Thursday 28 October 2004
Mr Speaker (The Hon. John Joseph Aquilina) took the chair at 10.00 a.m.
Mr Speaker offered the Prayer.
Mr Speaker tabled, pursuant to section 12A of the Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Act 1984, the
report entitled "Annual Report 2004".
Ordered to be printed.
POLICE AMENDMENT (CRIME REDUCTION AND REPORTING) BILL
Debate resumed from 21 October.
Mr WAYNE MERTON (Baulkham Hills) [10.05 a.m.]: The last time the Police Amendment (Crime
Reduction and Reporting) Bill was before the Chamber I was dealing with the question of statistics on the
reporting of crime. In the area of personal crime 38.6 per cent of robberies are reported to police and only
29.8 per cent of assaults are reported to police. In other words, only one in three assaults are reported to police.
Only 16.1 per cent of sexual assaults are reported to police, which is about one in five or six assaults. That
means that five in six sexual assaults are not reported. This bill is about establishing a fair dinkum estimate of
crime statistics. Anyone who believes we can have an adequate law enforcement regime and meet service
requirements when only one in three crimes is reported—or one in five in the case of sexual assaults—is living
in fantasyland. Unfortunately, in many ways the present—I use that word deliberately—Carr Labor Government
lives not in the real world but in the world of fantasy.
One may ask why the level of crime reporting is so low. About 70 per cent of break, enter and steal
crimes are reported because the victims intend to claim on insurance and require a police report to substantiate
their claim. The reporting rate for attempted break and enters and crimes against the person, such as assaults, is
at only 30 per cent probably because there are no insurance claims involved and many people simply do not
want to get involved. Perhaps those crimes are simply too difficult to report. Honourable members may recall
that when the Government introduced the Police Assistance Line—
Mr Peter Debnam: So-called government.
Mr WAYNE MERTON: Yes, indeed. People call the Police Assistance Line to report crimes to a
computer. Gone are the days when people were encouraged to report crimes at the local police station—they
would go in, make a statement and have their case dealt with speedily. This Government wants people to phone
the Police Assistance Line and report crimes to a computer. But the reality is that in many instances people do
not bother to make the call or, if they do, the computer does not process the information. Indeed, the Auditor-
General was critical of the Police Assistance Line. The Auditor-General's report showed that the Police
Assistance Line was largely a cost-cutting measure that received tens of thousands of abandoned calls every
day. In other words, it was a cheap option put up as a front; people were told that they could report crimes to the
Police Assistance line. However, the Auditor-General found that something like 37,000 calls for help are
abandoned by callers every year.
Again, it goes back to the commissioner's contract, which is fundamentally flawed and must be
changed to focus on reduction of crime and to actively encourage reporting of all crime and incidents of public
disorder. That is what should happen. Effectively, the Police Assistance Line disconnects the local police from
their communities, discourages the reporting of crime and is a glorified filing system that is of little help to
12238 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
crime victims. There appears to be little substantial evidence that the Police Assistance Line has had an impact
on reducing or solving crime. Again, the emphasis in the commissioner's contract should be on encouraging the
reporting of all crime and incidents of public disorder. That simply does not exist at present.
It is all very well to live in a fantasy world and say, "There are X number of assaults, sexual assaults,
attempted break-ins and common assaults". That paints a false picture. It does not deal with the reality of life in
Sydney. As I said, many people are concerned about leaving their home, not only at night but also during the
day. The fact that the level of unreported crime is so high, as substantiated by figures from the Australian
Bureau of Statistics, is an indictment on the Government. The Opposition is saying that it is essential for the
police commissioner's contract to include a provision that he should actively encourage reporting of all crime so
that there are true and accurate statistics indicating what the real level of crime is in the community. It is time
the Government accepted the reality of life in New South Wales in 2004. It is time the Government tackled the
real crime statistics and the real problem. It must move out of the fantasy world of pretending that these things
do not happen. That is exactly the situation.
Mr Peter Debnam: Ignoring it!
Mr WAYNE MERTON: The Government should stop ignoring it, camouflaging it, putting it aside.
The Government's Police Assistance Line is fundamentally flawed. Indeed, the police assistance line is
incorrectly named, because each year 37,000 people abandon their calls. They give up; it is too hard. We know
what it is like to ring up looking for service and having one's details put on a computer. People simply put their
hands up in despair. In this bill we are dealing with the safety of people and the community, and we need
something better than the Police Assistance Line. [Time expired.]
Mr BRAD HAZZARD (Wakehurst) [10.14 a.m.]: I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this
important bill, which was brought forward by the Liberal Party and The Nationals. People throughout New
South Wales have real concerns about the level of safety in our community. It does not matter whether we live
in the northern beaches area of Sydney, which I represent, or in a country town or country city such as Dubbo.
