was totally unnecessary. The Minister for the Environment is to make the report on the operation of the Endangered Fauna Act. It is quite obvious that he will be acting on advice received from the department. That will allow the Minister to edit and sanitise the report, because he will have control over it. The only concession that the Government has made is to accept the Australian Labor Party's amendments to clarify that the National Parks and Wildlife Service will prevail over Forestry Commission management plans and reporting requirements by the Minister under this legislation and the Endangered Fauna Act.
The Government introduced further amendments - the ones we are currently debating - which have caused grave concern. The problems that were inherent in the original bill - which were pointed out at length during the debate all last Friday and part of Thursday and in a lengthy briefing meeting on the bill - held just over one week ago at Parliament House - have not been addressed. Indeed, all that this bill will do is legitimise the Forestry Commission's 12-year history of illegal logging, which is something the Government itself had to admit at that briefing meeting held just over one week ago at Parliament House. Clause 10(4) will suspend part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Part 5 requires government agencies -
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: The amendments do not refer to that part.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: Clause 10(4) refers to this suspension. I
have dealt already with clause 9, which will remove the emergency power to issue stopwork orders. These are some of the most objectionable aspects about which we are concerned. The Minister for the Environment said he was going to set-up what he called a national resources management council. That appears on page 93 of Hansard of the Legislative Assembly of 10th March, 1992. The Minister said he hopes that there will be the permanent framework of a natural resources management council and he went on to say:
The Government hopes that with the greater progress being made by the Cabinet committee it may be possible to introduce legislation before Parliament rises for the winter recess. This will enable it to be considered by a legislation committee and perhaps allow it to be enacted early in the budget session with a view to commencing the process in the northeast forests of New South Wales.
But we do not know when. The resources management council will come into operation only in the future when Cabinet has made a decision. Honourable members do not know what its composition or powers will be. Yet the third print of the bill included the amendment that was moved by the Australian Labor Party in another place and that the Government has stated in the message before the Committee that it will not agree with, relating to the constitution and functions of a forestry committee. The sorts of people who will serve on such a committee are clearly delineated: a person with expertise in botanical science, a person with expertise in ecological processes -
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On a point of order. The honourable member should be aware that the matter she has now raised has already been debated. She is now speaking well beyond the scope of the amendments and is wasting the time of the Committee.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (The Hon. Beryl Evans): Order! I remind the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby that we are dealing with the amendments in the fourth print of the bill. She should confine herself to those amendments.
The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: On a point of order. This is the first opportunity we have had to debate amendments Nos 1 to 12, which are all new. Earlier we were informed that when dealing with these further amendments we would be able to raise our concerns about them. You said that earlier this afternoon, Madam Temporary Chairman.
The Hon. R. J. Webster: On the point of order. If the honourable member had participated in the debate on Friday night, obviously she would have had the opportunity to debate the matter of the forestry committee proposed by the Australian Labor Party and the Independents from the lower House. That amendment was deleted subsequently and, of course, was part of the earlier debate about the messages from the Legislative Assembly. To suggest that she has not been able to participate in that debate is wrong. She has had two opportunities and has not taken them. To attempt to take the opportunity now is obviously outside the scope of the amendments before the House and is out of order.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I did not give any ruling to that effect. Earlier I pointed out to the honourable member that she was debating the wrong amendments and that the amendments she was trying to debate would be dealt with later. She must confine herself to amendments Nos 1 to 12 referred to in the message from the lower House and not refer to the amendments that have been dealt with already.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: I bow to your ruling again, Madam Temporary Chairman. However, I believe it is wrong of this House to deal with these
further amendments in this way. Last Friday night the whole of the procedure with this bill was completed in less than 45 minutes. I believe that was a deliberate ploy on the part of the Government to prevent further debate.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! I ask the honourable member to debate the amendments contained in the message from the Legislative Assembly.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: I will conclude my remarks by repeating that the greatest concern of the Australian Democrats, and my greatest concern, is that this bill has no third party right of enforcement to ensure that the Forestry Commission meets its obligations under the legislation. There is no possibility of a true evaluation of the real effect of this legislation. The rushed timetable of the bill has removed the possibility of that evaluation. The bill makes no provision for microeconomic reform to facilitate the restructuring of the timber industry. It is only through restructuring that jobs in the industry will be saved. That is clearly and particularly documented by a Government-controlled committee of this Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee. Therefore the Australian Democrats oppose the further amendments that are now being discussed and we shall call for a division when the question is put.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [5.44]: The Call to Australia group supports the motion of support for the amendments moved in the lower House, that is, amendments Nos 1 to 12. We are facing a crisis situation, an emergency situation. Under our Westminster system, the elected Government - not the Australian Democrats, the Opposition or the Independents - has to take responsibility for resolving these types of situations. If that were not so, chaos would result - we are probably close to chaos at the moment. A balancing of the various interests is needed. The Government has made a sincere attempt to do that. That attempt can always be criticised and damned by others who are negative and critical. The need for jobs and the protection of the environment must be balanced. When there are strong views on both sides, consensus and calmness are needed in trying to resolve difficulties. Less heat and more calmness and thought are needed. The amendments before the House will have to be monitored as time passes because in many ways they have been produced in a crisis environment. That is hardly the best setting in which to draft legislation.
