MLC Watch

This page records the output of the NSW Shooters and Fishers Party MLCs.  Much of the information is based on Hansard but other matters are also recorded.

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27 March 2013

NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. I note the announcement this week that the Government has created six new national parks and made more than 30 additions to existing parks in New South Wales since it came to office. How much land is included in the new parks, and how many hectares are involved in the 30 additions to existing parks?

MACQUARIE MARSHES NATURE RESERVE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra, representing the Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage. Under the Government’s 10-year master plan to rejuvenate the Macquarie Marshes, which was launched this week, what is the “more infrastructure” that will be developed within the marshes? Will the strategy being developed to restore the health of the wetlands include a specific plan to remove feral pigs?

MINING INDUSTRY

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER, on behalf of the Hon. Duncan Gay: On 28 February 2013 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question about a recent claim by The Greens member the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham about the social and environmental costs of mining. The Minister for Resources and Energy has provided the following response:

        New South Wales produces a diverse range of minerals including coal, gas, metallic and industrial minerals and construction materials. The total value of these products was valued at over $23 billion for the 2011-2012 financial year.
        Mining brings significant economic benefits and employment opportunities to people living in regional and rural areas of the State.
        An immediate cessation of all mining in New South Wales would have the following dramatic impact on this State:
      · Current and planned infrastructure and services including schools, hospitals, road, transport etc, would be impacted due to the loss of the State’s income from royalties collected from minerals mined. During 2011-2012 the New South Wales mining industry contributed approximately $1.46 billion in royalties to the State’s income.
      · The jobs and incomes of over 120,000 people will be in jeopardy. The New South Wales mining industry employs around 35,000 people directly and more than 85,000 people indirectly through the provision of both mine and non-mine related services. The majority of these jobs are in regional areas.
      · The minerals industry is a major contributor to exports from New South Wales. New South Wales mineral and metal exports were worth more than $21 billion in 2011-12, with coal being the single largest export by value from the State.
        · Coal is also the source of more than 80 per cent of the State’s electricity supply. The immediate cessation of mining in New South Wales would lead to massive ongoing blackouts not just in New South Wales, but in all States connected to the National Electricity Market as New South Wales’s coal fired generators represent 25 per cent of the total generation capacity in the NEM.
        I would be very interested to hear how The Greens and the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham intend to create over 120,000 new jobs to replace those directly or indirectly associated with the mining industry.
        I would also be interested to learn how The Greens and the Hon Jeremy Buckingham propose to raise revenue to supplement the shortfall in the State’s budget due to their desire to see New South Wales suffer a loss of $1.46 billion in royalty income.
MUNDARLO BRIDGE PROPOSAL

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 12 March 2013 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question about the Mundarlo Bridge. The Minister for the Environment has provided the following response:

        I am advised as follows:
            The Office of Environment and Heritage has no plans to raise the height of the Mundarlo Bridge.
            The Upper Murrumbidgee Environmental Flow Enhancement Project is a Commonwealth funded feasibility study under the Environmental Works and Measures Program. The Commonwealth therefore, is the decision maker on the project.
COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS BUREAUCRACY

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 21 February 2013 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me, representing the Premier, a question concerning the Council of Australian Governments bureaucracy. The Premier has provided the following response:

      I am advised:
      I am aware of media reports regarding Mr Kennett’s views on the Council of Australian Governments. The New South Wales Government continues to work with other Governments in a range of areas and forums to advocate for key national reform initiatives, including a simpler, more efficient national taxation regime. I will also continue to work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Council of Australian Governments to deliver real benefits for the people of New South Wales, and pursue a COAG agenda that promotes competition between the States and is developed with more State control.
GAME HUNTING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.39 p.m.]: Tonight I wish to share an opinion piece by a hunter that was printed recently in the Bega District News. For years and years firearm owners have put up with ill-founded, inaccurate and sometimes outrageous allegations made by a small section of the community, namely The Greens. For years and years firearms owners did not fight back. The time has now come when they are no longer prepared to put up with the rubbish and, thankfully, some media outlets are prepared to see a balanced argument. Mr Garry Mallard called his piece “The Colour of Intolerance”. He puts the case very well and is speaking for thousands of hunters across the State. He stated:

      The anti-hunting movement continues to assail responsible NSW hunters with highly offensive statements and descriptors born of nothing more complicated than cultural intolerance. While we may have come to expect this contemptible behaviour, albeit reluctantly, from ill-informed and bigoted extremists, I have to ask the question—is it acceptable from taxpayer subsidised political representatives?
      The Greens have become the standard-bearers of cultural intolerance in NSW.
      Failure to agree with the Green point of view can result in victimisation, public ridicule, misrepresentation and grossly offensive abuse, not only under the seal of Parliamentary Privilege, but also on the street, in the media and in party propaganda.
      NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge thinks nothing of referring to hunters as “weekend warriors” and “thrill killers”, associating them all with drunkenness, gross cruelty and all manner of anti-social behaviour.

Mr Mallard then hits the nail on the head. He stated:

      This is highly offensive to people who strive, responsibly and in accordance with the law, to preserve a cultural … practice of thousands of years standing. The fact that the Greens may not approve of it, does not make it any less so.

Mr Mallard says he does not question the right of citizens to express their views about hunting when it is done respectfully. He then stated, and I agree with him:

      What is totally unacceptable is the use of emotive and offensive epithets aimed at whipping-up community hatred for a long standing cultural practice that the Greens and their supporters are intolerant of.

What The Greens do not want to understand is that many people consider hunting to be part of their cultural identity and because The Greens do not understand this they decide it must be wrong. Mr Mallard’s final paragraph will also strike a chord with many. He stated:

      Responsible, law-abiding hunters in this community are tired of the appalling and often tax-payer subsidised abuse meted out to them by the Greens and their cohort.

To that, I say: Hear, hear! In concluding, I acknowledge that the efforts of Mr David Shoebridge in the past few months to attack shooters and hunters has had an impact. What his continuous harping did was see the Shooters and Fishers Party win one more seat in the West Australian election and go within a whisker of a second. Unfortunately, since that result two weeks ago, Mr David Shoebridge has been saying nothing in relation to the Shooters and Fishers Party. It is a real problem now because I am not getting as many new members or donations as I was getting while he was at it.

26 March 2013

ELECTION FUNDING, EXPENDITURE AND DISCLOSURES AMENDMENT (ADMINISTRATIVE FUNDING) BILL 2013

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.58 a.m.]: I speak on behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party in debate on the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment (Administrative Funding) Bill 2013. At the outset, I say it is pretty obvious that we support the bill. It is a very good bill. For the record, I have to correct the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who said that all parties had participated since the original public funding model was introduced by the Wran Government. That is not the case. Since 1995, when the Shooters and Fishers Party came into this place, we alone were unable to access that funding because we did not have any members standing for lower House seats. The funding model was measured on the numbers in the lower House so we missed out. It was a bone of contention.

I recall sitting on an early committee of inquiry into this matter and the Shooters and Fishers Party made a representation to the committee to that effect. We have come a long way since then. The Election Funding, Expenditures and Disclosures Amendment (Administrative Funding) Bill 2013 implements the recommendations made last year by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, which inquired into the administrative funding of minor parties. The Act has been amended on a number of occasions since 2008 because of concerns that undue influence may be exerted on political parties through donations. Ms Lee Rhiannon was particularly concerned about donations made by property developers.

The bill does a number of things. It increases the amount of annual payment for which a registered party that has members who are elected members of the State Parliament is eligible for administrative expenses incurred. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has enumerated those items. Schedule 1 [3] provides that parties and elected members eligible for annual payments for administrative expenses may receive quarterly payments in respect of the first three-quarters of the year. No doubt there are shortcomings in the bill. One shortcoming that members of the Shooters and Fishers Party discussed was whether it was helpful to make four applications a year and to have four sets of audits done. At the end of the day, it probably does not cost a small party all that much more to have four separate audits and four separate disclosure returns than it does to have one at the end of the year.

The Shooters and Fishers Party has been consistent on the issue of political donations. We do not believe limiting or banning political donations was the correct way forward. In the early committees of inquiry we constantly made the point that public funding of political parties was not in the best interests of the development of the body politic. However, as someone mentioned earlier in this debate, once a law is in place we either live with it and make the best of it or we make an attempt to amend it or influence the Government to amend it. The Shooters and Fishers Party has made submissions to both inquiries. My colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak sat on the joint standing committee that examined this issue.

Historically, there is no question that the people of New South Wales wanted the rorting to stop. We contended that they were not, at the same time, seeking historic changes that would undermine our democratic process or the ability of people with similar views and beliefs to aggregate those beliefs by way of political donations to a party that would best represent the collective interest. However, we are where we are. We contend that in 2010 the Labor Government and in 2011 the Coalition Government made changes to the Act, and those changes inadvertently and adversely impacted on all political parties that now have to absorb a significant increase in compliance and administrative costs.

When applied to minor parties that do not have the same resources as the major parties, the increased compliances and administrative costs represent a relatively large increase in the compliance costs relative to their revenue base. Major parties such as the Coalition or Labor parties can spread their resources and expenditure across all their members. Minor parties do not have that luxury. Administrative expenditure items are necessary because of the requirements of the Act, regardless of the size of the political party. I could say more but I do not think it would be helpful. I congratulate the Government on acting on the recommendations of the inquiry. We support the bill.

NSW POLICE FORCE FRONT-LINE POLICE NUMBERS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. I refer to the Government’s plans to merge local area commands over the next two years in an attempt to return more police officers to the beat and to improve the engagement between the NSW Police Force and local communities. Is the Minister aware of research undertaken in England which found that police officers spend just eight minutes in every hour on front-line duties; that is, on a 12-hour shift an officer will spend one hour and 25 minutes visible and available? Has any similar study been undertaken in New South Wales indicating that our police officers are more visible and available than their English counterparts?

HAWKESBURY-NEPEAN VALLEY FLOOD MANAGEMENT

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of calls by members of Hawkesbury City Council to amend the nearly 60-year-old legislation that prevents the release of water from Warragamba Dam until it is full—that is, at 100 per cent? Will the Government amend the legislation to mitigate against large-scale floods in the Hawkesbury Valley in the future?

ORANGE WATER SUPPLY

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 28 February 2013 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question about the sustainability and efficiency of the plan to pump water from the Macquarie River to supply Orange. The Minister for the Environment has provided the following response:

        The Office of Environment and Heritage [OEH] made a submission on the environmental assessment for the Macquarie River to Orange pipeline.
        The Office of Environment and Heritage’s role in this matter is advisory only. The decision on whether the assessment is adequate is a matter for the consent authority, which in this instance is the Planning Assessment Commission.
POLICE RADIO SCANNER APP

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 19 February 2013 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question concerning the security of licensed firearm owners’ personal details on the police radio network. I provide the following response:

        The NSW Police Force has advised me:
          The NSW Police Force is aware of the ability of members of the public to monitor unencrypted transmissions and has instituted procedures to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information, including the personal details of licensed firearms owners. Current police procedures include directions to police to be mindful not to divulge information on the safe storage location of firearms when conducting inspections. These directions have been recently reinforced.
GUN OWNERS DETAILS

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 19 February 2013 the Hon Robert Brown asked me a question about allegations of compromised personal details of licensed firearms owners. I provide the following response:

        The NSW Police Force has advised me:
            In December 2010 an Internal Police Complainant raised concerns regarding the accessibility of firearms information within the force. This matter was finalised and the complainant advised of the police response.
            The complainant then made further complaints directly to the Police Integrity Commission in October 2011 and to a member of Parliament in September 2012. In response to representations made by the member of Parliament the complainant was contacted directly by A/Deputy Commissioner of Police, Specialist Operations, and the matter was referred to the Professional Standards Command.
            In January 2013 the Police Integrity Commission referred its original complaint back to the Police Force for further action. The complainant has since been contacted by Professional Standards Command, and will be contacted further as the matter is progressed.
            The NSW Police Force has separately undertaken several measures to improve the security of firearms information.

25 March 2013

GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE NO. 5
Report: Budget Estimates 2012-2013

Debate resumed from 19 February 2013.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.05 p.m.]: I am pleased to speak in debate on budget estimates hearings conducted by General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 on 8, 11 and 12 October 2012. I thank the committee secretariat, in particular Madeleine and Rhia, with whom I deal on a regular basis, for their assistance to the inquiry process. I thank the committee members and other members who attended the hearings for their cooperation in the conduct of those hearings. I thank all the Ministers and their departmental staff for their attendance and the information they provided at the hearings. Most committee chairs go on record to thank Hansard. General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 conducts a lot of hearings all over the State, which means Hansard staff are dragged all over the State. They do no less a job in budget estimate hearings, which are held in Sydney, than they do elsewhere in the State, and I thank them very much.

General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 is a good, cooperative committee. I am not sure whether it was General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 under the chairmanship of the Hon. Ian Cohen that started the process whereby government members are happy to allow their questions to go unasked to give the Opposition and crossbench members more time, but that certainly helps the committee to try to get some relevant answers. It is hard enough sometimes to get answers out of some Ministers, but when we have little time in which to do so it is made doubly hard.

General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 has a reputation for stability and cooperative hearings. During budget estimates the committee held five hearings and examined the portfolio areas of the Environment, Heritage, Primary Industries, Small Business, Local Government, the North Coast, Fair Trading, Resources and Energy, Special Minister of State and the Central Coast. Committees, by their very nature, sometimes provide for robust debate and questioning. I believe that nobody takes too much personally when appearing before such hearings, particularly the more experienced Ministers.

I wish to briefly note some of the portfolios that the committee inquired into, which were broad-ranging. In the examination of Local Government and the North Coast we looked at a number of issues. Of particular interest were the questions and answers on pecuniary interests of local government councillors. When dealing with the North Coast, those dreaded local environmental plans with environmental overlays were the subject of some close questioning. In relation to Fair Trading, the committee covered issues such as strata and community title reform, including the strata scheme discussion paper, residential parks and nursing home contracts—those contracts have been the subject of some recent evening television media—and strategies to combat travelling conmen and scammers.

In relation to Resources and Energy, Special Minister of State and the Central Coast, the hot topic was coal seam gas, mining licence renewals, the Boggabri and Fullerton Cove mining protests, and energy supply reliability. I believe there may be more to come on energy supply reliability in the near future. Issues were raised during the committee’s examination of the Central Coast regional transport master plan, and The Landing development project in particular was pursued vigorously by the Opposition and the crossbench.

Generally speaking, the issues were canvassed adequately. The committee did not seek to call Ministers back for supplementary questions. That could have had something to do with the fact that Government members decided to forgo their time for questions, thus allowing the Opposition and crossbenchers a little more time. On behalf of the committee, I thank the Ministers and their departmental staff who assisted the committee during these hearings. I am grateful to my fellow committee members and the secretariat staff for their diligent support during the inquiry. I will leave the detailed discussions on some of the questions and answers to other members to flesh out, and I am sure they will have plenty to say. I commend the report to the House.

21 March 2013

COAL SEAM GAS EXPLORATION INDUSTRY

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware of a report tabled in the Queensland Parliament on coal seam gas operations and that the Queensland Government says it shows there is no link between the industry and health concerns? What relevance does the report have for the coal seam gas industry in New South Wales?

MINISTERIAL OFFICE ACCOMMODATION

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier. Given the Premier’s current and expensive search for more office space for Ministers and ministerial staff in the central business district, and given the traffic chaos in Sydney again today caused by yet another closure of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel—2½ hours to travel from Rydalmere to Parliament House—will the Premier give consideration to shifting the Government, and indeed the Parliament, to a greenfield site at, perhaps, Parramatta, Pemulwuy or, if someone is building an airport there, even Badgerys Creek?

NSW POLICE FORCE CRIME SCENE UNIT MERGERS

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 19 March 2013 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question in relation to crime scene examiner teams at Bass Hill and Penrith. I can now advise the House of the following information. I am advised by the NSW Police Force that officers from both Penrith and Bass Hill crime scene sections are being relocated to Pemulwuy, as the Hon. Robert Brown indicated. Pemulwuy is a modern, state-of-the-art forensic facility. In direct comparison, I am advised that the Penrith premises are now outdated in their design and function. Similarly, the Bass Hill crime scene examination room is also outdated.

Consultation with managers and supervisors occurred within the Crime Scene Operations Branch over a period of 12 months in the lead-up to relocation. I am advised by police that there is sufficient space at Pemulwuy to accommodate staff. Centralising resources within one location ensures that access is available to the most state-of-the-art forensic equipment in a cost-effective manner. The Pemulwuy location at Greystanes provides easy access to a number of major arterial motorways. The relocation of personnel from Bass Hill to the modern, state-of-the-art forensic facility at Pemulwuy ensures that the best technology and resources are being used to deliver results to the people of New South Wales.

This Government has focused on clearing up the mess that the Labor Government left in the area of forensic services. We have eliminated the huge backlogs in DNA and fingerprints that the previous Government left unaddressed, and we are ensuring that forensic investigation in New South Wales has fast and effective turnaround times. The Forensic Services Group has moved from on-call deployment to on-shift 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring that the focus is on serving victims of crime in New South Wales. The NSW Police Force, together with NSW Health’s Forensics and Analytical Science Service, is achieving remarkable results due to business re-engineering using advanced technology such as robotics and new forensic practices.

20 March 2013

WARRUMBUNGLE NATIONAL PARK BUSHFIRES

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of claims by the Warrumbungle Property Owners Alliance that the recent bushfire in the Warrumbungle National Park was “avoidable” and:

… the people in charge of the National Park were slow off the mark. They should not have left a fire burning, especially when there was a catastrophic fire warning out for the next day”?
Has the Government investigated the cause of this fire and the conduct of the firefighting? Will the Government be making a report and will it be made available to the public?

EVIDENCE AMENDMENT (EVIDENCE OF SILENCE) BILL 2013

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE AMENDMENT (MANDATORY PRE-TRIAL DEFENCE DISCLOSURE) BILL 2013

Second Reading

 Question—That these bills be now read a second time—put.

The House divided.

Ayes, 21

Mr Ajaka
Mr Blair
Mr Borsak
Mr Brown
Mr Clarke
Ms Cusack
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Miss Gardiner
Mr Gay
Mr Green
Mr Khan
Mr Lynn
Mr MacDonald
Mrs Maclaren-Jones
Mr Mason-Cox
Mrs Mitchell
Mrs Pavey
Mr PearceTellers,
Mr Colless
Dr Phelps

Noes, 19

Ms Barham
Mr Buckingham
Ms Cotsis
Mr Donnelly
Ms Faehrmann
Mr Foley
Dr Kaye
Mr Moselmane
Mr Primrose
Mr Roozendaal
Mr Searle
Mr Secord
Ms Sharpe
Mr Shoebridge
Mr Veitch
Ms Westwood
Mr WhanTellers,
Ms Fazio
Ms Voltz

Question resolved in the affirmative.

  FIREARMS OWNERSHIP

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [9.46 p.m.]: Tonight I highlight a report that was mostly ignored by the mainstream media when it was released. The work was done by the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting. I commend Dr Samara McPhedran for her thorough analysis of the situation in this State in so far as it relates to guns and to gun crime. It was the first Australian study to examine levels of legal firearm ownership in relation to levels of firearm crime. It may surprise some but the research shows that, while there are more guns in New South Wales than there were a decade ago, there is less gun crime. Although the number of legally owned firearms has increased substantially over the past 10 years, firearm crime has decreased. The important word that is worthy of note is the word “legally”.

Legitimate hunters and shooters obey the law, do their firearms tests and get their licences. They are legal firearms owners, as opposed to the crooks who do not do any of those things. Dr McPhedran’s study found that the numbers of murders with a firearm, shoot with intent to murder and armed robbery with a firearm offences have all declined steadily, despite ongoing rises in legal firearms ownership. Legal firearm ownership is increasing because more and more people are taking up shooting sports, and the number of people applying for licences has been going up over the past few years. Not every person thinks as The Greens and the anti-gun lobby do; many people are proud to take up the sport of shooting. Dr McPhedran says that typically Australian firearms legislation has been based on the view that “fewer guns equals less crime”, which assumes that reducing the number of legally owned guns in society will lead to reductions in firearms misuse. Her study findings suggest that there is little, if any, relationship between the number of legally owned guns in New South Wales and the levels of gun crime. In other words, she says that more guns does not mean more crime.

The study found no evidence that the rising levels of legal firearm ownership is linked to increasing levels of firearm theft. In fact the opposite was observed, with ongoing declines in theft occurring over a period of years. Dr McPhedran concludes that targeted law enforcement interventions that disrupt criminal activity, along with community-based crime prevention initiatives, may be the most appropriate and effective focus for violence reduction strategies. She also points out that in respect of firearm theft, which represents one among a range of documented sources of firearms used in violent crime, there is no evidence that rising levels of legally owned firearms are linked with increasing levels of theft. Indeed the opposite was observed, with declines in deaths occurring over a period of years, which may indicate that current firearms safe storage requirements mandated by law, coupled with ongoing secure storage awareness programs run by firearms users associations and industry partners, have impacted on the incidence of firearms theft in this State.

So where do firearms being used in crime come from? An analysis of 3,186 firearms seized by Australian law enforcement agencies suggested that the majority of firearms seized were prohibited firearms that had not been handed in during the 1996 firearms buyback or were from unknown origin and were unable to be traced because of the lack of information. As for the current spate of drive-by shootings and other shootings in Sydney, Dr McPhedran says that preliminary indicators suggest that many of the firearms being used were illegally imported handguns and nothing to do with firearm owners abiding by the law.

 LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL PLANS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.00 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about the worrying trend whereby primary producers, generally those with smaller properties, are being ground down by aspects of local environmental plans—particularly the environmental overlays. I have received lots of correspondence on this issue. However, I received one recently from a landholder that I would like to share with members to show just how hard and ridiculous it has become for this landholder and fellow graziers to make a living off their own land. He concedes that his property is in the heartland of national park and greenie country—the Palerang local government area at Braidwood—so members can guess what is happening.

This grazier attended a recent meeting in Braidwood to protest the Palerang draft local environmental plan. In fact, about 30 farmers were motivated enough to attend the meeting and they represented about 30,000 acres of productive farmland in the Palerang local government area. Unfortunately, they only represent at most 50 votes, and are out-voiced by what could only be described as a conflux of blow-ins seeking more of a lifestyle change and thus telling farmers how to farm their land or, to be more precise, how not to farm their land. The grazier says that the Palerang draft local environmental plan, in any terms one could describe, is flawed, inaccurate, inappropriate, inconsistent and confusing.

I am told that even the mayor conceded in the meeting that the local environmental plan required extensive review and reconsideration, but then would not or could not offer any tangible suggestions on how the document could be corrected or reworked, nor would he agree to delay the submission cut-off date to allow the many farmers who had not been advised by council of the proposed changes to the zoning of their lands to have their say. The farmer is concerned that the Palerang Council draft local environmental plan, if gazetted as it currently stands, will result in the local government area losing thousands of acres of productive land, locked into highly controlled environmental zones administered by council. It is nothing more than alienation of private property rights.

Apparently, if the plan is adopted, in future farmers will first need to submit development applications to council and receive approval before they can plough, slash weeds, bury dead stock, introduce stock to new grazing areas, fertilise and carry out pasture improvement and many other activities basic to primary production. While they can apply for a development application, there is no guarantee that such an approval will or will not be forthcoming—and at extensive cost, I might add. I am told that when the mayor was asked how the council had managed to categorise and rezone lands so extensively without anyone ever having seen a council officer actually inspecting the land he replied that it was all too hard and administratively difficult to physically inspect the land and let everyone know what was going on so council decided to work from aerial photographs and advise only those landholders who were affected by the highest conservation zoning—E3.

If true, it hardly sounds like meaningful consultation, yet the council at Palerang has been working on this draft local environmental plan for about five years. Before the current wave of local environmental plans were brought in the Australian farming community had been losing on average 300 farmers a month over the last 30 years, and such onerous restrictions cannot do anything but accelerate that trend. Local environmental plans cannot be allowed to lead to cuts in food production, reduced rural employment, and depressed farming community economies or lower rural investment. It is time that the Government stood up for farmers and stopped pandering to The Greens, radical environmental groups or any pop-up community action group of tree changers and inner-city retirees wanting to tell farmers how to farm their land. The farmers do not deserve to be a threatened species but under some of these local environmental plans they will be.

19 March 2013

FIREARMS AMMUNITION LEGISLATION

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and is in relation to the recent shooting death at Greenacre. Following the implementation of the Ammunition Control Bill, will NSW Police Force use the ammunition registers to determine who the shooter was and whether the shooter bought the ammunition from a licensed dealer? If not, why not? If the police are not going to use the information or if the information proves to be ineffectual, will the Government seek to repeal the legislation?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I thank the Hon. Robert Borsak for his reflection on my performance in the House recently, giving me a zero out of 10. It is a badge of honour and I thank him very much indeed for that. I have sent a copy to Mr David Shoebridge. In relation to the ongoing investigation, it would be highly inappropriate for me to talk about steps the police will take in relation to an ongoing investigation. Of course, if the Hon. Robert Borsak has suggestions that may be of assistance to the police, based on his intimate knowledge of firearms both here and internationally, I am more than happy to receive any correspondence from him, which I will pass on to the Commissioner of Police to ensure that investigators take full advantage of his understanding of firearms.

NSW POLICE FORCE CRIME SCENE UNIT MERGERS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. What consultation was there before the decision was made to merge the Bass Hill and Penrith crime scene examiner teams and move them into one office at Pemulwuy? Is the new building big enough to fit all of the proposed staff and equipment? Was any consideration given to upgrading the current facilities? Is the Bass Hill facility not ideally placed to be close to the majority of major incidents? What impact in respect of time taken to get to an area will the move from Penrith have on the investigation of crimes in the Blue Mountains?

14 March 2013

PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDS OF ISRAEL STUDY TOUR

Debate resumed from 28 February 2013.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [9.51 a.m.]: It is with pleasure that I join in debate on the motion of the Hon. Rick Colless regarding a recent study mission to Israel by the New South Wales Parliamentary Friends of Israel, which comprised parliamentarians from all political parties, except notably and for their own reasons, The Greens, who I might add are pretty good at coming up with adolescent views and superficial solutions but it appears are not really interested in some real-world, fact-finding missions.

From the outset I would like to thank the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies for organising and hosting this study mission for the purpose of building a better understanding in me and the other delegates of the diverse and complex issues impacting on Israel and its neighbours in the Middle East. I want to particularly thank the President of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, Mr Yair Miller, the Chief Executive Officer, Vic Alhadeff, who I note is in the gallery today, and his staff for their assistance in facilitating what was an extraordinary and probing study trip to Israel. It is obvious that the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies is well practised in organising such trips and in providing relevant access and information to every delegate to better understand the situation in Israel.

I would particularly like to thank Yaron Finkelstein and Yossi Tal, who accompanied us throughout the whole tour, for their on-the-ground organisation, reorganisation and itinerary juggling, for their friendship, and also for not singing in the bus, early in the morning or late in the evening, as we travelled to and from our hotel. It was much appreciated. I would also like to recognise and thank our tour guide, Mark Deckelbaum, for his deep knowledge and love of his home country, Israel.

I note also that in the lead-up to this trip there was yet another outbreak of hostilities around Israel’s borders that could have seen the trip cancelled for safety reasons. However, again I thank the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies for their reassurance, guidance, and commitment to make the trip a success. It has to be said that despite the constant and dangerous environment within which Israel lives, I have now found a third place in the world where I feel truly safe. As I have previously noted in this House, I am the son of a Polish Holocaust survivor. My father was involved in the intrigues of the local resistance movement in Warsaw and the Jewish Ghetto during the Second World War, and was later arrested in September 1942 and condemned to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he described his experiences at the time as his descent into Dante’s description of hell.

This was my first trip to Israel and the region. I asked why the plight of Israel interested me in such a way. The safety and security of Australia set a benchmark in my mind. The Middle East is always in the news and the intractable problems of that region always seem in the end to focus on the plight of the Palestinians and the people of Israel. Once my parents got to the safety of Australia after the war, Europe was not somewhere they were in any great hurry to revisit, and given what my father went through one can appreciate how much they grew to love this country and the safety and opportunities that it afforded them. In effect, Australia provided the opportunity for a new start in life for my parents. What I needed to try to start to understand in detail was what makes the Middle East so important in world affairs? Why is Israel pivotal to it and what sort of state is Israel?

The itinerary provided by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies was comprehensive and diverse and filled every day with meetings and/or tours to many of the places mentioned in this motion. What became clear as the tour progressed is that Israel is a state run by the rule of law. It has a supreme court, a national parliament—the Knesset—and all the organs and institutions of a full democratic society. It functions as you would expect any democratic society to function, in a modified Westminster model. Its robust democratic process is healthy, thriving, interesting and intriguing, to say the least. Its location in the world also requires a large overt, and I am sure covert, state security apparatus that, unlike its neighbours, does not run the state or oppress and cow its citizens.

Israel’s economy is strong and vibrant, reflecting the human intellectual resources of its citizens and, above all else, is highly integrated into the world’s economy. Despite the massive burden of its defence budget, the standard of living, for a country effectively on a permanent war footing, is just as high as ours here in Australia. As anyone who has travelled from Australia to the Middle East would appreciate, our country after only 225 years of white settlement is far behind the thousands of years of settlement that can be seen everywhere in Israel. In Israel you can see places that date back not only to the time of the Bible, but even further to the time of Moses and before that. It is rather humbling to stand in some of those places, where religions converge, and in a region that is historically significant.

Having already travelled extensively to other parts of the world, sometimes for hunting—which led to a number of photographs that the Sydney Morning Herald seems to like—I must admit that during this trip I took literally thousands of photographs, and they are a reminder of what I considered to be the most significant trip in my life. It is lucky I took those thousands of photographs because when one of my colleagues, the Hon. Walt Secord, loaded the thousands of photographs he took into his computer they were all somehow deleted forever. I was tempted to sell him some of mine, but I gave him a copy as an act of kindness—despite the fact that he does not support conservation hunting in national parks.

For me, one of the most striking aspects of the trip were the security briefings, which showed just how the people of Israel are constantly on alert and aware that hostilities can erupt anywhere at any moment. Significantly, Israel is also prepared to meet any such threat. I mention here having seen, for instance, bomb-proof bunkers where children can play, that there are obviously other arrangements in place, and I admire the people of Israel for their resilience in living under such an ongoing threat. I know that there are always two sides to any story, but on both sides there are many innocent people suffering and dying. Middle East peace should not be a pipe dream and surely it is not beyond mankind to be able to work out how Israelis and Palestinians can live alongside each other in peace and mutual security.

There is no doubt in my mind that Israel has a right to exist in peace and likewise the Palestinians have that same right. How they achieve this should be a matter for the statesmen from each side. Surely there are men or women of good will and initiative and who are forward thinking who can work out a plan to enable them to co-exist in peace. The innocent women and children and civilians from both sides really deserve a proper and lasting settlement of this ongoing issue.

In closing, I thank the Hon. Rick Colless for bringing this motion to the House. I thank all my parliamentary colleagues and their partners who travelled on the study mission for their company, and I hope they enjoyed it and learnt as much as Cheryl and I did. Once again I particularly thank the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies for their assistance and advice in facilitating what was an outstanding and inquisitive study trip to Israel. I also take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Yair Miller on his wedding. He got married in Israel during the trip and indeed he extended an invitation to all of us to attend the ceremony, which I for one greatly appreciated. I commend the motion to the House.

NATIVE VEGETATION LEGISLATION

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services representing the Minister for the Environment. What is the current status of the review of the Native Vegetation Act and when will the legislation be repealed or replaced, together with more appropriate regulations relating to compliance with the Act by landholders and, in particular, farmers whose private property rights have been alienated because of the current laws?

KANGAROO POPULATION

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is it a fact that the Office of Environment and Heritage recently put kangaroo numbers in New South Wales at 11 million, based on regular aerial surveys? How do these aerial studies compare with a recent submission to the New South Wales Scientific Committee by an ecologist who claims the kangaroo is in dangerous decline and should be listed as an endangered species in parts of the State?

13 March 2013

WESTERN AUSTRALIA ELECTION RESULTS
Personal Explanation

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN, by leave: I wish to make a statement to explain possibly having misled the House last night in my adjournment speech on the Western Australian election results. In that speech I said that the Shooters and Fishers Party had won a seat in the Western Australian upper House and that it looked as though it would not win a second seat. I can inform the House that on current figures it appears as though the Shooters and Fishers Party may be about to win that second seat.

MINING ROYALTIES FOR REGIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware that councils from western New South Wales are lobbying the Government for a greater slice of mining royalties? When will the Government increase the amount of mining royalties that go to rural councils?

12 March 2013

 MUNDARLO BRIDGE

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. What investigations into the impact on landholders has the Office of Environment and Heritage done regarding its proposal to raise the height of the Mundarlo Bridge downstream of Gundagai by about one metre to deliver more water to wetlands along the river? How much compensation will the department be liable for if cropping land is flooded and other land becomes isolated or difficult to access in what one farmer describes as political water inundating the land?

 MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of recent reports which claim that the deal between the Commonwealth and the States to save the Murray-Darling Basin has stalled because of the courageous and righteous insistence of the New South Wales Government that the Commonwealth agree to fund water recovery infrastructure before New South Wales signs the inter-governmental agreement? Will the Minister assure the House that the New South Wales Government will not sign that agreement without Federal funding commitment so as to protect the water users who are residents of New South Wales?

 TREE PLANTING

 On 18 October 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding tree planting. The Minister for Finance and Services provided the following response:

I have been advised by the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Katrina Hodgkinson, MP, that as an associate of the Australian National University, Professor Lindenmayer’s views, comments or actions represent either his personal position or that of the Australian National University, not those of the New South Wales Government A cursory inspection of recent media reporting suggests that he has made comments about the implications of plantations.

The New South Wales Government supports a sustainable development of plantation forestry throughout the State. and supports the need for socio-economic factors to be considered.

The Plantations and Reafforestation (Code) Regulation 2001 sets clear guidelines for plantation establishment and management.

A review of the Act and code commenced in 2005 and was finalised in 2010, when amendments to the both the Act and code were approved by the previous New South Wales Government. The code details requirements for:

• the level of permissible clearing;

• protection of rivers and other drainage features;

• protection of cultural sites;

• roading and harvesting operations; and

• fire prevention/safety provisions

The Act and code are administered by New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

 WOOD SMOKE POLLUTION

 On 23 October 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding wood smoke pollution. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

The Options for wood smoke in New South Wales discussion paper has been released by the Environment Protection Authority [EPA] for public consultation. One option outlined in the discussion paper is for councils to be able to require owners of dwellings in areas where wood smoke is a concern to make their old fireplace or wood heater inoperable prior to the sale of a property by permanently blocking the chimney or converting the space for gas or electric heating.

The Environment Protection Authority understands the importance of features such as fireplaces in heritage listed properties and of protecting the heritage fabric of these buildings. The Environment Protection Authority is collaborating with the Heritage Council of NSW to develop appropriate measures where necessary to ensure the protection of heritage value of properties.

SNOWY HYDRO LIMITED

 On 23 October 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding Snowy Hydro Limited. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

I am advised that Snowy Hydro is continuing work on a $400 million modernisation program to replace ageing and high-maintenance plant components with modern components.

I am further advised that Snowy Hydro has made a submission to the Commonwealth Government’s review of the renewable energy target, available on the website of the Climate Change Authority.

Snowy Hydro has not raised the contents of its submission as a matter of concern with my office or my department.

 POLICE FIREARMS STORAGE INSPECTIONS

On 24 October 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services a question without notice regarding police firearms storage inspections. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

I am advised that police, including those doing firearms inspections use appropriate practices to maintain security and confidentiality as required over the non-encrypted frequencies.

 JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON ELECTORAL MATTERS

Report: Inquiry into Administrative Funding for Minor Parties

Debate resumed from 26 February 2013.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [5.02 p.m.], in reply: It is a pleasure to respond to the take-note debate on the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiring into administrative funding for minor parties. I thank all my colleagues who contributed to this debate. In particular, I thank the committee members for the way in which they conducted themselves and for their diligence in the work of this inquiry. I also thank Hansard and the committee secretariat for their assistance and professionalism during the inquiry and in the preparation of the report.

I trust the Government is prudent enough to act on the committee’s recommendations as quickly as possible in order to alleviate the additional burden that political parties, particularly minor parties, have faced as a result of unintended consequences brought about by amendments to the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981. I cannot conclude without commenting on remarks made by Dr John Kaye. It is easy for members of this House to fling mud in the hope that some of it might stick. Dr John Kaye’s contribution proves that he is another Greens member in a conga line of Greens members who do just that on a regular basis under parliamentary privilege.

The Hon. Walt Secord: Where is he?

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: He should be here listening to my homily on him. Dr John Kaye claims that the inquiry is a payback to the minor parties in return for their votes and that the committee report is a memorandum of understanding between the Government, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democratic Party. That is an absurd proposition and an insult to the integrity of every member who served on the committee. It would appear that Dr John Kaye has been reading too many conspiracy books. Let us not forget that it was Dr John Kaye and his colleagues who were wheeling and dealing with the Government on the 2012 amendments to the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment Bill which brought about the unintended consequences that all political parties face today. If and when the recommendations are acted upon by the Government and given Dr Kaye’s remarks in his contribution, we all look forward to The Greens publicly declining to accept the extra funding that will be made available to them. I commend the report to the House.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA ELECTION RESULTS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.41 p.m.]: I will be brief but full of joy.

The Hon. Jan Barham: Why?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Because I want to share a good news story with members. It is not a local story, so members may not have seen much coverage of it in the media. It appears that The Greens lost two of their four seats in the Western Australian Legislative Council in the election held on the weekend. That is not necessarily the good news. The good news is that the Shooters and Fishers Party appears to have won a seat in that Chamber. I will tell members why that is particularly joyous in a minute. Of course, it was the first time that our party has run candidates in another State election. Mr Rick Mazza put in a remarkable effort and he will probably be elected to represent the Agricultural Region. In fact, the party also came close to winning a second seat in the Mining and Pastoral Region. While counting is still underway, and it is close, I think we will lose the second seat by a whisker to The Greens. For a first attempt at standing for election in another State, it was a good effort, particularly given that the Shooters and Fishers Party (WA) Inc. was registered only in November 2012.

The Shooters and Fishers Party will run Senate candidates in the Federal election—whenever it occurs—and on the basis of the Western Australian experience our expectations are moderately high. We are humble. There is no doubt that the Federal Government, in association with The Greens, has made the situation toxic for many electors. The Greens have used their balance of power like zealots—some of them cannot help themselves. They used to be environmentalists—and some still are—but then they became social engineers, wealth redistribution experts and unemployment creators, particularly in the coalmining industry and, indeed, in any industry they chose not to like. But enough about The Greens.

The Shooters and Fishers Party did not and does not relentlessly impose its will on either the Labor Party or the Coalition at any time. We simply negotiate hard on behalf of our main constituent base. The Western Australians have looked at what is happening in the eastern States and they respect it. The shooters, the fishers, the off-roaders, the horse riders and all outdoor recreation lovers have for years been cast aside by the major parties in alliance with parties such as The Greens. Of course, the bugbear of Western Australians, most of whom are fishers, is the lockup of Commonwealth marine reserves. Western Australian fishers have been particularly badly affected by that policy. The Shooters and Fishers Party has also proved to be a pragmatic party, as the Western Australian election demonstrates. The government policies or proposals that pass the test of being in the best interests of the State and that do not impinge on our constituents will attract our support.

The New South Wales Coalition Government understands our platform and has little difficulty in talking to us about any suggestion we might make. We have every expectation that Mr Mazza will enjoy the same approach from the newly re-elected Western Australian Premier. Nearly halfway through his first term in office Premier Barry O’Farrell has put in place a number of plans that will benefit the State. However, like many others, we would like to see him start some major infrastructure projects as soon as possible. We stand ready with helpful advice. The results of the Western Australian election were heartening for the Shooters and Fishers Party, but not entirely unexpected given the hard work and outstanding performance of Mr Mazza and his dedicated team of Western Australian freedom fighters.

28 February 2013

MINING INDUSTRY

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware of a recent claim by The Greens member, the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham, that the social and environmental costs of mining far outweigh the economic benefits? What financial and economic impact would an immediate cessation of all mining in New South Wales have on the State? Does the Minister have any indication of how The Greens and the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham would make up for such a loss of income?

FIREARMS AMMUNITION LEGISLATION

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: My question is addressed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister inform the House when the new ammunition laws will commence?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I make it very clear to every member of this House, particularly some on the crossbench who continue to fail to hear, that this Government has in no way resiled from its commitment to new ammunition laws. Yesterday a commencement proclamation and a supporting regulation were endorsed by the Lieutenant Governor and the Executive Council. This proclamation will commence the new ammunition laws in stages, as the Government announced previously. New record keeping requirements that require firearms dealers to record the details of their ammunition sales and to make that information available to police will commence on 4 March 2013. New requirements for people purchasing handgun ammunition to present their firearm registration papers will commence on 8 April 2013. A new ammunition permit will also commence upon the date of publication of the new laws. These dates have not changed since they were reported in the Sydney Morning Herald last year, despite what some may have claimed in the past 24 hours.

The Government has announced previously that it will defer the rollout of the requirement to show registration papers to other classes of firearms until the NSW Police Force has had the opportunity to investigate possible information technology solutions, such as smart card licences. I am advised that the NSW Police Force Firearms Registry recently published a number of bulletins on its website. These bulletins outlined the commencement dates for the new ammunition laws. I am advised that it is not regular practice to post such information in advance of the formal commencement of legislation. I am advised also that the registry bulletins proposed a number of changes to the way that a licensed firearm user applies for a permit to acquire a new firearm.

Following discussions with the NSW Police Force, I am advised that the Police Force removed the bulletins from the registry website. This does not in any way signal any intention for the new ammunition laws to be diminished in any way. Of concern is that all such bulletins are accurate and do not mislead the public in case there are delays in the formal approval process that force a change to the proposed dates. Further consultations on any changes to the permit-to-acquire process also will be undertaken before further announcements are made about this process. I understand that revised bulletins will be posted on the registry website shortly if, in fact, that has not happened already.

With respect to a public report today claiming that my reference yesterday to my “parliamentary colleagues” referred to the members of the Shooters and Fishers Party, I make it clear to the House that when I refer to my “parliamentary colleagues” I refer to members on this side of the House. When I refer to crossbench members I, like most members, say “the crossbench” and when I refer Opposition members in this place I say “those on the losers lounge”. I make that very clear indeed. I trust this information clarifies this matter.

COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.51 p.m.]: I wish to address the vexed issue of council mergers. I know that this week the topic was again discussed in Nyngan at the annual local government conference. It is no secret that the Government would like a reduction in the number of councils across the State, but it has said it will not be “forcing” any mergers. Recently we were told by the Independent Local Government Review Panel that council mergers would potentially stimulate job growth rates. Apparently the panel examined employment figures from 40 regional New South Wales councils that had been consolidated into 21 new local government areas as part of the 2004 boundary changes and found that, overall, staff numbers actually increased by 11.7 per cent.

The panel’s chair, Professor Graham Sansom, said that the councils had experienced a range of long-term benefits following amalgamation, including the ability to tackle larger-scale projects and attract new investment as well as improved service and infrastructure delivery. However, he also pointed out that amalgamation was not a panacea for all the ills of local government and must be considered as part of a wider package of reform. The Professor hit the nail on the head with the statement that “amalgamation and boundary changes need to be carefully planned and handled sensitively”.

We should remember that being part of something bigger is not always better. In Queensland we have an example of big not necessarily being better: the Noosa experience has been bitter. In 2008 Queensland went down the merger path and turned 156 councils into just 73. Noosa was swallowed up in the larger centres of Caloundra and Maroochydore to form the Sunshine Coast mega council. Many people are now complaining that the town’s identity has been lost and moreover that the policy of “harmonisation” threatens Noosa’s distinctive casual character which sees it, so far, still free from parking meters, high-rise buildings and unbridled population growth. The new Queensland Premier conceded that Noosa might have a point. He is allowing Noosa and four other towns to vote on whether to undo the merging of their councils. The result will not be known until next month.

The fear of a wholesale slashing of staff in New South Wales following council mergers led the Shooters and Fishers Party to have provisions included in the Local Government Amendment Bill 2011 to protect local government workers for at least three years when councils amalgamate. The United Services Union, which includes most council workers, helped us to negotiate the retention clauses. I am grateful to Steve Hughes for his assistance on that issue, and indeed on a number of other issues of interest to his members. We know that some local government functions, such as infrastructure and back office services, can be more efficient and cost-effective on an increased scale, but we also have evidence of previous amalgamations that showed efficiency gains, but not necessarily any reduction in rates. In many cases local government is the heart and the lifeblood of local communities. Indeed, local councils sometimes are the main employer in their region. Local government workers deserve consideration and protection in any amalgamation scenarios.

There is no point in merging weak or unsustainable councils if doing so only produces a larger council that is still weak and unsustainable. Furthermore, I doubt that amalgamations are possible when physical distances between communities and service centres are simply too great. Professor Sansom’s panel also found that previous council mergers in New South Wales had been poorly planned and executed. That should put the Government on notice to ensure such changes are better managed in the future for the benefit of council workers and local ratepayers.

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27 February 2013

No statements.

26 February 2013

NATIONAL PARKS FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, regarding licensed conservation hunters. It follows on from comments in an article attributed to the Hon. Luke Foley in the Australian yesterday, titled “NSW hunters will leave rotting carcases”. Will the Minister confirm the fate of carcases of feral animals shot from helicopters and poisoned by National Parks staff and their so-called “professional” contractors? Are the carcasses collected and buried, or are they left to rot on the ground? Have any studies been done to ascertain whether any water streams in New South Wales have been either directly or indirectly contaminated through this method of feral animal control?

 MENINDEE LAKES WATER SUPPLY

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. What response has the Office of Water had from the Commonwealth to the Commonwealth’s proposal to improve water use in the Menindee lakes by having Lake Menindee the focus of water storage rather than the plan to use the smaller lakes for irrigators, which plan would incur more than $100 million in infrastructure works?

 JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON ELECTORAL MATTERS

Report: Inquiry into Administrative Funding for Minor Parties

Debate resumed from 15 November 2012.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.02 p.m.]: I am pleased to speak to the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters entitled, “Inquiry into Administrative Funding for Minor Parties”. The committee was established on 13 June 2012 and was asked to look into and report upon matters relating to the administrative funding for minor parties. At the outset, I wish to thank our committee chair, Mr Jai Rowell, the member for Wollondilly, for his management of the committee. I thank my parliamentary colleagues for their diligence in the work of this inquiry. I also thank the committee secretariat for its assistance and professionalism in the preparation of the report.

In what was a relatively short and sharp inquiry, the committee was asked to look into and report upon matters relating to the administrative funding for minor parties and to ascertain whether the annual amount distributed from the Administration Fund to eligible minor parties remains appropriate. The Administration Fund, which is governed by section 97E of the Act, provides funding to parties in circumstances where those parties would otherwise attract fewer political donations but would still require funds to operate. The purpose of the Administration Fund is to alleviate the additional burden that minor parties have faced because of changes made to the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981 under the previous Labor Government and, in particular, as a result of the 2012 amendments to the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment Act by this Government.

For a number of years now the public has been concerned about undue influence being exerted upon political parties through donations. As a result, the previous Government amended the Act to knock out property developers because they were seen to be part of the problem. Unfortunately, many of the changes that have been made since represent nothing more than political opportunism and a desire by some members to make historic changes to the way in which we do our political business. I do not believe that the voters of this State wanted to make historic changes; they simply wanted the rorts to stop.

In several submissions to various inquiries relating to electoral reform, the Shooters and Fishers Party has been consistent in its position. It has fervently argued, to no avail, that a ban or a cap on political donations will undermine the strength of our democratic processes, will result in every political party having to be more reliant on the public purse and, in the case of minor parties, will drastically increase the administrative costs associated with compliance and processing requirements as a result of the recent changes to the Act. Administrative expenditure items are necessary, regardless of the size of the political party, and while the two major parties can spread their resources and expenditure across dozens of members, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democratic Party, for example, do not have this luxury at their disposal. It undermines the fairness and integrity of representative government and the ability of minor parties to perform their functions and give expression to their constituents politically. Minor parties should not be spending their members’ resources on ever-increasing compliance costs and bureaucracy.

The committee took evidence concerning the onerous impact the 2011 amendments had on minor parties in New South Wales. It received two submissions from the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democratic Party and held a public hearing on 24 August 2012, at which it heard evidence from five minor political parties. I thank all the witnesses who took the time to attend the inquiry and for the information they provided. The report comprises two chapters and contains four recommendations based on a consensus among committee members that it was never the intention to adversely impact on minor political parties through any preceding amendments to the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981.

Recommendation No. 1 recommends that should a funding model be introduced with respect to minor parties, the term “minor party” should be defined. Recommendation No. 2 recommends that ongoing access to the Administration Fund should be maintained to ensure the strength of the democratic process in New South Wales. Recommendation No. 3 recommends that the Government review the frequency and time lines of the reimbursement payments from the Administration Fund, with a view to ensuring that members and parties are not disadvantaged by undue delays. It recommends that reimbursements be paid quarterly in arrears, with reimbursements paid within one month of receiving the receipts for administration-related expenditure.

Recommendation No. 4 recommends a new funding formula for payments made under the Administration Fund and maintaining the cap of 25 members with respect to the maximum amount payable from the Administration Fund to a party. According to this new funding formula, the first member of a political party or an independent would receive $200,000, the second member of the same political party would receive $150,000, the third member $100,000, and each member thereafter—up until the twenty-fifth member of the same political party—would receive $83,000. Thus, these changes would apply, in effect, to all political parties. Once again, I thank the chair, my parliamentary colleagues and the committee secretariat for their assistance and professionalism during the inquiry. I urge the Government to act on the recommendations as soon as possible. I commend the report to the House.

21 February 2013

 COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS BUREAUCRACY

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier. Is the Premier aware of calls by the former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett for the Council of Australian Governments to be abolished because it has become, in his words, “an animal that is eating government”, slowing gross domestic product growth and bogging down the political decision-making process? Will New South Wales be making representations to Canberra to seek a constitutional convention to ease the mounting revenue pressures on the States and to remove from the Council of Australian Governments the new layers of bureaucracy affecting the public and business communities?

 NSW WATER SAFETY STRATEGY

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government. Given the audit occurring of every beach and rock platform in New South Wales so as to provide safety recommendations to local councils in a bid to design a drowning prevention strategy for rock fisher persons, will the Minister ensure that councils consult with fishing groups and other interested parties, and consider all available options before making any decisions to lock anglers out of any areas?

20 February 2013

WATER MANAGEMENT

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.26 p.m.]: I draw the attention of the House to the recent floods in much of northern New South Wales. I note that I prepared this speech before the leaking of the Coalition’s $30 billion plan to build dams up and down the country, and members all know how enthusiastic I am about dams. While sympathising with those who have been affected—for the second or third time in as many years—I cannot help but wonder why they must face these disasters on such a regular basis. We know the rivers will flood every couple of years and we know there will be disasters and the loss of houses, buildings and stock. However, various State and Federal governments seem to sit back and say that they cannot do anything about it. Why not? We must undertake yet another study—but this time a real study, not a mickey mouse version—of the viability of flood mitigation dams on those northern rivers and using the water that would otherwise flow out to sea during peak flood events to power turbines that could then push the water over or through the Great Dividing Range into the western-flowing rivers.

Detention dams are now required to be incorporated in every new home built in this State as a stormwater surge prevention measure. Why not use the same basic technology on our major rivers but on a larger scale? Mr Abbott’s reported plan is on the right track, but I would prefer him to push the water into the food bowls west of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales rather than into south-east Queensland. Let us at least build some dams. The cost of such projects must be weighed against what it costs people every few years—not every 10 or 15 years—to start over their lives. I believe that in this day and age we are smart enough to work out the best way to complete such a project and how to manage the costs.

We are told—scoff, scoff—that global warming will increase the intensity of extreme rainfall events leading to more flooding in the future. We hear that every second week from Tim Flannery, but he says the opposite every alternate week. This time the information is being provided following a worldwide review of global rainfall data led by the University of Adelaide, which has found that the intensity of the most extreme rainfall events is increasing as temperatures rise. The greatest increases in rainfall intensity occurred in tropical countries, which I do not think would surprise anyone. It is claimed that there has been a 7 per cent increase in extreme rainfall intensity for every degree increase in global atmospheric temperature over the past century. Of course, the good Professor Flannery has been telling us that it will never rain again and that Warragamba Dam will run dry.

Damming and diverting some of our northern rivers as detention dams, not retention dams, would also be a major benefit to the Menindee Lakes. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is currently taking more water from lakes Menindee and Cawndilla and less from two smaller lakes in the system. There have been fears that this will lead to problems in launching boats onto Lake Menindee. The water dropped more than two metres very quickly when the extra water was removed and chances are that the water will be too far out from the boat ramp for boats to be launched. It does not appear that the people of far western New South Wales matter.

The locals say the authority is not considering the effects on tourism when the water level drops in the bigger lakes, and I agree with them. Apparently we should save the environment and not worry about the people. I have heard the argument about evaporation in the larger lakes, but surely the locals should have a say about their future. The authority says that the lakes have high rates of evaporation in summer. What hypocrisy! In South Australia those who live near the mouth of the Murray use water artificially held back by the barges in what are huge evaporation lakes—Lake Alexandrina—for recreational needs.

The Hon. Rick Colless: Fifteen hundred gigalitres—

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: That is right, so that the water stays at 0.75 above ASL and so that their boats float on their canal developments. It is hypocrisy. The only good news is that the recent rain in Queensland may have an impact on the Darling system within a few weeks. However, I still think that we as legislators need to look again at harvesting the rainwater from floods in the northern rivers region to the benefit of the entire State of New South Wales.

 MEDIA REPORTING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.38 p.m.]: Conventional wisdom indicates that people in public life do not criticise the media because the media always has the next edition or the next bulletin to continue doing one over. The owners of the Sydney Morning Herald should have no problem in identifying why people are not reading their paper by looking at the reporting of State politics in New South Wales. Sydney Morning Herald political editor, Mr Aston, is shortly going to Canberra—I do not know whether that is a promotion or a demotion because I sometimes wonder how the media works. Over many years Mr Aston has seen fit to vent his personal dislikes in that newspaper to my detriment and that of the Shooters and Fishers Party, the Game Council NSW and, no doubt, others. Given that Mr Aston is happy enough to give me public character tests, I assume he will take no offence if I return the compliment.

Mr Aston does not like Africa’s conservation and humanitarian programs so far as they relate to game hunting and the financial benefits that flow from such activities to various villages. At every given opportunity he runs the same photograph of a dead elephant in his newspaper in a bizarre attempt to show that I have done something wrong or illegal, or that I am in some way not a fit and proper person. I would have hoped that Mr Aston would have looked a little further into those programs and put aside his bias. Had he done so, he may well have found an even better story to write. He also seems to delight in running stories about alleged perjury by me in a court case and that I will lose my pension and go to jail—probably a personal point of view that he prints in his newspaper. But from where does he get all his information about game hunting, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Game Council NSW? It is always from that marvellous supporter of the Shooters and Fishers Party, Mr David Shoebridge. Mr Shoebridge seems to be the only politician in this Parliament who speaks to Mr Aston. Why Mr Aston would take as gospel anything Mr Shoebridge says about me, the party or the Game Council NSW only he would know.

I now turn to the coverage in the last couple of weeks about Game Council staff being allegedly involved in illegal hunting. Mr Aston was told early on by one of those mentioned in the story—namely, Mr Andy Mallen, who is a most honourable and honest Game Council employee—that it was all rubbish and that he was not anywhere near Cobar on the day in question. Did Mr Aston go away and do some basic checking to see whether the story about Mr Mallen did not smell? The answer, of course, is no. He printed a full story, complete with pictures of Mr Mallen with a dead goat; the inference being that it had happened at Cobar. It was a comprehensive stitch-up job on Mr Mallen.

The Minister exonerated Mr Mallen. Mr Aston waited a day before printing the story but it did not include an apology—he is not man enough to call Mr Mallen and to say those words. I caution Mr Aston against being the mouthpiece for David Shoebridge, particularly when it relates to anything to do with the Shooters and Fishers Party, firearms or conservation hunting. I have no doubt that The Greens are eagerly awaiting his arrival in Canberra because they seem to be running out of friends in the media. I understand that Lee Rhiannon cannot wait to renew acquaintances with Mr Aston because it will somehow support her push for leadership of The Greens.

19 February 2013

 POLICE RADIO SCANNER APP

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is the Minister aware that people who buy iPads can apparently receive a free app—namely, a police radio scanner app with which they can select an area command and scan all networked transmissions for that area, including any reports by police who are completing firearms safe storage inspections at addresses particularly in country areas? What assurances will the Minister give that the safety of firearm owners and the wider community is not compromised by people being able to listen into police radio frequencies in circumstances such as this?

GUN OWNERS DETAILS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister provide the House with details of all the contacts over the past two years, apart from one token telephone call from Acting Deputy Commissioner David Hudson, with the person who provided information about the compromising of the personal details of licensed gun owners in New South Wales? What further information has that person been able to provide to investigators, and what action has the department taken?

 GAME COUNCIL STAFFING ARRANGEMENTS

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Earlier in question time I was asked a question by Mr David Shoebridge regarding allegations of illegal hunting against two Game Council NSW employees. I am advised that following the Government being made aware of the allegations of illegal hunting that had been made against the two Game Council employees on Tuesday 22 January, the Minister for Primary Industries requested that the employees be stood down. One of the two employees was reinstated on Friday 25 January after he was able to prove beyond doubt that he was in Sydney at the time of the alleged events. The other employee continues to remain stood down from duties whilst a NSW Police investigation continues. I am advised that Game Council NSW is cooperating by assisting NSW Police in the investigation. The Minister has also indicated an internal fact-finding investigation to operate alongside the formal police investigation. It is entirely appropriate to await the outcomes of these investigations before making any other comment.

 ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDER’S OFFICE

 On 14 November 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General, a question without notice regarding the Environmental Defenders Office. The Attorney General provided the following response:

I am advised:

The Environmental Defenders Office [EDO] is a community legal centre and has a tripartite Service Agreement with Legal Aid NSW and the Commonwealth Government.

Under the Service Agreement it is not the role of Legal Aid NSW to approve legal advice activities conducted by the Environmental Defenders Office. Details of costs incurred for funding workshops or attendance numbers at these events are not reported to Legal Aid NSW.

I am aware that the Environmental Defenders Office has held a range of community workshops across New South Wales. Details regarding these workshops are published in the Environmental Defenders Office’s Annual Reports and are available on the Environmental Defenders Office website.

 ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE

 On 15 November 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding the Environmental Defenders Office. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

The comments referred to the authors of the anti-coal strategy document—”Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom”—who work to roadblock and delay the development of resources projects across the State.

The campaign document lists the Environmental Defenders Office as a contributor.

See attached list of Environmental Defenders Office activities.

Environmental Defenders Office—Current proceedings

Activist Group Nature of litigation

Yass Environmental Responsibility Network Challenging a land subdivision in Yass to protect a species of striped legless lizards

Sweetwater Action Group Challenging rezoning of land for the development of the Huntlee Town Centre for 20,000 residents to protect Persoonia pauciflora, a native shrub

Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Challenging approval of Gloucester Gas Project (coal seam gas) Alliance

Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association Challenging approval of Warkworth coal mine in the Hunter Valley

Hunter Environment Lobby Challenging proposed expansion Ulan coal mine’s underground mining operations and new open cut mining operation

Ironstone Community Action Group Challenging the recent approval for the extension of an open cut coal mine between Stroud and Stratford in the Barrington Tops area

Camberwell Common Trust Challenge to a licence to Ashton Coal to facilitate its plans for an open cut coal mine

Ned Haughton (“a student and environmental Challenging the Minister for Planning’s approvals of two new coal or activist”) gas fired power stations

Coastwatchers Association Inc & Challenging the establishment and operation of a gold mine near South East Region Conservation Alliance Majors Creek

Hunter Community Environment Centre Inc Challenging approval for the rehabilitation of Munmorah Power Station (on grounds it did not provide a proper assessment of air quality or greenhouse gas emissions)

Snowy River Alliance Challenge to variation of Snowy Hydro’s variation of licence

South East Forest Rescue Incorporated Challenge to a pilot wood pellet manufacturing plant at the Eden woodchip mill

Western Sydney Conservation Alliance Challenging subdivision of land

Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy Challenging approval of a major project

Moree Murri Taskforce Challenging the sale of a site to Woolworths on grounds that it is situated near a burial ground for the Gomeroi nation and has other significance for local indigenous people

Blue Mountains Conservation Society Private enforcement proceedings for Water Pollution

Catherine Hill Bay Progress Association Challenging residential subdivision

Nature Conservation Council Judicial review of a GIPA application decision

Political action workshops1

Date Location Event

11 March 2012 Kyogle Memorial Hall, Kyogle Sue Higginson, senior EDO solicitor was the presenter for the following:

“The Kyogle and Richmond Valley Groups Against Gas are holding a non-violent direct action training day to provide information on non-violent direct action and the law.”

23 March 2012 Room 423, Charles Sturt University, “The Inland Rivers Network has organised a workshop on Dubbo caring for critical aquatic inland habitats, as part of the Federal Government’s Caring for our Country grants program.

“EDO NSW will be presenting on how to write an effective submission in the context of consultations currently being held on the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan”

25 March 2012 Mullaley Hall, Nombi Street, “workshop to explain how the exploration and extraction of Mullaley coal seam gas (CSG) is regulated in NSW, with a focus on landholder rights and advocacy strategies. The workshop will address current CSG titles that apply in the region.”

25 March 2012 Grafton Community Centre, “The Clarence Alliance Against CSG has organised a Duke St, Grafton non-violent direct action training day to provide information on non-violent direct action and the law.

“EDO NSW Senior Solicitor Sue Higginson will be one of the presenters on the day.”

29 March 2012 Twilight Room, Broken Hill “free information session in Broken Hill to explain the key Musicians Club, environmental features of the draft Murray Darling Basin 276 Crystal Street , Broken Hill Plan, including the sustainable diversion limit, infrastructure constraints, groundwater and water quality targets. The session will also include tips on how to write effective submissions.”

17 April 2012 Pokolbin Community Hall, “EDO NSW will hold a free workshop to explain how the McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin exploration and extraction of coal seam gas [CSG] is regulated in NSW, with a focus on landholder rights and advocacy strategies. The workshop will address current CSG titles that apply in the region”

26 April 2012 HJ Central Library in “free community workshop to explain how the exploration Campbelltown and extraction of coal seam gas [CSG] is regulated in NSW, with a focus on landholder rights and advocacy strategies
_______________

1 Refer to notices in various weekly bulletins: http://www.edo.org.au/edonsw/site/bulletin/bulletin.php

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE

 On 15 November 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General, a question without notice regarding the Environmental Defenders Office. The Attorney General provided the following response:

I am advised:

The Environmental Defenders Office [EDO] is a community legal centre and has a tripartite Service Agreement with Legal Aid NSW and the Commonwealth Government.

However, under this Service Agreement it is not the role of Legal Aid NSW to approve case work conducted by the Environmental Defenders Office.

Legal Aid NSW does not hold information about each case that the Environmental Defenders Office takes to court.

The Environmental Defenders Office publishes Annual Reports that include information about cases it has been involved in.

 NATIONAL PARKS PEST MANAGEMENT

 On 20 November 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding national parks pest management. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

Yes I am aware of the Auditor General’s statement in the report.

I am advised as follows:

All National Parks and Wildlife Service [NPW]) regions had Regional Pest Management Strategies covering the period from 2008 to 2011. These strategies standardised and prioritised pest management for the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Prior to this, pest management strategies were developed separately in each region, consistent with existing management plans for parks and reserves in that region.

The number of key pest animal species known to have been removed from National Parks and Wildlife Service managed parks and reserves can only be accurately determined for techniques such as shooting and trapping for the last two financial years. For key techniques such as baiting, ripping of rabbit warrens and exclusion fencing, the numbers of animals removed cannot be accurately known.

Figures for 2010-11 and 2011-12 are presented below.

Dogs Goats Foxes Pigs Cats Horses Donkeys Cane toads Deer Cattle Total
2010-11 1,050 26,418 2,446 10,280 103 471 5 16,428 395 50 57,646
2011-12 1,104 33,916 2,754 15,354 242 735 0  6,897 670 48 61,720

 MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN

 On 20 November 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The New South Wales Government has made it clear that it cannot implement the basin plan if the Commonwealth does not agree to address the key issues NSW has identified that are essential to ensure a balanced plan.

Firstly, New South Wales requires a limit on buyback of water licences of 3 per cent of current extractions per valley per decade, to allow communities and industries time to adjust. This limit will also create an incentive for the Commonwealth to prioritise infrastructure to meet the water recovery targets, and to implement measures to better use the substantial volumes of water that will be recovered to achieve the Plan’s environmental outcomes.

Secondly, the Commonwealth Government must show a genuine commitment to helping communities adjust to the changes imposed by the Plan. The recent announcement of a conditional $100 million regional diversification grant program for the entire basin falls extremely short of what is required, and reduces the funds available for water infrastructure investment.

Thirdly, the current arbitrary extraction limits placed by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on brackish and saline groundwater systems in the Basin Plan are not supported by science, are unreasonable, and are not acceptable to New South Wales. These limits will threaten proposed developments in regional and remote New South Wales that have the potential to generate billions of dollars for the regional and Australian economy.

This Government is prepared to impose the 3 per cent buyback limit unilaterally and will not sign the Basin Intergovernmental Agreement if the Commonwealth fails to address our key concerns.

22 November 2012

Motion by the Hon. Robert Brown agreed to:

That Private Members’ Business item No. 819 outside the Order of Precedence be called on forthwith.

GAME AND FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL FURTHER AMENDMENT BILL 2012

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.44 a.m.], in reply: During my speech I will ensure that, for the sake of the record, I make corrections of historical fact. I was fascinated by the rendition of history by the Leader of the Opposition, and he almost got it right. Several members of this House, perhaps for the purpose of stirring up public sentiment in support of their opposition to this bill, used the words “introduce”, “reintroduce” and “expand”. The Leader of the Opposition stated correctly that duck hunting in New South Wales and Australia-wide has been occurring under some form of regulation since 1901. In 1995, as the Leader of the Opposition correctly stated, the Labor Government proceeded to legislate based on Labor Party policy developed in 1987 and 1988 that stated duck hunting is cruel. The basis of that legislation was the report of the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee [AWAC] to the Government in January 1988.

What the Leader of the Opposition failed to state for the record is that in 1995, probably at the time that the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee’s report was written, the Labor Government also had an internal service memorandum by the National Parks and Wildlife Service that had been written by Dr Sue Briggs from the CSIRO and had been approved for public release. I will not take up the time of the House by reading the whole document, but I will cite some parts relating to conservation, lead and cruelty. In relation to cruelty, Dr Briggs states:

Cruelty is an emotive issue which tends to be complicated by subjectivity; people ascribe human feelings to animals. The small amount of scientific data on this subject comes in two forms: lead pellets in live waterfowl and cripple rates from hunter surveys.

Dr Briggs gave those rates and went on to state:

In considering the debate on cruelty, it is essential that there are realistic estimates of the extent of suffering and number of birds affected.

I contend that the statements made for the record by The Greens should be disregarded. The Greens quoted parts of statistics from groups that clearly have an interest in animal rights, but not information from the established scientific record. In Dr Briggs’ conclusion she states:

Two other aspects of duck hunting in relation to this Review warrant comment. First, should legal hunting be banned, the Service will lose management control of hunting.

The “service” to which Dr Briggs referred is the National Parks and Wildlife Service. She goes on to state:

The Service considers that banning duck hunting will not prevent duck shooting.

Or, and I will state this for the record, duck poisoning. Dr Briggs goes on to state:

Hunting will instead become clandestine and unmanageable. Second, as waterfowl managers, the timing of the Review is noted with concern; it is to be released just prior to the usual opening of the annual duck season in 1988. This has made effective research and extension activity virtually impossible and caused serious management problems in industries supplying sport shooters.

RECOMMENDATIONS

It is recommended that;

1. duck shooting seasons continue to be held based on scientific advice with adequate time for extension activity,

2. the populations be monitored for initially 5 years,

3. lead levels in waterfowl be monitored.

The use of lead shot over waterways in New South Wales currently is banned. I move on to a couple of other statements that were made. A lot has been made in the House about deals. Minor parties need to be able to negotiate with the governments of the day or, alternatively, with the oppositions of the day if they wish to thwart government legislation. That is a fact of life. What members may not realise or consider is that the bill that was introduced in 1995 by the Labor Government to ban so-called recreational hunting of ducks was the result of a deal between Bob Carr and the member who moved the bill, the Hon. Richard Jones—he was called indoor Jones at the time, I think—to get Bob Carr’s conveyancing bill through the House. The Hon. John Tingle did object and had extensive conversations with Bob Carr. It was the Hon. John Tingle who brought the amendments to the House that allowed mitigation control of ducks to continue. Duck hunting has continued unabated in this State since 1995. Anybody who says otherwise is misleading the House.

In 1995 duck hunters, and hunters New South Wales wide, took deep exception to the bill. Why? Was it because they were going to lose a bit of sport or recreation? No. Duck hunting for hunters, as is any hunting, is a cultural activity. Am I just blowing smoke here? No. No lesser authority than the High Court of Australia, in the Yorta Yorta land claim case, deemed that hunters have a cultural interest in hunting and in wetlands. They were given status as an interested party based on their cultural contact with the land and the practice of hunting. None of the members in this House—at least none who were not pretty brave—would dare say some of the things that have been said about non-Indigenous hunters to Indigenous hunters. I was appalled at the Hon. Walt Secord’s contribution, because it appeared to me that a native Canadian or a person of native Canadian extraction should have a little more respect for other hunters.

Mr David Shoebridge: You know it is a totally different issue, Robert, and you are just conflating two unrelated issues for a debating point.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I have a much more factual handle on the issue than does Mr David Shoebridge, who I doubt has ever been hunting in his life. The first thing I wish to point out is on the issue of conservation. Dr John Kaye referred to work done by Dr Richard Kingsford in, I think, 2000 in Victoria. Members in this House may or may not know that in 2000 the Labor Government undertook an independent scientific survey of the effect of hunting on ducks. Richard Kingsford was the chair. I do not have the document in front of me but I assure the House that Dr Kingsford said duck hunting has no effect on population numbers of ducks. What does have an effect are rainfall and habitat. I have already touched on the aspect of my cultural beliefs and the Hon. Robert Borsak’s cultural beliefs. I think they are probably why he got a bit out of line and upset.

I come to the issue covered by the Hon. Rick Colless. It is an important issue. Ducks take only about 2 per cent of the harvest. The Hon. Rick Colless is quite correct, that is not five plants taken out of every square metre across the whole of the 110,000 hectares. No, the Hon. Rick Colless is quite correct, the losses affect individual farmers, some far more than others. These ducks need to be controlled where they land and when they land, and it needs to be done effectively. The Hon. Cate Faehrmann asked some interesting questions about the Native Game Bird Management Committee. Members need to understand that, prior to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act being brought in, under the National Parks and Wildlife Service there existed a Native Game Bird Management Committee. It was a much larger committee. When the Game and Feral Animal Control Act was brought in, because National Parks and Wildlife was no longer going to receive a second licence fee for issuing the 120 licences—that was going to be taken up in the $60 fee for the Game Council—it shut down the Native Game Bird Management Committee: there was no money.

Not only was there no money for the Native Game Bird Management Committee, but universities all over New South Wales and Victoria were crying in their soup because the funding for game bird and, particularly, waterfowl, research was finished. It was valuable work done over 30 to 40 years, and could only have been done with the concurrence and help of these so-called amateur hunters. That is how field research is done: you need people getting samples for you. This Native Game Bird Management Committee that the Government will put in by way of its extensive amendments consists of someone senior from the Department of Primary Industries, the Game Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage.

That committee will not be required to do the science. Like the National Parks and Wildlife Service, it will outsource research. I do not know how much the National Parks and Wildlife Service spent over the years flying Richard Kingsford backwards and forwards across the State. That research is only useful for developing trends, and I think Dr Kingsford would agree with that. It may very well be that Dr Kingsford’s research and methodology continue to be used, but it will be augmented by a far better system run by the Game Council of developing actual field data so that these issues can be handled—the determination of the number of ducks and the types of ducks and where they are. We can go back to 1978 and pick up the research that stopped then and pick up the research that was stopped in 2003 or thereabouts.

In relation to the Labor Party’s position on this issue, I remind members opposite that the precursor to the 2003 Game and Feral Animal Control Bill was the 2001 Game Bill. The 2001 Game Bill passed the other place with all but one vote. The Labor Government of the day allowed that dissenting vote, which was that of Clover Moore, to be recorded so that she could be identified. Every Labor member in the lower House, every Coalition member in the House and all the Independents save Clover Moore voted for the Game Bill 2001. Why is that significant? Because the Game Bill 2001 contained most of the things we have now managed to get back into the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2012. Game birds were in there. The same list of game birds was in there. A more eloquent discourse on how these populations were to be managed was in there. For some reason the Labor Party got cold feet and sent in one of the best negotiators I have ever had to deal with, Ian Macdonald, who was Parliamentary Secretary at that time—

Mr David Shoebridge: He is a real mine of information.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, very droll. What came out of that was the 2003 Game and Feral Animal Control Act. Of course, Labor is entitled to change its mind but when it puts something on the record it should make sure it is historically correct. The Labor Party supported the Game Bill 2001 unanimously. When the bill came to this House Mr Macdonald had negotiated the vast changes to the bill. The bill was debated for 13 hours and finally went through the House at, I think, 5 o’clock on a Friday morning after a Thursday night sitting. I think it was the last night of sitting before the winter break.

Dr John Kaye: Ah, there’s a pattern.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Perhaps there is, but not just related to this bill. The question was asked: Why should the Game Council be doing this and not the National Parks and Wildlife Service? One simple reason is that the current system is inefficient with two licensing systems running in parallel. The second issue I have already covered, the National Parks and Wildlife Service abrogated its responsibility for conservation and science related to ducks in 2003 or thereabouts. The Game Council is now building up enough support in the field with 18,000-odd licensees, and other people will be involved such as farmers, to once again be able to physically get some research going and do the job.

The Office of Environment and Heritage is showing no interest in this. I dare say, and probably will be challenged, that most expertise on waterbirds and game birds and their ecology exists outside the Office of Environment and Heritage. It exists on the Game Council. Dr Sue Briggs, whom I mentioned critiqued the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee [AWAC] report in 1988, probably is the pre-eminent waterfowl ecologist certainly in this State, albeit retired. Dr Briggs was proposed to be the National Parks and Wildlife member on the Game Council during debate on the Game Bill 2001, but Bob Debus, who I believe was the Minister, refused to allow her to have anything to do with the council. I acknowledge that there are a number of other waterfowl experts, but they exist in universities; none of them seem to be within the Office of Environment and Heritage. I believe that perhaps that is enough reason to let someone else have a crack. The Hon. Cate Faehrmann and Mr David Shoebridge said that to The Greens it is anathema to have the foxes in charge of the chicken coop.

I remind members, particularly The Greens, that the two greatest pieces of conservation legislation in the world were passed in the United States in 1927. The Pittman-Robertson Act virtually reconstructed endangered wildlife across the continental United States—taking 40 or 50 years to achieve. The Department of Fish and Wildlife in the United States Government does that work. Who are those people? They are largely hunters. In 1995 I presented Ian Cohen with a page from Field and Stream magazine which coincidentally celebrated its sesquicentenary in the same year as the Sierra Club and is one of the oldest conservation organisations in the world. The four-page advertisement said something along the lines, “America’s wildlife thanks America’s sportsmen.”

Americans call hunters “sportsmen” because about 80 per cent or 90 per cent of wildlife conservation in the United States is paid for by fishing and hunting licences. This concept that Australia knows best insofar as wildlife management or conservation is concerned is a somewhat false claim. We should be prepared to look overseas to see how others do it. The Europeans, for vastly different reasons of course, also have a pretty good track record. Historically, their reasons were so that the people with money—the kings, queens, knights, dukes and barons—could protect their wildlife for their hunting purposes.

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: Except for swans.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes. The same thing happened in communist countries with the Politburo looking after its personal duckers. Wildlife has a collateral benefit through all the systems created on one hand by one of the greatest capitalist societies in the world and on the other hand by one of the greatest communist regimes—that is, the protection of wildlife. I challenge The Greens or anybody else to say in this House that Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service should undertake this work. That is why I introduced this bill. I have one final comment. It has taken an extraordinary length of time to get a fairly simple bill to this House in a form that the Government would accept, and will, I hope, after massive amendment only in the number of pages. Actual changes to the intent of the bill are small. We always intended that the bill would do what I believe the Government says its amendments will achieve. I will not take up anymore of the House’s time. I commend the bill to the House and indicate that we will support the amendments proposed by the Government.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.27 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party will not oppose Government amendments Nos 2, 3 and 5. I will comment on some of the assertions made by Mr David Shoebridge. He seems to object that the Native Game Bird Management Committee members will be appointed by the Minister for Primary Industries. I point out to the member that the Native Game Bird Management Committee under the old regime was appointed by all Labor Ministers from 1995 to 2003. I am sure this Native Game Bird Management Committee will do a good job of discharging its functions, making rulings on quotas and so forth.

The other thing I put on record is that Mr David Shoebridge does not seem to see the sharp back edge of his double-edge sword. He claims that the sky is falling because the Game and Feral Animal Control Act is policed by only four compliance officers of the Game Council. The member has raised this issue before in relation to State forests. Would not any other department, under any government, that had enforcement of its functions just love to have the track record of the Game Council?

Four compliance officers of the Game Council—or 4.2, or whatever it is; I will not argue about the number—have overseen compliance in State forests for the past six or almost seven years, and there has been not one issue of public safety. What a record! Imagine if the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, with its numerous inspectorates, had the same sort of track record. That says two things. Firstly, the people doing the activities—licensed shooters, who are licensed under the Game and Feral Animal Control Act—are, as the shooter’s licence says, persons of good repute. I carry one in my wallet and it says I am a person of good repute. That is the reality of the statistic.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.36 p.m.]: I thank the Hon. Amanda Fazio for her comments. If one looks at the original bill we introduced in 2009 one will see that white ibis were included, as were a whole lot of other nasties. Probably if the Shooters and Fishers Party had its way they would still be included. When governments start to mess with things and they want to amend a bill sometimes they make little mistakes. Members might notice that in my bill the mallard duck was included in the list of non-native game animals. For those who do not know, the mallard duck is the duck with the beautiful green head. Mallard ducks are an introduced species and they are a nasty pest. Why? It is not because they eat other ducks or do anything like that; it is because male mallard ducks are very virile and they cross-breed with black duck. I have heard some people say that they doubt whether there are any purebred black ducks in Australia any more.

One of the reasons why we want the Game Council to be able to take up the lead role in the management of these game birds is so we will be able to carry out research from data gathered by hunters in the field of DNA to see how much hybridisation takes place. I think the Government thought that we should not include the mallard duck in the bill because people like that Daffy Duck style of duck.

Mr David Shoebridge: Is that actually what they said to you?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: No. I am sort of hypothesising what they might have thought. There are those in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] and Animals Australia who think that foxes are nice, that they are lovely little animals, like pets. They are not—they are nasty and they kill things. Mallard ducks kill things by breeding them out of existence. Aside from those comments, we do not oppose the Government’s amendments.

21 November 2012

THE GREENS NSW

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice—probably my final one for this year—is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Is it a fact that in his capacity as Leader of the House in the Legislative Council he was approached by The Greens to consider for next year’s sittings, and in line with the preference of their former leader, allowing them to be addressed by the title Earthian, rather than Mr, Ms or the Honourable?

SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAM

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 17 October 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question about providing a simple basic meal on a regular basis to children during the school year. The Minister for Education has provided the following response:

The Department of Education and Communities does not collect information on the number of children who attend school each day without having had breakfast or who will not have lunch.

 PORTS ASSETS (AUTHORISED TRANSACTIONS) BILL 2012

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: We considered those as well. Like most members in this House—certainly the members who have carriage of this legislation—we too have been approached and have received correspondence and attended meetings with almost an identical list of persons as that put forward by the Hon. Adam Searle, so I will not go through all those documents, read them onto the record and put different interpretations on them as our interpretation is the same as that provided by the Hon. Adam Searle. We have also had representations from the Transport Workers Union, Unions NSW and the Maritime Union of Australia.

Their concerns are pretty much the same as the concerns of the operators currently using the port. The Hon. Adam Searle put those concerns on the record—the uncertainty of pricing structures in the future and the fact that not all but many of them have permanent infrastructure on the port site. For example, a facility does not get much more permanent than Elgas—a 65,000-tonne liquid gas storage facility dug into the ground 130 metres below the port. Elgas rightly makes the point that it cannot remove its $200 million investment and take it somewhere else. It could fill it with seawater or do something else but it cannot take that facility to Newcastle or to some other place.

After going through the correspondence, having discussions with those people and encouraging most of them to have discussions with the Labor Government—some of them have had more discussions than others—we then approached the Treasurer and put some detailed questions to him. We asked for some certainty that prices on the port will remain competitive with those of potential alternative sites around Australia, not just in New South Wales. The unions’ industries are concerned that the levies raised from time to time by the Ports Corporation for the purposes of infrastructure upgrades be spent on those pieces of infrastructure for which the levies are raised and that the different sectors within the port operations—for example, the transport sector—are not paying for levies that will be used on parts of the port that do not offer the sector any advantage, any savings or, indeed do not do anything to improve the efficiency of their operations on the port.

The Transport Workers Union and the major transport companies to which we spoke—quite often at the same meeting in the same room—are rightly concerned and we asked those questions of the Government. We spent a fair amount of time considering the amendments—for example, the amendment to force all these price increases and levies through the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal alone. The Government questioned whether that proposal would be better or worse than its proposal. Nobody has a crystal ball but after a quick look at this legislation, and no-one has had six months to think about some of these issues, it seems to us—

Dr John Kaye: We offered you that. We offered you six months and you turned it down.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I thank Dr John Kaye for his generous offer. From a negotiating point of view the Government’s legislative solution appears to us to be a better solution for the port operators than simply having to rely on the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. From a commercial viewpoint it seems to us to be the better of the two solutions. We often see Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal determinations that have everybody going for the tribunal’s throat every other day and saying that the Government is abrogating its responsibility to an independent authority.

We will support the Government’s bill but we would like the Minister to answer the following specific questions in his reply to debate on the bill. Will the Minister guarantee that the Government has the power and ability to ensure that the money raised by levies on port users is spent on the purposes for which it was raised? Will the money raised from levies on any sector of port users be spent for the benefit of all port users? If port users complain of price gouging will the Government use the opportunity provided by the legislation to refer the matter to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal? Finally, will the Minister assure the House that the Government will give serious consideration to any recommendations made by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal? Having asked those questions—I hope we will get some answers—we then have to stand back and look at the situation and ask ourselves why it would be in the interests of the Government of New South Wales to allow Port Botany to become uncompetitive. Can anyone explain why that might be?

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: Because they just want the money.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, it does want the money but I assume that the Government would also want the continued growth that is provided by the throughput of that port, because it is prepared to risk the opprobrium of the electorates by lifting the caps. It does not seem logical to make an automatic assumption that the Government will have no interest in the facilities being used and expanded because it no longer will own them.

The Hon. Helen Westwood: Have a look at Sydney Airport if you want to see a good example. Sydney Airport is a good example. They are flogging it off.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, I concede that that is a good example. One could argue also that Telstra is a good example.

