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Key Issues and Regional Profiles for the 55th Parliament

Key Issues and Regional Profiles for the 55th Parliament

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Background Paper 2/2011

Each Parliament that is formed after a State general election is different: party political numbers vary, new personalities emerge, Presiding Officers may change, as may procedures and voting patterns. At times these differences are more a matter of degree, especially when one political party has been in government for many years, as in the case of the Labor Party in New South Wales in 1941-65, 1976-88 and 1995-2011. In this State the major shifts in parliamentary and political life tend to occur when the Coalition Parties come to power, never more so than after the March 2011 State election. In this, the 55th Parliament since New South Wales attained responsible government in 1856, there will be no fewer than 44 new Members in the Legislative Assembly (31 Liberal; 7 National; 5 Labor; and 1 NSW Greens) and 8 new Legislative Council Members (3 Liberal; 2 National; 2 NSW Greens; and 1 Christian Democrat).

Just as personalities change from one Parliament to another, so do policy perspectives and priorities. If such issues as transport, health and education are the hardy perennials of State politics, other policy imperatives sometimes emerge and grow to an extent that they colour the political landscape for a time. Not so long ago law and order legislation was high on the political agenda, now less so. Contemporary issues include population growth and ageing, cost of living and housing affordability concerns, disability support, plus environmental matters, including water in the Murray Darling Basin. Regional issues are also high on the State's political agenda and, as background to this policy debate, included in this publication is a statistical profile of each of the 12 New South Wales regions.

The policy areas covered in the Key Issues and Regional Profiles Paper have been written with a view to providing Members with a summary only of the some of the current significant issues in State politics. Key policy challenges are discussed, the most recent reforms identified and in many cases the funding relationship between the States and the Commonwealth is outlined. In addition, hyperlinks are provided to key documents in each area of public policy.

This Key Issues and Regional Profiles Paper also provides an introduction to the work of the Research Service of the New South Wales Parliamentary Library, which comprises subject expertise in the areas of law, social issues, economics and environment and planning. In particular, the Key Issues and Regional Profiles Paper identifies the relevant publications of the Research Service over the life of the previous Parliament, as a guide to the nature and scope of our work. As well as providing briefing papers and other publications on topics of current interest for general distribution, the Research Service responds, in strict confidence, to information requests from individual Members. Requests for research can be made by contacting the Manager, Research Service, in person, by phone or email. 

Gareth Griffith
Manager, Research Service
15 April 2011