The amendments are necessary because the timber industry and our nation are facing the crisis of having one million people unemployed. It is difficult to say that these amendments are not needed, that the timber industry should struggle on, and that the workers should pack up and sell their homes and go elsewhere. They will not find work anywhere else. This is the last stop for many of the men involved in the timber industry. They have nowhere else to go if they cannot maintain their present positions. I know that in relation to these amendments the question has been asked a number of times whether the Government can prove that some jobs have been lost or how many jobs have been lost. Frankly, I have been dismayed by that. I hope that no jobs have been lost. However, I gather that some jobs have been lost and the mills are on the edge of a precipice. Unless something is done - and this legislation is an attempt to do something - the timber industry will go out backwards. The best way to assess that is to take into account the views of the banks and others involved with finance.
I have received reliable information that a number of timber workers cannot obtain loans because when they tell the banks they are employed in the timber industry, the banks regard them as being in insecure positions. Mills requiring additional money
to try to maintain or improve their production also have been knocked by the banks, which claim they do not know whether the mills have any future. That is the perception in the community, and that perception can rapidly become the reality. As I said earlier, trying to find another position after losing one's job is very difficult. I have evidence that workers have been forced, because of the closure of a mill, to seek other work. That means some of them are now driving 135 kilometres to other forest areas to continue their logging employment. The Call to Australia group cares very much about the environment, people and families, whereas the Hon. R. S. L. Jones loves trees and forgets people. I try to see the balance. He does not worry about the disruption to families and the chaos that is occurring right now. He says he wants evidence, and there is evidence that this is occurring.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: On a point of order. I ask the honourable member to withdraw his imputations on my character. His statement that I do not care about timber workers is unfair and untrue.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: On the point of order. I base my remarks on what the Hon. R. S. L. Jones has said in the House. If he cares about timber workers, he will vote for the amendments. I withdraw my remarks on the basis that the honourable member will prove them by his actions.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! Once again I appeal to honourable members to allow us to finish the bill in a pleasant and amicable way. I am known as a very passive person, but I am likely to become a very cranky person if members do not conduct themselves properly.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: As honourable members know, I have always restrained myself from criticising members personally. However, as honourable members know from the debate, other members have taken advantage of me.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Order! The member should speak to the amendments and address the Chair.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: Much family disruption has been caused. I should hope it would not be necessary for all timber workers to lose their jobs before the House responded in a positive way, as it is now responding by accepting the amendments from the other place. Strong evidence has been given to me that if something was not done and the amendments were not passed, towns such as Bombala and Dorrigo, which are dependent on timber, would become virtual ghost towns. Earlier the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the forestry industry does not know what is going on or what the amendments involve. I have had discussions today with representatives of the forestry industry and they seemed to understand. I do not say they are happy with every element of the legislation, but they indicated to me in a formal statement their support for the amendments.