The ASSISTANT-PRESIDENT (Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile): Order! This is not the Committee stage of the bill.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I apologise for not speaking through the Chair. I have some other questions of a non-commercial nature to ask the Minister concerning issues that have been raised by non-port operators. The Shooters and Fishers Party—and I suppose The Greens and the Labor Party—have received representations from various community groups that wish to retain unfettered public access to the banks and the breakwall at Molineux Point. The representations have primarily been made by local fishermen, who make a very good point. They say that if they are denied access to the breakwall they will fish on the sea side. We have seen the tragic consequences when people are washed off the rocks. That happens almost on a weekly basis in high season, particularly in bad weather. Molineux Point is a valuable spot for fishermen and they can be seen along the rock wall on any day or night of the week. Many of them are shiftworkers from the port and it is convenient for them to fish there before they go home. We do not want those fishermen or any other members of the public denied access to the road and to Molineux Point.

I understand that an operator might say that it cannot guarantee the security of the facilities. I note that the Hon. Adam Searle correctly referred to one of the points made by bulk liquid operators—they want to be able to guarantee the continued security of their area of the port which lies adjacent to the road. At this time nothing in the legislation will excise that area from the port. The Government’s argument is: Who will pay for the maintenance? Will it be Botany council or will it be somebody else? The Government contends that if it is put inside the lease area the new landlord will be responsible for its maintenance.

Some people may say that there is not much to maintain on a road and a breakwall but those people should not kid themselves. Those very expensive pieces of infrastructure are of no real use to a port owner except for the prospect of the Government agreeing in the future to add additional port facilities along the breakwall. We would like an assurance from the Minister. We do not want him to say that the Government has no plans to add additional port facilities; we want an unequivocal statement that the Government will not allow further development on the south-eastern side of the port along the breakwall or at the point. Although Yarra Bay appears to have some limitations on how it could be used, expansion of the port could be a real threat in the future.

If we are given detailed assurances from the Minister and not just waffle the Shooters and Fishers Party is prepared to support the legislation to allow this sale. I call it a sale because 99 years is a long time. It is impossible for us to sit in this Chamber and imagine the technologies that will be used at the port in 99 years time. It is ridiculous even to assume that trucks and trains will still drive into the port because we do not know what will occur 100 years from now. My final point is that the maintenance and the capital requirements of a working port over such an extended period will be enormous. In those back-of-the-envelope determinations as to whether this is a good deal or bad deal for the people of New South Wales we must factor in the cost of maintaining a port of this size and capacity for the next 100 years. That cost could be enormous.

In Committee

Dr JOHN KAYE [9.48 p.m.]: I move The Greens amendment No. 2 on sheet C2012-141A:

No. 2 Page 3, clause 4. Insert after line 16:

(3) This Act does not authorise the transfer to the private sector of land comprising the Botany Bay Tourist Lookout at Molineux Point or the Prince of Wales Tourist Drive. It is unlawful for the operator of a private port under the Ports and Maritime Administration Act 1995 to prevent public access to (or charge a fee for public access to) that land.

The intention of this amendment is to ensure that Molineux Point and access to it along Prince of Wales Tourist Drive remains in public hands. Further, it provides that nothing can be done by a private port operator to prevent public access to or charge a fee for public access to that land. Molineux Point sits out on the peninsula.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.56 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party is confident that if the Government does what it says it will do the outcome sought by recreational fishers and others who want access to Molineux Point will be achieved. There is no guarantee that when these areas are held under government corporations, such as the port corporation, access will be maintained. During the term of the former Government the Shooters and Fishers Party had to make representations to Joe Tripodi to lean on the Port Kembla Port Corporation to retain access to the breakwall and Oilies wharf because the port corporation had decided in its wisdom to close off access. If the port were not privatised, there is no guarantee that the port corporation would not decide one fine day to shut off access. If it is written into the lease as a requirement it will maintain public access and the State or the council will not have to foot the bill for its maintenance.

Dr John Kaye: They can afford it.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It is a road and a long groyne. The groyne needs occasional maintenance for a stated period of 99 years, which is a long time. The maintenance of public access will save lives and it is in the Government’s interest to make sure that down the track it is not blamed for causing a death off Bear Island. For the reasons I have iterated, we oppose The Greens amendment.

Question—That The Greens amendment No. 2 [2012-141A] be agreed to—put.

The Greens amendment No. 2 [2012-141A] negatived.

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.03 p.m.]: I do not think there is any need for me to repeat my earlier contribution to debate on the previous amendment, but my remarks may add some flavour to this debate. It is interesting how quickly technology takes over. I had not concluded my speech on the second reading debate by any more than an hour—and I was not very well when I made it—when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation suddenly reported that the Shooters and Fishers Party had sold out fishermen in regards to Molineux Point. Isn’t technology marvellous? The Shooters and Fishers Party repeats its earlier contributions to the debate: This is a better deal for fishermen than what would occur by excising the area.

Dr JOHN KAYE [10.12 p.m.]: I move The Greens amendment No. 3 on sheet C2012-141A:

No. 3 Page 11, clause 16 (6), lines 14 and 19. Omit “2 years” wherever occurring. Insert instead “4 years”.

This amendment proposes to extend the employment guarantee period for permanent and temporary employees from a period of two years to four years. During the employment guarantee period the terms and conditions of those employees, who are coming from a State-owned corporation to a privately-owned corporation, cannot be varied and the employment of those transferred employees cannot be terminated by the new employer during that employment guarantee period, other than for serious misconduct, reasonable disciplinary procedures or by agreement with the employee. Under the current legislation the conditions and rights of those employees would only be perpetuated for two years. The Greens are of the view that that period is too short—in fact, it should be a period of 99 years. The Greens argue for a four-year employment guarantee by way of compromise. I commend The Greens amendment No. 3 to the Committee.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.15 p.m.]: Ordinarily the Shooters and Fishers Party would support an amendment such as this.

The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: But you have done a deal.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham is correct. The Shooters and Fishers Party has done a deal with the Maritime Union of Australia. We specifically arranged a meeting with Unions NSW and the Maritime Union of Australia to ask whether they wanted the Shooters and Fishers Party to help them obtain a better deal on the transfer package—as we did with the electricity generator workers. The young gentleman from the Maritime Union of Australia, who I thought handled himself brilliantly, said, “Mr Brown, thank you very much. I do not mean to be rude but the Maritime Union probably does not need your help. We are happy with the deal we have got. We negotiated our deal with the Treasurer three months ago.” The Shooters and Fishers Party cannot support this amendment because it does not know from where it has come.

20 November 2012

NATIONAL PARKS PEST MANAGEMENT

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware that the Auditor-General’s report to Parliament, Volume Six 2012, reports that the department made progress last year towards achieving pest control in national parks “through development of Regional Pest Management Strategies”? Is this the first time the department has operated under a specific pest management strategy? If so, how was pest control organised previously? Will the Minister provide details of how many pest animals the department removed in each of the past four years?

 MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware that the Federal Government is expecting to implement its Murray-Darling Basin Plan before the end of the year without apparent agreement from all States on issues such as caps to water buy-back schemes, infrastructure issues and aid to basin communities to adjust to any changes? Will New South Wales withdraw from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan if those issues are not resolved and if the lower lakes of the basin system are not included in the final scheme?

 SYDNEY CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT APPLICATIONS

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 17 October 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question about the time taken to get a development application approved for major construction work in Sydney. The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure has provided the following response:

The determination of development applications in the Sydney local government area with a cost of $50 million or more is undertaken by the Central Sydney Planning Committee.

For 2010-11 the average processing time for development applications assessed by New South Wales councils with a value over $50 million was 371 days. City of Sydney Council’s average determination time for development applications over $50 million was 273 days.

 ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 16 October 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question about suspending funding for the Environmental Defender’s Office. The Attorney General has provided the following response:

I am advised:

The author of the document was a client of the Environmental Defender’s Office NSW [EDO]. The Environmental Defender’s Office provided legal advice to its client in relation to the document.

It is acknowledged that the government funds the Environmental Defender’s Office. The department of Attorney General and Justice is reviewing the current funding principles which are used to grant funding for legal assistance services to ensure that front line community legal services are not diminished as a result of non-core advocacy activities.

The issue of legal assistance, including funding to community legal centres, is currently being considered by the Government. I will update the House in due course.

 15 November 2012

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware of a claim made in the Sydney Morning Herald that the Minister accused the Environmental Defender’s Office of consorting with radical socialists at a recent workshop and that he questioned its public purpose role? Was the Minister correctly quoted as saying, “This just isn’t about coal and coal-seam gas—this is about the Left agenda to destroy the economy”? If so, will the Minister provide the House with further information about the activities of the Environmental Defenders Office?

 ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General. How many cases has the Environmental Defenders Office taken to court in the past three years? Of those cases, how many did the office win? What was the cost of taking to court the ones it lost?

 JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON ELECTORAL MATTERS

Report: Inquiry into Administrative Funding for Minor Parties

The Hon. Robert Borsak, on behalf of the Chair, tabled the report entitled “Inquiry into Administrative Funding for Minor Parties”, dated November 2012.

Ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Robert Borsak.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.35 p.m.]: I move:

That the House take note of the report.

Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Robert Borsak and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

 FOSSICKING AND PROSPECTING

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.53 p.m.]: Today I wish to inform the House about fossicking. A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to speak at the 2012 Goanna Outdoor Muster. The muster was held at Mookerawa—just past Stuart Town—which I now understand to have been the original town of Ironbark and from which The Man from Ironbark came. It was a delightful weekend and I was pleased to meet dozens of fossickers. Like shooters and fishers, the fossickers came from all walks of life. Indeed, there were more than 200 people at the annual event. I take this opportunity to thank Gary Frame and his team for his invitation and for helping to organise this splendid event.

Thousands of fossickers are spread across this State and they are—to me at least—a forgotten group. This is despite the fact that they invest a lot of time and money in their hobby and travel extensively not just around the State but also interstate—and that is part of the problem. It seems that in New South Wales we go out of our way to make it hard to be a fossicker. We have restrictions on where one can fossick and how one can fossick, and by imposing any number of licence requirements simply to allow one to fossick in the first place. That is why many of our fossickers cross the borders into Queensland and Victoria, and they even drive to Western Australia to spend their money. They do so because those States do not impose so many restrictions and licence requirements; they actually encourage these domestic tourists.

Most of the people I met at Mookerawa were gold prospectors. They were searching with metal detectors, using sluices and panning. Many were also targeting gemstones such as sapphires, zircons and spinal, which often occur within gold-bearing gravels. I am also told that for most of them money is not the aim of their fossicking and prospecting—very few make a living from it. They are happy simply to cover their costs and to enjoy the Australian outdoors. Again, that sounds very much like shooters and fishers, and their concerns are similar. They are worried about access to public land in New South Wales for fossicking and prospecting, especially where that land has had previous mining operations—what one might describe as degraded land.

Many areas of State forest have been converted to national parks, commons have been closed or leased, and the 60 or so dedicated State fossicking areas have been abolished. But it is the same old story. Many important gold fossicking areas have miraculously now turned into pristine national parks and nature reserves under the National Parks and Wildlife Act which, funnily enough, forbids fossicking in these categories of reserve where in some cases mining has been carried on for 100 years. I will be approaching the Government to see what it can or will do about fossicking and giving fossickers access in particular to national parks. The fossickers feel they have been losing access because they have no effective representation of their needs, they have not been consulted and the interests of Green groups and big business have held sway. That may indeed be the case. They are not the first small group to suffer at the hands of the greedy Greens.

I am told that fossicking is not included in any plans of management for national parks or other reserves, including those previously degraded mining areas that are now pristine national parks. One could ask why not, particularly when one looks at the flowery words in the Office of Environment and Heritage Interim Corporate Plan for 2012-2013. That plan commits the department to protect our natural environment, increase opportunities for people to look after their own neighbourhoods and environments, make it easier for people to be involved in their communities, and enhance cultural, creative, sporting and recreational opportunities, amongst other things. At the very least, one would not think it would be a big ask to allow prospecting in areas of national parks where mining was traditionally carried out.

I also support the suggestion from the fossickers that bush camping should be permitted in most areas, along with four-wheel drive access, for ease of their use of national parks. Fossicking and recreational prospecting should be classed as a low environmental impact—like hunting—which should be considered separately to the interests of the broader mining industry. A suggestion that came out of my visit was that some type of ministerial advisory committee be set up to advance the interests of the hobby fossickers of this State who spend millions of dollars each year in domestic tourism. I will seek discussions with the relevant Minister. I am hopeful that the appeals of fossickers and prospectors will be heard.

13 November 2012

NATIONAL WILDLIFE CORRIDORS PLAN

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of the National Wildlife Corridors Plan unveiled recently by the Federal Minister and supported by the leader of The Greens, Mrs Milne, who said, “As the world warms, species are going to have to move or else they are going to go extinct and already some of our alpine species are faced with extinction because they can’t go any higher.” What plans does the Government have to raise the height of the Great Dividing Range and/or other mountain ranges so wildlife can avoid the rising waters? Will there be enough room at the top for humans?

24 October 2012

EMERGENCY SERVICES LEVY

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and relates to the current review of how the NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Fire and Rescue, and NSW State Emergency Service are funded. Given that the Shires Association and the Local Government Association supported calls for a property-based levy to fund emergency services, rather than from, as is currently the case, councils, the Government and insurance companies, has any economic modelling been done to indicate that a property-based levy would lead to a situation where everyone pays a smaller, more reasonable amount?

POLICE FIREARMS STORAGE INSPECTIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Police, and relates to an answer that he gave to a question in August in which he told the House:

      Police communications, including those in regard to firearms, use the encrypted NSW Police Force radio network in the greater Sydney basin. Other areas are not yet encrypted, however the rollout of this system is continuing.

Will the Minister confirm that radio rooms, and police doing firearms inspections, have been instructed to use only the CAD number when calling off on non-encrypted radio frequencies at a licensed firearms safekeeping inspection? If not, why not?

GUN LAWS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.39 p.m.]: Tonight I again wish to speak on firearms laws in this State—how unusual. Despite the incessant push by The Greens and their fellow travellers, there is no need for stricter gun laws or laws on gun ownership in New South Wales. What we have already are overly intrusive firearms laws. What we do not have are secure borders. Just last week the police reported that they uncovered a multinational illegal firearms supply ring operating between Sydney and Nashville, Tennessee, which was responsible for bringing into this country at least 20 handguns. Apparently they were smuggled to Sydney inside car engines.

While I congratulate the police, customs and other officers in America for detecting these firearms, I am left to wonder just how many more are getting past our borders. As New South Wales begins a review of its firearms regulations I emphasise that we do not need stricter laws on legal civilian ownership of legal firearms. Trends in crime do not justify it. The number of gun thefts has been decreasing for years, both in actual numbers and proportionally. I would not expect The Greens or the anti-firearms lobby to publicise the figures I am about to quote because they do not say what the antis want them to say.

The fact is that in 2001, 815 firearms were reported stolen in New South Wales. Five years later that number had almost halved to 449. In the years up to 2010, and according to the latest full year figures available, the numbers fluctuated slightly, ending at 569; but even that cannot be seen as an increase in thefts when the rate of theft is considered. As legal firearm ownership has increased in New South Wales the rate of theft continued to decrease. It decreased from 0.137 per cent of legally held firearms to 0.076 per cent between 2001 and 2010. The source of these figures is none other than the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

Other official figures reiterate the fact that the increasing popularity of the shooting sports has no negative impact on crime statistics. In fact the two seem to have no relevance to each other. The incidence of the discharge of a firearm in premises between 2007 and 2011 has been stable in Sydney and across New South Wales. The incidence of the unlawful discharge of a firearm between 2007 and 2011 has been stable in Sydney and across New South Wales. The incidence of shooting with intent to murder between 2007 and 2011 had no change in Sydney and across New South Wales. The incidence of shooting with intent other than to murder between 2007 and 2011 has been stable in Sydney and across New South Wales. The only caveat on these figures is that there was a spike in discharge of a firearm offences in 2011, a factor that police have revealed is directly linked to inter-gang conflicts—in other words, criminals using illegal weapons, not law-abiding firearm owners.

However, as expected, the anti-gun lobby jumped on this increase in criminal actions to launch a new attack on lawful firearm ownership. Disturbingly, some senior police and government bureaucrats have also turned on those who legally use firearms. The demonising of law-abiding firearm owners is an assault on the truth, as the figures I have cited clearly demonstrate. To my mind, the cries by the police bureaucrats for tighter gun laws are simply calculated distractions to try to cover up their own failings. We need a balanced and reasoned approach to the review of New South Wales firearm legislation—not simply for the good of licensed firearm owners but so that the people of our State can be assured that police time, resources and powers are focused on stopping criminal misuse of illegal firearms, not harassing ordinary citizens simply because they own and use legally held firearms. The police should not have to waste their time and effort on bureaucratic oversight of licensed shooters, who are already the most scrutinised, audited, and inspected law-abiding people in this whole State, and who pursue their sport under onerous red tape and regulations, with disproportionate penalties for minor breaches.

23 October 2012

WOOD SMOKE POLLUTION

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of the recently released “NSW Wood Smoke” discussion paper, which outlines a number of options available to councils to manage wood smoke in their areas, including requiring the removal of open fireplaces by owners before the sale of a property? Given that most heritage listed houses feature open fireplaces, how can such a policy be compatible with heritage listing? Will owners who are forced by councils to remove open fireplaces face prosecution?

SNOWY HYDRO LIMITED

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is it a fact that Snowy Hydro is undertaking a $400 million modernisation program and has warned that any changes to the Federal Government’s large-scale renewable energy target would create “sovereign risk for hydro investments to date and jeopardise future investment plans”? What is the State Government doing to protect its investment in Snowy Hydro? What discussions have been held with the Federal Government on this issue?

HUNTING IN NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 18 September 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me, representing the Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage, a question about a Public Service Association survey regarding hunting in national parks. The Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage has provided me with the following response:

        I am aware of the survey.
        I am advised as follows:
        The National Parks and Wildlife Service takes all reports of illegal activity in national parks seriously, and works cooperatively with NSW Police and the RSPCA in investigations and joint operations. Matters relating to firearms and animal welfare legislation are followed up by the NSW Police Force and the RSPCA respectively.
        The National Parks and Wildlife Service is also currently working on a memorandum of understanding with the Game Council NSW, which will include arrangements for better information sharing so that both organisations can be more effective in their shared goal of stopping illegal hunting.
HUNTING IN NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [10.52 p.m.]: I inform the House that for the first time an economic value can be put on the work of volunteer conservation hunters, who remove game and feral animals from our State forests. Over many years governments have declined to provide such figures, but I am pleased to say the O’Farrell Government has been prepared to look at the issue and do the calculations. Volunteer hunters have been working in our State forests for a number of years—without any serious incident or accidents—and have shot thousands of feral animals, providing an enormous boost to conservation efforts in relation to native wildlife.

In answer to a question recently asked in this place, I am pleased to say the information was valuable and welcome. It also bodes well for the extension of conservation hunting into national parks. I wish we did have 751 National Parks, as referred to by Hon. Walt Secord earlier. It is a fact that 457 wild dogs have been shot in State forests by Game Council conservation hunters between March 2006 and September this year. I mention this in passing because wild dogs have become a serious threat to livestock and, indeed, farming livelihoods across the State. But it is not just wild dogs that are being shot.

Forests NSW has conceded that if commercial rates had to be applied to the removal of the 18,485 feral and game animals from its estate, as has been done by Game Council conservation hunters last year alone, the cost would have amounted to a total of $2.4 million. This is an illuminating figure. It means that Game Council hunters have saved the Government at least that amount of money. This figure does not include any add-on benefits for the rural and regional economies, whereby hunters buy their food, fuel and other supplies for their hunts.

By contrast, we know that the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers have a budget of about $30 million a year for the removal of feral animals and weeds, and for bushfire mitigation work. Even if only a third of that goes towards removing feral animals, it gives them a $10 million budget. Until recently the National Parks and Wildlife Service could not, or would not, say how many animals it was removing each year. The Shooters and Fishers Party has been putting pressure on it to reveal the statistics, and it has finally got some information.

Suddenly, and out of thin air, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has come up with a figure of something like 26,000 feral animals being removed each year—from its seven million hectares of national parks. I do not like to be a doubting Thomas, but I think the 26,000 figure is probably a bit like the 38 million figure that the service trots out as being the number of tourists and visitors who use our national parks each year. There can be no doubt that the sooner we can get conservation hunters into the national parks the better off our native animals will be. They have proved that they can do the job efficiently and effectively.

The general public need have no concerns. There has been no impact on public use of State forests since the inception of the feral animal shooting program. I think the criticism of the scheme by The Greens is disingenuous. They say they want feral animals out of our national parks, but they want professionals to do it—or else use poison. They insult Game Council licence holders by trying to belittle them and claim they will not be professional. These guys will be amongst the best marksmen out there. They are doing the job as professionally as the rangers do, and do not have the benefit of helicopter gunships and automatic weapons.

In respect of poisoning, The Greens do not understand how compound 1080 works. If they had seen an animal dying from this poison, they would not be backing its use. Having helped set up the Game Council, I take some pride in how it has developed and how it has conducted the feral animal control operation in State forests. It is of major benefit to the State, and its staff should be congratulated—not vilified as The Greens seem to prefer. Let me repeat: The sooner we get Game Council volunteer conservation hunters into our national parks to shoot feral animals the better off our native animals will be.

18 October 2012

TREE PLANTATIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is it a fact that Professor David Lindenmayer of the Australian National University recently warned that the rush to plant trees to offset carbon emissions could have a harmful impact on Australia’s native environment if it is not carefully managed and that a poorly planned plantation boom could cause needless land clearing, add to invasive species and damage natural ecological processes? What is the Government doing to ensure that there is no such impact in New South Wales?

NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware that last month a citizen’s jury recommended that the Government start a discussion about nuclear power stations in New South Wales as an issue that should not be dismissed? Will the Government accept the recommendation? Will the Government facilitate the use of nuclear power in New South Wales?

 WILD DOGS

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 11 September 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question about wild dogs in State forests. I provide the following response:

A total of 457 wild dogs have been shot by Game Council conservation hunters in State forests during the period of March 2006 to September 2012.

During this period, hired contractors were not employed by Forests NSW to remove wild dogs.

Forests NSW estimates that if commercial rates were applied to the removal of 18,485 feral and game animals from its estate, this would total $2.4 million during 2011-12.

 FIREARMS REGISTRY

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 18 September 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question about the error rates in the New South Wales Firearms Registry database. I provide the following response:

The NSW Police Force has advised me that inquiries with other States and Territories reveal that most are not required to routinely report on errors within their databases. The Firearms Registry database does not define errors as such. However, processes are in place to ensure the accuracy and completeness of registry records.

17 October 2012

SYDNEY CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT APPLICATIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. Is the Minister aware that in cities such as Berlin and London the skylines feature many cranes involved in major building developments whereas in Sydney there is only one visible crane, which has been situated above the Supreme Court of New South Wales for at least six years, and it appears that there are no others? Is it a fact that major development applications in the Sydney central business district are taking two years to be processed by Clover Moore’s Sydney city council? If that is not correct, will the Minister tell the House how long it takes to get a development application approved for major construction work in Sydney?

SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAM

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Education. Given that yesterday was World Food Day, what figures does the department have on the numbers of children who attend school each day without having had breakfast or who will not have lunch because of financial circumstances at home? What percentage of these children could be provided with a simple basic meal on a regular basis during the school year for a program amount of, say, $250,000?

 COASTAL PROTECTION AMENDMENT BILL 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.04 p.m.]: My contribution will be brief and, as usual, to the point. I did not intend to speak on this legislation, but having heard the contributions made by members of The Greens I simply could cop it; I decided that I must say something. Their speeches were redolent of class warfare and their hatred of private ownership of property. The argument about the State Government transferring responsibility for this potential problem to local government is hypocritical. What about the imposition of the E2 and E3 zones? Councils will have to address that problem.

This legislation also demonstrates that the Government still has not learnt that when a party wins an election it is awarded a prize—it is called “government”. It should not half do bills; it should do them properly. I hope that the Government will tear down more of these fabricated bricks of Green-Labor ideology that have been built into our legislation over the past 16 years—the Native Vegetation Act comes to mind. While I support the bill, I give the Government half marks—the bill is not quite good enough.

16 October 2012

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of comments by the South Australian Premier that farmers who suffer stock loss and property damage from flooding because of the extra environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin do not deserve compensation? What is the Government doing to protect New South Wales farmers in the debate over returning water to the basin, and what preparations have been made should South Australia take High Court action if at least 3,200 gigalitres of water is not returned in the Gillard Government’s first national plan for the river system, which is to be tabled by the end of next month?

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE ADVICE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General, and it follows on from a question I asked in March about funding for the Environmental Defenders Office. Is the Minister aware of reports in yesterday’s Australian, which claimed that a senior executive from the Environmental Defenders Office helped draft a document titled “Stopping the Coal Export Boom: Funding Proposal for the Australian Anti-Coal Movement” as part of a plan or alleged plan by Greenpeace to cripple Australian coal exports by disrupting and delaying key projects in infrastructure? Given the Environmental Defenders Office’s alleged involvement in this matter, will the Government now immediately suspend funding to the Environmental Defenders Office and follow the leader of Queensland by conducting a review of such community legal centres and their role in political activism?

 NATIVE VEGETATION REGULATIONS

On 21 August 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding native vegetation regulations. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

As the Minister for Roads and Ports said in his answer, the Government is consulting with, and listening to, the views of a broad cross-section of interested parties on this issue, especially farmers.

Further information about progress on this matter should be referred to the Hon Robyn Parker MP, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage.

FIREARMS REGISTRY

On 22 August 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services a question without notice regarding the firearms registry. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

The NSW Police Force has advised me that the envelopes used by the Firearms Registry are unmarked in that they are not identified as coming from either the NSW Police Force or the Firearms Registry, or as correspondence regarding firearms. However, they do display the Registry’s Locked Bag return mail address.

MEDWAY MINE

On 23 August 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding the Medway Mine. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

(1)-(2) The NSW Government recognises the enormous benefits the resources sector delivers to this State, including employment of over 35,000 people directly and nearly 86,000 people indirectly through mine and non-mine related services.

The NSW Government will continue to support the ongoing development of the resources sector to ensure its continued expansion and associated economic growth.

The Berrima Colliery employs more than 40 persons directly, with at least twice this number potentially employed indirectly in mine and non mine related service industries in the area.

Based on 2010-11 average weekly earnings figures for NSW coal miners, the annual direct wages paid at the Berrima Colliery could exceed $5.0 million.

FIREARMS THEFT

On 5 September 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services a question without notice regarding firearms theft. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

The NSW Police Force has advised me that it is normal investigative procedure to investigate any possible links between crimes of a similar nature. Firearm audits were performed on the five properties in question between May 2010 and September 2011.

WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

On 5 September 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding water infrastructure. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

There have been significant changes to community expectations, State and Commonwealth legislation, and environmental and regulatory requirements since Welcome Reef Dam was first proposed in 1968.

Information and data that was not previously available, alternative supply and demand management measures and an improved understanding of the adverse environmental, socioeconomic and heritage impacts of a dam at Welcome Reef have changed the viability of this option.

I am advised that the site is one of the drier large storage sites in NSW and could take many years to fill. The topography is such that the lake would be relatively shallow with a large surface area (15,300ha). The average depth would be 20-25m with 600ha less than one metre deep. Evaporation rates would be extremely high and there would be a high risk of blue-green algae outbreaks. Climate change models are pointing to greater evaporation rates, increases in temperature and decreases in rainfall in the Welcome Reef catchment.

Environmental impacts will result from inundation of 15,300 ha of land, resulting in flooding of the Shoalhaven and Mongarlowe Rivers, Boro and Reedy Creeks and smaller tributaries.

SOLAR FEED-IN TARIFFS

On 6 September 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding solar feed-in tariffs. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

AGL is a licensed retailer.

There has been no change to the statutory entitlements of NSW Solar Bonus Scheme customers, and they will continue to receive their entitlements under the Scheme until it closes on 31 December 2016.

There have been a number of circumstances in which electricity retailers have contacted customers to advise changes to their tariff rates.

One situation is where the tariff paid under the Solar Bonus Scheme drops from 60¢ to 20¢ kW/h. This occurs if:

• a new customer takes over the electricity account at a premises in the Scheme; or

• if a 60¢ customer increases the size of their generator.

AGL advises that a number of customers who were not eligible for Solar Bonus Scheme payments were initially receiving 68¢ kW/h as the company did not have the system functionality to make payments in line with its market offer of 8¢.

The company recently resolved this issue and is advising relevant customers that they will now receive their normal market offer. These customers have not lost an entitlement as they were not eligible for Scheme payments, are not required to pay back any money, and are not financially disadvantaged by virtue of having received the extra payment for a period of time.

This is a matter between the retailer and the customer.

COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS

On 6 September 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government, a question without notice regarding council amalgamations. The Minister for Local Government provided the following response:

The local government sector recognises the need to change. It has been working with the State Government as part of the Destination 2036 initiative and asked the Government to establish a review of local government.

The Government established an Independent Local Government Review Panel to investigate and identify options for governance models, structural arrangements and boundary changes for local government in NSW. The review will take into consideration the financial sustainability of each local government area. The Panel is consulting extensively with councils, communities and other stakeholders to identify the issues and possible solutions. It is due to report to me by July 2013.

In conducting the review, the Panel will take into account the Liberal-National’s 2011 election policy of no forced amalgamations.

BEEHIVE DESTRUCTION

On 11 September 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services a question without notice regarding beehive destruction. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

The NSW Police Force has advised me that it is investigating the alleged destruction of 1,600 beehives on the Far North Coast earlier this year through Strike Force Barragoot. This is a complex ongoing investigation and as such it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

NATIONAL PARKS AND TOURISM

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [7.15 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about nature-based tourism developments in national parks. I note that The Greens are actively against this but The Greens are not always right on matters of the environment and how best to run national parks. The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission recently released its report on that State’s tourism industry and significantly, in my opinion, recommended tourism development in national parks. The Victorian Government apparently has accepted all the commission’s recommendations, including that private sector investment and business will be allowed to “propose sensible and sensitive developments in national parks, provided they complement environmental, heritage and other values and generate a net public benefit”. In an effort to speed up such developments, the Victorian Government will “reform current policy to allow appropriate environmentally sensitive, private sector tourism investment in national parks”.

The concern for New South Wales is that Victorian Treasurer Kim Wells has conceded that if Victoria hopes to attract more international visitors, particularly from markets such as China, it needs to meet the rapidly growing demand for nature-based tourism. I fear that New South Wales will risk missing the boat on this goldmine of international visitors if it does not keep up with the main game. We are told that nearly 40 million people visit our national parks each year, although I suggest that the figures cannot be verified as being anywhere near accurate. We are told that they are estimates only, with no real basis in fact. We need to make sure that any increase in this nature-based tourism from places like China also benefits New South Wales. On the one hand, Victorian tourism advocacy groups rightly argue that tourism in national parks is good for conservation and good for business “because it lets those best at running commercial enterprises focus on that while the national park agencies can return to managing the conservation elements”.

On the other hand, and not at all surprisingly, the Victorian arm of that auspicious group, the National Parks Association, is opposing the Government move in the same way that the New South Wales branch opposes anything that the New South Wales Government wants to do in national parks. It is concerned about the conflicting values of conservation and commercialism, except when its wishes commercially to exploit national parks by fundraising through scare campaigns. The two are not mutually exclusive but the National Parks Association wants things done its way or not at all—preferably not at all. Why can commercial businesses not contribute positively to the environment? Surely the checks and balances of this modern age will provide a win-win situation.

What does the National Parks Association have to say about the development in Tasmania called Cradle Mountain Lodges, which is in a high environmental value area and is successful from a business and environmental perspective? Tourists travelling from around Australia, and indeed from around the world, pay for the experience of tourism developments in that Tasmanian national park. That is not a new concept but obviously one that the National Parks Association will never accept. Surely we are now mature enough to be at the point where each proposed development or activity in our national parks can be assessed on its own merits and then, with full examination and exposure, be either approved or rejected.

Let us get the process started. Neither The Greens nor the National Parks Association runs New South Wales any longer. This Government has a marvellous opportunity to get things done. Nature-based tourism developments in our national parks should be a no brainer for all. I am willing to bet that should the Government advertise for expressions of interest it will almost be knocked over in the rush. The Shooters and Fishers Party stands ready to help the Government get this great initiative up and running—the sooner the better.

20 September 2012

FIREARMS REGISTRY

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 16 August 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me as Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General, a question regarding the personal data of firearm owners. I now provide the following response:

Following the member’s question a detailed response from the NSW Police Force was requested concerning the security of names and addresses of firearms owners with specific regard to the distribution of those details within police stations for the purposes of conducting firearms safety audits.

I am advised local area commands have different procedures for the handling and distribution of those details for audit purposes.

I am advised some commands do place these documents in officer pigeonholes for collection by those officers when they commence duty.

I am further advised that all such information is disposed of securely via shredding or security bins.

In light of the advice provided by police, and notwithstanding the inherent security of police stations, through my office the NSW Police Force Commissioner Andrew Scipione has been requested to curtail the use of unsecured pigeonholes for the distribution of firearm owner details as soon as possible.

WIND TURBINES

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.48 p.m.]: Madam Deputy-President—

The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner): Order! If the Hon. Robert Borsak is wearing a badge that is larger than the permitted size, he will have to remove it.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: Madam-President, my badge is the same size as the Legislative Council badge. I checked.

The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner): Order! I will not get out the ruler. The Hon. Robert Borsak has the call. I was wearing a larger badge earlier, but I took it off.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: Tonight I wish to speak about alternative energy, such as solar and wind power. I note the recent pledge by the Government to triple the amount of energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels in New South Wales over the next eight years—at no extra cost to the public. Given that people in the past few weeks have been receiving their latest quarterly electricity bill and that many have seen a 50 per cent increase, I can only wish the Government good luck. Wind farms particularly have been very divisive in local communities, nowhere more so than in the Boorowa district. I have no doubt that many members in this place have had meetings with and information from groups opposed to wind turbines. Their concerns about wind turbines are genuine. Of particular concern is the concept of infrasound, although there are arguments both ways about whether it exists.

Boorowa people are convinced it does—and have taken up the fight—but feel they are not being listened to by the authorities, so I have undertaken to put some of their concerns on the public record. They claim infrasound is produced by industrial wind turbines and has been measured inside the homes of people who are experiencing wind turbine syndrome symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, tinnitus, sleep disturbance, or waking up with panic attacks in the dead of night—just to name a few. The effects that infrasound has on human health are also apparently well documented and written about in many peer reviewed papers, but the wind industry seemingly ignores or rejects them.

I am told there are similar ranges and patterns of symptoms from residents affected by industrial infrasound and low-frequency noise from other sources, including gas-fired power stations and open-cut coalmining. This is an area in which little proper research data has been collected. However, this does not mean that there is not a serious and rapidly growing problem—nor does it mean that relevant existing evidence and research should be ignored. I believe the wind industry and NSW Health can no longer rely on the outdated and inadequate 2010 rapid review statement of the National Health and Medical Research Council to justify their inaction in taking precautions to protect residents from industrial wind turbines, and subsequent contempt of the many rural residents who have had to abandon their homes to escape the noise pollution to which they are constantly subjected just to enjoy a good night’s sleep. In effect, they have become wind farm refugees.

I am told NSW Health has not done its own health studies, nor has the Department of Infrastructure and Planning done its own noise studies. I would be disappointed if they are both relying on reports mainly provided by the wind industry. The people of Boorowa feel that technology is being imposed on rural communities without any adequate safety data beforehand. They believe that complying with New South Wales Government guidelines is relatively easy for wind farm developers. However, they also maintain that the turbines in their area have been proven to be creating adverse impacts on human health. There is an apprehension by many country people that the draft guidelines have basically been formulated by the wind industry and New South Wales Department of Infrastructure and Planning bureaucrats in order to have development approvals easily granted. They are also concerned that overseas multinational companies continue to pick up the government subsidies in the form of renewable energy credits when the turbines are built and operating.

One would have thought transparency and openness would be a big part of this emerging industry. Developers have been asked to give written guarantees that residents will not be adversely impacted by the industrial wind turbines, yet to date not one developer has been willing to give such a guarantee. We can see why those having these turbines placed near their homes are worried. They need full and proper consideration—and it is up to the Government to ensure that they get it.

19 September 2012

FARMING SECTOR

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is it a fact that at least one farmer a week is quitting the land as a direct result of cheap imported products undercutting their livelihoods and forcing them to sell their products for less than the cost of production? What is the New South Wales Government doing to ensure that the warning of New South Wales Farmers Association vice-president, Peter Darley, that “if the country doesn’t change shopping habits or importation laws, there will be no horticulture in five years” does not become reality?

 POLICE FIREARMS STORAGE INSPECTIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Following on from the Minister’s answer yesterday when he advised that the encrypted NSW Police Force radio network, which is used in the greater Sydney Basin, was being rolled out into other areas of New South Wales, can the Minister provide the House with a time frame for that program? In the interim, can the Minister assure the House that he will immediately require the commissioner to enact protocols that will ensure that details of addresses at which firearm storage inspections are being held are not broadcast by the unencrypted radio system?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I thank the member for his question and his ongoing genuine interest in the security of information that is broadcast over our police radio network. It is fair to say that the unencrypted police radio network has been in place for many years, as has police methodology regarding the transmission of information over that network. Police adapt to a range of measures to ensure that, where possible on those unencrypted systems, limited information is available on a range of investigations being conducted.

Equally they are mindful of simply going to an address and of the circumstances surrounding the matter that they are attending to. The member is particularly vigilant and concerned about the ongoing opportunities that may exist for information to be broadcast over an unencrypted radio network. That information may reveal to any person who is listening—who may have no lawful right to be listening—addresses of people being broadcast, particularly in country areas of New South Wales. It may also identify a person who has a firearm at particular premises and the reason that police are attending, and that may be to conduct a firearm audit and inspect the firearms at the premises.

The member has raised this with me both privately and in the House. I will seek an undertaking from the Commissioner of Police to get a better understanding of the concerns that have been raised and also the practicalities in terms of application by police. The member has asked a reasonable and fair question. It may well be that some simple changes to standard operational procedures employed by police—not just in relation to firearm audits but in relation to a range of matters where there may be some sensitivity—require consideration.

CLASSIFICATION (PUBLICATIONS, FILMS AND COMPUTER GAMES) ENFORCEMENT AMENDMENT (R 18+ COMPUTER GAMES) BILL 2012

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.01 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party will support the Christian Democratic Party in voting against this legislation.

The Hon. Amanda Fazio: What about shoot-’em-up games?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Particularly those. The one question I have for Parliamentary Secretary Ajaka was highlighted by the contribution of the Hon. Steve Whan. If the Commonwealth censor is now incapable of keeping inappropriate material out of the MA 15+ category, why does the categorisation of a repository for some of those films in R 18+ guarantee that that will happen? If the Commonwealth censor cannot do it now, what compunction is there for him or her to lift those inappropriate video games now classified MA 15+ out of that category? I do not necessarily know that the Commonwealth will be able to do that and therefore when we come to harmonise all our legislation down the track—

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: Who will enforce it?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: The other aspect that I find a bit disturbing, and this is a personal view—I have not done the research in depth as the Hon. Greg Donnelly has done, but I take the honourable member’s word for it—is that the research supports 80:20 or 90:10 the concept that violent audiovisual games can affect young minds in particular. As I have said previously in this House, one firearms and hunting show that I go to has a big banner that hangs on the wall that says, “Kids that hunt and fish don’t deal and steal.” I have a friend who writes the storybooks for video games and has done for 10 or 15 years since the time they were very basic games. He concentrates on science fiction themes, not necessarily violence and that sort of stuff.

When you see the violence in some of these games that are based on combat situations in real-life wars that are happening around the world you realise the one difference between what happens in those video games and what happens in real life is the thing called “restart” or “reset”. You blow up all your enemies—you cut, maim, kill, rape and murder—them you press a button and it goes away and you can do it all again. If you take a kid out with a rifle and he shoots a rabbit he has to see what impact the projectile had on that rabbit. He might even learn how to skin it, gut it, section it and eat it. That child knows exactly what that is. The reset button takes all that away. It is fantasy. Life is not like that. If a bloke hits you hard in the face, on the nose, it hurts.

The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: Bloody oath. Look out.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I was not talking to you, Jeremy. But if you do it in a video game you press the reset button. Members will notice I have a pretty face—I have never been hit on the nose, unlike Parliamentary Secretary Ajaka. He could never move as fast as I did. The point I am making is that video games can and will have an impact on the attitude of our youth to their own invulnerability. They seem to think they are bulletproof. But in real life you cannot press a button and have the person you have just annihilated stand up again. It does not work like that. My problem with this legislation is that I do not think the State Government, with all the good intent in the world, will be able to guarantee that the Commonwealth chief censor will be able to make any positive changes by taking some of the current strong violent games out of MA 15+ and putting them into R 18+. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Christian Democratic Party and vote against this bill.

Question—That this bill be now read a second time—put.

The House divided.

Ayes, 32

Mr Ajaka
Ms Barham
Mr Blair
Mr Buckingham
Mr Colless
Ms Cotsis
Ms Cusack
Mr Donnelly
Ms Faehrmann
Ms Ficarra
Miss Gardiner
Mr Gay
Dr Kaye
Mr Khan
Mr Lynn
Mr MacDonald
Mrs Maclaren-Jones
Mr Mason-Cox
Mrs Mitchell
Mr Moselmane
Mrs Pavey
Mr Primrose
Mr Searle
Mr Secord
Ms Sharpe
Mr Shoebridge
Mr Veitch
Ms Voltz
Ms Westwood
Mr Whan
Tellers,
Ms Fazio
Dr Phelps

Noes, 4

Mr Brown
Reverend Nile
Tellers,
Mr Borsak
Mr Green

Question resolved in the affirmative.

18 September 2012

HUNTING IN NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware that responses to a Public Service Association survey last week of 292 people included claims that rangers had “witnessed and observed signs of unauthorised hunting in national parks and many had details of dead native animals and unsafe hunting practices”.?Those claims are similar, if not identical, to claims made when the Game Council established the State Forest program seven years ago. Can the Minister tell the House if these rangers reported the breaches to police or any other authority, and will the Minister have the Public Service Association provide the Office of Environment and Heritage with any evidence it may have in order that the claims can be, first, substantiated and, second, investigated?

FIREARMS REGISTRY

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Can the Minister inform the House whether he is aware that other jurisdictions routinely report on the error rates in firearms registry databases? Can the Minister confirm for the House whether there is an error rate in the New South Wales Firearm Registry database and if so what is that error rate and how is it defined?

POLICE FIREARMS STORAGE INSPECTIONS

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 14 August 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question relating to police inspections of private home firearms storage. I provide the following answer:

Police communications, including those in regard to firearms, use the encrypted NSW Police Force radio network in the greater Sydney basin. Other areas in New South Wales are not yet encrypted, however the rollout of this system is continuing.

 JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE NSW WORKERS COMPENSATION SCHEME

Report: New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme

Debate resumed from 11 September 2012.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [5.08 p.m.]: As I was saying last week, the report itself contains 28 recommendations, many of which the Government has already accepted and enacted into law. I will not read them into Hansard because the report has been tabled and many of the issues in it were canvassed in June 2012 during debate on the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2012. However, I will briefly mention recommendation 16, which recommends that the Government establish a joint standing committee to undertake an initial detailed review of the scheme and, more importantly, that the Government provide ongoing oversight of the New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme by undertaking annual reviews of its operations, management and performance. This continued oversight of the scheme is particularly important.

We have already seen through the passage of the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 in June that there can be some unintended consequences from a review that has tight reporting time frames. Thus we can press the Government to take action immediately to set up this joint standing committee to allow for ongoing regular review and adjustment to the scheme, as and when necessary. Everyone agreed that changes needed to be made but it was important that no worker be worse off under any proposed changes. It is common ground that the Government needs to ensure that this is the case insofar as it relates to injured workers and their ability to receive just compensation. As I indicated, there can be unintended consequences when legislation is rushed through Parliament. However, there is no reason that such unintended consequences cannot be quickly rectified through amending legislation should the Government desire, knowing full well that it would have support across all political parties.

Since the passing of the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 in June one particular issue has created a great deal of disquiet. Namely, under the new system, insurers will have the privilege of being able to fund their defence to employer premiums while injured workers will have to bear their own legal costs, even when a legitimate claim has been denied. This means that many workers would have little or no capacity to pay for a lawyer to represent them—which, in many instances, would amount to over $5,000 at least—yet insurers will be legally represented or represented by experts employed in-house. If the amount likely to be recovered by the claimant is small, it may not be cost-effective to pursue the matter. However, the injury may have unforeseen costs in the future.

This issue has been raised with the Shooters and Fishers Party by the Law Society of New South Wales and the New South Wales Bar Association, as well as many individual lawyers, Unions NSW and other unions, the New South Wales Business Council, and by many Government and Opposition members. We hope that the Minister is prudent and will endeavour to rectify the unintended consequence that has occurred by introducing requisite amending legislation. Once again, I thank the committee secretariat and committee members for their constructive and thorough approach to the inquiry. I commend the report to the House.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.06 p.m.], in reply: I thank all my colleagues who made contributions to this debate: the Hon. Paul Green, the Hon. Niall Blair, the Hon. Trevor Khan, the Hon. Adam Searle, Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, the Hon. Scot MacDonald, the Hon. Lynda Voltz and the Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox. As I previously noted in my contribution, due to the time constraints of this inquiry it has not been possible to examine and canvass the full range of reform options in the issues paper in detail. However, I trust that the Government is prudent enough to quickly act upon any unintended consequence that may arise from the legislation that was passed by both Houses as a result of this short but necessary inquiry into the New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme and the release of the issues paper that canvassed options for the reform.

Given the highly sensitive nature of the inquiry, I again thank all members of the committee from both Houses for their collegiate approach throughout the inquiry. I particularly thank Hansard and the committee secretariat for their work during the inquiry. I also thank the secretariat for their work on this report. I commend the report to the House.

Question—That the House take note of the report—put and resolved in the affirmative.

11 September 2012

WILD DOGS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. What is the total number of wild dogs shot by Game Council conservation hunters in State Forests compared to those shot by hired contractors during the last six and a half years? Has Forests NSW been able to reduce the amount of money spent on animal control due to the work of conservation hunters and, if so, by how much?

 BEEHIVE DESTRUCTION

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. What progress has been made in the investigation into the destruction of 1,600 beehives which were sprayed with household insecticide near Batemans Bay on the far South Coast earlier this year?

 JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE NEW SOUTH WALES WORKERS COMPENSATION SCHEME

Report: New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme

Debate resumed from 13 June 2012.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.27 p.m.]: I am pleased to speak on the report of the Joint Select Committee on the New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme. The joint select committee was established by both Houses of Parliament on 2 May 2012, following the announcement by the Government of its intention to reform the New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme and the release of an issues paper, which canvassed options for reform. The terms of reference required the committee to have particular regard to the performance of the New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme in meeting its key objectives of promoting better health outcomes and return to work outcomes of injured workers; the financial sustainability of the scheme and its impact on the New South Wales economy; and the functions and operations of the WorkCover Authority. Despite the short six-week duration allocated for the inquiry, the committee received several hundred submissions that highlighted the complexity and scale of the New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme and, in particular, the problems it faced in its future financial sustainability and viability.

During the hearing some 32 organisations and agencies appeared, as did 10 individuals who shared their workplace injury experiences and their experiences with the workers compensation scheme. In total, 79 witnesses appeared over the three hearing days of this inquiry. I take this opportunity to thank the committee members: Deputy Chair Mark Speakman, Mr Michael Daley, Mr Rob Stokes, the Hon. Niall Blair, the Hon. Paul Green,the Hon. Trevor Khan and the Hon. Adam Searle. I also thank all the witnesses who took the time to attend the inquiry and for the information they provided. I particularly thank those individuals who shared their personal experiences with the committee. I thank the committee secretariat: Rachel Callinan, Vanessa Viaggio, Teresa McMichael and Shu-Fang Wei for their huge assistance in this very tight and time-constrained inquiry, and for preparing the report. I thank all committee members for their cooperation and thorough approach in the conduct of the hearing, given the highly sensitive nature of the inquiry.

The report is comprised of two main chapters. In chapter two the committee examines the financial sustainability of the scheme and considers stakeholders’ views on the size and implications of the scheme deficit. There is a general consensus among all stakeholders that some sort of reform is needed if the scheme is to remain financially sustainable into the future. In chapter 3 the committee examines the options for reform contained in the issues paper released by the Minister for Finance and Services and looks at a number of reform proposals in detail based on the broad response of stakeholders and evidence presented to the committee. I note, however, that due to the time constraints of this inquiry it has not been possible to examine and canvass the full range of reform options in the issues paper in detail. The report contains 28 recommendations, many of which the Government has already accepted and enacted into law.

6 September 2012

SOLAR FEED-IN TARIFFS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware of claims that AGL, as an electricity distributor in New South Wales, is telling relevant customers in a letter that, despite contracts that will run until 2016, from the first meter reading after 1 September their solar feed-in tariff will be reduced from 60¢ per kilowatt hour to 20¢ per kilowatt hour? Has the Government moved to reduce the feed-in tariffs despite customers having set contracts for several more years?

COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government. In March this year did the Minister claim that the structure of local councils in New South Wales had to change and that almost half of the 152 councils in the State were struggling financially? Will the Minister provide an updated estimate of how many rural and regional councils will be put in the position of having to amalgamate to survive because of financial imperatives? Will he state what impact this will have on local government employment in those areas?

5 September 2012

FIREARMS THEFT

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is the Minister aware of media reports that police said they would investigate possible links between five thefts of guns in the Mudgee Local Area Command in the past few months? When did the police last do firearms inspection checks on any of these premises?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: The Hon. Robert Borsak obviously is aware that the Government will not provide him with a running commentary in this place. There are probity issues about what aspects of police investigations need to be in the public domain. I will seek an answer from the NSW Police Force and provide it to the Hon. Robert Borsak. Firearms owners need to have confidence in police investigations but I do not believe that information should be available in the public domain to be used by those with less than genuine purposes. As the Hon. Robert Borsak represents firearms owners and users and has a genuine interest in this matter, I will obtain an answer from the NSW Police Force and provide it to him.

 WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. I ask the Minister whether he is aware of a submission by the Department of Premier and Cabinet to the Legislative Council inquiry into water storage in the State which reads:

Any new storages will need to meet both State and Commonwealth approval, provide a net public benefit, be cost effective, in a suitable location, take into account the environment, existing policy and supply in the area.

Can the Minister indicate which of those conditions the Welcome Reef site does not meet? If it meets any of those conditions why is that the case?

4 September 2012

CAPACITY-BASED MENTAL HEALTH LEGISLATION

The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ [3.00 p.m.]:

1. That this House notes:

(a) the tragic murder of Nick Waterlow and Chloe Waterlow at the hand of a family member, and the terrible impact this has had on their entire family,

(b) that their son and brother Antony Waterlow was found not guilty of this murder on the grounds of mental illness,

(c) that this case has generated significant debate both in the public domain and amongst the psychiatry community regarding the effectiveness of psychiatric treatment under the narrow interpretation of the NSW Mental Health Act which requires intervention only when “necessary for the person’s own protection from serious harm”.

2. That this House calls on the Government to conduct a public inquiry into the current definition of the Mental Health Act 2007 and investigate wider calls for a move to capacity-based mental health legislation to ensure that treatment of people with mental illnesses is not restricted due to their decision making incapacity.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.27 p.m.]: I congratulate the Hon. Lynda Voltz on moving this motion. The Shooters and Fishers Party is sympathetic to the outcomes that the member is trying to achieve but defers to the lead of the Christian Democrats on this issue. In doing so, we will also commit to bringing our influence to bear on the Government to treat the review of the Act seriously. Many members in this House have had personal or family experiences with mental health problems. My family has not been immune from that. I was a young man at the time of the Richmond report but if I had been a bit older I most likely would have got my hands around that man’s throat because of the damage that he caused in this State to people suffering mental health problems.

There is always a fine balance when considering the civil liberties of people with a mental disorder and the question of whether they are capable of determining their own best interests, which is a terrible term with which to come to grips. The review of the Act, which is due in June 2013, will commence in about 10 months time. The Shooters and Fishers Party is serious about ensuring that in its review the Government is cognisant of the issues raised by the Hon. Lynda Voltz. I imagine that the Government will conduct a proper review. We look forward to community consultation on these issues.

For the reason that we could move immediately to refer the matter to a general purpose standing committee or a select committee to examine the issue, I would like to support the motion, but the Shooters and Fishers Party will defer to its colleagues the Christian Democrats and simply thank the Hon. Lynda Voltz for drawing the matter to the attention of the House and moving a motion that is worthy of support. If the Government plays its part properly, the Shooters and Fishers Party believes that that will achieve the desired outcome.

GAME AND FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL FURTHER AMENDMENT BILL 2012

Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Robert Brown.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.52 p.m.]: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to introduce the Game and Feral Animal Control Further Amendment Bill 2012. The bill is very simple and straight forward, so I will not take up much of the time of the House with my second reading speech. The bill addresses a major problem in New South Wales, particularly for irrigation farmers. Currently, New South Wales farmers must apply to the National Parks and Wildlife Service for a permit under sections 120 and 121 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and duck hunters must pass a Waterfowl Identification Test and then apply for a permit under sections 120 and 121 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to be issued with a game hunting licence by the Game Council NSW. That is duplication of effort. The bill simply removes much unnecessary red tape by condensing the administration under one single licensing authority—the Game Council NSW. As is similar with the current system, the bill provides for the granting of a game management licence authorising the owner or occupier of specified land, or a licensed hunter, to hunt on that land for non-commercial purposes ducks and other native game birds that have been listed as game animals. The bill does not authorise the hunting of native game birds on public lands. The same provisions that apply currently to game hunting licences, including provisions disqualifying certain persons from being granted a licence, also will apply to game management licences.

Further, the bill enables the Game Council NSW to impose special restrictions and quotas regarding the hunting of native game birds listed as game animals. Requirements relating to the tagging of those birds captured or killed are similar to current requirements but without the current bureaucratic duplication. Again, as is currently the case, persons will not be authorised to hunt or kill any such bird unless they have passed an official identification test of native waterfowl. The test will be conducted by or on behalf of the Game Council NSW or other bodies recognised by the council. The Game Council will recognise also any test conducted before the commencement of this section by or on behalf of the Department of Environment and Climate Change in connection with the identification of native waterfowl, and the same test administered in other States.

According to the Ricegrowers Association of Australia, early in the season this year 5,000 hectares of rice were lost as a result of damage caused to the crops by ducks. A further 11,500 hectares had to be re-sown—some areas numerous times—and that is the largest area ever to be re-sown. The value of lost production has been calculated at $10 million and does not include the costs associated with re-sown seed, fuel and other labour costs. Those of us who travel further west than Leichardt and Marrickville know that farming life is not easy. Indeed, it is financially devastating for irrigation farmers who are experiencing a good season to have their crops ruined, particularly by water fowl. Rice is not the only crop hit each year by water fowl; of course, many green crops are destroyed by certain duck species. Last year the re-opened Coleambally rice mill processed 800,000 tonnes and it expects to receive 960,000 tonnes this harvest. Farmers deserve every chance to maximise their crops and not to have them eaten by game birds. I commend the bill to the House.

 FERAL ANIMALS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [7.17 p.m.]: Tonight I talk again about feral animals and the concept of governments using a bounty system to control their numbers. The Shooters and Fishers Party has raised this issue on a number of occasions—it has referred in particular to foxes—with this Government and with the former Labor Government but the answer that we keep getting back is that it does not work. Perhaps this Government and members of the former Labor Government should tell that to the 100,000 feral foxes that have been shot in less than a year under the Victorian Government’s bounty system—that is, 100,000 foxes at $10 per scalp for a total of $1 million in the conservation and protection of native animals in that State. I suggest it is a cost-effective outcome for Victoria and I commend the Victorian Government for putting in place a bounty scheme and committing $4 million over a four-year time frame.

The Victorian scheme, which commenced in October last year, has been five times more successful than the previous FoxStop program, which accounted for 20,000 foxes in three years. Not surprisingly, the success in Victoria has seen other States looking at setting up their own bounty schemes. The idea is not new and it works but the key is to continue the programs and not have those programs run for only six months or a year. There must be a permanent bounty scheme so the pressure on foxes is maintained and they do not get a chance to breed up again. The Victorian scheme, sensibly, includes a bounty on wild dogs which are worth $50 per scalp, in recognition of the fact that wild dogs not only attack small native birds and animals but also kill sheep—not just lambs as the fox does.

The Minister in charge of the Victorian bounty scheme said that the $1 million paid out to hunters is partial compensation for their efforts and also recognition by his Government that the community’s active role in controlling foxes is appreciated. I believe the Victorian system shows the way for New South Wales and other States. We have enormous problems with wild dogs and foxes and landholders are screaming for action. The best way to do this is to enlist properly licensed conservation hunters to help. A $10 bounty on foxes is about the right level and it gives value to the hunter and to the State.

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife alone have a $30 million allocation each year for pest and weed control, and that is only on their land. It mostly uses the less-effective 1080 poisoning programs, which kill non-target native animals and birds. I point to a program in the Milton-Ulladulla region of southern New South Wales as an example of how a targeted and coordinated fox shooting program can work. This program began in September 2004 when a community meeting of all stakeholders discussed the best approach to managing the fox problem. The meeting identified the main issues as predation of native animals and livestock, particularly shorebirds, poultry and children’s pets, nuisance value in local caravan parks and public parks, such as raiding of garbage bins, and disease transmission. The program area consisted mainly of small rural, outer urban and urban holdings with ocean on the eastern side and forested escarpment along national parks and State forests on the western side.

The program was designed to reflect the State fox threat abatement plan and provide integrated pest management through interagency support and landholder cooperation. It ran until March 2009 when, unfortunately, funding ran out and further support was not forthcoming—a very short-sighted decision. Shooting was the main method used for culling; 1080 poisoning was not feasible and the program took in a total of about 8,500 hectares. The results were a reduction in fox numbers counted and destroyed over the five years, and 73 per cent of landholders reported reductions in sightings and signs of foxes for at least three to six months after the program. This program demonstrated that group fox shooting programs can be effective if done correctly. Interestingly, it found that the choice of shooting rather than 1080 baiting resulted in many more landholders taking part, and a larger, more continuous area being controlled. The sooner we get a fox bounty system in place in New South Wales, the better for everyone—except, of course, the fox and wild dog.

23 August 2012

ROAD MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Yesterday the Minister conceded that the Government was going down the road to contestability for road maintenance contracts. Under this plan, will local government and shires be accorded “weighting” in their tenders for road maintenance work? If local councils do not win contracts, how many jobs losses will there be in small towns and shires?

MEDWAY MINE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I direct my question to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is it a fact that the Environmental Defenders Office has lodged an injunction on behalf the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group against the Planning and Assessment Commission decision to allow the expansion of the Medway Mine? What will be the financial and employment impacts on the Wingecarribee area if the Berrima Colliery is shut down because of this action?

SOUTH COAST HUNTERS CLUB HUNTING FESTIVAL

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.51 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about hunters and hunting—one of my favourite subjects. The South Coast Hunters Club has lodged a development application with the Eurobodalla Shire Council to hold a hunting festival at Narooma. It will be of no surprise that the local Green nimbys, without even bothering to see what was proposed, have stamped their feet, jumped up and down, held their collective breath, gone blue in the face and said “No”—typical behaviour from Green nimbys. I wish the South Coast Hunters Club well in its application and I hope that the council supports what could be a big money earner for the local community. I pay tribute to Mr Dan Field who came up with the idea of the festival. I hope that it gets off the ground.

It might be edifying for The Greens—none of whom appear to be in the Chamber—if I point out some facts about hunters from a survey that was done by the deer research group at the University of Queensland with the support of a number of hunting organisations and government bodies, including the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Field and Game Australia and the New South Wales Game Council. A similar survey was carried out in 1991 by Mr Myron Cause from the Australian Deer Association through the University of Queensland. These are not surveys that I would expect The Greens to bother to read, let alone try to absorb.

Who are the people that The Greens do not want attending a hunting festival in Narooma, or anywhere near their precious environments? The survey involved 7,770 hunters whose answers are illuminating in many ways—and I thank Mick Matheson from Sporting Shooter for his compilation of the relevant figures. The survey found that the typical Australian hunter was introduced to the sport by family or friends—a fairly standard answer. They get out regularly and hunt ducks, deer, pigs, foxes or rabbits, mostly using firearms, and they spend thousands of dollars a year in their efforts to help landowners control pests. As with most outdoor pursuits, hunters find that the main issues getting in their way are time, access, money and regulations. I do not think the survey included a question about the attitude of The Greens to shooting and hunting, but I would like to have seen the answers. The survey showed that almost half our hunters are aged 31 to 50, with just 11 per cent aged 30 or younger. Four in five were introduced to hunting by family or friends, and two-thirds have been hunting for at least 20 years—in my case, well over half a century. Importantly, the survey found that nine out of 10 hunters had hunted in the past year.

What motivates these hunters, the same people The Greens like to vilify at every opportunity? The survey found they were motivated, in almost equal measure, by the need to control pest animals, the joy of outdoor recreation and the desire for meat—pork, goat, rabbit and venison. The hunters also have a culturally entrenched conservation ideal. When I make such statements, The Greens almost suffer apoplexy. The survey showed that hunters are happy to pay a levy on hunting goods to help wildlife conservation, on the proviso that they have some say in where the money goes. That is exactly what I proposed to the Federal Government nearly 20 years ago. While almost everyone could see the good sense in the idea, including the Department of the Environment, Mr John Howard had it vetoed because he said it would “lead to an increase in firearms in the community”.

I turn to the financial advantages for a community that stages a hunting festival. The survey showed that the majority of hunters spend up to $1,000 a year on firearms, bows or other equipment; one-third spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on their equipment each year; and about 6 per cent spend more than $5,000 a year. About 50 per cent spend up to $500 a year, and about 60 per cent of hunters spend the same amount on licences. Any community hosting a hunting festival would also have accommodation, fuel and food flow-on benefits from hunters, which the survey estimates at approximately $300 per head per day—including the figures from almost 20 years ago.

A hunting festival would benefit any community that chose to host it. It would attract people who are committed to their personal pursuits. Unlike the greenies who flocked to the Franklin Dam protests in Tasmania some years ago, hunting festival attendees would not fit into the summation of a Tasmanian Premier when he said, “The Greenies came to Tasmania with one shirt and one dollar and when they left three weeks later, they hadn’t changed either one.”

22 August 2012

GRAFFITI LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

Message received from the Legislative Assembly agreeing to the Legislative Council’s amendments.

POLICE FIREARMS REGISTRY

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. In correspondence with registered firearms owners, does the NSW Police Firearms Registry use unmarked envelopes so that it is not identifiable as correspondence regarding firearms, particularly those letters that include permits to acquire, registration certificates or lists of registered firearms?

21 August 2012

GRAFFITI LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.06 p.m.], by leave: I move:

That the question be amended by inserting at the end “but proposes further amendments as follows:

No. 1 Page 6, schedule 1.4 [1] (proposed section 13A), lines 26 and 27. Omit “section 13C (1) (c)” wherever occurring. Insert instead “section 13C (1) (b)”.

No. 2 Page 8, schedule 1.4 [1] (proposed section 13C (1) (b)), lines 11-14. Omit all words on those lines.

No. 3 Page 8, schedule 1.4 [1] (proposed section 13C (1) (c)), lines 15-21. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:

(b) an order requiring the person not to incur the same or more than the threshold number of demerit points applying to the person under section 13F for a period of 6 months or a lesser period specified in the order, commencing on the day on which the order is made (the graffiti licence order period).
No. 4 Page 8, schedule 1.4 [1] (proposed section 13C (2)), line 22. Omit “subsection (1) (c)”. Insert instead “subsection (1) (b)”.

No. 5 Page 9, schedule 1.4 [1] (proposed section 13E), lines 4-8. Omit all words on those lines.

No. 6 Page 10, schedule 1.5 [1], line 28. Omit “section 13C (1) (c)”. Insert instead “section 13C (1) (b)”.

No. 7 Page 11, schedule 1.5 [3], line 25. Omit all words on that line. Insert instead: Insert “16AB,” after “16A,”.

Amendment No. 2 is the key amendment and the other amendments follow on from that. The effect of these amendments will be to ensure that, under this bill, there is no option to suspend a young person’s driver licence. The Shooters and Fishers Party did not speak in debate on this legislation when it was first introduced.

The Hon. Luke Foley: What did Barry call it?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Cowards, I think it was. It is okay; we got square by hurling some other insult a few days later. However, that is over and done with now and all the feathers are unruffled. We have a problem with laws that seek to make the situation worse. I understand it is the intention of the Government to ensure that young people in particular clearly understand the community’s distaste for graffiti and the requirement for sanctions against it. It might well be that young persons committing such an offence for the first time might well require their driver licence to get to and from their place of employment.

If a young person’s driver licence is taken away he or she may not be able to perform his or her employment and we will then have idle hands. I am sure members remember the saying, “The devil finds work for idle hands.” The Shooters and Fishers Party had discussions with the Government and, pleasingly, the Minister indicated that the Government will support these amendments. Others might disagree but that was the biggest hurdle to the Shooters and Fishers Party agreeing to this legislation in the first place. The Shooters and Fishers Party commends this amendment to the Committee.

NATIVE VEGETATION LEGISLATION

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of claims by environmental groups that “farmers protesting native vegetation legislation are an extremist vocal minority” and are urging the Government not to listen to their views on the legislation currently under review? Will the Minister give an assurance that the Government will not be bullied on this issue by the real extremist environmental groups and that the views of all farmers will be taken into consideration before legislation is amended or repealed?

GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE NO. 5

Report: Coal Seam Gas

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.48 p.m.], in reply: I thank members for their contributions to the take-note debate on the committee report entitled “Coal Seam Gas”. It has been an interesting inquiry with interesting recommendations. Dare I say it, the contributions of members have been interesting.

If one distils the 400-odd pages and 35 recommendations, it is a balanced report. The fact that there were dissenting reports from all the parties, other than the Chair, probably indicates differing opinions on the outcomes. However, 35 recommendations were still made and adopted. I again thank the committee members for the professional manner in which they conducted themselves, particularly during the hearings. We had a few hiccups here and there but eventually things worked out well.

The Hon. Scot MacDonald: Yes, Jeremy.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: He was not the only one. I also wish to thank the committee secretariat. This was a long inquiry and the work done by this committee was of a highly technical nature with a great deal of information to be absorbed and understood. There were difficult technical concepts to come to grips with, such as, the concept of fracking as hydraulic fracturing, how and what it affects and what can go wrong with the process. Another issue was the storage of surface water and the problems that can arise from that.

The issue of property rights was a strong theme throughout the inquiry, particularly in rural areas. That issue is not only limited to coal seam gas exploration, it also takes into account landholders’ views on mining and the acquisition or alienation of their property. In this regard, consideration also must be given to the native vegetation Act and the current trend for local environmental plans to contain environmental overlays, both of which also bring about the alienation of property rights. Within the ambit of the terms of reference of the inquiry, some of the recommendations go to those issues.

I have no prescience so I do not know what the Government’s response will be. I suspect the Government will agree with most of the recommendations in the report. As a gentle reminder to the Government, I touch upon the issue of fracking and the continuation of a ban on fracking while certain work is undertaken. I refer to the work at a Federal level by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme [NICNAS] and the methods of storage of processed water, which can occur in large volumes. Until such time as the Government has come to grips with those two issues, the Government should not issue further licences or prosecute licences that are about to be issued. They are probably the two issues that are the most misunderstood and create the most fear in communities. I thank the committee members and secretariat for their work on this report. I strongly urge the Government to support as many of the recommendations as it can. If it does not, I fear the Government will be faced with repercussions in the community.

16 August 2012

THE GREENS NSW

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports in his capacity as Leader of the House in the Legislative Council. Given that Mr David Shoebridge and Dr John Kaye have a record of moving amendments which mostly only they support, thereby wasting the time of the House, is it feasible that they can be given extended leave for the remainder of this Parliament while adding their two votes to whatever the remaining three Greens do, so that the Government, the Christian Democrats, the Shooters and Fishers and Labor can get on with the business of debating serious issues and passing sensible legislation?

The PRESIDENT: Order! Sadly, I rule that question out of order.

FIREARMS REGISTER

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Are hard copies of names and addresses of firearm owners due for storage inspections downloaded from the firearms register in police stations and then placed in pigeonholes for officers not then currently on duty to collect when they resume work? If this is so, are the hard copies of these names and addresses and relevant firearms details securely destroyed after the inspections or are they disposed of in the general waste from the station?

15 August 2012

HUNTING IN NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [10.06 p.m.]: Much has been said in recent months about shooting feral animals in national parks. Tonight I will provide the House with some information about what happens elsewhere, which backs having the same thing happen in New South Wales. The Government has now designated 79 national parks for assistance through conservation hunting. This is less than 10 per cent of national parks. It means that hunters are still excluded from 90 per cent of parks, where paid shooters undertake helicopter gunship shooting, poisoning and trapping programs on behalf of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. Hunting is a safe, healthy, natural outdoor pursuit for all ages. Hunting in national parks and reserves is not a new concept. It happens successfully and safely in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The concept of national parks was invented by Theodore Roosevelt, himself a keen hunter, who appreciated and wanted to help preserve an area he hunted in—Yellowstone National Park. The good Mr Roosevelt also had an interest in American politics, as we all know. The concept of conservation was invented by Aldo Leopold—also a passionate hunter—and the father of modern wildlife management. But The Greens would not know that. None of the 79 national parks designated by the Government for conservation hunting are near metropolitan areas. World Heritage or wilderness areas are also excluded. Indeed, most of the selected national parks are nature reserves in isolated areas that are rarely visited by the public. Also many of the selected national parks are adjacent to existing and already declared State forests in which conservation hunting is already occurring. It is a simple and logical extension to allow conservation hunting in these neighbouring national parks.

Conservation hunting can augment and complement the current eradication programs in national parks. The Game Council has run a safe conservation hunting program for six years, proving it can work side by side with other forest uses, such as bushwalking, four-wheel driving and bike riding—just to mention a few activities. The Game Council’s state-of-the-art conservation hunting licence system will now be extended to include national parks. There are more than 18,000 game hunting licence holders who safely and responsibly remove game and feral animals from about 400 State forests in New South Wales. This is just a subset of the 35,000-odd licences sold over the past 6.5 years by the New South Wales Game Council.

These hunters are normal, respectable law-abiding citizens. They do not deserve to be vilified as they have been in certain circles recently. Even that hardline campaigner against conservation hunters, the National Parks Association, concedes in its own opinion poll of last year that national parks should be used by more than just “greenies”. Its poll revealed that 90.5 per cent of respondents believed that national parks “are for some kinds of human use as long as this use does not have negative impacts on the natural environment” or primarily for human enjoyment and use. Only 3.1 per cent of respondents thought national parks are “primarily for the protection of nature and wilderness”.
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Not even the National Parks Association could claim that the removal of feral animals from national parks by conservation hunters could have any negative impact on the natural environment. If they could only see past their own prejudice and bias they would realise that feral animals are doing the damage in our national parks—not the hunters. In closing, I point to a tweet from Ms Faehrmann a couple of months ago when she apparently visited a national park in Victoria. The best thing she found about the park was that, “There was no human being around.” That is just what The Greens want from national parks—they want them for themselves and nobody else.

HIGH SCHOOL TARGET SHOOTING PROGRAMS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.19 p.m.]: Given that the Olympic pressure has finished, it is appropriate to speak tonight about where our next Olympics shooters will be coming from. However, firstly let me congratulate all our shooting teams on their efforts in London. Shooting at that elite level is highly competitive. Many of those against whom we compete are professional shooters, so competition in fact is extraordinary.

The Hon. Duncan Gay: Michael Diamond came from Goulburn.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: That is correct.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: And Suzie Balogh comes from Queanbeyan.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Correct. As a trap shooter myself, I congratulate Michael Diamond. Finishing fourth twice in an Olympics is probably not the result he wanted, but the fact remains that he was in the final of an elite competition in which the difference between the gold medal and fourth spot was a very small margin; not only that, Michael shot 125 out of 125 in the preliminaries.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Equal to the world record.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: His own world record. I hope, along with members of this House, that Michael just gets back into the saddle—I am sure he will because he is a brilliant competitor—and compete, firstly in the Commonwealth Games and then in Rio in four years time. All sporting teams go through their renewal periods and our shooting teams will probably be no different to our swimming teams. So where do we start? The obvious place to build teams is with the young. It will come as no surprise that we in the Shooters and Fishers Party, if we can manage it over the next four years, will try to get our schoolkids in a position in which they have a chance to be future Olympians.

Australians are good at shooting but we would like to see more kids starting to get into the sport at a younger age. Tonight I share with the House that for two years now one of our rural high schools has been running a very successful firearms safety course. I refer to Gundagai High School and I congratulate all concerned on this initiative. A teacher at the high school investigated the available options and worked with the Game Council, fellow staff members and the police liaison officer to develop an implementation plan that had safety at the fore in all aspects of its delivery and that was supported by the parents and the teachers. It included trained and experienced presenters and included also a practical assessment through involvement at the local rifle range and by local Sporting Shooters Association representatives who provided their time free of charge.

The school reports enthusiastic support from the local community for the original course in 2011 and the current course in 2012. The aim of the course is to ensure that students have relevant skills and knowledge of firearms safety by completing an accredited firearms safety course. This in turn enables them to apply for a New South Wales minors permit, fulfilling their legal obligation for firearms use in New South Wales. The students also can complete the Game Council hunter education course, which will enable them to apply for a Game Hunting R licence. The course started as a five-week program for two hours each sports afternoon, with one range day. It has been extended now to 10 weeks, including two range days.

All stakeholders have been involved in the planning and delivery of the course—that is, the Gundagai High School, the Game Council, the NSW Police Force, and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia through its local branch at Tumut, and the shared Tumut rifle range facility. The school has seen many benefits from the course, including the establishment of positive relationships between parents and their children. Police involvement, although not essential, has given police a positive role and the chance to set up positive relationships with parents and students. The school also points to the fact that students are taking ownership of their learning and building on their experiences. They have suggested further training to extend their practical application, which clearly demonstrates their commitment and enthusiasm for the course.

I commend Gundagai High School and all involved in the course. I hope the Game Council is approached by more schools to undertake similar programs. While shooting always has featured in Commonwealth and Olympic games, the first shooting gold medal was awarded in 1900 when live birds were the targets. Nevertheless, we need to keep fostering potential team members and the best way is to allow schools to provide target shooting as a sporting option so that kids can get a start as early as possible. Not all kids are physically built to play rugby, soccer, basketball and some of the more physical sports. The world will not end if target shooting is generally allowed across the State. Indeed, in rural areas many schools already are getting their kids into target shooting. The Gundagai High School experience has been a really good one. I encourage other schools that want to provide either the safety course or target shooting as a sport to do whatever they need to do to get the programs started.

14 August 2012

FIREARMS STORAGE INSPECTIONS IN PRIVATE HOMES

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and relates to police firearms storage inspections in private homes. Can the Minister inform the House whether or not police doing firearms storage inspections in private homes use only the encrypted police radio system to inform the radio room that they are going off at a certain address for a certain task?

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN

On 22 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The NSW Government is aware of the study by Independent Economics and is gravely concerned about the effects on our Basin communities, particularly those highly dependent on irrigation industries. The NSW submission to the Murray Darling Basin Authority provides a way forward that properly addresses these concerns.

This includes priority being given to meeting environmental outcomes through infrastructure, environmental works and measures and review of operational and physical system delivery rules rather than the Commonwealth’s simplistic approach of licence buybacks. The NSW approach would facilitate the ongoing productive capacity of rural communities.

Once all these other measures have been exhausted, the NSW position is that there should be a 3 percent limit on Commonwealth licence buybacks per catchment per decade to meet any remaining gap, and to provide sufficient time for rural communities to adjust.

The Minister for Primary Industries is continuing to meet with the Commonwealth and other jurisdiction water Ministers to highlight the NSW position requirements.

The NSW Government position remains that we will not accept a Basin Plan that does not address triple bottom line outcomes – that is social and economic outcomes as well as environmental outcomes.

VICTIMS COMPENSATION

On 23 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services a question without notice regarding victims compensation. The Minister for Justice provided the following response:

A person who has been convicted of or suspected of committing an offence can lodge an application for compensation. However, where it is identified that the application relates to an incident where the applicant contributed to the incident, including through past criminal activity, the application can be dismissed or the amount of the award reduced pursuant to section 30 of the Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996.

I have been advised that statistics cannot be provided in relation to how much of the reported $63M paid out by the Victims Compensation Tribunal last year was paid to known criminals.

FOX AND WILD DOG BOUNTIES

On 29 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding fox and wild dog bounties. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The Minister for Primary Industries is aware of the devastating effects of wild dogs and foxes, not only on livestock but on wildlife. The NSW Government is committed to strategic, integrated and effective control programs that involve the use of the range of control techniques, including aerial baiting, ground baiting, trapping and shooting.

The Minister for Primary Industries is familiar with the bounty system in Victoria. There was a bounty operating in NSW many years ago under the former Pastures Protection Act 1934. The NSW experience was that bounties did not significantly assist in reducing the wild dog population as a whole and tended to attract resources away from the other control techniques.

The national Vertebrate Pests Committee, the national body providing direction on vertebrate pest management, recommended the phasing out or abolition of existing bounties in the mid 1970’s.

The present application of resources to strategic and co-ordinated programs delivered in conjunction with local wild dog affected farmers and Wild Dog Associations is considered to be providing a high level of effective control on the landscape scale. In addition, the publication soon of the NSW Wild Dog management strategy will provide an important benchmark for all stakeholders.

RIVER RED GUM NATIONAL PARKS

On 30 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the river red gum national parks. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

The prices quoted are those that commercial operators are charging the public for commercially available firewood. I understand that the price increase is primarily related to the impacts of recent rainfall and flooding on firewood supply.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has a domestic firewood program that operates in Riverina River Red Gum national parks which is based on the program previously run by Forests NSW. The number of permits issued to collect firewood are at a similar level to those of previous years. Some areas that were available for collection in previous years have been under water for many months and some vehicle access routes continue to be under water.

NATIONAL PARKS

On 31 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding national parks. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

The NSW reserve system is almost three times the size of that of Tasmania, and contains a greater proportion of high visitation urban and coastal national parks and reserves, a smaller relative proportion of wilderness area, a much greater lineal boundary and an asset base which is valued at more than five times the value of assets in the Tasmanian parks and reserve system.

SOUTHERN RIVERINA TOURISM PLAN

On 13 June 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Southern Riverina tourism plan. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

A contractor has been appointed to develop the concept and site plans to support the visitation initiatives in the Moira Lakes area. Preliminary site plans have been prepared and are being refined following recent on-site inspections.

At Yanga Lake, some facilities available for use at the proposed location for kayak launch and retrieval have been constructed. Facilities for kayak launching at this location will be completed this financial year.

WILD DOG CONTROL

On 13 June 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding wild dog control. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

I am aware of calls by the New South Wales Farmers Association for increased funding of wild dog control programs.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) remains committed to implementing co-operative wild dog plans, involving a range of techniques, in order to minimise the impact of wild dog attacks on livestock.

To this end, NPWS undertakes a large number of strategic and responsive wild dog control programs wherever wild dogs are a problem near parks. All NPWS works to control wild dogs are carried out in partnership with the local Livestock Health and Pest Authority and land owners, as part of the wild dog control plan which operates across the whole landscape.

For 2012/13, NPWS does not expect to reduce the amount spent on pest and weed management.

NARRABRI SHIRE HUNTING

On 19 June 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Minister for Tourism, a question without notice regarding Narrabri shire hunting. The Minister for Tourism provided the following response:

This question should be directed to the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Robyn Parker MP, as the matters raised fall within her portfolio responsibilities.

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN

On 20 June 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Small Business, a question without notice regarding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Small Business, provided the following response:

I have said this many times: New South Wales will not accept a Plan from Canberra that is not balanced and does not address the impacts on rural communities.

However, the New South Wales Government is currently sticking to its commitment of working with the Murray Darling Basin Authority, the Commonwealth and the other States to try and develop a Plan that is a good Plan – one that is realistic, one that can work, and one that is fair.

This stance is happening through the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council process. As a Council, we have advised the MDBA of the aspects that need to be changed to the latest draft of the Plan.

Ultimately, the Federal Minister will decide on the final Basin Plan.

DHARAWAL NATIONAL PARK

On 21 June 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Dharawal National Park. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

The Government has allocated $686,000 in capital funding for Dharawal National Park over four years, from 2011 to 2015. This is part of the Government’s $1 million commitment for establishing the park.

The capital allocation of $107,000 for 2011-12 was spent:

• to upgrade a fire trail crossing over O’Hares Creek;

• to design, manufacture and install national park signs and interpretation shelters at key entry points;

• on environmental surveys and assessments to enable visitor facility construction;

• on engineering designs and materials for a proposed disabled access lookout at Wedderburn; and

• on engineering designs for a new walking track at Maddens Falls.

I will consider proposals for expenditure of the remaining funds on facilities in the park from the community, as part of the plan of management process.

GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE NO. 5

Report: Coal Seam Gas

Debate resumed from 1 May 2012.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.29 p.m.]: I am pleased to speak in debate on the report of General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 on its inquiry entitled “Coal Seam Gas.”
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The inquiry was established on 5 August 2011 under the committee’s power to make a self reference to inquire into and report on the environmental, economic and social impacts of coal seam gas activities including exploration and commercial extraction activities allowable under the New South Wales Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991. At this point I acknowledge the work of the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham who brought this agenda to the committee for consideration, as a result of which the committee resolved to undertake the inquiry.

The committee received more than 900 submissions of which, surprisingly, only about 184 were identical statements from individuals. We also heard from many witnesses during the four hearings in Parliament House and the three hearings at Alstonville, Narrabri and Mittagong. The committee also conducted a number of site visits, including visits to Chinchilla in Queensland to look at existing gas fields and to Casino, Kyogle, Taree, Gunnedah, the Pillaga forest, Narrabri and Camden in New South Wales. It was a very interesting and rather complex inquiry. I will not say the inquiry was difficult to chair but it was a highly technical inquiry. I thank the whole of the committee secretariat for their ability to put together a comprehensive report and I thank the committee members for their cooperation in the conduct of the hearings. Beverly, Madeleine and Lynn were, as always, a pleasure to work with and I thank Rhia and Donna for putting together a highly technical and difficult report. I also put on the record my appreciation to Hansard because, as I said, it was a highly technical report and Hansard had to work very, very hard in many cases to be able to transcribe some of the witnesses’ complex testimony.

Given the highly sensitive nature of this inquiry, I am grateful for the way that the committee members cooperated in the conduct of the hearings. At this point I also thank all the witnesses who made time to attend the hearings. It was an extensive inquiry that covered a lot of ground and those witnesses, in their own time and at their own cost, gave the committee valuable insight into how this industry was affecting or could affect their local communities. The report speaks for itself, so I do not intend to read too much into Hansard. The report contains 35 succinct recommendations and in my chair’s foreword I open by saying:

I am pleased to present the Committee’s report on coal seam gas, which contains 35 recommendations. I urge the Government to implement all of the Committee’s recommendations.

That is why we have committees such as this: to provide advice to the Government on complicated issues, to note those considerations and, where possible and in line with government policy, to make sure that those recommendations are implemented. I will read another paragraph from my chair’s foreword:

The actions of successive NSW governments also leave room for improvement.

I was referring to the way this particular industry had grown—

Governments have not done enough in the past to provide accessible and factual information about the development of the industry, which has contributed to a high level of alarm amongst communities affected by coal seam gas exploration.