They regard the legislation as a commonsense solution to the major problems facing the timber industry without jeopardising genuine wildlife protection laws. They stated that they supported the provisional legislation that will govern the largest environmental impact assessment program for forestry anywhere in the world, will run for two and a half years and cost about $10 million. They felt that the legislation provided protection for timber industry jobs reliant on sustained yield timber production; that there is provision for extra controls in proposed wilderness areas but without
excluding needed timber supplies in critical zones. The timber workers knew there would be a two-and-a-half-year breathing space for the industry, which has been plagued by bureaucracy and red tape for too long; that there will be an exemption of private property operations from the need for endangered fauna licensing, and that the amendments making up the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill provide a solid platform from which the industry can work in a bipartisan way for long-term forest resource, security for job creation, evaluating and export of sustainable forest products. The forestry industry is pleased but said:
It is a sad commentary on our society when over 4,000 honest, hardworking Australians have to give up a day's work to make a point to politicians, particularly to the ALP, the Australian Democrats and the Independents.
That should have been perfectly clear in the first place. The amendments will transfer a great deal of responsibility to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. Amendment 1 will make the Minister the determining authority for logging operations. Amendment 2 will require the Forestry Commission when it gets an environmental impact statement to certify that the logging will be related to the authority of the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. Amendment 3 provides a timetable for assessment of wilderness proposals in moratorium areas. Amendment 7 further explains the powers of the Minister for Planning in that regard. Amendment 5 spells out how the Minister is to be the determining authority for environmental impact statements on logging operations, and provides a great deal of detail. Clause 11, which seemed to confuse some honourable members, deals with the expiry of the Act, but that will be transferred to new clause 17. Therefore, the legislation will contain a sunset clause.
Clause 15 deals with the change from the Director of National Parks and Wildlife to the Minister for the Environment and the change of dates from 31st March, 1992, to 30th April, 1992. Amendment 8 spells out a timetable for the various areas from 31st December, 1992, to 31st December, 1994. Amendment 10 is a procedural amendment that will change certain numbers. Amendment 11 relates to schedule 1A, "Land subject to proposals under section 7 of Wilderness Act 1987 also subject to moratorium and logging operations". It spells out the various areas, such as Guy Fawkes, Mann, Washpool, New England, Barrington and so on. Schedule 1B spells out a timetable for assessment of wilderness proposals referred to in schedule 1A. The dates, which are spelled out, are from 31st October, 1992, to 30th December, 1994. Schedule 12 is a procedural measure to change the schedule numbers. For the reasons I have outlined Call to Australia is very pleased to support the amendments, and I hope the legislation will provide peace and harmony in our State.
Question - That the Legislative Assembly's further amendments 1 to 12 be agreed to - put.
The Committee divided.
Revd F. J. Nile
Mr Rowland Smith
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Legislative Council's amendments Nos. 2, 8 and 9 not insisted upon, and further amendments proposed by the Legislative Assembly agreed to.
Resolution reported from Committee and report adopted.
Message forwarded to the Legislative Assembly informing the Legislative Assembly of the resolution.
Motion by the Hon. R. J. Webster agreed to:
That this House at its rising today do adjourn until Tuesday, 17th March, 1992, at 2.30 p.m.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER (Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy) [6.7]: I move:
That this House do now adjourn.
NRMA EXECUTIVE SALARIES
The Hon. M. R. EGAN (Leader of the Opposition) [6.7]: I rise on the adjournment today in order to place on the record the grave concerns held by the Opposition about alleged rorts in the National Roads and Motorists Association. The Opposition believes that the 2.2 million members of the NRMA should know that they are being ripped off and that the "old guard" is paying executive salaries amounting to more than half a million dollars to one person alone. NRMA members should know that their membership fees, and the high premiums they are paying for their insurance
policies - which I might add increased by some 20 per cent in 1991 - are going towards propping up salaries and packages which are obscene by any decent standard. The chief executive officer of the NRMA, Mr Reginald John Lamble, receives a salary package of $550,000 for his services, services which involve maintaining the old boys' network and fighting tooth and nail to maintain a conservative stranglehold on members' funds. Worse than that is the fact that although his term of office is due to expire in July 1992, a secret deal - and, in fact, a deal which is legally invalid - has been struck to retain Mr Lamble beyond his "use-by" date, until 28th February, 1993.
The 2.2 million NRMA members should know that the deal was made in flagrant breach of the NRMA council's articles of association, in fact, article No. 104, which confers the sole responsibility for appointment of the chief executive officer upon the council. The elected members of the council had absolutely no knowledge of this mammoth deal, a decision for which they as a legally constituted body are responsible. The deal was stitched up, we understand, by the former president of the NRMA council, Mr Jim Millner, prior to his resignation last year. It is also known to the Opposition that the present executive of the council, including the current president, Mr Don McKay, has sought legal advice as to the validity of Mr Lamble's extension of employment. It is even more worrying when it is realised that the legal advice sought on this issue has come from the firm Abbott Tout Russell Kennedy, solicitors to the NRMA, and, more importantly, Mr Lamble's own solicitors. This quite clearly can be interpreted as an apparent conflict of interest. Independent legal advice should have been sought on this issue.
Neither Mr Lamble nor the present executive had revealed this apparent conflict to the council. We believe the apparent conflict of interest of the solicitors of the National Roads and Motorists Association should be investigated by the New South Wales Law Society. The secret deals do not end there. The movers and shakers, the big power brokers in the National Roads and Motorists Association, are conniving to have a six-month overlap between the time Mr Lamble's term of office expires and the new chief executive officer commences officially. If the offer to the new chief executive officer of $350,000 plus is correct, then ordinary motorists who pay their NRMA membership fees and take out insurance policies with the NRMA are forking out almost $1 million for two people doing the same job. The secret deals also extend to a big farewell pay-off for Mr Lamble, at members' expense, in the form of a first-class round the world trip so that he can say goodbye to his friends in other countries. In addition, the new chief executive officer will be given a fully paid four-week holiday. Mr Lamble's expected superannuation payout alone will probably exceed $3 million.
Even if unemployment were not at its present level, and even if this country were not in a recession, clearly the salaries paid to these individuals are obscene. They are even more obscene when it is realised that the ordinary, unsuspecting motoring public is footing the bill for this incredible largesse. Apart from the obvious legal problems associated with the extension of Mr Lamble's contract and the need for an urgent inquiry into the operation of a whole range of activities conducted in secret by the NRMA old guard, these salary levels are simply unacceptable. There have been longstanding problems with the administration of the NRMA relating to the conduct of elections, alleged rigging of ballots and the determination of the conservatives to hold the reins of power. It is high time that these questions were resolved once and for all, and the only way to do that is to have a full and open investigation into all allegations. I urge the Minister, representing the Attorney General, to institute an urgent inquiry into these serious matters so that the funds and assets of the 2.2 million NRMA members may be safeguarded. I ask the Minister to refer this matter to the Federal authority, the
Australian Securities Commission, for urgent investigation.
SURF LIFESAVING ASSOCIATION
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [6.11]: I wish to bring to the attention of the House the desire of the Surf Life Saving Association to have powers under the Local Government Act. The Surf Life Saving Association is world-renowned for the service it provides to the community, which is recognised by all levels of government in Australia in one way or another through various grants and privileges. Many Surf Life Saving Association specifications and rules are adopted at local government level. There now appears to be a strong case for the State Government, in conjunction with local government authorities, to give the Surf Life Saving Association the power to enforce water safety in new coastal developments and in recreation and amusement areas. Many volunteer rescue organisations are recognised as an authority, and though the State Government acknowledges the Surf Life Saving Association, there is doubt about its authority to patrol the beaches of New South Wales.
The Surf Life Saving Association requests that the following proposals be included in the new Local Government Act - proposals that appear to have been ignored by the legislative review unit: that Surf Life Saving New South Wales, through its surf clubs, be recognised as the rescue authority for patrolling beaches in New South Wales; that Surf Life Saving New South Wales awards, training and beach management practices be recognised as the only qualifications suitable for persons to work as beach inspectors and lifeguards; that surf lifesaving patrolling units - operating on weekends and public holidays and manned by volunteers - be recognised as a duly constituted rescue unit in contrast to a beach inspector or lifeguard; that under the Local Government Act Surf Life Saving New South Wales, through its club system, be indemnified against public liability - similar to the Bushfire Brigade; that surf clubs be recognised as a community service and have access to club houses on Crown land under required council criteria, and that councils waive building application fees, rates, water rates and all other associated fees in relation to surf club buildings; that Surf Life Saving New South Wales be recognised as the foremost identity for contracting to councils to promote lifeguards and their beaches; and when considering future coastal developments on beaches that a developer submit a lifesaving impact study outlining the risks on the beach and the plan to alleviate these risks at the developer's expense.