That was probably the single most constant theme throughout all the hearings we held around regional New South Wales. Some committee members commented that some of those community views had been generated by political persuasion. Nevertheless, one cannot expect people to support government policy, particularly on issues that affect them, if they do not know of or do not have the correct information about how that industry or those policy decisions will affect them. Once again I urge the Government to seriously consider the 35 succinct recommendations.

The committee’s report also contains, interestingly, four dissenting reports. In fact, there is a dissenting report from every political party represented in the inquiry—except, of course, the Shooters and Fishers Party because I was chairing the inquiry. However, one must realise that the draft that is discussed by the committee is the chair’s draft. What I suspect is a first for a committee, given that it was a committee under a conservative government, was is that the Liberal Party submitted two dissenting reports. I regard that as a measure of success. If you can get everybody on the committee at some point disagreeing with the chair’s draft you have got a pretty good draft.

Once again I thank the committee secretariat for putting the report together in the way they did. I repeat: It was a highly complex and highly technical issue with lots of strange words and concepts, but the committee secretariat managed to put the report together in such a way that the committee was able to understand it. I hope the Government will be able to understand it; I am sure it will. Once again I thank the committee members for their constructive and thorough approach to the inquiry and I commend the report to the House.

21 June 2012

GAME AND FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.58 a.m.]: I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

DHARAWAL NATIONAL PARK

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. The recently tabled Budget Papers show that $686,000 has been allocated towards the creation of Dharawal National Park at Appin between 2011 and 2015. Will the Minister provide a detailed breakdown of how that money will be spent?

WORKERS COMPENSATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2012
SAFETY, RETURN TO WORK AND SUPPORT BOARD BILL 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.31 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the amendment moved by the Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. It is important that those who are already injured should not be required to engage in further employment where that injury may be worsened or may place them at further risk.

20 June 2012

  RENEWABLE ENERGY

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware that the Beyond Zero Emissions group estimates that it will cost $370 billion for New South Wales to reach The Greens target of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020? Is the Minister aware of any economic modelling to show how this green goal can be achieved without any increase in New South Wales consumer electricity bills? In the absence of nuclear power, how can a reliable supply of electricity be guaranteed without any new base-load generation?

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Small Business. Is the Minister aware that the Federal environment Minister has threatened to use the special Commonwealth intervention powers under the Water Act to force an agreement on the MurrayDarling Basin plan by the end of this year? Will the New South Wales Government bow to these threats or will it lead an eastern States withdrawal from the Federal agreement and force the Commonwealth to sit down and work out a proper solution for the basin?

TOORALE NATIONAL PARK

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 31 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question about Toorale National Park. I am advised as follows:

It is estimated that over 150 people attended the event.

There was on bus trip from Bourke to Toorale and eight people took the bus. The cost was $685.

No further remote area events are currently scheduled in western NSW.

 GAME AND FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL 2012

 The Hon. Robert Brown: Further to the point of order: I do not have a thin skin but when a guy looks at you and points at you and says on the record of this House, “They took $1 million in kickbacks”, that is impugning my reputation. I ask you to withdraw it here. Unfortunately, we are in a modern era so I cannot take you outside and beat you to death.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [7.35 p.m.], in reply: I will try not to use the full 20 minutes available to me, but I did take copious notes during members’ contributions. I thank the Hon. Duncan Gay, the Hon. Steve Whan, the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps, the Hon. David Clarke, the Hon. Scot MacDonald, the Hon. Rick Colless, the Hon. Walt Secord, the Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox, the Hon. Niall Blair, Ms Cate Faehrmann, the Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones, the Hon. Mick Veitch, the Hon. Charlie Lynn, Mr Jeremy Buckingham, the Hon. Peter Primrose, Ms Jan Barham, Dr John Kaye, the Hon. Lynda Voltz, the Hon. Penny Sharpe, the Hon. Helen Westwood and the Hon. Luke Foley for their contributions to this debate on the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2012.

Earlier I had to apologise to Mr Jeremy Buckingham for making an outrageous statement. I now apologise to the House. The Hon. Mick Veitch asked some detailed questions, but he is not in the Chamber at the moment so I will wait to provide a response to him. The Hon. Duncan Gay said the Government believes that this is probably a suitable conservation bill. The Shooters and Fishers Party agrees that that is what it is, despite all the argy-bargy that has gone on today. This legislation has been introduced because the Shooters and Fishers Party believes it is good for conservation; we believe in what we are doing.

The Hon. Steve Whan made a number of points. Most importantly, he referred to a consolidated and coordinated pest control exercise at Wee Jasper. That exercise is held up by all agencies and most academics and scientists who understand this issue as the pinnacle of the nil-tenure model. It did not matter whether it involved the Brindabella National Park, a State forest or private property, the agencies combined their talents, the borders and tenures were removed and the wild dogs were handled. That is what this bill is all about. It is about extending a program that has been running successfully for six years in one type of reserve, that is, a State forest, into another type, that is, national parks.

The Hon. Steve Whan asked why brumbies were not included in the bill. When the former Government negotiated the original game bill, which became the Game and Feral Animal Control Bill, only certain animals were included. We then had the horrible experience of the so-called professionals blowing it in Guy Fawkes River National Park by shooting and wounding horses. The then Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Bob Debus, said that there would be no more aerial shooting of horses. As an aside, for practical reasons the same ban should apply to hunting all large animals, particularly deer. Otherwise, the Hon. Steve Whan’s contribution was erudite and I thank him for it.

I will not make much comment about Mr David Shoebridge’s contribution. He often says things without providing any evidence and resorts to conjecture and hyperbole. On this occasion most of what he said was plain wrong. I do not think he had done his homework. The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps spoke with passion on the bill and raised the Victorian goat cull. It is interesting that the people who organised that cull were all given awards by Parks Victoria for dreaming up the concept and then executing it in such an exemplary manner. That demonstrates how good it was.

There has been some confusion and mistakes have been made on both sides of the debate about the cost of feral animal control. The Hon. Helen Westwood was incorrect when she said that the net cost in the budget for the management of feral animals is $8 million. It is part of a $58 million weeds, pests and fire budget, and we think it is about $16 million. Members talked about the number of animals that the Minister says her department took last year. Using that number and applying it to the budget, the cost is about $640 per animal. If one applies the Game Council’s full $2.8 million budget to the number of animals it has taken out, it is less than $200 an animal.
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I thank the Hon. David Clarke for his contribution. He is quite right that 79 parks out of 799 is not just a number picked out of the air. I noticed that there were several interjections from the Labor side. When we sat down and negotiated this situation with the Labor Party, we agreed on about 60 national parks, but for the same reasons: First, national parks that are contiguous with State forests where this program is currently running; secondly, national parks where there is a high known pest population; and, thirdly, those parks likely to cause the least problem—if any—with other users.

The Hon. Scot MacDonald gave some interesting facts and figures in relation to the difference between professional culling, as it is called, and the model that the Game Council uses. The one key element that is missing from all of the arguments is the fact that when the Government does its pest control programs, that is exactly what they are. They are programs for one, two or three months and, generally, our research shows that they do not do anything further in relation to that same problem in that same location for one, two or three years. The concept of using conservation hunters—volunteers—is that they are there all the time, week in and week out, year in and year out. To reiterate those points, it is cheaper per animal to use volunteer hunters based on the Government’s own numbers and it is a continuous program, not a periodic program.

The Hon. Rick Colless spoke about the effect on agriculture and farm animals. We had some discussions with the New South Wales Farmers Association, which had a couple of problems with the bill. Once I went through the bill with the association, it understood what we were talking about. We could probably stand here today and say that we think it supports this initiative.

The Hon. Walt Secord said that it is important to listen to what the shooters say because, believe it or not, these people have intellectual capital that they can provide to this particular solution. They are not, as Mr Jeremy Buckingham perhaps implied, all urban guerillas with their knuckles on the ground. These people are probably every bit as skilled, if not more so, than your average parks employee. I am not trying to compare them with professional shooters that are shooting 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but parks employees do not do that. In fact, they mostly use the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities [LHPA] or contractors. They have to do the work occasionally and there are parks personnel who are licensed Feral Animal Aerial Shooting Team [FAAST] shooters—the helicopter gun-shoot boys—but not many of them.

The Hon. Walt Secord made the point that parks are there for the protection of native animals. That is exactly what this bill is about. Despite disagreement from The Greens, that is what this bill is about. Despite one assertion that it is not about the numbers and the numbers you kill, it is about the numbers you kill.

The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: You just don’t kill enough.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: We will, over a period of time. A lot of members quoted the Invasive Species Council. The Invasive Species Council should not be confused with the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre [CRC]. One is a government-funded cooperative research centre; the other is a three-man or four-man “wannabe” organisation. Tim Low likes to sell books and Dr Carol Booth, I think, is Tim Low’s partner. There are also a couple of others, but they are not a credible source to be quoting. The Hon. Walt Secord raised the issue of the young lady who was tragically shot in New Zealand. She was shot under a spotlight. That idiot should not have been using a spotlight and it is not lawful to use spotlights under the Game and Feral Animal Control Act in State forests or in national parks. The Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox added some valuable points, as did the Hon. Niall Blair.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: The Hon. Cate Faehrmann made a fairly passionate and detailed contribution, but again relied too heavily on people like the Invasive Species Council.

The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: I did not rely on it; I relied on the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, and the bloke you quoted was the same man: Tim Low.

The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: No, Carol Booth.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Like I said, Tim Lowe and Carol Booth are an item. The Hon. Mick Veitch asked a number of questions, which I will try to answer as best I can, because I put the legislation up with a belief as to the way I think it will run. However, ultimately, the Government and the Minister will decide how it is going to be done. Is there a potential to increase the number of parks? There may well be, but it will be so long rolling out 79 of them because of the amount of work to do that I suspect we probably will not be looking at that question for another two to three years.

Mr David Shoebridge mentioned that 71 State forests have been rolled out. That was the program. In this particular program, I dare say that the Game Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service will sit down and work out which parks they want to work on first. Probably those parks will be the ones where they have the biggest problem. I am not sure I really understood what the Hon. Mick Veitch meant by Henry VIII clauses so I might have to skip that one. The third question was about adding non-indigenous birds. It is the prerogative of the Minister to add non-indigenous—that is, pest animals.

If there is a problem with a particular species of animal or a bird in a particular location then I am sure the Minister would consider whether that species should be added to the list or whether some other method should be sought if it is a short-term problem. Bear in mind that in my second reading speech I mentioned that it was more than just State forests that utilise the Game Council. Local government has utilised it, as has a university and a gardens trust. I think that was pretty much the three questions. The Hon. Charlie Lynn got stuck in and was pretty interesting to listen to. Jeremy Buckingham—

The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: He got you worked up, didn’t he?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: He did, actually.

The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Sorry, the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham made a couple of incorrect statements. He said that the workers compensation bill is a trade-off. No, he is wrong. Funding from Beretta or the National Rifle Association is not for the Shooters and Fishers Party; I correct him on that. He next raised safety issues and metro urban guerrillas. He painted a colourful picture of the way he perceived those people and I am sure those people would be a little offended by that description. Most of them have firearms licences. The firearms licence that I carry around in my back pocket says that according to the Government I am a fit and proper person, not an urban guerrilla. The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham then quoted David Dickson. David Dickson was fired from the Game Council. Members can draw their own conclusions from that.

The Hon. Peter Primrose is not in the Chamber now. He made a very erudite contribution and I thank him for the thought he has given to this issue. The game bill first went through the lower House as the Game Bill 2001. In that House the vote was 90:1. The Speaker allowed Clover Moore to have her no vote recorded. That is normally not done unless there are two votes. The Labor Party, the Liberal Party and whoever else was in the lower House voted for the bill. I am not here to denigrate National Parks and Wildlife Service employees but, from the raw numbers, they have taken out some 24,000 animals from 6.7 million hectares, yet the Game Council has taken out 14,000 animals from two million hectares.

The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: They are underfunded.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Funding of $58 million per year for weeds, feral animals and fires is not underfunded. Somebody quoted Jim Pirie. Those members who have been around for a while would know that Jim Pirie was the Shooters and Fishers Party candidate in 1999. He failed.

Mr David Shoebridge: They were happy days.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I will not use the we dodged a bullet pun. Let me just say that Mr Pirie and the party did not part company on happy terms. It was also said that there will be more risk because 34,000,000 to 38,000,000 people visit national parks each year. That is absolute garbage. I challenge the Government any time it likes to prove those statistics—it is crazy. As I said, this program will not be rolled out in the Royal National Park, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park or Centennial Park. The Hon. Jan Barham said that this hunting is ad hoc. It is effective because it is ad hoc and it is continual. It is not a question of when we will have some money to hire a $1,200 per hour helicopter, a pilot, a shooter and an observer.

I think it was the Hon. Jan Barham who raised the issue of the 2014 International Union for the Conservation of Nature [ICUN] Conference to be held in Sydney. She seemed to think the delegates would be horrified. Unfortunately, the member has not read the flyer properly because it is the Sustainable Utilisation Group that will be holding its world conference here in 2014. In fact, in its 1992 Perth declaration the International Union for the Conservation of Nature declared support for hunting as a conservation tool. That was a bit of a whoopsy. I cannot read my writing as to what the Dr John Kaye said, but I thank him for his contribution. The Government, the Opposition and The Greens propose to move amendments to bill, which I will look at in detail.

However, I cannot say I am anywhere near coming to agreement with any of the proposed amendments other than the proposed Government amendment to remove section 12. Finally, I ask members to give this bill a go; it is a genuine conservation bill. It will have the same sort of results that have been achieved in our State forests: no safety problems, and there will be thousands and thousands of dead animals that are certifiably dead. I commend the bill to the House.

In Committee

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.12 p.m.]: We cannot support this amendment. The Minister responsible for national parks will have all the adequate controls she needs to effect any changes to a schedule of declared lands or the times or methods or people, so the amendment is not necessary.

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.15 p.m.]: The arguments today are no different from what they were in 2001 when the Labor Party and the Opposition wholeheartedly supported the original bill. It understood that there was no need to have any people who call themselves conservationists on that council because probably 8 or 12 of those people were conservationists. The others were what I would call government functionaries who have to be there. Adding two persons appointed by the nomination of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW is totally unnecessary.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.27 p.m.]: This part of the bill is simply reacting to the reality that in all the time the Game Council has been in existence it has had a lot of trouble getting the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council to nominate someone to the board. People have volunteered but they could not get the nomination of the Aboriginal Land Council. The Minister administering the Aboriginal Land Rights Act will allow people from the Aboriginal and Indigenous communities who are interested in doing so to volunteer to go on the board. Hopefully we will get a representative.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.35 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party does not support this amendment to delete the delegation clause. I have spent most of my life in the corporate world so I understand efficiency and good governance when I see it. In my view, the Game Council is probably one of the most efficient public authorities in New South Wales. It does its work very efficiently and this legislation is designed to increase that efficiency. The Shooters and Fishers Party does not support the amendment.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [8.39 p.m.]: This measure is all about efficiency. During my period as Chairman of the Game Council of New South Wales I was aware of very real practical problems resulting from the way in which the original law was written. Those problems are long overdue for review, and need fixing. This is all about delegating some powers and, as the Minister for Roads and Ports said, perhaps taking some powers back from time to time as required. At the moment, the Game Council physically has to meet and approve every single licence it issues to every single person who applies for a licence in this State. That simply is not workable. That was one of the reasons why, even going back to my time as chairman, we asked the former Labor Government to consider an amendment of legislation along the lines proposed in this bill. The Game Council holds its powers very closely to itself, and I am sure would delegate only those powers that it absolutely needed to delegate from time to time.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.43 p.m.]: That comment made by the Hon. Cate Faehrmann is simply not true. I do not know how the member can know whether the Chief Executive Officer of the Game Council is involved in politics at all—unless she has information that I do not have. To the best of my knowledge, Mr Boyle is not even a member of the Shooters and Fishers Party. The member draws a long bow by trying to paint him as a political operative. He is a very good chief executive officer, and he really knows his job. I think the member is misleading the House. Where did you actually get that information from?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.56 p.m.]: I realise that the Opposition does not have much confidence in the current Minister for the Environment. However, I point out that the use of this tool in respect of State forests has been exemplary. Surely if the Minister administering State forests can do the job properly in consultation with the Game Council then a competent Minister responsible for the national parks could do the same thing.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [8.58 p.m.]: As usual, Mr David Shoebridge is wrong. The Game Council works with the Minister in advertising the declarations. Unlike the honourable member, I cannot predict on what page of the Government Gazette it will appear. Numerous submissions are lodged and they are considered. There is then consultation and discussion with people who have properties surrounding the various forests. This process has been developed over many years.

It is not a sham process; it is a genuine process of trying to work through the consultative process to implement government policy in a fair and even-handed manner.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.23 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party does not support this amendment. The Hon. Cate Faehrmann obviously moved this amendment from a place of ignorance in relation to her understanding of current practices in State forests. None of the amendments are necessary and will only overly complicate what is now an extremely efficient, effective and safe program.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.28 p.m.]: What I said was that anybody who puts forward such an amendment obviously has no understanding of how safely and effectively it runs in our State forests now. It has been running in State forests for six years. That is what I said.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.45 p.m.]: The Greens amendment does accurately mimic the Government’s proposed amendment. However, the reasons put forward are erroneous. The reason the Shooters and Fishers Party has agreed that it would not object to the Government removing this section from the bill is that quite obviously the Government could not come to grips with a fairly complex arrangement of changes to the Firearms Act. It is about the definition of rural land in certain sections of the Firearms Act related to the genuine reason for the licence. A firearms licence states you are not allowed to use a firearm for which you are licensed under a particular genuine reason for another genuine reason. It is nothing to do with allowing people to use semiautomatic firearms on council land or anywhere.

 Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2012

 The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [12.38 a.m.]: On behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party I contribute to the debate on the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 and cognate bill. This is an important bill and probably one of the most contentious to be introduced in this term of Parliament. We have all had to deal with this issue with great urgency. Certain facts need to be faced and my background as an accountant, and indeed chairman of the joint select committee that examined the bill, puts me in a unique position to comment briefly on some issues. The truth of the matter is that the workers compensation scheme in its current form is unsustainable and needs fixing. Not everybody will be happy, regardless of the decisions the Government makes to address the financial viability of the scheme. The previous Government knew about the problems and should have addressed these issues years ago—in the same way it should have addressed the equally unsustainable police death and disability scheme.
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This Government has inherited both problems and in the interests of New South Wales must take the necessary steps to address these problems. Whatever anyone says, the O’Farrell Government was elected with a massive mandate to fix the economic problems facing New South Wales. As our party has said on many occasions in this place, they will be judged on their efforts at the next election, but on this issue there is no question that action needs to be taken now.

I believe the joint select committee established to look into this matter and now criticised by Labor and The Greens did a good job in examining the issues. It looked at the facts and made judgements and recommendations about the best way forward. Some have suggested that the committee was just a sham designed to deliver the Government the outcome that it wanted. That kind of suggestion does no credit to those who make such accusations. Even though it was a short inquiry it was evidence based and comprehensive, and the committee received more than 350 submissions. The submissions were from a large variety of stakeholders, including unions, individual employees, individual employers, business groups, lawyers, doctors, insurers and injured workers.

There can be no doubt that the scheme is in deficit and that the deficit is growing due to poor investment returns and the poor performance of the scheme generally in delivering on its key objectives. As a result the committee knew that if nothing was done the Government would need to substantially increase premiums if it wanted to make the scheme sustainable within five years. Increasing premiums would have been the easiest solution, passing the burden onto employers. But increasing premiums could in the end have a drastic effect on jobs. As we have clearly stated in our report, we do not believe that this would have been a just and equitable outcome or good for the economy of New South Wales.

Comparisons with Victoria were very telling. Whereas here in New South Wales we have a scheme that is financially unsustainable in the long term, Victoria has a system that is solvent, affordable and beneficial. The competitiveness of the New South Wales scheme needs to be looked at and addressed as a matter of urgency with regard to our major commercial competitors, particularly Queensland and Victoria. Moreover, merely increasing premiums would have ignored the scheme design factors that make for a better workers compensation system. Evidence presented to the committee also showed that the system is failing those who are the most seriously injured. Before I address some of the finer details in the bill, I am a little disappointed that the Government will not accept the recommendation to establish a permanent joint standing committee of the Parliament of New South Wales to conduct ongoing oversight of the New South Wales Workers Compensation Scheme, but rather will refer this responsibility to the Law and Justice Committee in line with similar provisions with respect to the Motor Accidents Scheme and the Lifetime Care and Support Scheme.

A permanent standing committee would have been better placed to look at the long-term viability of the scheme and, in particular, look at how the scheme is managed and administered. Irrespective of that, I believe that some method of ongoing oversight should be set up as a matter of urgency, because the joint standing committee, of which I was chair, was not tasked within the terms of reference to look at this issue. A permanent standing committee would also be well placed to identify any unintended consequences from the changes, or anomalies that may arise over time, and ensure they are addressed quickly. I hope to hear from the Minister in reply that should any anomalies arise as a result of this amending bill, workers can be confident that those properly entitled to payments will get them.

The select committee made 28 recommendations, most of which the Government has accepted. Because it is the Government and is ultimately responsible to the people at the next election, it also chose to tinker with some of those recommendations. That is the choice of Government. As recommended by the committee, those workers with whole person impairment of greater than 30 per cent will be covered until retirement and will not be subject to work capacity testing. They will not be subject to time caps on weekly benefits and will not be subject to caps on medical benefits. Also in line with the committee’s recommendations, the bill creates an intermediate category of injury for those who have 20 per cent to 30 per cent whole person impairment. The Government’s current proposal is that these workers not be subject to a cap on weekly benefits but be subject to work capacity testing. This is more generous than the committee had envisaged, since the committee had recommended that these workers be subject to a time cap on weekly benefits.

The bill also implements very important recommendations regarding the structure of weekly benefits to injured workers and problems associated with current definitions in the Act. The changes to the definition of average weekly earnings will stop the unnecessary disagreement, which is currently a feature of the controversial definition in the current legislation. Changing the structure of benefits will be an incentive to return to work by providing better benefits for those who return to work as opposed to those who have the capacity but do not return to work. In addition to encouraging return to work, the bill introduces tough new penalties for those employers who do not comply with their return-to-work obligations. This addresses the concerns raised by unions that not enough is being done to get employers to take workers on and to engage in proper return to work strategies. The bill also introduces time caps on benefits for those with up to 20 per cent whole person impairment. This recognises that the system is not an open-ended welfare system, but instead is a return to work system with compensation elements.

Consistent with the committee’s recommendations the bill will bring in a strong system of work capacity testing, which recognises that the best place for an injured worker with capacity is the workplace. Evidence presented to the committee constantly reinforced this point. If a worker is able to return to work, he or she should be assisted and encouraged to do so. Recommendation 9 of the committee recommended that medical benefits be capped to one year after weekly benefits have ceased, which again recognises that the workers compensation system is not supposed to be open-ended but should be wholly focused on the return to work where that is possible. We have heard from the unions that the removal of journey claims is the most troubling part of this bill. While an employer can and should look after the safety of employees within the workplace, an employer cannot control all factors that a worker will come into contact with outside the workplace even when on the way to work.

Employers do not have any control over accidents that may occur on an employee’s way to the workplace. Such exclusions have applied in other States under governments of both persuasions. Those who travel for work, such as truck and bus drivers, will still be covered as their journey is their work, rather than being a journey to or from work. Consistent with the recommendations of the committee, the bill excludes strokes and heart attacks. This recognises that in most circumstances there are a number of health factors that can lead to a stroke or a heart attack at work, where there may well be no causation by the workplace. It does not make sense for illnesses that may have no connection to the workplace to be covered by a workers compensation system. In the event that the workplace is the main contributing factor to the stroke or heart attack, and this can be proved, then the claim should and would be covered.

The bill also implements recommendations of the committee with regard to the assessment of whole person impairment. Concerns have been raised about the number of times that workers are sent for medical assessments of whole person impairment and the amount of disagreement that this causes. The disagreement that often occurs is unnecessary. Sending injured workers off for multiple assessments is unhelpful and has no advantages in terms of return to work. It also encourages injured workers and their representatives to focus on proving impairment rather than on returning to work. Recommendation 19 of the joint select committee would have removed the entitlement of the estate of a worker to receive a death benefit where the worker had no dependents. The unions and others raised several concerns about this issue.

Non-payment of death benefits in circumstances in which there are no dependents could lead to disputes over issues of dependency, and after discussions with the Government it has opted not to proceed with this recommendation. Following further consultation, the Government will not proceed with recommendation 21 relating to “recess” claims. This would have limited the liability for injuries sustained by workers during recess to circumstances in which the employment has been the significant contributing factor. This may have inadvertently increased the number of disputes regarding liability, and therefore added further costs to the scheme. As the Shooters and Fishers Party has done with similar bills since the last election, and indeed with the former Labor Government, we have tried to secure the best possible outcome for the competing interests.

As we have said previously, not everyone will be happy with the Government’s final decisions, but we are confident that whatever changes we may have managed to make to the legislation this has been the best possible compromise we could achieve. With politics being the art of what is possible, I am glad to say that the Shooters and Fishers Party has negotiated further changes by way of an amendment to the legislation, which will see this amended legislation reviewed in three years and not five years as proposed in this amending bill, and possibly sooner if the scheme returns to surplus.

The amendment the Shooters and Fishers Party will move in the Committee stage reflects the urgency of the Government addressing the financial viability of the scheme because without addressing it the scheme is at risk of failing altogether. That would be catastrophic, particularly for those workers who are severely injured or totally incapacitated. No-one wants to see that happen. The fact is that the scheme was originally set up to help people back to work. It was not set up as a retirement fund. Those who are deemed unable to return to work need all the assistance they can get. Those who can go back to work need our assistance to get them back into the workforce as quickly as possible.

On my understanding of the financial effect, the bills will yield in the vicinity of $6 billion in savings over five years. With the changes the Shooters and Fishers Party have been able to negotiate with the Government this has dropped to $3.5 billion but added greater protection to injured employees whilst mitigating insurance premium increases for employers, which would have posed a huge impost and reduced the competitiveness of businesses in New South Wales in respect of other States, most notably Queensland and Victoria. It could have cost up to 15,000 jobs in New South Wales. I commend the bills to the House.

19 June

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.41 p.m.]: I speak on behalf the Shooters and Fishers Party, which supports the City of Sydney Amendment (Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee) Bill 2012. For the sake of Hansard I indicate that I am doing a jig. The Shooters and Fishers Party think this is a fantastic and long-overdue bill. The Hon. Cate Faehrmann had a go at the Daily Telegraph not half an hour after one of her colleagues lamented the fall of that great Communist rag the Sydney Morning Herald and other Fairfax publications. The Daily Telegraph is healthy, so it must be reflecting what its readers want to read, and the Sydney Morning Herald is going down the gurgler. That is the market’s reaction to the popularity of the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald. I take exception to some of the things the Hon. Charlie Lynn said. Even to suggest or imply that The Greens are urban terrorists is totally wrong; he was misleading the House. Being terrorised by a Green is like being whacked about the head with a wet lettuce leaf. That is not terrorism—it is far from it.

The Hon. Rick Colless: Lettuce leaves are green.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, but they do not have much impact. The Shooters and Fishers Party wholeheartedly supports the bill.

NARRABRI SHIRE COUNCIL AND HUNTING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Minister for Tourism. Is the Minister aware that Narrabri Shire Council is working towards becoming the first hunter-friendly shire in New South Wales, given that much of the public land already declared, and land soon to be declared, for hunting by licensed voluntary conservation hunters is within that shire? Given the obvious economic and environmental benefits from having voluntary conservation hunters removing feral animals from forests and national parks, what support will the Minister and his department provide to Narrabri Shire Council to expedite this great initiative?

FIREARMS REGISTRY

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is the Minister aware of concerns by firearms owners in Tasmania that because of a sudden spike in what appears to be targeted burglaries on homes with firearms, the State’s firearms owners database, containing the names and addresses of all registered firearms owners, has been compromised? Given that many firearms owners in New South Wales have similar concerns about the NSW Firearms Registry and police database, what assurances can the Minister give that the security of that database—a 482 megabyte database that contains the personal details of more than 283,000 licensed firearms owners in this State—has not been compromised in any way?

NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 22 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question about National Parks. The Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage has provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

5,869 hectares have been added to the national park estate since the O’Farrell Government came into office, comprising three new parks and 21 additions to existing parks.

7,049 hectares of the national park estate have been re-categorised in the reserve system, for example, from state conservation area to national park.

NOOGOORA BURR INFESTATION

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 30 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question about the Noogoora burr infestation at Toorale Station. The Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage has provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

Since establishing Toorale as a national park and state conservation area, National Parks and Wildlife Service staff have undertaken annual control of Noogoora Burr by way of chemical treatment, slashing and manual removal of plants. This will need to continue given the reinfestation which occurs from upstream sources. Additionally, treatment of Noogoora Burr, like most weeds, is most effective during summer months.

14 June

SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE DEFENCE OF PROVOCATION

The Hon. HELEN WESTWOOD

I move:

1. That this House notes ongoing concerns regarding the use of provocation as a partial defence to a charge of murder.

2. That a select committee be appointed to inquire into and report on:

(a) the retention of the partial defence of provocation including:

(i) abolishing the defence,

(ii) amending the elements of the defence in light of proposals in other jurisdictions,

(b) the adequacy of the defence of self-defence for victims of prolonged domestic and sexual violence, and

(c) any other related matters.

3. That notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the standing orders, the committee consist of seven members as follows:

(a) three Government members.

(b) two Opposition members who will be Mr Searle and Ms Westwood, and

(c) two Cross Bench members who will be Revd Mr Nile and Mr Shoebridge.

4. That notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the standing orders, the Chair of the committee will be Revd Mr Nile and the Deputy Chair will be elected at the first meeting of the committee.

5. That notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders, at any meeting of the committee four members will constitute a quorum.

6. That a committee member who is unable to attend a deliberative meeting in person may participate by electronic communication and may move any motion and be counted for the purpose of any quorum or division, provided that:

(a) the Chair is present in the meeting room,

(b) all members are able to speak and hear each other at all times, and

(c) a member may not participate by electronic communication in a meeting to consider a draft report.
7. That the committee report by 21 November 2012.

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.09 a.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party will be supporting the motion. It is interesting to hear the contributions from members who are, or have been, in the law. This motion was moved by a member who is not a lawyer but a champion of people disadvantaged in one way or another. I salute the Hon. Helen Westwood.

GAME AND FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL 2012

Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Robert Brown.

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.25 a.m.]: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Shooters and Fishers Party is pleased to introduce the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2012—a bill that provides for a sensible, simple and practical conservation outcome. It is a conservation bill. A previous Premier was pragmatic enough to accept major parts of a similar bill, before reneging on his offer to allow conservation hunting in nearly 60 national parks. As I have said before, I have a marked-up map in my office showing within which parks that Premier was prepared to allow conservation hunting. The Premier following him took advice from the then member for Balmain and the member for Marrickville—both electorates that are hardly the bastions of feral animal plagues in our State. It seems what happened in the end was that it was easier to send Frank Sartor to the Hon. Ian Cohen and do a deal involving the declaration of river red gum forests as national parks—

DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Paul Green): Order! The member will be heard in silence.

Mr David Shoebridge: What is the Christian element in this? Why are the Christians voting for this?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: —in return for Greens’ preferences, thereby sinking the previous bill.

DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Paul Green): Order! I call Mr David Shoebridge to order for the first time.

Mr David Shoebridge: You’re embarrassed.

DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Paul Green): Order! There is no need for the member to be disrespectful to the Chair.

Mr David Shoebridge: Because you’re embarrassed.

The Hon. Robert Borsak: That’s outrageous.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I do, however, thank many former Labor members, in particular members of Country Labor, who understood the value of such a bill. As for the Coalition, when its members last saw this bill they were generally supportive but wanted to negotiate a couple of issues. In fact, we have gone so far as to address each of their concerns in this new, far simpler bill.
The Hon. Rick Colless: Point of order: This is a very important bill, and I would think all members would want to hear the mover’s justification for bringing it forward. I ask that members opposite be brought under control. They should remain silent and listen to the argument. They will have their chance to have their say on the bill next week.

DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Paul Green): Order! The member raises a valid point. All members have the right to put their points forward during debate. I ask members to respect that right.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I am hopeful, therefore, that the Government will support the bill, unamended, through all stages in this House and in the other place. The threat of feral animals in our national parks is great, and even more so after recent floods when the population of feral cats, foxes, pigs, wild dogs and goats has exploded. But of course The Greens, all but one of whom live east of the Iron Cove Bridge, would not know that.

The Hon. John Ajaka: Point of order: I almost do not need to take my point of order, given that it has become a complete free-for-all for those opposite and on the crossbenches. Members have the right to hear the member speaking. I cannot hear a word because of constant interjection. The Greens have had many opportunities to bring in private members’ bills—

The Hon. Rick Colless: Many.

The Hon. John Ajaka: Many. And they have been heard in silence when they have introduced those bills. Other members should be afforded the same courtesy. I strongly suggest that members who cannot remain silent be asked to leave the Chamber.

DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Paul Green): Order! I remind members that interjections are disorderly at all times.

Mr David Shoebridge: It is disorderly to do a grubby deal with the Government about national parks—and it is a grubby deal you are a part of.

DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Paul Green): Order! I call Mr David Shoebridge to order for the second time. Members will show the member with the call some respect and listen to him in silence. Members will have an opportunity to contribute to the debate.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: The utilisation of volunteer conservation hunters, which has been working well in our State Forests since 2006, works particularly well in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia and overseas. A statutory five-year review of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 was thorough and provided a detailed assessment of that Act. The review group agreed that game and feral animals cause impacts to public health and safety, private property, agriculture and the environment, and that establishing a council to facilitate, promote and manage hunting has reduced those impacts. Accordingly, it concluded that the policy objective remained valid. This bill addresses some of the recommendations for reform found in that statutory review.

The principal features of this amending bill are as follows. The bill will allow the Minister responsible for national park estate land to declare that land, under the Game and Feral Animal Control Act, for the purposes of hunting game animals by persons who hold a restricted game hunting licence. Furthermore, the bill makes a number of other amendments of an administrative, minor or consequential nature to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002, to the regulations, to the Firearms Act 1996 and to the Rural Lands Protection Act 1998.

The bill ensures that the intent of the legislation is consistent with the Game Council objectives, which are to provide for the effective management of introduced species of game animals and to promote the responsible and orderly hunting of those game animals and of certain pest animals on public and private land. The Game Council NSW is clearly the lead agency for the licensing and regulating of conservation hunting in New South Wales, with that system providing a range of genuine benefits for the people of the State, the economy and, importantly, the environment.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: The Game Council NSW was established as a statutory authority by the New South Wales Parliament under the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 and its associated Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation 2004. One of its major objectives is to harness the efforts of licensed and accredited hunters to help in the reduction of some of the nation’s worst pests, such as pigs, goats, foxes and rabbits. Under the Game Council NSW we have seen the introduction of the game hunting licence system, the production at government level of the State’s first hunter education handbook and the declaration of around 400 State forests and Crown land areas for pest control by volunteer conservation hunting licence holders.

There are an estimated 7.2 million foxes throughout Australia. They kill an estimated 190 million native birds annually and threaten the survival of many small Australian mammals. That is a fact that The Greens do not seem to understand or appreciate. According to the report “Counting the cost: Impact of Invasive Animals in Australia, 2004”, the cost impact nationally of 11 feral animal species alone totals $720 million per annum. More than 95 per cent of New South Wales is inhabited by some species of wild or feral animal which, if left unmanaged, may adversely affect the environment and damage agricultural production.

As at March 2012, the Game Council NSW had issued more than 17,000 game hunting licences, and that number is expected to reach 20,000 by the end of the year. Since 2004 approximately 2,600,000 game and feral animals have been removed from all lands—public and private—by those licensed game hunters alone in New South Wales. Last year Game Council licence holders removed nearly 800,000 game and feral animals on both private and public land, and are now on target to remove one million in one year. This, by any calculation, is a huge contribution to the management of feral animals in New South Wales and we should all congratulate the Game Council NSW on its conservation efforts. In addition, it is expected that game hunting licence holders will spend more than $100 million of their own money in pursuit of their volunteer hunting efforts, with most of that spending occurring in regional New South Wales. It is also important to note that the Game Council NSW is a statutory authority and that all funds raised by it go directly back into future council activities, and research and conservation projects.

Schedule 1 [4] and schedule 1 [5] amend the definition of “public land” so that it includes, rather than excludes, as is the case at present, national park estate land that includes national parks and other land reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The effect of this amendment is that the Minister responsible for national park estate land may declare any such land as public hunting land under section 20 of the Act, as Ministers responsible for other public lands may declare the lands under their respective control. At the same time, the bill lists certain national park estate land that cannot be made available for volunteer conservation hunting of game and pest animals. Under the Act, hunting of game and pest animals on public land is permitted only if the land is declared to be available for hunting.

The amendments to schedule 1 [3] and [12] are consequential, and schedule 1 [2] inserts a definition of “declared public hunting land” for clarification purposes. Another aspect of the bill is the inclusion of other pest animals that may be hunted. Schedule 1 [6] recasts the provision of the Act and specifies the game animals that may be hunted in accordance with the Act so that the provision refers instead to a list set out in proposed schedule 3. The list of game animals contains two separate parts. For example, the game animals currently referred to in section 5 (2) of the Act will now be listed in parts 1 and 2 of new schedule 3. The list can be amended by ministerial order, but must specifically exclude native animals from being added by such an order.

Amendments to schedule 1 [2], [15] and [16] are consequential. Schedule 1 [7] provides for exemptions from certain offences under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and the regulations under that Act, insofar as those offences would otherwise relate to the lawful hunting by the holders of a game licence. It also provides that certain orders and notices under other legislation cannot prevent or interfere with hunting in accordance with a game hunting licence. Since the passing of the original Game and Feral Animal Control Bill 2002, hunters have demonstrated a thoroughly professional approach towards feral animal control and have also proven over the years the value of volunteer conservation hunting both on Crown lands and on private property. Despite any legislation in place, however, there will always be people who will not want to accept any form of hunting—such as Mr David Shoebridge and his friends in The Greens.

The PRESIDENT: Order! If the Hon. Robert Borsak and the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham want to conduct a conversation they should do so outside the Chamber.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: For this reason, and for their safety and the safety of hunters, schedule 1 [24] extends the existing offence of obstructing, hindering or impeding an inspector to include assaulting, threatening or intimidating an inspector. Schedule 1 [25] creates a new offence of not complying with a direction by an inspector to leave or not to enter declared public hunting land. Such directions may be given to a person if the inspector has reason to believe that the person is committing an offence under the Act. Schedule 1 [26], proposed section 55B prohibits commercial taxidermists from preserving or preparing the skin of certain game animals unless satisfied the animals have been hunted by a licensed game hunter or by a person with some other lawful authorisation—for example, under the existing National Parks and Wildlife Act. Commercial taxidermists will be required to record certain information and to make those records available for inspection. The bill also makes a number of miscellaneous amendments.

Schedule 1 [13] provides that a game hunting licence authorises the licence holder to possess the carcass or the skin or any other part of a game animal that the licence holder has harvested under the authority conferred by the licence. Schedule 1 [14] contains a consequential amendment. Schedule 1 [21] provides that the power of an inspector to require a vehicle to stop may be exercised without the inspector being accompanied by a police officer. This brings the Act into line with similar provisions in the Fisheries Management Act 1994.

Licensed hunters who assist the Game Council NSW in providing effective management of pest animals and game animals under a regime where they are accredited and can properly identify the appropriate game have a great deal to lose if they do the wrong thing. Any breaches of the Act or regulations will potentially lead to court action and heavy penalties, including forfeiture of their hunting equipment. If that equipment includes, for example, cars and expensive rifles and camping equipment this could amount to many thousands of dollars. Therefore, hunters have an incentive to do the right thing. Schedule 1 [22] removes the limit on the amount of a “thing”—that is how it is described in the Act—that a Local Court may require to be forfeited in connection with an offence under the Act.

In discussions with the Government, we have removed a clause in this bill that would have banned the use of particular types of poison in the management of game animals on declared public hunting land. This clause was specifically aimed at preventing the use of salt lick blocks, laced with deadly poisons—not 1080—aimed at killing large animals such as deer or horses in a cruel way, and the inherent danger to native animals. The Government has given an assurance that the trial of this method, which was due to begin shortly, will be postponed indefinitely to allow for a proper scientific assessment of this method, and will include both Game Council and national park representatives in this assessment.

In addition to these amendments, schedule 2 to the bill proposes a number of amendments of a consequential nature to other legislation. Schedule 2.1 amends the Firearms Act 1996 to enable a public or local authority to give permission to shoot on land that is owned by, or under the control or management of, that authority, and that is not within a metropolitan area, for the purpose of vertebrate pest animal control. Councils and other public land management bodies should be allowed to utilise the system of volunteer conservation hunters for vertebrate pest control on land under their authority. In fact, that has happened but every time it has had to be done under a permit issued by the commissioner.

All the proposed amendments have been carefully drafted so as to ensure that they do not compromise the principles and objects of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002. The amendments proposed in the bill will add to the huge contribution that the Game Council currently provides in respect of conservation and protection of livestock in New South Wales. It will provide genuine, measurable benefits to the people, the economy and the environment in this State and at minimal cost to taxpayers. I note that recently in the Northern Star, the Hon. Catherine Cusack, who is not in the Chamber, spoke of her visits to several national parks in the past six months. She described the increase in feral animal population as “horrifying”.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: It is horrifying.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It is. She is quite correct. She said:

It is an emergency – we need a state-wide integrated strategy to combat this threat. It needs to be professionally managed across public and private land and everyone including the Game Council has a role to play.

To my mind, there is no better professional body than the Game Council and no more dedicated conservationists than the volunteer conservationists when it comes to the control of game and feral animals in New South Wales. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

 NATIONAL PARKS AND TOURISM

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.31 p.m.]: I will speak about sustainable tourism in protected areas, that is, national parks. I recently became aware of the World Commission on Protected Areas series of papers on best practice protected area guidelines and found that many of the recommendations fit nicely into our situation in New South Wales. “Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, Guidelines for Planning and Management” is No. 8 in the series. Its publication was made possible in large part by funding from Cardiff University, the United Nations Environment Program, the World Tourism Organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Environment Australia.

Interestingly, just last week we had news that tourist visits to Australia’s famous national park landmarks are plummeting. Uluru and Kakadu in the Northern Territory are among the worst affected, with visitor numbers at Kakadu down 11 percent this financial year. At Uluru they are down 19 per cent. It is obvious to anyone interested in sustainable conservation that something needs to be done urgently to get people into these protected areas. I hope that in New South Wales we are not suffering a similar fall in visitor numbers, and I hope that the New South Wales Nationals Parks and Wildlife Service can again report this year that we have had more than 30 million visitors to our national parks. Even a 10 per cent drop in visits to national parks in New South Wales would only take us back to 27 million visits—if anyone really believes the figures.

The paper says that the link between protected areas and tourism is as old as the history of protected areas. It also says that protected areas need tourism and tourism needs protected areas. So far I think all members except The Greens will agree with that premise. The underlying aim of these guidelines is to ensure that tourism contributes to the purposes of protected areas and does not undermine them. That is again something that most people will agree on. The paper also points out that the success of the guidelines depends in part on action taken by governments and others in, for example, updating legislation relating to protected areas and tourism and introducing economic incentives to encourage sustainable forms of tourism.

I look forward to the State budget and hope that it contains some incentives to get tourism of various kinds, or other commercial operations, into our national parks. The conclusions arrived at in the guidelines paper are also pertinent. They say protected areas normally achieve recognition and enhanced protection when sufficient numbers of people visit them, appreciate them, and take political action to assure their survival. That is what we are doing. There is also a recommendation that all existing legislation and economic policies need to be reviewed to identify and promote incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of the resources. On the financial side I found it interesting that the researchers concluded:

At present, the cash flow from tourism often returns largely to urban areas, well away from the protected areas themselves. It is always advantageous to invest and assign some tourism revenue to local communities so that local people can see direct financial benefits from park tourism … and planners and managers should therefore be active in stimulating maximum local economic benefit.

Surely there is some good advice in that for our park planners and managers in New South Wales. I think we have enough national parks; unfortunately, I do not think we make enough use of them. The Government has a clear opportunity to open up these areas to suggestions from the business community and for other recreational uses. Let us hope that the Government has the vision and foresight to make a start on getting more tourists into our national parks in whatever form of tourism that is deemed applicable for those individual parks.

13 June 2012

WILD DOG CONTROL

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of calls by the New South Wales Farmers Association for more government money to be spent controlling the State’s wild dog population, particularly those emanating from national parks? How much money has been reallocated within the trimmed national parks budget—perhaps from the enlarged component that pays for locks and gates—to address this specific wild dog issue?

SOUTHERN RIVERINA TOURISM PLAN

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Can the Minister inform the House about what progress has been made in establishing cycling and walking tracks around the Moira Lakes and the development of a Murrumbidgee and Yanga Lakes kayaking tour, which were the centrepieces of her $1.5 million funding announcement in Mathoura in March this year?

FIREARMS MODERATOR PERMITS

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 9 May 2012 I was asked a question by the Hon. Robert Borsak about firearms moderator permits. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services has provided the following response:

The NSW Police Force has advised me that one firearms moderator permit has been issued so far in 2012. Two such permits were issued to government agencies involved in feral animal control in 2011, five in 2010 and none in 2009. One of these firearms moderator permits was issued for scientific research and the others were for feral animal control.

POWER STATION PROJECTS

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 9 May 2012 I was asked a question by the Hon. Robert Brown about the new Bayswater B power station in the Hunter Valley and the Mount Piper extension near Lithgow. The Minister for Resources and Energy, Special Minister of State, and Minister for the Central Coast has provided the following response:

Power station proposals at Bayswater in the Hunter Valley and Mount Piper near Lithgow were granted concept approval in January 2010 valid for 10 years.

Economic and social impacts show that the Bayswater project (at an estimated value of $2 billion) will bring to Muswellbrook/Singleton:

· direct employment for a construction workforce of up to 950 people and operational workforce of up to 160 people;

· indirect employment during the construction phase, resulting from increased demand for goods and services; and

· significant capital investment during the construction phase.

The Mount Piper extension project (estimated to be valued between $2.6 and 5 billion) will bring to the Lithgow area:

· direct employment for a construction workforce of up to 950 people; and

· an operational workforce of up to 50 people with indirect employment and capital investment during the construction phase.

Both projects are proposed as coal or gas fired base load plant, and a decision on fuel is a matter for the project proponents.

The Australian Energy Market Operator [AEMO] produces an annual forecast of future electricity demand and the supply/demand balance. In 2011, the findings of the Australian Energy Market Operator were that, under the most likely scenario, no new coal fired generation would come on line in the period to 2030 but 7,600 MW of new gas fired base load generation would come online in New South Wales. Both these proposed plants could contribute to that level of expected new gas fired generation.

The Government is committed to providing the people and businesses of New South Wales with a reliable and secure supply of electricity.

The Greens should acknowledge that if these proposed projects were not allowed to proceed, then there would be less approved generation able to meet forecast future demands which would lead to higher prices for New South Wales households and businesses.

The Greens should also outline how they intend to fund the move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020, which has been estimated by Beyond Zero Emissions to cost $370 billion; how they plan to deliver this without any increase in New South Wales consumer electricity bills; and in the absence of nuclear power, how they will guarantee a reliable supply of electricity without any baseload generation.

 12 June 2012

 COALMINING PROTESTS

On 1 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General, a question without notice regarding coalmining protests. The Attorney General provided the following response:

The Environmental Defender’s Office [EDO] is a community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law. It has an active legal advice and case work program which receives funding as set out in my answer to the Question Without Notice asked by the Hon. Robert Brown on 14 March 2012.

In March 2012, media reports indicated that the Environmental Defender’s Office attended meetings of the first Australian National Coal Convergence in the Blue Mountains in October 2011.

In a letter to the Premier dated 21 March 2012, the Environmental Defender’s Office confirmed it attended the meeting and describes its involvement in the meeting as follows:

the Environmental Defender’s Office attended the meeting as an observer at the request of clients … In fact, I am advised that up to 16 of our clients were present at the Blue Mountains meeting.

According to that same letter from the Environmental Defender’s Office:

the Environmental Defender’s Office routinely attends Environment Liaison Office [ELO] meetings but does not sign onto campaigning letters.

I am further advised that the Environmental Defender’s Office was acknowledged for its contribution by the authors of a campaign proposal entitled “Funding proposal for the Australian anti-coal movement” and proposes a strategy “to ‘disrupt and delay’ key projects and infrastructure while gradually eroding public and political support for the [coal] industry and continually building the power of the movement to win more”.

I have requested that the Environmental Defender’s Office advise about whether it has had any involvement in the preparation of the campaign document and for further information about the meeting of the Australian National Coal Convergence in the Blue Mountains in October 2011.

WILD DOG CONTROL

On 3 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding wild dog control. The Minister for Primary Industries has provided the following response:

Yes. However, with a recent further increase in wild dog activity and requests from landholders in the Upper Hunter, an aerial bating program is being arranged.

Yes.

NATIVE VEGETATION LEGISLATION PROSECUTIONS

On 1 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the prosecution of farmers under native vegetation laws while the regulations are under review. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The question raised by the Hon. Robert Brown fall under the administration of the Hon. Robyn Parker, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage, and should be directed accordingly for response.

HORSERIDING IN NATIONAL PARKS

On 3 May 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the pilot program to trial horseriding in national parks. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

The New South Wales Government is currently undertaking consultation on the Draft Strategic Directions for Horse Riding in NSW National Parks and Reserves. The draft strategy is on public exhibition until 30 June 2012 and is available on the Office of Environment and Heritage website. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is also undertaking targeted consultation with key stakeholders including horse riders, conservation groups and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council.

31 May 2012

PETITIONS
Hunting on Public Land

Petition noting a proposal to allow children as young as 12 to hunt animals on public land and requesting that the House condemn a proposal allowing children to hunt unsupervised on public land in New South Wales as reckless and dangerous and disallow regulations in relation to such a proposal, received from Mr David Shoebridge.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN [11.06 a.m.]: I move:

      That this House:
    (a) supports marriage equality, and
    (b) calls on the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to amend the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 to provide for marriage equality.
Ayes, 22
Mr Ajaka
Ms Barham
Mr Buckingham
Ms Cotsis
Ms Cusack
Ms Faehrmann
Ms Fazio
Dr Kaye
Mr Khan
Mr MacDonald
Mrs Mitchell
Mr Pearce
Mr Primrose
Mr Roozendaal
Mr Searle
Mr Secord
Ms Sharpe
Mr Shoebridge
Ms Voltz
Ms WestwoodTellers,
Mr Blair
Mr Veitch
Noes, 16
Mr Borsak
Mr Brown
Mr Clarke
Mr Colless
Mr Foley
Mr Gallacher
Miss Gardiner
Mr Green
Mr Lynn
Mrs Maclaren-Jones
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Nile
Mrs Pavey
Dr PhelpsTellers,
Mr Donnelly
Ms Ficarra

Question resolved in the affirmative.

TOORALE NATIONAL PARK

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Will the Minister inform the House how many people attended the recent Toorale open day? How many people boarded the bus to Toorale, how many trips were made and what was the cost? Depending on the success or otherwise of the Toorale open day, will there be similar open days in other remote national parks in New South Wales?

NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE FUNDING

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware that the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service recently told a parliamentary inquiry in Hobart that it currently costs them $11 per hectare to manage Tasmania’s vast parks and wilderness areas? Will the Minister explain to this House why it costs the taxpayers of New South Wales four times that amount per hectare to manage our scraggly little national parks and wilderness areas?

30 May 2012

FIREARMS AMENDMENT (AMMUNITION CONTROL) BILL 2012

Message received from the Legislative Assembly returning the bill without amendment.

NOOGOORA BURR INFESTATION

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Following the recent flooding along much of the Darling River, can the Minister inform the House what specific efforts are currently being made at Toorale Station to combat noogoora burr infestation?

 RIVER RED GUM NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of recent statements by the mayor of Deniliquin that “he fears the elderly or frail residents in the town could die this winter” because the cost of firewood has gone from about $80 to about $380 for two tonnes since the previous Government turned the river red gum forests into national parks? Will the Minister have Parks and Wildlife officers contact the mayor and make arrangements for more firewood to be made available to the at-risk residents in Deniliquin?

 ELECTRICITY GENERATOR ASSETS (AUTHORISED TRANSACTIONS) BILL 2012

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [4.06 p.m.]: My contribution will not be lengthy and I hope it will not be too difficult for members to understand. On behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party I speak on the Electricity Generator Assets (Authorised Transactions) Bill 2012. Our contribution to this debate follows extensive negotiations and face-to-face meetings with primarily unions and the Government. This is the second time since 2008 that members of this House have been asked to consider a proposition such as this. The first time it was put forward by the Iemma Labor Government. The then Coalition in opposition rejected the sale or lease of the generators but reserved the right to reconsider the issue if and when it was elected to government.

The Leader of the Opposition, in his contribution, demonstrated that since the last election the Government has made certain assertions about its intentions on this matter. The Opposition at the time this proposal was last before the House is now the Government, and it is clear they are going to move on this legislation. Before I speak to the substantive reasons for our position on this legislation, I indicate that we will be moving amendments at the Committee stage and that subject to those amendments being agreed to we will not oppose the bill. The House and the public are well aware of previous statements that the Shooters and Fishers Party have made on this issue. We are not in favour of the sale of strategic assets.

Dr John Kaye: So why are you voting for it?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: If you sit and listen politely you may find out. Everyone knows the state of infrastructure in New South Wales. The roads are not good enough and Sydney is being choked to death by traffic. Our rail system is in poor condition. West of the ranges people feel they have been neglected for at least the past 20 years. We have lost and continue to lose major processing and manufacturing industry, some very recently in New South Wales.

The Government says that the success of this bill will provide the financial basis to begin addressing these issues. Again, we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition that the Opposition does not necessarily believe those assertions. I doubt there is a single citizen who does not agree that things need to change from an infrastructure point of view in New South Wales and that this State desperately needs to get moving. The new Government has been on the Treasury benches for over a year now and I dare say the people of New South Wales are looking for some demonstration that it is going to get on with the job.

This is a difficult bill for the Shooters and Fishers Party but because it is a difficult bill we saw there was a need for us to become involved. I acknowledge the cooperation and assistance of your party, Mr Assistant-President, the Christian Democratic Party and in particular the Hon. Paul Green in your absence through ill health, in progressing negotiations with the unions. We are grateful for the Hon. Paul Green’s assistance. Because we felt we needed to get involved, as we did previously when the Labor Government proposed similar legislation, we have again taken the role of honest broker in an attempt to negotiate protection for workers under these new arrangements.

As with the Labor Party proposal in 2008, and because our vote continues at least in this term to be crucial in this House at times—not all the time; the ammunition control bill and the electoral funding bill proved that—we have worked closely with Unions NSW and some of the unions represented in the negotiating group in the power industry, as well as with our colleagues from the Christian Democratic Party, to assist the unions in negotiating for the best possible terms and conditions for power station workers and people associated with the running of those generators. We were not prepared to vote for this sale, and publicly made that plain, until there was general agreement between the Government and the unions on key issues involving those workers. The Government approached us back in April. The Government finally agreed last night to institute these protections, after probably having agreed 80 per cent with the unions. It is called brinkmanship; it is called “Let us see who blinks first”.

The Hon. Catherine Cusack: Who blinked first?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: We didn’t.

The Hon. Luke Foley: Tell us what the Government agreed with the unions.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I will get to some of that.

The Hon. Luke Foley: It must be in the detail.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Sometimes I get myself into trouble for being too detailed. We have worked closely with the unions, particularly Mark Lennon of Unions New South Wales and representatives of the Electrical Trades Union, the United Services Union and others, to negotiate the best possible terms and conditions for workers. As I said, we were not prepared to agree to the Government’s proposal until such time as we were satisfied that the unions, with our assistance, had done the very best deal they could. I do not think Unions NSW would disagree with that point of view. I believe we have achieved the best possible outcome for those workers and, therefore, the Shooters and Fishers Party will support this Government bill on the proviso, as I stated earlier, that all of our circulated amendments are passed during the Committee stage.

Those amendments and some other issues that I will raise with the Minister at the table contain the spirit, word and letter of those agreements. Although we need to be cognisant of the needs and wishes of our direct constituency, we were not elected to hinder good government. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that whether this legislation turns out to be good government will probably be revealed by the test of time, particularly in terms of consumer costs of power and the cost of industrial power. However, we have been the honest broker on a number of major government bills under previous governments and with the O’Farrell Government, so we have had a bit of experience.

I come now to the question raised earlier by Dr John Kaye. The question may well be asked and, in fact, was the first question asked by Unions NSW and the United Services Union: Why agree to the bill at all? Here is where it gets interesting, so everybody listen up. On our analysis, and we are pretty sure the unions agree with us and think the Government might secretly believe this to be the case, there is a very good chance that the O’Farrell Government will control both Houses of the New South Wales Parliament after the 2015 election. Members have only to look at the numbers. The question for us is: Do we shirtfront the Government now and say, “No, go to buggery”, knowing that it will most certainly proceed if it can get absolute executive power in three years time, or do we take the opportunity now to lock in a raft of employee protection devices that extend beyond March 2015? We took a considered decision to negotiate with the Government now and encourage the unions and the Government to get their houses in order. We have seen evidence of what the O’Farrell Government regarded as fair transfer arrangements in its privatisation of the ferry services. I think the unions and probably the Government would agree that that is where those negotiations started. Those terms, of course, were not satisfactory to the unions.

Having made that decision we then managed—I think that is the best word to describe it—the negotiations between the unions and the Government to a position we believe is now the best possible package of employment protection for the power industry workers. We did not get everything that the power industry asked for—the Treasurer dug his toes in on a couple of issues—but we were able to negotiate other things the unions wanted and I think the unions and the Government have now probably come to a compromise. Do not get me wrong, I am not claiming today that the unions in New South Wales, particularly those represented by Unions NSW, approve of this bill. They do not. They oppose, as does the Opposition, the privatisation of these generators.

However, it was important for me to put that reason on the table because our members and supporters on the Central Coast, in the Hunter Valley and in western New South Wales, a lot of whom work in the power industry, the coal industry or the allied industries that support those industries, have an expectation that we will try to protect their jobs. We have had emails from some of those constituents asking us not to vote for the bill, but equally we have had emails from some constituents in the industry saying they think it is a good idea. So, this message is for Burnsie and his mates up there and their friends over at Vales Point: Do not believe, as you may be led to believe, that we have sold you out. We have not. What we have done is try to get the best deal for you to make sure that your employment is protected when this goes bill through on the basis that we think now is the only opportunity we will have to negotiate with the Government.

The Government might come back with this legislation next year or in 2014. But it was made clear to us that the Government has been elected to govern and they will do so, and if they have to wait until 2015 they will do it then. At the same time, we took the opportunity to lock the Government into a more transparent process for the nomination and then implementation of rural and regional infrastructure, which will be funded in accordance with section 9 (2) of the Restart NSW Fund Act 2011. For the benefit of members who cannot recall that section of the Act, it requires that the State Government hypothecate 30 per cent of all funds received from various sources, including transactions such as this, for use in regional areas outside Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. On our first look we wondered, “Is Rouse Hill a regional area?”

The Government might want to build a railway line at Rouse Hill and will take money out of this fund to do so. The Shooters and Fishers Party has insisted, and the Government has agreed, that an independent commission or panel, whatever it will be called, will adjudicate on the proposals that the Government seeks to fund through that 30 per cent hypothecation as specified in the Act in regional areas outside Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. The Government has predicted that 30 per cent to be in the range of approximately $1 billion. One billion dollars will go to rural and regional New South Wales and, if we are lucky, at least another $1 billion in capital savings over the next decade that the Government may put into that fund.

The press release of The Nationals quite correctly claimed credit for that legislation. Members of this House need to understand that the sole signatory to that fund is the Treasurer. Under the arrangements, the Government would simply fund proposals from Infrastructure NSW. That is not good enough, as far as we are concerned. The vast majority of large infrastructure projects, such as mining, coal seam gas exploration and others, impacts on the local government areas in which those industries are flourishing. For example, the roads and bridges in those areas get a hammering. If $1 billion were spent on one single project, it would assist only a very small part of rural New South Wales. Money has to be allocated on a non-political, needs basis and the allocation of funding should be decided by people who are qualified to represent regional New South Wales and who have the skills and experience to be able to, shall I say, joust with the experts at Infrastructure NSW.

The Shooters and Fishers Party hope that the long-term future supply of cheap electricity, particularly base-load generating capacity, can be achieved under this legislation. We do not want to lose any more major manufacturing industries, including aluminium manufacturing, to overseas locations or even interstate because they cannot obtain cheap power in our State. In 2008 then Premier Morris Iemma approached the Shooters and Fishers Party for our support of his proposal. He said, “Robert, if we don’t build another power station and we can’t guarantee cheap power to the smelters in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle, we won’t get the next potline”. Not only did we not get the next potline, we are losing one.

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: Yes, because we privatised it, Robert, and now they can’t do a deal because it is not a public asset.

Dr John Kaye: It is just a ridiculous argument.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: We do not need to lose any more jobs in New South Wales. I know Dr John Kaye does not care. The Greens cost jobs in New South Wales. Suck it up, John. The Greens cost jobs. Dr John Kaye gabs on about alternative energy methods generating 78,000 jobs; it is a lot of garbage.

The Hon. Luke Foley: Point of order: I was given the great courtesy by members on both sides of the Chamber to be listened to in silence during most of my speech. I ask that members be directed to listen to all speakers in this debate in a similar respectful silence.

The ASSISTANT-PRESIDENT (Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile): Order! I uphold the point of order. Members will listen to the member with the call in silence. Members will have an opportunity to contribute to the debate.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: New South Wales must regain its premier position as a supplier of cheap coal-fired or gas-fired base-load power for domestic consumers and industry consumers. We also need better infrastructure, otherwise we will not retain and create jobs. This is not Queensland or Western Australia, it is New South Wales and we need to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps very quickly. The Shooters and Fishers Party is satisfied that we have negotiated the best deal possible for workers in the power industry in a window of opportunity that allowed us to do so, but we are not so certain about the future.

Despite the Premier’s statements about the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill, the primary concern of the Shooters and Fishers Party has been to get a good deal for the power industry workers. My colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak will address the protection measures when he moves our amendments, as I have foreshadowed, during the Committee stage. I ask the Minister in his reply to address our concerns. We want to know the fate of existing apprentices. In relation to employees, we want a guarantee that the Government will make transfer payments. We also want to ensure that the definition of “transferred employees” is clear in everybody’s mind so that the unions do not come back to us next week and say, “Brownie, you forgot something”.

In Committee

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.52 p.m.], by leave: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 1 on sheet C2012-072D and Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 1 on sheet C2012-073E in globo:

No. 1 Page 10. Insert after line 3:

15 Payments to employees leaving public sector employment

(1) The Treasurer or another public sector agency may enter into agreements or other arrangements with respect to the making of transfer payments to employees of an electricity generator in connection with the transfer of employment of those employees to employment in the private sector as a result of a transaction arrangement.

(2) A transfer payment is not to exceed an amount equivalent to 30 weeks of pay at the rate of an employee’s base salary (that is, salary less any allowances).

(3) Without affecting any entitlement to a transfer payment under this section, an employee of an electricity generator is not entitled to receive any payment or other benefit (including in the nature of severance pay or redundancy compensation) merely because the employee ceased to be an employee of a public sector agency as a result of a transaction arrangement.

No. 1 Page 10. Insert after line 3:

15 Employment guarantee for employees transferred to private sector and maintenance of apprenticeships

(1) If the employment of an eligible employee of an electricity generator is transferred to employment in the private sector as a result of a transaction arrangement, the employment of the employee cannot be terminated by the private sector employer during the employee’s employment guarantee period, except:

(a) for serious misconduct, or

(b) pursuant to the proper application of reasonable disciplinary procedures, or

(c) by agreement with the employee.

(2) An employee’s employment guarantee period is:

(a) for eligible employees who are permanent employees—the period of 2 years (the standard period) after the transfer date, or

(b) for eligible employees who are temporary employees—the remainder of the employee’s current term of employment (as specified in the arrangements under which the employee was engaged as a temporary employee) immediately before the transfer date, or the period of 2 years (the standard period) after the transfer date, whichever period ends first.

(3) The object of this subsection is to provide an additional job maintenance guarantee because the transfer of electricity generator assets under this Act is by way of sale. The standard period of 2 years is extended by an additional period of 2 years for eligible employees.

(4) The Treasurer is to take all reasonable steps to ensure that, under the transaction arrangements with all private sector employers, a total of at least 150 apprenticeships is maintained in the electricity generation businesses of those employers in NSW during any employment guarantee period under this section.

(5) In this section:

casual employee means an employee whose employment is in a category of employment that is described in or classified under a relevant award as casual employment or who is otherwise engaged as a casual employee.

contract employee means an employee whose terms and conditions of employment are provided by an individual contract and not by a relevant award.

eligible employee means a permanent employee or temporary employee and does not include a contract employee or casual employee.

permanent employee means an employee whose employment is of indefinite duration and who is not a casual employee, temporary employee or contract employee.

private sector employer means the employer in the private sector to whose employment the employment of an eligible employee is transferred as a result of a transaction arrangement.

relevant award means any award, agreement or other industrial instrument (under a law of the State or the Commonwealth) that provides for the terms and conditions of employment of employees.

temporary employee means an employee (other than a casual employee or contract employee) whose employment is in a category of employment that is described in or classified under a relevant award as temporary employment or whose employment is, under the terms of his or her employment, for a limited period.

transfer date means the date on which an eligible employee is transferred to employment in the private sector as a result of a transaction arrangement.

I will deal with the first amendment, which is the amendment on sheet C2012-072D. The amendment provides that upon the transfer of employment, because of the transfer of electricity generators under this legislation, transfer payments to employees will be available up to a maximum of 30 weeks of pay at the rate of an employee’s base salary, which was one of the most contentious issues during the rather drawn-out negotiations. This is one of the items in which we did not quite get what the unions wanted.

The Hon. Luke Foley: I thought the unions wanted public ownership.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, they probably did. They wanted an additional one week per year of service up to 10 years. We thought we might have come to a landing with the Government limiting it at 35 weeks, but unfortunately we got 30 weeks and that is all we were able to negotiate. There is not much need to say more about that amendment. It is fairly clear.

In regards to the second amendment, which is amendment No. 1 on sheet C2012-073E, members will note that there are two pages to this amendment. The second page is merely a series of definitions. This amendment does two things: Firstly, it ensures that the employment guarantee period for employees transferred to the private sector will be for a period of four years. That is what is called a standard period of two years that is extended by an additional period of two years for all eligible employees because the transfer of electricity generator assets has been done by way of sale. In other words, it is a special deal.

The four-year period applies to eligible employees who are affected by this legislation and is double the period that is normally applicable. It was the most difficult negotiating point of the whole exercise. We believe that the four-year period, which doubles what the Government came to the table with, is a significant outcome for affected workers. The unions wanted seven years. We thought we could get five years. We wanted five years, but perhaps Mr Borsak and I are not quite as sharp as we used to be when we were younger, so we ended up with four years. We put that to the unions, and the unions said, “Yes, go for it.”

Dr John Kaye: What was that, I am sorry? You put that to the unions and—

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: They said, “Yes, if that’s what you can get, that’s what you can get.” I am not trying to verbal Unions NSW, but after we got the amendments, we put them in front of the unions to make sure they were satisfied that what was intended is contained in the amendments. Secondly, the amendment ensures that all reasonable steps are taken to maintain at least 150 apprentices in the electricity generating business of those employees in New South Wales during an employment guarantee period who are under the transaction arrangements. That has a twofold benefit. The unions, and indeed some of our own constituents who work in the industry, pointed out to us that across that industry, specifically among employees working in the generators, the peak of the bell curve is probably at the 45- to 50-year level. A lot of those employees stated to us that they felt that over the years the governments, including the current Government, had not adequately provided training, and therefore the workforce was being forced, shall I say, to hang on for longer and longer.

The objective is that, if the package is put together properly for these workers, the older workers would have the opportunity, within that four years, to decide whether or not they want to get out. The two amendments I have moved in globo, plus the provisions relating to employment protections in the bill, and the assurances given this night by the Minister in regard to certain issues that we were not previously quite clear about, comprise the total of what we have agreed with the unions, which is, if not what they wanted, at least a reasonable package. We commend the two amendments to the Committee.

Question—That Shooters and Fishers Party amendments No. 1 [2012-072D] and No. 1 [2012-073E] be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

RECREATIONAL HUNTING

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [10.46 p.m.]: Barry O’Farrell today announced a deal between his Government and the Shooters and Fishers Party that will deliver two outcomes the majority of citizens of New South Wales do not want: privatisation of the State’s electricity generators, and recreational hunters in national parks. This is not an implied arrangement; it is a blatant horse trade. As the Premier said in his media release today, “The Government has decided to expand the culling program to allow smooth passage of legislation to sell the State’s power generators.” As well as being a grubby deal, the announcement of hunting in national parks makes a liar of Barry O’Farrell who, when asked about hunting in nationals parks, said in April 2011, “The Coalition will not trade policies for the sake of sectional interests”. Does he think we do not remember?

Unfortunately, those types of deals have become a common feature of New South Wales politics. Both the O’Farrell Government and the former Labor Government, rather than debate and negotiate each piece of legislation on its merits, have horse-traded with the Shooters and Fishers Party and other right wing micro parties to push through contentious legislation in return for concessions in other areas. These deals have consequences—the overarching one being the slide towards a pro-gun and hunting culture in New South Wales. Following the 1988 election loss of the Unsworth Government, the New South Wales Labor Party foolishly related the result to the attempt by the then Premier to tighten up gun laws.

That myth fuelled close relationships between the shooters movement and some senior Labor leaders. From 1999 to 2003, with 13 crossbenchers in the New South Wales upper House, Labor had its work cut out securing enough support to pass legislation. In return for former Shooters member of Parliament, John Tingle’s support on many issues, shooting organisations made many gains. From 1998 to 2001 the Shooters Party secured more than $5 million in additional funding for shooters clubs. Several new shooting ranges and regional shooting complexes were built by taxpayers. As John Tingle said:

It should be said that one or two anti-gun oriented media persons have grumbled about “so much” money being given to shooting. let them grumble! I have lobbied the Government very hard for this funding, and I apologise to nobody for getting it.

In 2002 a deal between the Shooters Party and the then Labor Government saw the establishment of the Game Council of New South Wales, which nominally oversees the regulation of amateur and recreational hunting of feral animals on public land in New South Wales. Both Robert Brown and Robert Borsak, members of the Shooters and Fishers Party who are members of Parliament, are former chairmen of the Game Council. This statutory body was supposed to be self-funding, but it has received an average of $1 million a year in public funding from the Government ever since that time. It has no independent monitors, regulators or oversight. In fact the shooters police themselves. The creation of the Game Council has given false legitimacy to the fringe views of the shooting lobby, and has seen an endless stream of publicly funded lobbying for the introduction of fringe right wing pro-gun laws.

These efforts include, but are in no way limited to, the introduction of silencers, the creation of game parks, sneaking pro-hunting materials into primary schools, and currently a proposal to allow children as young as 12 to hunt unsupervised on public land. The Game Council has also delivered the return of duck hunting under the Orwellian guise of a Game Bird Mitigation program. As a result of the creation of the Game Council, 142 State forests were declared open for hunting for recreational hunters. Four years later, in 2006, another 39 State forests were opened, again for a five-year period. Now more than two million hectares of State forests are open for hunters in which to stab, spear, shoot and use their dogs to gore feral animals.

Over the past two years of the former Labor Government, more than 30 amendments were made to New South Wales gun control laws, including expanded access to firearms for security guards and the introduction of the notorious section 6B of the Firearms Act, which enables people to handle and be trained in the advanced use of firearms without any kind of background check. This one grubby deal paved the way for the tragic death of Lalin Fernando, who was shot and killed by his mentally ill daughter in 2010, when she was given ready access to a semiautomatic hand gun after ticking a box to say she had no mental illness. Thank you to the Shooters and Fishers Party.

It did not take the O’Farrell Government long to start making concessions to the shooters. Just a month after Barry O’Farrell had said he would not cut deals with the Shooters and Fishers Party, State forests were again declared open for hunting for a record 10 years, without any meaningful public consultation. Now we have the extension of recreational hunting into national parks—a poor outcome for the public, for animal welfare and for the environment. The Shooters and Fishers Party is an unashamedly one-issue party. As the Hon. Robert Brown said to the Daily Telegraph in 2009:

We just want people to get off our backs and leave us shooters alone.

The Hon. Robert Brown stated that the Shooters and Fishers Party then supports the government of the day, as long as their “constituents receive an occasional concession”. These “occasional concessions” are having a direct impact on our State. Since 2001 gun numbers in New South Wales have increased from 619,643 to 758,802—a 22 per cent increase. More guns and more hunters with more and more access to public land: Welcome to politics, New South Wales style—you had better bring a flak jacket.

29 May 2012

FOX AND WILD DOG BOUNTY

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware that more than 50,000 fox scalps were handed in during the first seven months of the Victorian Government’s four-year fox and wild dog bounty program? Is the Minister also aware that just last weekend Jim Muirhead and the Southern Riverina Hunting Club on their regular fox drive killed 77 foxes and, I believe, nine feral cats? I suggest they deserve our congratulations on such a fine conservation effort. Given that New South Wales has a fox and dog problem similar to that of Victoria’s, will the Government now implement a bounty program in this State?

TAMWORTH TO NEWCASTLE RAIL SERVICE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Transport. Is the Minister aware of a campaign by Liverpool Plains Shire Council for a daily return train service from Tamworth to Newcastle? Will the Minister instigate an investigation into the viability of extending the current daily Newcastle-Scone-Newcastle service to Tamworth so as to provide extra transport options for people in the Liverpool Plains region and, of course, Upper Hunter residents?

 The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Earlier in question time the Hon. Robert Brown asked me about the Liverpool Plains Shire Council proposal for a Tamworth to Newcastle rail service. Not surprisingly, that dynamo of a Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, was listening in her room and she has penned me an answer already. The Minister’s response is that the Government is currently developing a long-term transport master plan to guide the delivery of transport services and infrastructure in New South Wales over the next 20 years. The Government has been conducting a series of regional forums across New South Wales to enable the community to have its say in the development of the plan.

A regional forum was held in Tamworth on 19 April, and improving links to Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle was an important issue raised. The proposal of Liverpool Plains Shire Council for a return train service from Tamworth to Newcastle was included in its submission to the master plan and currently is being examined. A draft transport master plan will be released in mid-2012 and a final plan is anticipated in November. Following the release of the draft plan, there will be a further opportunity for the community to give feedback.

24 May 2012

Brown and Borsak not present in the chamber.

23 May 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.16 p.m.]: On behalf of the Shooters and Fisher’s Party I contribute to debate on the Biofuels Amendment Bill 2012. I acknowledge the contributions of Government members regarding some of the technical issues and price issues that relate to the forced use of E10. Very early in the piece we advised the Government that it was an absolutely foolish position to go forward with a complete ban on unleaded petrol because of the dislocation that would occur, not just in rural New South Wales but also across certain socioeconomic stratas in New South Wales—that is, people who cannot afford shiny new cars.

We had massive representation from fishermen and recreational boaters about the problems it would cause them. The Hon. Trevor Khan mentioned a few of those issues with respect to problems that occur with componentry in marine petrol engines. He also touched on an even more critical aspect—that is, the hydroscopic effect that ethanol, when added to petrol, has in the marine environment. This is so whether one has a portable fuel tank in a tinny or a built-in tank in the bottom of a larger plate alloy or fibreglass boat. Those boats are in and out of the water on a weekly basis and fuel tanks by nature of the regulation of their construction need to be vented.

When the tanks are heated up on a summer day, sitting in the front yard or sitting on a trailer at a boat ramp, the petrol vapour expands and the tanks vent outward. When those tanks go into the water, perhaps in the bottom of a plate alloy boat, a vacuum is created in the fuel tanks and those tanks suck in moisture-laden air. Probably the most difficult situation for an offshore boat in particular is when it gets a belly full of water in its engine. Sometimes that cannot be cleared. Component breakdown takes place over time. People may well be able to put their boat motor into a repairer to have some of the issues taken care of on a regular basis, but having a fuel tank full of water is an issue they cannot get out of. Some Government members have mentioned the impact that removing unleaded petrol totally would have on rural industries.

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: At length.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, at length; ad nauseam. Another issue is that generally speaking the whole of the southern Riverina and most of far western New South Wales do not get their fuel supplies from Sydney as the cost is far too great.

They get their fuel supplies from Victoria and South Australia. Ethanol fuels are not available from those States. So a mandate to replace unleaded petrol entirely with E10 would mean that distributors in far western New South Wales and in the southern Riverina would have to take their supplies through Sydney or some Sydney depots. That would involve an added cost.

Government members have argued the difficulty of using some fuels in old machinery. One must admit that not only cars will be affected; some petrol-driven tractors, including prime movers, and petrol-driven drilling rigs, et cetera, will also be affected. These days most equipment is diesel operated, but many farmers hang on to their old petrol equipment because they cannot afford to replace it. Government members referred to the cost to distributors and retailers as a result of having to change their tanks. I believe the Hon. Steve Whan made the point, quite rightly, that sooner or later most facilities will have to be upgraded because even petrol tanks without ethanol deteriorate. Therefore, the expectation is that over a period of time some capital expenditure will be required by most distributors and retailers.

I make the point that almost exclusively most distributors, not just throughout rural New South Wales but across Australia, are not major petrol companies; they are family-owned businesses that include a distributorship that may own two, three, five or 10 independent petrol stations. They need that vertical integration simply to survive. It is grossly unfair to force by mandate those family-owned businesses to undertake all that capital expenditure work in one foul swoop. The Shooters and Fishers Party has been approached by the ethanol industry and the small distributors association—those who would have to find large capital expenditure were the original Act allowed to run its course. I presume that the other crossbenchers and the Opposition have been approached.

Neither the Government nor the Opposition were amenable to an amendment to change the definition of “petrol” to limit it to mean only unleaded petrol, therefore reducing the overall quantity to which the mandate would apply and thereby reduce further the requirement for E10 to be used in retail outlets. I understand the Opposition’s position and I can perhaps understand the Government’s position. We will not attempt to move that amendment. However, we support the bill. We believe it will result in a fairer outcome to all the groups mentioned today than would otherwise be the case if the Act were not amended and if the mandate were to stand.

FIREARMS PERMITS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is the Minister aware that the Firearms Registry or police ministry, in anticipation of the passage of the ammunition bill through the lower House, are urgently changing the permits to acquire issued under the Firearms Act 1996 so that the calibre is specified on the permit? Does the Minister or the Firearms Registry understand that purchasers under the permit to acquire system may not know which particular calibre they will end up purchasing? Does this change mean that the Firearms Registry will have to revert to manual processing of all permits to acquire, and what effect would this have on the cost of running the Firearms Registry and the inherent delay of processing these permits?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: Earlier in question time I was asked a question by the Hon. Robert Borsak in relation to the Firearms Registry. I can indicate to the House that individuals permitted to acquire a firearm make a decision in a carefully considered way, as the member knows. Surely that would include knowing which calibre firearm an individual intends to purchase. As members are aware, there is always a transition phase in the implementation of a new policy.

In relation to the changes to permits to acquire I am advised that the NSW Police Force already has an implementation plan in place to transition to any new regulatory requirements brought about as a result of the Government’s legislation. As the Hon. Robert Borsak would also be aware, the bill is scheduled to commence upon proclamation to ensure that appropriate systems are in place to ensure compliance with legislation. I thank the member for his question and I hope that that answer satisfies his inquiry.

VICTIMS COMPENSATION CLAIMS BY KNOWN CRIMINALS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. What action can the Minister take to stop the recently reported scam whereby indebted drug dealers get shot in the leg by creditors, tell police they were shot by someone unknown to them, and then make a claim for criminal injury compensation? Can the Minister obtain from the Attorney General, and report to the House, an indication of how much of the reported $63 million paid out by the Victims Compensation Tribunal last year was paid to known criminals?

22 May 2012

MURRAY DARLING BASIN PLAN

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minster for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of a study by the group Independent Economics that shows that more than 2,000 jobs, an annual income of $194 million and 9 per cent of the gross domestic product will be lost to the Murrumbidgee region alone if the Murray Darling Basin Plan goes ahead in its present form? What preparations has the Government made to cope with this obvious exodus of people from within the basin area if it cannot have the plan amended?

NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Given that the Government has recently moved to turn 3,800-odd hectares of the Berowra Valley into a national park, will the Minister advise the House how much land and what locations have been converted into national parks since this Government came to office?

10 May 2012

MOTHER’S DAY

The Hon. PAUL GREEN [9.54 a.m.]: I move:

        1. That this House notes that:
            (a) in Australia, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May,
            (b) Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring mothers and celebrating motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society,
            (c) Mother’s Day is also a time to celebrate the important mother figures who may have played an important role in our lives, and
            (d) grandmothers, step-mothers, mothers-in-law, foster mothers are an important part of many families and make an invaluable contribution to children’s lives.
        2. That this House acknowledges the remarkable sacrifices mothers make for the wellbeing of their loved ones.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.05 a.m.]: I applaud the honourable member for moving this motion, but this could develop into a very twee debate and a wasted opportunity. We all have mothers and we all have fond memories of our mothers and grandmothers and people like that. We can all pay tribute to the roles that those women in our lives played in our upbringing. Today, though, we live in a very troubled society. We should think about the number of mothers in our society, whether they are Indigenous or non-Indigenous, who do not have the support of a father and who in some cases live on the streets with children. We should think about their sacrifices and the roles those mothers play. It is nice to have thoughts about Mother’s Day and visits and cups of tea and looking after one’s mother but there are many Australian women, and women around the world, who have to fight every day in their motherhood role to protect their children. We probably turn a blind eye to it even on the eve of a day that celebrates mothers.

I was born rather late in my parents’ union. My mother was about 46 when I was born. The eldest of my three sisters is 15 years older than I am. I do not have memories of my mother in the early years and even my memories of my grandmother are not very clear. I will admit I was more of a daddy’s boy. But when I talk to my surviving sisters and they tell me what sort of job my mother had in 1950—a 46-year-old woman in a fairly rigid society giving birth to a child and the child being a bad-tempered, precocious, nasty little boy—

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: It’s on the record now, Robert.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I was, but I do not recall it. I thought I was a wonderful kid. Every now and then my sisters remind me what it was like for my mother. In fact, she suffered some social opprobrium for having a child at 46, in 1950. How bloody stupid is that! I will not take up too much of the time of the House but rather than turn this debate into a mockery—the motion to suspend standing orders was passed and we are debating this motion—I urge all members to think about what motherhood means, particularly as it relates to trying to protect children and to give children that we bring into the world half a chance of a decent life. We should not think just about our own mothers, grandmothers and our family circle and what we will be doing on Sunday. We should think about those mothers who are in refuges or who perhaps have nothing and are trying to protect their children. We all should think about that.

FERAL ANIMALS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.30 p.m.]: I again speak about feral animals and the fact that they live in national parks but prey on livestock on neighbouring farming properties. This fact has been highlighted in the recommendations of the Ryan review into the Livestock Health and Pest Authority in relation to pest animal control on farms. Amongst a number of recommendations—I am watching keenly to see what the Government does about the report—Mr Ryan has recommended that pest animal control on farms be made contestable, that is, to introduce competition. At the moment the Livestock Health and Pest Authority has a monopoly on pest animal control on farms. The Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association has already called on the Government to implement the recommendation. On the surface, I imagine there could well be a role for the NSW Game Council in any such efforts at contestability without impacting on professional pest managers who are already out there doing the best they can to remove pest animals.