Under ordinance 52 the association wishes the patrol captain or vice-captain of the SLSA patrol to have similar powers to those of a beach inspector or lifeguard and that patrol captains, beach inspectors and lifeguards have powers to impound boards, windsurfers, surfcraft, and jetskis, if warranted. Further, it seeks powers to control these craft in the surf zone. The Act would have to define a surf zone or area which could come under this type of control. At the moment the Act does not define this area adequately. Also, the association is seeking to call upon police or council rangers to assist members with their duties and to regulate, control or prohibit bathing outside the bathing area - again, the bathing area would have to be defined - for example, the use of bathing appliances in the bathing area; bathing when conditions are dangerous, during a shark alarm or during any rescue within the bathing reserve; and to regulate the conduct of persons using the bathing reserves.
A further aim of the association is that Surf Life Saving New South Wales Incorporated, through its clubs, maintain annual statistics on incidence of rescues, preventative actions and infringements for weekend and public holiday patrols. Likewise, it seeks that Surf Life Saving New South Wales Incorporated or the New South Wales Department of Sport, Recreation and Racing collate all weekday statistics from all council
lifeguards on an annual basis. The association understands that at present no database of combined rescue statistics is maintained, that is, those performed by volunteers and paid lifesavers. Powers on the water to enforce the above regulations are also sought, and guidelines would be required to define boundaries on the water. As the local government legislation has not yet been introduced to the Parliament, I ask that the requests of the Surf Life Saving Association be taken into account when the bill is being prepared.
CORPORATE CAREER WOMEN VIDEO
The Hon. Dr MARLENE GOLDSMITH [6.16]: Yesterday I was fortunate to attend the launch in Parliament House of the video "Breakthrough: Beyond The Glass Ceiling". The video is a production by Women and Management, an important organisation for women formed in 1979. It aims to encourage the personal and professional advancement of women by providing a forum for women to share experiences, information and resources. The organisation is committed to supporting members in attaining fulfilment and prominence in their chosen careers and does a very good job, as exemplified by this video. I am taking this opportunity to bring this video to the attention of honourable members. The video is aimed at corporate career women aged between 25 years and 55 years already working in middle management areas. It is conceived as an equal employment opportunities resource, a management training resource and a guide to women who want to identify and achieve a career strategy.
Senior management is an area where women have yet to make a significant impact, despite the fact that women now representing more than 42 per cent of the work force and that in the past twenty years their configuration in the work force has changed considerably. The essential message of the video for women aspiring to middle or top management is that a career structure is something that they must be actively involved in for themselves, rather than expecting that good luck or good favour will provide them with the satisfying work they seek. The key notion is that the management of one's career is critical for achieving success. I have seen the video and the issues raised. It is an excellent example of a portrayal of these issues in a clear manner, and one that is positive. It shows women strategies for dealing with such things as the acceptance of promotion failure; the lack of planning to achieve recognition and success; the lack of recognition of need for appropriate training; the use of networking, the fear of failure and confrontation; and the need to recognise career turning points. These are some of the needs, fears and problems addressed in the video.
At the launch of the video, the guest list ranged from corporate executives, such as Maria Capsanis; media experts, such as Jane Singleton; to the Vice-Chancellor of Macquarie University, Professor Di Yerbury. Professor Di Yerbury had very positive things to say about the video and I was delighted that she could echo my own views on the subject. Several hundred women, as I counted them, attended the launch. It was a very exciting and positive event for women's development in our society. The fact remains that the glass ceiling is still a very real barrier for women to overcome. In actual fact, a number of different barriers inhibit women's progress through the management ranks: not having a mentor in the organisation to advise and help them progress; not being part of the old boys network; and having an unequal share of the child care responsibilities at home. All have had an adverse effect.
In order for change programs, such as affirmative action and equal opportunities, to be successful, a multifaceted approach is required. Women and Management, in providing educational resource materials such as the video, is meeting a very important need in this area. I congratulate Women and Management on a splendid production. It will be enormously useful. I would like to bring this group to the attention of the public
so that those who can use its material are aware of it. I also commend the corporate sponsors, which include the New South Wales Education and Training Foundation, the National Roads and Motorists Association, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, TNT Training, Nutri-Metics, Jennings Industries, Canon Micrographics, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Mercantile Mutual. Sponsorship of a course like this provides a very important means of getting the message out and of achieving results. I congratulate Women and Management on this splendid production.
Motion agreed to.
House adjourned at 6.21 p.m.