As Mr Ryan pointed out, there are, and always have been, landholders who for various reasons do not control pest animals on their land, which turns those properties into incubators for pests such as rabbits and wild dogs. That is causing particular problems across the State at the moment. I note that Mr Ryan pointed out in his report that some areas have already set up other arrangements for pest animal control. He highlighted the fact that Byron Shire Council has engaged a private professional wild dog, fox and feral cat trapper to assist landholders to meet their responsibilities. The council pays a financial retainer to the trapper and landholders pay $100 per scalp for wild dogs, which are caught in soft-jaw traps. Mr Ryan specifically pointed to wild dogs and said:

      The problem is primarily related to landholders bordering public lands, such as National Parks and State Forests.

He further said:

      Farmers can adapt to wild dogs by measures such as changing enterprises from sheep to cattle where the impact of wild dogs is much less.

I do not think this is a satisfactory answer to the problem. I do not think it is fair that a sheep farmer is forced to change to cattle simply because no-one is controlling the wild dogs that live in the national park next door and prey on his flock. We need to get rid of the wild dogs. Interestingly, for city people who may not be aware of the fact, Mr Ryan points out that, of the declared pests, rabbits are the most localised and affect individual farmers specifically but can cause problems for neighbours, while pigs are territorial but have a bigger range and wild dogs can cover significant distances of up to 20 kilometres a night.

For a long time the Shooters and Fishers Party has maintained that there is a better and cheaper way to manage feral animals on public land. This has been proven in the State forests of New South Wales. The Chairman of the Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association’s Vertebrate Pest Management Panel, Mr Alex Kristic, said that professional pest managers would be able to supply integrated services that provide a range of solutions, not just poison, which seems to be the favoured method of the Livestock Health and Pest Authority. Most interestingly, he said that allowing contestability would:

      … result in pest control being delivered more effectively and at a lower cost.

That is the point: getting rid of feral animals humanely and at the lowest possible cost. Our national parks are currently being overrun by feral animals. It is time the Government accepted the need to have properly licensed conservation hunters allowed in national parks throughout the State to remove the feral animals.

9 May 2012

FIREARMS MODERATOR PERMITS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Police. Will the Minister inform the House how many permits for firearm moderators have been issued so far this year and for each of the last three years to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to livestock health and pest authorities or to any other government agencies involved in feral animal control. Will the Minister also outline the reason that each of the permits was issued?

POWER STATION PROJECTS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware that The Greens want the Government to stop the new Bayswater B power station in the Hunter Valley and the Mount Piper extension near Lithgow because these stations will, in their words, “flood the State with cheap electricity”? Can the Minister inform the House what impact there will be on power supply and prices in New South Wales if these plants do not go ahead, and what will be the economic and social impact, particularly in both regions, if The Greens manage to stop these projects?

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AMENDMENT (INDUSTRIAL ORGANISATIONS) BILL 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.14 p.m.]: I speak to the amendments on behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party. We will be supporting the Opposition’s amendment, as amended by the Government. I move:

      That Government amendment No. 1 be amended by omitting “14 days” and inserting instead “28 days”.

The Government seems to be satisfied with that. Given that members agree to this amendment, we will support the Opposition’s amended amendment.

FIREARMS AMENDMENT (AMMUNITION PERMITS) REGULATION 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.08 p.m.]: I refer to the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill 2012, and attendant regulation, which was passed by this House yesterday in a filthy deal between the Coalition and The Greens to do over the law-abiding firearms owners of this State. Shooters should be concerned about this new attack on them by the Liberals and, by default, The Nationals and The Greens. This regulation is simply a new tax of $30 on each person who now needs to apply for a permit to buy ammunition. There was no need for this regulation because there was no need for the bill. Observant members might have noticed that the regulation was dated 27 March 2012. Apparently this little fiasco was held over until yesterday to hide it behind the Federal budget media coverage. Every government acts in that way—Labor and Coalition. They dump out bad news or play politics on budget day; this Government is no different.

This regulation provides for persons holding a firearms licence to apply for a $30 ammunition permit to allow them to purchase ammunition for a firearm they are licensed to use but that is not registered to them when the person is a member of the same household as a person who has a firearm of that calibre licensed to them; or the person is employed or engaged by a person who has a firearm of that calibre licensed to them, and it is part of the first person’s duties to purchase ammunition for that firearm. The regulation also provides a general power for the commissioner to issue an ammunition permit in other circumstances. The regulation provides a way for employees to purchase ammunition for a work firearm and a way for members of a household to purchase ammunition for firearms owned by other household members.

But enough of what the Government claims the regulation does. What it does not address are the problems that will be caused, for example, when a licensed person borrows a firearm with a calibre and they do not already own a firearm with that calibre from a person who is not a member of their household and wishes to purchase ammunition for it, when a person who is driving to a remote property to hunt offers to bring ammunition with them for firearms owned by the property owner, when a licensed person who is a parent of a minor wishes to purchase ammunition for their child to use in a borrowed firearm that is of a different calibre to any the parent has registered to them, when a licensed person who chooses not to own a firearm borrows one for hunting or target shooting, or myriad other situations that have been identified to the Government but ignored.

In what appears to be something straight from Yes, Minister, the regulation imposes an additional $30 permit fee to allow already licensed persons to purchase ammunition that they are already authorised to possess under the conditions of their firearms licence. It imposes more work on the Firearms Registry, taking more money from the Police budget for administration, which means there is less available for policing. This raises questions about further costs to shooters. Will an additional $30 be required each time a member of a shooter’s household purchases a firearm in an additional calibre and the permit must be amended? That is what happens to firearms owners. We were told that this bill was needed to address the drive-by shootings in Sydney’s south-west.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: I didn’t say that.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: That is true. This legislation does not address drive-by shootings. If the Government thinks it does, I would like to be provided with the supporting information by the police Minister or the Attorney General demonstrating that they are right and I am wrong. I do not think they will do that because they know this legislation is a political stunt rather than a genuine attempt to stop criminals shooting at each other’s houses. This Liberal-Nationals Government will have to live with the fact that it is prepared to deal with The Greens on firearms legislation rather than talk to shooters, or even their own firearms consultative committee. It would have been sensible to do that before introducing the legislation.

I do not think the Premier listens to his Nationals Coalition colleagues on this issue. I assure members that we in the Shooters and Fishers Party will be making that clear to people in the bush. The Shooters and Fishers Party no longer believes the Government is prepared to deal in good faith about firearms issues. We will ensure that all licensed firearms owners are aware of this new paradigm of a Liberal-Greens Coalition with regard to firearms decisions that the Premier seems to think will work for him. The Shooters and Fishers Party disagrees. In fact, we wish him good luck—and he will need it if he is metaphorically getting into bed with The Greens.

8 May 2012

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders: Order of Business

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [2.51 p.m.]: I move:

        That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow a motion to be moved forthwith that Private Members’ Business item No. 432 outside the Order of Precedence, relating to the Crimes Amendment (Possession or Discharge of Firearms in Commission of Offences) Bill 2012, be called on forthwith.

I have moved this motion because I note that in the Order of Precedence for Government business today is another bill designed to stop cold, stop dead, the ongoing scourge of firearms-related crime in western Sydney. I note also that the Government has been playing around with its bill for something like eight weeks. If ever there was a case for arguing that standing orders should be suspended to bring in one piece of legislation versus another piece of legislation, these two bills, and the Crimes Amendment (Possession or Discharge of Firearms in Commission of Offences) Bill in particular, justify that case. The bill put forward by the Hon. Robert Borsak would probably have a sure-fire effect of either stopping or limiting the scourge of firearms crime in western Sydney. Therefore, it has a much better chance of achieving the Government’s objective than any other bill on the Notice Paper.

FIREARMS AMENDMENT (AMMUNITION CONTROL) BILL 2012

The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS [3.05 p.m.]: I will support the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill 2012 because I am a member of the Government.

…  The substance which is being applied here is a reasonable one. It is saying, as you would expect any reasonable person to say, that if you have a firearm in a particular calibre your only legitimate reason for wanting to buy ammunition would be to buy it in the calibre for that firearm or for the different calibres of other firearms that you legally own.

I have yet to hear a valid argument brought forward as to why you would want to buy ammunition in a calibre for a firearm that was not your own.

…  I say on the record that I am not sure and I have no certainty that this bill will do anything to defray the activities of organised crime. I have concerns about that.

… All I can say is that it is not a bad bill.

… It is not unreasonable to tell firearms owners that they can purchase ammunition in the calibres of firearms which they legally own but cannot purchase them in calibres to suit firearms they do not legally own. This bill does not offend me so greatly that I cannot support it, and I will support it.

STRIKE FORCE RAPTOR
On 2 April 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services a question without notice regarding Strike Force Raptor. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:
        The NSW Police Force has advised me:
            Seven of the firearms seized by Strike Force Raptor were found to have been stolen. At least 27 firearms were found not to have serial numbers, or had serial numbers obliterated, making it difficult or impossible to identify whether they were stolen. 190 of the 387 firearms were illegally held.
            The Forensic Ballistics Unit has determined that at least five of the handguns were ballistically linked to at least ten crime scenes, including public place shootings, an armed robbery, five drive-by shootings and a homicide. Other information indicates at least six other firearms were used in the criminal activities of bikie gangs. The use of firearms in offences in which the weapons were not fired, or no ballistic evidence was recovered, is unable to be determined.
            197 of the weapons were registered firearms seized from suspects involved with outlaw motorcycle gangs.
            397 firearms charges have been laid in relation to the seized weapons.
MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN
On 3 April 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries a question without notice relating to the Murray Darling Basin plan. The Minister for Primary Industries has provided the following response:
      Any challenge to the basin plan by environmental groups is a matter for the Commonwealth Government.
      The New South Wales Government, in its formal response, rejected the draft basin plan in its current form. There is insufficient detail or justification concerning the volumes of water to be recovered, where the water will be recovered from and how it will be managed without damaging public and private infrastructure and environmental assets.
      The New South Wales Liberals and Nationals Government specifically requires that the basin plan’s environmental outcomes be achieved through a combination of infrastructure, environmental works and measures, and smarter management of the Basin; rather than the Commonwealth’s approach of simply buying back water licences.
      The New South Wales Government is focused on ensuring that the Commonwealth takes heed of the many points raised in the New South Wales submission, and amends the plan so that it provides for balanced economic, social and environmental outcomes for the entire basin.
PORT STEPHENS-GREAT LAKES MARINE PARK
On 3 April 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries a question without notice regarding Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park. The Minister for Primary Industries has provided the following response:
      I am not aware of any specific calls from EcoNetwork—Port Stephens Incorporated relating to the expansion of sanctuary zones in Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park.
      The New South Wales Government is committed to achieving balance between sustainable use and conservation of the marine environment, and to an effective and evidence based marine park system. We stand by the existing moratorium on the declaration of new marine parks, alteration of sanctuary zones and review of zoning plans that was put in place pending the outcomes of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in New South Wales.
      In February 2012, we invited public submissions on the Report of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in New South Wales until 30 June 2012 and indicated that we would formally respond to the audit report in due course. Unless it is sooner lifted, the current moratorium is due to expire in September 2016.

FIREARMS AMENDMENT (AMMUNITION CONTROL) BILL 2012

Bill read a third time and transmitted to the Legislative Assembly with a message seeking its concurrence in the bill.

3 May 2012

WILD DOG CONTROL

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is it a fact that the Mid Coast Livestock Health and Pest Authority has cancelled aerial baiting of wild dogs this year because of an apparent lack of money? Given that there is a serious and growing problem with wild dogs in that area, will the Minister ask the authority to speak to the Game Council to investigate ways in which restricted licence voluntary conservation hunters may be used to remove these pests?

HORSERIDING IN NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. When does the Minister expect the three-year wilderness pilot program to trial horseriding in national parks to start? Given that the Government’s draft strategy for horseriding in national parks has identified potential options in Kosciuszko, Oxley Wild Rivers, Barrington Tops, Deua and Wadbilliga, will the Government expand the program to allow for trials in each of these national parks, and possibly others, rather than just one as apparently proposed?

2 May 2012

SMALL BUSINESS COMMISSIONER’S 2011 LISTENING TOUR REPORT

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 28 March 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me, representing the Minister for Small Business, a question regarding the Small Business Commissioner’s 2011 Listening Tour Report. I provide the following answer from the Minister:

        I am advised that the agency in question relies on information being provided by third parties in order to issue a licence, which in turn, delays the agency’s ability to provide a quick turnaround for clients.
        In this case, the role of the Small Business Commissioner was integral in bringing to the attention of the agency, the particular circumstances of this small business, which resulted in the granting of a licence by the agency in accordance with its protocols.
        The creation of the position of the Small Business Commissioner, as demonstrated in this example, is a critical one, as small businesses have no other dedicated person who can help them negotiate through the bureaucracy, act as a broker between small businesses and government to obtain clear information about rules and regulations, provide low cost dispute resolution and assist in any unfair dealings with other businesses.

1 May 2012

GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE NO. 5
Report: Coal Seam Gas

The Hon. Robert Brown, as Chair, tabled the report entitled “Coal Seam Gas”, dated May 2012, together with transcripts of evidence, tabled documents, correspondence, submissions and answers to questions taken on notice.

Report ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Robert Brown.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [2.41 p.m.]: I move:

      That the House take note of the report.

Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Robert Brown and set down as an order of the day for a later hour.

GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE NO. 5Reference: Inquiry into Management of Public Land

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: In accordance with paragraph 2 of the resolution of the House establishing the general purpose standing committees, I inform the House that on 23 April 2012 General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 resolved to adopt the following terms of reference:

        That General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 inquire into and report on the management of public land in New South Wales, including State Forests and National Park estate, and in particular:
        1. The conversion of Crown Land, State Forests and agricultural land into National Park estate or other types of conservation areas, including the:
            (a) process of conversion and the assessment of potential operational, economic, social and environmental impacts,
            (b) operational, economic, social and environmental impacts after conversion and, in particular, impacts upon neighbours of public land and upon local government, and
            (c) that the following cases be considered in relation to terms of reference 1 (a) and l (b):
              · River Red Gum State Forests in the Southern Riverina,
              · Native Hardwood State Forests in Northern New South Wales,
              · Yanga Station in the Balranald shire, and
              · Toorale Station in Bourke shire.
        2. The adherence to management practices on all public land, that are mandated for private property holders, including fire, weed and pest management practices.
        3. Examination of models for the management of public land, including models that provide for conservation outcomes which utilises the principles of “sustainable use”.
        4. Any other related matters.
NATIVE VEGETATION LEGISLATION PROSECUTIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of calls by the New South Wales Farmers Association for the Government to follow the lead of Queensland and stop the prosecution of farmers under native vegetation laws while the regulations are under review? Given that the current laws have created obstacles to food and fibre production in New South Wales, and can see farmers face fines of more than $1 million, will the Government immediately impose a moratorium on prosecutions?

COALMINING PROTESTS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General. Is the Minister aware of reports that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has been providing intelligence to the Federal Government on environmental groups that are campaigning against coalmining, following a warning by the Federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, that protests at power stations and coal export terminals could have life-threatening consequences and major trade and investment implications? Are there any such groups active in New South Wales who might be planning to disrupt and delay coal industry development through public campaigning and protests?

CARBON TAX
On 13 March 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding the carbon tax. The Treasurer provided the following response:
        The Federal Government’s initial $23 carbon price more than doubles Macquarie Generation’s variable costs. Based on its own modelling, Macquarie Generation expects it will pass through from 60 per cent to 80 per cent of this cost increase.
        Macquarie Generation must compete with other generators in the National Electricity Market to dispatch its output and will have to absorb all of the costs associated with the carbon tax that it cannot pass through, directly reducing profit.
        The carbon price will also make Macquarie Generation less competitive, meaning that it will sell less energy than it otherwise would have, further impacting profitability.
        The carbon tax will impact both wholesale and retail electricity prices. The Federal Government has estimated that the average wholesale electricity price will be more than 40 per cent higher ($63 compared to $44) from 2013.
        The Federal Government also estimated that average household electricity prices will increase by 10 per cent over 2013-17. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s draft report on changes in electricity retail prices from 1 July 2012 ascribed a 9 per cent (of a total 15 per cent) price increase in regulated retail prices on 1 July 2012 to the carbon price. However, this understates the carbon impact on customers that are not supplied at the regulated rate, which is based on the long run marginal cost of electricity supply. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal states in its draft report (page 30) that:
            “A comparison of Table 3.6 and Table 3.7 suggests that the impact of the proposed carbon pricing mechanism on the market based cost will be around $26 to 28/MWh in 2012/13, significantly more than the impact of the carbon pricing mechanism on the LRMC of generation in 2012/13 (around $20/MWh).”
WATER MANAGEMENT
On 13 March 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding water management. The Minister for Industries provided the following response:
      Studies into a number of major new water infrastructure proposals were undertaken in the 1980s. At the time, these analyses established that the costs outweighed the economic reforms that would be generated from the use of the water.
      However, the Government believes it is now time to update this information, and my department and I are assessing the future water infrastructure needs of New South Wales, in consultation with Infrastructure NSW.
      Welcome Reef Dam is currently not required to secure the water supply of Greater Sydney, however this will be included in the assessment.
      In relation to drought proofing New South Wales, I can advise that local water utilities throughout regional New South Wales, in partnership with the New South Wales Office of Water, actively plan to ensure the drought security of their water supplies. This planning encompasses the preparation of integrated water cycle management plans to meet town water supply needs for the next 30 years.
      Local water utilities also prepare drought management plans for town water supplies, which not only examine the drought preparedness of communities, but identify the strategies for maintaining a secure water supply in times of drought.
ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDER’S OFFICE
On 14 March 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General a question without notice regarding the Environmental Defender’s Office. The Attorney General provided the following response:
        I am advised:
            The Environmental Defender’s Office [EDO] is a community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law. It has an active legal advice and case work program.
            Details of funding for the Environmental Defender’s Office are published in its annual reports.
            The Public Purpose Fund [PPF] provided the Environmental Defender’s Office with $1,602,075 in 2010-2011 and $1,642,127 in 2011-2012. This funding was in the nature of core funding for the Environmental Defender’s Office’s operations.
            The Public Purpose Fund is administered by the Law Society of NSW and is managed and controlled by the trustees of the Public Purpose Fund under the Legal Profession Act 2004. The funds held in the Public Purpose Fund are sourced from the interest earned on solicitors’ trust accounts, rather than consolidated revenue. The Act provides the framework for authorising payments from the Public Purpose Fund. The trustees of the Public Purpose Fund determine the discretionary grants from the fund, with the concurrence of the Attorney General.
            Legal Aid NSW also provides Community Legal Centre Program funding to the Environmental Defender’s Office, which consists of both New South Wales and Commonwealth funds. The State Government component of funding for the Environmental Defender’s Office was $183,861 for 2010-2011 and $188,824 for 2011-2012. Legal Aid NSW has a service agreement with all community legal centres, including the Environmental Defender’s Office, and conducts regular audits to ensure compliance with this Agreement.
            It is not the role of Legal Aid NSW, or the trustees of the Public Purpose Fund, to approve case work conducted by the Environmental Defender’s Office.
            The trustees are expected to continue evaluating all applications for discretionary funding from the Public Purpose Fund to ensure that applications satisfy the statutory criteria for approval.
INEBRIATES TRANSPORT

On 15 March 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice regarding inebriates transport. The Minister for Health provided the following response:

I am advised:

      There is no specific funding provided for the transport needs of patients receiving Inebriate Court Orders.
      However, once a person is an inpatient in a New South Wales public hospital they have access to all health services, including transport to appropriate healthcare facilities.
TIBOOBURRA AIRSTRIP
On 27 March 2012, the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports representing the Deputy Premier, Minister for Trade and Investment, and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services a question regarding Tibooburra airstrip. The Minister has provided the following response:
      I am well aware of the situation at Tibooburra airstrip and can confirm that funding for this upgrade has already been committed by the New South Wales Government. The total funding that the New South Wales Government has provided is $23,000, bringing the total for the upgrade to $43,000.
      I understand that the Reserve Trust has ordered the lighting and it should be fully installed by the end of May 2012.
      These new lights and windsock lighting kit will provide a much needed improvement to the existing manually operated lighting and will improve the safety and operation for all services using this remote airstrip.
      These new lights are solar battery driven and automatically come on at dusk and off at dawn, with no manual operation required.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE KOORAGANG ISLAND ORICA CHEMICAL LEAK
Report: Kooragang Island Orica Chemical Leak

Debate resumed from 23 February 2012.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.48 p.m.]: I am pleased to speak on the report of the Select Committee on the Kooragang Island Orica Chemical Leak. The inquiry was established on 25 August 2011 following a leak of chromium 6 from the ammonia plant at Orica, Kooragang Island, on 8 August 2011. The committee conducted a site visit to Orica, Kooragang Island, and two site visits to Stockton, and held a public forum with local residents. The committee received 27 submissions and heard from 33 witnesses.

As the House will be aware, my colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak was the original chair of the committee but stood down several weeks into the inquiry and I was elected in his place. First, I thank the committee secretariat for their assistance and the committee members for their cooperation in the conduct of the hearings. Given the highly sensitive nature of this inquiry, I am very grateful that committee members cooperated in the conduct of the hearings. I thank the Premier, all Ministers and the departmental staff for their attendance and the information they provided at the hearings. I also thank the witnesses who made time to attend those hearings.

The original leak and the controversy surrounding its reporting to the Government and the people of New South Wales caused a great deal of concern for the residents of Stockton and surrounding areas. It warranted close examination. Indeed, the Government set up its own inquiry and the select committee followed up on those earlier findings. Our report is comprehensive and detailed, but I must admit that sometimes during the hearings the issues under investigation probably became a little bit more political than they should have given the serious nature of the incident. The inquiry was established to find facts and to apportion the faults properly if any were found. More importantly, the inquiry was to make recommendations to rectify any shortcomings in either the reporting or handling of the incident. I congratulate the Minister for the Environment who, after a very poor start to the hearings, managed to address the issues more adequately at a second hearing. I thank her for that.

Given the comments made in an earlier take-note debate, I point out to members of the House that when I chair a committee meeting I take pride in ensuring that there is no bullying, everyone is given the opportunity to have their say, interjections are dealt with quickly and severely, and no favour is taken or given. The biggest issue was the delay by the Department of Environment and Climate Change in passing on important information to Ministers and the Government. That was simply unacceptable. Notwithstanding that, it was also unacceptable that the Government then took two days to tell the residents of Stockton about what could have been a catastrophic event. In the end it was agreed that this was a serious event. I add that perhaps the residents of Stockton may have been lucky. I for one would not want my family put through a similar situation which, as I say, could have turned out differently.

It was clear from the evidence given by the three Ministers involved in this incident that there was some variability their ability to handle the situation. The Minister for Health and her director general, who attended the inquiry, were excellent witnesses. They knew their work; they knew exactly where they stood. I commend the work of the Department of Health and the director general. Following the findings and recommendations of the Government’s inquiry and the inquiry by this House, I hope that the Department of Environment and Climate Change has been thoroughly shaken and stirred. I hope it now performs in the way that everyone expects in relation to these sorts of incidents. Again, the response of the emergency services was exemplary. I commend the evidence given by government personnel involved on that side of the equation, and WorkCover.

The report speaks for itself. There are 24 findings and seven succinct recommendations. I will not read them into Hansard because the report has been tabled. The report contains clear findings and unambiguous recommendations. I urge the Government to put in place all those recommendations, if it has not already done so. Once again, I thank the committee secretariat and committee members for their constructive and thorough approach to the inquiry. I commend the report to the House.

PITTMAN-ROBERTSON ACT SEVENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.40 p.m.]: The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane was a good councillor. I can attest to that. Tonight I speak about the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Pittman-Robertson Act in the United States of America, more properly known as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act. This is a subject which I am sure many Government members will be interested to hear about: many of them are interested in this style of attaining conservation through sustainable use. At the outset let me say that I think New South Wales could well benefit from a similar Act of Parliament were the Federal Government to introduce such a bill and have it passed into law. Much of the detail in this speech is from the report “Financial Returns to Industry from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program” compiled by Southwick Associates and Andrew Loftus Consulting. I commend the report to anyone interested in this topic. It is available on the web. I give some of the history for those who do not know about the wildlife restoration Act.

In 1932 the United States Congress authorised an excise tax on firearms and ammunition that was paid straight into the General Treasury, but with very strict conditions. Five years later, in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act was passed, which meant those taxes had to be passed on to what the Americans call State game agencies for the exclusive use of funding programs designed to improve wildlife habitat, as well as to improve hunter access. There is no doubt that the benefits of that program to game departments, sports men and women, as they are called in the United States, sporting goods retailers and manufacturers have been obvious and abundant. Most obvious was the restoration of America’s wildlife: many native species were on the brink of collapse. The concept of redirecting those taxes to benefit wildlife populations was simple. Investing in improvements to wildlife populations and providing public access encourages more people go hunting, and the sales of items that generated this tax increase, a self-generating funding arrangement—a bit like that damned carbon tax.

As the report points out, this partnership between the hunting and the shooting sports industries, hunters, and State and Federal wildlife agencies has restored many wildlife populations, in some cases from the brink of extinction, and provides an array of hunting opportunities. The latest newsletter of the Southwick Associates group, which prepares fish and wildlife economics and statistics, shows that in the United States of America in 1937 11 States had no open seasons for deer and three others had only local seasons, and Missouri’s deer season was only three days long—a reflection of what had happened to the native wildlife populations. Colorado had only a seven-day elk season. The grouse season in Wisconsin was completely closed, and South Dakota had only local pheasant seasons. No States had dedicated archery or muzzleloader seasons.

Since the Act was passed virtually every State today has a lengthy deer season. Missouri hunters enjoy more than 120 days of deer hunting each year. Elk hunters in Colorado have the chance to hunt for more than 120 days, and in Wisconsin there is a 136-day grouse season. South Dakota is now the pheasant hunting capital of the world, with an 86-day statewide season and abundant bird numbers. Special archery only and muzzle loader only seasons are held in nearly every State. Even with recent declines in the total number of hunters, there are still more than twice the number of hunters now than there were in 1937, and purchases of tax related items by hunters have increased by nearly 45 per cent in constant dollars since 1970. The Pittman-Robertson Act was also helpful to anglers, as the program served as the model for the Dingell-Johnson Act, also known as the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, which was passed in 1950. This Act, which attached an excise tax to various types of fishing gear to help fund sport fish restoration and opportunities, had impacts similar to those of the Pittman-Robertson Act. The gentlemen who sponsored those Acts were brilliant.

I know that governments do not like hypothecation of funds—because they want to be free to steal them whenever they need them for other funding projects—but in this particular case I think it is ideal, and it sees those participating in their chosen activities helping to fund the ongoing conservation and development of those activities. As pointed out in the report, what has fuelled the growth in hunting and spending has been the reliable funding that was provided by the excise tax. In 2009 excise taxes on hunting gear totalled nearly $485 million, which was then distributed to the States to invest in projects that improve wildlife populations, provide improved access to the hunting lands or to develop shooting sports facilities.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.54 p.m.]: Tonight I speak on the mental health care system in New South Wales. I have a longstanding personal interest in this issue. Like so many others, I have seen the devastating impacts mental illness can have on an affected individual and also on their family. I am only too well aware of how many failings there are in the short- and long-term care of people living with mental illness. Urged on by the 1983 Richmond report, governments have closed psychiatric hospitals and shifted patients into community-based care. Unfortunately, despite the good intent behind that, governments have never properly resourced community-based care. The result has been obvious: people fall through the cracks, people do not receive ongoing care tailored to their individual circumstances and, tragically, sometimes people die.

That is in no way a reflection on the hardworking, overworked, crisis services and non-government organisations in the mental health sector—far from it. Those services do an incredible job with insufficient resources. The point I make is that since the large psychiatric hospitals were closed there has been very little government support for specialist psychiatric facilities. Those facilities that exist are not able to meet the level of need, leaving others—such as a person’s family—to try to fill in the gaps in the care process.

In New South Wales police are front-line responders to people with mental illness who are experiencing a crisis. I have been told that last year alone there were more than 32,000 police call-outs where the primary reason for the call-out was mental health related. Whether the crisis is a suicide attempt, a psychotic episode or some other mental health issue, the police are often the first service called. That is generally not because public safety is at risk but simply because families, carers and friends of a person in crisis have nowhere else to turn, and it is particularly the case if a crisis occurs out of business hours. The police have well and truly risen to the task, but responding to mental health crises is not their job and they should never have been put in that position.

In an ideal world designated mental health front-line response teams would be the first point of contact for a person in crisis. Unfortunately, very few resources are directed to such teams. So it is the police who provide care for people in crisis, who take people to emergency departments of public hospitals and who provide comfort to distraught families and friends. Today I call on the Government to improve the mental health care sector by properly resourcing mental health front-line response teams, which are on call 24 hours a day in all parts of the State. These teams should work hand in hand with police with the long-term goal of replacing police as front-line responders to mental health crisis situations.

A key performance indicator of governments—current and future—should be reducing the number of police call-outs for mental health issues and reducing the amount of time police spend responding to mental health crises where public safety is not at risk. I also call on the Government to properly resource the expansion of specialised psychiatric care facilities where people in need can receive high-quality short- and long-term care. As a civilised society we cannot continue to let the system fail people with mental illness. We cannot continue to tolerate the impacts these systemic shortfalls have on individuals with mental illness as well as on the people who love them. But when I say that the system has failed I really should say that we as politicians have also failed. We cannot continue to fail and I call on each of my colleagues to commit to delivering real improvements in this tremendously important area.

4 April 2012

TRIBUTE TO JAMES OSWALD “JIMMY” LITTLE, AO

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.01 a.m.]: It is very sad when we lose people such as Jimmy Little. I read in the paper today that internationally we have lost another musician: Earl Scruggs has passed. I can just imagine St Peter at the pearly gates. When Scruggs and Little show up they will be relegated to the right gate: the band gate.

The Hon. Jan Barham: And Vince Lovegrove.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Absolutely. Jimmy Little was a fantastic role model for Indigenous youth—there is no doubt about that. In fact, he was a fantastic role model for aspiring musicians. Back in the day, before I decided I wanted to be a rock’n’roll musician, I was into evangelist music. I think I wore out a couple of his plastics, as they were in those days, trying to learn Royal Telephone. Jimmy Little will be sorely missed by Australian society. His memory should be cherished by all Australians. May he rest in peace.

ANZAC DAY

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN (Parliamentary Secretary) [11.05 a.m.]: I move:

        1. That this House acknowledges the service and sacrifice of our war veterans during the Second World War from 1939 to 1945.
        2. That this House notes that:
            (a) Anzac Day this year will commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the war in the Pacific,
            (b) this was the first time in our history that Australian mandated territory had been attacked and invaded by a foreign enemy,
            (c) our northern cities and towns were subject to more than 100 hostile bombing missions by Japanese military aircraft,
            (d) Australian ships were sunk off the east and west coast by Japanese warships, and
            (e) Japanese mini-submarines entered Sydney Harbour.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [12.12 p.m.]: On behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party I congratulate the Hon. Charlie Lynn on moving this motion. I acknowledge the broad scope of the motion which takes into account the seventieth anniversary of the war in the Pacific and the fact that Anzac Day this year will commemorate the ninety-seventh anniversary of that conflict. Australia has been involved in wars and conflicts almost from the time of first settlement, but few will argue that Gallipoli and 25 April 1915, and the subsequent months and years of World War I that followed, clearly defined Australia. I come to this House from a European background and I have grown up with a full knowledge of and immersion in Anzac Day and what it means to Australians and Australia.

As an Australian I acknowledge the sacrifice of those young Australian men on the beaches of Gallipoli. Their spirit, culture and courage are a never-ending example to all Australians today and forever. The war in the Pacific was raging at the same time as that in Europe, where my father was involved in the Allied resistance. The end of the war saw Europe devastated. My family members could see no future there but they saw a great future in Australia. It was a decision that my parents never regretted. I am forever thankful that they made the move that they did. Despite the war being in the Pacific, Australia was attacked for the first time by a foreign enemy. Fortunately, the incursion was limited to the northern extremities of the country, although mini-submarines managed to get into Sydney Harbour and cause extensive damage. Generally, however, the nation was spared the devastation wreaked in other countries involved in those conflicts.

Anzac Day is a very special day for Australians and indeed migrants. Thousands of immigrants also recognise Anzac Day as being a special part of their new country and they take pride in marching in various parades. In fact, many immigrants to this country fought with the Allies side by side with Australians. It is not a day to glorify war because nobody actually glorifies war; rather, it is a day when people can remember the sacrifices that were made during all the conflicts in which we as a nation have been involved, so that today we can enjoy the democracy, freedom and lifestyle that we currently enjoy. I again congratulate the Hon. Charlie Lynn on moving this motion, which enabled members to speak about this important issue in a timely fashion in the lead-up to Anzac Day in three weeks time. I commend the motion to the House.

MURRUMBIDGEE IRRIGATION AREA

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, on the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Is the Minister aware that some green groups are calling for an end to irrigation cropping, particularly cotton and rice, and are trying to force the issue by demanding that 4,000 gigalitres of environmental water be returned to the Murray-Darling Basin? What impact would the removal of 4,000 gigalitres of irrigation water have on food production for this country and rural jobs in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area?

TRAVELLING STOCK ROUTES

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Can the Minister assure the House that farmers and others in rural and regional areas who currently use the travelling stock routes will not lose access to those lands under any proposed changes following a review of the New South Wales Livestock Health and Pest Authority model?

3 April 2012

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of moves by environmental groups to launch legal action to have up to 4,000 gigalitres of water dumped into the Murray-Darling system, rather than the 2,750 gigalitres proposed in the draft national plan, on the basis that the plan does not comply with the Water Act? What action does the New South Wales Government propose to take to ensure that environmental groups in South Australia do not cause financial ruin for the rural and regional economies in this State that depend on that basin?

PORT STEPHENS-GREAT LAKES MARINE PARK

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of a call by a group called Eco Network Port Stephens for an expansion of sanctuary zones in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park? Does Eco Network Port Stephens have any official standing with the Government and will the Minister rule out any expansion of the existing failed sanctuary zone system at the conclusion of the current moratorium?

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AMENDMENT (MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT) BILL 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.02 p.m.]: I make a brief contribution on behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party, which has no conflict of interest in this debate. The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the bill but I foreshadow that we will be moving an amendment that broadens the definition of “member of Parliament” not only to apply to members of the New South Wales Parliament but also to members of the Australian Parliament. I will speak further on that in the Committee stage. The Minister, in his second reading speech, made the clear point that this bill is not targeted at or meant to disadvantage a particular person. The corollary of that argument is that the bill should not advantage any particular person, whether they are a New South Wales parliamentarian or a Federal parliamentarian. I dare say that no-one in this House would countenance the idea of a member of the New South Wales Parliament also being a member of the Federal Parliament.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: It is unconstitutional.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It is unconstitutional and from a practical point of view it would be silly. Some local government electorates are far larger than some Federal electorates. The bill before us prohibits a person from holding the dual roles of a member of the Parliament of New South Wales and a councillor or mayor of a council. In New South Wales there are 29 councillors who are also members of the New South Wales Parliament. I would have to say, following on from the Hon. Paul Green’s contribution, that most, if not all, of those councillors and members of Parliament do their utmost to undertake both those roles to the best of their ability. But I have had conversations with the Hon. Jan Barham and the Hon. Paul Green about how difficult it is for them to apply themselves to both roles in the measure that is required. Holding dual positions in public office in different tiers of government ultimately can lead to a conflict of interest. There is also a perception that holding two public positions could lead to the neglect of one of those positions. Perhaps that is the reason behind the result of the poll mentioned by the Hon. Paul Green.

All public positions are full-time jobs. It is difficult for one person to do two full-time jobs properly and to the satisfaction of the general public. With the exception of one mayor who is also a member in the other place, not one other councillor or mayor, either in this place or the other place, has in any way lobbied the Shooters and Fishers Party on this bill—not even The Greens members. We can only conclude that they do not object to the bill before us, so the Shooters and Fishers Party will not stand in its way. The Shooters and Fishers Party will be moving an amendment in Committee. We support this Government bill and believe that the original intent was to include all levels of government—local, State and Federal. We will see whether that is the current position of the Coalition. Through some error of omission, it was not clearly indicated in the bill that this was meant to be the case. I would have thought that members of the Government could have made the amendment that I propose to move in Committee. They have indicated that they are happy for others to do so. I hope they will support our amendment. I commend the Local Government Amendment (Members of Parliament) Bill 2012 to the House.

In Committee

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.30 p.m.], by leave: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendments Nos. 1 to 7 on sheet C2012-056 in globo:

        No. 1 Page 3, schedule 1 [1], line 5. Omit “the Parliament of New South Wales”. Insert instead “an Australian Parliament”.
        No. 2 Page 3, schedule 1 [2], lines 10–11. Omit “the Parliament of New South Wales”. Insert instead “an Australian Parliament”.
        No. 3 Page 3, schedule 1 [2], lines 14–15. Omit “the Parliament of New South Wales”. Insert instead “an Australian Parliament”.
        No. 4 Page 3, schedule 1 [2], line 21. Omit “the Parliament of New South Wales”. Insert instead “an Australian Parliament”.
        No. 5 Page 3, schedule 1 [2], lines 24–25. Omit “the Parliament of New South Wales”. Insert instead “an Australian Parliament”.
        No. 6 Page 3, schedule 1 [2]. Insert after line 34:
              (8) In this section, Australian Parliament means the Parliament of New South Wales, the Parliament of the Commonwealth or the Parliament of any other State or Territory.
      No. 7 Page 1, long title. Omit “a member of Parliament”. Insert instead “a member of any Australian Parliament”.

Amendments Nos 1 to 5 omit the words “the Parliament of New South Wales” and insert instead in all cases “an Australian Parliament”. As I stated in the second reading debate, these amendments extend the prohibition of a person holding dual roles to a member of the Parliament of New South Wales, a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth and a member of the Parliament of any State or Territory. Amendment No. 6 provides for a definition of “Australian Parliament” and amendment No. 7 simply changes the long title of the bill to refer to a member of any Australian Parliament. I do not need to speak extensively to these amendments. As I foreshadowed earlier, we believe in one in, all in. These are probably fair amendments. I am not sure the Government will support this proposal but I think it is worthwhile the House considering these amendments. I commend them to the Committee.

Question—That Shooters and Fishers Party amendments Nos 1 to 7 [C2012-056] be agreed to—put and resolved in the negative.

2 April 2012

STRIKE FORCE RAPTOR

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and relates to Strike Force Raptor, which was launched in March 2009 in response to escalating violence between rival bikie gangs. Of the 387 firearms seized during the operation, how many had been stolen, how many were illegally held, how many have been found to have been used in the commission of a crime and how many were registered in the name of a bikie member? In addition, how many firearms charges have been laid as a result of this operation?

HAY FLOOD EVACUATION ORDER

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Emergency Services. I refer to the recent floods in the Hay area. What is the legal requirement when a New South Wales State Emergency Service evacuation order is made? Do residents have to leave their homes or do they have the option to stay? In future, will the Government ensure that the authorities in Hay reinforce or make higher the levee banks around the town, which were in danger of failing at the peak of the flooding this month, and provide any assistance required?

SINGLETON AND MUSWELLBROOK MINING ROYALTIES

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 6 March 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question relating to Singleton and Muswellbrook mining royalties. I now provide the following response:

The Economic Assessment of Mining Communities was commissioned by the New South Wales Government and was independently audited and released to the public on 21 February 2012. The report found that Singleton and Muswellbrook dominated State royalty revenue in 2010-11 with $709 million in royalties collected.

        Although most mining-affected communities were found to have received more capital and recurrent funding per capita than non-mining local government areas [LGAs], Singleton and Muswellbrook were found to receive less funding than other LGA categories in the period considered.
        This assessment, which will be repeated annually, therefore identified Singleton and Muswellbrook as being priority areas for enhanced infrastructure funding at this time.
            Allocations from Restart NSW for Resources for the Regions infrastructure funding will be announced as part of the 2012 State budget process.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE PROVISIONS OF THE ELECTION FUNDING, EXPENDITURE AND DISCLOSURES AMENDMENT BILL 2011

Report: Inquiry into the provisions of the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment Bill 2011.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN

      [6.02 p.m.]: It is amazing how the contributions of others spur me to say something. I simply could not sit there after hearing the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps make the assertions he made—assertions that this latest piece of legislation was all about making things fair and reasonable and that it has nothing to do with getting the Labor Party but it was all about basing it on the Canadian model.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps:

      It was.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN:

      In 2010 when the Keneally Government tried to get the Shooters and Fishers Party to support its garbage legislation on the same issue we refused. It wanted us to screw over Coalition members and their corporate donors. When Mr O’Farrell’s representatives came to us offering us the same sort of deal to do over the Labor Party and the unions we refused. So let us not have any high-minded garbage floating around this House about how the major political parties are all about a level playing field and the rights of the individual. It is simply garbage.
GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE NO. 5
Report: Budget Estimates 2001-2012

Debate resumed from 16 February 2012.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN

      [6.14 p.m.]: I am pleased to speak in debate on budget estimates hearings conducted by General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 on 24, 27 and 28 October 2011 and a supplementary hearing on 1 December 2011. First, I thank the committee secretariat, in particular, Beverly and Madeleine, with whom I deal on a regular basis. I thank the committee members for their cooperation in the conduct of the hearings—General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 has a reputation for cooperative hearings—other members who attended the hearings, and all the Ministers and their departmental staff for their attendance and the information they provided at the hearings.

General Purpose Standing Committee 5—which includes among others the portfolios of Primary Industries, Environment, Resources and Energy, and Local Government—was chaired for many years by the now retired Greens member Ian Cohen. It makes it all the more pleasing that stewardship of this important committee is now chaired by the Shooters and Fishers Party, the champions in this place of the contemporary concept of true conservation—that is, conservation through sustainable use.

      We heard from Minister Katrina Hodgkinson in relation to the Primary Industries portfolio. One key issue that was raised with the Minister and her department related to the Government’s strategic land use policy. The committee heard that there are issues that concern the balance between the agricultural interests of this State and managing the projected growth of the strategically important coal and gas industries. As we have seen, the Government is making efforts to address community concerns while at the same time recognising the economic importance of mining to the State economy. Indeed, another General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 inquiry is currently running on this issue and is yet to report. In relation to water, particularly on the Murray-Darling Basin plan, I welcome the Government’s backing for the Shooters and Fishers Party stance on this issue—that is, if it is not in the best interests of the rural and regional economies of this State we should pull out all together until Canberra gets it right.
      I now briefly refer to the portfolio of Environment and Heritage. The way in which discussions started off was somewhat surprising. At the time the headlines were screaming that Novocastrians were in danger from a chemical leak. The first serious questions were taken up by asking the Minister how many koalas lived on the North Coast and whether they were being protected. I guess it is probably politics, but it confirms the fact that people should not be surprised by anything they hear in this place. I thank the Minister for her perseverance during the hearing and for attending the supplementary hearing.
      Committees by their very nature provide for robust debate and questioning. Indeed, the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps raised that point in an earlier debate. Nobody should take anything personally when appearing before such hearings. I would have liked to have discussed with Minister Parker about her department’s abject failure to properly control feral animals in national parks and the Shooters and Fishers Party initiative to control those animals in national parks by using volunteer conservation hunters. Perhaps that is a debate we may have in this Chamber sooner rather than later.
      The final portfolio I shall touch on briefly is that of Resources and Energy. In particular, I thank Minister Chris Hartcher, who I believe did an outstanding job in answering the questions put to him. The Minister came well briefed and did not duck a single question put to him by the Opposition and The Greens, despite constant interjections after the questions were asked. Again there was robust discussion, in particular, about electricity privatisation and coal seam gas. Interestingly, a couple of years ago we had a Labor Government trying to sell off the electricity assets and a Coalition Opposition saying it could not do it, at least until it came into government. Now we have a Coalition Government flagging similar asset sales, and the Labor Party saying, “Over our dead body.” Politics is nothing if not changeable or adaptable.

It is informative to watch each of the Ministers handling their portfolios and answering questions under pressure. Some do it with aplomb, with little or no input from their departmental advisers; others, frankly, struggle. Some, it seems, suffer from what could only be described as a dose of the Stockholm syndrome—they become the willing prosecutors of departmental agendas, sometimes to their detriment and to the detriment of the elected Government. Once again, I thank the committee secretariat, committee members and non-committee members who participated, and Ministers and their departmental staff who appeared and provided information to the hearings. I commend the report to the House.

NATIONAL PARKS FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [10.31 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about what appears to be a contradiction in the way that feral animals and weeds are controlled in our national parks. On the one hand, we have the National Parks and Wildlife Service investigating the electricity agency TransGrid and its use of herbicide in a large part of the Kosciusko National Park that apparently killed plants. TransGrid claims it is allowed to use herbicide to get rid of weeds but its contractor did not follow specific instructions to spot spray the weeds. So what happens? The poor old contractor has been sacked because apparently he did not follow the TransGrid environmental impact assessment, yet a similar, non-specific eradication program is run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. I also point out that there is no lasting damage from the weed-spraying incident. It did not affect any threatened species or ecologically endangered communities but it does highlight a contradiction.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service acting head says he doubts that any animal life has been affected by the spray—which is good news for everyone. However, this is the same National Parks and Wildlife Service that in the alpine areas has been using salt-lick blocks laced with strychnine or cyanide or some other similar poison to target feral deer in the park. I have no problem with targeting feral deer. However, I have an issue with them being targeted in this way. Indeed, the National Parks and Wildlife Service is guilty of the same crime it has accused TransGrid of. The salt-lick blocks do not specifically target deer. In fact, deer are probably less affected than the more abundant native species, which I guess are regarded as collateral damage. Feral deer are not the only animals that will lick these blocks. There are kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and other small marsupials, as well as feral horses, foxes and feral pigs. Therefore, it cannot be said that deer are being targeted. But that is the thrust of the salt-lick block campaign.

Then we have the issue of determining the effectiveness of the blocks. How much of the block must a small animal lick before it is fatally damaged? Is the death swift and humane? We all know the answer to that. It most probably is not. The blocks are not target specific. The only target-specific way to rid the national parks of feral animals is by shooting. Almost everyone agrees with that concept. The only point at issue seems to be who should do the shooting. I know the Game Council model is working well in our State forests; it can also work in our national parks. It is time the Government removed its blinkers on this issue and faced up to the fact that for the effective removal of feral animals from our national parks a controlled shooting program is needed.

For far too long farmers whose lands back onto national parks have complained about feral animals coming onto their land from inside the parks because their control is not what it should be. Putting a controlled shooting program in place in our national parks is long overdue. Indeed, the previous Labor Government first offered and then withdrew a list of more than 50 national parks that could have been covered by a hunting program suggested by the Shooters and Fishers Party. The basic framework is already in place through the Game Council. The sooner we expand this successful program into national parks, the better the outcome will be for native animals and birds, and for farmers throughout the State who continually battle feral pigs, feral goats and other such animals.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Dogs.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: And feral dogs. They come in from national parks and trash farmers’ properties, their crops and their fencing.

29 March 2012

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.18 a.m.]: I move:

        That this bill be now read a second time.

The Shooters and Fishers Party is pleased to introduce the National Park Estate (South-Western Cypress Reservations) Amendment Bill 2012, which simply revokes the reservation of certain land—the bed of Meroo Lake recreational fishing haven—as part of the Meroo National Park. Members who were present in the last Parliament would remember that transferring that Crown land into the National Parks Estate as part of Meroo National Park was hidden in Government legislation called the National Park Estate (South-Western Cypress Reservations) Act 2010, which was passed in the second last sitting week of the previous Parliament. It was a deal between the previous Government and the Greens—one of many they did—that they thought would result in a flow of green preferences to Labor prior to the 2010 State election. But guess what? After The Greens got the bed of Meroo Lake and the river red gums, they changed their mind. They took the land and kept their preferences.

On the other hand, it was left to the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Liberal-Nationals Coalition to oppose this Labor-Greens deal, which we did. I note that during the debate the Hon. Catherine Cusack stated that using the entire bed of Meroo Lake Recreational Fishing Haven as an offset in the Merry Beach Caravan Park land transfer was contentious because Meroo Lake had been declared a recreational fishing haven—one of many that were funded by $20 million from the fishing licence trusts. The honourable member also pointed out that it was not one of the main issues in the bill, but was slipped into the back end of the bill, a bill which was debated in virtually the dying days of the Labor Government.

The Shooters and Fishers Party led the charge in opposition to this bill—marked by a lack of consultation with recreational fishers—about the virtual alienation of this fishing haven, to be given effect by the installation of locked access gates. This is a repeated theme with national parks across New South Wales—lock it up and leave it. What a ridiculous idea that access is blocked by a gate and fishermen have to go all the way to Ulladulla, pay a fee to get the key to gain access, and have to return the key after each day’s fishing. As Homer Simpson would say, “Duhhhh.”

I visited the site at the behest of local fishers, and was appalled at the effect of the declaration to the access track that the National Parks and Wildlife Service had allowed to occur. It was simply disgusting. The track barely allowed access by four-wheel-drive vehicles. It is like the premature removal of the recreational fishing haven signs on the Princess Highway. The authorities got a bit ahead of themselves. They decided they would take down the signs before the bill even hit the House. Maybe that was part of the original plan to keep fishers out. The Coalition opposed the bill when it was before the House. The Shooters and Fishers Party would like to believe that the Coalition’s earlier concerns about the fishing haven are still valid, that it is still concerned about recreational fishers in New South Wales and that it will show that support by voting for this bill. I commend the bill to the House.

GRAFTON RIVER BRIDGE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Will he confirm that the Government has managed to hone the 41 options for the long-planned second crossing of the Clarence River at Grafton down to just six and that, of those, five came from community meetings and the sixth came from Roads and Maritime Services? When will a decision be made on which crossing will be used? Has funding been set aside to ensure that work can commence as soon as possible?

OCCUPY SYDNEY PROTEST

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 23 February 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question about the Occupy Sydney protest. I provide the following response:

          The NSW Police Force has advised me that police officers have taken appropriate action, and continue to do so, where offences are detected. A number of arrests have been made and appropriate charges laid. The cost of policing this protest to date is approximately $78,123 in addition to normal police salaries. However, I am advised the policing of Occupy Sydney has had no impact on the capacity of the Central Metropolitan Region to respond to other incidents such as drive by shootings.
LOBAL WARMING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.37 p.m.]: I will speak about what Dr Bob Brown will be told when life out there in the cosmos eventually contacts him for a chat. For those who missed it, the good doctor delivered the Third Annual Green Oration in Hobart last week. True to form, he opened the proceedings with the greeting, “Fellow earthians”. He went on to question why no-one out there has yet contacted him to see how they should operate their worlds, which are inhabited by Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and all those others with pointy ears and three fingers.

Mr David Shoebridge: It is Dr Spock.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: It is Mr Spock out there. I do not think Dr Brown should hold his breath for extraterrestrial contact for advice from him on how to run their planets. I expect that perhaps they will see the way he seeks to run this planet and they will decide that they might like to live someplace where there is power for light, wealth for toil, houses to live in and food and clothing for those who need it.

I could give an insight into what Dr Brown might learn from those coming in from the cosmos to talk to him. It might shock Dr Brown because they are likely to tell him that the whole earth actually heated up in medieval times, without the presence of human carbon dioxide emissions. I bet that when he hears that little truth he will deny it and tell them they are mistaken because he knows it did not happen that way. His whole mantra, and that of The Greens and their fellow travellers, is that humans are killing the earth.

Contrary to this, a new study has thrown current theories about the causes and impact of global warming into question because it shows that during medieval times the whole of the planet heated up and then it cooled down naturally and there was even a mini ice age. A team from Syracuse University in New York State found contrary to the consensus being peddled around today. The Medieval Warm Period, approximately 500 to 1,000 years ago, was not just confined to Europe. In fact, it extended all the way down to Antarctica, and that means that the earth has already experienced global warming without the aid of human carbon dioxide emissions.

What we are being told at the moment by the renowned body known as the intergovernmental panel on climate change, whose original work alerting the world to this problem was later found to be dodgy, is that the Medieval Warm Period was confined to Europe and, therefore, the warming we are experiencing now is a man-made phenomenon. This is what they are using to scare the daylights out of everyone on this planet. This new study looked at crystals found in layers deposited during the Little Ice Age about 300 to 500 years ago and during the Medieval Warm Period before that. Both climate events have been documented in northern Europe, but the studies have been inconclusive as to whether the conditions in northern Europe extended to Antarctica. Guess what? The study of the crystals found that in fact they did. The university team says that the study shows that the northern European climate events did influence climate conditions in Antarctica. So there it is: humans apparently are not responsible for global warming. While it will come as a surprise to Dr Bob Brown, I hope he is not too disappointed when our alien friends, who might turn out to be green, give him the news. No doubt, if he did accept their advice, next week it will be something else that is causing him, and us, trouble.

28 March 2012

MINING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (URANIUM EXPLORATION) BILL 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.32 p.m.]: I make a brief contribution to debate on the Mining Legislation Amendment (Uranium Exploration) Bill 2012. The Shooters and Fishers Party supports this bill but is deeply disappointed as it stops at exploration. The Shooters and Fishers Party concurs with the comments made earlier by the Hon. Rick Colless. We must think seriously about providing alternative forms of energy in the future. At the moment we are wasting our time by providing some airy-fairy forms of energy.

The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: What is wrong with coal?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Coal is great as it will be around for a couple of hundred years or more, which will give us time to research other energy sources. New South Wales should be digging up the uranium and using it. Australia should be using uranium in its power stations to generate power to produce iron, steel, aluminium and everything else we need rather than digging it up and shipping it offshore. We agree with The Greens on that issue although the Greens believe that all coal production should cease. We disagree with industrialist Mr Palmer in north Queensland who said that The Greens and the Green movement are funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, which is silly. We know that The Greens are funded by the candle-makers guild and the punkah wallahs union. For those members who do not know, a punkah wallah is a person who operates a fan.

The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: Point of order: Clearly the member is not being relevant to the debate and he should be asked to be relevant.

The PRESIDENT: Order! I will give the member the benefit of the doubt at this stage. Had the Hon. Robert Brown concluded his remarks?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I have almost concluded my remarks. The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the bill but at this stage does not support the matter being referred to a Legislative Council committee.

SMALL BUSINESS COMMISSIONER’S LISTENING TOUR REPORT

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Small Business, and it refers to the Small Business Commissioner’s 2011 Listening Tour Report. Is it a fact that in her report the commissioner cited a case where a small trader of 23 years standing was found, through a random workplace inspection, not to have a certain licence as required? Is it also a fact that when the trader then tried to get the licence he was told that it would take six weeks and the commissioner intervened to have the licence issued within 24 hours, avoiding the shutting down of the business? Can the Minister provide advice to the House about which government agency is involved and why it takes that agency six weeks to issue licences when, if push comes to shove, a licence can be issued in one day?

FERAL PIG HUNTING

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 23 February 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me, representing the Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage, a question relating to feral pig hunting. The Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage has provided the following response:
I am advised as follows:
1. Yes.

2. Yes.

3. Yes.

    a. National Parks and Wildlife Service surveillance cameras have captured images of persons entering reserves with dogs, cutting fences with bolt cutters and causing damage to pig traps. National Parks and Wildlife Service staff have also caught persons leaving Tuggerah Nature Reserve with a National Parks and Wildlife Service pig trap.
    b. One.
    c. One.
    d. The Government supports the recreational activities of hunters when conducted within the bounds of the law.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AMENDMENT BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.33 p.m.]: I make only a brief contribution to the Local Government Amendment Bill 2011 because most of what needs to be said has already been said. In fact, most of the contributions made tonight have been very interesting, including contributions by members who traditionally the Shooters and Fishers Party would not agree with. For instance, Mr David Shoebridge has said things tonight with which the Shooters and Fishers Party agrees.

Dr John Kaye: You must be sick.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It is the honourable member who has chickenpox, not me. The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the legislation in principle; however, I foreshadow that it will be supporting a number of amendments to be moved by the Opposition and Mr David Shoebridge. I place on record the thanks of the Shooters and Fishers Party to Mr Graeme Kelly, the State Secretary of the United Services Union, and his able lieutenant, Steve Hughes, who happens to be a member of the Shooters and Fishers Party. As Mr David Shoebridge said, this bill is starting to get stale—it has been around five months.

I agree that there has been more consultation on this bill than on most other bills that have been through this House. All parties have been involved in extensive toing and froing. I have had discussions with the Minister, who is present in the Chamber, the shadow Minister and The Greens. We have also have a couple of mayors in this place. I place on record my gratitude to the Deputy-President in the chair and to the Hon. Jan Barham, who on occasion have offered advice. After five months there will be a compromise resolution tonight which, I agree, will pick the best bits out of this compendium bill. I commend the bill as it probably will be amended to the House.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.48 p.m.]: The Hon. Sophie Cotsis has moved Opposition amendments Nos 2, 4 and 6 in globo. They are all related to each other and we support them.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.13 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party supports these amendments for the reasons Mr Shoebridge has enunciated. It came to our attention when we were discussing these amendments and the retention of at least three years’ protection for the local government workers when councils amalgamate that the Federal Government guarantees the funding of each council in an amalgamated group for four years. Therefore, there is no burning need for councils to strip those protections from workers. As Mr Shoebridge said, transfers from one local government area to another across an amalgamated council area, particularly in the never-never, can lead to long commutes and dislocation. There is no reason to reduce the period from three years to one year. The Shooters and Fishers Party therefore supports the amendments.

RECREATIONAL FISHING DEVELOPMENT PLANS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.55 p.m.]: I will speak about recreational fishing in New South Wales and reflect upon recent moves in the Northern Territory to implement a recreational fishing development plan. The stated vision of that plan is to provide a diverse range of high-quality recreational fishing experiences based on healthy fish stocks and healthy aquatic ecosystems that optimise lifestyle and economic value to the Northern Territory. I congratulate the Northern Territory on this initiative and hope that we can develop a similar plan in New South Wales. Indeed, it is something that I have been working towards for a number of years with the previous Labor Government and now with the new Coalition Government.

The fishing experience in each place is very different, but the value to the Northern Territory and New South Wales governments of recreational fishing cannot be denied. The Northern Territory has more than 44,000 resident recreational fishers, representing about 32 per cent of the resident population. However, the interesting fact is that 37 per cent of the total recreational fishing effort in the Northern Territory is attributed to non-residents, or visitors. Tourism surveys indicate that more than 40,000 visitors fish in Northern Territory waters each year. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with fishing in Australia can tell you about the barramundi in the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory and New South Wales governments face the same issues with regard to recreational fishing. The challenge to each is to maintain high-quality fisheries whilst allowing for increased participation and optimisation of the social and economic values that recreational fishing generates.

Both governments have in common the fact that by working with recreational fishers various management issues can be implemented to ensure the quality and long-term sustainability of those fisheries. It is a fact that positive changes to fishing regulations are mostly driven by forward-thinking anglers who are focused on maintaining and enhancing the quality of the fishing experience. It is of no value whatsoever for governments to make changes without consulting recreational fishers properly. We have seen in the recent past the results of such lack of consultation in New South Wales. I note that one of the strategies in the draft plan for the Northern Territory is to improve community awareness of the social and other benefits associated with recreational fishing, such as participation in it by younger people as an alternative activity—an alternative to sitting inside playing with one of those machines that beeps.

An anecdote is appropriate here. I recently attended an outdoor recreation show in Cessnock and on the back wall of the large hall was a banner—as long as this Chamber is wide—that simply said, “Kids who hunt and fish do not deal and steal.” That is very appropriate. As with all sports or outdoor activities, recreational fishing will not prosper if the older members simply walk away and are not replaced by the next generation. Shooting and fishing clubs are both keenly aware of this aspect of their sports. Another aspect of the Northern Territory draft plan that I endorse is the implementation of appropriate legislation to support the sustainable management of recreational fisheries and the need to secure adequate funding for research and compliance programs necessary for the effective management and development of those recreational fisheries. I have foreshadowed the introduction of a bill to establish a recreational fishing authority in New South Wales to be responsible for recreational fishing in all its forms and to provide security into the future. Having looked at the draft plan for the Northern Territory, I have identified many aspects that we could adopt in New South Wales.

27 March 2012

HAWKESBURY-NEPEAN BASIN FLOOD PLAN

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is it a fact that State Government emergency planning for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Basin is based on the likelihood of a repeat of the 1867 flood that inundated 200 square kilometres of north-western Sydney? Is the Minister aware that there are concerns that the State Emergency Service would be stretched by the scale of evacuation required in the event of such a major flood on the Hawkesbury, with a view that the current plan is too focused on evacuations rather than what can be done to mitigate severe flooding? Can the Minister assure residents of the Hawkesbury that when—rather than if—this flood occurs, appropriate planning to mitigate the flooding, as well as making sure proper evacuation plans are in place, will have proper consideration in response plans?

TIBOOBURRA AIRSTRIP

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question, which is only a small one—a $20,000 question—is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services. Is the Minister aware of the parlous state of lighting at the Tibooburra airstrip that requires upgrading to make it reliable for use by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, among other services? Is it true that recently the Federal Government contributed $20,000 towards the upgrade and that at least another $20,000 is required to avert the situation of residents controlling the lights manually at night? Will the Government commit to providing the required funding to complete the upgrade for the benefit of the many people of far western New South Wales who rely on the airstrip to be serviceable 24 hours a day, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service?

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN
On 15 February 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:
      The Hon Duncan Gay MLC
      Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council
      Minister for Roads and Ports
      During early February, I undertook a regional tour of NSW with the Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and the Commissioner of the Office of Water, to gather community feedback to inform the NSW response to the draft Basin Plan. Finley, Leeton and Corowa in the southern Basin were three of the communities visited.
      During those meetings, stakeholders talked about the impacts that are already being felt in the Basin due to the proposals in the draft Basin Plan, including loss of business confidence impeding investment, depressed home and asset values and concern about the long term viability of some of the smaller towns which are still getting back on their feet following the longest drought on record.
      If implemented in its current form the Basin Plan is likely to have severe impacts on smaller, irrigation dependent communities in the southern Basin in particular. To date the MDBA and other Commonwealth agencies have not adequately recognised these impacts, nor have they developed the necessary programs to mitigate impacts and to support communities through change.
      We believe that the time to walk away has not yet come. While we have grave concerns with the Plan as it is currently written, there are still several opportunities to work with the MDBA to assist them in developing a final Plan that meets triple bottom line outcomes and to work with the other Commonwealth agencies to develop programs which support communities through change.
      At the same time, we are investigating a range of options for NSW should the final Basin Plan not be in the interests of the NSW community. The NSW Government will not support a Basin Plan that fails to deliver true triple bottom line outcomes.
KOSCIUSZKO NATIONAL PARK
On 16 February 2012 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding Kosciuszko National Park. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:
              I am advised as follows:
            1. Yes.
            2. I am advised the CSIRO investigated the use of livestock grazing in Australian alpine environments for fire abatement and concluded that grazing in alpine areas does not reduce either the incidence or intensity of fire.
TOORALE STATION PURCHASE
On 16 February 2012 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Toorale Station purchase. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:
        I am advised as follows:
        The purchase of Toorale was jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments. Both governments have been working to determine the best water infrastructure options to facilitate more effective downstream delivery of environmental flows.
        The dams and irrigation channels at Toorale Station remain in place while the Australian Government finalises its analysis of the various decommissioning options that are under consideration.
      I am advised that the $79 million figure referred to is the Australian Government consultant’s cost estimate for a full decommissioning option at Toorale. The final details of any proposed decommissioning project are a matter for the Australian Government.

15 March 2012

PETITIONS

Game Council New South Wales

Petition stating that the Game Council New South Wales receives public funding to promote recreational hunting and requesting that the House abolish the Game Council New South Wales and legislate to permanently end recreational hunting on public land, received from Mr David Shoebridge.

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders: Order of Business

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [9.43 a.m.]: I move:

That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow a motion to be moved forthwith that Private Members’ Business item No. 432 outside the Order of Precedence, relating to the Crimes Amendment (Possession or Discharge of Firearms in Commission of Offences) Bill 2012, be called on forthwith.

Order of Business

Motion by the Hon. Robert Borsak agreed to:

That Private Members’ Business item No. 432 outside the Order of Precedence be called on forthwith.

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER (Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Hunter, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [9.46 a.m.]: The first I heard of this motion was when the Hon. Robert Borsak stood and moved the motion for contingency.

[Interruption]

The comment just made by Mr David Shoebridge is disgraceful. I have just walked up to the Hon. Robert Borsak and the Hon. Robert Brown and indicated that I had no idea the Shooters and Fishers Party were bringing on this bill. Putting aside all the theatrics of Mr David Shoebridge, the very worst that can happen if this motion is moved is the reading of a second reading speech and then debate on the bill will be adjourned—and Mr David Shoebridge knows that. Once again the member is whipping up the grand conspiracy storm because it fits with the diatribe from The Greens. I am happy for the Hon. Robert Borsak to move the motion for the bill to be brought on forthwith and for him to deliver his second reading speech, after which the debate will be adjourned, and that will be the end of it.

The Hon. LUKE FOLEY (Leader of the Opposition) [9.47 a.m.]: The Labor Opposition has no objection to the motion moved by the Hon. Robert Borsak. As the Labor Party understands it, he simply seeks the indulgence of the House to second read his private member’s bill. That courtesy has been extended to all members, regardless of party, and, as such, the Opposition is happy to support the motion.

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

CRIMES AMENDMENT (POSSESSION OR DISCHARGE OF FIREARMS IN COMMISSION OF OFFENCES) BILL 2012

Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Robert Borsak.

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [9.51 a.m.]: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Shooters and Fishers Party is pleased to be able to try again to have this bill voted into law. We have always believed that there should be a specific penalty for the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, and for as long as our party has existed we have repeatedly introduced legislation to try to make it law. We have not succeeded because the Government of the day has always claimed that it amounted to imposing on judges mandatory sentencing. It does not.

I am delighted that when the Hon. John Tingle first introduced his Crimes Amendment (Firearms and Other Offensive Weapons or Instruments) Bill in September 1998—14 years ago—the Coalition did not oppose it; indeed, the Coalition supported it. The Coalition is now in government and it can now support this legislation, which embodies a concept supported by the Coalition in opposition. What we have done this time around is simply address the firearms crime part of the proposed legislation. We have removed from Mr Tingle’s bill all other weapons and instruments so that there can be no real argument about what we want. Law-abiding firearms owners are fed up to the back teeth with the odium they must wear whenever a drive-by shooting or some other shooting incident occurs simply because they own a firearm and shoot targets or hunt. We want to send a clear message to criminals who do not get a firearms licence and who do not obey the law that if they want to use a firearm while committing a crime, they will be subject to a sentence for the core crime and for the use of a firearm in the commission of that crime. It is that simple.

In speaking to the bill, it is appropriate for me to go back to the words John Tingle used 14 years ago when he wanted the issue addressed. Those words are as valid today as they were then. We believe that the time has come when we must regard the present level of armed crime of all types as a matter requiring urgent attention and that we must implement laws to reflect community concern. Those laws should be aimed at placing a barrier between the offender and the implement he uses in the offence. It should be made clear that this community will not view with indifference the shootings that are becoming common place. We must make it clear in law that even the threat to use firearms during the commission of a crime is intolerable. We need laws to drive home those facts hard. The laws should reflect without equivocation that this Parliament believes that someone who carries out a crime while armed will be assumed to be prepared to use that weapon without compunction.

What does this bill seek to do? Its purpose is simple: It recognises the growing public concern about the increased use of firearms in the commission of crimes. It seeks to have the law regard the possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime as a separate crime in itself. It should be seen as a crime in addition to the actual crime committed and not an aggravating offence as the law sees it now. Rather, it should be a separate and additional crime to be dealt with separately by the law both in terms of judgement and the penalty that the court might impose. The central effect of the bill is to provide that in the event of a person carrying a firearm while committing an offence, the courts will be able to deal with the possession of a firearm as a separate crime. The court will be able to impose a separate sentence for that crime to be served cumulatively upon, not concurrently with, any sentence imposed for the crime itself. The overview of the bill states:

The object of this Bill is to make it an offence to be in possession of a firearm or imitation firearm at the time of committing or attempting to commit certain specified serious offences or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission by another person of a specified serious offence while that person is in possession of a firearm or imitation firearm. The Bill also imposes a further penalty if a firearm or imitation firearm is discharged or used at the time that either of the new offences is committed.

The bill will insert a new section 931A in the Crimes Act to make it an offence to be in possession of a firearm at the time of committing or attempting to commit certain specified offences or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of such an offence. The offences include assault, robbery, breaking and entering and certain sexual assaults. Further offences may be added by the regulations to those already specified in proposed section 931A (1) of the Crimes Act.

Before I deal with the proposed penalty I will explain the thinking behind the proposal that the possession of a firearm while committing a crime should in itself be seen as a crime. When someone goes out to commit a crime and carries a weapon—any kind of weapon—one is entitled to assume that that person is prepared to use that weapon to ensure the intended crime is successful. After all, if that is not the intention, then why be in possession of the weapon? A person found to be in possession of a firearm while committing a crime should be regarded as having that weapon for the purpose of committing the crime. In the original drafting of this bill, John Tingle proposed a minimum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. This sentence was to be cumulative upon the sentence imposed for the commission of the core crime. That indicates how seriously he—and, indeed, we now—regard this type of crime. Over protracted negotiations seeking support for the bill, Mr Tingle was told repeatedly that the proposed minimum sentence was far too heavy and that it did not leave the judge with any discretion and that it would not be supported.

However, the principle of the bill—that being armed with a firearm is a separate, additional crime—is more important than the details of the sentencing, and the Shooters and Fishers Party is persuaded to amend the proposed sentence range for this type of crime. The bill now proposes that on conviction of the separate offence of being in possession of a weapon while committing a crime, the person so convicted will be sentenced to a period of detention not less than the period of sentence for the core crime. The extra sentence for being in possession of a weapon is to be served cumulatively, not concurrently. This leaves a judge with a great deal of latitude in determining the total of the main sentence and the cumulative sentence. However, it also establishes the important principle that a separate conviction has been recorded and a separate specific sentence imposed. The purpose of such a heavy penalty is to make it highly inadvisable for people even to carry firearms when they commit a crime. If they do not carry the implement, they can hardly use it.

The intention of the bill is to make it very risky for people to carry firearms when they commit a crime. The proposed new section also creates a separate offence of discharging or actually using a firearm during the commission of a crime and imposes a further five-year cumulative sentence if the weapon is discharged. The same argument applies as that used to justify the extra sentence. There is no point in imposing a slap-on-the-wrist penalty for such dangerous practices. The penalty should be sufficient to fill a prospective armed criminal with dread. However, the bill has let-outs for those who are not guilty.

Proposed new section 931A (7) allows a defence for accomplices if they can satisfy the court, first, that they had terminated their involvement in the commission of the relevant offence before the offence under proposed subsection (5) was committed or attempted; secondly, that they did not know and could not reasonably be expected to have known that the other person had a weapon in his or her possession; thirdly, that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the other person from taking the weapon with him or her; and, fourthly, that the other person had a lawful reason for having the weapon in his or her possession. New section 931A (8) increases the minimum penalty if the weapon is discharged during the crime by proposing a penalty of an additional five years jail.

The entire point of the bill is to say to the criminal: Maybe you are the type of germ who does not think it matters that you commit crimes against other people. Just know that if you commit those crimes while you are carrying a firearm it will not only make that crime worse; it will make you guilty of a much worse crime and one that could put you away for twice as long—no arguments and no excuses. We must send the right message to the hoons, goons, home invaders, muggers and rapists. The message must be: Do the crime and you will do the time, but do the crime armed with a firearm and we will be so outraged that we will throw you in the slot and throw away the key. I believe this is the only message that the gun-toting criminal will understand. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

 PRIMARY INDUSTRIES RESEARCH STAFF

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.50 a.m.]: I will speak briefly to the motion. We do not like losing scientists from anywhere in government offices. The relocation of the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre caused quite a stir. However, I think it is a bit rich when the ex Parliamentary Secretary—

The Hon. Steve Whan: Minister.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: —and later Minister blithely talks about the irresponsibility of chopping these jobs. How many direct forestry jobs does the Hon. Steve Whan think were lost during the 16 years of his Government’s rule? It was in the order of 3,000. In the dying days of the Labor Government, under Minister Sartor, it shut down the river red gum industry. I recently visited one bold, brave forester who is still trying to make a living down there, Chris Crump, and his wife, Dawn, who are trying to reopen a mill. The devastation in the five towns will last a long time. I think it is a bit beyond the pale to put forward a motion—

The Hon. Steve Whan: It is all a matter of opinion, isn’t it?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: As I said, your Government created the situation where the forestry industry in New South Wales is roughly 1.8 million hectares short of the amount of land it needs to supply the hardwood contracts it is required to fulfil. In creating the extra 4.7 million hectares of national parks you went a bit too far. The end result is that lots of forestry jobs were lost and a lot of skill was lost to the industry. So, were there to be any attempt by this Government to rebuild the forestry industry, it would find one problem would be to find people who understand forestry. I do not necessarily mean the scientists; I mean the ordinary blue collar workers whose families have earned a living from these sustainable industries for a couple of hundred years.

INEBRIATES TRANSPORT

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Minister for Health. Does NSW Health provide funding to local health networks in regional areas to transport inebriates from regional areas to facilities designed to cater for them? If so, how much funding has been provided this financial year? Has any funding allocated for this purpose been diverted to any other purpose, such as the treatment of persons affected by drug abuse?

14 March 2012

CRIMES (CRIMINAL ORGANISATIONS CONTROL) BILL 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.22 p.m.]: I will be very brief. The Shooters and Fishers Party does not have much to contribute to debate on the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Bill 2012. In fact, I probably would have come into the Chamber to say that I support it. However, I heard Mr David Shoebridge’s contribution to the debate, and a very erudite contribution it was from the champion of civil liberties. I draw members’ attention to a bill I put forward in 2007, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal Amendment (Confidential Documents) Bill. Briefly, the bill proposed an amendment to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act 1997 to enable legal representatives of any party to proceedings heard by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal to see and challenge otherwise confidential evidence. It also dealt with a couple of other matters.

The Hon. Adam Searle: Firearms licensing?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Wait a minute. I will now read into Hansard the response from Ms Lee Rhiannon—

The Hon. Scot MacDonald: Do you have to?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It is very brief. She said:

We are concerned about these amendments. We understand that, if adopted, the amendments will grant access to people who are applying for firearms licences to information about criminal investigations.

When it came to the vote there were no surprises: The Greens voted against the bill. So much for consistency and so much for hypocrisy.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDER’S OFFICE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Attorney General. Is it a fact that in the past financial year the New South Wales Environmental Defender’s Office has received funding of more than $1.8 million from the State Government, including $1.6 million from the Public Purpose Fund administered by the Attorney General? Is the Minister aware of claims that this same group provided legal advice for a campaign to “disrupt and discredit the Government’s policy on mining and land use”? How much money has the Public Purpose Fund provided to the Environmental Defender’s Office this financial year and will the Government now immediately terminate future funding arrangements?

13 March 2012

CARBON TAX IMPACT

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is it a fact that Macquarie Generation, which operates Liddell and Bayswater power stations and produces 40 per cent of the State’s power, is facing extra costs of $460 million a year because of the carbon tax? What projections does the Government have on how much of this extra cost Macquarie Generation will absorb, and by how much does the Government expect the average household power bill to rise?

DAMS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.40 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about something of which everyone is aware but, it seems, no-one is keen to do anything about—namely, about 95 per cent of the State is or has been under water for about a month. Indeed, for the last few weeks the Darling River channel has had a 14-metre wall of water flowing down it towards Menindee.

It passed through Bourke last week and, while the river channel is nearly 14 metres high, the water spreads out on each side for miles and miles, or kilometres and kilometres we say these days.

It is not just the Darling River that is flood, of course: the Warrego, the Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan, the Bogan, the Snowy and almost every other river in the State is in flood at the moment. But, guess what? Not one extra drop of this water is being harvested for future use. Even worse, the Federal Government is taking back New South Wales farmers’ irrigation water for so-called “environmental flows” in some of our rivers. Members will know that I have a notice of motion on the business paper to bring in a bill to take New South Wales out of the ridiculous Federal water agreement, which only seems to serve to keep the water levels in Lake Alexandrina at “pontoon” level for the canal developments in that lake. The Shooters and Fishers Party believes the current wet flooding should finally give the lie to the “scientists” who just a couple of years ago claimed New South Wales would never again see water storages full.

The Hon. Robert Borsak: Tim Flannery.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I acknowledge the interjection of the Hon. Robert Borsak. Of course, we are talking about Professor Tim Flannery there. Have these same scientists gone and had a look at Warragamba Dam in the last fortnight? It is a shame that most of our storages are now full to overflowing and just about as much water as their total capacity is being wasted because there is nowhere else to store it. The real tragedy of the rain in recent weeks is that most of it has been wasted. It has been two years since the last big drought broke and the almost non-stop rainfall since then has simply flowed down the rivers and out to sea.

In the last decade we had the opportunity to build more water storage facilities. But that did not happen. Why? The Greens, who held sway over most State governments and the Federal Government, made sure that no dams were built. Indeed, there is no reason, apart from The Greens, that plans for the Welcome Reef Dam at Braidwood should not be dusted off and given another run. The proposal was only dumped on the say so of The Greens in the first place. The Greens simply do not like dams. People who are old enough can see the hypocrisy when they remember the green mantra about clean green hydro power for dams. The “leech-ridden ditch”, the Franklin, put a stop to that. For some reason the greens have changed their mind—to the detriment of Australia. I am not alone in being disappointed at the political leadership in this State in recent years.

The Government built a billion dollar white elephant desalination plant in Sydney and then bowed to The Greens by dumping plans for Tillegra Dam in the Hunter Valley. Then “Toorale”, on the Warrego-Darling River junction was bought back—that last statement is not strictly correct—to return water to the basin system. But then it was found that the century-old dams the pioneers built could not be removed. This pandering to The Greens has done nothing for the people of New South Wales. The fact is governments will need to build more water storage facilities and the sooner they start looking at prospective sites the better.

It is also disappointing that members of The National seems to have deserted rural and regional New South Wales insofar as this water issue is concerned. They need to be pushing their Coalition partners, the Liberals, to consider our water options. There is no point in being in government if you cannot look after constituents and The Nationals do not have much more time to demonstrate that they care about water issues in regional areas. They should not just talk about them; they should do something about them. People in the bush are watching. They are watching this Government to see what this Government will do about water.

8 March 2012

COAL SEAM GAS MORATORIUM BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.06 a.m.]: Some very interesting contributions have been made in this debate. The Hon. Steve Whan points out that the member who introduced the Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill 2011, the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham, being a country member, should have thought more of the country. Also, he has worked with stone and knows a bit about density and these sorts of things. To confuse shale with coal is unforgiveable for an ex-stonemason. The Greens do love just to transport and transpose problems from one part of the world to the other. Their policies on marine science show that.

Most members of this House seem to understand the committee system we have. They will understand that General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 is currently considering coal seam gas in New South Wales. They would also understand that the first inquiry to be run in this parliament by the committee was an inquiry into coal seam gas promoted by the member who introduced this bill. The member asked me whether we could self-refer and as the chairman of the committee I brokered a bipartisan approach to get a decent set of terms of reference.

The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham is the deputy chairman of that same committee. So what does that say about his respect for the committee system of the House? I have been here a little longer than he has so I offer him a lesson. During the time of the previous Government when I was chair of a select committee on marine parks I had a bill dealing with the matter before the House. I delayed proceeding with that bill until the committee had reported. So there is no way that I am going to support a motion on a bill that seeks to second guess a committee of which the member is a part, and in fact is the deputy chair.

NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, and follows the question that my colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak asked yesterday. Is the Minister aware of calls by the Western Division Group of Councils to lease parts of former properties, such as Toorale near Bourke, for a grazing trial? Will the Government commit to selecting several national parks, perhaps in the more remote areas of the State, to make them partly commercial to determine whether the suggestion is practical and can work to the benefit of both the environment and struggling rural communities?

7 March 2012

NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of calls by the president of the Western Division of the Shires Association, Carathool Mayor Peter Laird, to get some commercialisation into the running of New South Wales national parks? Has the Minister agreed to travel to the area to have a look at the problems and to camp in those parks while he is there? What sorts of commercialisation projects would the Government consider for national parks?

Crimes Amendment (Consorting and Organised Crime) Bill 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.36 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party will support the Crimes Amendment (Consorting and Organised Crime) Bill 2012. I should like to put some thoughts on the table, particularly after having heard the contribution of Mr David Shoebridge. I almost could not believe what I was hearing. I was thinking, “Hang on, is David talking to this bill or is he actually supporting the Shooters and Fishers Party on another bill that is circulating in this Parliament?” He was talking about protecting the rights of innocent people. Every time one of these moronic little back hatters caps off a few at someone’s front door the 192,000 licensed shooters in this State cop it in the ear from the media, the likes of Mr David Shoebridge and other rabble-rousers. Mr David Shoebridge did say one thing that probably is commendable and correct. His comment that a 16-year maximum term as opposed to a 14-year maximum term is laughable is right.

Also laughable is the continued adherence by most members in this place to this old-fashioned idea, “Oh no, we can’t tell judges how they must sentence. We have to maximum sentences. We can’t have minimum sentences.” The blokes running around committing these crimes do not really care about 14 or 16 years because they know that they probably will not get either. We support the general context of this bill. At least these bills are trying to do something reasonable and worthwhile towards solving the problem of drive-by shootings, which result from organised criminal activity. If only the Government could be consistent in the pursuit of these pieces of legislation we would be far happier.

6 March 2012

FLOOD-AFFECTED INFRASTRUCTURE WORKS FUNDING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services. As much of regional and rural New South Wales is currently flood affected, what insurance does the Government have in place to rebuild vital government infrastructure, particularly rural roads and bridges? If there is no insurance in place, and given the fact that more than 40 local government areas are already affected, how long will it take the Government to start addressing this repair work, and what will be the priority projects, given that most of the work will need to be done as a matter of urgency?

SINGLETON AND MUSWELLBROOK SHIRES STATE GOVERNMENT FUNDING

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services. Can the Minister confirm that mining royalties from Singleton and Muswellbrook shires provided more than $700 million to the State Government in 2010-11? Is the Minister aware that an independent study has found those local government areas get less State government funding per head of population than the State average? What is the Government intending to do to redress this imbalance, and how quickly can the people of Singleton and Muswellbrook expect to see better funding arrangements?

23 February 2012

LEAVING CARE PLANS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.27 p.m.]: I will be brief. There is probably not much that I can add personally to this debate except to say that we support the motion and we commend the Hon. Jan Barham for putting it forward. I felt I had to add to the debate following the comments of the Opposition Whip, the Hon. Amanda Fazio that we all must take responsibility, we are the State. There is no-one else; it is us. It is not the bureaucrats or somebody else, it is us. I have had only a passing need to interact with people in this particular situation. I have only one example, which is fairly close to my own family. I agree wholeheartedly with the comments of the Hon. Amanda Fazio. Well-cared for, well-educated kids with lots of support can have difficulties when they get into that phase when they leave school. They would be about the same age as the people we are talking about. So how does one of these disadvantaged kids stand a snowflake’s chance in hell of doing some of the ordinary things that we do not even think twice about, until such time as we have to assist one of our own children to do them? I refer to matters like enrolling for TAFE, getting a job and getting out of bed in the morning when the alarm clock says get up, you have to go to work.

Mr David Shoebridge: Getting a flat.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Getting a flat, or learning how to handle money. It behoves all of us to take on this responsibility and do whatever we can as individuals and as parliamentarians to try to fix the problem. I commend the Hon. Jan Barham for moving this motion, which is wholeheartedly supported by the Shooters and Fishers Party.

OCCUPY SYDNEY PROTEST

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is the Minister aware that Occupy Sydney protesters have been in Martin Place for about 130 days? Have they been given permission to live on the footpaths? If not, why have they not been ordered to move out of Martin Place? How much has the policing of this so-called protest cost the taxpayers of this State over the past 130-odd days? How much of that could have been spent policing Sydney’s drive-by shootings?

NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE SERVICE MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of a media release from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of 24 January this year pointing to the “targeting of illegal pig hunters in an effort to rid the reserves on the Central Coast of this illegal activity”? Is the Minister aware that the press release quotes the Regional Manager, Mr Bagnat, saying, “hunters were deliberately releasing pigs into local parks and reserves”? Will the Minister advise the House on the following: What evidence did Mr Bagnat rely upon in making this assertion? How many illegal hunters has he found or fined so far this year? How many feral pigs has his team removed this year? If the Minister is not presented with the evidence, will he require Mr Bagnat to issue another media release apologising to law-abiding hunters?

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTESTERS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.33 p.m.]: Today I raise what appears to be a problem in the law and how it relates to anyone who claims to be an environmental protester. Our south-eastern forests contain miles and miles of native hardwood timbers which have been harvested, and probably re-harvested, over the last 200 years or more. The forests support hundreds of small communities, many hardworking timber families and indeed, our whole urban community. All they want to do is go about their lawful business of making a living. But enter the greenies and the so-called conservationists, who have unilaterally decided that harvesting native timber should not happen. They will hear no argument against what they claim to be the right decision. They care nothing for the communities, the workers and their families, or even the long-term wellbeing of the forests themselves because, apparently, they know every tree in every forest by name.

Down in the southern forests at the moment we have—and have had for months—a continuing guerrilla campaign by criminal conservationists opposed to logging. They apparently call it “non-violent direct action”. Normal people would call it terrorism by the usual suspects who break the law with impunity. And what has been happening? Roads are being blocked, signs are being removed, work is being disrupted, and very expensive machinery is being damaged by iron filings and sand, somehow finding their way into the engine oil and fuel tanks at night. I do not believe it is the possums that are doing this, and I know it is not the timber workers who undertake all these activities. That does not leave many other suspects, does it?

What I find rather amazing is that The Greens will defend this and other similar illegal actions because they believe the end justifies the means. Let us not worry about the laws of the land. Let us do what we want. And they do. Not only do The Greens not condemn such criminality; Mr Shoebridge even goes so far as to accuse one logging company of breaking the law and calling for all sorts of retribution. This is total hypocrisy and he knows it. He is a total hypocrite. He thinks the company has broken a law and straight away condemns the workers. He also knows that the people opposing logging are breaking the law, yet feels comfortable in thinking that it is okay, and yet pretends to be a lawyer. One hopes that if it is found that the contractor has not broken the law Mr Shoebridge will apologise. But no-one is holding their breath on that one.

And this stuff does not just go on in our forests. Victoria and Tasmania have similar outbreaks of so-called non-violent direct action, where somehow machinery gets damaged and work gets stopped. Unfortunately, at the moment only one State takes a hard line with forest protests, and that is Tasmania. Tasmania has at least one magistrate who is happy to lock up those who interfere with a legal operation. We need to get that magistrate up here to sit on a few cases in New South Wales. The fact is there is no point in trying to deal with The Greens on native timber. They leave no room for negotiation, and their bottom line is no more native timber harvesting. That is not necessarily the right or the best option, but they think it is. We will see more protests in our forests until the law is upheld or native logging ends. I vote for the law to be upheld; I say lock them up. And it is not just in the forests that radical conservationists fly in the face of the law.

Closer to this place, members may have read last week that some vandals were cutting down or slicing holes in shark nets, putting the lives of swimmers and surfers at risk. Primary Industries, which controls the nets, has investigated vandalism at Bondi, Maroubra, MacMasters Beach on the central coast and Warriewood. It maintains, and I agree, that the nets are there to protect humans, with minimal impact on marine life. But guess what? Some so-called conservationists have been waging a bitter campaign against the nets for years, claiming they are also killing large amounts of other marine life. The New South Wales Greens are backing them and have refused to condemn these attacks. Indeed, Ms Faehrmann is on the record as saying “shark nets are indiscriminate killers of harmless marine life and are next to useless in preventing shark attacks anyway”. I wonder where she goes swimming.

I wonder how she will feel if there is a shark attack on a beach where non-violent direct action has seen the nets damaged, or would she simply pass this off as more collateral damage? I hope the Government has the gumption to look after hardworking people in this State who are put upon by these so called conservationists. If the conservationists want to carry on illegally, they should be ready to go to jail and, in my view, stay there.

22 February 2012

MARINE POLLUTION BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.52 a.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party supported the Marine Pollution Bill 2011 in its contribution to the second reading debate. The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the amendment moved by the Labor Party and the amendment to the amendment moved by the Minister for Roads and Ports appears to provide a reasonable outcome. We applaud the Government and the Opposition for getting their heads together to arrive at a good outcome. It will provide stakeholders with a seat at the table so their expertise is available to the Minister through a formal channel and, at the same time, it will leave the technical aspects to those people who carry out this work for a living. The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the Government’s amendment to the Opposition’s amendment, and will support the amended bill.

BOOLIGAL STATION NATIONAL PARK

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of comments by the Mayor of Hay, Councillor Sheaffe, that there has not been a lot of communication from the National Parks and Wildlife Service about the opening day for the Booligal Station National Park? Will the Minister explain why there have been delays in opening the new park? Is there a date on which it will be opened? What work has been done to prepare the park for the expected flood of tourists? What are the expectations of visitor numbers in the first year?

DENILIQUIN AREA RABBIT PLAGUE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of reports that in the Deniliquin area and some parts of northern Victoria rabbits are in plague proportions and have developed a resistance to the calicivirus? What help is the Government giving farmers who, mostly by themselves and on their own land, have to fumigate warrens, rip warrens, lay poison baits and then, in their spare time, when not doing other jobs around the farm, go out at night and shoot rabbits? Will the Government ask the Game Council to look at developing a program utilising licensed hunters to help farmers mitigate the rabbit problem given that, if necessary, it may take up to five years to develop a new strain of the calicivirus?

FIREARMS AMENDMENT (AMMUNITION CONTROL) BILL 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [5.40 p.m.]: I speak on behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party in debate on the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill 2012. The Government believes that introducing this bill and laws relating to the sale of ammunition will somehow reduce the incidence of drive-by shootings in Sydney and make it harder for ammunition to fall into the hands of criminals. Let me make one thing clear: The Shooters and Fishers Party supports any sensible legislation that would crack down on drive-by shootings, because every time a drive-by shooting takes place it is the lawful firearm owners of this State that get stigmatised with the negative ramifications by the media.

As I said, our party supports sensible legislation. However, this ill-thought-out legislation has been cobbled together without any proper consultation and, frankly, the citizens of the State should not be conned into believing that this legislation will deal with, or even has a remote possibility of dealing with, drive-by shootings. Even as a system for tracking the use of ammunition it will fail. If this is the best the Government can do after 12 months of drive-by shootings it needs better advisers. Sir Humphrey is obviously doing the same to this Government as he did to the previous Government. The Government needs someone who understands shooting and shooters and not someone who seemingly wants to shut down their legitimate activities. Remember, Sir Humphrey thought hospitals ran best without patients. The gun-hating bureaucrats in the police ministry are just using this opportunity to further their agenda of tightening controls on law-abiding citizens, scapegoating them for their failures in policing the gangs in New South Wales.

It is very clear that at best the police are confused as to the effect of this bill and, at worst, are also looking for a scapegoat. Our party would also like to see the written advice of the Commissioner of Police on why he wants this particular provision, which only makes more work for the hardworking firearms dealers of the State. Drive-by shootings are not committed by licensed shooters and hunters, and the firearms used in such crimes are not registered. The types of crimes that the proposed amendments supposedly target are almost exclusively being perpetrated in the metropolitan area. Yet this proposed legislation will significantly and adversely affect legitimate and lawful shooters in country areas—hardly a fair and reasonable outcome.

Many of the firearms used in firearm-related crime have never been legitimately owned and presumably were illegally imported. If criminals can easily source illegal firearms, surely acquiring ammunition from illegal sources is an even more trivial exercise. Arguably the proposed amendments, if enacted, will adversely affect lawful shooters yet at best have only a negligible impact, if any, on criminal activities. Current legislation already provides that ammunition can be sold only to persons authorised to possess a firearm that takes the ammunition. This is already sufficient to ensure that law-abiding citizens do not supply ammunition to unauthorised persons. For example, a person with a category A licence—shotgun and rimfire rifle—cannot purchase centrefire rifle or pistol ammunition. The current legislation does have an omission that could be rectified. It is seemingly not an offence to give ammunition to an unauthorised person, only to sell it. However, it is unlikely that this loophole is the major source of supply of ammunition to criminals.

In this regard I would like the Minister in his speech in reply to answer part of the question that I asked last week and which was ruled out of order at the time. How many instances have there been since 1996 in which police have been unable to press charges against a person for providing ammunition to someone who is unauthorised because the person gave away the ammunition rather than sold it? Amending the Firearms Act to allow firearms dealers to sell ammunition only to those already owning a firearm that uses that ammunition, or that have a permit to acquire a firearm of that calibre, will not prevent those willing to break the law from accessing ammunition, just as the controls on the sale of cold and flu tablets containing pseudoephedrine have not prevented criminals accessing in bulk the precursor chemicals needed to manufacture ecstasy. Ammunition will either continue to be smuggled into the country for criminal use or continue to be supplied by those very few licensed persons willing to break the law by supplying unauthorised persons. This bill will not act to break either of these supply chains. The shonky licensed gun owner can continue to buy on behalf of the criminal, after obtaining a permit to acquire a firearm, and the shonky dealer could simply record 1,000 rounds against a legitimate purchaser and only supply 500, leaving the balance to be sold on to criminals.

I would also like to know how the ammunition will be traced, once purchased, if a licensed shooter was to sell or give the ammunition to criminals and it was used in a crime. How would ammunition used in a crime be traced back to its source? The only way the supply of illegal guns and ammunition to criminals can be prevented is by good detective work, that is, good old-fashioned intelligence gathered by hardworking police. If the Government wants more effectively to discourage the supply of ammunition to unauthorised persons, it should increase the penalty for the sale of ammunition to an unauthorised person from the current low level to something with real deterrent power.

Even better, it should support the Shooters and Fishers bill that we have on the Notice Paper that would bring into effect a mandatory charge of using a firearm in the commission of an offence whenever a person is caught with a firearm during the commission of a crime. This ill-conceived piece of legislation will not achieve its objectives and it will have a miniscule effect, if any, on drive-by shootings. It will, however, have a detrimental effect on firearms dealers, farmers, club armourers, hunters, target shooters and employees who use firearms in their everyday work. Firearms dealers will be required to spend even more time completing forms and gathering information that is of no use.

The current form of firearms licence does not provide information on what calibres of firearm a person owns. Firearms owners would be forced to carry their registration papers to the gun shop rather than keeping them safely locked at home. Some will no doubt leave copies of registration papers in their motor vehicles, so that they are always to hand when purchasing ammunition. Unfortunately, this will result in an increased risk of those documents falling into criminal hands as a result of a break and enter of a motor vehicle or the simple loss of papers. This could effectively deliver a “shopping list” of potentially available firearms into criminal hands. The alternative of giving all firearms dealers access to the Firearms Registry database of registered firearms would be an invasion of privacy and another increased security risk for firearms owners.

The requirement for dealers to record the name and address of persons purchasing ammunition creates another database at risk of misappropriation or theft by criminals wishing to locate addresses at which firearms are stored. Firearms dealers are already swamped with red tape, which takes up a great deal of the time that is spent running their business. Adding more red tape without any real benefit to public safety is something that we must oppose. The proposed amendment applies only to the sale of ammunition through licensed firearms dealers. Persons who are authorised under their firearms licence to possess ammunition will, under section 65 of the Firearms Act, still be able to sell it to other authorised persons after sighting their firearms licence, but without the need to sight a registration paper for a firearm in the calibre concerned.

This bill will lead directly to an increase in the number of sales of ammunition outside firearms dealerships. The increase of private ammunition sales will render the data collected by firearms dealers on ammunition sales even more useless in tracking the source of ammunition used in criminal offences. It may in fact make it easier for criminals to access ammunition through shonky licence holders. The only difference it will make in criminal purchases from a shonky licence holder is that the shonky licence holder will now have to have a firearm of that calibre registered to him or her. The groups most significantly affected by this bill will be firearms users who find it difficult to visit their local gun shop to purchase ammunition and legitimate firearms users who do not own firearms of their own.
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Many farmers in rural areas already find it difficult to find the time to drive what can be a considerable distance to a firearms dealer and it is common practice for them to ask another licensed person to pick up ammunition for them or on their behalf. Several farmers have informed me that their wives have obtained licences purely for the purpose of allowing them to purchase ammunition for use on the farm. This would no longer be possible if the legislation is enacted in its current form. Persons with physical disabilities can also have difficulty getting to a firearms dealer to purchase ammunition. A case that has been brought to my attention is that of a shooter who suffers from the effects of multiple sclerosis. She owns a 20 gauge shotgun and her husband owns a 12 gauge shotgun. In a letter she wrote to me she said:

        As I am disabled from the effects of Multiple Sclerosis it is easier for my husband to buy ammo for my 20 gauge. He reloads ammo for his 12 gauge. The way I read the amendments he will have to load me, with my gun rego papers into the car and drive the 9 kilometres to our local gun shop just so I can buy ammo.

This example highlights the stupidity of restricting purchases of ammunition to those who own a firearm in that calibre. Various members of a family own firearms in different calibres reflecting their different physical attributes, interests and genuine reasons for shooting. Under this legislation, instead of one person being able to purchase longarms ammunition for the whole family, all family members will have to pile into the car for the trip to the gun shop. Has the Government given any thought to how employees who are required to use firearms registered to their employer will be able to purchase ammunition? Will the employer be able to appoint an agent to purchase ammunition on his or her behalf? I have in mind the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

My comments in regard to hunters apply also to primary producers licensed to control vertebrate pests on their property. Hunters make a choice as to what calibre firearm they will use each time they go hunting, based on the size and structure of the animal they intend to hunt, in order to ensure that the animal is humanely killed. The recommended calibre for hunting pigs differs from that for deer and differs again for rabbits and other animals. Many hunters borrow a rifle from a friend or property owner if they get an opportunity to hunt an animal for which they do not own a firearm in the recommended calibre. Friends are willing to loan firearms, but ammunition is expensive and when one borrows a rifle one can expect to have to buy ammunition to use in it.

If this amendment is successful a hunter who has borrowed a rifle will not be able to buy ammunition from the local gun shop to use in it, and the owner will not be likely to afford to give the ammunition away. There is a likelihood that this will lead to increased sales of ammunition outside firearms dealerships, as the owner of the rifle sells ammunition to the person to whom he or she is lending the rifle. It may lead also to increased purchases of rifles as hunters seek to minimise the need to borrow rifles and instead prefer to own rifles in a greater number of calibres. There could also be an increased likelihood of hunters choosing to use a firearm that they own in an inappropriate calibre rather than borrowing one, thereby increasing the likelihood of a quarry animal suffering a longer and more painful death.

This bill will also affect target shooters. Licensed target shooter do not always choose to buy their own firearms. Some prefer to use a club gun because they do not want to store a firearm at home, cannot afford one or do not see the necessity of owning one. However, these target shooters still have a legal obligation to shoot at the range at least four times a year in order to keep their licence, and in order to meet that obligation they need to purchase ammunition. Not all clubs sell ammunition at the range, so the shooter needs to purchase ammunition prior to going to the club. This proposed amendment would prevent shooters from doing that and will result in more shooters choosing to purchase a firearm.

A pistol shooter initially is issued with a probationary licence and during the first few months cannot purchase a pistol. However, pistol shooters are still required to make a minimum number of attendances at their pistol club using either club pistols or pistols supplied by other club members. While the amendment provides for club armourers to supply ammunition to club members for use in club guns, it does not allow for them to provide ammunition for use in firearms borrowed from other club members The effect of the proposed amendments will be akin to one borrowing a diesel-fuelled motor vehicle and being prohibited from purchasing diesel fuel because one is not the registered owner of a diesel motor vehicle.

Club armourers are a form of firearms dealer licensed to provide a service to club members. These are volunteers who are not in it for financial reward. Club armourers often purchase ammunition in bulk for sale to club members. The bill will require a club armourer to specify in which club firearm the ammunition sold to a member is to be used, which is completely unreasonable. Some clubs have up to 20 club firearms, and it is unlikely to be known which firearm will be used at the time the ammunition is purchased. Little thought seems to have been given to how the amendments in this bill will be applied and administered. How will this affect clay target shooting clubs that give away ammunition as prizes and the ammunition companies who donate ammunition as prizes? How does a person holding a permit as a cartridge collector purchase ammunition under the proposed amendments? This bill is a prime example of how political meddling without consultation with the stakeholders can have widespread negative ramifications without going anywhere near achieving its stated objectives. If the Government had been clever enough to discuss the bill with us in the drafting stage we might have been able to work out a more effective approach. But we as shooters have seen it all before. To me it appears as though we are facing 1996 all over again with the Liberal-Nationals Coalition and the Greens coming after firearms.

In the Legislative Assembly we have the Master’s Apprentice, Johnny-come-lately, and I am worried that in this place we might have the ghost of Tim the Hat. I would like to hear something—indeed, anything—from The Nationals on this issue. The Shooters and Fishers Party does not support this ill-thought out bill that will do little, if anything, to reduce the incidents of drive-by shootings in Sydney.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.32 p.m.]: I had not intended to speak on the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill 2012, as my colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak led on the bill. However, every time Mr David Shoebridge makes a spray, with his vast knowledge of firearms, I feel that I have to correct the record. First, I will refer to comments made by my Labor colleagues. The Hon. Steve Whan alluded to the fact that this piece of legislation would improve the monitoring of the use of ammunition. If the member has an understanding of how we can monitor the use of people’s ammunition I would like to hear it, and I am pretty sure the police would too.

The Hon. Steve Whan: I think I said it would not.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: If that is what you said, I accept that. Then Mr David Shoebridge vented his ignorance of the law and the 10 May agreement. The member read out the 10 May agreement and then made the mistake of confusing licensing with registration. I am licensed to purchase ammunition for category A and B firearms—that is, any category A and B firearms. Mr David Shoebridge compounded the error, further showing his ignorance, by agreeing with the Commissioner of Police, Mr Scipione, who made the ridiculous statement in the press that a person who had a category A shotgun should not be able to buy category H ammunition. For the benefit of members and the Hansard record, category A firearms are: air rifles; rimfire firearms, which are sometimes called pea rifles; and shotguns. Category B firearms are centrefire rifles. Centrefire simply means that it is a different type of cartridge—slightly bigger and more powerful. Category H refers to handgun ammunition. People cannot buy category H handgun ammunition on a category A or B licence.

Mr David Shoebridge: I did not say anything about handguns.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, you did. Let Hansard be the judge of that. Mr David Shoebridge made a mistake. He always makes mistakes. Mr David Shoebridge is supposed to be a clever dick lawyer, yet he makes mistake after mistake after mistake. Mr David Shoebridge also made the comment that the majority of dealers do not have a problem with this law. He obviously did not listen when the Hon. Amanda Fazio read onto the record a letter from the New South Wales Firearm Dealers Association, which represents the majority of firearms dealers in this State. I note the contribution by the Hon. Scot MacDonald in which he waxed on about his days as a firearms dealer selling ammunition. The Hon. Scot MacDonald would not have made anywhere near the amount of transactions for ammunition that have been made by Horsley Park Gun Shop, one of the larger firearms dealers in western Sydney, or Safari Firearms at Bexley. They would have sold hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Mr David Shoebridge: Unregulated.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: No, it is not unregulated. It is regulated. People cannot buy handgun ammunition if they do not have a category H licence. It is as simple as that.

Mr David Shoebridge: But you can buy a shotgun.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: So what? I am licensed under the May 10 agreement to buy ammunition for category A and category B. That is the end of the story. Mr David Shoebridge got it wrong. The Greens run out the old line that under Labor the Shooters party did deals. That is one of the most hypocritical statements I have heard from The Greens. The Greens are the masters of hypocrisy and the masters of deals. After 16 years of Labor we have 6.7 million hectares of useless national parks. Mr David Shoebridge’s credibility is—

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Shot.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: —shot. I refer to issues raised by my colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak, in particular, an issue that was raised with me by members of a school shooting team. As most honourable members would be aware—Mr David Shoebridge probably is not aware—a minor can obtain a minor’s permit from the age of 12. A minor with a minor’s permit is not allowed to own a firearm and, therefore, cannot have a firearm registered in his or her name. He or she is allowed to use that firearm under strictly controlled circumstances.
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A number of Great Public Schools [GPS] and one State school have very successful rifle shooting teams. In fact, one of the captains of the State school’s rifle team was a Governor of New South Wales. To facilitate those young adults with their shooting, more often than not—in fact, invariably—a parent has to become licensed for a category A or category B firearm. This is to facilitate the movement of the student backwards and forwards to the range. The schools, which in most cases own the target firearms to be used, now, by necessity, have to purchase the ammunition. The parents of the school boy or girl would not be able to do so because they do not have a firearm registered in their name. A minor cannot purchase ammunition because the minor does not have any firearm in his or her name. There are some real holes in this legislation, which I have expressed personally to the Minister. The Government has a bit of work to do to address these very real concerns. I would love it if this legislation solved the issue of drive-by shootings in south, south-western and western Sydney. It will not. If it did I would be over the moon, and so would all the other licensed firearm owners.

Licensed firearm owners are hot under the collar about this legislation. We have received emails from electorates such as Oatley, East Hills, Swansea, Monaro, Newcastle, Wyong, Granville, Campbelltown, Rockdale, Strathfield, the Blue Mountains, Smithfield, Maitland and Kiama—all Liberal-Nationals electorates. Most licensed firearm owners had an expectation that the bad old days of Johnny Howard were over and done with and there would be no more pursuing of licensed firearm owners for no valid reason. If this were good legislation it would stop drive-by shootings. We would be able to convince our constituents of that. Indeed, they would not need convincing, they would support the Government. They would stand behind it. But they know that this is just another piece of “grab it out of thin air” legislation. It will not fix the problem. As my colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak alluded to earlier, all it will do is make shooters believe that the ghost of John Howard has appeared and inhabited the New South Wales Liberal Party.

INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC AUDIT OF MARINE PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [7.12 p.m.]: I draw the attention of the House to the report of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in New South Wales. I commend the chair, Associate Professor Bob Beeton, on his thorough examination of the subject. In a nutshell, the findings of the audit report confirm what most fishermen already believe; that is, that the original science behind the establishment of the parks and their zonings needs to be redone. It is no secret that the parks were set up by the former Government in a cosy little deal with The Greens of the day. Those so-called “parks” had nothing to do with protection or conservation. Let us be clear: The parks were a pure political deal between the Labor Left and The Greens.

I note that the chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council, Pepe Clark, said that the report “lays to rest claims that marine parks and sanctuaries are based on voodoo science”. Mr Clark is wrong. In fact, the audit found that “the social and economic impacts of the marine parks were not properly considered when the parks were created”. That clearly leaves one free to accept the claim that they were indeed based on political dealing and on voodoo science. However, as always, The Greens are never satisfied. Mr Clark put his spin on the report and then foreshadowed a push to further restrict the fish that recreational fishers can take. He says that because recreational fishers are catching almost a third as many fish as the commercial fishing fleet, he wants a higher level of protection. In green-speak, and according to Mr Shoebridge, that means fishers can have only three firearms and now, according to Mr Clark, probably only one fish. Who will they come after next? They have had shooters and fishers under the hammer for ages—16 years to be precise.

I believe that recreational fishers should be pleased by most if not all of the report’s recommendations because it provides a fair balance between the needs of conservation and use. That balance is called “sustainable use”, and it is supported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. I welcome the recommendation that the governance of the New South Wales marine estate be reorganised by bringing it all under one legislative and administrative structure and including the catchment management authorities covering the State’s coastal drainage system. Members should note that the report does not call it “marine park”. It is also a sensible recommendation to have the science of the marine estate reorganised under an independent scientific committee whose research priorities put proper emphasis on research in the social and economic sciences and the application of these findings to management of the marine estate.

The report recommends also that approaches to zoning be reassessed and based on management objectives which are specifically geared to ecological and biodiversity outcomes and which utilise economic and social assessments in their implementation and evaluation. I hope the Government takes up the recommendation in relation to improving approaches to zoning that say significant resources need to be allocated to research before any more lines are drawn on a map. I call on the Government tonight to put aside the necessary budget for Minister Hodgkinson’s department so that the work can be done. If the budget is not made available the report is not worth the paper it is printed on.

One of the most important recommendations is that the needs of user groups be included in any future management models, in the context of a much expanded New South Wales marine estate, which could include innovations such as havens for particular forms of fishing or other specific uses. The Government has kept its word on delivering this truly independent review. I hope it also has the determination to see a shift to sustainable utilisation as a now accepted method of conserving biodiversity. Hopefully it will not go down the same path as the previous Government and allow voodoo science and political dealing with The Greens to determine how the new marine estate is managed.

21 February 2012

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.35 p.m.]: The members of the Shooters and Fishers Party support the Marine Pollution Bill 2012—a good and overdue bill—and we will probably support the Opposition’s foreshadowed amendment in the Committee stage. The Minister referred in his second reading speech to the sewage from ships provisions and said:

      In addition to the sewage from ship provisions contained in Annex IV, it is proposed to introduce two local requirements to minimise the impacts of sewage from ships in State waters.

I applaud those much-needed and commendable provisions. I hope that the Government will look similarly at sewage pollution when the polluter involves a State government agency. I refer to Sydney Water and to other water authorities licensed by the Environment Protection Authority which tip sewage into our creeks and our estuaries.

The Hon. Scot MacDonald: Like the back of your house?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Like the back of my house and throughout the in-shore coastal environment. I congratulate the Minister on introducing this much-needed bill which we will support.

16 February 2012

ALPINE NATIONAL PARK GRAZING TRIAL

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of Victorian Government plans for a cattle grazing trial in the Alpine National Park as a potential means to reduce bushfire risk in the region? Will the New South Wales Government seek to undertake a similar trial in the Kosciusko National Park and similarly assess the use of grazing as a means to reduce bushfire risk?

TOORALE PROPERTY PURCHASE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Can the Minister confirm that, nearly four years after the previous Government bought Toorale station to make it a national park and release its irrigation water back into the river system, the dams and irrigation channels are still in place? Can the Minister advise the House whether decommissioning of those historic dams on Toorale, which was part of the original purchase agreement, will cost $79 million, which is on top of the original $24 million purchase price?

15 February 2012

AMMUNITION SALES

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is he aware that since 1996 it has been an offence under the Firearms Act for a person to sell ammunition to a person who does not hold either an appropriate ammunition permit, or a licence or permit authorising the possession of a firearm that uses that ammunition? Can he advise the House of the number of instances that have occurred since 1996 in which police have been unable to press charges against a person for providing ammunition to someone who is unauthorised because the person gave away the ammunition rather than sold it?

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Point of order: The question may anticipate debate on a bill that I introduced earlier today. I do not wish to embarrass the member, who may not have been in the Chamber when I introduced the bill, but debate was adjourned to a later hour of the sitting.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Having examined the text of the question, I uphold the point of order.

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN IMPACTS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, and refers to the impact on Murray communities of the Federal Government’s draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Is the Minister aware of a report that predicts massive impacts on the Berrigan, Jerilderie, Wakool, Deniliquin, Conargo and Murray shires, with Finley, Berrigan and Deniliquin to be hardest hit? With the prediction that in its current form the draft plan will see these areas lose a minimum of 550 full-time jobs, will the Minister now recommend New South Wales withdraw from the entire process until all relevant concerns are properly addressed?

ELECTION FUNDING, EXPENDITURE AND DISCLOSURES AMENDMENT BILL 2011

 The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [4.28 p.m.]: The Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment Bill 2011 will result in the most comprehensive gutting of the democratic process that has ever been seen. It commenced with the previous Labor Government’s Election Funding (Amendment) Bill which, far from cleaning up politics in New South Wales, was the first turn of the screw on real democracy in this State. The limiting of electoral expenditure and the capping of donations, with a perceived loophole for the unions, was a grave error of judgement. The Greens cheer squad, which passed those amendments in 2010, is now lining up for the second instalment, this time working with the Coalition Government. This time the coalition of conservatives are setting out to pay back Labor for its wrongs and at the same time reducing politics in New South Wales to the plaything of the wealthy.

The terrible irony of all this is that The Greens, who have campaigned forever on getting money out of politics in order to make politics more democratic, are now siding with a government that will silence the collective voices of those very people they said needed to be heard. The Greens are setting up New South Wales for United States style group campaigns where those with big wads of money get out there and push partisan positions, without those with countervailing arguments having the money to match. The bill approved and ticked off by The Greens is a can of worms, difficult to interpret and difficult for ordinary voters to understand.

It is also unfortunate that we have to debate a bill an hour or so after the report of the Select Committee on the Provisions of the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment Bill 2011 has been tabled in the House. I wonder how many members in this place have read the report. How many in the media or the general public understand the deep implications of these amendments to the structures of democracy in New South Wales?

The Shooters and Fishers Party could easily have come to an arrangement with the Premier’s office that would have done over every union in New South Wales, but somehow exempted hunting, shooting and fishing clubs and organisations from these artificially set limits on political donations. Members should be in no doubt that we were approached with exactly such an arrangement. However, our party has held a consistent position in regard to political donations. We do not support artificially set levels and limits on unions, community and church-based groups or not-for-profit organisations of all kinds. We also do not support artificial limits and caps on expenditure, while at the same time scrapping the Political Education Fund—a fund that, God forbid, might have been used to educate voters on what the effects of this attack on democracy is really all about.

Unlike The Greens, we have not had the luxury of being in constant communication with the Premier and his office about this bill. We have, however, sat and discussed it with the Opposition in great detail, and with a number of unions which have raised serious concerns pertaining to the bill. In this place, your word means everything, and it is obvious that some people are preparing to sell the moral compass for short-term political gain. I am sorry to say that the voters throughout New South Wales have been sold out by The Greens for short-term political gain. Their crazed need to knock off the Labor Party and their union affiliates lines up with their agenda for the restructuring of the political process in this State, if not eventually Australia—after all, Bob Brown is after a 51 per cent majority in the lower House of the Federal Parliament.

As noted in our party submission to the select committee, the current bill proposes restricting donations to individuals on the electoral roll. It seeks to ban corporate, union, community and other not-for-profit organisations from using or donating funds to support particular candidates or parties. This is undemocratic and undermines the rights of like-minded citizens to band together to participate and engage in the political process. There are already rigorous means to guard against undue influence and to ensure transparency of political donations. Details of political donations are publicly available on the Election Funding Authority’s website, where they can be scrutinised in detail.

What does this bill do? It sets the electoral playing field firmly to the advantage of those individuals on the electoral roll who, through hard work, good luck or family bequest, have large monetary resources at their disposal. These people are, as I mentioned earlier in my speech, the real beneficiaries of The Greens deal with the Government. We now are being set up for a political process in New South Wales that will shut down community groups, church groups, hunters, fishers, greenies, unions and any and all community-based organisations, as they will be so severally limited in fundraising that the competition for ideas in the electoral campaigns we have enjoyed in New South Wales will be permanently impoverished, if not silenced.

These resources can then be turned unfairly toward political advantage for their chosen party or cause. There are numerous examples in our society today of hundreds of personal wealth created foundations pushing all sorts of weird political views and positions. To allow these rich individuals the right of third-party campaigner registration, whilst not allowing aggregation of the less well off to participate in the political debate, is undemocratic and just plain unfair.

The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, for example, is one peak body representing 48 branches and approximately 100 affiliated clubs throughout the State and nearly 50,000 individual members. This is an organisation representing a large group of people who have come together for an explicit purpose. They do so conscientiously, and as citizens of this State: they participate and engage in the political process. They have an undeniable right to empower their organisation or association to make political donations to parties they feel will best serve their interests.

The effective banning of union affiliation with Labor will have its echo in community groups which will, though not affiliated with other parties representing their concerns, nonetheless be constrained in financially supporting their desired parties. The inevitable effect of this is that those parties are in dire risk, over a number of electoral cycles, of running out of money and eventually failing in the race for political ideas and representation in this State. This is, I think, the desire of the Government and I suspect also The Greens, who have less than secret desires of replacing the Labor Party as the representative of the working classes. Hundreds of hunting, sporting shooting, fishing and other outdoor related clubs throughout the State are unashamedly supportive of the Shooters and Fishers Party, and they expect and deserve nothing less than their ability and their democratic right to aggregate funds and donate towards parties or individuals that best serve their interests, and who they feel can best achieve positive outcomes on their behalf.

The whole process of setting up the select committee was a complete farce because, as things stand at the moment, it is as clear as day that the fix is in between the Premier and The Greens. Dr John Kaye, who chaired the committee examination of the bill within the terms of reference, has been rolled by his party room, as far as I can ascertain. I would like to take a moment to echo what the Hon. Trevor Khan said: Dr John Kaye ran an excellent committee. He did a great job, a very fair job, and I commend him for it. This bill, when passed, will result in an appeal to the High Court of Australia. I believe that large parts of what is appealable would likely be successfully appealed, flushing out this law and striking down most of the undemocratic amendments. The Greens are the ones who have indeed advertised “democracy for sale”, and now at last have completed the transaction and sold the voters of New South Wales and even their own supporters to the big end of town.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.29 p.m.]: My dissertation will be brief. My colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak made it clear that the Shooters and Fishers Party will not support the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Bill 2011. In the same vein, we did not support the Labor Party’s legislation in 2010.

The Hon. Adam Searle: At least you are even-handed.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: We are very even-handed. I am pleased to say that governments of both persuasions are even-handed. They will come sneaking around to our office wanting to offer us a deal to carve other parties out of the deal. We are resolute in our principles and we say no. Tonight I foreshadow that we will support the amendment to be moved by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. We think it is a pretty cute amendment. By doing so it will give us an opportunity to test the waters and to see how people really feel.

The only other comment I make is that although I was not on the committee I attended one public hearing in Sydney. I add to the chorus of congratulations to Dr John Kaye for his chairmanship of that committee; he did an excellent job. The Greens have now seen the cold hard light of day. They now know what it is like to deal with the new Government. Dealing with the new Government is no different from dealing with the old Government. That is our current assessment of the situation. When one is dealt a losing hand one does not whinge or cry; one plays the hand or folds and waits until one gets a better hand. In the next three years I am sure some better hands will be dealt to us and we will play those hands even if we have jokers in them. Listening to both major parties—The Greens are a separate matter—and trying to convince the people of New South Wales that they have the best interests of the democratic process at heart is fingers down the throat stuff. Being inside the tent and knowing just how easily those principles can be thrown out the door—

The Hon. Adam Searle: Trampled.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Trammelled is a better word. We know what a lot of people in voter land do not know: It is all about the maintenance of the political system and the power of the major parties. This legislation is like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but it was the Labor Party that delivered the pig in the first place. The 2010 legislation was no good and this legislation is no good. I stand by the comments made earlier by my colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak: This is an attack on democracy, not an attempt to provide better democracy.

FIREARMS LAWS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.23 p.m.]: Not surprisingly, tonight I wish to speak about firearms and the need to pursue lawbreakers. Firearm laws in New South Wales are already stringent to the point where law-abiding firearm owners are mired in red tape and that does nothing to prevent crime.

I find it interesting that The Greens are doing all they can now to cosy up to the O’Farrell Government in an effort to make themselves appear to be relevant. I hope the Premier is a student of history and does not start doing too many deals with The Greens because there are many precedents of fallen governments which followed deals with The Greens. Tasmania has a brilliant example, and our current Federal Government may well join the queue. But that is up to the Premier. The Greens are no longer an “environment” party. They showed their true colours in the Australian newspaper this week by promoting their links with the Socialist Alliance. Indeed, they proved that the new Greens are only the old Reds.

The Shooters and Fishers Party yesterday gave notice of a motion to introduce a bill which I believe all in this Chamber should be able to support when it comes to the House—if, that is, they are genuine about trying to curb the use of firearms in criminal activities. Our proposal—revived for about the fourth time, I might say—was originally put forward more than a decade ago by the Hon. John Tingle, although at the time he included a number of other weapons, not just firearms. He had support from the then Coalition Opposition when it was debated here. The Coalition is now the Government. The Government of the day, of course, opposed it. Soft on crime I think they were in those days. I do not know whether they still are.

What we have proposed is the stripping away of other weapons, because the focus has to be on firearms, which seem to be the cause of the current problem being encountered in certain suburbs of Sydney these days. We want the law to treat the possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime as a separate crime in itself—not simply an aggravating offence, as the law now sees it—to be dealt with separately by the law, both in terms of judgement and the penalty that the court might impose. We propose that on conviction of the separate offence of being in possession of a firearm whilst committing a crime, the criminal will be sentenced to a period of detention not less than the period of sentence for the core crime—the only element of compulsory sentencing in the proposal—and, importantly, that the sentences will be cumulative.

This gives the judge wide latitude in determining the total of the main sentence and the cumulative sentence, while establishing the important principle that a separate conviction has been recorded and a separate specific sentence imposed. By doing this even the lowest calibre of criminals—excuse the pun—will know what to expect if they use firearms when committing crimes. We would again welcome the support of the Coalition, now in government, for this legislation. We would be hopeful that the Labor Party will see good sense in the bill, especially given the recent spate of stupid drive-by shootings. And The Greens? Well, I suppose I am an eternal optimist: I would like to believe that right-thinking members, whatever party they represent in this House, would support a law that gets tough on criminals.

14 February 2012

THE GREENS NEW SOUTH WALES BRANCH

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Is the Minister aware that Greens MPs and activists have complained that the party’s New South Wales branch is run by a small cadre of Leninist-style ideologues whose activities are making it appear to be populated by lunatics and that those in control of The Greens in New South Wales are antidemocratic? Has the Minister seen the picture in today’s Australian with three Greens standing behind a big red banner?

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I was not aware of this until the Government Whip suggested that I should look at page 2 of the Australian. I was shocked—as was the Government Whip; and it takes a lot to shock the Government Whip—to see three Greens standing behind the Socialist Alliance flag. There has been concern in Leichardt and the local environs that the Navy might be putting ships into Glebe Island or White Bay. I remind members that HMAS Adelaide was docked in the area for 18 months and no war was declared on Leichardt and the locals were able to continue their pursuits of cottage industries, basket weaving and whispering.

A new menace is coming to the people of that part of Sydney. That menace is the war in The Greens. Bomb throwing taken to a new era. In the past they talked only figuratively about bomb throwing but now the flag is out. I noticed today also that some of the Greens were garbed in red, but I am not sure whether they are part of what is going on or not. Given that it is the first sitting day of the year and I am feeling terribly benevolent I will resist the temptation to bag anyone. Members should read the Australian for themselves.

UPPER LACHLAN SHIRE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

On 9 November 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government, a question without notice regarding upper Lachlan shire water infrastructure. The Minister for Local Government provided the following response:

The Government has announced the establishment of the Local Government Infrastructure Renewal Scheme [LIRS] to assist those councils with legitimate infrastructure backlogs to cover the cost of borrowing. The subsidy aims to provide an incentive to councils to make greater use of debt funding to accelerate investment in infrastructure backlogs and augment funding options already available to councils. The member is advised that the Guidelines for the Scheme will be released to all NSW councils by the Division of Local Government shortly.

As this project is for backlog water infrastructure, if the Upper Lachlan Shire Council does not have sufficient reserves in its Water Fund, it may be in a position to borrow money to match the Federal Government’s contribution. Council could fund the borrowing by increasing its water supply access and usage charges, which are not constrained by the rate peg, and apply for LIRS assistance if the project meets the criteria that will be included in the Guidelines.

The NSW Office of Water is the lead agency for issues relating to water infrastructure in regional NSW and manages the Government’s funding programs for water infrastructure. The Honourable Member may therefore wish to ensure that Council has made inquiries with the Office of Water to see whether its project meets the criteria for any of its funding programs.

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN FISHWAYS

On 9 November 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding Murray-Darling Basin fishways. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

Over $70 million has been spent on improving fish passage in the Murray-Darling Basin, the bulk of which has been funded through the Total Asset Management Program for the State Water Corporation and the Sea to Lake Hume project for the Murray-Darling Basin Native Fish Strategy. This work has improved fish passage, successfully allowing fish to migrate. However, many of our native fish are still threatened.

There are still a number of major problems for native fish within the Murray-Darling Basin including over 10,000 remaining barriers to fish passage in New South Wales, poor water quality, changed river flows, degraded riparian vegetation and increased populations of pest fish such as carp.

To address these issues, the New South Wales Government has specific programs in place to facilitate the survival of threatened native species through comprehensive recovery efforts as well as working to protect aquatic habitat, understand the ecology of our native fish species and ensuring compliance by the community with the States’ recreational fishing laws.

The work carried out by the Department of Primary Industries has excelled in addressing the degradation of aquatic habitats through the establishment of the Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation [AHR] program. Through collaborations with the Commonwealth, other State agencies, regional natural resource managements [NRM] organisations, local councils and an array of community groups, the AHR program has carried out works across the State. These works have delivered improvements to fish passage at over 200 sites providing access to more than 2,000 km of riverine habitat, returning in excess of 5,000 large woody habitats, or snags, to New South Wales rivers and supporting community driven habitat rehabilitation projects at hundreds of sites with funding through the Recreational Fishing Trust.

In 2010 actions within this program were recognised with the Banksia Award for environmental excellence in the water category.

The Government has also supported the implementation of the award-winning Williams’ carp trap which separates adult carp moving through fishways into a holding area while automatically releasing close to 100 per cent of native fish, untouched and unharmed.

Further, the Government is moving to address the issues of cold water pollution, and has an interagency working group looking into the problems of cold water pollution from the State’s dams.

Cold water pollution works will be delivered in conjunction with existing dam safety upgrade works for maximum cost effectiveness.

NATIONAL TRUST PROPERTIES

On 10 November 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Heritage, a question without notice regarding National Trust properties. The Minister for Heritage provided the following response:

I am concerned about the sustainability of the operations of the National Trust of Australia (New South Wales). I requested the trust engage in a full and frank disclosure of its financial affairs with the Government and its membership.

Questions regarding the contribution particular tourism experiences make to the New South Wales tourism industry would be more appropriately put to the Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council representing the Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing.

The Government remains committed to protecting our State’s significant regional heritage assets and recognises the important role a sustainable trust has in our community. I would like to be satisfied the trust has the capacity to manage an increased budget and that such an increased budget would remedy the Trust’s financial situation. It is on this basis I have asked the Office of Environment and Heritage to organise a performance review of the trust. An appropriate organisation or person will be appointed to lead the review and will report back to me by early 2012. The review will provide the Government with advice on possible models to ensure the sustainability of the trust. I have asked the board and management of the trust to give their full cooperation during the review.

INFRASTRUCTURE NSW STAFFING ARRANGEMENTS

On 11 November 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier, a question without notice regarding Infrastructure NSW staffing arrangements. The Premier provided the following response:

The New South Wales Government has established a Public Service Commission to help drive reform and strengthen professionalism and integrity in the New South Wales public sector. We are determined to make the New South Wales public sector the best in the nation and a leader in the world.

ASIAN BEES

On 11 November 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding Asian bees. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

We are working closely with our counterparts in Biosecurity Queensland and the Commonwealth, and with the apiary industry, to keep Asian bees contained in North Queensland.

Asian bees are listed as notifiable pests in New South Wales and are also listed under the Animal Diseases (Emergency Outbreaks) Act 1991. All suspected cases of Asian bees reported in New South Wales are promptly investigated by our Primary Industries staff, and all cases to date have been confirmed to be negative.

The potential impact of Asian bees in the Australian environment cannot be fully quantified; however, in Asian countries such as China, European bees are successfully managed in areas where Asian bees are present.

ORANGE PIPELINE PROJECT

On 22 November 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the Orange pipeline project. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The New South Wales and Australian governments are providing financial assistance to Orange City Council towards the investigation, design and construction costs of the Macquarie River to Orange pipeline in accordance with an Implementation Plan executed by the two governments. Under the provisions of the Implementation Plan, payments to Orange City Council are made on the basis of achieving defined milestones. One of these milestones is the completion of an Environmental Assessment and the settlement of all necessary approvals. If all necessary approvals are granted by the New South Wales and Australian governments and Orange City Council determines to proceed with the construction of the pipeline then funding will be provided by the two governments for the construction of the pipeline. The current investment by the two governments and Orange City Council is enabling all investigations and environmental studies to be undertaken, without the ratepayers of Orange being subjected to meeting the full cost of the investigations.

Consultants are currently preparing an Environmental Assessment of the proposed Macquarie River pipeline link to Orange project. The final decision on the project will be based on the outcomes of the Environmental Assessment and review of submissions received, and falls within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure.

The environmental assessment process will need to address potential impacts on listed threatened species and their habitat, including Trout Cod, and outline how the proposal may or may not be consistent with relevant recovery and threat abatement plans.

The option to purchase a licence is a commercial decision for council and, as Minister, it is not appropriate to intervene in this commercial matter.

NETHERLANDS WIND TURBINES

On 23 November 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding Netherlands wind turbines. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

I am aware of many reports that reference the costs of renewable energy and wind generation.

The New South Wales Government is currently developing the Renewable Energy Action Plan, which will outline this State’s approach to renewable energy.

In developing this plan, a joint industry-government task force will ensure that consideration is given to existing reports and research from around the world.

SYDNEY DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [7.03 p.m.]: Being St Valentine’s Day and although it is not Chicago I suppose it is somehow appropriate that law-abiding firearms owners are again being put upon by government in response to the gang-related crime and drive-by shootings in Sydney. Since the new Government came to office there have been more than 60 incidents where criminals with illegal weapons have shot at each other and at each other’s houses in order to send a message of some sort, if scuttlebutt is to be believed, about turf or drugs. However, because this illegal activity is one that piques the interest of the media, governments tend to jump up and down in an effort to calm the media storm and what happens? Longstanding, law-abiding firearms owners who do none of these illegal things get it in the neck.

I speak here about the Government’s decision—without any consultation with a party that represents thousands of shooters in this State—to come up with a law that has already failed in South Australia. The South Australian Government brought in the same red tape restrictions on ammunition to stop bikies shooting themselves. Did it work? Perhaps we could ask the boss of one of the gangs who has just been the subject of a fourth assassination attempt by shooting. It is unfortunate that the Government, through the Premier, who does not seem to like the fact that shooters have two representatives in the Parliament who are actually shooters and know the laws, did not talk to us about these proposals. We wish they had done so. We would have told them that their ammunitions plan will not and cannot work. We would have suggested a plan that will work and will not involve dealers in unnecessary paperwork.

The Commissioner of Police has been quoted as being “particularly pleased with the introduction of the ammunition laws” because he said, “They are laws that we have been waiting for, for some time.” I would ask why? As the proposal now stands they cannot have any impact at all on stopping drive-by shootings, which is apparently what the commissioner thinks. Good police intelligence is the way to deal with these crimes. If police have intelligence that someone with a firearms licence is buying ammunition and passing it on to criminal elements doing the drive-by shootings, they should crack down on the wrongdoer. Laws are already in place making it an offence to possess ammunition without a proper licence, and this would apply to the criminals in these shootings.

If there are any concerns about someone supplying criminals with ammunition, the proposal from the Shooters and Fishers Party is to create a new offence under the Firearms Act to make it an offence to give or supply ammunition to a person who does not hold a firearms licence or a licence for that particular category of ammunition. That is a simple, practical measure that removes any perceived vagueness in the current legislation. We offer that proposal to the Government, free of charge. It gives police the powers to arrest and charge criminals without imposing an undue burden on firearms dealers or massive inconvenience to legal firearms owners. Legal and law-abiding firearms owners are as much against these criminal activities as anyone else. They do not need to be unfairly impacted by Government and Opposition parties competing to see who can come up with the biggest and best law and order package.

27 January

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph has a story about the use of language by Robert Brown and Robert Borsak.

24 November 2011

SEA LEVEL RISE

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 20 October 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Minister for the Central Coast a question regarding the sea level rise. The Minister for the Central Coast has provided the following response:

This question should be directed to the Minister for Planning.

POLICE AMENDMENT (DEATH AND DISABILITY) BILL 2011

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 23 November 2011.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.04 p.m.]: I am happy to make a contribution in relation to the Police Amendment (Death and Disability) Bill 2011. A considerable amount of work has been done during this week by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and his staff and the Police Association. I have a sense that we are there. Let me define there: My left hand is stretched out to the left-hand side of my body, and that is where the Government started; my right hand is stretched out to the right-hand side of my body, and that is where the Police Association started. They are not in the middle but they are somewhere closer to where the Police Association probably wants to be for its members than I thought was possible a week ago.

We have attempted to test the Government’s position on the issues that the Police Association has brought to the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers Party. We have done that this week in a number of meetings with both parties individually and with both parties in the same room. Neither the Christian Democratic Party nor the Shooters and Fishers Party have members who are professional advocates—although both Mr Borsak and I have done quite a bit of that sort of thing in our time in business—and it has been an extremely difficult process. It has been extremely difficult because of the seriousness of the impacts on serving police if we do not get this somewhat right.

The Shooters and Fishers Party, like the Christian Democratic Party, takes the view that the scheme as it currently stands is unsustainable. I think that the Police Association probably has expressed the same view. I know there has been a great deal of fear in the police community about what would happen if this bill goes through. D-Day is here: the bill is going to be debated tonight. Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile is going to put a number of amendments to the bill. Those amendments have been developed in consultation with the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the Police Association of New South Wales. Once this piece of legislation goes into law, the scheme will probably put in place a change for only about 12 months, after which time there will be a requirement, at least on the private insurance side, to have another crack at it. In the intervening period, the police officers who are currently in the system—and who were probably the people who have sent us the most emotional emails—and those officers who are fearful because they face being taken out of the force over medical issues, will be able to have some sort of a settlement that approaches what they have now.

We have had hellishly long arguments on all sides about whose numbers are right, whose numbers are wrong, which actuary is right and which actuary is wrong. When we are dealing with insurance-type proposals there will always be differences in assessing the risk when pricing the premium in a policy. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the Government have put some surprising concessions on the table. At times I did not think we were going to get the concessions that we have.

Again, I do not think the Police Association will endorse this amended bill, but I think the association will stand up and say, “It is better than what it started out as.”

I will not waste the time of the House getting stuck into The Greens about their attitude towards this bill and their past attitude towards the police. I will not waste time talking about what I believe is a shortcoming of the previous Government in that the previous Government should have done something about this a couple of years ago—that is all water under the bridge and it does not really matter. The Hon. Robert Borsak and I made a public statement that the Police Association read at its meeting the other day and we stand by that. We have done, and will do, everything we can to try to protect injured police, first, financially; secondly, by trying to assist to negotiate a scheme that is better than the one that was put on the table in the original bill; and, thirdly, together with the Christian Democrats, by holding a watching brief to ensure that the items that are to be put on the record by the Minister, which are not written into the bill, will be honoured.

Dr John Kaye: What are you going to do if they are not?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I am sure other crossbench members and the Opposition would assist us if we got to the position where we had to go back on this.

Dr John Kaye: What are we going to do, jump up and down and make a loud noise? You cannot change legislation. Once you pass this through, it goes through the lower House and then we are stuck.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I would like the call, please.

DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones): Order! The honourable member has the right to be heard in silence.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It is not going to be perfect tonight, but I am satisfied—and I think that Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, the Hon. Paul Green and the Hon. Robert Borsak are satisfied—that we have probably pushed the Government as far as we can. The other option is that which The Greens and the Opposition put forward, that perhaps we should kick this into touch, delay it until next year or put it to inquiry. In my opinion, none of those is a good outcome. One of the issues that has been put to us is that this negotiation has put tremendous stress on police officers who are out there—

Mr David Shoebridge: Having their benefits cut has caused stress, not the negotiation.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I am trying to get through this, so give me a break, will you? As I said, the objective here is to try to make sure that the unresolved issues—that is, police officers need to know that if they are going to be discharged under permanent disability they will get X dollars—are resolved now, not in March next year. You cannot argue on one hand that you are putting police officers under stress by proposing the bill and then suggest that you delay the outcome for another three, four or five months. This bill, if passed tonight, is only part of the solution. Under the contract of insurance, there will be a requirement to go back to the market in 12 months’ time, and I dare say there will then be a requirement to go back to the market for a further period of two to three years.

The Government’s contention is that if the scheme has limits or black letter guidelines placed on it that can tie down the anomalies in the insurance industry trying to come up with a price on this and, secondly, if the results of the scheme over a couple of years demonstrate that police officers are going back to work, that the cost of the scheme is falling, that will allow the Government to be able to negotiate better terms and hence drive the costs of the scheme down. There are a number of issues in these amendments, which are better handled in Committee, so I will not speak to those now. The amendments are not many, but they are rather complicated. I thank my colleagues from the Christian Democrats for helping to frame some of the amendments—in fact all of them; it will be their amendments that are on the table.

I appreciate the goodwill that has been shown during the past week by the two negotiating parties, being the Police Association of New South Wales and the Government. Perhaps things could have been handled a bit differently over the last three or four weeks, but there is no point arguing about that. We would not have supported the unamended bill under any circumstances. In supporting the bill with amendments, we think that it is probably a 75 to 80 per cent solution, or something of that order, for the Police Association. There will be a reduction in benefits, but the reduction will occur because some of the amendments take the statutory period from six months to nine months, and then we are getting pretty close to the time when the scheme has to be renegotiated. The Government agreed to pony up some extra money to make sure that those people who go out on a disability benefit do not have their benefit halved; they probably lose about 20 per cent of it or 16 per cent—something of that order.

I know it has taken a long time to solve this, and it is not the ideal way to negotiate these sorts of things, but we have a situation where both sides have had an incentive placed on them to get the deal done. The Government has had the sword of Damocles of trying to get this legislation through this year, and the Shooters and Fishers Party and Christian Democrats have said to the Government that if we could not get there today then we would be happy that Parliament be recalled. I know that that is not going to please members of this House or the other place, but at $12.5 million a day that probably would be a cheap deal.

The work has been done. It is not going to be to everybody’s satisfaction, but we are now in a position where we can argue the amendments in the House. I close by saying that the amendments that have been developed will be supported by the Shooters and Fishers Party. The amended bill will be supported by the Shooters and Fishers Party. In doing so, we believe that we have done the very best job we can, given the circumstances, for the police officers of New South Wales.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.20 p.m.]: Mr Shoebridge is correct with one thing: there was not much time to examine the amendments. Therefore, he probably is forgiven for calling trivial the one amendment put forward by the Police Association. I should have been better prepared for this debate. I should have brought a stack of paper from past debates when The Greens were disingenuous about the police officers of this State. That will happen again and again, and every time it does I will remind Mr Shoebridge of some of his snide remarks tonight.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.07 p.m.]: Once again these are amendments that the Police Association wanted included so that they would know what was going on and would be involved in the decision-making process as this scheme rolls out. I urge all members to support these amendments. I note the comments by the Hon. Steve Whan about the limited time given by the Government to the formulation of this bill. He was not a member of this House when his party was in government. I can assure him that over the last five years I have been a member of this House I had to do go through this process with his Government on a dozen occasions.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.14 p.m.]: It is a pleasure to talk on a subject that everybody wants to hear about: Christmas time, getting out of this place and going home to friends and family. Previous speakers have thanked almost everyone who needs to be thanked. However, I place on record my thanks to the committee staff. Sometimes perhaps the committee work that upper House members do is not appreciated by our friends in the other place. We travel on some of the most horrid, cramped little buses and on planes that tend to make some members a little green—I am referring to the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham—but we get to see some interesting things. And all around the country come the secretariat, the committee director and Hansard staff, who carry about half a tonne of gear. They set things up then we swan in and hold our public hearings and everything seems to run smoothly. Mr President, congratulations on your ascension to the chair. You have done a fantastic job.

The Hon. Luke Foley: The best Presiding Officer this side of Peter Slipper.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: You just had to put the slipper in. To the Deputy-President and Chair of Committees, thank you very much. You do a fantastic job which is critical to the operations of this House. Ensuring that things go smoothly during the Committee stage is difficult, and you do a difficult job well. I also thank the four staff in our office who work very hard, as I am sure do the staff in all offices. I am looking forward to Christmas this year. For people like the Hon. Robert Borsak and me, summertime is fishing season and wintertime is hunting season. So we might both do a bit of fishing. Merry Christmas to you all.

FERAL ANIMALS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [11.22 p.m.]: Tonight I use my last adjournment speech for the year to speak about an issue inner-city dwellers probably do not think exists but for people from the bush it is part of everyday life. I refer to feral animals and in particular feral pigs. I inform the House that the problem has become even worse in recent months because of the floods and rain across Queensland and New South Wales earlier in the year. I read from a letter from a family at Hillstone in the south-west of the State that explains the situation eloquently. The letter reads:

I am writing about my great concern at the increase in the number of feral pigs and goats we are seeing on our property at Hillston. Since the National Parks and Wildlife Service purchased Hunthawang (to the North of us and turned it into a National Park) and took control of the State Forest (to the east and south of us), the number of sightings of these animals has increased dramatically. We are doing our utmost to control these pests when they are on our property, but they are literally roaming across from the National Parks to devastate our crops, attack and kill our pet dog and terrify us in general.

In April, I let our Labrador dogs, Gus and Tom, off and took them for a run. We were heading towards the weir when Gus ventured into the sweet corn we had growing. I heard a fierce battle with a pig and he did not return. How long he lay there, dying, no one will ever know. The crop was two metres tall and clearly I was not keen to pursue anything into the crop. He was found dead ten days later when we harvested the crop. The angst and misery of my children will not be easily forgotten.

Since then I have stopped running towards the weir. Last week I went for a run to the east of our house, I came face to face with an enormous boar, no more than one kilometre from our house. I can only say that I now know what is meant by my heart was in my mouth. The goats are clearly less frightening but are building in numbers in the riparian zone near our house. They serenade us morning, noon and night. The damage they are doing to the native vegetation is huge. These feral animals are destroying the riverine environment. The pigs’ presence in the wild will be a continuous source of concern, not only because they are dangerous but because they are potential carriers of foot and mouth. They are not cute and cuddly, they are pests which must be totally eradicated.

The pest eradication helicopter was over Hunthawang for one day on the long weekend in October and no doubt they would have shot a few pigs and goats. However the density of the bush makes it difficult to see many of these feral animals. The total eradication of pigs in particular is absolutely essential. More must be done either by trapping or allowing shooters into the national parks. Please help us.

That letter has been sent to the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Robyn Parker. I hope she takes the time to read it and respond to it. This is not an isolated incident. There are women and children and kids on properties across the State who have to face these incidences regularly. The feral animal problem in national parks is one that is not being properly addressed. On any assessment it is out of control. I hope the Government noted the sentiment in the penultimate paragraph of the letter, which appeals for more to be done either by way of trapping or allowing shooters into national parks. The Shooters and Fishers Party clearly supports such action. We hope the Government will soon see the sense of our proposals. For the edification of members I have a copy of pictures of the pig that was shot.

23 November 2011

SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE ELECTION FUNDING EXPENDITURE AND DISCLOSURES AMENDMENT BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.18 p.m.]: I will speak briefly to the motion. I do not need to say too much after the eloquent presentation of the Hon. Steve Whan, who put most of the issues on the table as the Shooters and Fishers Party see them. However, I place on record that the Shooters and Fishers Party in both the inquiries conducted under the former Government objected strongly to the direction that the inquiry recommendations appeared to be going. We believed that there was some merit in the work done, in fact, by Ms Lee Rhiannon—it is rare that I give her much credit—in regard getting rid of developer donations. However, that then morphed into corporate donations, which then morphed into any donations of any organisation over a certain limit—which I think was $5,000. We then objected to the legislation put in place by the former Labor Government. In our view it was counter-democratic.
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We strongly support the assertions made by the Hon. Steve Whan that this legislation inhibits democracy in that community organisations have ably demonstrated over a long time that their members are happy to have their political will and opinion aggregated. The way that aggregation sometimes takes place is by donating to political parties. The Shooters and Fishers Party believes that this legislation verges on a limitation on the constitutional right to free speech.

I do not want to debate the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps about this, but certainly our constituent organisations are outraged by the legislation. They believe that they should have the ability to coalesce the views of their members. A number of organisations—I refer, in particular, to the Sporting and Shooters Association of New South Wales, the Field and Game Federation of Australia, and the hundreds of clubs throughout New South Wales—have an expectation that the Shooters and Fishers Party will speak on their behalf. They decided amongst themselves how they will demonstrate that aggregation of the will of their members.

This bill drives it way too far; it is far beyond the initial stance taken, particularly by The Greens, that donations could bring about bad governance through favouritism—that is, developer and corporation donations. It is a naïve assumption that only individual registered voters should be able to donate to political parties. In Australia our people have a history of wanting to aggregate—the union movement is a perfect example, as is the Nature Conservation Council, the Wilderness Society and other organisations with a membership. The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia has 140,000 members Australia-wide.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: But why should my money go to support your party?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Then resign from Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, sport. We support this legislation going to a committee because we agree with the Hon. Steve Whan: the issues in the bill were not necessarily addressed in the two earlier committees. I move the following amendment:

That the question be amended by omitting “1 February 2012” in paragraph 3 and inserting instead “15 February 2012”

MINING AND CLEAR FELLING OF RARE HABITAT

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of claims by the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales that there are “thousands of hectares of rare habitat proposed to be clear felled for mining”? Is the claim factual? If so, where are these “thousands of hectares”? Is there any truth in the claims of the Nature Conservation Council that the survival of the Pilliga mouse, the black-striped wallaby and the malleefowl is being threatened by mining?

WIND TURBINES IN THE NETHERLANDS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware that in the Netherlands offshore wind turbines, which power more than 100,000 households, have been declared to be too expensive? Is the Minister aware that the cost of subsidising the power production from those mills has blown out to more than the equivalent of AUS$6 billion a year and now householders and industrial consumers will be forced to pick up that financial burden? What impact will the Netherlands experience have on plans by the New South Wales Government to pursue the development of wind farms in this State?

22 November 2011

LEASING OF NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware that the western division group of councils wants the Government to lease parts of national parks to farmers as part of a trial in the State’s west? Will the Minister meet the council to discuss the projects that it suggests could generate jobs and reinstate some of the income that has not been replaced by the predicted massive increase in tourism? Is it a fact that the council claims that the creation of national parks is having a detrimental impact on the social and economic viability of western towns and, if so, will the Government seriously consider the trial as a way of helping communities in all national parks?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I will take that question myself. I will be delighted to meet with those councils and my office will talk to the Hon. Robert Borsak to organise an appropriate time to do so.

MACQUARIE RIVER PIPELINE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, and relates to the proposed Macquarie River pipeline link to Orange. How can the Government invest in a project in relation to which the environmental impact study and the species impact study are only now being organised and will not be completed until next year? Is the Minister aware that the pipeline project goes against recommendations of the National Endangered Trout Cod Recovery Plan and the New South Wales Trout Cod Recovery Plan? Furthermore, is the Minister aware that section 220ZS of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 compels Ministers not to make decisions inconsistent with the provisions of threat abatement plans? Will the Minister withdraw approval for water licence options until such time as the pipeline proposal satisfies the above requirements?

COASTAL PROTECTION LEGISLATION REPEAL

On 18 October 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, a question without notice regarding coastal protection legislation repeal. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

Our Government has commenced a consultation program to hear the concerns of local communities about the coastal issues they are experiencing, and their ideas for improving the current laws and policies. I am also establishing an independent coastal taskforce to provide me with advice on the management of coastal erosion risks and regulation in NSW.

PIPI HARVESTING

On 21 October 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Minister for Roads and Ports who, in turn, represents the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding pipi harvesting. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

I am aware that some recreational and commercial fishers have expressed concern over the proposed new management arrangements for the commercial harvesting of pipis in NSW. Some suggest the new arrangements are too stringent and others that they are not stringent enough.

A suite of relevant scientific studies were reviewed during the development of the proposed new management arrangements. This included information on the breeding cycle, information about natural “boom and bust” cycles in abundance of pipis and similar bivalves and information about different methodology to accurately assess the stock status of pipis on dynamic beaches. Those studies helped inform management decisions to implement a six-month closure from December, increase the minimum size and tighten the possession limit. Detailed analysis of commercial fishery catch and effort data suggests there has been a decline in the abundance of pipis available for harvest in NSW. The causes for this decline and the roles of commercial harvesting and natural environmental factors are uncertain. The new management arrangements are precautionary to help ensure sustainability of this important resource.

There is no information available to determine whether observed changes in the abundance of pipis on beaches is a result of movement of pipis off beaches to inaccessible deeper water.

11 November 2011

INFRASTRUCTURE BUREAUCRATS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier: Is the Premier aware of comments by the State’s infrastructure boss, Paul Broad, about “struggling bureaucrats who are holding back the much-needed transport and road projects desperately needed across Sydney”? Is the Premier aware that Mr Broad also claimed “The bureaucracy in New South Wales still wants to fight yesterday’s battles and is struggling to come to terms with the potential of tomorrow”? Will the Premier take steps to identify and remove any bureaucrats so inclined so that Infrastructure NSW can get on with its task?

ASIAN BEES

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. What is the department doing to combat any invasion of New South Wales by the Asian bee that is currently contained in an area around Cairns? Is it a fact that if left unchecked the Asian bee has the potential to wipe out the European honeybee? What impact could this have on agriculture in New South Wales, given that the European honeybee pollinates about 65 per cent of our food crops as well as clover and lucerne pastures?

10 November 2011

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders: Order of Business

Dr JOHN KAYE [11.11 a.m.]: I move:

          That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow a motion be moved forthwith that Private Member’s Business item No. 262 outside the Order of Precedence relating to the structure of public education in Dubbo be called on forthwith.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.22 a.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party cannot support urgency on this matter. I note that three of the four items of Private Members’ Business in the Order of Precedence on the Notice Paper for tomorrow are Dr Kaye’s colleagues’ items of business—Ms Faehrmann, Mr Buckingham and Ms Barham. I wonder whether Dr John Kaye discussed with his own party whether they would be prepared to have their Order of Precedence waived. I do not believe this item should interfere with Government Business today.

NATIONAL TRUST PROPERTIES

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Heritage. Has the National Trust written to the Minister outlining a plan to mothball about 10 historic properties because it no longer can afford to keep them open to the public? What impact would such closures have on the State’s tourism industry? What steps is the Government taking to ensure that the properties remain open and accessible to the public?

KANGAROO HUNTING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.14 p.m.]: Earlier this year I spoke about the THINKK research group based at the University of Technology, Sydney, and the work it had done on kangaroos. Tonight I will refer to what it claims to have found. First, it claimed that there was little scientific or environmental evidence to support the killing of large numbers of kangaroos every year. It asserted there was a “growing movement to promote the consumption of kangaroo meat over beef and lamb” as it is seen as a more environmentally sustainable option because kangaroos emit less greenhouse gas.

Furthermore, the research group claimed that “kangaroos rarely competed for food with livestock”. On that point, if any of its researchers had ever been over the mountains to the west and central west of the State they would know that claim is pure nonsense. Academics have to be careful when putting papers forward ­because their papers might be peer reviewed. I have had the benefit of reading a paper prepared by, among others, Mike Archer, Professor of Biological Science at the University of New South Wales. The abstract of the paper says it all:

        A recent publication from the Think Tank for Kangaroos, at the University of Technology Sydney, claims to provide a scientific evaluation of the idea that choosing to eat kangaroo is an environmentally beneficial choice, and then finds in the negative.
        It purports to be a reasoned and objective analysis of the science surrounding kangaroo harvesting.
        We [Professor Archer and others] have examined the document with reference to available literature, and can show that it is not well-reasoned, objective, accurate nor scientific.
        Unfortunately it contains multiple errors of fact, represents the research of others inaccurately, and makes many invalid and misleading comparisons.
      Our analysis suggests that rather than an objective scientific inquiry, the document is an instrument designed to promote a particular point of view, namely, the deep seated opposition to the commercial harvesting of kangaroos held by Voiceless and the Sherman Foundation, who have funded the production of the report.

When I first raised this issue the voiceless mob rushed to the press to decry my comments. They did it at a $1,000-per-head cheese and bikkies function in Newcastle. Tonight I will put the argument set out in the peer review publication by Dr Rosie Cooney, Professor Mike Archer and others. These scientists were disturbed to see serious misrepresentations in the THINKK paper. Their peer review stated:

        The Thinkk authors repeatedly imply that the sustainability of commercially harvested kangaroos is in question—that is, that the commercial harvest may pose some sort of threat of extinction.
        They present no population data to support this point, and with good reason.
          The Government published data indicate that harvested kangaroo populations within the commercial zones remain robust and abundant, comprising around 25 million animals in 2010.
          Indeed harvested kangaroos remain, after over four decades of commercial harvest, among the most abundant large wild vertebrates on earth.
          The entire Thinkk paper rests on an unsubstantiated basic premise that “Australian consumers believe eating kangaroo is encouraging destocking in the rangelands”.
          From this they argue that sheep are not in fact currently being replaced by kangaroos, and therefore, consumers are mistaken in their beliefs that kangaroo is a good environmental choice.
        However, in reality, kangaroo meat is currently an excellent environmental choice compared to other red meat alternatives, because in producing that meat, kangaroos do far less damage to our rangelands than sheep and cattle, and have less methane producing digestive processes.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: And it is delicious.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: And it is delicious. I may say more on this topic on another day but I believe I have made my point. Institutions that accept money from interest groups should not expect unbiased research. It is a sorry situation into which the University of Technology, Sydney, has fallen.

9 November 2011

POLICE AMENDMENT (DEATH AND DISABILITY) BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.48 a.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the declaration of urgency. It is important that everybody, particularly people in the public gallery, understands what this is about. This Government does not have the ability to ram legislation through Parliament. It does not control this House. In voting to support urgency we do so for a couple of reasons. First, it enables the Minister to put his money where his mouth is. This is the Police Amendment (Death and Disability) Bill 2011; it has been tabled and we all have a copy—and I am sure a copy will be made available to people who have an interest in it. Secondly, it is in the interests of the debate and of any further negotiations that the Minister be allowed to put on the record his second reading speech. Why? It is because more often than not a piece of legislation in its own right is just a précis. It is very legalistic. Yes, it has to be worked through and it may very well be amended. The Minister’s second reading speech is equally important, as are the contributions of other members in debate.

We support urgency because we understand that after the second reading speech is delivered the Government will adjourn the debate. I am sure if the Government reneges on that commitment and does not adjourn the debate another member in this House will seek to do so, and we will support that motion. We support urgency because we believe it gets as much information out in the open as possible to allow this process to proceed. Whether the process takes two weeks or three months is really irrelevant to getting the information on the table. We support urgency.

PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.34 p.m.]: Broadly speaking, the Shooters and Fishers Party supports the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2011. We think the legislation is good but we foreshadow that we think some of the Opposition’s amendments have some merit and that we will be considering those in the Committee stage. We may have a couple of amendments to those amendments which may further improve the bill so that the legislation gives some control over this sort of problem in the future. To deliver that control to the people of New South Wales we believe a board of management is needed to be responsible for ensuring the Environment Protection Authority performs its tasks, and we believe that that board should be relevant and skilled and should not be overburdened by too many timeservers. Given those limitations, we support the bill.

UPPER LACHLAN SHIRE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government. Is the Minister aware that the upper Lachlan shire has been given a two-month extension to find funding to match the $6 million in Federal water grants? Will the Government undertake to fund half the project to upgrade water infrastructure in Crookwell and to connect the Gunning and Dalton supplies so that the shire does not lose the Federal grants?

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN FISHWAYS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware that, since the National Fish Strategy was launched in 2003, $70 million has been spent on providing fishways to improve fish movements in the Murray-Darling Basin? Is it a fact that despite this spending, more than half the native fish species in the Basin are still listed as threatened? What is the department doing to ensure the survival of native species in the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin?

WATER INDUSTRY COMPETITION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.59 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party will not oppose the Water Industry Competition Amendment Bill 2011. We have looked at the proposed amendments and, frankly, do not see the same reds under the bed that The Greens see. Although it is a valid argument that this legislation is setting up matters for the future, we cannot base our decisions on hypothetical notions. If the State Government puts forward proposals in relation to the desalination plant, we will consider that issue then. The bill has too many other good provisions to knock it around. We will not oppose the bill.

PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.07 p.m.]: The Committee will note that the Shooters and Fishers Party has proposed some amendments to the Opposition amendments. We broadly support in part the arguments of the Government and the Opposition. The Opposition amendments seek to specify what we believe in most cases are the types of expertise needed on a board that will do the types of things this board will do. However, our amendments, if moved in globo to match those of the Opposition, seek to remove from Opposition amendment number 3, paragraphs (a) and (d), which state:

(a) 2 are to have experience in, or knowledge of, nature conservation or environment protection and are to be selected by the Minister from a panel of at least 6 nominees provided to the Minister by the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales,

(d) 1 is to have expertise in the area of regional environmental issues,

Dealing first with paragraph (d), because these issues can happen anywhere—Orica at Newcastle, the Shell refinery at Clyde and in country New South Wales—we do not see any advantage.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: By leave, I move the Shooters and Fishers Party amendments Nos 1 to 4 in globo on sheet C2011-124:

No. 1 In Opposition Amendment No 1, omit “10” and insert instead “7”.

No. 2 In Opposition Amendment No 2, omit “9” and insert instead “6”.

No. 3 In Opposition Amendment No 3, omit paragraphs (a) and (d) of proposed subsection (3).

No. 4 In Opposition Amendment No 10, omit “6” and insert instead “4”.

Amendments Nos 1, 2 and 4 are subsequent to our amendment No. 3. Primarily our amendments seek to remove paragraph (a) of amendment No. 3 and paragraph (d) of proposed subsection (3). We do not see that the additions proposed in paragraphs (a) and (d) bring anything extra to this board. The board needs to have technical expertise and to be capable of carrying out the duties it is given under this legislation.

LIQUOR AMENDMENT (3 STRIKES) BILL 2011 (NO 2)

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [8.58 p.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the Liquor Amendment (3 Strikes) Bill 2011 (No 2). We received a representation from the Australian Hotels Association highlighting the same issues that have been raised with the Opposition. I understand that the Australian Hotels Association has also put those concerns to the Government.

It is obvious that neither the Government nor the Opposition are prepared to amend the bill. Therefore, I echo the comments of the Opposition spokesperson, the Hon. Steve Whan, that when this legislation comes into force the Government will need to keep an eye out for unforeseen consequences in relation to the landlords of premises. The last thing we want to do is destroy people’s lives and investments by putting them out of business. If they cannot get rid of a recalcitrant licensee quickly it may damage the value of the property or business. There are a lot of empty shopfronts around Sydney and in country towns. We would hate to see this bill cause further property stress. While we lend our support to the bill, we ask that the Government keeps an eye out for unintended consequences.

8 November 2011

Sydney’s Daily has a major story on Robert Brown and Robert Borsak, plus an editorial to go with it.

DEATH OF THE HONOURABLE ELAINE BLANCHE NILE, A FORMER MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.29 p.m.]: I speak on this occasion on my own behalf and on that of my predecessor, the Hon. John Tingle. I foreshadow that my colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak will also say a few words. I did not know Elaine Nile well but I am proud to say that I did know her. My history with Elaine probably goes back to when John Tingle was first elected to this place. John did his best to try to educate me in its workings, and on occasion I would ask him, “What are you going to do there? Are you are going to talk to the Christian Democrats?” It was interesting that on certain subjects John would say, “Yes, I will go talk to Fred about that.”

On other things he would say, “Yes, I’ll talk to Elaine about that.” That taught me one thing: Elaine Nile had her own mind. On behalf of John and I, I convey our sincere condolences to Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and his family.

Next month would have been the fifty-third anniversary of the marriage of Fred and Elaine. During Elaine’s time in this place I know that she was a champion for family, marriage and the welfare of children. Those who attended the service of thanksgiving for Elaine at the Calvary Chapel auditorium a couple of weeks ago would have seen the physical evidence of all the principles for which Elaine stood, particularly when one considers that Elaine pretty much put the whole thing together. That is what I call courage. Elaine’s parliamentary record is well known. She was a hardworking advocate for many areas within the community. In her last speech in this Chamber she said:

It is part of the job of parliamentarians in this State to make good laws for parents, families and marriages so that young people will grow up knowing what is right and what is wrong and have respect …

Perhaps that is something we should all keep in mind in our deliberations on various bills—that is, to make good law. Elaine was very proud of her time in this place. In that same speech she thanked everyone for “being part of my family” and said:

In a sense we are a family—

She was talking about this Chamber and Parliament—

and, like a family, we squabble and we disagree.

We spend much of our time in this place and we get to know each other’s faults and virtues, and that is a good thing.

I dare say that no-one here today will disagree with that sentiment. In closing, I return to Elaine’s first speech in this place. She cited one of her favourite scripture passages from Proverbs:

Whoso findeth a wife, findeth a good thing …

Obviously, a very old-fashioned saying given the time it was written. I am sure that Elaine and Fred were devoted to each other and to family. I am sure also that Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile knows that in Elaine he indeed “found a good thing”. Again, on my behalf and the Hon. John Tingle and our party, our thoughts are with you, Fred, in your loss and, indeed, the parliamentary family’s loss.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.50 p.m.]: I also want to speak on this motion and add my personal condolences to Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and the extended Nile family, the children and grandchildren. Whilst I only had the pleasure of meeting Elaine once whilst visiting John Tingle in this place, I get the feeling that knowing Fred was to know Elaine. Words make little difference at a time like this, but I hope Fred and his family take comfort from the fact that Elaine was held in such high regard by so many people with whom she came in contact both in this place and in the wider community. It was touching to attend the service of thanksgiving for the life of Elaine at Georges Hall a couple of weeks ago, where so many of her family and friends gathered to pay their respects. The order of service and hymns were prepared by Elaine. The service spoke volumes about what a well-loved person she was. I also take this opportunity to offer condolences on behalf of all members of the Shooters and Fishers Party. I know that John Tingle worked closely with Elaine in this place on many issues over the years. I hope Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile takes comfort in the fact that the memory of Elaine will live on because of the person she was and the good that she did for all people in all walks of life.

LAND AND INFRASTRUCTURE HOLDINGS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services. Is it a fact that the Auditor-General has issued a qualified independent auditor’s opinion on the 2010-11 New South Wales Total State Sector Accounts because the State could not identify the full extent and value of its land and infrastructure holdings for the eighth year in a row? What has the O’Farrell Government done to rectify this issue? If the Shooters and Fishers Party can identify specific land that the Government does not know it owns, can it be declared for hunting of feral animals?

ABOLITION OF THE UPPER HOUSE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council. Is the Minister aware of a report in today’s Daily Telegraph that says:

Some ministers have speculated on a referendum for the abolition of the upper house at the next election if their reform agenda was blocked.

Does the Minister know who these Ministers are? Is the Government considering such a referendum?

ORANGE PIPELINE PROJECT

On 12 October 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government, a question without notice regarding the Orange pipeline project. The Minister for Local Government provided the following response:

I am advised that a taskforce has been formed to consider all options for the drought-proofing of the Orange local government area. The taskforce is chaired by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and includes representatives of the NSW Office of Water, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Orange City Council, Cabonne Shire Council and other relevant agencies.

The recommended option will require the approval of the Minister for Primary Industries and the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. Further information might be sought from those Ministers.

MONARO REGION COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS

On 12 October 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government, a question without notice regarding the Monaro region council amalgamations. The Minister for Local Government provided the following response:

I am aware that the Member for Monaro has offered to facilitate discussions between the Snowy River, Bombala and Cooma-Monaro Shire Councils about voluntary amalgamations if those councils wish it.

If the affected councils wish to amalgamate voluntarily, they may make an application to me as Minister for Local Government and I will consider it on its merits.

The Local Government Act 1993 already has adequate provisions to facilitate the voluntary amalgamations of councils.

WIND TURBINES

On 18 October 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, a question without notice regarding wind turbines. The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure provided the following response:

The origin of proponents of wind farms, in terms of whether they are Australian owned or not, is not a relevant consideration under the Planning Act.

There is only one approved wind farm within the stated region, being the 15 turbine Conroy’s Gap Wind Farm. This is owned by Origin Energy, which is understood to be headquartered in Sydney.

21 October 2011

PIPI HARVESTING

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I direct my question to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Minister for Roads and Ports, who, in turn, represents the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of concerns about “new management arrangements for commercial harvesting of pipis”? Will the Minister inform the House what rigorous scientific studies were relied upon to implement those new arrangements? Will he also provide the evidence that establishes that there has been a material change in the size of the mollusc population as opposed to the movement of molluscs from the accessible intertidal zone into deeper water?

STRATEGIC REGIONAL LAND USE POLICY

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. Recent media suggests that the stakeholder reference group formed by the Department of Planning to oversee the implementation of the strategic regional land use policy is nothing short of dysfunctional. How does the Government take a policy that I understand was strongly supported by the NSW Farmers Association and the NSW Minerals Council and let bureaucracy thwart its intentions to the point where key stakeholders are threatening to withdraw support from the process? Will the Minister ask the Premier to intervene in this failed process to ensure that the commitments that were made to the people of rural New South Wales are upheld?

20 October 2011

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 19 October 2011.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.47 a.m.]: My brief contribution to debate on the Payroll Tax Rebate Scheme (Disability Employment) Bill 2011 will take up the theme introduced by the Hon. Mick Veitch last night during the adjournment debate. He made the point that this type of legislation is good, but because of the paradox that exists in this State, with its two-speed economy and differences between city and country regions, the bill may not necessarily achieve what it was attended to bring to regional areas. In addressing this issue, I draw on personal experience. I have had experience with private providers of disability employment. I applaud their work, just as I applaud the work of all non-government organisations that endeavour to improve the lot of people in our communities.
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The Hon. Mick Veitch is quite correct when he says that west of the stone curtain there may not be a lot of large employers that reach $630,000 payroll tax threshold. In rural and regional areas there may be far more small employers. Larger employers of disability workers, such as some of the providers, have their payroll tax liabilities aggregated across the company structure and would find this bill beneficial. The problem is that west of the stone curtain not only are there not a lot of payroll taxpayers but there is tyranny of distance. In larger regional centres such as Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and Dubbo this bill will have a positive impact.

So, while the bill is good, it leads me to ask: What are the solutions? I am not in a position to offer any solutions to the Government—it is up to them—but I applaud the Government for introducing this bill. It should be viewed as the first increment in what I hope will be a series of steps in an attempt to give some real teeth to measures that enable people with disabilities to participate in the workforce. I have some personal experience of the value of these sorts of schemes for disabled persons. I know first-hand the effect that they have on the self-esteem of disabled persons who are able to contribute to the workforce. I knew a person five or 10 years ago who was delighted to be able to retire from the workforce.

The Hon. Mick Veitch: How good is that?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It was great. She was grateful, and the not-for-profit charity organisation that employed her—in the bad old days, before political correctness, it was probably called a sheltered workshop—influenced her life in ways that most of us would not understand. The bill goes into great detail as to how the scheme will be administered, and includes catch-all provision to prevent misuse of these measures. I endorse the Hon. Mick Veitch’s comments. I applaud the Government and the bill, and I hope this is the first of many similar bills that give some genuine hope to this sector of our community.

SEA LEVEL RISE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Minister for the Central Coast, and is in relation to projected sea level rises. Is the Minister aware that Gosford City Council is now making plans for the abandonment of the whole suburb of Davistown, half of Woy Woy and Empire Bay? Is the Minister also aware that the State Government Sea Level Rise Policy states that no compensation will be paid for sea level rise? Has the Government told the residents of those suburbs what is being planned? Will the Minister advise the House on the scope and timing of any public consultation on these matters?

NATIONAL PARK VISITOR NUMBERS

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 16 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me a question as the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment regarding national park visitor numbers. The Minster for the Environment and Minster for Heritage has provided the following response:

I am advised:

22 people attended the yoga session at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. A total of total of 625 people attended the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre on 17 September for the various activities on offer. This was three times more visitors than the previous Saturday.

The combined Dawn Rainforest Yoga and guided Meditation Walk at Minnamurra Rainforest Centre was booked out. Numbers were restricted to 22 participants with many more enquiries received.

The meditative walk session at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre was also fully booked with 18 people attending. An estimated 855 visitors attended the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre on 17 September. This compared to 337 visitors at the same time in 2010.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.52 p.m.]: I speak in debate on the National Parks and Wildlife Legislation Amendment (Reservations) Bill 2011. I state at the outset that regrettably the Shooters and Fishers Party will support the bill but it will not support the foreshadowed amendments. This debate is an interesting one. Whilst I was sitting in my office listening to this debate I heard the Leader of the Opposition in this place arguing about how job friendly the Labor Party were in the creation of national parks and the alienation of State forests during its term in office. For a short guy, the Minister for the Environment in the previous Government really had a set on him. Frank Sartor was prepared to face up to the foresters in Deniliquin and say to them, “We are taking your jobs because we need Green preferences.” He said that to them, and he got out alive. I invite the Hon. Luke Foley to visit Deniliquin with me and repeat the statements he just made about how the Labor Party protects job. I will guarantee his safety.

The Hon. Rick Colless: How can you guarantee his safety?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I will take a bunch of shooters with me. In this debate technical arguments have been passing backwards and forwards across the Chamber and The Greens have been interjecting, but members need to understand a little about the way these types of forests—they are a type of forest—behave. The Hon. Rick Colless is correct in what he has said about the formulation of these forests and what they were like a couple of hundred years ago. We know that because of the verbal evidence from the traditional owners of these lands as to what these lands were like and how they were managed. The same applies to the river red gums.

The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: What about the Yorta Yorta—

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: You mean those blokes from Victoria trying to get in on the Bangarang land? No, we do not need to listen to them. They cut their deals with the Victorian Government. River red gums and white cypress in particular are pretty much weeds. That is what happens if they are allowed to propagate without management. The Indigenous owners of the land managed to do that with fire, and for 150 years non-indigenous Australians have managed them through forestry practices. If one talks to a forester he will explain exactly how many basal stems per hectare or square metre are needed and how many mature river red gums are needed in a particular area for a forest to be healthy and have the best biodiversity available. About five or six years ago I was talking to some farmers at Dubbo about native vegetation and they were pretty agitated. The guest speaker with me was none other than Don Burke. Don Burke took the time to look at some of the cypress forests in the area and how they were being managed. His interpretation of what he saw was that the forests were a monoculture, a desert of biodiversity.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: If a white or black cypress forest is allowed to propagate without management you find no grass or shrubs. Is it any wonder that some many of the woodland birds have disappeared from that landscape? The best type of landscape to propagate those endangered species is open woodland—that is where they live and that is where they want to live. I also heard members arguing about some sort of parrot with an orange gut and how the parrots would not fly across land that had been cleared because they needed to stay under the canopy of the forest. What garbage. Where do they get their food from? They have to fly out of the forest into the grass to get their food.

The Hon. Rick Colless: It is called the Superb Parrot.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I knew it was something flashy. The Hon. Luke Foley should visit the area and talk to the people down there about the effect of the alienation of the river red gums. As to the delaying of the logging in those two forests, it is probably a much better environmental outcome than leaving them as they are. The rate at which the logging is carried out has a great deal to do with how much damage is done—which is all recoverable—in a forest that is logged. The ecological outcome will be better if the bill is passed unamended. The river red gum and the cypress forest bills were put through at the eleventh hour without a lot of consultation. Some members have referred to the Natural Resources Commission reports but if one were to ask people from that neck of the woods about the scientific work referred to in Mr Williams’ report the feedback would not be good. The locals may not have an understanding of the science of forestry but they have had generations of hands-on forestry management, and they were not really impressed with the science.

I am talking about statements, made by some very good foresters, about the quality of evidence that was forthcoming. They were not enamoured of it either. Seriously, you must overlay that with the fact that there has just been extensive flooding in the area. Unfortunately we continue to have flooding in some of these forests because some clown has to release water from a dam. Why? Because there are not enough dams; there is no air space and they have got to let the water go. They are then called environmental flows. Do members know that if the water is left in the forests too long it can kill them? So the interjection by the Hon. Scot MacDonald about not wanting trucks going into the forests when they are flooded is quite correct; terrible damage will be caused by trying to get into these areas to log them in a very short time frame. If the loggers have choice and can go here or there, and move around a bit, and they have a bit longer to log the forests, there will be a better environmental outcome. That is why we will support the bill unamended.

The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN [6.00 p.m.]: The Greens will not be supporting the National Parks and Wildlife Legislation Amendment (Reservations) Bill 2011 in its entirety. It is interesting to speak immediately following the contribution by the Hon. Robert Brown and to have heard his views on forests. Interestingly, the member did not mention hunting at all—

The Hon. Robert Brown: No need to; we are talking about logging.

19 October 2011

STATE PLANNING SYSTEM

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. Is the Minister aware of the recent criticism made by the Property Council that “development of big projects in New South Wales has ground to a halt because of four months of paralysis in the planning system”? Is it true that the Government’s decision to scrap key parts of the old planning system before finalising the details of its replacement has seen all major projects left in limbo? Has the Government addressed the concerns of the Property Council and has its promised of an alternative system, which was due to come into effect this month, been delivered?

CARBON TAX

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.02 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about the people west of the Dividing Range and the various impacts it seems the carbon tax will have on them, and about which they can do virtually nothing. We all know that in the bush nothing is really close by. People generally need to drive to get anywhere. The reported inclusion of diesel in the tax from 2014 will sit there like a ticking time bomb for everyone in the bush—from the man on the land to the people in the bigger cities and every little country town. Indeed, the New South Wales Shires Association has already called on the Federal Government to offer help to communities where there are job losses as a result of the carbon tax. The association’s president, Ray Donald, has pointed to higher electricity and fuel costs that will put pressure on council budgets.

We all know what happens when council budgets come under pressure. Some staff generally have to go or services are cut. Neither option is very palatable but is now seemingly inevitable. The Shooters and Fishers Party agrees with Mr Donald. The Federal Government, and indeed the State Government, needs to step in and help the councils and the people in rural and regional New South Wales. There was a minor concession in the carbon tax bills when, at the last minute, landfills with emissions of less than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution—I use the word “pollution” advisedly—a year were exempted for at least the first three years of the scheme. Why not make that permanent? Mr Donald also pointed out:

The Government will need to support rural and regional communities where the impacts of the new tax will be felt the most.

Once again, it is the rural and regional communities in New South Wales that are apparently expendable. Then we have the Central West Environment Council, which claims that the carbon tax could help fund a “solar thermal power station at Mudgee”. The council secretary, one Bev Smiles—she is known to many of us—said that such a project could be eligible for renewable energy funding that is part of the tax package. She said it would lead to cheaper electricity and that in the long run “renewable energy will become a much cheaper source of energy”. We all know that right now solar thermal energy is not cost efficient; nor is wind power. I do not know just how far Ms Smiles wants us to run but I do not believe that her long run is anywhere near what anyone can see in 2011.

And what about the impact on food processors, and therefore the cost of food? We know that the Australian Food and Grocery Council has conducted a study that found that “dairy and meat processors will lose almost 10 per cent of their operating profits before tax”. As for farmers, the New South Wales Farmers Association said that, regardless of whether agricultural emissions are capped, farm input costs will be increased by the scheme. Recently I read an article that referred to the average farm return on capital. The figures showed that in many cases the return on capital was either marginal or negative. Farm input costs will be increased by the scheme. It pointed out that the purpose of the carbon tax scheme was to make electricity, fuel and emission intensive products, such as herbicides and chemical fertilisers, more expensive—inputs that the farmer cannot do without—thus creating an incentive to switch to climate-friendly alternatives. Unfortunately, in many cases there are no alternatives. I am afraid that if imposing a bold new tax on Australians is the answer to global warming, perhaps the Federal Government has asked the wrong question.

ANIMAL RIGHTS AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [10.20 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about the concept of animal rights and wildlife conservation. I refer to an interesting position paper by the Wildlife Society, which is based in Maryland in the United States of America. The paper regards science as the framework necessary to understand the natural world and supports the use of science to develop rational and effective methods of wildlife and habitat management and conservation as one of the pillars of the North American model of wildlife conservation. I think we here in Australia should adopt a similar philosophy. The Wildlife Society recognises the intrinsic value of wildlife and the importance of wildlife to humanity. It views wildlife and people as interrelated components of an ecological-cultural-economic complex. The Wildlife Society also supports regulated hunting, trapping and fishing and the right of people to pursue either consumptive or non-consumptive use of wildlife. Let me say—it is a stance fully supported by the Shooters and Fishers Party—however, that I share the society’s concern that foundational elements of the animal rights philosophy contradict the principles that have led to the recognised successes of wildlife management in North America. These are the same animal rights people who seek at various times to impose their own philosophies on us here in Australia.

Although a range of individual philosophies exists within the realm of “animal rights”, most adherents have similar beliefs, including the belief that each animal should be afforded the same basic rights as human beings, animals should not be exploited for human purposes, and every animal has equal status, regardless of commonality or rarity, or whether or not the species is native, exotic, invasive or feral. The broad application of these elements of animal rights philosophy to contemporary issues of wildlife management does not do what the activists think it will. They promote false choices regarding potential human-wildlife relationships and false expectations for wildlife population management. This also erodes the confidence in decades of knowledge gained through scientific exploration of wildlife and their habitats.

On the other hand, we have the philosophy of the Wildlife Society, which focuses on quality of life for a population or species of animals, and does not preclude the management of animal populations or the use of animals for food or other cultural uses as long as it is justified, sustainable and achieved through humane methods. There is also a divergence of views evident in the fact that conservationists, for example, may value the protection of an individually endangered species more than the existence of individual common species. However, the animal rights mob advocates that individuals are viewed as equally valuable and deserving of equal protection. The Wildlife Society also points out that the animal rights viewpoint is silent on the massive land use alterations that would be needed to feed the human population in the absence of consumptive use of animals, and the dramatic continued loss of wildlife that would follow as habitats are converted to and maintained in intensive agriculture.

We know that the Public Trust Doctrine, which is the foundation of many laws protecting wildlife in the United States, is based on the premise that wild animals are a public resource to be held in trust by the Government for the benefit of all citizens. Animal rights activists philosophically oppose this concept and advocate affording legal rights to all animals. The Wildlife Society rightly claims that if the Public Trust Doctrine was voided it would be almost impossible for wildlife professionals to manage endangered species, as well as overabundant, invasive, exotic or ecologically detrimental animal populations. Clearly, the philosophy of animal rights is incompatible with science-based conservation and management of wildlife.

18 October 2011

WIND TURBINES

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and song and dance acts. Can the Minister inform the House how many of approximately 300 wind turbines planned for construction in a 50-kilometre radius around the Yass, Boorowa and Rugby areas are being proposed by Australian-owned companies?

COASTAL PROTECTION LEGISLATION REPEAL

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. Will the Government honour its pre-election commitment to repeal amendments made to the Coastal Protection Act and other legislation by the previous Government in 2010 that introduced onerous requirements for properties predicted to be affected by sea level rises?

RIVERINA EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 15 September 2011 the Hon Robert Borsak asked me representing the Minister for Education a question without notice relating to Riverina education opportunities. The Minister for Education has provided the following response:

Post-school training opportunities are widely promoted in the Riverina region by the Department of Education and Communities’ State Training Services Riverina regional office. Information on training programs is located at the State Training Services’ website at www.training.gov.au.

TAFE NSW—Riverina Institute provides post school education and training opportunities at its campuses located at Deniliquin, Finley, Hay and Leeton.

The number of students undertaking a qualification at Certificate IV and above at those campuses has increased from 195 in 2006 to 411 in 2010—an increase of 111 per cent.

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE STAFFING ARRANGEMENTS

On 13 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Department of Environment and Climate Change staffing arrangements. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

As at 30 June 2010, of the 392 FTE staff in the former Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water with ‘manager’ in their title, 147 of these FTE staff had less than 5 staff reporting to them. This includes 6 FTE staff who had no staff reporting to them.

The staff employed in project manager positions were accountable for the management, coordination and delivery of a diverse range of projects in areas, including but not limited to environmental protection, sustainability, biodiversity, native vegetation, coastal protection and Aboriginal cultural heritage.

RIVER RED GUM NATIONAL PARKS

On 14 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the river red gum national parks. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

The following table shows the expenditure to 14 September 2011 in each of the programs comprising the $97 million River Red Gum package, which is being delivered across four years from 2009/10 to 2012/13 inclusive.

Expenditure Program to 14/9/11 Focus of expenditure ($ million)

Structural adjustment for the timber industry

Business Exit Assistance 25.647
Ex-gratia payments to 21 Crown timber businesses fully exiting the industry, one partial exit, and eight harvest and haulage contractors.
The five remaining Crown timber businesses (one high quality sawlog, one low quality sawlog, three residue) have signed long term wood supply contracts.

Worker Assistance 14.109
Special redundancy payments ($81,360 or part time equivalent) to 177 workers of Crown timber businesses made redundant as a result of the River Red gum decision.
Training allowance to those eligible workers who applied (up to $10,000 per worker).

Structural Improvement Initiatives 4.450
Reliant business assistance ($1.179 million) to eight businesses deemed reliant on exiting Crown timber businesses; industry assistance to the Crump Mill in Mathoura ($1.121 million) to facilitate its expansion; flood assistance ($0.180 million) to the Arbuthnot Mill in Koondrook; and in-kind purchase of additional timber volumes ($1.970 million) for four of the five remaining Crown timber businesses (Arbuthnot, Crump, Gelletly and Strange).

National Park Establishment

Park management—Capital 2.317
Purchase of plant and equipment required for field operations, establishment and fit-out of Moama office, workshop improvements, boundary fencing, visitor signage, road works, visitor facility upgrades and improvements to water regulators.

Park management—operations 3.427
Employment of 33 staff including rangers and field staff. Park management planning (20 statements of interim management intent completed), fire planning (17 bushfire management strategies completed), drafting of a River Red Gum Visitation Strategy, pest management and community and neighbour liaison.

Aboriginal joint management 0.646
Fourteen meetings with working groups for Werai, Millewa and Taroo forests. Establishment of a negotiating team for the Werai traditional owners following a Nation meeting involving over 120 people.

Research and Regulation

Adaptive management 0.720
Preparation and planning for the ecological thinning trial including mapping of canopy condition and tree density in Millewa, establishment of a joint NSW/Victorian Scientific Advisory Committee and development of the experimental design.
Development and management of the first two seasons of the domestic firewood program. Rehabilitation of cypress pine sandridges in Murray Valley National Park. Carp removal in Moira Lakes.

Compliance 0.490
Development of the River Red Gum Integrated Forestry Operations Approval.
Monitoring of Forests NSW compliance with relevant approvals.
Overall coordination of the River Red Gum program across Government and within the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Transitional costs 0.400
Establishment of the Adaptive Management Unit and review of Occupational Permits transferred when tenure was transferred from state forest to national and regional park.

Regional and Community 3.456

The delivery of the first funding round under the $12 million Riverina Development Regional Employment and Community Development Fund, with total funding commitments of $9.48 million.

41 projects have been approved, with 80% of these commenced and one already completed.

The details of projects approved for funding can be found at Environment & Heritage | Project Summaries—2010 Riverina Red Gum Regional Employment & Community Development Fund—Round 1

Murray CMA programs 0.859

Employment of five staff working on natural resource management in the Murray River Red Gum forests. Community water sampling events, environmental monitoring and planning and community
partnerships and remote tracking of native fish during flood events.

Forest Projects and Industry 0.813

The administration and coordination of the timber industry structural Adjustment Unit (DPI) adjustment program within the Department of Primary Industries.
290 applications were processed to determination stage under the structural adjustment sub-programs. $42.236 million in payments were made.

Natural Resources Commission 2.385

Costs for the Riverina Red Gum and South West Cypress forest Assessments assessments.

TOTAL 59.719

14 October 2011

TRUTH IN LABELLING (FREE-RANGE EGGS) BILL 2011

Second Reading

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.04 p.m.]: I will make but a brief contribution to the debate. At the outset I will say something that is probably historic and may never be repeated in this House: We will support The Greens bill. More correctly and more to the point, we will support the bill as amended by the Opposition amendments. First, let me make a couple of things clear. Members of the last Parliament would recall that the Shooters and Fishers Party probably stood as the silent, lone champions of the small egg producers when discussing a matter which the former Parliamentary Secretary referred, the imposition of national standards in New South Wales. At the time I presented to the House some photographic evidence of just how humane those new standards were. If I could give an imperfect example, were the Hon. Walter Secord a chook—gender aside, but a very large chook—he would not be able to stand upright in one of the new standard automated cages. Running beneath his tail end would be the poo conveyer; and above his head, if he were on other than the top layer, would be the underside of the return poo conveyer. That results in chooks with pooey heads—not very nice. Because there are multiple chooks per cage, those chooks are kept in the dark. They have to be, otherwise they peck each other. The guy who goes round to check on the chooks has to carry a torch. He checks on the cages at ground level and those higher up—all with a torch.

I almost had the Hon. Ian Cohen over the line on that one. He was going to lend his voice to support us in the House but in the end he could not do that because, from an ideological point of view, Ian felt that bill either would force the small egg producers out of business or would force the industry more towards open-range and barn-fed chooks. This is not a perfect bill, I am sorry to say to Dr John Kaye. I understand why it is not perfect: the minor parties in this House have a great deal of difficulty trying to put together legislation, particularly legislation that may have far-ranging impacts. However, I think the Opposition’s amendments will perhaps ameliorate some of the shortcomings that we see in the bill. As I said, the Shooters and Fishers Party will support the amended bill.

13 October 2011

The Hon. MICK VEITCH [11.18 a.m.]: I move:

That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow a motion to be moved forthwith that Private Members Business item No. 313 outside the order of precedence relating to Government responses to committee reports be called on forthwith.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.18 a.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party support the motion moved by the Hon. Mick Veitch. As members are probably aware, last year and the year before I was the chair of the Select Committee on Recreational Fishing. The response to the report of that committee was due by June this year. This is a matter of urgency. All committee reports that were current in the last Parliament should be reported on by the Government as quickly as possible.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.24 a.m.]: As I said in my contribution to the urgency debate, in the last Parliament I was chair of the Select Committee on Recreational Fishing. That committee inquiry cost the taxpayers of this State of the order of $277,000. It took over 1,000 submissions, held five or six public hearings around the State and had scores of witnesses at those hearings wanting to express an opinion as stakeholders. I recall that in the last Parliament when the Hon. Duncan Gay was the shadow spokesperson for fisheries and agriculture he and I stood shoulder to shoulder at a number of forums in public places telling the recreational fishers of New South Wales that we understood their disquiet at a lot of things that were going on. Indeed, the then Opposition supported the motion that set up that inquiry.

It behoves the Government to make sure it responds properly to that report, and to all reports. I know there is urging within the fishing community, particularly from the Recreational Fishing Alliance, for the Government’s response to that report to be made as soon as possible. Members will be aware that I have a bill on the Notice Paper that looks at restructuring the representation model for recreational fishers in this State. I was expecting that the formulation of the legislation and the debate could be informed by a response from the Government to the recreational fishing inquiry. I hope that that will now occur. Therefore, I urge all members to support the motion.

Motion as amended agreed to.

 WESTERN RIVERINA NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 9 September 2011 the Hon Robert Borsak asked me a question regarding Western Riverina National Parks. The Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage has provided the following response:

These funds support the delivery of a range of operational activities such as pest animal and weed management, fire management activities and construction and maintenance of visitor infrastructure at these reserves. A significant proportion of National Parks and Wildlife Service [NPWS] expenditure in the Riverina pays the salaries of the staff who work and reside with their families in Riverina towns and communities such as Griffith, Hay, and Balranald. For example, since the purchase of Yanga, NPWS has spent more than $4 million in the Shire of Balranald and more than $5 million in the Shire of Hay, which includes salaries of staff living and working in the Shires.

WIND FARMS

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 13 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question regarding wind farms. The Minister for Resources and Energy has provided the following response:

A Renewable Energy Action Plan will set the direction for renewable energy policy in NSW in consultation with the community.

The Government is committed to developing renewables at the least cost to electricity customers and tax payers.

The Government remains committed to the renewable energy target of 20% by 2020.

12 October 2011

MONARO REGION SHIRE COUNCILS AMALGAMATION

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government. Is the Minister aware of comments made by the member for Monaro suggesting that the Snowy River, Bombala and Cooma-Monaro shire councils would benefit from amalgamation? Does the Government intend to facilitate such an amalgamation by either direct means—that is, by legislation—or by indirect means; for example, economic manipulation through changes to road funding rules?

TOORALE NATIONAL PARK

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 7 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked me, as the representative of the Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage, a question without notice. The Minister has provided the following response:

1. Representatives of the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage have reached in-principle agreement on the preferred outcomes for modification and rehabilitation works for Toorale’s Warrego River infrastructure.

2. The Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities intends to commission further work to model the anticipated water savings associated with the proposed works. This work will inform the joint development of a decommissioning plan for Toorale’s water infrastructure, building on a comprehensive infrastructure audit and a preliminary decommissioning options assessment undertaken in 2009.

3. The water infrastructure audit undertaken at Toorale was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Any requests for a copy of the consultant’s report should be directed to the Commonwealth Government.

PROACTIVE FISHING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.05 p.m.]: Tonight I will speak about the need for fishers, particularly spear fishers, to become politically active and proactive in defending their activities. Last week I spoke at a conference of spear fishers in Brisbane to outline what the Shooters Party—now the Shooters and Fishers Party—has achieved because shooters are forced by various governments to become politically active. Political representation is fundamental to successful continuation and development of all outdoor sporting activities. Hunters, whether underwater or on the ground, who want to harvest their own food and participate in healthy outdoor activities are being stymied by big government bureaucracies driven by green, animal rights agendas and a supposed need to exclude people from public land and waters on the spurious grounds that they need protecting from the very conservation hunters and fishers who are best placed to help conserve these areas.

The Greens rode this wave of enthusiasm, painting themselves as protectors of the environment, when they are in fact social and economic political engineers. We had to become involved in politics as who we are or eventually we would have become extinct. Over the past 16 years the political activities of the Shooters Party—now the Shooters and Fishers Party—has focussed on meeting the requirements of our growing constituency and seeking to promote, educate and mainstream our activities, particularly in New South Wales. It is important for interest groups to know that, unless you are in the Parliament represented by your own members, all sides of the existing major political parties will only ever give you lip-service or, in the case of the Labor-Green coalition, actively oppose you and your activities.

The Shooters and Fishers Party has a proud record in this place. We have introduced or had passed nearly 20 bills in the upper House. Without this direct action, nothing would have been achieved. Even these achievements in the greater scheme of things have been small in themselves, but equally important and vital to our long-term development as politically active shooters and fishers. The Greens and Labor agenda, particularly in New South Wales, has been to progressively shut down access to public land for almost all activities, whether timber harvesting, grazing, hunting or, indeed, anything that involves consumption of a resource or the taking of game.

In New South Wales millions of hectares of public land was alienated and locked up under these programs during 16 years of the Labor-Green alliance. This “successful” Green agenda has been followed on the oceans off coastal New South Wales, with the establishment of six marine lockout areas called marine parks. This was to be followed up by the establishment of another three marine parks, which would have effectively locked up coastal New South Wales from the Victorian border to the Queensland border to any and all productive recreational fishing.

We campaigned actively in 2007 and exposed the New South Wales Labor Government’s plans, effectively scuttling The Greens’ efforts. We also caused the complete failure of the Torn Blue Fringe Report that was to have provided the backdrop for the creation of the greater Sydney Marine Park. We are well aware of the crazy restrictions placed on spear fishers. There is no estuary diving and no off-beach entry with spear guns—they may frighten some poor topless bather.

Our policy is access for all, and that includes marine parks. Recently the O’Farrell Government has been denying us access to national parks for feral animal control. Our agenda also includes sustainable bag limit controlled access for fishers in marine parks and their sanctuary zones. Following similar lines as the Game Council New South Wales, we have given notice of a bill to set up a recreational fishing authority in New South Wales as a self-governing manager of recreational fishing resources for the benefit of fish conservation and recreational fishers. Locked up marine parks are of no benefit to anyone. They are a public resource that should be used for conservation, not just protection.

11 October 2011

OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT STAFFING ARRANGEMENTS

On 24 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Office of Environment staffing arrangements. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

As at 30 June 2011 the Office of Environment and Heritage had 1609 full time equivalent (FTE) staff in regional areas. This represents 49 percent of the total number of employees. Of the 1707 FTE staff in the Sydney Metropolitan region, 515 in National Parks work across a range of geographic areas including but not limited to the Blue Mountains, Bobbin Head and the Royal National Park.

The ratio of frontline positions to backroom positions was 9: 1 with the employment categories of Field Officers, Rangers and Horticulturalists comprising 35 percent of the staff in front line positions.

SYDNEY HARBOUR RECREATIONAL FISHING HAVEN

On 26 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the Sydney Harbour recreational fishing haven. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

In January 2006, the NSW Government put a commercial fishing ban in place in Sydney Harbour as a precautionary measure after test results revealed elevated levels of dioxins in fish and crustaceans. I am advised the levels of contamination across populations of fish are unlikely to have changed since 2006. Many of the fish species are long lived and those populations affected are likely to remain contaminated until a complete turnover of the animals has taken place.

Due to the long lasting nature of chemicals in the environment, it is not appropriate to consider a recreational fishing haven for Sydney Harbour at the present time.

WIND FARMS

On 6 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding wind farms. The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure provided the following response:

1. I have received representations from the Hon. Katrina Hodgkinson MP, in relation to wind farms, on behalf of the Boorowa Disrict Landscape Guardians.

2. I am advised that no data has been presented to support the claim. The Environmental Assessment for the project did not predict any specific number of wedge tail eagle mortalities but noted they may occur.

3. Yes, Wind Farm Guidelines are being prepared and will address this issue along with a range of relevant issues.

BUSHFIRE HAZARD REDUCTION

On 6 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding bushfire hazard reduction. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

1. Like all land managers, the National Parks and Wildlife Service is preparing for the upcoming fire season based on information and advice from NSW Rural Fire Service.

2. 92 hazard reduction burns, totalling 28,536 hectares, have been conducted since 1 April 2011. This is approximately 60 percent of all hazard reduction burns carried out across all NSW land tenures during that time.

COUNCIL RATES

On 8 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government, a question without notice regarding council rates. The Minister for Local Government provided the following response:

I am advised that when the State Government buys rateable property for inclusion in a national park, the relevant council can amend its rating structure to maintain the overall rate income.

I am further advised that there are no mechanisms available within the Local Government portfolio to allow councils to maintain their existing overall rate income without increasing rates on remaining ratepayers.

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE STAFFING ARRANGEMENTS

On 13 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Department of Environment and Climate Change staffing arrangements. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

As at 30 June 2010, of the 392 FTE staff in the former Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water with ‘manager’ in their title, 147 of these FTE staff had less than 5 staff reporting to them. This includes 6 FTE staff who had no staff reporting to them.

The staff employed in project manager positions were accountable for the management, coordination and delivery of a diverse range of projects in areas, including but not limited to environmental protection, sustainability, biodiversity, native vegetation, coastal protection and Aboriginal cultural heritage.

CRONULLA FISHERIES RESEARCH CENTRE

On 16 September 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The main locations that will host additional Fisheries staff are Port Stephens, Nowra, and Coffs Harbour.

SELF-DEFENCE LAWS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.19 p.m.]: If the Shooters and Fishers Party were to disappear tomorrow—heaven forbid—a major legacy it would leave the broader community of New South Wales is a sensible law that allows citizens to defend themselves, particularly in their own homes. For those who may not know, it was the Shooters and Fishers Party founder and our first member in this place, who will celebrate his eightieth birthday in a few weeks, the Hon. John Tingle, who had the laws changed about a decade ago to provide a reasonable and sensible piece of legislation that favours the innocent—the victim. I repeat: reasonable and sensible—Mr Tingle down to a tee.

John brought in the Home Invasion (Occupants Protection) Bill, which was designed to give people a right to self-defence and to have that right guaranteed by Parliament. Then in 2002 the government of the day took that bill and another Shooters and Fishers Party bill, the Workplace (Occupants Protection) Bill, and put them together in the Crimes Amendment (Self-defence) Act. This Act gave a person the right of self-defence or defence of others if they felt threatened or had a reasonable apprehension of fear of a threat, not just in the home but anywhere at all. What John’s bill originally said—sentiments that were carried through to a large degree in amendments to the Crimes Act—was that a person defending themselves or other people may take whatever means available that they believe are appropriate at the time to exercise their self-defence. Importantly, in those pieces of legislation the onus of proof was reversed in the case of an attacker being injured or even killed when a victim is exercising the right of self-defence. That meant that a prosecutor had to prove in court—and still does—that action by a victim which injured an assailant did not seem reasonable to the victim when they were defending themselves. These rights do not apply when defending property but they certainly do apply when defending oneself or other persons.

One of the important safeguards built into the legislation is that a person cannot continue to defend themselves after the breaking off of an attack. They could find themselves facing assault charges if they do. The original legislation put forward by the Hon. John Tingle was sensible and reasonable and was eventually adopted by the government of the day. Interestingly, The Greens opposed those bills. Ms Rhiannon said that the legislation was “particularly dangerous and poorly thought through”. She also objected to the self-defence aspects of it, saying, “The Greens believe it is outrageous that the test is how the defendant perceives the situation rather than an objective assessment of the overall circumstances.” Furthermore, Ms Rhiannon said, “This legislation clearly takes the concept of self-defence too far.” Objective assessment? Takes the concept of self-defence too far, when an assailant is trying to gut, bash, shoot or otherwise injure someone or someone’s loved one? Give me a break. It really proves the point that The Greens are not really the defenders of personal liberties that they claim to be. The Shooters and Fishers Party is proud of its part in having these laws adopted. Mr Tingle made contributions to a couple of others victims of crime laws to boot. And for those who may have raised their eyebrows at my opening statement: No, the Shooters and Fishers Party is not looking to disappear overnight.

8 October 2011

The Sydney Morning Herald has a story quoting Robert Borsak calling Premier Barry O’Farrell “a very lazy Premier”.

16 September 2011

NATIONAL PARK VISITOR NUMBERS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Given that the Government has decided that people can visit a national park for free on World Parks Day this Saturday as New South Wales celebrates the International Year of Forests, and that the Office of Environment and Heritage has organised special events on the day to increase visitations, will the Minister undertake to provide the House with details of how many more people attended the important Dawn Rainforest Yoga and Meditation Classes on the treetop boardwalks of National Park Rainforest Centres in Dorrigo, Minnamurra and Sea Acres?

CRONULLA FISHERIES RESEARCH CENTRE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Given that the Government has decided to relocate the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre to a regional coastal area, will the Minister advise the House which area or areas are being considered?

RETIREMENT OF MS LYNN LOVELOCK, CLERK OF THE PARLIAMENTS AND CLERK OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.04 p.m.]: I shall speak briefly, but I want members to know that brevity has nothing at all to do with the level of respect and friendship my colleagues and I, including my predecessor, the Hon. John Tingle, have for Lynn. She was a good friend to me when I came here in 2006. In fact, I could never really work out the directions John Tingle gave me. He said, “If you want to find out what you can’t do, ask John Evans. But if you want to find out a way to do what you want to do, go and ask Lynn.” I also suspected that one of the reasons I was given such close attention by the Deputy Clerk was that there might have been an instruction to her before I came into the Parliament, “Just keep an eye on this bloke so he doesn’t make a goose of himself.” Lynn, thank you for your friendship. Congratulations on your public service to the people of this State. I wish you well in your retirement. Good luck.

15 September 2011

ANTI-ISRAEL BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS CAMPAIGN

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE (Parliamentary Secretary) [11.10 a.m.]: I move:

That this House:

(a) notes with concern the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against legitimate businesses operating in Australia which provide jobs to hundreds of Australians,

(b) calls on all members to condemn the targeting of Max Brenner Chocolate Cafes by anti-Israel protestors,

(c) notes that some of the rhetoric used by proponents of the BDS campaign has descended into anti-Semitism, and

(d) condemns anti-Semitism in all its forms.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [12.15 p.m.]: As time is limited I simply place on record that the Shooters and Fishers Party totally supports the motion. For both personal and policy reasons, we think it is a good motion and we will be voting for it.

EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS IN RIVERINA TOWNS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Education. Is it true that the Natural Resources Commission report on the river red gum forests contained an appendix on educational attainment in the Riverina region of New South Wales showing that none of the seven largest towns in the area had more than 15 per cent of residents who had achieved a post-school education compared with more than 50 per cent in the general population? Given that the declaration of these parks has resulted in the closure of a raft of viable sawmills and several hundred people being thrown out of work—

Money does not buy education. I ask: What has the Government done to improve post-school qualification opportunities for people in this area?

BULAHDELAH LIONS PARK

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Can the Minister confirm that the Roads and Traffic Authority has received a request from the Great Lakes Council for several hundred thousand dollars to reinstate and improve the Bulahdelah Lions Park, which is located on the southern side of Myall River directly opposite the town centre? Given the likely impact on tourism and through-traffic for Bulahdelah as a result of the soon to be completed Pacific Highway bypass, can the Minister advise the House whether the Roads and Traffic Authority will provide the funding to the Great Lakes Council to reinstate and improve this important tourist attraction for the town of Bulahdelah?

TARGET SHOOTING AS SCHOOL SPORT

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.30 p.m.]: Tonight I will discuss the reasons that the Shooters and Fishers Party’s advocates target shooting as a school sport and its introduction into as many schools as are prepared to make the offer to their students. While some uninformed critics railed against the idea when we first put it forward, it may come as a surprise to them that shooting is already available as an elective sport in a number of schools across the State, mainly in regional areas.

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: And it’s a good sport too.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: It is a good sport. Here in the city, Sydney Boys High School introduced shooting as a school sport in 1883 and it has continued ever since. The Shooters and Fishers Party also rejects the critics who imply that “children will be inculcated with an American gun culture”. If we are successful in changing the administrative procedures that a school must follow when adopting target shooting as a sport, then nothing could be further from the truth. Shooting is a sport that inculcates responsibility and discipline and in fact teaches a culture of the safe use of firearms. The future of shooting sports—as with virtually all sports—depends on our ability to educate and encourage young people to participate. The Shooters and Fishers Party want to see as many junior programs running as possible.

At the moment schools wanting to introduce target shooting as a sport face several hurdles, including the development of specific guidelines that must be approved by the principal of the school, the regional director and the Minister for Education. We think the best way to remove some of those hurdles is to include a set of guidelines for the conduct of target shooting as a school sport within the Department of Education’s Guidelines for the Safe Conduct of Sport and Physical Activity in Schools. The guidelines are available on the department’s website. They provide guidance for teachers and principals wishing to introduce a particular sport into their school. Target shooting would simply be another sport to offer.

The guidelines reduce the workload of the Department of Education by removing the need to liaise with each individual school wishing to introduce a new sport while at the same time ensuring that minimum standards are followed in each school. They set standards on such matters as supervision of students, provision of suitable equipment and its maintenance, and any other safety or legal issues relevant to that sport. Currently there are no guidelines for target shooting included in that document.

All schools wishing to offer target shooting as a sport are obliged to make specific application to the department’s regional director. My colleague Robert Brown and I have been approached by a number of shooting clubs in contact with schools that are interested in conducting target shooting as a sport. In 2008 my predecessor, the late Hon. Roy Smith, approached the then Minister for Education, Ms Verity Firth, regarding the inclusion of target shooting in the guidelines. It is a fact that draft guidelines for target shooting were negotiated with the department. It seemed that the way was being cleared to allow more schools to offer target shooting as a sport. However, last-minute political interference led to the insertion into the draft guidelines of requirements that did not apply to any other sport, and the proposal became mired in even more red tape than previously.

It seems that after initially supporting the thrust of our argument the previous Government suddenly lost the political will to introduce target shooting, and so the matter was dropped—but it has not been forgotten.

Indeed, we have raised it again with the current Government. In the meantime we have a bill before the Legislative Council that proposes amendments to the Firearms Act to allow persons under 18 to shoot air-rifles under supervision at approved ranges. The amendments would also remove the need to register air rifles owned by a person holding a category A firearms licence.

Air rifles are a good way of introducing youngsters to shooting. Parliament passing those amendments could make it easier for clubs to work with local schools to provide opportunities for shooting as a school sport. There are a number of schools—particularly in rural and regional areas—that already provide shooting as a sports option. There are many others that are keen to do so. We hope to negotiate a sensible set of guidelines to allow this Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport in schools so that we can continue to showcase the best of Australia’s target shooters.

14 September 2011

RIVER RED GUM NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. When the previous Labor Government unilaterally declared the river red gum national parks last year, it provided a $97 million management and industry assistance package, which was to have facilitated an orderly withdrawal from the industry by those workers and businesses that had lost their jobs and their livelihoods. Will the Minister provide the latest available figures on how and where thus far the money in that assistance package has been distributed?

13 September 2011

RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGETS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is it the fact that the Premier last month publicly expressed a personal view that he would “prefer that no more wind farms were approved”? Is the Government now considering ways in which it can meet its renewable energy targets without further wind farms?

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE STAFF

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Of the 392 full-time equivalent positions within the former Department of Environment and Climate Change with the title “manager” and “project manager”, how many had fewer than five staff reporting to them? How many managers and project managers have no staff reporting to them? In respect to project managers, will the Minister inform the House of the details of the projects they managed?

NATIONAL PARK MANAGEMENT

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.24 p.m.]: I speak tonight about national parks in New South Wales. The Shooters and Fishers Party has asked a number of questions in this place in recent weeks, specifically about national parks, and the answers we are receiving are illuminating and quite good. One of the issues local councils tend to raise when a new national park is declared is the loss of rates from that land. We asked about this issue with particular reference to western Riverina national parks. The Minister for Finance and Services provided the following response from the Minister for the Environment:

I am advised that the Riverina and the Murray Regional Organisation of Councils have not lost any rateable income as a result of the creation of National Parks in the region…

Councils are limited to an overall income derived each year from rates and charges. This amount is not affected when a national park is created.

A council can amend its rating structure to ensure its overall rate income, levied on remaining ratepayers, remains the same.

This seems to indicate that for the past 16 years, during the mad rush by previous Labor governments to create national parks, they have expected local councils simply to jack up the rates imposed on other ratepayers in that local government area to cover the lost rates. That is not on. The Shooters and Fishers Party believes that if governments want to take rateable land for national parks they should also make a commitment to keep paying lost rates to the council. We have also asked about what other properties have been included in western Riverina national parks in the past decade—apart from the six that we named in the House. Again, the answer was revealing.

Apparently, three other property acquisitions have occurred in the western Riverina: Part of Geramy was purchased in 2009 as an addition to the existing Lachlan Valley State Conservation Area; part of Kieeta was purchased in 2010 as an addition to Yanga National Park; and Hunthawang was purchased in 2010 as an addition to the Lachlan Valley State Conservation Area. Acquisition costs for the nine properties total $35.18 million and the size of the purchased properties retained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service totals 136,845 hectares. The operational cost, including capital outlays for the purchased properties from 2001 to date—approximately 10 years—is almost $19 million

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: I bet they are still full of feral animals.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Absolutely. These figures indicate that there is something seriously wrong within the National Parks and Wildlife Service. We estimate that management of national park estates across New South Wales costs taxpayers in excess of $40 a hectare—twice the cost of State forests, and I am referring to gross costs. The Shooters and Fishers Party calls for a full inquiry into public land management across the State. We believe there are better ways to manage land than the current method used by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. People who must live with national parks in rural and regional areas also agree that the management of these lands can and should be more efficient and cost effective.

FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF AGRICULTURAL LAND

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.33 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land. Recently in this place the Shooters and Fishers Party asked whether the Government could reveal details of foreign ownership in New South Wales. However, we were told that it is a Federal issue. Fortunately, just last Friday, the Federal Government revealed the results of a one-off survey commissioned last December by Federal Treasury in response to rising public concerns that Australia was undermining its future food security by “selling the farm” to offshore interests. The results are interesting, to say the least. If the results are not a wake-up call to the Federal Government to keep a watch on the situation, it is simply not paying attention.

The first investigation into levels of foreign ownership of Australian agricultural assets in 27 years showed clearly that 11 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land—an area twice the size of Victoria—and 9 per cent of its water entitlements are either partially or fully owned by foreign investors. An area of land twice the size of Victoria, or 11 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land, involves over 45 million hectares. It is even more serious for water, which is the building block on which this nation survives or disappears. Our pioneers went through booms and busts—all associated with water or the lack of it. Nine per cent of water entitlements owned by offshore interests is equal to about twice the volume of Sydney Harbour in fresh water for agricultural use each year. Have we learned nothing in 230-odd years? The entire country is founded on water. Why would we sell it off to another country?

It is certain that interest from offshore investors to buy out Australian agribusinesses will increase as the world’s population grows to over nine billion in the next few decades. Of great concern to all of us at the moment is that there has been a tenfold increase in foreign investment in ownership and control of agricultural supply lines in Australia in the past three years. Does anyone really think that the food grown in Australia by foreign interests will be used to feed Australians? Those countries are looking after the food needs of their people into the future. However, we seem happy to sit here and watch it sail over the horizon.

It is time that the Federal Government seriously looked at the foreign investment rules, which do not appear to address food security for Australia, nor do they protect agricultural communities from foreign control. It is not surprising that the survey shows that the industry group with the highest level of foreign ownership of both agricultural land and water entitlements is the sheep, beef cattle and grain farming group. These are the staples of Australia’s way of life. The response by the Federal Minister to the issue has not been encouraging. Mr Shorten says:

There’s going to be legitimate anxieties about this in the future, but the snapshot of the present shows we have not sold the farm, or the land, or the water.

I am glad he can see that concerns about this issue are legitimate. I just wish he would think they were legitimate enough to do something about them now. If Australians went to other food-producing countries, what do you think would be their chance of buying farms there? I suggest very little to none. This seems to be an Australian peculiarity. I will round out the figures. The Northern Territory has 24 per cent of farming land in some form of foreign ownership. Almost 12 per cent of Queensland’s agricultural land is owned by foreigners. In Western Australia 31 per cent of water entitlements for agricultural purposes are foreign-owned. In New South Wales foreign investors are involved in over 1.5 million hectares of farmland.

Calls for tighter curbs on foreign investment follow Chinese mining companies buying 43 farms near Gunnedah recently. We support those calls and, indeed, would prefer Australian land to be leased rather than sold to overseas interests. The Shooters and Fishers Party calls on both sides of politics, particularly The Nationals, to take stock of the situation and to do the right thing by all Australians. In the end, if we cannot feed ourselves, will anyone else do it for us?

9 September 2011

FIREARMS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011
Second Reading

Debate called on and adjourned on motion by the Hon. Paul Green, on behalf of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile.

NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Will the Minister provide a breakdown of the $18.479 million in operational expenses incurred in managing the nine western Riverina properties that have been included in national parks since 2001?

8 September 2011

SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE KOORAGANG ISLAND ORICA CHEMICAL LEAK

Chair and Deputy Chair

The PRESIDENT: I inform the House that at a meeting held on 7 September 2011, the Hon. Robert Borsak was elected Chair and the Hon. Cate Faehrmann was elected Deputy Chair of the Select Committee on the Kooragang Island Orica Chemical Leak.

CONDUCT OF BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [11.44 a.m.]: I move:

That the President leave the chair at midday, thereby suspending the business of the House until the ringing of a long bell at 2.30 p.m. to allow parliamentary staff and members to attend the stop-work meeting and protest rally organised to commence at 11.30 a.m.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.50 a.m.]: I just hope that members of this House will remember this the next time that the Shooters and Fishers Party have 87,000 people outside Parliament in Macquarie Street.

Dr John Kaye: Eighty-seven thousand?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes, 87,000, my friend, in 1996. And the crowd at the 1987 rally was even larger than that. I hope that when that occasion arises, this House similarly will allow the very many members of staff and members of the House who are licensed firearm owners to participate in that rally.

LOCAL COUNCIL RATING STRUCTURE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government and follows on from an answer provided by the Minister for the Environment. Is it a fact that when State Government buys rateable property for inclusion in the national park the relevant local council is expected to amend its rating structure to ensure that its overall rate income levied on remaining ratepayers remains the same? Are there any State Government funded mechanisms available to local government to maintain their existing overall rate income without increasing rates on remaining individual ratepayers?

7 September 2011

TOORALE NATIONAL PARK

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is it a fact that Commonwealth and State governments have reached agreement on preferred outcomes for each of Toorale’s Warrego River infrastructure works? Can the Minister inform the House what decisions have been made in that regard? Will the Minister release the consultant’s report, which analysed options for Toorale’s water infrastructure?

6 September 2011

WIND FARMS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Has the Minister received a letter from theBoorowa District Landscape Guardians group in relation to wind farms? Is it true that at a Cullerin wind farm wedge-tailed eagle mortalities caused by turbine blades have exceeded the environmental impact statement that was accepted by the Department of Planning by 500 per cent? Will the Coalition Government stand by assurances given to its supporters before the March election that it will “protect constituents from inappropriately sited wind turbines in rural areas”?

HAZARD REDUCTION BURNS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment.

The Hon. Trevor Khan: Good haircut!

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Thanks. I go to the same barber as the President. Is the Minister aware that the Rural Fire Service chiefs are expressing concern that high fuel loads are catching landholders and public land managers off guard? Will the Minister inform the House how many hazard reduction burns have been conducted on National Park Estate since the end of March 2011 and the total area treated in that period?

FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF RURAL LAND

On 2 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding foreign ownership of rural land. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

Acquisition of Australian agricultural land by foreign interests is a Federal issue.

Land title registers do not record the extent of companies with an interest in agricultural lands.

FOREST PROTESTS

On 3 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding forest protests. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

I am well aware that protests directed at Australian timber harvesting occur from time to time and that the majority of these protests take place peacefully and without incident even when they occur near to forest harvesting sites. However, a number of protests over the years have intimidated affected forest workers and also have become cause for strong workplace safety concerns.

The Government will continue to support forest workers and contractors in carrying out their legitimate business activities in a safe manner.

CARBON TAX AND POWER STATIONS

On 5 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding the carbon tax and power stations. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

NSW remains particularly vulnerable to the devastating impacts of the Commonwealth’s proposed carbon tax arrangements.

Neither power station is eligible for assistance or compensation.

TOORALE NATIONAL PARK

On 5 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding Toorale National Park. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

  1. $31,010 has been spent at Toorale on signage to assist guide visitors to discover the park, since acquiring the property in late 2008.
  2. These are entry, safety and park management signs.
  3. Representatives of the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage have reached agreement on the preferred outcomes for each of Toorale’s Warrego River infrastructure works. This agreement follows the completion of a consultant’s report which analysed options in relation to Toorale’s water infrastructure.

BOOLIGAL STATION

On 10 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding Booligal Station. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. No.

WESTERN RIVERINA NATIONAL PARKS

On 11 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government, a question without notice regarding western Riverina national parks. The Minister for Local Government provided the following response:

I am advised that the Riverina and the Murray Regional Organisation of Councils have not lost any rateable income as a result of the creation of national parks in the region.

Councils are limited to an overall income derived each year from rates and charges. This amount is not affected when a national park is created. A council can amend its rating structure to ensure its overall rate income, levied on remaining ratepayers, remains the same.

In regard to benefits, the Member may wish to review a study undertaken in 2006 for the then Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water regarding the Economic benefits of national parks and other reserves in New South Wales, which is available on the website of the Office of the Environment and Heritage.

WESTERN RIVERINA NATIONAL PARKS

On 12 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding western Riverina national parks. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

1. Yes.

2. Three other property acquisitions have occurred in the western Riverina;

a. Part of Geramy was purchased in 2009 as an addition of the existing Lachlan Valley State Conservation Area.

b. Part of Kieeta was purchased in 2010 as an addition to Yanga National Park, and

c. Hunthawang was purchased in 2010 as an addition to the Lachlan Valley State Conservation Area.

3. Acquisition costs for the nine properties total $35.18M (net i.e. purchase price less on-sold component) and the size of the purchased properties retained by NPWS totals 136,845ha.

Many of these properties were purchased utilising funding arrangements associated with the Commonwealth Government’s Caring for our Country National Reserve System fund and the Riverine Environment Restoration program. In all, the Commonwealth paid $9.31M towards the properties listed above.

Operational expenses including capital outlays for the purchased properties from 2001 to date is $18.479M.

NATIONAL PARK VISITOR PASSES

On 12 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding national park visitor passes. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

1. The estimated number of Annual Passes sold by year were:

Financial Year Estimated number of Annual Passes sold
2006-7 66,767
2007-8 89,604
2008-9 92,294
2009-10 95,810
2010-11 91,748

2. The estimated number of day passes sold by year were:

Financial Year Estimated number of day tickets sold
2006-7 657,936
2007-8 693,169
2008-9 749,186
2009-10 904,432
2010-11 802,233

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE STAFFING ARRANGEMENTS

On 23 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Department of Environment and Climate Change staffing arrangements. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

As at 30 June 2010 the former Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water employed 4,321 full time equivalent (FTE) staff. 392 FTE staff held positions with ‘manager’ in the title and they had between 0 and 20 FTE staff, with a median of 5 FTE staff, reporting to them.

NATIVE VEGETATION LEGISLATION

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.37 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about the urgent need to reform native vegetation legislation in New South Wales. Property owners who fall foul of this legislation feel put upon because they consider it to contain unfair and/or unjust provisions about what they can and cannot do on their own land—I emphasise “on their own land”. The NSW Farmers Association has been working hard to find the right balance of legislative amendments, and the member for Northern Tablelands in the other place has also been proactive in this area. For nearly 20 years this State has had a seemingly endless process of implementing native vegetation controls on private land. To say the least, this has been an expensive and divisive process. We have seen situations where restructured environmental and natural resource agencies have taken different approaches to the same issues over time. At the same time, planning departments, shires and various councils have developed their own clearing controls—for example, wildlife corridor zones and ordinances—which override the Native Vegetation Act exemptions. Put simply, for nearly two decades there has been a lack of coordination between the various bureaucracies on how to implement aspects of biodiversity policy on farmland or, even worse, no genuine attempt to sort out the mess. It is time that this changed.

The O’Farrell Government swept to power on a promise to get this State going again. Let it start with reforming the native vegetation legislation, and let us get it right once and for all. The Government will have the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party in this Chamber if it brings forward comprehensive reforming legislation of its own or if it supports such legislation put forward by the member for Northern Tablelands in the other place. As an example of the difficulties with this legislation, I refer to a letter from a constituent in the Tamworth area whose problems are apparently not unique.

He claims that he is being unfairly and unjustly prosecuted by the now Department of Environment and Heritage in relation to the clearing of native vegetation between 2004 and 2006. When he bought the property in 2003 it was overrun with noxious weeds—blackberry and nodding thistle, regrowth timber and old windrows from clearing over the previous 50 years. In 2008 departmental officials demanded access to the property, apparently suggesting they could “make things difficult” if they were not allowed onto his land.

In March 2010 the owner was advised by the Regional Manager of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water in Armidale that “alleged offences under the Native Vegetation Act prior to December 2006 were not being enforced because satellite imagery of vegetation removed was not conclusive”. However, despite that advice, the department has since been pursuing the family and placed a remediation order on the property in May this year. The order prevents the use of 31 hectares of land for a minimum of 10 years. The land has had to be fenced to control noxious weeds and feral animals and it has to be maintained for an unlimited time without vehicular or machinery access. What an absolute joke! While unable to use the land, the owner still has to pay the council and Livestock Health and Pest Authority rates.

I am told that the land in question was selectively cleared, leaving areas of remnant vegetation and shade and shelter belts, and that it did not interfere with the riparian zones. Apparently, aerial photos dating back to 1953 show that the property has been continually cleared and improved in a manner sympathetic to normal conservation practices—which is what most farmers do. The current owners believe they should be exempt from prosecution under the routine agricultural management practice policy, which they say they followed. Furthermore, catchment management staff who visited the property observed no environmental damage due to the farmer’s management practices. It is cases such as this that show the urgent need for native vegetation legislation reform.

26 August 2011

CARBON TAX

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE [10.46 a.m.]: I move:

      That, under Standing Order 52, there be laid upon the table of the House within 14 days of the date of passing of this resolution all documents created since 10 July 2011 in the possession, custody or control of the Premier, the Treasurer, the Minister for Finance and Services, the Minister for Transport, the Minister for the Environment, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury, the Department of Finance and Services or the Department of Transport relating to the assessment of the impact of the Federal Government’s proposed carbon price legislation including:
      (a) any document relating or referring to the impact on public transport costs and fares,
      (b) any document relating or referring to modelling of potential impact of carbon pricing on public transport costs and fares,
      (c) any correspondence between the Minister for Transport and the Department of Transport and/or the Premier, the Treasurer and/or the Minister for Finance and Services and/or the Minister for the Environment in relation to transport costs and fares, and
      (d) any document which records or refers to the production of documents as a result of this order of the House.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.59 a.m.]: I place on record that the Shooters and Fishers Party will support the motion, not necessarily because if we did not say anything we would be accused of being cowards but because, in our view, the carbon tax is positively canine and the Government deserves the opportunity to put all the information in the public domain that will prove it is a dog. We will assist the Government to do that, even if it means supporting the Opposition’s motion.

SYDNEY HARBOUR RECREATIONAL FISHING HAVEN

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Given that commercial fishing has been banned in Sydney Harbour for a number of years now, and given the remarkable increase in the biodiversity in the harbour, will the Minister move immediately to declare Sydney Harbour and its estuaries a recreational fishing haven?

SHOOTERS AND FISHERS PARTY MEMBERS

The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: My question is directed to the Acting Leader of the Government, the Hon. Duncan Gay. Does the Acting Leader of the Government endorse the Premier’s scathing attack earlier today on the integrity of the Hon. Robert Brown and the Hon. Robert Borsak?

GRAFFITI LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

The PRESIDENT: I report the receipt of the following message from the Legislative Assembly:

        MR PRESIDENT
        The Legislative Assembly, having considered the message dated 25 August 2011 in which the Legislative Council requested the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly with amendments to the Graffiti Legislation Amendment Bill, informs the Legislative Council that the Legislative Assembly disagrees with the proposed amendments because:
        1. The amendments would allow first time young offenders to avoid going before a court. This is inconsistent with the NSW Liberals and Nationals election commitment to ensure that juvenile graffiti offenders be brought before the court.
        2. The amendments would remove sanctions on drivers licences, which would undermine one of the key purposes of the Bill, which is to provide increased sentencing options for courts that reflect the serious nature of the offence.
        3. The amendments seek to trivialise what the community regards as a very serious issue. Requiring juveniles to appear before a court and increasing sentencing options in relation to graffiti offences constitute essential components of the Government’s approach to combating graffiti which was overwhelmingly endorsed by the community at the 26 March 2011 election.

Consideration of message set down as an order of the day for a future day.

COALMINING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.25 p.m.]: I wish to draw to the attention of the House the value of coalmining to this State and to point out just what impact the Green’s desire to ban coalmining will have. It is obvious to everyone that mining brings significant economic benefit and employment opportunities, particularly to people who live in regional and rural areas of New South Wales. If the New South Wales Government were to follow The Greens’ proposal of a blanket ban on coalmining, there would be significant consequences both at a national and State level. Indeed, I am advised that such a ban on mining would result in the loss of more than $11 billion a year in foreign exchange, the loss of more than 16,000 direct jobs and, even worse, the loss of approximately 60,000 indirect jobs, which are based mostly in rural areas. Effectively it would signal the end of a reliable electricity supply in New South Wales and would result in the loss of more than $1 billion a year in royalties paid to the Government, which in turn are used to fund hospitals, schools and roads.

In addition to all those outcomes, a Greens ban on coalmining also would result in immediate and considerable increases in electricity prices paid by the people of New South Wales as well as the loss of industries that depend on reliable energy. I do not know what part of all those outcomes The Greens do not understand. They say that coal can be replaced by renewable energy. That is all very well in theory, but in reality other sources of energy are not an economically competitive tool at all. The Greens want us to switch to wind power, solar energy, or geothermal energy. Earlier this month I noticed the $16 million project to use hot aquifers as a power source for the University of Western Australia collapsed because it could not attract a single investor. That was touted as the nation’s first commercial hydrothermal powered air-conditioning and heating project. What The Greens do not tell people is that that alternative form of energy is still in the development stage.

All the alternatives I have mentioned are much more expensive than coal. Let me use the Federal Government’s own Productivity Commission figures on the cost of power generation in 2010. Coal-fired power stations cost $79 per kilowatt hour. Gas fired power stations cost $97 for the same kilowatt hour. Wind farm power generation costs $1,502 per kilowatt hour, which is 19 times more expensive than coal. And cop this—solar power cost is $4,004 per kilowatt hour, which is 50 times the cost of coal-generated power. Coal gives Australia its competitive advantage. It is a source of cheap power that can be used to drive industry—the industries that we have left, anyway, those that The Greens have not yet closed down or forced to operate offshore.

As if wanting to close down coalmining is not enough, The Greens are the architects of the Federal Government’s carbon tax. I was greatly interested in the attempt recently by Dr Kaye in this House to convince everyone that the tax would be “good for them”. I, for one, am not convinced. I was not surprised to hear The Greens totally reject the projections put forward by the New South Wales Treasury about the impact of the carbon tax on this State. The rejection was based on The Greens not agreeing with the findings—in the same way they reject anything they had not thought of first. Treasury found that New South Wales will be hardest hit by the carbon tax. It will cost at least 31,000 jobs, and that will occur mainly in regional areas. For example, in the Hunter region, 1,850 jobs will go. In the Central West, another 1,000 jobs will go. I defy The Greens to go out to the bush and tell those about-to-be-unemployed people just how good the carbon tax will be for them. I also include comments here by the Federal Minister for Climate Change, Mr Combet, who, with a straight face, said in defence of the carbon tax:

      Federal Treasury modelling (of the carbon tax impact) shows an extra 1.6 million jobs being created nationwide in the next eight years.

I would like to know from someone—anyone: In the next eight years under this Australian carbon tax, what difference will there be in the world temperature? Until someone can give me that figure I remain convinced the carbon tax is yet another dream of The Greens. But it is frightening for our country because The Greens control the Senate, which means they can get the compliant Federal Government to do their bidding.

Greens MLC issued a press release as follows:

MEDIA RELEASE   26 August 2011

Coalition and Shooters fall out and NSW benefits

The Coalition has lost a series of key votes in the NSW Upper House due to the Shooters party effectively going on strike.  Yesterday, in a day the government would rather forget they have been forced to have an upper house inquiry into the Orica chemical spill, to produce sensitive documents on that spill and accept significant amendments to their transport and graffiti legislation.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said:

“There looks to have been a bit of a lover’s tiff between the Shooters party and the Coalition government.

“On issues ranging from an inquiry into the Orica spill to amendments on graffiti and transport legislation the Shooters voted with the Opposition and Greens to defeat the government.

“Remarkably, despite the importance of the issues, neither of the Shooters MPs made a single contribution in any of the debates.

“This looks to be more a case of muscling up by the Shooters Party than a genuine response to the issues before the Parliament.

“Given the track record of the Shooters to trade votes on government legislation in return for looser gun controls, the question is what are the Shooters’ secret demands?

“The amendments on the transport legislation protected some workers’ rights and the amendments on the harsh graffiti laws meant they only apply to second and subsequent offences.

“While the Greens welcome the outcome of the day’s votes, we expect that once the Shooters squeeze the government for concessions on gun laws, they will patch up their lover’s tiff and snuggle happily back into the arms of Mr O’Farrell,” Mr Shoebridge said.

25 August 2011

ORICA PLANT INCIDENT

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.39 a.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party will support the Leader of the Opposition’s motion as amended by leave. Our support of this inquiry does not in any way impugn the ability or the reputation of Mr O’Reilly to carry out a thorough—though, of necessity, hurried—inquiry. We are pleased that the Opposition was prepared to support the inquiry by amending the original motion.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [11.45 a.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party will not support The Greens amendment moved by the Hon. Cate Faehrmann. The inquiry proposed by the Opposition is meant to be targeted, and its purpose is to get answers for the citizens of Stockton as to what happened and why it happened. What The Greens are seeking, though commendable, is more within the purview of a General Purpose Standing Committee investigation, or in fact part of the governmental process of departmental review.

WIND FARMS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is it a fact that the previous Labor Government removed wind turbine noise from the New South Wales industrial noise policy and the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997? If so, will the O’Farrell Government reinstate industrial wind turbine noise in accordance with the policy and the Act?

TRANSPORT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

 Labor amendments were supported and carried in Committee. Greens amendments were not supported (although supported by Labor) and failed to pass.

GRAFFITI LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

Greens and Labor amendments were supported and carried in Committee.

24 August 2011

OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT EMPLOYEE POSITIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. How many employees of the Office of Environment work in regional areas? What proportion is this of the total number of employees and what is the ratio within the Office of Environment of front-line field, horticultural and ranger categories in relation to policy advisers and other backroom positions?

OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT EMPLOYEE POSITIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. How many policy officers are working towards the formation of strategies to achieve biodiversity goals under the Government’s biodiversity strategy in the Office of Environment? How many staff are involved in each of the following activities: providing policy and legal advice, guideline development, auditing, enforcement and compliance, science input and reform, conservation assessment and planning, and monitoring and reporting to protect native vegetation?

23 August 2011

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. How many employees were there in the former Department of Environment and Climate Change as at 30 June 2010? How many of those employees had the title “manager” and how many people reported to each of these individual managers?

12 August 2011

MARRICKVILLE COUNCIL INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE [11.03 a.m.]: I move:

(1) That this House notes that:

(a) Marrickville Council has a proud tradition of supporting day labour for its garbage, recycling and green waste services,

(b) Marrickville Council is currently proposing to tender out its green waste services,

(c) Marrickville Council staff affected by this decision recently held a stop work meeting to protest against proposed tendering out of green waste services and related loss of workers entitlements and job losses,

(d) Marrickville Council staff elected to take industrial action and withdraw their labour for a 24 hour period and, in response to this action, Marrickville Council immediately brought in prearranged contract labour to carry out Council’s resource and waste recovery services, and

(e) this action to use contracted labour was sanctioned by the Greens Mayor of Marrickville Council.

(2) That this House condemns the use of contract labour to undermine the rights of workers.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [11.12 a.m.]: I am pleased to add my support and congratulate the Hon. Penny Sharpe for bringing forward this very important motion. I am of the firm belief that if you want to convince someone of your argument you need to be short and sharp. In the brief time that I have been a member of this House I have had the unfortunate privilege of sitting here and listening to the constant bleating of the Woollahra Green and their new dear leader, where they attempt constantly to stand up, one after another, to defend the rights of workers. As I pointed out in a speech on the adjournment last Friday—

The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: What do you hold shares in?

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I acknowledge that interjection. How can I own shares in Marrickville Council? The Greens behave in this place as though they are somehow more virtuous than anyone else and claim that they are the workers’ friends. Over two months ago we all listened to approximately 12 hours of regurgitated waffle from the Woollahra Green and our dear leader purporting to be the workers’ friends—12 hours.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: The reality is that early last month Marrickville Council, which is run by that apparent expert on Middle Eastern affairs Greens Mayor Fiona Byrne and her Greens councillors, pulled off a stunt that would not have been out of place on the waterfront a few years ago. Watching what happened at Marrickville Council was like watching a replay of the waterfront dispute, but this time The Greens were in charge of crushing workers. The Greens cannot be the workers’ friends but they pretend that they are. Marrickville Council showed its true colours. It is not only the workers The Greens pretend to be friends with; they also claim to be farmers’ friends. But what they really want to do is stop farmers growing sheep and cattle because of their methane output. Then again, they do not want us culling kangaroos to eat, because they are on the coat of arms.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: The Greens do not like dairy farmers because they use too much water. They do not want anyone growing crops such as rice or cotton by irrigation because that also uses water. They do not like hardworking coalminers because they produce nasty, dirty coal that makes dirty electricity, which no doubt The Greens also use to heat and cool their homes and cook their food, like everyone else. The Greens are so far up on the high moral ground it is a wonder they do not get nosebleed—that is if they actually have blood like the rest of us mere mortals. The date of 7 July 2011 will be remembered as the day The Greens went from being greenies to noxious weeds.

We all know the council’s garbos and recyclers who were taking legitimate strike action over serious industrial problems at Marrickville Council were stealthily replaced by outside labour. As I understand it, over the past four years, under the watchful eyes of The Greens, the council has introduced about 15,000 green waste bins without proper consultation with the workers. It seems they simply introduced the bins in the hope that the green waste fairy would find a magical way of disposing of the waste. They forgot to introduce any new structures, new trucks or equipment to collect it. The garbos have been struggling with the increased workload and the lack of council investment in new equipment and when they said, “Enough is enough”, they took the only action left to them and went on strike.

The council knew they were going to take strike action and one would have thought The Greens, being the champions of the workers, would have been out there trying to negotiate a resolution.

The day before the strike took place the council’s general manager, supported by senior management, The Greens and Mayor Byrne, told the workers’ union that the green waste collections and contract was going to be advertised in the newspaper on the weekend—no consultation by the workers’ champions; just a blunt instrument response, which I am told was in breach of the industry award. The workers saw that response as a provocative and well-planned operation to bust them and their union, aided and abetted by The Greens councillors. What was the mayor’s response to that? She washed her hands and said:

It is not our problem—that is between the General Manager and his staff … it’s an operational matter.

A Greens-led council hiding behind its general manager and, when questioned about it, hiding behind the weak and lily-livered excuse that it was an operational matter between the staff and general manager. What have The Greens hypocrites done to date about the general manager, his anti-worker policy and disgraceful action in bringing in contract labour to do the work of striking workers? The noxious weeds rewarded him with a pay rise.

The Hon. Sophie Cotsis: How much more?

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I do not know. These Greens hypocrites talk the talk but when it comes to walking the walk they have dismally failed. They have been caught out by the very people they purport to represent.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: Is it any wonder that some in Marrickville consider the actions taken by the council against the garbos and recyclers on 7 July as the day The Greens became the noxious weeds. They believe The Greens are more concerned about human rights in Palestine than workers’ rights in Marrickville. The Greens say they are the workers’ friend, but that claim has certainly been blown apart in Marrickville. What did The Greens-controlled council do when it had the chance to stand up and support the workers of Marrickville? It employed scab labourers, who were hiding in some hall down the street. It gave them the keys to the trucks and sent them out to undermine the striking workers. I am told that if any hired scab labourer refused to do what they were told they were threatened with hefty fines.

Was there consultation? No, escalation! The council continues to hide behind the general manager. I am informed the council has been running the workers down, bagging Graeme Kelly and the United Services Union and that it will not hesitate to use big end of town lawyers against poor old garbos—garbos who have been pounding the road for decades, loyally serving the ratepayers of Marrickville 365 days a year. But what do the garbos get in return? Big end of town lawyers ready to take them back to court each time they are ready to take action to protect themselves. This Parliament should condemn these Green hypocrites for their disgraceful attack on workers. I move:

That the question be amended by omitting paragraph 2 and inserting instead:

2. this House condemns Marrickville Council Greens Mayor Fiona Byrne for undermining the rights of workers; and

3. this House calls on the New South Wales Greens to support the rights of workers in all industries throughout the State.

The Hon. Robert Brown: To the point of order: First, I sit opposite the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham and I have observed that it is the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham who is interjecting. Secondly, blokes should not pick on sheilas.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.00 p.m.]: I support the motion moved by the Hon. Penny Sharpe. I am surprised that the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham is taking The Greens’ side. Of all The Greens I think he is the only one who has an appropriate background to know what it is like to be a worker. The fact is it is not a matter of whether contracting out is good or bad, it is a matter of whether scab labour—strikebreakers—are used behind the backs of the workers while they attend a meeting about a dispute that has been clearly engineered by the council, in my view, to bring in scab labour. Mr David Shoebridge defended Fiona Byrne who, at the eleventh hour, refused to attend a meeting in Parliament House with the General Secretary of the United Services Union. Why? Because the council was in dispute, and that was a deliberate escalation of the matter.

After this debate has concluded everyone will know the truth, that is, that The Greens are hypocrites. Members of The Greens council are hypocrites, including Fiona Byrne who tried to hide behind the general manager to whom she then granted a pay rise. If members of The Greens seriously wanted to support the rights of workers they should have engaged in meaningful negotiation with them and not brought in scab workers behind their backs after they had engineered an industrial dispute. All members know The Greens cost jobs and we now know that they are also hypocrites.

NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is it a fact that in recent years the State Government has bought a number of western Riverina properties to convert into national parks? Apart from Oolambeyan, Yanga, Booligal, Mulawa, Darcoola and Norwood stations west of Hay, what other properties have been purchased in western Riverina for national parks in the last 10 years? Including the above properties and any others purchased in that time, how much money has been spent on their acquisition and their operations, and how much land is involved?

NATIONALS PARK VISITOR PASSES

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Can the Minister inform the House how many national park visitor passes have been sold in New South Wales in each of the past five years? For the same five years can the Minister provide the House with the number of day passes that were sold?

KANGAROO MEAT INDUSTRY

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.10 p.m.]: I alert the House to yet another attempt by animal liberationists to block the expansion of our kangaroo meat industry, which is one of the most sustainable industries anywhere in Australia—and worth more than $200 million a year in exports. We have all heard of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Animal Liberation and all the other fellow travellers before, but now those smarties have decided to come at the same issue again, but from a slightly different angle. This time we have what is described as a “recently formed indigenous organisation” called the Australian Alliance for Native Animal Survival apparently looking at mounting Federal court action to stop the proposed roo exports. Moves are underway to greatly increase the export of kangaroo meat to China and Russia—and the Shooters and Fishers Party backs that sustainable wild harvest industry to the hilt. We do not want to see those moves banned on spurious grounds. Aborigines have harvested kangaroos in Australia for thousands of years. More recently the harvesting of kangaroos has become a viable, sustainable domestic and export industry.

The Hon. Robert Borsak: They’re good to eat too.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: They are good to eat. It is a fact that Australia has many, if not more, kangaroos now than it has had at any other time in its history. Animal Liberation objects to the commercial harvesting of kangaroos on the grounds of hygiene, inhumanity and sustainability. That borders on the farcical. I will inform the House about how the industry works. All kangaroo harvesters must be licensed by the Government and pass a government-approved course that instructs them in aspects such as the laws controlling kangaroo harvesting, meat hygiene and animal welfare. In addition, their harvest equipment must be approved by a government inspector to ensure it is of the right standards. Even the RSPCA has described kangaroo harvesting as “one of the most humane methods of animal slaughter possible”.

After harvesting, kangaroos are taken to approved processing plants where they are skinned and boned out for a range of products under the supervision of government-approved inspectors, who ensure meat hygiene standards and disease control is the same, if not better, than that for domestic animals. Kangaroos are a remarkably healthy animal. They carry very few of the diseases commonly carried by domestic animals. Indeed, the kangaroo population represents a sustainable resource. While there will always be debate about the morality of utilising wildlife as a resource, the debate rarely examines the moral imperative for nations to utilise their resources to the best effect in supplying the world with the food and commodities it needs.

For decades Australia has been developing a significant industry that utilises the kangaroo as a resource. Initially it was focused largely on pest control for pastoral industries, but in recent years we have come to realise that the industry has significant economic, environmental and health benefits. The industry currently generates more than $200 million a year in income and employs more than 4,000 people directly. The bulk of those jobs are in remote rural communities, many of which would not exist without the industry. Animal Liberation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and similar activist groups probably believe that what they are doing is right as they try to ban the kangaroo trade. I think we all know they are wrong.

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.13 p.m.]: Several weeks ago in this place Mr David Shoebridge said that in three Australian Institute of Criminology reports he found this statement:

There is significant evidence that some hunters engage in cruel and unauthorised hunting practices, including hunting protected species, and subjecting animals to long and lingering deaths.

The Shooters and Fishers Party has now examined those same reports that Mr David Shoebridge cited, and to the surprise of no-one, we found that he was not telling the truth. He cited Australian Institute of Criminology report No.1, “Environmental Crime in Australia”. The only reference to hunting or shooting in that report is of a general nature, for example:

For more random acts of harm, such as interfering with migrating whales or indiscriminate recreational shooting of kangaroos, detection tends to arise from reports from the public or chance observation.

However table 18 on page 61 of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual reports 2004-09 refers to prosecutions for harm or hunting. Examination of the cited Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual reports reveals the following prosecutions that could be associated with hunters or hunting as stated by Mr David Shoebridge: Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual report 2008-09, harm protected fauna nine prosecutions, and hunt animal in park two prosecutions; and Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual report 2007-08 harm protected fauna four prosecutions and harm animal in park two prosecutions.

Examination cited reports further revealed: Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual report 2006-07 harm protected fauna four prosecutions, and use a substance to harm animal in park one prosecution; Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual report 2005-06, harm protected fauna three prosecutions, and hunt animal in park three prosecutions; Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual report 2004-05, harm protected faun, two prosecutions, shoot animal in park one prosecution, and possess firearm in park one prosecution; Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual report 2003-04 harm protected fauna—kangaroos—one prosecution, and harm and sell protected fauna, kangaroos one prosecution, and harm protected fauna one prosecution.

Those facts lead to these comments. The charges and prosecutions in the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water annual reports are not defined. Harm protected fauna might have involved non-hunters as the perpetrator, for example, illegal wildlife traffickers capturing live birds, or reptiles for the illegal wildlife trade or bushwalkers and picnickers throwing sticks or stones at, or physically handling wildlife. Several New South Wales bushwalking club websites have ample photographic evidence of this. Of the five hunt animal in park cases there is no indication that any animal was actually shot, shot at or wounded. It could be that the perpetrator was hunting but had not actually used a firearm, bow or pig dog, or other means to hunt. Therefore the perpetrator may not have actually caused any cruelty.

Of the single case involving shoot animal in park there is no indication that any cruelty was committed nor is there any indication that the animal in question was a protected species. It could well have been a feral or game animal. Of the single case involving possess firearm in park it could be that the perpetrator was not hunting at all, but merely, albeit illegally, transporting the firearm through the park. In relation to the cited Australian Institute of Criminology report No. 2, “Illegal Trade in Fauna and Flora and harms to Biodiversity”, the only reference to hunting in that report is of a general nature in the listing of offences and penalties under the various State Acts. In relation to the cited Australian Institute of Criminology report No. 3 “Understanding Non-compliance in the Marine Environment”, the only reference to hunting in that report is of a general nature and only in relation to marine protected areas such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Of special concern to this group is the illegal hunting or removal of threatened species such as the dugong, turtles and cetaceans. This document is not relevant to the claims of Mr David Shoebridge, which are targeted at the Game Council and terrestrial recreational hunters in New South Wales. Not a lot of conservation hunting is carried out in marine parks. The only sensible conclusions that can be drawn from this data are clear. There is no evidence in any of the three Australian Institute of Criminology reports cited by Mr David Shoebridge to support his claims. It appears that he has cited the Australian Institute of Criminology in his adjournment speech, which is duplicated on The Greens website, to deliberately infer that hunting is a criminal activity. Mr David Shoebridge consistently distorts anything he says about shooting, hunting or firearms, believe it or not. Either he does not understand the issues, or he is maliciously distorting the facts to his own misguided view of the world, and hunters and shooters. I would hate to think it was malicious.

11 August 2011

VISITORS TO NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware that last year in the United States of America Yosemite National park had four million visitors, the Grand Canyon National Park had 4.3 million visitors and the Yellowstone National Park had 3.6 million visitors, all from a population of more than 360 million? In England the top attraction was the British Museum, which only had a lousy 5.8 million visitors. In an answer tabled in the House recently the Minister referred to a survey showing 34.6 million domestic visits to New South Wales National Parks in 2010. Is the Minister confident that the figures accurately reflect the national park visits in New South Wales?

WESTERN RIVERINA NATIONAL PARKS

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Local Government. What, if any, benefits have flowed to the councils of the western Riverina by the creation of new national parks in that area in the past 10 years? Given the amount of rateable land converted to national parks in that period, what is the total amount of rate income that the Riverina and the Murray Regional Organisation of Councils have lost in that period, given the fact that national parks do not pay local government rates?

10 August 2011

GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE NO. 5

Motion by the Hon. Robert Brown agreed to:

That, for the purpose of its current inquiry into coal seam gas, General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 has power, with the approval of the President, to make visits of inspection elsewhere in Australia.

POLICE RESOURCES

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister assure the House that there will be no transfer of existing police positions as a consequence of the Parsons audit? Will the New South Wales police establish an objective resource allocation model that will fairly distribute the additional police numbers already promised by the Government?

POLICE RESOURCING

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and, coincidentally, follows the last two questions asked of him. Will the Minister assure the House that if the Parsons audit identifies a need for additional police over and above those already promised by the Government and recommendations in that respect are forthcoming, the Government will adopt such recommendations?

BOOLIGAL STATION

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment and relates to national parks. Did the National Parks and Wildlife Service use $1.5 million of Federal funding to buy Booligal Station, north of Hay, so as to add a large ibis rookery to the national parks estate? Is it a fact that after the purchase it was found that the rookery was not actually on Booligal Station but on a neighbouring property?

NATIONAL PARKS VISITOR NUMBERS

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 2 August 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage, a question without notice relating to National Parks Patronage. The Minister for the Environment has provided the following response:

The number of domestic visits to NSW national parks is determined through an independent biennial survey conducted by Roy Morgan Research. It provides a robust and reliable estimate of domestic visits to NSW national parks. This means it accounts for people who may have visited our national parks on more than one occasion in a 12-month period. The survey includes almost 16,000 respondents from Sydney, regional NSW as well as interstate visitors from ACT, Victoria and Queensland. It is conducted across 13 separate periods over 12 months. This means it also accounts for seasonal variations in visitor patterns.

In 2008, the survey reported 38 million domestic visits to NSW national parks.

The second biennial survey, conducted in 2010, reported 34.6 million domestic visits to NSW national parks.

Extraneous factors such as inclement weather and a decrease of domestic overnight visitation to NSW are amongst the most likely causes for the decrease in visitation from 2008.

9 August 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: In accordance with paragraph 2 of the resolution of the House establishing the general purpose standing committees, I inform the House that on 5 August 2011 General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 resolved to adopt the following terms of reference:
That General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 inquire into and report on the environmental, economic and social impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) activities, including exploration and commercial extraction activities, allowable under the NSW Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 (the Act), and in particular:

1. The environmental and health impact of CSG activities including the:

(a) effect on ground and surface water systems,

(b) effects related to the use of chemicals,

(c) effects related to hydraulic fracturing,

(d) effect on Crown Lands including travelling stock routes and State forests,

(e) nature and effectiveness of remediation required under the Act,

(f) effect on greenhouse gas and other emissions, and

(g) relative air quality and environmental impacts compared with alternative fossil fuels.

2. The economic and social implications of CSG activities including those which affect:

(a) legal rights of property owners and property values,

(b) food security and agricultural activity,

(c) regional development, investment and employment, and State competitiveness,

(d) royalties payable to the State, and

(e) local government including provision of local/regional infrastructure and local planning control mechanisms.

3. The role of CSG in meeting the future energy needs of NSW including the:

(a) nature and extent of CSG demand and supply,

(b) relative whole-of-lifecycle emission intensity of CSG versus other energy sources,

(c) dependence of industry on CSG for non-energy needs (e. g. chemical manufacture),

(d) installed and availability costs of CSG versus other stationary energy sources,

(e) proportion of NSW energy needs which should be base load or peaking supply and the extent to which CSG is needed for that purpose, and

(f) contribution of CSG to energy security and as a transport fuel.

4. The interaction of the Act with other legislation and regulations, including the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

5. The impact similar industries have had in other jurisdictions.

5 August 2011

FIREARMS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

Second Reading

Debate called on, and adjourned on motion by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

 CARBON TAX AND POWER STATIONS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware of recent calls by The Greens to close the Munmorah and Liddell power stations and that the Premier should take advantage of the carbon tax scheme through a grant to pay to close the power stations? If both power stations were shut down, what impact would that have on local communities? How long would it take to build the two new large thermal power stations that The Greens suggest as a replacement for the two power stations?

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Often The Greens do not weigh up the issue and they say the first thing that comes to mind.

Do members opposite want these power stations to close? Is that what the Labor Party is telling me?

Such is the hubris of Labor Party members that they want these power stations closed down. They are the people who are supporting Julia Gillard and the carbon tax.

The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order: Unfortunately, the Minister is explaining the question, not answering the question. Mr President, I ask you to direct him to make his answer relevant to the question.

The PRESIDENT: Order! While the Minister is permitted to make a preamble when answering a question, I remind him of the requirement for his answers to be generally relevant.

The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: That was a ramble, not a preamble.

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Preamble. It is like Shenhua, only spelt differently. I will resist the temptation of interjections made by Labor members, although it is difficult considering they are the supporters of Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. Part of the question related to closure of power stations because of the carbon tax. The Greens would say that the alternative is to have more wind farms. That is terrific. That is fine—for people who live in the inner city areas of Sydney. Members who live in Marrickville want to assuage their conscience by putting more wind farms in Crookwell—not in their backyard but in my backyard. That is the type of good corporate citizens they are! They worry only about themselves. They do not give a damn about anyone else. This is a serious question and it is a proper question that deserves a detailed answer. I will refer it to the Minister to obtain a response.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Will the Minister inform the House how much money has been spent in the Toorale National Park on signage to assist tourists or other travellers going through that enormous park to find their way around that historic property? Do the signs direct tourists and travellers to particular camp sites and facilities that are available to them? Has any progress been made on removing the 100-year-old weirs across the Warrego River, which is where most tourists want to go, as promised when the property was purchased?

MARRICKVILLE COUNCIL

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.38 p.m.]: Today I refer to the transformation of The Greens, who have gone from greenies to noxious weeds. The Greens in this place claim that they are the friend of the worker and the farmer. However, it seems that the words and actions of The Greens are not always in tune. The Shooters and Fishers Party has continually pointed out that the Greens are not the friend of the workers, and now the Greens have proven it. Two days ago in this place we heard from the Woollahra Green—not the Walcha green, wherever that might be—that he has been defending the workers. But the reality in worker land is different. Early last month Marrickville Council, which is run by the Greens, pulled a stunt that would not have been out of place on the waterfront a few years ago.

The Greens were at the forefront of criticism of the Federal Government’s actions on waterfront reform. However, what happened at Marrickville was a bit like watching a replay, but this time The Greens are in charge of crushing workers. We all know that the council’s garbos and recyclers, who were taking legitimate strike action over serious industrial problems at the council, were stealthily replaced by outside labour.

As I understand it, over the past four years—under the watchful eyes of The Greens, led by that well-known Middle-East peace broker, Mayor Fiona Byrne, the council has introduced approximately 15,000 green waste bins without proper consultation with workers. It seems the council simply introduced the bins in the hope that the green waste fairy would find a magical way of collecting them. The council forgot to introduce any structures or any new trucks or equipment to collect them. The garbos have been struggling with the increasing workload and the lack of council investment in new equipment. When they said enough was enough, they took the only action left to them and went on strike. The council knew they were going to take that action. One would have thought that The Greens—the champion of the workers—would have been trying to negotiate a resolution.

The day before the strike took place, the council’s general manager—supported by the council’s senior management, The Greens and Mayor Byrne—told the workers union that the green waste collections and contract would be advertised in the newspaper on the weekend. There was no consultation by the “workers champions”—just a blunt instrument response, which I am told was in breach of the industry award. The workers saw the management response as a provocative and well-planned operation to bust them and their union, aided and abetted by The Greens councillors. And what was the Mayor’s response when questioned? That is simple. She washed her hands of the whole issue and stated:

It’s not our problem—that is between the General Manager and his staff … it’s an operational matter.

Here we have a Greens-led council hiding behind the general manager, and when they are questioned about it they hide behind the weak lily-livered excuse that it is “an operational matter” between the staff and the general manager. What have these Green hypocrites done to date about the general manager and his anti-worker policy and disgraceful actions of bringing in contract labour to do the work of striking workers? They gave him a pay rise. That is what the noxious weeds have done. They have rewarded the general manager with a pay rise. Those Green hypocrites talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk, they fail dismally. They have been caught out by the very people they purport to represent.

Is it any wonder that some people in Marrickville consider the council’s actions against the garbos and recyclers on 7 July as the day The Greens became the noxious weeds. They believe The Greens are more concerned about human rights in Palestine than caring about workers’ rights in Marrickville. The Greens claim to be the worker’s friend. Well, that was certainly blown apart in Marrickville. When they had the chance to stand up and support workers at Marrickville, what did the Greens-controlled council do? It employed scab labour, who were hiding down the street in some hall. They gave them the keys to the trucks and sent them out to undermine the striking workers. I am told that if any scab worker refused to do what they were told, they were threatened with hefty fines by their labour hire employer. Is that consultation? No, it is escalation.

This Parliament should condemn Green hypocrites for their disgraceful attack on workers. They continue to hide behind the general manager. They have been running the workers down, bagging Graeme Kelly and the United Services Union, and using big end of town lawyers against poor old garbos, who have been pounding the road for decades and loyally serving the ratepayers of Marrickville by clearing the garbage 365 days a year. In return, what do the garbos get? They get the big end of town lawyers. One can only hope the noxious weeds are eradicated and removed from office and that the ratepayers elect a decent caring council—one that really cares about them and the issues that concern Marrickville instead of human rights issues in Palestine.

4 August

FERAL ANIMAL HUNTING

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.57 p.m.]: I want to set the record straight on the history of negotiations relating to the conservation hunting of feral animals in national parks. I had not intended to do this but a new member in the Legislative Assembly who might not have been aware of what occurred in the term of the former Government unwittingly lit the fire on Tuesday. I refer to the member for Keira who asked a question of the Government about hunting in national parks. For some reason it appears to be a topic about which members of the former Government are keen to talk. The Shooters and Fishers Party has a policy of utilising licensed volunteer conservation hunters to cull feral animals from our national parks and State reserves. Not even The Greens can deny the damage and losses that are caused by these feral animals. The one true Green in the last Parliament, Ian Cohen, agreed that feral animals needed to be removed; we differed only on who should do the job.

However, I digress. In the term of the last Parliament the Shooters and Fishers Party put this policy to the former Government for negotiation. It was obvious to everyone other than former Government members and The Greens that the first bill was open to negotiation after The Greens almost turned purple and nearly choked with outrage—something that I believe was reflected also in the left wing of the Australian Labor Party. The dust settled and negotiations with the Labor Government began from an opening position of not understanding what we wanted to do. The former Government gradually saw the benefit of having volunteer licensed conservation hunters removing goats, pigs, foxes, feral cats and feral dogs from our national parks.

The then Minister for the Environment—the current Leader of the Opposition—was the first Minister with whom we dealt as part of a senior ministerial negotiating team. As he had carriage of the matter he seemed happy enough to adopt what politicians call a pragmatic attitude to it. From that starting point things progressed, albeit slowly, because the Labor Left was worried about offending The Greens and perhaps not getting preference votes at the election, which at that stage was still a couple of years away. We kept going throughout it all, despite the many roadblocks put up by some people within the Department of Environment in their advice to the Ministers and, lo and behold, we finally reached an agreed position with the then Premier.

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Which one?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Nathan Rees. This agreement enabled Game Council licensed voluntary conservation hunters to cull feral animals in more than 60 national parks across New South Wales—remote parks as they were labelled by Graeme Wedderburn, the Premier’s Chief of Staff.
~break/Hewett

Should there be doubters, I have a map which confirms what I am saying. Despite this agreement—we all know that hand-shake agreements do not hold much water these days—things went no further. As I understand it, when the agreed position was taken to Cabinet ­there was apparently some gnashing of teeth, and perhaps even the shedding of a few tears. The term borderline hysteria also comes to mind, but I cannot be certain of that now. I will not name those who were apparently so offended by the proposition. It seems that the Premier was told if the Government went ahead with this vile agreement it might as well hand Balmain and Marrickville then and there to The Greens. What happened? The then Premier, Nathan Rees, spectacularly junked that agreement in what turned out to be a valedictory speech on 3 December 2009. The Labor Party still lost one of those two seats to The Greens and only narrowly held on to the second—irony writ large.

The bottom line is that a former Labor Premier negotiated and agreed to hunting in more than 60 national parks across New South Wales. It is now hypocritical for the Labor Opposition to pretend that it did not happen. It wants to think that the sky will fall in if this Coalition Government agrees with us on the benefits of such a brilliant initiative. The Shooters and Fishers Party will continue to promote this now proven sensible conservation model. Our constituents—true conservationists, I might say—expect us to do so. We are committed to the hugely successful conservation model behind the legislation. Volunteer conservation hunters have successfully hunted in State forests for more than five years. Feral animals do not recognise boundaries on a map.

In conclusion, we have all witnessed a politically difficult issue negotiated to an outcome in the United States of America just this week. Following that example, it is not beyond the wit and will of good people to have this important conservation measure resolved between the Government and the Shooters and Fishers Party. We live in hope.

3 August 2011

FOREST PROTESTS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Roads and Ports representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware that two days ago environmental terrorists staged yet another stunt in the Cumberland State Forest and blocked access to nearby government offices at Pennant Hills in an effort to prevent conservation harvesting of native forests on the South Coast? Are these terrorists the same people who have constantly blockaded roads in the southern forests, stolen safety signs and barriers around forest workplaces, glued locks on forestry machinery, stolen security equipment, painted windows and staged tree sit-ins to stop work in the forests? Will the Government ensure that sufficient security and, if need be, legislation are always available to support forest workers so that they can go about their lawful business and protect their assets without these costly, self-serving terrorists preventing them from working?

Mr David Shoebridge: Point of order: The question was littered with argument and hyperbole—but principally argument—and is therefore out of order.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The question contained argument. However, if the member rephrases his question, I will allow him to ask it later in question time.

FORESTRY PROTESTS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Roads and Ports representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware that two days ago environmental protesters staged yet another stunt in the Cumberland State Forest and blocked access to nearby government offices at Pennant Hills in an effort to prevent conservation harvesting of native forests on the South Coast? Are these protesters the same people who have constantly blockaded roads in the southern forests, stolen safety signs and barriers around forest workplaces, glued locks on forestry machinery, stolen security equipment, painted windows and staged tree sit-ins to stop work in the forests? Will the Government ensure that sufficient security and, if need be, legislation are always available to support forest workers so that they can go about their lawful business and protect their assets from protesters who want to prevent them from working?

2 August 2011

OVERSEAS AUSTRALIAN RURAL LAND HOLDINGS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of the recent reports indicating that foreign private and sovereign wealth funds with specific food security briefs are buying rural land in New South Wales and have reportedly spent $330 million buying half a million hectares in the past year, including $20 million worth of Murray Darling Basin water licences? Given that food security for the people of New South Wales should be high on the agenda of the State Government, will the Minister provide the House with a comprehensive and perhaps colour-coded map of the State showing land holdings above 250 hectares that are owned by overseas interests?

NATIONAL PARKS PATRONAGE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of a recent letter to the National Parks Journal in which the writer laments, “If you have been to any national parks lately around Sydney you will have noticed how few people are visiting”? Given that the previous Government ridiculously claimed that there were 38 million visitors to national parks in New South Wales each year, will the Minister provide the House with detailed visitor figures for each national park over the past five years?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Robert Brown for his interesting question. I will obtain a response as soon as possible from the Minister for the Environment. I will be interested to read it myself. With regard to the utilisation of our wonderful parks, one of the first things the O’Farrell Government did was abolish entry fees for the Mount Annan and Mount Tomah parks in western Sydney. I understand that as a result the visitation rate has increased about four-fold. There is obviously a great demand for these assets if they are open to the public, appropriately nurtured and properly used.

RIVER RED GUM LOGGING

On 24 May 2011 the Hon. [Member] asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier, a question without notice regarding river red gum logging. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

I am advised:

Under the terms of the Red Gum package provided by the previous Government, workers and mills that were directly affected by the declaration of national and regional parks are eligible to receive up to $51.5 million available from the Red Gum Structural Adjustment. This assistance included up to $5 million to support dependent businesses affected by the declaration of national parks and reserves, support businesses that wish to remain in the timber industry and provide general support to the wider industry provided it is employment related. As of 3 June 2011, $40.73 million has been expended on this part of the program.

In addition, local communities affected by the changes to the river red gum industry will be assisted with funding of up to $12 million to support and assist new and alternative business and development opportunities that will be of broad benefit to the community as part of the Regional Employment and Community Development Fund. Under the first funding round of this program, projects to the total of $2,103,844 have been approved in the Deniliquin Shire, including two projects proposed by Deniliquin Council valued at $1,290,000.

Loggers who are still in the region will have an opportunity to participate in the ecological thinning trials that will soon commence in some of the national and regional parks.

This Government is actively monitoring the effectiveness of the Red Gum package as it is being rolled-out.

NATIONAL FIREARMS POLICY WORKING GROUP

On 27 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services a question without notice regarding the National Firearms Policy Working Group. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

I am advised that meetings of the Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group are hosted by each Australian jurisdiction (including the Commonwealth) on a rotating basis and the Group usually meets twice a year. When it is NSW’s turn to host a meeting, costs associated with room hire and catering are met. No other funding is provided and there are no NSW Government staff dedicated to the operation of the group.

Costs associated with sending delegates to meetings of the Group are approved in accordance with NSW Government policy, as outlined in NSW Government Circular 2010-28 ‘Review of Meal, Travelling and Other Allowances’.

The agendas and papers of the Group are circulated on a law enforcement in confidence basis, by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department which provides the Secretariat for the Working Group, and are not public documents.

The Group reports to Ministers on the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Management and Police Commissioners on the Council’s Senior Officers Group. It is the Senior Officers Group and Ministerial Council who make the decisions in relation to firearms and weapons policy. The Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group does not have any decision-making power.

ORANGE PIPELINE PROJECT

On 30 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Regional Infrastructure, a question without notice regarding the Orange pipeline project. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The Orange Pipeline project falls under the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister for Primary Industries.

Orange City Council is managing the project and is currently undertaking environmental studies, hydrologic modelling, pipeline route selection, community consultation and preliminary designs.

CLIMATE CHANGE

On 30 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding climate change. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

Mining brings significant economic benefit and employment opportunities to people living in regional and rural areas of New South Wales.

Were the NSW Government to follow the Greens’ proposal of a blanket ban on coal mining, Australia and this State would suffer significant consequences.

A blanket ban on mining would result in the loss of over $11 billion in foreign exchange per annum; it would result in the loss of over 16,000 direct jobs and approximately 60,000 indirect jobs based mostly in rural areas; it would signal the end of a reliable electricity supply in NSW; it would result in the loss of over $1 billion per annum in royalties paid to the Government which in turn are used to fund hospitals, schools and roads; and would consequently result in substantial damage to this State’s investment reputation.

It would also result in immediate and considerable increases in electricity prices for the people of New South Wales and the loss of industries which depend on reliable energy.

A ban, as proposed by the Greens, would not be beneficial to this State.

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

On 31 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier, a question without notice regarding the Murray-Darling Basin. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

I am advised:

The NSW Government welcomes a process for developing a Murray-Darling Basin Plan that includes consideration of economic, social and environmental issues.

WIND FARMS

On 2 June 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding wind farms. The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure provided the following response:

I am advised that the Department of Planning and Infrastructure has no record of correspondence from the Federal Member for Hume in relation to wind farm developments in the electorate of Hume.

Draft NSW Planning Guidelines: Wind Farms have been prepared and are currently under review.

The Draft Guidelines will be exhibited for public comment following consultation with agencies.

The Draft Guidelines will address issues from the General Purpose Standing Committee NO.5 inquiry into rural wind farms including facilitating a rigorous assessment of wind farm proposals and community consultation with affected residents, particularly for those within two kilometres of a proposed wind turbine. A two kilometre zone is flagged as a preferred buffer area unless otherwise demonstrated.

The Draft Guidelines will also address key community concerns and other planning-related issues.

The NSW Government is committed to ensuring wind farm proposals undergo rigorous and transparent assessment processes including extensive public consultation. The Draft Guidelines also include information on community consultation during and after the development of wind farms to assist proponents in undertaking meaningful engagement.

ONLINE GOVERNMENT SERVICE DELIVERY

On 14 June 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier, a question without notice regarding online Government service delivery. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

I am advised that the NSW Police Force is currently working with the NSW Department of Finance and Services and the Roads and Traffic Authority to explore opportunities to streamline and enhance service delivery in future, including online service delivery.

Already, firearm licences and permits are issued through RTA registries across the State. The processing, investigation and adjudication of licence and permit applications are, and will continue to be, managed by the NSW Firearms Registry.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

On 16 June 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding renewable energy. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

The Productivity Commission, in its recent report Carbon Emissions Policies in Key Economies, has found that policies encouraging small-scale renewable generation and biofuels have generated little abatement for substantially high cost.

This costly abatement is impacting NSW households and businesses.

IPART notes that the Commonwealth Government’s Renewable Energy Target scheme is having a significant impact on electricity price increases, contributing around a third to regulated retail electricity prices from 1 July 2011. This will increase the average household electricity bill by $75.

Due to solar credits, most of these costs will not even support additional renewable energy. Support for small scale solar is significantly more expensive than other renewable energy and low emissions generation options such as wind farms and gas fired generation.

An independent audit commissioned by the Government and undertaken by KPMG has determined a total cost of the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme of at least $1.6 billion. This will be funded from the Climate Change Fund and will divert monies from other potentially more cost effective greenhouse gas abatement activities.

CARBON TAX

On 16 June 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, a question without notice regarding carbon tax. The Minister for Resources and Energy provided the following response:

Yes, I am aware of the report however the Department has not undertaken any modelling. Such analysis is the purview of Treasury.

Should the scenario outlined by the Australian Coal Association result then it will have a significant impact on jobs and regional communities across the State.

This is one reason why the NSW Government opposes a carbon tax.

We are deeply concerned about the broad impacts the tax may have on jobs and investment and increased cost of living pressures on the people of NSW.

NSW already has an effective and low cost mechanism for carbon pricing—the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme.

The NSW Government does support a responsible shift towards renewables and reducing carbon emissions.

But it cannot come at the expense of jobs, growth and the livelihoods of the people of NSW.

GREY NURSE SHARK DISCUSSION PAPER

On 20 June 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the grey nurse shark discussion paper. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

I am aware of the concerns that have been raised about this paper. The current discussion paper is only a preliminary step in the consultation process. A series of public information sessions is being held and there will be further public consultation on any proposal to alter grey nurse shark management arrangements. I can assure the Honourable Member that I will make sure that all ongoing consultation is underpinned by the best available scientific information. I will also ensure that this information is presented in a way that is balanced and avoids raising unnecessary concerns with the public.

I encourage all members of the public to lodge constructive submissions on any issues regarding grey nurse shark management.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

On 21 June 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Australian Conservation Foundation. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

1. The Australian Conservation Foundation has received funding through an established grants program of the Environmental Trust, which is a separate statutory body, rather than from the Office of Environment and Heritage.

2. The Australian Conservation Foundation has been provided with a total of $130,000, from the Environmental Trust’s Lead Environmental Community Group (LECG) grant program as set out in the table below.

Year Amount Purpose

2007/08 Nil
2008/09 $10,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent
2009/10 $40,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent
2010/11 $40,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent
2011/12 $40,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent

3. Refer to (2) above.

4. The LECG grants are conducted on a competitive basis guided by the Environmental Trust Act 1998, and recommended by an independent technical committee in accordance with approved grant guidelines.

FINGAL HEAD SAND SPIKING

On 21 June 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services a question without notice regarding Fingal Head sand spiking. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services provided the following response:

The NSW Police Force has advised me:

On 20 June 2011 it was reported that steel spikes welded to a metal plate had been buried in a trail at Fingal Beach, causing damage to a vehicle driving over it. Police were only notified of this matter after the media had been advised and some considerable time after the actual incident.

The Tweed/Byron Local Area Command is conducting investigations into this matter, however it should be noted that the investigation has been significantly hampered due to the time delay between the incident and the reporting of this crime to police, as well as the evidence being handled by a number of persons.

Police are aware of longstanding tensions between some residents, campers and users of 4WDs on beaches and bushland in the area, however there have been no other incidents of this type reported to Northern Region police to date. The police investigation into this incident is continuing.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDER’S OFFICE

On 22 June 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment, a question without notice regarding the Environmental Defender’s Office. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised as follows:

1. The Environmental Defender’s Office has received funding through established grants programs of the Environmental Trust, which is a separate statutory body, rather than from the Office of Environment and Heritage.

2. Through an open, competitive process over four annual rounds, the Environmental Defender’s Office was successful in gaining funding under two Environmental Trust programs.

Between 2006 and 2010, it was provided $285,000 under the Trust’s Lead Environmental Community Groups grant program as set-out in the table below:

Year Amount Purpose

2006/07 $45,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent
2007/08 $45,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent
2008/09 $75,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent
2009/10 $60,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent
2010/11 $60,000 Administrative costs e.g. rent

During this period, it was also awarded $233,097 for three Environmental Education programs as set out in the table below:

Year Amount Purpose

2007/08–2008/09 $63,440 over 2 years To develop a booklet and workshops to educate the community about regulation of mining in NSW.
2008/09–2009/10 $94,657 over 2 years To develop a plain-English publication providing both an overview and critical analysis of the private conservation options.
2008/09–2009/10 $75,000 over 2 years To develop and publish “The Rural Landholders Guide to Environmental Law”.

3. None of the funds granted were used in any court proceedings.

4. All Environmental Trust programs are subject to periodic evaluation and review. The Lead Environment Community Groups program is due to be evaluated in 2012/13 and a decision on the continuation of the program will be made following that review.

23 June 2011

MARINE PARKS AMENDMENT (MORATORIUM) BILL 2011

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.18 p.m.], in reply: I will not take up too much time of the House. In our view, this is a straightforward, simple bill. I foreshadow at the outset that we will not oppose the Government’s amendments in Committee—although I will say that we are not entirely happy with them. We have stood in this House on many occasions and relied on governments on both sides to give assurances that certain things were going to happen. In this case, we will take the Government’s word that it will undertake the reviews quickly and that the audit of the science will take into account the findings of the previous Government’s independent review of the science on marine parks. I also hope the Government will commit to putting sufficient money aside to follow up on whatever research emerges from the audit.

With regard to the Government’s foreshadowed amendments, the reason five years was chosen in my original bill is that this accords with the recommendations of the independent scientific committee that between five and 15 years are needed to carry out some of this research. Regardless of what the audit finds, any research it recommends into the marine parks research program will take time and must be funded properly. The Leader of the Opposition made reference to the Government’s consistency in not supporting the bill. I remind the Hon. Luke Foley that in the last Parliament the Minister for the Environment in this House, the Hon. John Robertson, said in his second reading speech that he supported the bill. It was only later that the Government changed its mind and withdrew its support for the bill.

I will respond briefly to the Hon. Steve Whan’s comments about the genesis of the Fish Rock regulation. I understand it was the member for that seat who took representatives to former Minister Whan’s office to discuss implementing a regulation to prohibit certain types of fishing at Fish Rock. I point out that the person who made that representation to the Minister was a representative of the local commercial dive operators. Dive operators have unfettered access to that grey nurse habitat. Many spearfishermen I have spoken to have said that that, in itself, is a bit of a problem. If 40 bubbleheads, as they are called, are put into the water on top of a grey nurse aggregating site it will cause problems.

Mr David Shoebridge referred to the number of grey nurse sharks in our waters. I clearly recall his former colleague, the Hon. Ian Cohen, berating the House about the fact that there were only 300 grey nurse sharks off the coast of New South Wales. Indeed, the Nature Conservation Council took a matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in order to overturn part of the ocean trap and line regulation, on the basis that research had shown that grey nurse sharks were about to become extinct. That matter was overturned by the tribunal; indeed, it repudiated the science from NSW Fisheries that had been put forward. Further research, carried out by Lincoln Smith on behalf of the Federal Government, has demonstrated that there are in excess of 1,400 or 1,500 grey nurse sharks. The research also noted that because free divers were used to do the count—scuba divers cause the sharks to make themselves scarce—they were only able to take counts in the aggregation sites to a depth of about 20 metres. From the science, we know that grey nurse sharks aggregate to a depth of around 110 metres.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile raised the committee’s recommendation 2, which goes hand in hand with recommendation 15 and supports the motion that the Government should put aside sufficient funds for research into recreational fishing. I note that the Minister is now in the Chamber. I repeat my earlier statement that we have an expectation that the Government will fund this research properly, and that the funds will be provided so the research can be carried out in an efficient and efficacious manner. Dr John Kaye said it appeared that the Shooters and Fishers are science deniers. That is not the case at all. In fact, we say there was very little science involved in the creation of these national parks in New South Wales waters. It is a well-known fact amongst those in the know that New South Wales fisheries management is amongst the best in the world. We concur that New South Wales coastal fisheries are not the best fisheries in the world from a production point of view, because of the narrow shelf and so on. But they have been very well protected over the past 70 years by NSW Fisheries practices, regulation and science.

The science does not appear to be there, because time and again green groups have admitted that really all they want is a percentage figure—20 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent or 50 per cent. Indeed, during the inquiry a representative from the Nature Conservation Council lamented the fact that the council had ever been involved in producing “The Torn Blue Fringe”. The council put clearly on the table what it wanted the Government to do in terms of increasing the percentage of these areas that were protected zones. But the representative let slip during the council’s talks with the Federal Government that it was not going to make the same mistake: it was going to ask for 40 per cent protected areas. That would take marine protected areas in Federal waters from seven million square kilometres to 10 million square kilometres. I do not think I need say more in this debate. I thank members for their contributions. Some members’ contributions were erudite; others were a gross misrepresentation of the facts. However, I thank all members. I commend the bill to the House.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.42 p.m.]: As I indicated during my speech in reply, the Shooters and Fishers Party will not oppose these amendments. We are not entirely happy with the amendments to the bill. However, we understand that the Government has a requirement for flexibility, particularly given the disallowance of regulation in relation to the Jervis Bay and Solitary Islands marine parks. We are aware of differing levels of concern in the fishing communities in relation to Jervis Bay and Solitary Islands. Jervis Bay was seen to be almost suitably complete. Perhaps there was some disquiet that the disallowance related to both Jervis Bay and the Solitary Islands, although the rezoning plan for Jervis Bay included flipping over one of the sanctuary zones that had been put in the wrong area on the basis of so-called science. Given the Government’s need for flexibility, the Shooters and Fishers Party does not oppose the amendments.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.53 p.m.]: I also support Greens amendment No. 2. It is a sensible amendment. I cannot support Greens amendment No. 1 mostly for the reasons outlined by the Minister. If members will cast their minds back, the report called up by the Government in the recreational fishing inquiry, the independent scientific review, was an independent review at the time. The custodian of the independent scientific review was the Marine Parks Authority. Members of the Marine Parks Authority cannot sit on an independent review panel for which they are ultimately responsible and which may, as in the case of the review I just mentioned, criticise the science as it stands. That review stands today and the criticism is there. I will not discuss whether I think three persons from the Australian Marine Services Association should or should not be on the panel. I agree with the Minister’s assertion that it must be a truly independent panel and that there just cannot be members of the Marine Parks Authority on it.

 PACIFIC HIGHWAY EROSION

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, and relates to the construction of the Pacific Highway bypass at Coffs Harbour. Is the Minister aware of complaints by local fishermen that the apparently inadequate sediment control protocols implemented by the Roads and Traffic Authority at the worksite—particularly under the unusual high rainfall occurrences—are currently allowing thousands of tonnes of sediment to be flushed into the ocean off Coffs Harbour and their concern about the impact it could have on local fisheries? Is it a fact that this is the fourth such incident in the last 12 months? Will the Minister have the Roads and Traffic Authority review its sediment control protocols at the bypass and, if necessary, make sure they are immediately upgraded to handle any further high rainfall events?

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Earlier in question time the Hon. Robert Brown asked a question about erosion on the Pacific Highway. I advise him that neither the Roads and Traffic Authority nor the joint venture contractor has received any complaints from local fishermen or representatives of the local fishing industry about erosion and sediment control on the Sapphire to Woolgoolga Pacific Highway project. Erosion and sediment controls on the project have been developed and implemented to meet the conditions of approval for the project and the requirements of the Office of Environment and Heritage. Erosion and sediment control measures are frequently inspected and reviewed by the construction contractor, the Roads and Traffic Authority, the Office of Environment and Heritage, and Marine Parks Authority and Department of Primary Industries fisheries officers to ensure compliance with established requirements. No concerns have been raised as yet, but I urge representatives of the local fishing industry with particular concerns regarding erosion and sediment control to raise them with the project team for consideration and action as soon as possible.

22 June 2011

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDER’S OFFICE GRANTS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is it a fact that between 2006 and 2010 the Environmental Defender’s Office received funding in the vicinity of $500,000 through the Department of Environment and Conservation’s Environmental Education Community Grants scheme and the Lead Environmental Community Groups Grant program? Will the Minister advise the House of all such grants made to the Environmental Defender’s Office in that period? Will the Minister inform the House whether any of that money was used in court proceedings against the Government of New South Wales? Will the Government inform the House whether such grants will continue in the future?

Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters

1. That this House agrees to the resolution in the Legislative Assembly’s message of Wednesday 22 June 2011 relating to the appointment of a Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

2. That the representatives of the Legislative Council on the Joint Standing Committee be Mr Trevor Khan, Mr Peter Phelps, Mr Peter Primrose, Ms Amanda Fazio and Mr Robert Borsak.

3. That the time and place for the first meeting be Thursday 23 June 2011 at 1.00 pm in Room 1153.

YOUNG PEOPLE USING GUNS

The Hon. WALT SECORD [9.35 p.m.]: I speak about a matter with which I have some personal experience: hunting and young people. I grew up in a Canadian community where hunting was and is still very much the norm. I hunted deer and rabbit with my father, teenage uncles and teenage cousins. My father’s family—as Indigenous people—strongly defend their right to hunt as a political and cultural right. Some years ago a member of my father’s tribe was charged by Ontario provincial authorities for illegal hunting. In Ontario natives are allowed to hunt unrestricted if they are within a 100-kilometre radius of their reserve. The particular tribal member who was charged was beyond that perimeter. On a matter of legal principle and expression of Indigenous rights the reserve’s council came to his legal defence. It argued that his traditional territory area encompassed almost all of southern Ontario and, therefore, he had every right to hunt at Parry Sound, where he was charged. The council won the argument and the charges were dropped.

Hunting and firearms remain a big part of my father’s community. My father is a responsible gun owner: he keeps his guns under lock and key, and safely away from his grandchildren. He also keeps his shells in a separate location. As I said earlier, my childhood often involved guns and hunting. One winter when we were tracking an animal, a young uncle’s shotgun accidentally fired and blew a giant hole in the ground. It missed a member of the hunting party by less than a metre. I remember it well. We all laughed at the near miss, but as teenagers we did not have the maturity to understand what tragedy had so nearly occurred. We did not have the maturity to handle guns safely and properly or to fully comprehend the impact of misusing a gun. What nearly happened that day was just a laugh to us. Teenagers do not have the experience to fully comprehend the fragility of life. Hence, with all respect to their many great qualities, teenagers simply do not have the maturity to handle guns.

I acknowledge that thousands of Australians need firearms for feral animal removal and for target sport. I respect their choice in that regard. But we must discourage young people from handling firearms, not encourage them. In 1996 Bob Carr was the first Australian Premier to support Prime Minister John Howard in his call for uniform gun laws. In this Parliament Mr Carr had the bipartisan support of the then Leader of the Opposition, Peter Collins. I was proud to be involved in making those laws because they took a principled stand. However, technology has changed so much that guns now are very powerful, having evolved since the so-called pellet or BB guns of our childhood. The simplest guns are extremely sophisticated and can be high-powered. Overseas jurisdictions like Scotland—also a country with a strong hunting culture—are moving to tighten laws and, in some cases, ban certain types of guns. As a State, and as a country, we have made significant progress in gun control and in educating people about the dangers of their misuse. As members of a community, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that these safety measures are upheld. For these reasons and because of my own personal experience as a former hunter I therefore would not and do not support any move away from the national agreement on gun laws.

WATER MANAGEMENT

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.39 p.m.]: I speak tonight about an issue that has not been properly addressed since the colonists arrived in Australia nearly 225 years ago. I refer to the proper harvesting and management of water. As I speak, the equivalent of 75,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools are being released from the Burrinjuck and Blowering dams. Also, there is the danger of what is called cold water dumping, which is another matter. In official terms 150 gigalitres of water is being sent into the Murrumbidgee River. We are told it is “to benefit the Murray system as far downstream as South Australia’s lower lakes and Coorong”. I note that both the Federal and State Ministers for the Environment have been quick to hail the release. They say it will improve the river’s health and replenish river red gums and wetlands. I put our environment Minister on notice that no-one wants to see any more black water fish kills in the Murrumbidgee and Murray or any other rivers in the south and south-west through ill-advised or wrongly planned water releases. Such fish kills have enraged local communities who live, work and relax along those waterways. They demand proper management of our water and they deserve to get it.

I fully appreciate the ability of environmental water releases to benefit river systems. However, I was down in that area just a couple of weeks ago and guess what? These water releases by the water authorities are seemingly flying in the face of the ultimate authority. It is clearly evident that God has his own environmental water release program over which we have no control. It is currently working very well. In fact, much of the river red gum forests the Federal Government is talking about are still underwater from recent floods, which in some places were the worst in 50 years. The hundreds of small wetlands located along the Murrumbidgee River from Gundagai through to the Murray also are well catered for so far as water is concerned. The point I make is that this 150 gigalitres of water is virtually being wasted. It again points to the failure of successive governments in this State to build new water storage facilities.

Years ago the Green-leaning Bob Carr cancelled the Welcome Reef Dam proposal and more recently the last Green-leaning Labor Government in New South Wales, supported by the then Opposition and now Government, killed off the Tillegra Dam proposal to appease the Greens. The Greens anti-dam or anti-water storage facility stance landed this State with a billion dollar desalination plant which it seems today nobody wants. It is too expensive to run, but we all have to pay for it. We need to be smarter and more energetic about how we harvest and store our water. It is time to end the game whereby the hardworking irrigators are the ones who get it in the neck at the first sign of a water shortage by having their annual allocation lessened. Then at times of drought they have an allocation but they have no water to use. Yet they still have to pay massive standing charges for no water. The Federal Minister, in his media statement on this environmental water release, said:

… watering action is supported by local landholders with several private water holders contributing water to the Commonwealth and to NSW as part of the release.

He said this action uses water set aside for the environment and will not affect water allocations for local irrigators or stock and domestic users. We have to take him at his word. I wonder whether he has talked to any of the people he says support the release. The sooner we get on with new dam building projects in New South Wales the better. The State that built the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme should be able to put a few more big walls on rivers up and down this State—and do it properly in an environmentally conscious way—and at the same time make enough noise to drown out the bleating of the Greens, who oppose everything. This State does not lack water. As has been said many times by many commentators, it apparently lacks the political will to make the decisions to properly harvest and manage it.

GUN LAWS

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [9.53 p.m.]: In my life I have been fortunate enough to travel to many different countries. This has given me the chance to see how others approach some of the policy issues Australia grapples with. In particular, I take an interest in firearms laws and regulations in various countries. Over time I have developed quite an interest in policy transfer between Australia and other countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada. So I will take a few moments to talk about recent developments in Canadian politics, facts that my colleague the Hon. Walt Secord should keep up with and to which he should listen with great interest. On 2 May this year Canada went to the polls and returned a majority conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Interestingly for me, and I imagine for the licensed firearms owners of New South Wales, the conservatives recognise the need to abolish the costly and ineffective long arm registry.

One of the first decisions announced by the Harper Government, now that it has a majority, is that it will introduce legislation to abolish the registry this year. To clarify for those who are not shooters, the long arm registry is a list of rifles and shotguns legally owned by Canadian farmers, hunters and target shooters. The long arm registry was part of the 1995 Canadian gun law changes, and this is what I mean about policy transfer. New South Wales slavishly followed the Canadian example by introducing mandatory registration as part of our Firearms Act 1996, apparently because it seemed like a good idea at the time. But one reason—it is not the main reason, and I will come to that—the Canadians are now getting rid of their registry is because of the costs associated with keeping this senseless policy in place.

In 2002 a report of the Auditor General revealed that the implementation costs blew out from an estimated $2 million to more than $2 billion, and the net annual operating costs of the program were reported at $66.4 million for the 2010-11 fiscal year, even after an effective amnesty on the registration of long arms for the past four years. The Shooters and Fishers Party have pointed out that fact many times, but I feel the need to do so again. Criminals never bother to register their guns. Only law-abiding, over-scrutinised and over-regulated licensed hunters and shooters register their firearms. That brings me to the main reason that Canada is abolishing the registry. I wonder whether members can guess the main reason.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Dumb ass bureaucrats?

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: Pretty close. Canada is getting rid of it because there is no evidence whatever that it is an effective tool for preventing crime. Like Australia, most guns used in crime in Canada are not registered. Like us, the Canadians found that gun crime and drug crime occur in urban areas where disfranchised young men are drawn to a life of crime. I commend the Canadian Government for its commitment to ending the long arm registry and redirecting the funds into front-line police work and improved social services. This is an example of good policy that we in New South Wales can learn a great deal from and follow. In closing, I will put a proposition to the Government. As the police Minister no doubt knows, the firearms registry has now apparently locked its doors to the general public for over-the-counter service. Unbelievably, it says that all customer and general inquiries can be made via the customer service line or online through a computer. It does not want to be involved in interacting with human beings.

This epitomises the problems with the registry and its attitude to customer service. It is time the firearms registry was moved from Murwillumbah, where it is surrounded by people who mostly do not target shoot or hunt, and placed in a more central position, such as Dubbo, where it could personally serve more firearms owners. Such a move would make the Firearms Registry much more user friendly and relevant. Dubbo sits in the middle of the State and is a thriving city that would benefit from having a decentralised government agency in that city. I look forward to the Government considering such a relocation.

21 June 2011

ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING AND ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT (PART 3A REPEAL) BILL 2011

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [12.57 p.m.]: I make a brief contribution to debate on this important bill. One of the reasons why I make a contribution to the bill is that over the past 24 hours we have received an enormous number of emails from recreational fishermen. Something or somebody had stirred them up over this bill, and we could not understand where it was all coming from.

It appears as though it all went back to Mr Pepe Clarke from the Nature Conservation Council. Well, what do you know! I have listened to the contributions of The Greens members in this debate. The Fisheries Management Act deals with matters that are the principal concern of our fishing constituents. The Act refers to permits issued and the ability for the Minister to allow what might otherwise be deemed environmental degradation or harm to the environment. Section 201 of the Act, which is headed, “Circumstances in which a person may carry out dredging or reclamation work”, states that dredging or reclamation work can be done only if it is authorised by a relevant public authority, or if it is work excluded from the operation of the section by the regulations. So the Minister for Fisheries can already create a regulation or issue a permit. Section 205, which is headed, “Marine vegetation—regulation of harm”—

The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: He’s the Minister for Fisheries.

The Hon. Robert Brown: Exactly, he is the Minister for Fisheries. Subsection (2) of section 205 provides:

A person must not harm any such marine vegetation in a protected area, except under the authority of a permit issued by the Minister under this Part.

Again, the planning Minister, if he is given the power to override these provisions, could act out of concert with a permit issued by the Minister for Fisheries.

We are talking about two Ministers from the same government. Section 219, “Passage of fish not to be blocked”, lists a range of issues.

Mr David Shoebridge: You are betraying your own constituency; you don’t know what you’re doing.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I acknowledge the interjection of Mr David Shoebridge. We are not falling into his little trap, set by the Nature Conservation Council. Our constituents know that The Greens are the ones betraying them, with little stunts like “The Torn Blue Fringe”. That was a good one. The Shooters and Fishers Party do have a concern, which I took to the Minister for Planning before coming to the Chamber today. I was assured by the Minister for Planning that should any of these activities lead to unintended consequences—a perfect example is the dredging of Botany Bay, when the previous Government would not listen to our objections—no harm will occur and any issues will be discussed. Before voting on this bill I would like that assurance from the Minister representing the Minister for Planning in this place to be recorded in Hansard. Given that assurance, the Shooters and Fishers Party will support the bill and will not support the amendments of The Greens.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION FUNDING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is it a fact that the Australian Conservation Foundation has been a multi-year recipient of funding through the department’s lead environmental and community group grants program? If so, how much funding has been provided in the last four years? Is it also a fact that the Australian Conservation Foundation gets $100,000 from the New South Wales Government for its administrative costs? Given that the Australian Conservation Foundation seeks to redefine human reproduction as a threat to Australian wildlife, will the Government review the value of funding to this organisation?

FINGAL HEAD SAND SPIKING

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is the Minister aware that deadly booby traps consisting of sharpened steel spikes welded onto a metal plate and buried in the sand, and others made of nails driven into timber, have been found buried in the sand at Fingal Head in northern New South Wales? Given that eco-terrorists have been known to put spikes in trees to stop logging, will police investigate whether this sand spiking is an escalation in a current campaign against people undertaking the lawful activity of taking four-wheel drive vehicles onto certain beaches along the coast?

20 June 2011

GREY NURSE SHARK DISCUSSION PAPER

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, and is in relation to the recently released grey nurse shark discussion paper. Is the Minister aware of the widespread discontent about the paper among fishing and other groups who are upset by a perception of bias in the paper prepared by the fisheries department? Does the paper promote research work by NSW Fisheries that has previously been discredited in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal? Will the Minister personally review the paper with a view to having it withdrawn and rewritten?

17 June 2011

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN (Parliamentary Secretary) [10.27 a.m.]: I move:

1. That this House notes:

(a) the tragic death on Monday 23 May 2011 at approximately 11.00 pm AEST, of Sergeant Brett Wood, 32, from Victoria,

(b) that Sergeant Wood was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during clearance operations in southern Afghanistan and that two commandos were also wounded during the incident,

(c) that Sergeant Wood was the 24th Australian to die in action in Afghanistan since 2001,

(d) that Sergeant Wood was a highly-decorated soldier and was awarded the Medal for Gallantry in 2006 after leading a commando team in extremely hazardous circumstances in the Chora Valley,

(e) that Sergeant Wood was on his third deployment in Afghanistan and had also served in Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Iraq,

(f) that the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said of Sergeant Wood: “Brett’s loss will be deeply felt across Australia’s special forces community as he was an inspirational leader and a popular and highly respected member of his unit”, and

(g) that Sergeant Wood is survived by his wife.

2. That this House extends its condolences and pays tribute to Sergeant Wood and his family.

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.51 a.m.]: On behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party I am grateful to the Hon. Charlie Lynn for moving this motion, which we support wholeheartedly. On a number of occasions in this House, even as recently as today, I have heard the war on terror referred to as a “so-called” war on terror. Most Australians understand that there is a war on terror. Australia is perhaps blessed in that even though we have been touched by terror, and cut deeply, on our own soils we have had very little terrorism activity. People such as Sergeant Wood and other soldiers fight daily to protect Australians and citizens of the world from one of the most insidious, vicious, ongoing war this world has ever seen. We need those soldiers to continue to do their best to protect us. Vale Sergeant Wood. Vale a gallant warrior.

16 June 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is it a fact that the Productivity Commission has found that demands for renewable energy subsidies by The Greens have raised the cost of emissions reductions for little gain? What information does the Minister have about the impact of renewable energy subsidies on the cost effectiveness of complementary abatement measures, including wind and solar power, and a shift to biofuels?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware of a survey commissioned by the Australian Coal Association, which found that a carbon tax would raise the cost of production in some mines to the point that a number of those mines would become unprofitable and at risk of premature closure? Has the Minister’s department undertaken any modelling in New South Wales coalmines to determine which mines are most at risk of premature closure? What impact would such closures have on jobs and regional communities statewide?

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT RELOCATION

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: On 12 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question without notice on behalf of the Premier in relation to Government department relocation. I am advised that the New South Wales Government is strongly committed to supporting economic growth and increased employment opportunities in regional New South Wales. Employment in regional areas is essential for sustaining viable and vibrant communities, and in this regard the Government’s Jobs Action Plan prioritises 40,000, or 40 per cent, of the new jobs targeted for New South Wales for regional areas. The Jobs Action Plan will work by providing a payroll tax rebate of $4,000 per full-time employee for the first 100,000 new payroll tax paying jobs created in New South Wales. Further, paying the rebate in two equal parts on the first and second anniversaries of the hire of a new full-time employee will encourage long-term, sustainable jobs. The New South Wales Government is also delivering on its commitment to establish a standalone Department of Primary Industries in Orange, and the Government will continue to pursue further opportunities for decentralisation in due course.

CONDUCT OF MAGISTRATE JENNIFER BETTS

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER (Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Hunter, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [4.58 p.m.], by leave: I move:

1. That the following Address be adopted and presented to Her Excellency the Governor, seeking the removal from office of Magistrate Jennifer Betts of the Local Court.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.49 p.m.]: I will be brief. My colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak and I considered this matter in detail. We have read the evidence and we listened to the submission made to this House. I inform the House there is no way that we could support the motion.

FERAL PIG HUNTING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.51 p.m.]: Tonight I put forward some facts about an aspect of feral animal control which seems to attract a disproportionate amount of ill-informed criticism from those within the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [RSPCA] who have extreme views and also from so-called animal liberation organisations. I am talking about the use of dogs in feral pig control. It might interest the House to know the background of those who use dogs to control feral pigs. There is a group called the Australian Pig Doggers and Hunters Association [APDHA]. It is fed up with being vilified by animal rights groups who try to make out that it is only one step removed from Satan. Since its inception in 2005 the association has worked closely with the Department of Primary Industries and the Game Council NSW to develop and implement humane and ethical guidelines for the use of dogs in feral pig control programs on both private and State-owned land.

When first developing the guidelines the association took and implemented advice from the RSPCA. The association has developed and implemented a code of conduct for the use of dogs in feral pig control that includes, among other things, housing requirements for dogs; transportation of dogs; care and keeping of dogs; dog training, including stock and wildlife proofing; sale of pups and dogs; working of dogs; humane handling and dispatch of feral pigs; and provision of public liability insurance for financial members. Let us now un-demonise this group. It is a fact that association members also abide by the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Feral Livestock Animals developed by the Department of Primary Industries with input from the association and published by the CSIRO.

When using dogs in Game Council-sanctioned New South Wales State forests strict regulations apply regarding the number of people per team, the number of dogs working at any time, the compulsory use of electronic tracking devices, and protective plates for dogs, as well as the requirement to possess a current Game Council licence. Association members who breach the guidelines face stiff penalties from both the Game Council and the APDHA. It is also a fact that the association has promoted and asked for harsher penalties for those who operate illegally and outside the guidelines. These include larger fines, prison sentences and confiscation of all equipment, including vehicles used at the time the offence was committed. Government authorities have estimated the current feral pig population at over 23 million Australia-wide and no doubt growing after the recent good rains. Their habitat covers more than 40 per cent of Australia.

In the 12 months ending 30 April 2010, hunters with Game Council licences culled 68,480 feral pigs on both government and private land in New South Wales. These same licence holders in New South Wales alone spend over $50 million annually on hunting goods and services. Even the greenest Green and the most rabid animal liberationist would have to acknowledge that feral pigs cause millions of dollars of damage each year, including damage to agricultural land and crops; destruction of fragile native ecosystems; spread of pest weeds and disease; destruction and pollution of natural waterways and reservoirs; destruction of turtle and cassowary nests; and attacks on livestock and native animals.

Feral pig eradication and control programs using dogs and promoted by the association are at no cost to landowners or the taxpayers of New South Wales. Feral pig control programs using a combination of dog teams, shooting and trapping have always proven to be the most cost effective and given the best results in terms of pigs taken. If the Greens and the RSPCA can come up with better costed programs that will not cost the New South Wales taxpayer, I for one would like to see them. Like hunters and shooters, those who use dogs to find and eradicate feral pigs are from all walks of life and are far from being the bloodthirsty killers the RSPCA and others with extreme views would have people believe.

In closing, I note that after a very public appeal for donations by Rainforest Rescue to save the cassowary in Far North Queensland after Cyclone Yasi the association organised a fundraiser that raised more than $2,000. However, guess what? Rainforest Rescue has declined to accept the donation as has Wildlife Queensland, apparently due to pressure from anti-hunting forces. So just who are the conservationists here? I enjoy debates as much as anyone but I like them to have facts, not rhetoric.

15 June 2011

TIMBER INDUSTRY

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.46 p.m.]: Tonight I wish to speak about logging and the forest industry. My contribution will not be tempered—perhaps fuelled is a better word—by my visit on the weekend to a decimated timber community in the river red gum area. I was bemused to see in the Climate Commission’s first report that:

Stopping logging in old-growth forests, particularly in southern Australia, is one of the best ways of making timely cuts to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Supposedly because:

Established forests store much more carbon dioxide than plantations, so cutting them down releases more heat-trapping gases.

And in line with the mantra that The Greens keep trumpeting, the report then goes on to say:

If Australia is to stabilise and reduce its emissions in time to make a contribution to global efforts to slow climate change, storing more carbon in the landscape is classified as a useful interim measure while the nation weaned itself of fossil fuel-based electricity production …

Ending logging, it says:

… yields some quick gains while the slower process of transforming energy and transport systems unfolds.

Well, pardon me, while I go and tell those hard-working foresters who have yet to be sent broke, or driven out of the industry by The Greens, that they and their families will very shortly be out of work and probably out of hope—all in the name of ideology. At the risk of incurring the ire of said Greens, I would like to put the proposition tonight that we need more forests in New South Wales—and not just to have more trees, but to be able to maintain a viable working timber industry. I am aware that forests are considered a carbon positive energy source. Indeed, the Australian forest industry claims to be the only carbon positive industry in the country; and, further, that timber is the only carbon positive building product in the world. Why then, for heaven’s sake, are our forest industries on the hit list of the extremists, who want to crush not only our coal industry communities but our timber communities as well?

Healthy and sustainable forests come from economically viable harvesting, with foresters and farmers being encouraged to plant more trees than they remove. That is the nature of the industry.

Indeed, key factors in charting a direction for New South Wales forests are sustainability of jobs and regional economies. One does not grow forests in the middle of the eastern suburbs. I understand forests currently cover 26.5 million hectares, or 33 per cent, of New South Wales and come under three categories: State forests under forests agreements set out in State legislation; private native forestry; and private plantations.

If we ponder the question, “Why do we need more trees in commercial forests?” the answer is illuminating. We know that the timber market, amongst other things, underpins production for the building industry and infrastructure. But despite this the State needs to import timber worth about $177 million each year. Where do we get that from? The rainforests of Malaysia, no doubt. In terms of value, the New South Wales timber industry as a whole generates $2 billion a year and employs 21,000 people. The hardwood forest industry alone generates $600 million a year and employs 3,500 people in country regions. That is where The Greens flawed ideology comes unstuck. The Greens want trees but no timber industry. While they hold court here in Sydney and decide which industries are good for us and which ones are bad, they shut down rural and regional communities without a second thought. I saw that last weekend.

On behalf of the rural and regional communities in this State the Shooters and Fishers Party will do what it can in this place to protect them from that extreme ideology. Hopefully our votes, when combined with those of the like-minded Christian Democrats, will block any destructive legislation they might seek to impose on rural and regional people of this State, particularly those in the logging industry. For much of the past 16 years the Greens have pretty much got their way with compliant left-leaning Labor governments, particularly in so far as the timber industry is concerned. Let us all hope those days are gone.

14 June 2011

FIREARMS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Robert Borsak.

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.40 p.m.]: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to introduce the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2011. The bill proposes a number of amendments to the Firearms Act 1996 and the Firearms Regulation 2006. These amendments will introduce some minor improvements to some of the unnecessary restrictions suffered by ordinary people, who choose to collect, hunt or shoot using firearms. Some of these amendments were raised previously by my predecessor, the late Hon. Roy Smith. I hope that the new Government takes a more reasonable view on the legitimate use of firearms by private citizens. The amendments will not have any adverse impact on public safety. I will briefly take members through the amendments proposed in the bill. First, the bill removes air rifles from the requirement to be registered, and removes the need for a permit to acquire an air rifle. This would reduce the workload of the Firearms Registry, leading to a reduction in the cost of the registry. Public safety would not be compromised as it would still be necessary to hold a firearms licence to legally possess an air rifle. A related amendment allows minors under 18 years of age to use air rifles at an approved range under the direct supervision of a licensed person. Air rifles are particularly suited for use by junior shooters being introduced to the shooting sports.

The regulation of antique firearms is once again revisited in this bill, to address an anomaly left after last year’s amendment of the Act. The bill makes it clear that handguns manufactured before 1900 that take ammunition deemed by the commissioner to be not commercially available are not required to be registered, and can be purchased without the need for a permit to acquire. Previous amendments to the Act have already extended this exemption to antique long arms that take ammunition that is no longer commercially available, and the commissioner has gazetted a long list of cartridges that people can no longer buy commercially. A licence or permit will continue to be required to allow the legal possession of these antique handguns, and this licence must be shown when purchasing them. Before the Greens erupt in a paroxysm of fearmongering, let me assure the House that pre-1900 pistols for which ammunition is no longer available are not the weapons of choice for criminals in the twenty-first century.

Schedule 1, items [9] through to [11] to the bill will allow a person applying for a licence for the purpose of vertebrate pest animal control to use permission given by any public or local authority to shoot on that authority’s land, in support of that genuine reason. This simply extends the current ways in which such a licence can be supported to include public and local authorities, such as local councils, which have a need for persons to control pests on council tips and other council land that is not necessarily rural land. This amendment does not affect the authority extended to persons with a licence for recreational hunting or vermin control. It applies to certain employees, contract shooters and, under limited circumstances, to primary producers. Schedule 1 [13] similarly extends the recognition of a corresponding license issued in another State or Territory.

Schedule 1 [12] requires a person whose licence or permit is suspended or revoked to surrender their firearms after being directed in writing by the commissioner to do so. Schedule 1, items [14] and [15] allow a person with a probationary pistol licence to purchase no more than two pistols once they have held that licence for a period of more than six months, but removes the restrictions preventing them from purchasing a rim-fire and centre-fire pistol. Schedule 1 [16] streamlines the procedure for a person licensed in another State or Territory who moves to New South Wales and needs to apply for a licence and transfer the registration of their firearms. It simplifies and removes the cost of transferring the registration of their firearms.

The Shooters and Fishers Party Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 addressed the time-wasting requirements whereby firearms dealers were required to record all transactions, even when a transaction either did not involve a change of ownership or involved a firearm for which a licence was not required. However, an amendment to our 2010 bill by the then Government was used to undo the intended effect of the amendment. The amendments in schedule 1, items [17] through to [19] make it clear that a firearms dealer is not required to record or report to the commissioner on transactions involving a firearm that is not required to be registered, or where the transaction does not involve a change of ownership, such as receipt of a firearm for repair.

Schedule 1 [20] omits long arms fitted with a revolving ammunition cylinder from the schedule of prohibited firearms. These firearms are a single action design revolver with a long barrel, classifying them as a long arm. The New South Wales Police Force is apparently worried that these long arms, which cost between $1,000 and $3,000 to buy, will be cut down and turned into handguns. No legal firearms owner would vandalise a valuable firearm in that fashion. Criminals will continue to buy cheaper handguns on the black market, and avoid the inconvenience of having to dock the barrel. The police ministry also seems to be confused as to the capability of a single-action, as opposed to a double-action, revolver, wishing to treat those firearms as if they were capable of firing each time the trigger is pulled. As devotees of spaghetti westerns will know, the hammer must be pulled back manually prior to firing a single-action revolver.

Schedule 2 [1] is a minor amendment that removes the current requirement for the holder of a range approval to record the details of a person who holds a firearms licence for a reason other than target shooting when they come to the range to sight in or test the function of their firearm. The gathering of this information is a waste of the time of the volunteers or staff manning our shooting ranges. It does not impinge upon public safety as it removes something that is useless in the first place. Schedule 2 [2] inserts a clause in the regulation pertaining to the approval of shooting ranges with the intention of preventing the Firearms Registry continuing to impose unnecessary restrictions on the activities conducted at approved shooting ranges. Currently, the registry insists that only events named on the range approval can be shot on a range. It does not allow other events to be conducted even when the other event merely uses rearrangement of elements taken from events already named on the range approval.

Schedule 2 [3] is a consequential amendment that exempts a person from the requirement to have a permit for an imitation of an antique firearm when the firearm of which the imitation is a copy can be held without a firearms licence. Put simply, if a person can own the real antique firearm without a licence, why should they have to have a permit in order to own a non-functioning imitation version of it? There is also a need to amend some other associated legislation that unreasonably impacts on law-abiding firearms owners—in particular, the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009. Schedule 3 [1] removes a superfluous reference to air guns being banned from national parks. Air guns cannot be carried or used in a national park under a more general exclusion of firearms from national parks. Schedule 3 [2] amends that regulation so as to allow a person to convey an unloaded firearm and ammunition through a national park in a vehicle on a public road, provided that the person is authorised to possess that firearm or ammunition. It does not authorise the use of a firearm in a national park. It does not authorise the possession of a firearm in a national park other than in a vehicle on a road passing through the national park.
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In some areas the only means of access to or from privately owned land is via a road through a national park. People living on or visiting such farms or blocks of land currently are required to seek out a national parks and wildlife officer and get permission each time they wish to travel along the legal access to their land with a firearm. They may be leaving their property to target shoot at their local range, or to going hunting. This amendment does not allow them to take the firearm out of their car in the national park. It merely does away with the stupidity of their having to get permission each time they travel through a national park. The Shooters and Fishers Party will continue to put forward bills to remove the unnecessary regulation of shooters and fishers in New South Wales. This is the first of several bills that I will be introducing. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned on motion by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.56 p.m.]: I will speak only briefly to this fantastic motion put forward by the Hon. Greg Donnelly. We need to recognise the work that volunteers do in our community. Australia has one of the greatest records in volunteering. We see that everywhere we go. In fact, it is probably arguable that volunteering in some non-government organisations takes a great load off taxpayers in providing services and support to all sorts of people in need. I have a particular interest of course in the Volunteer Conservation Hunters—all 11,000 of them—who freely give of their time, and at their cost.

The Hon. Robert Borsak: All 15,000.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It is 15,000. I apologise and acknowledge the interjection of my colleague the Hon. Robert Borsak. Their volunteering is at their own expense, because they supply their own vehicles, firearms and ammunition, as well as their skills, quite often in hunts on freezing cold mornings, or in snow, sleet and other poor weather conditions. Volunteers were the real reason that in 2000 Australia was able to run such a successful Olympic Games. Had we not had thousands and thousands of volunteers make themselves available to the organising committee to assist with the running of the Games, I doubt whether Sydney or New South Wales would have been able to step up to the plate. We have so many volunteer organisations. I will not attempt to name them but they include community service organisations such as Rotary and Lions clubs.

The Hon. Robert Borsak: The scouts and guides.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: That is correct; we have organisations such as the scouts and the guides associations—which again have volunteers who give freely of their time to bring to young people things that they may not otherwise be able to get because of their family circumstances, such as a sense of adventure, or knowledge about the real world, certainly the natural world. We also have the police and community youth clubs. It is not just serving police officers who do volunteer work for those organisations; the sporting clubs around this city, State and country—

The Hon. Robert Borsak: Including the Sporting Shooters Association.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Yes. They run the ranges on a volunteer basis. But junior football clubs, junior soccer clubs, junior cricket clubs and so on are all supported by volunteers who give of their time freely. We as a society should not only value them; at every chance we get, we should support them, either financially or with our own time.

I can go on and name a few more of these organisations, and I think I will. The Hon. Sophie Cotsis mentioned the voluntary organisations that support the hospitals. In a lot of cases, without those voluntary organisations we would not have the sorts of services in those hospitals that we expect. We expect them as taxpayers, but more often than not the hospitals cannot afford some of the things that are provided for them by the volunteers. That idea of a bed race is a fantastic idea. Did the Hon. Sophie Cotsis say they raised $2 million?

The Hon. Sophie Cotsis: Over 20 years, $1 million.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: That is fantastic. It raised $1 million in 20 years. That is the sort of thing we like to hear about our volunteer organisations. I commend this motion to the House.

BULLBAR REGULATION

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Is the Minister aware that under national road safety rules that are being considered by the Federal Government bullbars could be banned on passenger cars in line with European-style changes to laws? Is it a fact that in its submission to the Federal Government, the Roads and Traffic Authority asked that any new regulations be made retrospective to include all bullbars fitted from January 2010? Does the New South Wales Government support a ban on bullbars, particularly in rural and regional areas? Will the Minister commit to referring this matter to the Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety before making further submissions to the Federal Government?

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: No, I am not aware of the changes, but I am surprised and concerned by the honourable member’s statements. I will certainly find out whether those suggestions are valid. Three weeks ago I returned from Alice Springs, where I signed off on road safety and the national road freight regulator. However, I am not aware of the issues that have been raised by the Hon. Robert Brown being discussed at that time.

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Earlier in question time the Hon. Robert Brown asked me a question without notice on bullbars. I am informed that in February 2011 the Hon. Catherine King, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, released a draft regulatory impact statement proposing the adoption of an internationally agreed standard to improve pedestrian safety by making vehicles more energy absorbing. This regulation was proposed to be phased in from 2013 to 2019. The proposal was not to ban bullbars; it recognised the safety benefits of bullbars and proposed standards for their use. Due to strong feedback through the consultation phase, it was decided that the proposal is not appropriate to the conditions of Australia and the proposal was withdrawn. The Department of Infrastructure and Transport is now consulting with interested parties on options to improve pedestrian safety.

KOSCIUSZKO NATIONAL PARK FERAL ANIMALS

On 4 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding Kosciuszko National Park feral animals. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

No toxicants (poisons) have been used as part of any baiting trials conducted to date.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is undertaking research trials to test new methods for the humane and cost-effective control of feral deer and feral goats at selected sites within national parks and reserves in southern NSW. In this area, pest animals such as feral deer and feral goats are damaging fragile vegetation, removing ground cover and compacting soils, thus impacting on the integrity of important ecosystems within the parks.

As part of these approved research trials, a number of lure and bait presentation methods have been investigated. The research has clearly identified a target specific approach for luring deer and goats within park boundaries to a series of defined localities. Current research has focussed on the ability to deliver a suitable toxicant to deer and goats in a target specific manner.

The impacts caused by feral deer and feral goats have been listed as Key Threatening Processes in Schedule 3 of the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. Feral deer have also been nominated as a Key Threatening Process under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The research trials have been approved by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Animal Ethics Committee (AEC), members of which include the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The Chief Scientist of the RSPCA has also provided written advice confirming that they support and sanction these trials.

A range of toxicants have been assessed as part of the project, with cyanide being supported for future trials by the OEH Animal Ethics Committee and most importantly by the RSPCA. Use of cyanide for the control of pest animals is widely supported across the world as a humane and effective toxicant (poison) due to its rapid mode of action. The delivery method developed by OEH researchers ensures a high degree of target selectivity when administering toxicants.
Any pest animal control works of this nature will be limited to national parks and reserves where ecological damage to native biodiversity and natural heritage by feral deer and goats is considered unacceptable.

The use of cyanide in the research trail will be subject to the approval of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). Should the trial proceed, the South East Livestock Health and Pest Authority will be kept informed of the results.

I am advised that the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 does not apply to any activity carried out on national parks or reserves. Similarly, I am advised that the Act does not apply to any National Parks and Wildlife staff member or any current or proposed control activities using lures or baits relating to the control of feral deer on national parks and reserves.

THE GREENS POLICIES

On 6 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding The Greens policies. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The Honourable Duncan Gay has adequately answered this question in the House.

MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

On 6 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding the Murray-Darling Basin. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

Yes, the NSW Government is aware of the research report, titled Climate Change: Science and Solutions for Australia.

The report is freely available on the CSIRO website.

I encourage people to read the report and form their own opinion on the subject.

CLARENCE RIVER RECREATIONAL FISHING

On 9 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, a question without notice regarding Clarence River recreational fishing. The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

The productivity of the Clarence River has been variable over the past 12 months given the floods in the area and their possible impact on catch size. However, the Clarence River has a long history of being a very productive estuary, and it is important to both recreational and commercial fishers.

I am advised that the latest available scientific data indicates that current commercial catch rates of sand whiting are stable throughout NSW.

I have received representations regarding this matter and have asked the Department of Primary Industries to investigate further.

DECENTRALISATION

On 11 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Treasurer, a question without notice regarding decentralisation. The Treasurer provided the following response:

(1) I am advised that the data quoted represent the most recent official New South Wales population projections for Sydney and regional New South Wales, published by the Department of Planning in 2008.

(2) The Government has announced a range or programs it will implement to assist people to live and work in regional New South Wales. Under the Government’s Jobs Action Plan, 40 per cent or 40,000 of the 100,000 new jobs to be provided with a payroll tax rebate of $4,000 per full time employee will be in regional New South Wales. In addition, the Government will introduce a Regional Relocation Grant of $7,000 to encourage individuals and families to move from Sydney to regional New South Wales. These initiatives will be complemented by the services and programs of the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services to facilitate establishment and expansion of businesses in the regional areas of the State.

FOOD AND FIBRE EDUCATION

On 11 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Education, a question without notice regarding food and fibre education. The Minister for Education provided the following response:

A 2001 national schools survey conducted by the Kondinin Group found that 88% of the 500 randomly selected Year 5 students surveyed have never visited a farm and 76% do not know a farmer.

Much has happened in recent years to raise awareness amongst students about sustainability and food and fibre practices.

The NSW Department of Education and Communities is developing a Sustainability Education and Management Policy for government schools. It is anticipated that the new policy will raise the profile of sustainability in general.

Furthermore, many NSW syllabuses currently provide students with opportunities to learn about sustainable food and fibre.

Sustainability will be a cross-curriculum focus in the Australian curriculum which is due to be implemented from 2012.

It is vital for students from Kindergarten to Year12 to understand and appreciate the importance of food and fibre, and how it is produced. This will be achieved through strong and well constructed curriculum and programs available to all students throughout NSW.

The NSW Department of Education and Communities will continue to work towards increasing awareness of the sustainable agricultural activities of NSW farmers among NSW students.

Report: Recreational Fishing in New South Wales

Debate resumed from 30 May 2011.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.04 p.m.], in reply: I will not go over the grounds that I covered in speaking to the take-note debate on the inquiry into recreational fishing in New South Wales. Once again, my heartfelt thanks to the members of the Select Committee on Recreational Fishing from all sides of the political spectrum. The committee’s inquiries took it over a big geographic area, with much time spent travelling in uncomfortable conditions on very small buses. I thank all honourable members for their contributions. I reiterate my special thanks to the parliamentary staff who accompanied the committee in its travels. They too had to endure the same sorts of conditions, as did Hansard. I commend the report and ask that the Government give it all due regard.

Question—That the House take note of the report—put and resolved in the affirmative.

7 June 2011

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has been forced to dump plans to wind back the state’s solar rebate scheme after realising the proposed changes would not pass the upper house.

The minor party MPs were understood to be against the plan because it was retrospective.  The Australian 7 Jun 11

4 June 2011

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AMENDMENT (PUBLIC SECTOR CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT) BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [4.17 p.m.]: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 1 on sheet 2011-041A:

No. 1 Page 4, schedule 1 [2], line 18. Insert “(other than a council or other local authority)” after “body”.

This amendment simply ensures that local government employees are excluded as public sector employees under this bill.

3 June 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Not from me. I am always very brief. I will add some statistics to the debate and comment on the contributions of Dr John Kaye and Mr David Shoebridge. The statistics from the Department of Premier and Cabinet in the former Government are a bit out-of-date and cover the 2009-10 workforce. The various tables vary in the method of calculation. In that financial year there were approximately 317,000 to 322,000 public sector employees and the total workforce in New South Wales was approximately 3,600,000 employees. I note that Dr John Kaye referred to the differences between the equivalent wage bands between the public sector and the private sector. I agree with Dr John Kaye.

The private sector tends to be paid on the bases of what we would call equivalent work bands more than the public sector. But when we look at increases in wages over the past 13 years we get a slightly different picture. Between 1997 and June 2010 the New South Wales public sector’s wage increases have outstripped the private sector by a cumulative 10.4 per cent over the 13 years—and I know that is not much per annum—the public sector and the rest of Australia by 5.8 per cent and the Federally registered wage agreements by 4.9 per cent. I point that out simply to give this debate a little bit of balance. I note that Dr Kaye was a little disparaging of my colleague Mr Borsak when Mr Borsak—

Dr John Kaye: I was disparaging of his remarks.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My apologies. I think Dr Kaye made the statement that even though Mr Borsak may have been an accountant for 40 years he did not know much about economics.

Dr JOHN KAYE: You will have to look at the Hansard but I think I said his economics was inaccurate.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I would put my money on Mr Borsak over Dr Kaye any day in relation to his understanding of economics. But I am not an accountant so I bow to Mr Borsak’s more competent knowledge of this subject. Dr Kaye is quite correct: when the Government is balancing the budget of course there are two sides to the ledger—expenses and income. It is quite evident that the receipts are down between this time last year and now, and they are going to go down further. The general economic outlook in New South Wales across all sectors is not even. I have quite a bit of experience in the building industry and I know for a fact that at this time the building industry is in a bit of strife, and that affects a whole range of taxes that go into the State Government’s coffers—payroll tax for one.

The property industry is flat at the moment and therefore sales tax revenues are down. The GST revenue is down. I do not know how many members on either side of this House have had to run a business or have owned a business. I have done both. It is a hard fact of life but when you are facing a problem of financial security in a business or a government you have to make decisions. It is fine for The Greens to—I will not use the word “vilify”, because they are not doing that—try to give the impression that the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democrats are simply giving the Government its way and the Government will cut and slash and burn. That perhaps is the problem. In my discussions with Mark Lennon from Unions NSW we agreed that we would like to see the Government given the opportunity to try wage restraint before it starts cutting jobs. Dr Kaye made a very important observation in reply to a bit of a flippant remark by my colleague about cutting numbers and backroom staff versus front-room staff.

Mr David Shoebridge: It wasn’t flippant at all. It was a direct threat to cut 9,000 staff. It’s not flippant if it is your job. There’s nothing flippant about your job being outsourced on public radio.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I am entitled to my opinion as to what Dr Kaye’s imputations were, and so are you. The point I am trying to make is that while these all-care-no-responsibility Greens sit on the other side of the House it is left to us to try to give the Government the opportunity to perhaps moderate its wages income and save public service jobs.

The ASSISTANT-PRESIDENT (Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile): Order! Mr David Shoebridge will restrain himself so the Hon. Robert Brown can continue his contribution.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: The Shooters and Fishers Party, and I think the Christian Democratic Party, have taken the view that the Government needs to be given the chance to see what it can do to modify the wage demands on the public sector. It is a very big chunk of money—$25 billion plus about $3 billion in superannuation. Savings can be achieved in one of two ways: ameliorate the increases in the forward estimates or simply reduce the numbers. There is a third way, of course: start interfering with work hours. If the Government interferes with work hours for front-line staff in particular who work shift work such as nurses, police and fire brigade employees it may as well cut numbers, because it will have the same effect on the delivery of public services.

Those areas across the government sector are not all essential, and when the Government comes to choose where it will make cuts, if it is going to make them, unfortunately it will probably make cuts in backroom staff—not because the backroom staff are any less valuable than front-line staff, although we admire the police, who stand a chance of getting shot to death every day on the streets—simply because making cuts in those areas of the public sector may affect the delivery of services slightly less. We have taken the view that the Government has a mandate to look after the overall financial health of the State and that is why we have said that on the condition a couple of deals are made—and The Greens are quite right, there were deals made: the deals that the Government would ameliorate some of the issues in this legislation and in turn the Government would get our conditional support.

Mr David Shoebridge: We will see the rest of the deal in the coming months, Robert, and you know it.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I acknowledge the interjection. Mr David Shoebridge may feel that he will see the reverse side of some fictitious deal in the months to come, but he has not been in this place for 16 years, and neither have I, but with the outrageous deals The Greens have done with the Government over the last 16 years he would know all about deals.

Mr David Shoebridge: So you don’t deny it?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: No. I do not deny it because I cannot be bothered denying it. It is as simple as that.

2 June 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.16 a.m.]: I need not remind the House that yesterday evening when the Government sought leave to continue with Government Business, leave was denied on the voices, and the voices came from that corner of the House opposite me. On many occasions during the last Parliament the former Government sought to do the same thing. Labor was in government then and I rarely sought to deny it the opportunity, as a government, to get on with its business. Dr John Kaye spoke about bringing on Government Business and said that the court of public opinion would frown upon this sort of activity. To my knowledge, the court of public opinion last sat on 26 March this year and will sit again on the last Saturday in March 2015. I do not believe this is anything more than the Opposition and The Greens seeking to deny the Government bringing on Government Business, whatever it might have been. Perhaps they should have taken the opportunity last night.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. I refer to wind farms. Is the Minister aware that last year General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 recommended:

That the Minister for Planning include a minimum setback distance of two kilometres between wind turbines and residences and neighbouring properties in the NSW Planning and Assessment Guidelines for Wind Farms.”

Has the Federal member for Hume approached the Government to halt new wind farm developments in the electorate of Hume? As he has said, residents are upset about the way “wind turbine developers have been able to usurp the normal development application process”. Will the Government facilitate community consultation with affected residents in line with pre-election commitments?

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [12.15 a.m.]: On behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party I lead in debate on the Industrial Relations Amendment (Public Sector Conditions of Employment) Bill 2011 and will be brief. As I noted in another debate last week, the current Government has just won a landslide victory and will inevitably take a different approach to that of the previous Government on issues such as the House is debating now. That is not to say that the current Government will be afforded a blank cheque in this House, but it does have the right to implement its legislative agenda. A key issue that the current Government campaigned on was in fact fiscal responsibility.

Given the importance of the legislation before the House, we have consulted widely with the key stakeholders and have reviewed the State accounts. As an accountant for more than 40 years they do not present a pretty position or picture for the citizens of New South Wales. In our negotiations with the Government we have been given an assurance that the Police Association will be allowed to pursue its current wage claim and that it will be unaffected by any proposed changes. Likewise, we will be moving an amendment that will exempt local government employees from this policy, as they are not employed by the State Government.

Under the proposed changes the Industrial Relations Commission must give effect to certain aspects of government policy on public sector employment that is declared by regulations to be an aspect of government policy. Given that regulations can be disallowed by either House, and in particular this House, where the Government does not have the numbers in its own right, and subject to our amendment and an assurance that the Police Association will be allowed to pursue its current wage claim and will be unaffected by any proposed changes, the Shooters and Fishers Party is prepared to give conditional support to the bill.

I want to refer to some disingenuous arguments that are circulating in respect of the bill. The current Government did not pluck this policy out of thin air. In 2007 the then Iemma Labor Government put out its “New South Wales Public Sector Wages Policy 2007”, which provided for “a process to ensure all New South Wales public sector organisations meet the objectives of section 13 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (New South Wales) 2005.” The intention of the 2007 policy was to maintain real wages by allowing for increases of 2.5 per cent per annum, in line with a consumer price index of between 2 per cent and 3 per cent. Additional increases of about 2.5 per cent would be available where employment-related cost savings were achieved. This policy:

… applies to all negotiations, variations, claims or offers by management that impact on wages, salaries and employment conditions, whether or not they are formalised in an award, agreement or any other arrangement.

Therefore this policy, as I said, is not something that the current Government simply plucked out of thin air. It is a policy that has been in place for a number of years. The difference is that the current Government, which campaigned during the election on fiscal responsibility, is seeking to enforce a policy put in place by the previous Labor Government. Our main concern with this policy change is that it places an unfair burden on some public sector employees. In the case of police, it is very difficult to find employee-related cost savings when approximately 80 per cent are front-line wage-related staff costs.

In relation to health workers, it is simply unviable as approximately 40 per cent are front-line nurses and approximately 60 per cent are employed in human resources telling front-line nurses how to do their job. If the Government is fair dinkum about reducing excess fat in the public service, I would suggest that it look very closely at the Department of Environment, which employs more than 10,000 public servants. This stands in stark contrast with the number of front-line police manning level of only 16,000. If the Government reduced that figure of 10,000 to less than 1,000, not one citizen in New South Wales would notice any difference in service. The same does not apply to police or indeed nurses in this State. As I have stated, the Shooters and Fishers Party is prepared to give conditional support to the bill, keeping in mind that any future regulation can be disallowed by this House.

1 June 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Transport. Is it a fact that the Central West is the only region adjacent to Sydney without road access of an appropriate standard? Is it also a fact that an adequate route between the Sydney Basin and the Central West region could facilitate growth and relieve safety and congestion issues on the Great Western Highway? Does the Government support upgrading the Bells Line of Road to a four-lane, dual carriageway suitable for B-double access, to provide an alternative route to the Great Western Highway across the Blue Mountains? If so, where does such a project fit in with the Government’s current infrastructure plans for New South Wales?

31 May 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware that in its latest journal the Nationals Parks Association outlines plans to “revitalise” its campaign of opposing vehicles being driven on beaches, “particularly beaches included in or adjacent to national parks or other reserves”? Further, is it a fact the National Parks Association is calling for people to send the association photographs of vehicles, mainly four-wheel drives and sand buggies, and it especially wants evidence of vehicles “crushing sand-dwelling fauna”? Will the Minister undertake to scrutinise any photographs presented by the National Parks Association to back its calls for bans, and indeed demand proof that any such photographs are genuine and not staged managed by the association and/or its supporters?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier. Is the Premier aware that the Commonwealth Water Act 2007 does not allow equal consideration of social, economic and environmental factors in determining the Government’s acquisition of water allocations from farmers for environmental flows? Will the Premier liaise with the Victorian Premier and seek a bipartisan withdrawal from the Murray-Darling Basin agreement until such time as the Federal Government agrees to amend the Commonwealth Water Act 2007 to provide this balance?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.45 p.m.]: The Library Amendment Bill 2011 is important because it enables smaller councils to continue to provide clustered library services. The closest library to my home at Rydalmere is a tiny facility at Telopea. Without these joint arrangements I am sure it would not exist. I must admit that I do not use library services much these days, but my dear wife does.

The Hon. Rick Colless: You should see their hunting and fishing magazines.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I will get to that. As members have said, libraries cater to a wide range of people in the community, not only those who wish to read books or to undertake research. My local area has a large population for whom English is their second language and the library provides English language services to assist them. It also provides internet coaching for seniors and a number of other services that I am sure every other library provides.

A member asked me whether I remember the first time I visited a library. I do not, but I am sure I would have been looking for periodicals when I did. I and my family could not afford to buy Outdoors, the precursor to Sporting Shooter, but I could go to the local library to read it. As teenagers we would read Popular Mechanics and learn how to do all sorts of interesting things. Of course, what young man’s education would be complete without National Geographic? I feel a great deal of nostalgia for libraries. When I lived in Gladesville in my youth I used the Hunters Hill library. I later lived at Ryde, where the local library was bigger and had more substantial resources. The beauty of those libraries—and particularly the libraries that are part of a cluster—is the ease with which they provide a huge range of resources because they have access to the resources held by other libraries.

I seem to recall that even way back in the late 1950s and early 1960s State governments of the day never seemed able to supply sufficient textbooks and library services within primary schools and junior high schools. Consequently, before the days of Google and the internet students were required to obtain that information elsewhere and principally from libraries. Today students still go to libraries but there they tap into a computer to get their research materials. I am probably showing my age by saying that back in my day students could not do that, and if they did not go to the local library to do research, they turned in work that was not of the same high standards as the work of students who had access to a library. That brings home the reality of rural and regional townships and the necessity to maintain libraries and other community services in those areas. With the smaller libraries it might take two weeks for the transfer from one library to another to take place, and that might be too late.

I am aware that the Opposition will move an amendment in Committee. Both the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers Party have received representations from the United Services Union, which has legitimate concerns that the bill may create a fallow ground for the outsourcing of libraries. I am assured by the Government that that will not happen and that the intention of the bill is to resolve the problem related to the management and operation of these clusters. However, I ask the Minister in reply to give an assurance to the House that the bill will not be used to allow local government groups to engage in wholesale outsourcing and that the jobs of the people who traditionally provide these services will be protected. The Government has put forward an argument that an amendment such as that foreshadowed would limit the ability of libraries to have, say, people in sheltered workshops covering books. I do not think for a minute that that will necessarily be the case. Perhaps the Minister will take on board those concerns and place on the record something that will give comfort to those concerned. Other than that, we support the bill wholeheartedly.

MARKETS FOR CHANGE

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.33 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about a new environmental activist group called Markets for Change. Like most such groups, scratch them a bit and you find they are actually misguided eco-warriors dressed up as Blinky Bill running around our streets. Generally, the first thing that a new environmental activist group must do is call for a ban or a boycott. True to form, Markets for Change follows the formula. It wants Australians to boycott locally made hardwood furniture, flooring and paper products, largely on the basis of the grossly exaggerated premise that “logging is still permitted in 76 per cent of Australia’s native forests”. That is horse feathers.

Let me point out some facts relating to the Australian timber industry—and I thank author, professional forester and Fellow of the Institute of Foresters of Australia, Mark Poynter, for the information he has provided. Australia has 147.4 million hectares of native forests and woodlands. Timber is mostly produced from a 4.1 million-hectare slice comprising less than half of the publicly owned, multiple-use State forests. This, plus a smaller area of private land and leased public land that is also used for timber production, equates to about 5 per cent of Australia’s forests—well short of the Markets for Change’s claimed 76 per cent.

I understand that the brand-new chief executive of Markets for Change is a former national forests campaign coordinator for the Wilderness Society, that the group’s activities are being overseen by a board of management comprised mostly of current and former Greenpeace activists, and that several of them do not even live in Australia. I am also led to believe that initial funding for Markets of Change amounts to about $7 million—contributed by anonymous local and international donors. Oh, to have such wealthy benefactors! Its first campaign, entitled “Retailing the Forests: Confronting the Australian Retail Sector’s Involvement in Native Forest Destruction”, is supported by a 40-page publication which argues that there is a direct link between “the destruction of Australia’s native forests and the everyday consumer products on the shelves and showroom floors of many of Australia’s top retailers”.

The publication details how under the guise of hypothetical examples a range of social media could be used to direct and encourage consumer boycotts of targeted timber retailers, effectively threatening those retailers with significant financial hardship unless they stop selling products made from Australian native hardwoods. It smacks of a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] campaign. Such eco-based consumer boycotts can be justified only if there is irrefutable evidence of the resource use causing significant environmental damage. I do not believe that this group has made out a case for this campaign. I argue that our forests are well managed for the future. But I do not expect a blinkered green activist group to ever accept that premise.

The worrying aspect of this push for a boycott is that the Competition and Consumer Act 2010— formerly the Trade Practices Act—normally protects retailers from campaigns that incite consumer boycotts designed to unfairly restrict trade. However, it seems that the Competition and Consumer Act allows for an exemption for consumer boycotts which “relate to environmental protection”, thereby denying targeted companies their right to complain to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. If that is correct, such an exemption should concern all right-thinking people because it effectively gives so-called environmental activists the go-ahead to push consumer boycotts by distorting or exaggerating the nature of the threats posed by targeted products. Animal liberationist campaigns against the Australian kangaroo meat export industry are a perfect example. I hope that the relevant authorities are awake to the situation and will move to protect the livelihoods of up to 80,000 Australians who work in jobs directly and indirectly associated with native forest timber production.

NATIONAL COALITION FOR GUN CONTROL

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.48 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about the gun prohibition lobby group, which emerges from time to time to launch its predictable tirade against legal firearm owners. It criticises also anything the Shooters and Fishers Party does to make our gun laws more sensible and more workable. I refer, of course, to the so-called National Coalition for Gun Control—”national”, hardly! The group is actually a coalition of two people and, as far as I can determine, was created to serve the ego of the self-styled next leader of the Federal Greens, our old friend Lee Rhiannon. As far as anyone knows, the coalition is made up of a Tasmanian lawyer based in Hobart and Samantha Lee, the grandly titled chair of the group.

If the coalition were properly constituted it would no doubt have a constitution, a registered address and, indeed, a membership list. We should be able to apply for membership. I do not believe the group has any of these community-based organisational attributes. It is a straw dummy, a coward’s soap box filled with froth and no substance. I must admit that, with the same Ms Rhiannon about to join the Federal Senate, I have some trepidation at what draconian rules and regulations she will seek to impose on the legal firearm owners of Australia. She will now have a national field in which to meddle; she will no longer be limited to just mucking up New South Wales.

At every instance of someone doing the wrong thing with a firearm not only here but anywhere in the world members of the National Coalition for Gun Control seemingly cannot help themselves. They trot out their same tired old mantra and somehow try to blame legal and licensed firearm owners for any and every incident. Crooks and villains do not register their firearms; they do not get a firearms licence; nor do they submit themselves to scrutiny by police who come to their house regularly and inspect the storage of their firearms. It is crooks who perpetrate the firearm incidents and drive-by shootings that the gun control coalition is so keen to blame us for. We all know it is impossible to legislate to control a mentally ill person or to prevent someone who is bent on murder actually going ahead and doing it.

The Shooters and Fishers Party supports workable firearm laws and legislation. Indeed, we promoted a bill that imposed extra sentences for anyone using a firearm in a crime, but we won no support from the major parties. We believe that we have sufficiently sound laws in Australia. They do not need further tightening, but they could do with further fine tuning to remove some of the more silly provisions and red tape. We have a fine tradition of sporting shooters, who are the backbone of our community and who, by definition and licensing, are the cream of our society, otherwise they would not be licensed to carry firearms. The same cannot be said for the boosters of the anti-legal gun ownership lobby—this turgid and shadowy group of fellow travellers bent on social change and control at all costs.

Our current laws withstand the unwarranted scrutiny of the self-interest group, the National Coalition for Gun Control. There are many examples of how dishonest and deceptive the anti-gun lobby can be, but let me give just two examples. A couple of years back the so-called National Coalition for Gun Control issued a joint media release with Lee Rhiannon’s other darling, Animal Liberation. They were trying to shut down a hunting and outdoor lifestyle expo, an event in the Albury-Wodonga area. They claimed:

The expo is illegal and breaches a number of serious provisions under the Firearms Act.

This was a dishonest claim, as the police were quick to confirm. However, gun prohibitionists do not deal in facts; they like to talk about gun crime and blame it incorrectly on firearms theft from licensed owners. They stated:

The only way to stop drive-by shootings is to reduce the number of guns in the legal market.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Or cars.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: Or cars, exactly. As we recently heard in this place from the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, the guns used by thugs to enforce their control over the drug trade come from overseas, just like the drugs. Backing that, the Australian Institute of Criminology shows that firearms stolen from private owners seldom turn up later in crime. People in the community often ask, “Why can’t we pay for more teachers? Why can’t we afford more nurses or police?” It is simple: Past governments have unquestioningly yielded to the shrill and misleading demands of anti-gun extremists. Those dollars could have been spent meeting the needs of the community rather than the whims of The Greens. I sincerely hope the New South Wales Government will take a more responsible approach to the spending of taxpayers’ money in the future.

30 May 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Regional Infrastructure. In March this year the Gillard and Keneally governments signed off on a plan to deliver the $47 million Orange pipeline project connecting the Macquarie River to Orange to ensure future growth. At the time of the announcement it was expected that the pipeline would be completed by December 2012. Is the Minister aware that locals are talking about it being at least another 12 months before the project can go ahead, simply for the council to address its environmental assessment? Will the Minister inform the House what work has been done so far, what is the current construction schedule of the $47 million project and will it still be delivered on time for the people of Orange?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware of comments made by Climate Commission economist Roger Beale that “a sudden phase out of coalmining would spark economic and social chaos”? Is the Minister also aware that the Federal Minister for Resources, Martin Ferguson, has accused The Greens of trying to “undermine and destroy” jobs and export revenue? Will the Minister outline the immediate economic impact on New South Wales of any ban on new coalmines or expansion of existing mines as proposed by The Greens in Canberra and New South Wales?

27 May 2011

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY AMENDMENT BILL 2011

In Committee

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [9.51 a.m.]: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 1 on sheet C2011-028D.

No. 1 Page 4, clause 4. Insert after line 20:

Industrial Court means the Industrial Court of New South Wales.

The amendment simply inserts in the bill the wording, “Industrial Court means the Industrial Court of New South Wales”.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE (Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra) [9.52 a.m.]: The Shooters and Fishers Party has foreshadowed a number of amendments, some of which relate to the jurisdictional issues involved in this legislation. Although we are dealing with amendment No. 1 at this stage, my comments will also be relevant to Shooters and Fishers Party amendments Nos 2, 6, 7 and 8, which all relate to jurisdictional issues.

The Government opposes the amendments, which would have the effect of conferring jurisdiction on the Industrial Court and the Local Court to hear and determine prosecutions for alleged category 3 breaches of the proposed Work Health and Safety Act. The proposed amendments would allow other offences to be dealt with by the mainstream courts. Proceedings for category 1 and 2 criminal offences under the Work Health and Safety Bill will be dealt with by the Local Court and District Court as proposed by the Government. Proceedings for category 1 matters would be taken on indictment.

The Work Health and Safety Bill provides for criminal offence proceedings to be heard either in the Local Court or the District Court depending on the penalty sought. The most serious offence, the category 1 offence for reckless conduct exposing an individual to a risk of death or serious injury, is to be heard as an indictable offence by the Supreme Court. A category 1 offence, in particular, carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and should be heard by a judge and jury.

The Industrial Relations Commission will continue to have an important role under the New South Wales Work Health and Safety Bill. The commission will be charged with responsibility for matters such as authorisation of health and safety representatives, the issue of work health and safety entry permits to union officials, arbitrating disputes about right of entry and reviewing certain decisions made by WorkCover inspectors. Proceedings for criminal offences under the Work Health and Safety Bill will be heard by the mainstream court following the Government’s policy decision that such offences should be heard in a way that is consistent with the treatment of other criminal offences in the New South Wales criminal justice system.

The move of the work health and safety jurisdiction to the mainstream courts is in line with most other jurisdictions. It has been supported by stakeholders. I note, for example, the New South Wales Minerals Council has stated:

We also welcome the decision to move occupational health and safety prosecutions to the Supreme Court. Like any other criminal matter, if there is a risk of you going to jail then you should be tried by a jury of your peers and have the basic legal rights that are afforded to anyone else in the justice system.

The Government therefore opposes the amendment.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [9.56 a.m.]: The Greens support this amendment from the Shooters and Fishers Party. We will deal with its other amendments seriatim as they are moved. We should retain in the Act a real role for the Industrial Court, which has a decades-long history and tradition of dealing with work health and safety matters. It has judicial members with enormous expertise in dealing with work health and safety matters. Retaining a key role for the Industrial Court in the new Act, which will come into force from January next year, is an important step, the Greens believe, in ensuring that we have the highest possible standards of workplace safety.

I will not speak to the balance of what the Minister said in relation to amendment No. 1, but it is very clear that The Greens support the great majority of all matters under occupational health and safety remaining with the Industrial Court and that it have a continuing substantial role. The move by the Coalition to utterly remove any meaningful role for the Industrial Court in occupational health and safety matters is one of the most retrograde steps that this Parliament has seen to date, and hopefully will be the most retrograde step we will see over the next four years. What is disturbing about the Government’s position in relation to the removal of the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court is that it never took that policy to the people of New South Wales.

This has been sprung on the people of New South Wales months after the election. The rhetoric that the Coalition took to the election was, “We want to keep the Industrial Court, we want to keep a real role for the Industrial Court and we want to make sure that occupational health and safety matters are dealt with by the Industrial Court.” That was the rhetoric, but the reality—now that the Coalition is in Government and thinks it can force through its far-right agenda, stripping down the Industrial Court and attacking organised labour—is quite different. It is in many senses a betrayal of the people of New South Wales and of the pledges that the Coalition gave to the people of New South Wales in the election that it will now not support this amendment to include a real and substantial role for the Industrial Court.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [9.59 a.m.]: The Christian Democratic Party supports the amendment. As we will see when we deal with other amendments, it will allow the Industrial Court to continue to have a role in certain matters.

The Hon. LUKE FOLEY (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [9.59 a.m.]: Labor supports the amendment moved by the Hon. Robert Borsak. The Opposition believes that the development of this specialist court and jurisdiction has been essential to promoting and maintaining appropriate standards of work health and safety in this State. Retaining this learning is essential to ensuring that fair and appropriate standards are retained for the benefit of working people. The Industrial Court has the requisite forensics skills and learning in this important area. The District Court has no experience in this area whatsoever and no judges with appropriate experience in the area. Furthermore, the District Court does not have the necessary resources to undertake this very important area of the law.

During the second reading debate I referred to the statutory review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act undertaken in 2006 by an eminent former justice, the Hon. Paul Stein. He investigated in great detail the question of the courts and the occupational health and safety jurisdiction. In his report he recommended against moving this jurisdiction from the Industrial Court to other courts. Labor supports the amendment moved by the Hon. Robert Borsak.


The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK
[11.36 a.m.]: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 2 appearing on sheet C2011-28D:

Amendment No. 2 seeks to delete clause 229A, entitled Procedure for offences, and to insert a new clause 229B, Summary procedure for offences. The effect of the amendment is to allow union officials to prosecute category 3 offences at any time, without having to go through the section 231 procedure.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE (Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra) [11.36 a.m.]: The Government opposes the amendment, as I indicated earlier when debating jurisdictional matters. The Government has fully set out in the debate on the bill its reasons for these jurisdictional decisions, and I do not think it necessary to repeat them.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [12.25 p.m.]: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 3 on sheet C2011-028D:

Amendment No. 3 will allow a secretary of an industrial organisation of employees or any member or members of an organisation to bring proceedings for a category 1 offence and a category 2 offence in the bill, but only as permitted by subclause (3) which relates to the general guidelines issued by the regulator.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: The amendment will retain a union’s right to prosecute for a category 3 offence, which is a lesser category of offence, and that is a positive element. It really is a statement of principle that organised labour or unions have not only a perfectly valid role as passive participants in this new occupational health and safety regime but also a valid and active role as a prosecutor. When unions see a breach of the work health and safety laws seriously prejudices the interests of their members or the general public, they have a perfectly valid role in bringing a prosecution and seeking to bring to justice someone who has breached these important duties as well as enforce those occupational health and safety roles.

The Coalition’s proposal reflects its refusal to acknowledge that legitimate place of industrial organisations and unions as a prosecutor enforcing occupational health and safety rights and enforcing laws relating to a safer place in which to work. I acknowledge that the Shooters and Fishers Party’s amendment goes some way towards including that in category 3.

The amendment of the Shooters and Fishers Party effectively puts unions in place as a backstop if the regulator, WorkCover, refuses to accept the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute for a category 1 or category 2 offence. If the Director of Public Prosecutions advises that a case is relevant but WorkCover refuses to act, the amendment enables an industrial organisation, a union, to take on the prosecution. Acknowledging that unions have an absolutely legitimate place to bring prosecutions is a step forward from the Coalition’s denial of any legitimate right for organised labour to take part as a prosecutor under the Act.

The amendment of The Greens simply seeks to retain the status quo: unions have a right to prosecute. When their members are being harmed or are at risk and where a union secretary forms the view that a prosecution is required, it should have that fundamental right to stand up for the rights of its members. Unions should have not only the right to protect their members from occupational health and safety risks, but also the right to prosecute to make workplaces safer for all of us. This was apparent from the enormously far-sighted prosecutions of the Finance Sector Union [FSU], the Australian Services Union [ASU] and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union [CFMEU]. I commend The Greens amendment.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: [2.16 p.m.] I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 4 on sheet C2011-028D:

Amendment No. 4 allows the secretary of an industrial organisation of employees to bring proceedings for a category 1 offence or a category 2 offence only if the regulator has declined to follow the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions to bring the proceedings, that is, after referral of the matter to the regulator and the Director of Public Prosecutions under section 231.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [2.18 p.m.]: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 5 on sheet C2011-028D:

Amendment No. 5 would prohibit the granting of moiety to union officials where a union official brings proceedings in relation to a category 1 offence or a category 2 offence, hence there will be no option for the court to grant moiety to the prosecutor.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.41 p.m.], by leave: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendments Nos 6, 7 and 8 on sheet C2011-028D in globo:

Amendment No. 6 deletes division 2A, Sentencing guidelines, because of the plethora of courts that will have jurisdiction under the legislation. It is necessary to delete the sentencing guidelines that were under proposed division 2B. There should not be a position in which the District Court is imposing sentencing guidelines on a superior court of New South Wales. Amendment No. 7 is a consequential amendment. Amendment No. 8 deletes schedule 5.1 and is necessary given the changes outlined.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.41 p.m.], by leave: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendments Nos 6, 7 and 8 on sheet C2011-028D in globo:

Amendment No. 6 deletes division 2A, Sentencing guidelines, because of the plethora of courts that will have jurisdiction under the legislation. It is necessary to delete the sentencing guidelines that were under proposed division 2B. There should not be a position in which the District Court is imposing sentencing guidelines on a superior court of New South Wales. Amendment No. 7 is a consequential amendment. Amendment No. 8 deletes schedule 5.1 and is necessary given the changes outlined.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [3.41 p.m.]: Given the situation in which the Supreme Court will be dealing with category 1, the District Court will be dealing with category 2, and the Industrial Relations Commission and/or the Local Court will be dealing with category 3, the amendments moved by the Shooters and Fishers Party are the only rational way of going forward. We simply cannot have the District Court, which is not a superior court of record, issuing sentencing guidelines that direct how the Industrial Court, which is a superior court of record, goes about its day-to-day business or its sentencing.

The Greens have significant difficulty with the whole concept of sentencing guidelines because they limit the capacity of a judge to craft a sentence that responds to the specific culpability of a defendant before the court and it limits the capacity of a judge to take into account relevant mitigating factors. I hope this is a breakthrough in getting away from the concept of grid sentencing, guideline sentencing and mandatory sentences, which do not really have a valid place in any part of the law, particularly as we have different courts and different levels of jurisdiction. They have no place in the now amended bill.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [4.00 p.m.], by leave: I move Shooters and Fishers Party amendments Nos 1 and 2 on sheet C2011-027 in globo:

Amendment No. 1 seeks to delete schedule 1 [14], which would amend section 106 of the Act, Authority to prosecute. The effect of my amendment is to allow unions to retain the right to prosecute until 31 December 2011. Amendment No. 2 seeks to delete schedule 1 [16], by which the bill proposes the insertion into schedule 3 of the Act of a new part 7. Shooters and Fishers Party amendment No. 2 will delete proposed section 27 from the new part 7, because that would abolish the union right to prosecute from the date of the introduction of the bill and is therefore unnecessary given the amendment proposed by our amendment No. 1.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister advise how much funding the New South Wales Government has contributed in each of the past five financial years to the total operational costs of the National Firearms Policy working Group? Will the Minister provide information about costs associated with sending delegates to working group meetings and all associated administrative and supporting costs? Will the Minister supply an itemised summary of each issue on the agenda for each of the past eight meetings of this group? Will the Minister inform the House whether at any time in these meetings the New South Wales delegate or delegates committed to supporting any items that have been sponsored by the Australian Government? If so, what are they?

26 May 2011

PROPERTY VEGETATION LEGISLATION

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 10 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Brown asked me, in my capacity as representing the Minister for the Environment, a question about property vegetation legislation. The Minister for the Environment has provided the following response:

I am interested in the views of the NSW Farmers’ Association and I am arranging to meet with the Association as a priority to personally understand their views.

The Government is committed to having the Native Vegetation Act 2003 enable farmers to get on with the business of farming while, at the same time, ensuring important remnant vegetation is protected. I have called for briefings on the provisions of both the native vegetation and threatened species legislation to determine how they can be improved.

I have also identified that a priority will be to see how the NSW legislation and the Commonwealth biodiversity legislation can be harmonised to reduce duplication and also protect native animals.

The NSW Government wants farmers to succeed in producing food and fibre and will be closely scrutinising the operation of all legislation to ensure that the current provisions, and the way that they are administered, strike the right balance.

POLICE FIREARMS AUDITS

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER:

On 24 May 2011 the Hon. Robert Borsak asked a question in relation to the audit process for police issue firearms. I am advised that quarterly inspections are undertaken by local area commands across the State of all appointments, including firearms, on issue to police. The results of these inspections are documented and any irregularities are followed up. Strict safe storage standards are also prescribed for appointments. Most police stations conduct a weekly check of firearms. The frequency of these checks may increase or decrease depending upon risk assessment. I am advised that the most recent data available shows that nine Glock pistols are not accounted for. No tasers have been recorded as missing.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY AMENDMENT BILL 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.50 p.m.]: My contribution to this debate, and the Shooters and Fishers Party position on the bills, follows extensive lobbying and meeting face to face with the Government, the Opposition, the Christian Democratic Party, key stakeholders and, indeed, also with interested individuals who all want to have their voices heard. There is no doubt that this legislation has generated a great deal of debate and I am sure there will be a lot more. The Shooters and Fishers Party will move several amendments during the Committee stage and, subject to those amendments being passed by the House, we will support the legislation as amended. I thank the Minister and his staff, Natalie Ward and Stephen Marriot, who have been very patient as we have worked through to achieve an outcome, which I know will not please everyone. I also thank Mark Lennon and Paul Doughty of Unions New South Wales, who have provided us with valuable input in the legislation before us. I will not name each and every organisation or person by name but I do thank everyone else who has made representations to us.

If politics is the art of the achievable this is the best that we believe could be achieved in terms of a middle ground between both starting positions, that is, what the Government, farmers and business wanted and what the unions wanted. A number of issues raised with us have been considered by our party in coming to our position. The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the concept of harmonising occupational health and safety laws in New South Wales with those in the rest of Australia. This gives effect to a Council of Australian Governments [COAG] agreement signed on 3 July 2008, when each State and Territory agreed to develop and implement uniform national occupational health and safety laws by December 2011. At the same time we recognise that there will be minor differences between States and Territories. I believe that most members of this House and the Legislative Assembly would acknowledge the unique position of the New South Wales economy in the Commonwealth, and it is imperative for all of us to maintain and develop the competitive position of New South Wales in respect of other States and Territories.

Maintaining that competitive position requires the abolition of the reverse onus of proof and the assumption of absolute liability placed on employers: employers are assumed to be guilty when a workplace accident occurs and have to prove their innocence. We have a long-held democratic legal tradition that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Employers should not be excluded from this tradition. While the reverse onus of proof is subject to statutory defences made available within the Acts, the expression itself is symbolically disabling to employers, and is a disincentive to investment and doing business in New South Wales. This absurd position of reversing the onus of proof should never have found its way into the Act, and we strongly support its removal.

The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the role of the Industrial Relations Commission as the industrial umpire. Under these bills the Industrial Relations Commission will retain its important role in hearing industrial relations matters concerned with the arbitral or administrative powers of the commission in the non-judicial sense, and will also hear a range of new matters. However, there are differing opinions as to whether unions should be allowed to commence prosecutions over breaches of occupational health and safety laws. Currently New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are the only two jurisdictions that allow for this. In New South Wales when a prosecution is brought before the Industrial Court the only possible avenue of appeal is to the full bench of the Industrial Court of New South Wales, and then by leave, as there is no right of appeal from a decision of the Industrial Court of New South Wales, a final appeal to the High Court. Therefore, the argument that defendants appearing before the Industrial Court of New South Wales are limited in their ability to appeal a conviction is a very strong argument, and one that the Shooters and Fishers Party has looked at closely.

Under the bill three new categories for an offence have been created. Category one creates an offence for a person who has a duty under the proposed Act and without reasonable excuse engages in conduct that exposes an individual to whom that duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness and is reckless as to the risk. Category two creates an offence for a person who has a duty under the proposed Act and fails to comply with that duty if that failure exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness. A category one offence is an indictable offence of reckless conduct and will be dealt with on indictment by the Supreme Court of New South Wales. No-one disagrees with that. The Shooters and Fishers Party is of the opinion that category two offences are serious enough that persons accused of them should be accorded the same rights as people accused of other criminal matters and thus convictions should be appealable if there are sufficient grounds. They are summary offences and will be dealt with by the District Court or the Local Court.

However, in relation to category one and two offences the Shooters and Fishers Party will move amendments during the Committee stage to allow the secretary of an industrial organisation of employees to bring proceedings before the allocated court but with no option by the court to grant moiety to the prosecutor if the regulator declines to follow the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions to bring the proceedings after referral of the matter to the regulator and the Director of Public Prosecutions under section 231. In relation to category three offences, the so-called bread and butter issues in industrial relations, the Shooters and Fishers Party believes that those summary offences under this category should be dealt with by the Industrial Court or the Local Court. The Shooters and Fishers Party will move amendments during the Committee stage that would allow union officials to prosecute category three cases at any time without having to go through the section 231 procedure, but with no option for the court to grant a moiety to the prosecutor.

As I said earlier, politics is the art of the achievable. We have been lobbied heavily by both sides on this issue. We realise the foreshadowed amendments may not please everyone, but they are what we believe is achievable and workable. At the end of the day the House has to recognise the outcome of the March State election. This is a new Government, which may take different approaches from previous governments on these issues we are now debating. The decisions this Government makes in the next four years will be reflected in the result at the next election. 25 May 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and, despite the weather outside, it relates to fire hazard reduction programs around the State. Does the Minister agree with the group that calls itself the New South Wales South East Region Conservation Alliance claiming that science has proved that hazard reduction strategies in the south-east region of this State are not effective? Further, is there any truth in its claim that the risk of bushfire is increased by thinning and drying out forests? What possible risk is there to animals, as asserted by the group, by the use of helicopters in hazard reduction strategies?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Does the Government share the view of the Climate Commission economist Roger Beale that a sudden phase-out of coalmining would spark—

Dr John Kaye: Point of order: The question is asking for an expression of opinion and is therefore out of order.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: To the point of order: I did not use the word “opinion”; I asked about the Government’s view.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Having been shown a copy of the question, I rule that the member was seeking an opinion. Accordingly, the question is out of order.

DEFERRED ANSWERS

On 5 May 2011, the Hon. Robert Brown asked the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra, representing the Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage, a question without notice regarding National Park tourist facilities. The Minister for the Environment provided the following response:

I am advised that the Victorian Competition & Efficiency Commission’s Inquiry into Victoria’s tourism industry in July 2010 reached similar conclusions to the 2008 NSW Taskforce on Tourism and National Parks. Both inquiries have found that our national parks have an important role to play in providing inspiring experiences that appeal to domestic and international tourists alike.

This Government is committed to ensuring that NSW is a leader in nature based tourism in Australia. We are committed to maximising the balanced use of our national parks to attract more people to experience what the state has to offer.

Over the next four years our Government will fund new and revitalised facilities and services for people to experience and enjoy national parks. This includes providing a variety of high quality and unique accommodation and tour experiences in partnership with private operators. We want to attract new visitors to parks, and encourage all visitors to stay longer in adjacent townships and regional areas.

Our Government has committed to a $40 million package to improve management of our parks and to improve visitor access and education services. This will fund improved walking tracks, camping areas and lookouts and make our parks more attractive to first time visitors and keep regular users seeking out new destinations across the state for their family holidays.

As part of this package we are committed to improving the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) website. This will help the NPWS communicate effectively with both new and loyal visitors using the full range of social networking and digital tools.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.06 p.m.]: The subject I am speaking about might sound like a fairytale to be read to children at night but, unfortunately, it is a true story. It is not a Grimm’s fairytale; it is a Greens fairytale. I refer to renewable energy and the fact that we would be silly to accept The Greens mantra that we need to end coal-powered electricity generation. Coal is cheap and gives us an economic comparative advantage. Because The Greens do not like coal should not be an excuse to not use it. I point out that I am old enough to remember when The Greens started talking about renewable energy. They used to call it clean, green energy. However, The Greens are masters of semantics and manage to update their terminology to suit themselves. I am old enough to remember also when we were in the middle of The Greens global cooling phase and we were all going to freeze to death. The Greens realised that they were on the wrong tram and simply changed the phrase. Suddenly we had global warming and we were all going to drown because the ice caps were going to melt and flood the world.

When The Greens first appeared in Tasmania—they are probably the only product that poor State ever exported—they loved clean, green hydropower from the dams that a forward-looking Government had managed to build to harness the abundant free water of which Tasmania has so much. For a while The Greens loved clean, green power because it gave Tasmania all sorts of advantages over other places in the world, especially over Victoria, which generated dirty electricity from that dirty brown coal. However, the Tasmanian Government then decided to dam a river that the Premier of the day famously described as a leech-ridden ditch in order to be self-sufficient in hydro-electric power and have more advantages not only over Victoria but also other countries. What happened? The Wilderness Society that spawned The Greens decided that it wanted to go whitewater rafting on that ditch—actually known as the Franklin River—when it flooded.

So began the Save the Franklin campaign. Suddenly, clean, green hydropower was nasty and Tasmanians should not be allowed to have it. History shows what happened next. A Federal Labor Government pitching for green votes in the mainland city areas went to the High Court for a decision that Federal powers overrule State powers. Even Biggles, otherwise known as Gareth Evans, sent a spy plane to monster the poor Tasmanians to make sure they were not damming the ditch so that each year about half a dozen greenies could paddle around in the ditch and commune with their inner selves away from the real world where people work, pay taxes and generally pay for The Greens to enjoy their lifestyle, as the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps described earlier this month, of sitting around Davenport sucking on a bong.

What happened to Tasmania? It ran out of power and now has to run an extension lead across Bass Strait from Melbourne to import that dirty brown coal-generated electricity just so its industry base can continue to operate. Were The Greens remorseful? Not at all. They simply said everyone should move to the next renewable energy: this time it is wind power. Everywhere around the State the wind towers went up. The Greens waxed lyrical about the wonderful advantages Tasmania now had over the rest of the world: it had the cleanest air to blow the cleanest turbines to make the cleanest power in the world. But then some greenie bushwalker who was lost in the bush on the west coast thought he had found a new species of tree with only three flat branches that were silver, underneath which he had found an orange-bellied parrot that had inadvertently flown into the turbine blade and was killed. In a flurry of feathers The Greens then decided that clean, green wind power suddenly was evil and no longer should be supported. They said what we all needed was solar power: clean, green energy from the sun. Everyone should have some.

It is marvellous—simply put out the panels and plug the power into your soon-to-be invented solar-powered car.

That is a potted history of about 25 years of the clean green power debate. The point is that the renewable energy that the Greens talk about is still far more expensive than the source of power that is available to us. I fail to see how, if coal is such a brutal demon in this world, taxing every Australian will make the problems caused by coal go away, not just in Australia but the world. Taxing will not solve the problem. The Greens know that, but they prefer to paddle about in leech-ridden ditches, and not face the real world.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [6.19 p.m.]: In the Government Gazette of 9 May 2011 the Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, proposed to open an extraordinary 142 State forests to shooters and other hunters. These forests are the same forests that are used by people bushwalking, walking their dogs, enjoying a picnic, camping and, in some areas such as Blenheim State Forest and the Oberon region, gathering new season mushrooms for breakfast or dinner. The Minister’s proposal to open up 142 State forests for hunting for a decade—double the maximum period of any declaration to date—is unprecedented. In the process the Government appears to have bypassed its legal obligations to the public by not seeking public submissions and not giving adequate details of the State forests where it intends to unleash this hunting.

Remarkably, with this mass declaration, the Minister did not give any information to the general public about how to make a submission on the proposal. This is despite the clear requirements under section 20 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 for the Minister to have regard to a number of factors before making declarations allowing hunting. Those factors include the impact of the declaration on public safety and the rights of other users using the land. My office has received many phone calls and emails from people living near State forests who are distressed about this proposed mass declaration. One even asked if she should ensure that her children wore bulletproof vests when in forests, just to be safe. These people and others want to know where and how to make a submission to the Minister, but the Minister simply refuses to tell them.

The great majority of people who enjoy our State forests are not hunters, and the interests of these other users is being ignored by the Government in its head-long rush to appease the shooting lobby. It is hard to find out the full impacts of letting hunters into State forests if the only people the Government asks are the hunting lobby represented by the Game Council. Yet that is exactly what this Government is proceeding to do. Public consultation and open submission periods are a crucial part of good government decision making, particularly when it relates to public spaces such as our State forests and national parks. Consultation allows the interests of other land users to be assessed, which is important if one wants to identify the public safety risks.

The privileging of convenience over proper consultation and safety assessments is particularly concerning when it is being done by a new government. This mass declaration is a clear capitulation to the Shooters and Fishers Party, which has the potential to frustrate the Coalition’s 100 Day Plan in the first weeks of a new Parliament by refusing to indicate support for Government legislation in this House. The previous Government had an unhealthy relationship with the Game Council and the Shooters and Fishers Party. Now it is looking like the current Government is intending to continue this. The Shooters and Fishers Party makes no apologies for horsetrading on policies, and is on record as having little or no interest outside its key interest areas of killing more animals and fish.

As we know, the Game Council was formed in 2002 as a capitulation to the gun and hunting lobbies. It was done in an effort to keep the shooters happy and shore up the then Labor Government’s control of the New South Wales upper House. At the time the Government promised that the Game Council would be selffunding and not cost the public purse a single cent. Yet more than $13 million in public funding and public loans has been spent on propping up the Game Council in the nine years since. The former Government’s pandering to the gun lobby also saw it watering down firearm regulations and the reintroduction of duck hunting in this State. Hunting in national parks was on the cards until a grassroots campaign forced the then Government to back down.

This comes on top of recent incompetence by the Game Council, which saw hunting licences issued to hunters in 31 of our State forests where in fact hunting was prohibited. That opened up those many hundreds of hunters to the potential of criminal prosecution by the incompetence of the Game Council. Any recreational hunter who continued to hunt in those 31 State forests closed to hunting since March have committed a criminal act by hunting in a nondeclared public place. But there is no accountability from the Game Council. In hastily and uncritically capitulating to the demands of the shooters lobby by this mass notification of hunting in 142 State forests, members of the Government have exposed again people to prosecution under section 93G of the Crimes Act, which relates to possessing and discharging a firearm in a public place and carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.

It is troubling that the Game Council has left many recreational hunters at risk of criminal prosecution. It again proves why feral animal control should be left to professionals and not to a bunch of guntoting amateurs out on the weekend. It is time for Minister Hodgkinson to end her silence on this issue. It is time for her to withdraw the current proposal to allow hunting in 142 State forests, and it is time for this Government and the Minister to remove the control of feral animals from the proshooters Game Council because it is clearly not up to the task.

24 May 2011

Procedure Committee

Government: Mrs Mitchell
Crossbench: Ms Faehrmann, Mr Borsak

General Purpose Standing Committee No. 4

Government: Mr Mason-Cox, Mr Khan, Mr Lynn
Opposition: Ms Sharpe, Ms Voltz
Crossbench: Mr Borsak, Ms Faehrmann

General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5

Government: Mr Colless, Dr Phelps, Mr MacDonald
Opposition: Mr Primrose, Mr Donnelly
Crossbench: Mr Brown, Mr Buckingham

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Is the Minister aware that last year Victoria Police conducted its first statewide audit of its firearms inventory in 20 years and found, according to the Age report, that nearly 200 weapons cannot be located? Does the New South Wales Police Force regularly conduct firearms audits, when was the last one conducted and what was the result in respect of firearms that cannot be located?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I am not aware of the last time an audit was conducted. However, the honourable member may not be aware that traditionally over the past few years a number of questions have been asked during the estimates committees process. A few years ago an audit was conducted in relation to appointments—appointments include handcuffs as well as guns—and it was never made publicly clear as to what the police were looking for other than the suggestion that it may well have been a normal audit. There was always a belief among the wider community that perhaps an investigation was underway and this was a way of conducting such an inquiry without drawing too much attention to it. Be that as it may, that is the only audit I am aware of. In the past a series of questions have been asked during estimates committees in relation to the loss of firearms.

I am pleased to say that since the time it was first asked of the former Commissioner of Police—it was not asked of the Minister at the time—there has been a downward trend. One of the reasons for that is that in the main police officers no longer take their firearms home with them as they did in the past and there is greater security at police stations. Regulation of firearms across the State is the responsibility of the New South Wales Police Force and I am pleased to say they take it very seriously. For example, in 2010 the firearms and organised crime squad, which is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting the misuse of firearms, shut down a backyard operation in western Sydney where machine guns were being illicitly manufactured.

The Hon. Robert Brown: The same mob that raided the Burkes.

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: Once again, the member’s information is very good. The fact is the New South Wales police take firearms safety very seriously. I give the honourable member an undertaking to find out whether any closer examinations have been done not only of firearms but other areas of police appointments and to report back to him as soon as I become aware of the information.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier. What does the Government intend to do to ease the impact on the logging industry of the red gum national park declarations? Is the Government aware that the mayor of Deniliquin stated recently:

… there is a need for more help for the region … in addition to the compensation to the region’s logging industry and adjustment funding.

In the short term, will the Premier allowed loggers who are still in the region back into the national park to assist in managing the fire risks? When will the Government reverse the national park declarations?

SELECT COMMITTEE ON RECREATIONAL FISHING

Report: Recreational Fishing in New South Wales

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [5.21 p.m.]: I am delighted to speak to the report of the Select Committee on Recreational Fishing in New South Wales, which was set up to inquire into and report on the benefits and opportunities that improved recreational fisheries may represent for fishing licence holders in New South Wales. It was a wide-ranging inquiry and generated great interest, as evidenced by the 1,036 submissions from a range of stakeholders. A number of organisations developed electronic pro forma documents to assist like-minded individuals to make submissions. The committee received 774 such submissions. It was this avalanche of interest that prompts me at the outset to thank the committee staff. It is not until one serves on a committee that one gets a full understanding of the amount of work that committee staff do.

This was my first time as chairman of a committee. I sincerely thank the Director of Committees, Rachael Callinan, who in turn handed the responsibility over to Rachael Simpson. I thank also John Young, Kate Mihaljek, Lynn Race, Shu-Fang Wei and Stewart Smith. I would also like to especially thank the Hansard team, who had to cart their gear all over the State to the many public inquiries we held. We did not have one technical hitch the whole time. My sincere personal thanks to each of you and also, on behalf of the committee members, well done; it was a pleasure working with all of you.

I wish to thank my fellow committee members, some of whom are no longer here but nevertheless deserve recognition. I thank the Hon. Tony Catanzariti, the Hon. Ian Cohen and the Hon. Christine Robertson. I thank also sitting members the Hon. Rick Colless, the Hon. Charlie Lynn and the Hon. Lynda Voltz. I thank you all for your genuine contribution and effort in making the inquiry a worthwhile examination of the ways in which recreational fishing may lead to benefits for licence holders. I also extend my utmost gratitude to the many people who participated in this inquiry, some of whom travelled considerable distances. I acknowledge the effort made by individuals from across the State who attended the public hearings and provided the committee with their personal experiences, views and concerns.

In particular, I wish to thank Emeritus Professor Robert Kearney, who at the request of the committee attended the public hearings on more than one occasion. I also thank Mr Martin Salter, the retired British member of Parliament who gave the committee the benefit of his experience as the former United Kingdom parliamentary spokesperson for angling, and who was responsible for establishing the United Kingdom Angling Trust and the United Kingdom Charter for Angling.

The New South Wales fishery, encompassing both the recreational and commercial sectors, is and has historically been both highly regulated and well managed. The impact of our State’s fisheries management on the sustainability of fish stocks and the health of the marine environment cannot be compared to that of less effectively regulated fisheries in other parts of the world. It is estimated that there are about one million recreational fishers in New South Wales who are all concerned with the health and sustainability of fish stocks and the protection of marine biodiversity.

The main body of the report contains 38 recommendations addressing the terms of reference of the inquiry. It also contains a number of recommendations made in dissenting reports in appendices to the main report. I urge the new Government to implement the recommendations, some as a matter of urgency. When in Opposition the Coalition was supportive of the inquiry while at the same time the Labor Party, when it was in Government, also supported the thrust of the inquiry. However, as the election got closer the Labor Government went a bit cold on some of the ideas.

I expect the recreational fishers of New South Wales will benefit from the work and recommendations of this inquiry. In particular, there is an urgent need to increase research funding and therefore the effort needed for the research priorities noted in the report of the Independent Review of Marine Park Science in New South Wales, which was tabled as part of the Government department’s evidence to the inquiry. When members of the committee could not agree on the text of the report divisions were called and the subject matter of the vote is included in the minutes of meetings.

I hope the Government gives priority to a review of the method and structure of representation for recreational fishers because this issue was most frequently raised by recreational fishers who attended the public hearings. In the pursuit of their pastime recreational fishers make a significant contribution to the State economy. The sale of recreational fishing licences on its own raises approximately $13 million annually for the purposes of improving recreational fishing opportunities. Recreational fishing can take many forms depending on the location, the fishing gear and method employed and the type of fish being pursued. While most of the issues facing recreational fishers are common to all, there are also specific issues for certain types of fishers, such as rock fishers, spear fishers, and Aboriginal fishers.

There are a number of threats to the sustainability and security of marine biodiversity, including fish stocks. These threats are climate change—although as members in this House know I believe that is a natural phenomenon and nothing to do with manmade CO2; resource use, including commercial and recreational fishing; land-based impacts, importantly; marine biosecurity; and marine pollution. There is debate regarding the comparative level of risk that each of these threats poses. With respect to recreational fishing, views ranged from its having no effect to its being the main threat, depending on the sector from which the inquiry participant came. However, it was acknowledged by all participants that land-based impacts are a significant and continuing threat.

Good fish populations and marine biodiversity rely on quality fish habitats. A number of government agencies and departments are involved in activities relating to habitat restoration and are involved in addressing land-based impacts that threaten fish habitat and populations. However, there appears to be no clear coordinated plan for these activities. The committee recommended that the Government prepare and publish a plan that sets out the current and proposed actions across all government agencies and departments that will address the land-based threats to marine biodiversity including fish stocks.

While there was debate on the significance of the threat posed by recreational fishing, it was agreed that the amount of fish taken by the recreational sector was not accurately known. Current wide-ranging estimates of the recreational fishing catch are based on out-of-date data. Informed debate on the threat posed by the recreational fishing catch, if any, cannot occur until there is an accurate assessment of that catch. The committee recommends that the New South Wales Government design a statistically robust survey that will provide an accurate as possible assessment of the recreational catch and effort throughout New South Wales. This survey should be repeated every five years. The committee also recommends that the New South Wales Government consider funding and commissioning an environmental impact statement to review and evaluate the recreational fishing catch and effort in New South Wales waters.

Marine parks were the primary issue for an overwhelming majority of inquiry participants. Some submissions to the inquiry simply called for either an increase or a decrease in marine parks. Underlying these two calls was the dichotomy of views on whether there was a valid scientific basis for the marine parks in New South Wales. The debate on “the science behind marine parks” has been current in the public domain for some years. As I mentioned earlier, the previous New South Wales Government commissioned an independent panel to undertake a review of marine park science in New South Wales. The report of that review was publicly released during the course of the inquiry. It made 24 recommendations including that the strategic framework should now prioritise research towards monitoring, evaluating and modifying marine park boundaries and zoning arrangements. The committee recommends that the Government provide sufficient funding to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of that review.

Given the identified gaps in current research and issues that require investigations, the committee recommends that the New South Wales Government not create any new marine parks until the next five-year marine park research plan is completed. Members will note that I have a bill before the House to enshrine that in law.

The committee makes a number of recommendations to improve the management and useability of marine parks. For example, it was argued that certain fishing techniques targeting transient, non-resident fish species could be allowed within marine park sanctuary zones without compromising biodiversity and habitat protection. The interaction and role of migratory fish in the ecological processes within sanctuary zones is not well understood and is the subject of ongoing research. The committee therefore recommended that, in consultation with local fishers, ­at least one fishable zone within each marine park be selected to trial restricted fishing access, with each site to be monitored to determine the impact of restricted fishing access on biodiversity, habitat and ecological processes compared to a fully restricted sanctuary zone. The committee also recommends that a 100-metre shore habitat protection zone be implemented within current sandy ocean beach sanctuary zones until a review of the utility of such sanctuary zones is complete. Fishing within marine parks is strictly regulated, and non-compliance with regulations can result in large fines.

Fishers need to be able to easily determine zone boundaries. That is a very important point. The committee recommends that the Department of Environment and Climate Change finalise negotiations with software providers with a view to developing a means by which marine park zone boundaries can be displayed on global positioning systems [GPS] used by recreational fishers. The committee also recommends that the Marine Park Authority publish statistics and explanatory information regarding the number and type of cautions and fines issued within marine parks to alert users of where they particularly need to be informed of the relevant regulations and restrictions. The current representational system of trusts and advisory committees does not appear to be meeting the needs of recreational fishing organisations or the needs of non-aligned fishers. Their primary criticism of the current system is that they are represented only by ministerial appointees to an advisory body. Recreational fishing organisations argued for a single independent representative body that can advocate and act on their behalf.

The committee recommends that Industry and Investment New South Wales, in consultation with recreational fishing organisations, Indigenous fishing representatives and other relevant bodies, review the current structure of the Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing and trusts. The committee also recommends that the current Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing develop a communication strategy so that current information can be made available in a timely manner to the wider fishing community. That point was made predominantly and repeatedly. The New South Wales Government implements a range of fishery programs designed to improve recreational fishing opportunities that are primarily funded through moneys raised by the sale of recreational fishing licences. Recreational fishing havens have been enthusiastically embraced by the recreational fishing sector and recreational fishers are keen for more havens to be established. However, the prospect of further havens is causing concern among the commercial fishing sector.

The committee believes it is prudent to delay consideration of establishing any further recreational fishing havens until research on the broader ecosystem and recreational fish stocks within each recreational fishing haven is completed. There is concern that when the amenity of a recreational fishing haven is compromised by government action, such as infrastructure development within a particular boundary, currently no action is required to ensure that the level of fishing opportunity is maintained. The Botany Bay recreational fishing haven has been subjected to a number of major construction projects. The committee recommends that the New South Wales Government commission research not only to determine the impact of recent government developments within the Botany Bay recreational fishing haven but also to determine the mitigating actions and remedial programs that can be established in proximity to the recreational fishing haven to maintain or improve recreational fishing opportunities. I note that the Government currently is installing several artificial reefs within Botany Bay, which is to be commended.

The annexation of Meroo Lake recreational fishing haven to the Meroo National Park is another recent example of government interference in an area that was expected to become a recreational fishing haven. For many recreational fishers, their greatest criticism of marine parks was the loss of access to reef habitat. During the course of the inquiry it emerged there was potential for consideration of the deployment of artificial reefs within marine park habitat protection zones. The committee believes that the deployment of artificial reefs would offer some compensation for the loss of access. The committee also recommends that the Marine Park Authority identify at least one location within each marine park where an artificial reef could be placed. Recreational fishers are aware of regulations and requirements that manage their pastime. The committee recommends that Industry and Investment New South Wales produce a summary brochure of key recreational fishing rules and distribute it with renewal notices for recreational fishing licences.

The committee also recommends that Industry and Investment New South Wales develop an email database of recreational fishing licence holders, including persons exempted from holding a licence. The development of a database would assist in ensuring greater awareness of imminent rule changes, which are carried out regularly, and could assist in ensuring greater participation in rule reviews. The committee was led to understand that the current contingent of compliance officers in New South Wales was on par with that of other States. However, most recreational fishers expressed the view that there were insufficient numbers of compliance officers. In addition, the committee contends that more needs to be done to improve public access across rivers and impoundments in New South Wales. In particular, we would like to see Prospect Reservoir opened up.

Spearfishing is practised by a relatively small but passionate sector of the recreational fishing community. The committee believes that the Government should ensure equitable access for spearfishers. Another issue addressed by the committee is the safety of rock fishing. Sadly, during the course of the inquiry and since, a number of New South Wales citizens lost their lives. There was a divergence of views on whether increased regulation to make the wearing of lifesaving vests is good or not. The Australian National Sportfishing Association is a hardworking organisation that publishes a great deal of educational data in non-English languages for which the committee commended the association.

The commercial fishing industry is highly regulated judging by world standards. The industry is increasing its efforts to reduce the impacts of bycatch, but its work is not very well understood. The committee recommends that Industry and Investment New South Wales publish information on discarded bycatch in New South Wales. The committee recommends that the Government establish and provide ongoing support for a permanent forum for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors to meet on a regular basis. As members will realise, the inquiry was comprehensive and conducted over a long period at considerable cost to the taxpayers of New South Wales, but I believe the inquiry has resulted in sensible recommendations. Generally speaking, the committee’s recommendations were supported by the majority of members most of the time. I hope the Government will embrace the committee’s recommendations. I again thank everyone who was involved in the inquiry.

Adjournment

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.38 p.m.]: I wish to speak on climate change—not to express doubt that climate is cyclical, and always has been, but to talk about the science underpinning the claims that it is man-made. I note that last week the man described as the “world’s leading climate change authority” had the good sense to contradict Senator Bob Brown by saying that specific natural disasters, such as Cyclone Yasi and the Brisbane floods, could not be directly linked to man-made climate change. The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, then went on to say that the general observation that climate change was bringing about an increase in extreme weather events was valid, but scientists needed to provide much finer detail—and that is the whole point, isn’t it?

Anyone who doubts that sufficient scientific proof that climate change is man-made has yet been produced—and I declare myself one of them—is howled down and decried as a denier, or a heretic, or simply not smart enough to understand how the green gurus of this world think. I think it is reasonable to ask to see proper evidence, scientifically backed, that we human beings are killing ourselves and blowing up the planet before simply accepting the fact that if we pay more taxes everything will be all right. Senator Bob Brown declared after the Queensland floods that the coal industry was to blame. What a fantastically simplistic and imaginative assertion—and he did it with a straight face.

I ask you, Mr President, what did he think caused the Victorian bushfires? I will tell you. Mr Brown thought those fires were caused by climate change. It was not the mad policy of The Greens that prevented the authorities from properly managing the forests and undertaking annual hazard reduction burns. Oh no, it was climate change.

Science has been behind Australia’s largest single protected area, the Great Barrier Reef, which is run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and which argues that fishing must be curtailed to preserve biodiversity and prevent damage to the reef. It has turned up a number of academic scientific studies that support the claims and that are backed by such eminent enviro-political organisations as the World Wildlife Fund and the Australian Conservation Foundation. Last year the claims were supported by 21 researchers from the Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville. They claimed that since the expansion of no-take zones on the reef in 2004 there had been major and rapid benefits. They went on to say that:

Monitoring has documented very fast and sustained recovery with up to 2-fold increases in both numbers of coral trout and size of fish on many no-take reefs.

However, News Weekly of 30 April 2011 had a close look at these claims. It quotes Professor Walter Starck, an Australian world expert on tropical fisheries, who examined the report and—surprise, surprise—found the claims were unjustified. He said the report showed that only one of the eight reefs featured in the report achieved a twofold increase and this reef had the lowest number of fish to begin with and the lowest difference between fished and unfished reefs. Professor Starck also pointed out that the 21 marine scientists who contributed to the report were all engaged professionally by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and were recipients of “generous funding” from the authority and hence could not claim to be undertaking independent research. Professor Starck also said that none of the authors disclosed their link with the authority in publishing their so-called research. Another report in New Scientist magazine of 16 April 2011 by Wendy Zukerman claimed that:

Carbon dioxide has pillaged the Great Barrier Reef of a compound that corals and many sea creatures need to grow.

She stated rather alarmingly:

The finding from the first survey of ocean acidification around [the reef] supports fears that the ecosystem is on its last legs … oceans become acidic when they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.

I am told that sea water has a pH over 8, meaning it is alkaline, and would require a tenfold increase in its acid content to make it chemically neutral. Ms Zukerman then went on to say:

Bizarrely, the reef doesn’t appear to be suffering from the effects of ocean acidification—just yet.

Oops! At the risk of sounding like a high school science teacher, given that the ocean is a mildly alkaline buffering solution it is not in the least surprising that the Great Barrier Reef “doesn’t appear to be suffering from the effects of ocean acidification”, according to Ms Zukerman. Much of the science underpinning marine parks and their future has not been properly done and/or withstood peer review and, until that is done, no-one can have any confidence that locking up and leaving, rather than sustainably managing, our water and fish stocks is the way to go.

12 May 2011

DEATH OF LIONEL EDWARD ROSE

 The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.04 a.m.]: I speak on behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party and congratulate the Hon. Mick Veitch on moving the motion. It is good to hear such consistency in the comments of members. The reason I am speaking is that I could not help myself. The Hon. John Ajaka said he started his boxing career at the age of 10. Mine finished then and it was my first amateur fight. I was born and raised in Leichhardt and my father was a boxing fanatic. Even before I could walk I was going to fights all around Sydney. I started my boxing career early at Balmain Police Boys Club.

At about 10 years of age I decided I would have a go. I got through a couple of preliminary fights and I did okay. Then this little skinny Aboriginal kid who was a head shorter than me came into the ring. The gloves looked too big on him. Of course, parents were not allowed to be in the corners or to be seconds, but I had one of the trainers there with me. He said, “Listen, Robert, just take it easy. This bloke can fight a bit.” I thought, “Look at him!” The bell rang for round one, I got 30 seconds into round one and I was sitting on my backside wondering what the hell had happened to me. As members can see, because I am still so pretty, my boxing career ended there. Much to the disappointment of my father I decided I would rather be a champion swimmer, a champion diver or something. However, it just happened to coincide with the fact that my father was transferred from Callan Park to Newington and it was not so easy to go to the police boys club.

It is a noble art. Many people do not agree with boxing. I have spent a bit of time with Arthur Tunstall and discussed this matter with him. I think boxing is a sport in the true sense of the word—man against man or woman against woman, as the case may be. Another member who contributed to debate on this motion said that when one looks at the career of Lionel Rose one becomes aware of the fact that he showed disadvantaged children in Australia, no matter where they came from—whether they were first Australians or new Australians, as they were then—that they could achieve things. He conducted himself like no other. He was truly a champion. Valé Lionel Rose.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Given that the Minister intervened to help cotton growers move their equipment over Easter, he is obviously aware that as agricultural equipment becomes larger farmers are finding that if they need to move their equipment they face Roads and Traffic Authority limitations that can be impossible to meet. Does the Government support calls from the New South Wales Farmers Association for the removal of the many Roads and Traffic Authority limitations relating to the movement of agricultural equipment, produce and livestock? If so, when will it sit down with the association and address some of its specific concerns?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Premier. Is it a fact that relocation of the Mineral Resources Division of Industry and Investment NSW to Maitland has injected about $16 million into that region’s economy? Given that the Government has spoken about its commitment to supporting regional and rural communities across New South Wales, what government departments are being considered for relocation to regional areas and what towns or cities are being considered?

GAME COUNCIL

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.31 p.m.]: Today I want to talk about an issue concerning The Greens, which I referred to earlier this week. Earlier in the week when I thanked Mr David Shoebridge for his publicity efforts during the election campaign on behalf of the Shooters and Fishers Party, I omitted to give him credit for his decision to continue in his role as our unofficial publicist for the next four years. For some reason Mr Shoebridge has an obsession with the Game Council of New South Wales. I am concerned it might be contagious because his predecessor, Ms Lee Rhiannon—also a de facto publicity agent for the Shooters and Fishers—had the same blighted view of the world. The Greens, in an email to their friends, made the declaration:

One of the key Greens campaigns over the next four years is to abolish the Game Council.

The letter says that the establishment of the Game Council in 2002 was a shameless capitulation to the gun and hunting lobbies and has allowed the promotion of a gun culture in New South Wales, the licensing of “cruel”—that is the word they used—animal hunts and has diverted funds from more humane and effective feral animal control methods. I do not know whether Mr Shoebridge has seen the alternative to shooting feral animals. It is 1080 poison, a non-discriminatory form of eradication that kills probably as much native wildlife as ferals. It is not a proper alternative. Licensed hunters target the ferals, the ferals are removed and the problem is lessened. The Game Council is to be commended for its work, not condemned by one small and shrinking group within our community. The Greens are opportunist conservationists. The letter then states:

“While feral animals do pose a serious risk to native ecosystems in national parks and State owned forests … it does not follow that any measure which kills them is therefore useful.”

As I have already referred to the 1080 poison, I do not need to say any more on that. Do The Greens want the Premier to send a letter to the foxes, pigs, goats, wild dogs and feral cats, asking them to leave the parks and offer them a nice home elsewhere so that The Greens members will not be offended by having to look at them when they choose to go bushwalking? Perhaps Mr Shoebridge wants them put in Centennial Park in the comfortable eastern suburbs. That would be fun; they would be in among the flying foxes. There is more, as the letter goes on to say:

“In the new Parliament the Shooters Party—  ”

they forgot to include the fishers—

“are once again in a position to influence Government legislation.”

I thank them for that concession. It must be hard for the five Greens members in this place to realise that the Shooters and Fishers and the Christian Democratic Party, with four members, are in a position to perhaps influence government legislation. The Greens have started a petition calling for the Game Council to be abolished. They want to get 10,000 signatures and then have the matter debated in Parliament. If they get the 10,000 signatures and present the petition in this place I imagine we will hear five emotive, ill-researched, frothing-at-the-mouth speeches from The Greens demanding that the rest of the world see things as they do. But it will not advance the cause of getting feral animals out of national parks one inch—or one centimetre, I should say. The letter states that the Premier said:

“… that any petition of 10,000 signatures or more will see the issue debated on the floor of the NSW Parliament. ”

It is not clear whether that means here or in another place. If it went to the other place perhaps only two or three members would speak in support of the petition. No doubt The Greens will want to bring it here so that they can at least vent their vitriol. I should also correct a claim in the letter that asks people to sign the petition. It says:

In the last term of Parliament, a campaign involving environmentalists, animal welfare groups and the Greens stopped the Game Council’s push for recreational hunting in National Parks.

It did not. Recreational hunting in national parks did not occur because a former Premier went back on his undertaking. I inform the House and The Greens that the Shooters and Fishers Party is also working on a Game Council-style body for fishing in this State. I look forward to Mr Shoebridge’s ill-researched criticism of that proposal as well. The Greens can no longer claim that they are the conservationist party, having fallen well to the left and become social engineers. The Shooters and Fishers Party will continue backing the Game Council’s efforts in removing feral animals from parks and reserves. The backing of the council by the current Government and the previous Government shows that the majority of members of Parliament support it. If the petition does get to the floor of this Chamber, five votes in favour and, say, 36 votes against means that the Game Council will stay and The Greens will again be irrelevant on real conservation issues.

11 May 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that current projections from the Department of Planning have metropolitan Sydney growing by 1.7 million people by 2036, while regional New South Wales will be growing by less than one-third of that amount—that is, an increase of 550,000 people? In order to encourage people to live and work in regional areas, will the Government introduce real incentives—such as reductions in rural business costs of 20 per cent, cuts in business registration of 10 per cent and cuts in payroll tax of 10 per cent to those opening in designated rural areas, as well a stamp duty concessions on rural land bought for commercial purposes, including agriculture?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and relates to rural crime, which costs this State millions of dollars each year. Is it a fact that the Pastoral and Agricultural Crime Working Group has been successful in recent years in addressing crimes, such as the theft of livestock, produce and equipment, trespassing and other crimes that affect farmers and landowners, particularly now that they are working with Game Council NSW? Will the Minister inform the House whether the Coalition Government will maintain the Pastoral and Agricultural Crime Working Group and not push the Rural Crime Investigation Unit back into general detective work?

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Education. Is it true that a national schools survey found that only 12 per cent of year 5 Australian school students have visited a farm and that many city-based children have little knowledge of farming activities? Given that the gap between city and rural consumers is growing and that the community has a decreasing understanding of agricultural production, will the Minister introduce a sustainable food and fibre policy as part of the curriculum for primary and secondary school children so that they know the origins of their food?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My quick question without notice is to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is it a fact that the average age of farmers is now 52 and that the number of young farmers in Australia is rapidly declining—down by 60 per cent in 25 years? Queensland and Victoria have financial schemes to help young farmers, yet currently no funding is available to young people in New South Wales to allow them to start, develop or return to a career in agriculture or agribusiness after they complete the AgStart program. What is the Government doing to identify and fund initiatives designed to keep and attract young people to rural and regional New South Wales?

KANGAROO HUNTING

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.51 p.m.]: Tonight I will be brief, but it would be remiss of me not to shine a light on the insidious erosion of academic integrity in Australia. I refer, of course, to the growing practice of extreme animal rights organisations trying to buy credibility for their views by exploiting universities’ reliance on private sector funding. Sadly, we need look no further than the University of Technology, Sydney—my old alma mater, though I studied in the faculty of business studies, a faculty that dwells in the real world of commerce, money and employment—to see how this duplicitous practice is spreading. The University of Technology, Sydney, now harbours a so-called think tank for research into kangaroos, which sounds like a laudable undertaking. But who is behind the group? Let me tell the House. This so-called think tank is funded by none other than Voiceless, one of the most well-funded and extreme animal rights groups in the country.

A look at the staff of this so-called research group proves most illuminating. Among them are partners of officeholders in Voiceless, former employees of Voiceless, high-profile animal rights lobbyists, and, indeed, individuals known for taking extreme actions in an attempt to shut down primary production in this country. The sole intent of this group is to destroy one of the world’s finest examples of sustainable use—commercial macropod harvesting. This harvesting has been going on for decades and the kangaroo has not become extinct—as we were all warned by the animal rights activists all those years ago. Kangaroos have flourished on the rich, well-watered pastures made available to them by farmers.

To claim that this group has any academic objectivity on the topic of macropod harvesting is absolutely farcical. This group does not care that the harvest is both sustainable and well regulated, with quotas set on the basis of solid science. The fact that macropod harvesting puts food on the table for rural families, and provides a reliable source of income for struggling communities, means nothing to the affluent, highly urbanised animal rights lobby. This group is so disinterested in the wellbeing of ordinary Australians that it is happy to spend millions of dollars setting up an ideologically driven propaganda machine, hidden behind a once credible university logo.

Not a single piece of anti-kangaroo shooting propaganda released by this group passes scientific muster. If Australian universities wish to regain their former world-class reputation, they need to think seriously about what it is they are really signing up to, when a rich benefactor holds out a fat wallet and asks for favours. It is high time for an inquiry into university funding, to fully expose this shameful and exploitative practice. Perhaps the State Government should have a close look at the University of Technology, Sydney, and its relationship with this so-called think tank.

10 May 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Roads, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. While New South Wales is now officially out of drought issues including floods, locusts and high debt levels are still matters with which farmers and country people need help. Will the Government, through the New South Wales Treasury, continue to fund rural support workers beyond 30 June this year? Further, will the Government consider making these roles permanent, thereby removing the need to constantly review and extend their tenures or, alternatively, will the Government undertake to fund the positions for longer than 12 months at a time?

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: It is a great pleasure to answer questions from the Hon Robert Borsak because they are definitive questions that affect real people in this country.

The Hon. Greg Donnelly: They have got a good committee.

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I suspect they have got a good question time committee and, unlike The Greens, they probably have got a leader.

The Hon. Robert Brown: No!

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of claims by the New South Wales Farmers Association that current vegetation and biodiversity policy, legislation and administration are blocking sustainable development in many regions of New South Wales and driving rural decline? Is it a fact that the legislation, as implemented, applies to single specimens of plants and means that, for the purposes of farm development, farmers cannot clear a single tree or shrub without a property vegetation plan, which results in excessive and counter-productive red tape? When will the new Government revisit this legislation and allow farmers to do what they do best: farm and produce food and fibre?

9 May 2011

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.54 p.m.]: I speak briefly in debate on the Local Government (Shellharbour and Wollongong Elections) Bill 2011. In principle we support the Government’s bill. There has been much debate about the form the new local government will take on issues such as wards, number of members and a popularly elected mayor. Members who were here in the last Parliament would recall my private member’s bill in 2007 to try to restore a democratically elected government to the Port Macquarie-Hastings local government area. I agree with members who said that the people in Wollongong and Shellharbour have waited long enough to return to an elected council. The people in Port Macquarie-Hastings have waited more than five years to return to a democratically elected council. The difference is that there was no corruption within the Port Macquarie-Hastings council.

The Government’s proposal establishes a stepped approach. It returns a democratically elected council and in the future allows the ratepayers of the council areas, particularly Shellharbour, to decide whether they want to increase the number of councillors, to have wards and to have a popularly elected mayor. The important point is the timing. I applaud the Government on introducing this bill at the earliest possible time to give the people back their elected local government. However, it is not hypocritical but remiss of the Government not to consider the people of Port Macquarie-Hastings at the same time.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is it a fact that the Federal Labor Government has committed to setting up by the end of next year marine parks on those parts of Australia’s coast that are not already protected? What areas of the New South Wales coast has the Federal Government targeted for its next round of lockouts? What representations is the New South Wales Government making to the Federal Government to prevent the establishment of further marine parks and exclusion zones off our coastline?

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Yes, very substantial. The key point that arises from the member’s question is the fact that these marine parks, both Federal and State, do not operate in isolation; they have a cumulative impact. I will not do members opposite an injustice by naming them, but I do know that some of them knew when they were in government that the fishing families of this State were being badly treated by their government’s policy.

I recall that when the Hon. Robert Brown, the Hon. Robert Borsak or I tabled petitions from thousands of fishermen I saw the nods of acceptance from members on the other side of the House. Theirs was a failed policy. It was a policy that denied children and grandparents the ability to fish, and it was based on voodoo science and voodoo environmentalism. It was based on the premise that if you shut something up, you protected it. But that was not the case. The greatest threat to our fisheries and fishing species is land-based, terrestrial: acid soils, stormwater and bad housing development. As far as I am aware not one species of fish—with perhaps one exception—in New South Wales has become extinct because of overfishing, and certainly none has become extinct because of recreational fishing. So, with a little balance and commonsense, and putting science into place—

We will remove the voodoo environmentalism and voodoo science and we will use proper environmentalism based on real science, not political science, which is the basis of the policies of the former Government and The Greens.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of a grassroots campaign by recreational fishers on the North Coast to establish a more extensive recreational fishing area for the Clarence River in which it is claimed 140 professional fishermen have access? Has the productivity of the river been declining to the point where stocks are in danger? Is the Minister aware that locals say it was not possible to catch a legal sized whiting this past summer? Has the Minister been approached about this campaign and, if so, will the Minister initiate discussions with the relevant stakeholders, being the professional and recreational fishers regarding the health of the fishery and the sharing of the fish stock resource?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [6.22 p.m.]: I speak about the March election and the record vote for the Shooters and Fishers Party in the new Legislative Council. From the outset I congratulate the Coalition on its comprehensive win, which ended 16 years of occupying the Opposition benches. Many in the new Government may say it was a victory that should have happened a poll or two ago, but the new Government should realise that for winning the election it gets a prize—and that prize is called government, which requires it to govern. The people have shown extraordinary confidence in the new Government’s ability to measure up to that task of governing.

For the Shooters and Fishers Party the election result confirmed the fact that the party is here to stay, with at least two members. We were, however, a little unlucky not to have had our number two candidate elected this time. A number of forces were against us, but we will be back again in 2015. The Shooters and Fishers Party primary vote at the March election was an increase of 41.5 per cent on the poll of 2007. Even more importantly for the future of the party is the fact that the increase in March was virtually a 100 per cent increase on 2003; to be precise, it was 98 per cent up. That hardly shows a party that was, as some apparently thought just before polling day, “on life support”.

I thank all the volunteers who worked so hard throughout the campaign and on polling day. As a small party we probably rely more than the major parties on our teams of volunteers in the various electorates who help us run the campaign and make sure that on polling day the booths are manned. I am proud to say that the Shooters and Fishers Party has a solid core of volunteers who turn out each election to ensure the protection and promotion of their legitimate lawful pursuits. I sincerely thank each and every one of them, particularly as it is not the most glamorous task or the best way to occupy a sunny Saturday in March, when perhaps they could be on the range, in the bush or even out on the water. The effort is greatly appreciated by both me and my Shooters and Fishers Party colleague in this Chamber, the Hon. Robert Borsak.

The Shooters and Fishers Party result was even more remarkable because of the effort that was put in against us. For example, the Outdoor Recreation Party—now under the control of another political party—targeted many of our constituents—

The Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox: The Greens?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: No, the Liberal Democratic Party, or something like that. They managed to confuse the issue a little bit, but in the end they polled only about 30,000 votes. Then of course there was the perennial Fishing Party, which stands every election and never wins a seat but again splits the available vote. Interestingly, in the week before the nomination Monday, the Fishing Party was not standing because it had no funds. I know that because I had spoken to Bob Smith a couple of weeks before then.

The Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox: So where did the money come from?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Well you may ask. Somehow over the weekend it became available. No-one knows who it was who backed the Fishing Party—a mystery to be solved in the fullness of time. I am glad the Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox interjected because we got a dirty letter from The Nationals State director when the Hon. Robert Borsak made some comments on the matter. And then we had Pauline Hanson, who was also pitching for some of our constituents, and that further impacted on the votes that were available. So one can see that the Shooters and Fishers Party result was remarkable—and I was very grateful to be re-elected—given that we did it all on our own, not as a parasitic life form hanging off the left flank of a larger party.

In concluding I pay tribute to Mr David Shoebridge for his efforts in publicising the Shooters and Fishers Party during the election campaign. It was truly marvellous to see his daily media releases getting stuck into us for one reason or another—mostly poorly researched comments about gun laws or hunting issues. It was good publicity for the Shooters and Fishers Party, at no cost to us. I do not know just how much credit he should have for our markedly increased vote, but it would be churlish of me not to acknowledge his efforts on our behalf. His predecessor, Ms Rhiannon, was a good advocate for us: every time she opened her mouth our votes went up by a thousand. But I believe Mr Shoebridge is even better. Although he is not in the House tonight, I congratulate him on his election in March and I wish him many terms.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [6.36 p.m.]: I commend the Premier for his $7.5 million pre-election pledge to upgrade animal shelters in this State. It is a tragic fact that each year thousands of cats and dogs, kittens and puppies are abandoned, and too often we hear about the old, rundown, leaking facilities in which those animals are housed. Shelter staff, who are mainly volunteers, do a great job caring for and re-housing as many animals as they possibly can. I applaud their work. However, I am seriously concerned about how the Government funding will be administered. Many animal shelters are run by the RSPCA. Indeed, I am aware that since about 2008 the RSPCA’s New South Wales branch has been lobbying the State Government for funding to help repair its Sydney shelter so that it can keep the doors open. However, this same organisation that cries poor and says that it cannot fund upgrades to crucial infrastructure can fund anti-hunting campaigns to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even though RSPCA volunteers do some great things for animal welfare, I believe they have been betrayed by their so-called leaders.

I will provide just one example of that betrayal. Earlier this year, the RSPCA took out a full-page, full-colour metropolitan newspaper advertisement demanding that duck hunting be banned in Victoria. Why is the New South Wales branch of the RSPCA getting involved in cross-border politics? We all know that advertisements like that cost more than $20,000. Would that type of money buy a lot of food and other supplies for unwanted cats and dogs? Of course it would. However, it seems that those animals’ needs no longer matter to ideologically driven officials. Unfortunately, those same officials are the ones who ultimately hold the purse strings and who decide where money should go.

I also refer members to the RSPCA’s campaign to disrupt the Game Council trial using dogs to hunt feral pigs. I understand the trial in three State forests in the New England area last month was very successful. It involved experienced, licensed hunters holding a New South Wales restricted game hunting licence endorsed for dogs. The RSPCA says it accepts the need to control introduced animals such as feral pigs, but then takes a stand against the Game Council for doing just that. Let us be fair dinkum here. The RSPCA tends to back most stands taken by The Greens, who—surprise, surprise—also came out against the trial. My memo to the RSPCA is: The Greens do not have a mortgage on good ideas and are not in charge of everything. Just because they oppose something does not make it wrong. The RSPCA should take the blinkers off and look at the real world.

The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the excellent work being done by animal welfare volunteers within shelters throughout New South Wales. However, we do not support taxpayers’ money being redirected from needy shelters and core activities to fanatical anti-hunting and animal rights campaigns. Those campaigns are being funded at the expense of animals that are in need of food, bedding and modern, safe shelters. In announcing his funding commitment in March the Premier said the money would allow the RSPCA to build a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, an education centre, a community pet-friendly park, animal shelter and rehabilitation facility with housing for 800 dogs and cats, pocket pets, rabbits and livestock, and a processing and holding facility for animals involved in inspector cases. I call on the Government to guarantee that there will be careful monitoring of how the $7.5 million is spent. Indeed, I trust that the Premier, who is a patron of the RSPCA, will ensure every cent of that funding goes to animal shelters and to animals in need, as he outlined in his pre-election announcement, and not to the activities I have just outlined.

6 May 2011

Robert Brown introduced a Private Members Bill, the Marine Parks Amendment (Moratorium) Bill 2011

MARINE PARKS AMENDMENT (MORATORIUM) BILL 2011

Second Reading

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [11.04 a.m.]: I move:

Members who were present in the last Parliament would appreciate that the second reading speech on the Marine Parks Amendment (Moratorium) Bill was presented but, unfortunately, the debate did not proceed further. In the meantime, a lot of water has passed under the bridge and it is time to reintroduce it. The Shooters and Fishers Party is pleased to present the Marine Parks Amendment (Moratorium) Bill 2011. The bill provides for a five-year moratorium on the declaration of additional marine parks and prevents the Government from making a regulation that would extend the area within a marine park that comprises a sanctuary zone during that period commencing on the commencement of the proposed Act. Much debate on the issue of marine parks has occurred during the past couple of years. In the final term of the last Parliament the previous Government released a review of two marine parks: Jervis Bay Marine Park and the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Also in that period we had the establishment and report of a select committee on recreational fishing. The committee’s report will be the subject of a take-note debate at a later date, so I shall not refer to it in detail.

The Government’s submission to the select committee contained a document entitled, “Marine Park Science in NSW: an Independent Review”. The document made it plain that zoning plan reviews should be informed by and carried out in accordance with a recommendation of that scientific paper. The Government adopted the paper, which made a number of recommendations that were to be enacted. Eleven recommendations of the independent review panel were deemed to be of primary importance. The scientific panel urged immediate changes to the research scope, methodologies and priority of the Marine Parks Authority research program and plan. Amongst the recommendations noted as being of secondary importance, recommendation 7 stated:

Test the key assumptions involved in using ecosystems and habitat features as a surrogate for biodiversity per se as a priority over the next five years.

We then proceeded with the Solitary Islands and Jervis Bay marine parks reviews, and changes were made to the zoning plans. Whilst stakeholders from the recreational fishing sector were not entirely happy with the Jervis Bay Marine Park zoning plan, generally there was broad agreement in that the original marine park declaration had been carried out with a reasonable amount of public consultation. From all the instances witnesses brought to the attention of the select committee during the public hearings, Jervis Bay seemed to have the least amount of problems.

This bill was put before the House in order to take what was at that stage the political debate out of the marine parks issue and to allow a mechanism whereby the government of the day, and the Coalition Government now with this bill, can put beyond all doubt that there needs to be a rest period in the creation of new marine parks and extension of sanctuary zones to allow proper scientific activities to take place. The evidence is that one cannot undertake scientific assessment of something like a marine environment, even a shallow water marine environment, in a period of two, three or even five years. Sometimes that takes 10 to 15 years. So the bill seeks to put that beyond doubt.

During the initial debate the then Labor Government was supportive of the bill, and I supported it in my second reading speech. Unfortunately, it was unable to carry through with its support, for whatever reason. I note that members of the then Coalition Opposition—now the Government—at various public meetings and elsewhere expressed support for the idea of placing a moratorium on the blind creation of new marine parks. I have a sense that the Government understands the gravity of the need for science in the review of all marine parks, and certainly before the creation of any new marine parks. I am sure the Government recognises that substantial sums of money are required to enable that research to be undertaken.

We now have a new Government looking for money to run the State but I would urge the Government, if it supports the bill, to understand that there will be a requirement to make significant amounts of money available to the bodies that have stewardship of those areas which now come under Industry and Investment NSW, so that adequate research can be funded and done, otherwise a five-year moratorium becomes a waste of time. I do not think I need say much more about the recommendation. The bill simply seeks to place a moratorium on the creation of new marine parks and extension of sanctuary zones. It is straightforward and simple. I commend the bill to the House.

National Tree Day.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [10.18 a.m.]: I did not intend to speak in debate on this motion, because I think it is obvious to everyone in this House that National Tree Day and School Tree Day are great ideas. I would like specifically to pay homage to one organisation, that of the conservation volunteers. The other morning, as I was leaving to come to this place, I saw a couple of young ladies setting off in a van to Ponds Creek and Subiaco Creek, near Rydalmere, to undertake some work—I think funded by Parramatta council—to remove weeds. Weeds are an important part of the equation. Yes, we should plant trees, but we should get rid of weeds, including invasive native species. I note some very good points raised in the speech by the Hon. Cate Faehrmann, particularly those related to the relevance of forests and forestry in the absorption of carbon dioxide.

Whether one follows the voodoo science line that says that global warming is the result of the anthropogenic generation of carbon dioxide, it is a fact that growing things absorb carbon dioxide. Indeed, carbon dioxide is the building block of life on this planet as we know it. To argue that old-growth trees absorb more carbon dioxide than new growth forests or grassland, particularly annual grassland, is patently wrong. I await with interest the Hon. Cate Faehrmann’s adjournment speech in which she has agreed to present that science. I will then present alternative science. The contention that old-growth trees are needed to protect our native species is probably valid. For the Greens to rabbit on about the protection of native species but not allow conservation hunters into national parks to kill foxes and, more particularly, cats that climb old-growth trees and eat all the birds and squirrels is plain hypocrisy.

In conclusion, the Shooters and Fishers Party absolutely supports tree day. We think more trees should be planted in appropriate places. Indeed, new tree growth should be generated by more production of that beautiful sustainable resource, timber.

In the same debate, Robert Borsak spoke:

The Hon. Robert Borsak: Climate change science is a scam.

Robert Borsak and Robert Brown asked a question during Question Time:

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of jockeying within the Federal Greens over leadership, with current leader Bob Brown’s first choice being Christine Milne? Further, is it a fact that under her leadership, and with The Greens from July controlling the Senate, they would pursue policies putting Australian jobs at risk, close down mines, make manufacturing unsustainable and force farmers off the land? What is the New South Wales Government doing to safeguard this State from the impact of these crazy Greens policies?

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware of a current research report by the CSIRO which found that the “entire food growing area of the lower Murray-Darling Basin could be converted to trees under a $36 per tonne carbon price”? Does the State Government have a copy of that report? If so, does it show a dramatic change in land use from agriculture to carbon sinks of trees in the Murray-Darling starting not at $36 per tonne but just at $11 per tonne carbon floor price? What impact will such large-scale changes from growing food to growing trees have on agricultural production and food supplies for New South Wales?

Robert Brown spoke on a Labor motion to support the Federal Government’s move to implement plain packaging for tobacco.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I am not sure that I agree that plain packaging of cigarettes will have any impact on the fight to reduce the number of people smoking, particularly young people. Every morning on commercial radio stations we hear the ads by the retailers’ organisation and whilst we have to try to stop young people from smoking I think their argument is a pretty good one. They argue that, firstly, there is no evidence that plain packaging does stop people smoking and, secondly, it makes it a lot more difficult for small businesses to do transactions. For a small trader operating in a tobacco shop or a paper shop that sells cigarettes each transaction is a very small one among many other small transactions—the purchase of a paper, Lotto tickets or other products in the shop. Their complaint is that if all the packages are unidentified it makes it a lot harder for them to select the packages quickly and give them to the smokers.

Another aspect that piqued my interest was the contribution by the Hon. Amanda Fazio, who quite rightly pointed out that in her experience, young trendies or people wanting to impress other young people will take the cigarettes out of the horrendous packaging—gum disease brand versus amputation of gangrenous leg brand, or whatever it may be. If that is the case and they are going to take them out of the packaging, what difference does plain packaging make? Would it not be better to change the rules about what is on the packages so that the rotten gums, the throat and tongue cancer and the gangrenous toes are more prominent and the brand is smaller? It would at least allow retailers to be able to sell the product more efficiently. We really skirt around this issue, don’t we? Governments love the revenue, so why not ban it altogether?

The motion was carried on the voices.

5 May 2011

Robert Brown and Robert Borsak asked questions during Question Time:

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK:  My question without notice is to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Minister aware that in Victoria the Government has reintroduced fox and wild dog bounties, putting up $4 million over four years? Under the scheme all licensed shooters, including rural landholders, will be eligible for a $10 bounty for every fox and a $50 bounty for every wild dog killed. Will the New South Wales Government immediately consider a similar bounty scheme in this State, perhaps integrated with the current commercial fox skin trade?

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: The issue is an important one; stock are worth a lot of money. Lambing and calving is going on in many areas. Feral animals such as foxes and dogs are a worry not only to our agricultural industries but also to our native flora and fauna. I am aware of the Victorian initiative and it is certainly worth looking at. However, as the member well knows this matter does not come within my portfolio but within that of my colleague and friend Katrina Hodgkinson. I will pass the issue on to her for consideration and reply.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: I direct my question to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware that the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission told the Victorian Government that tourism in Victoria “would stagnate unless current laws preventing private development in National Parks are dumped”? Given that the report apparently outraged environment groups, what is the New South Wales State Government doing to encourage private sector tourism developments in New South Wales national parks—such as fishing lodges, hotels, restaurants and other facilities—to boost miserable visitor and tourist numbers in those parks? What will the Government do to ensure that New South Wales is not left behind compared to Victoria in respect of nature-based tourism?

Robert Borsak gave notice of a Private Members Bill, the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2011  This is described as a bill for an Act to amend the Firearms Act 1996 and the Firearms Regulation 2006 to make further provision with respect to the regulation and control of firearms; and for other purposes.

4 May 2011

Robert Brown and Robert Borsak asked questions during Question Time:

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Given that the Minister last month revoked the ban on fishing at Fish Rock and Green Island and has “put closures back out to public consultation for three months”, will the Minister give an assurance that at the end of that period those bans, which were initially placed based on dodgy science, will not be reimposed?

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I have had considerable interest in this subject for quite some time and tempted as I am to give a commitment on behalf of another Minister, I will not. However, I will say that a commitment was made by us at the time of the election to revoke the regulation and put the matter out for consultation and that is what we have done. Making a commitment on a matter before engaging in consultation would be going back to the dark old days of the previous Government, and we would not want to do that.

The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries? Is the National Parks and Wildlife Service about to commence, or has already commenced, baiting trials using cyanide in an attempt to kill wild deer in Kosciuszko National Park? Is the Minister aware that the use of cyanide to control deer is illegal under the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 and that the use of high-concentrate cyanide bait is a cruel method of pest control and certainly not target-specific? Will the Minister inform the House whether National Parks and Wildlife Service staff have used, are planning to use or are currently using this control method? If so, who sanctioned the trials?

Robert Brown gave notice of a Private Members Bill, the National Park Estate (South-Western Cypress Reservations) Amendment Bill 2011

This is described as a bill for an Act to amend the National Park Estate (South-Western Cypress Reservations) Act 2010 to revoke the reservation of land comprising the Merry Beach Caravan Park as part of the Meroo National Park.

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19 June 2008

Roy Smith moved an urgency motion to bring on his Bill to amend the Firearms Act. The motion was carried.

In debate, Greens MLC Sylvia Hale said: “I thank the National Coalition on Gun Control for advising the Greens on this matter and I will be relying on sections of its analysis during the course of my remarks.”

Other comments by the Greens:

1. As soon as we give more power to the gun lobby, gun clubs and, more importantly, gun manufacturers, we will not be able to rewind that. It instils itself into society and it becomes almost impossible to undo.

2. In the Greens’ view, it is deplorable of the Government to sit down with the Shooters Party and aid in the drafting of this bill because it not only erodes national uniform legislation but also relaxes gun controls and seeks to normalise gun use and gun ownership.

3. At the time, my colleague Mr Ian Cohen welcomed the 1996 reforms, which were in fact very similar to existing Greens policy.

4. The Greens are of the view that ownership of guns should be severely restricted in all societies.

5. In one of the most worrying amendments in the bill, the Shooters Party wants to remove the mandatory 28-day waiting period for the issuing of permits to acquire a firearm if the applicant already has a firearm of that category registered to him or her.

6. It was to the real credit of Premier Unsworth that he did take on the issue of gun law reform, and brought forward some modest but sensible changes. The gun lobby reacted with ferocity.

7. Shooters Party members of Parliament in the upper House have provided reliable support to the Labor Government in times of tight votes to have bills passed, to resist the release of secret government documents, to move government motions and to vote against potentially embarrassing parliamentary inquiries.

8. There are interesting links between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the gun lobby. Mr Rudd is a patron of the Queensland Amateur Pistol Shooting Association and he has met with the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia [SSAA]. Mr Rudd is also reported to have close links with the Belmont Shooting Range, which is located in his electorate. He is known as a keen clay target shooter and possibly a keen pistol shooter.

9. An issue that I find disturbing about this close relationship between the Shooters Party and the major parties in this State is that we are going down the American path, where the National Rifle Association dominates politics at every level in the United States. As the campaign for the presidential election heats up, leading Democrat and Republican contenders have to work out a policy to show that they are not anti guns; that they are there to work with the National Rifle Association; and that they will make pro-gun statements at different times. That is what is happening in Australia. It is insidious and it must be resisted.

10. The simple truism is that the greater availability of weapons will lead to a greater incidence of violence involving weapons.

11. I was shocked not only to see the way gun ownership makes a society less safe, but also by the way it changes people’s thinking about personal safety—personal safety becomes an individual item and not a collective item. So people argue that they must own guns for reasons of personal safety rather than pursuing the collective solution of reducing gun ownership to keep all of society safe. The bill seeks to replicate in Australia the American culture of gun ownership and violence.

12. If we allow the culture of gun ownership to take hold in Australia it will be almost impossible to eradicate later.

13. I am not known as being particularly fond of the actions of the Howard Government. However, it had one positive achievement. John Howard did the right thing—I said it at the time, and I have said it ever since—in his response to the Port Arthur massacre.

Christian Democrats MLC, Gordon Moyes, said: “I speak on behalf of many Christian people who do not approve of this bill. I personally do not approve of shooting as a sport, and I wonder why it is an Olympic Games event. I do not like the concept of the spread of firearms. I do not like the concept of children being trained to shoot. I do not advocate banning guns from the community, but I will not support an extension of their availability, or encourage shooting in any form except within the armed forces. I do support, and have always supported, John Howard’s limitations on firearms, and I will not do anything to roll back those limitations. And I will not support the Government’s amendment to the bill because I believe that in any form the bill is repugnant.”

Eric Roozendaal, Government Minister, said:

1. The Iemma Government recognises that the ownership and use of firearms is a privilege that must be dealt with in a strict, regulated and accountable framework.

2. The Government makes no apologies for having the toughest firearms laws in the country and the toughest penalties for anyone who is caught in violation of these laws.

3. Minors are currently restricted from using large calibre handguns to shoot in competitions. … While no other jurisdiction applies this restriction, the Iemma Government does not support allowing children to have greater access to powerful firearms, even under supervision.

Speaking for the Opposition, Mathew Mason-Cox said: ” The amendments represent simplicity, uniformity, no increased risks to the public and a more streamlined system for the licensing of firearms—a win-win situation across the board.”

17 June 2008

Robert Brown spoke in support of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill. Both he and Roy Smith voted in favour of the Bill, which was carried by one vote.

5 June 2008

Roy Smith introduced a private members bill, the Firearms Amendment Bill 2008.

He claimed the amendments had been drafted following extensive consultation with the Ministry of Police, the Firearms Registry and approved sport shooting, hunting and collecting clubs “over a number of years”. (Which means prior to his election?)

The Bill, if passed, will:

1. Allow theatrical armourers to supply firearms that are not necessarily registered to them. (Well done Tony Garland)

2. Exempt firearms manufactured before 1900 from licensing and registration if it does not take breech-loaded metallic cartridges or ammunition is not commercially available.

3. Enable unlicensed people to shoot on approved ranges under supervision and exempt supervised people handling firearms on a firearms safety course from the requirement to be licensed.

4. Remove the 28-day waiting period for the renewal of a licence.

5. Remove the 28-day waiting period for permits to acquire a firearm where the applicant already has a firearm of that category.

6. Extend provision for allowing Category C shotguns to non-ACTA club members.

7. Allow a licensed firearms dealer to send firearms or firearms barrels to another dealer either interstate or within New South Wales by registered mail.

8. Enable certain minor offences under the Act and regulations to be dealt with by way of a penalty notice. The issue of a penalty notice will not constitute a disqualifying offence.

Robert Brown supported a Greens motion (by Ian Cohen) to present a motion for an order to table papers about the cultivation of genetically modified canola. He later voted with the Government against the substantive motion. Presumably it was part of a deal with Cohen as the motion was a complete waste of time. GM canola has been grown in Canada for 12 years and the papers wouldn’t reveal anything that wasn’t already well known.

3 June 2008

Robert Brown and Roy Smith voted in support of the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Same-Sex Relationships) Bill, which gives parental rights to same-sex couples over children who were conceived by artificial fertilisation. It also seeks to ensure that children in same-sex relationships are treated by the law as having the same rights and entitlements as the children of other relationships.

Congratulations to both.

15 May 2008

1. Roy Smith gave notice of a private members bill to amend the Firearms Act and Regulations.

2. Robert Brown spoke in support of an Opposition urgency motion on an order for tabling of papers relating to Treasury modelling of the sale of electricity assets. The motion was carried.

3. Roy Smith asked the following question:

My question is directed to the Hon. Eric Roozendaal representing the Minister for Police. I refer to an article in today’s Daily Advertiser, which reports on comments made by a senior police officer who said that the firearms registry no longer sends letters to gun licence holders to remind them when their licence is about to expire and that, as a consequence, hundreds of firearms had been confiscated from New South Wales farmers who have inadvertently allowed their firearm licences to lapse. Is it a fact that the firearms registry is not sending reminder notices? Given the serious consequences for people who inadvertently fail to renew their firearms licence and given that people get reminder notices for such things as car registration and drivers licences, will the Minister undertake to include in legislation a provision that the firearms registry must send timely renewal notices to firearms licence holders?

The Minister’s response will be received in due course.

14 May 2008

1. In debate about a Greens motion along similar lines, Robert Brown sought confirmation of a prior undertaking given by the Treasurer in relation to electricity privatisation:

Will the Treasurer, in his reply to this motion for urgency, assure the House in clear and concise terms that legislation will come before the Parliament that will either enable the sale to take place or disable the whole thing?

The Treasurer confirmed his previous answer.

2. Speaking in support of Opposition amendments to the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill, Robert Brown ma