Wherever we go there is concern about policing and about ensuring that the level of crime is driven down. That
is what the community is concerned about. On occasions when I have gone to Dubbo and talked to local
people—I have friends in Dubbo who go back to my school days—they say that they want to see crime being
dealt with honestly and openly, and, as a consequence, some real policies being developed to drive down crime
in our communities.
In effect, this bill reflects the community's earnest desire for transparency and honesty when it comes to
policing and crime. The bill reflects what the community wants, but it is certainly not a bill that the Labor Party,
lead by the Premier, wants. Labor in New South Wales wants cover-up. It wants a lack of transparency; it wants
a policing system that is more conducive to a corrupt representation of what is happening in the community with
regard to crime. There is nothing more significant or important than the safety of our community. Anyone who
has a family knows the concern and worry we have when, for example, our partner, spouse or children go out
into the community, perhaps during the night; we wonder whether they will come home and whether the
community is as safe as the police and the Carr Government present it. Regularly we hear that there are issues in
As I said, Dubbo has some big issues, as do other regional centres and the city. In the past couple of
days I was talking to some family friends, including young people, who expressed concern about the situation in
George Street in the city. Some of the people, who are in their 40s and 50s, said that when they were kids they
knew they could go into the city—it was their big trip—to the cinema, the theatre or the pictures and know that
they would be safe. These days families are much more reluctant to see their children go into the city for a
Friday night or Saturday night out. Indeed, they want to ensure that their children are going into a protected,
more structured environment, perhaps like the local cinema inside a shopping centre, where they can deliver
them and pick them up. Why is that? Because law and order have broken down over many years. To address
that breakdown in law and order we need honesty and transparency from the Government that leads us. Like it
or lump it, we have the current Premier for another 2½ years.
Mr Peter Debnam: Not necessarily.
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: As the honourable member for Vaucluse points out, we do not necessarily
have the current Premier for another 2½ years. Indeed, if the Labor Party has any sense it will get rid of him as
quickly as possible. The problem is that it has no-one to replace him. Hopefully, for the community's sake, we
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12239
will have transparency and honesty in March 2007, when a Coalition government is elected in New South
Wales. In the meantime the community is saying, "We want honesty and transparency." So we look at the police
commissioner's contract. Does it promote transparency and honesty? Does it promote a partnership with the
community to ensure that all members of the community want to work with the police, knowing that they will
get an honest and truthful statement from the police about activities that are purportedly being put in place to
drive down crime.
How inappropriate, unfortunate and destructive is it to have a commissioner's contract, as we currently
have, compliments of the current Premier and the current Minister, which emphasises cover-up? It also
emphasises fraud upon the people of New South Wales. It is beyond belief that the contract for the leader of our
police service contains a provision that openly says he has to drive down not just crime but also the perception
of crime. I, and most members of the community, would think that if crime were actually driven down there
would be no need to drive down the perception of crime because it would become the reality; we would not
need to talk about perception or spin, but about substance.
The honourable member for Vaucluse and the Liberal Party and The Nationals have introduced
legislation in the Parliament which says to the community that we are serious about ensuring that the contract
conditions of the Commissioner of Police will not contain a requirement that he concentrate on spin and focus
on a government activity which is a Labor Government art form of fraud upon the community. We say that we
should go back to basics and ensure that the commissioner reduces crime, which is quite logical and obvious,
and honestly report the facts about crime in our State to ensure transparency. In other words, we want to lift the
bar in relation to transparency and honesty. That is perhaps a scary concept to some members of the Labor Party
in New South Wales who are used to behind the scenes shenanigans and games. The Labor Party seems to think
that sort of malpractice, dishonesty and disreputable behaviour can translate from its back smoky rooms to the
community and to our police service; it should not.
I know some members of the Labor Party agree with the Coalition that having in the contract
conditions of the Commissioner of Police the requirement that he engage in spin and in activity that will drive
down the perception of crime is abysmal and abominable. This Government in its almost 10 years in office has
focused incredibly on spin. Particularly during the tenure of the past two commissioners, Peter Ryan and now
Ken Moroney, there has been a total focus on spin. The Liberal Party and The Nationals and I are not reflecting
personally on Ken Moroney; he is doing a reasonable job in the circumstances provided to him by the Labor
Mr Daryl Maguire: With a lame-duck Minister.
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: Yes. The Minister for Police manipulates and micro-manages—I do not think
he is up to making the kids' lunches in the morning, let alone trying to deliver serious policing outcomes. The
Minister is the spin meister and the spin apprentice is Ken Moroney, and they produce very poor policing
outcomes for the community in driving down crime. The Minister for Police has a massive number of media
staff. I remember six or seven months ago reading a list of all his media advisors. One wondered how there were
enough media left to fill the press gallery in the Parliament because it seemed that he had almost every available
member of the media in New South Wales on his personal media staff. There is no doubt that his media staff,
with such vast media experience, will not be talking about substantive policing or law-and-order outcomes but
about what the Minister has asked them to talk about, that is, how to put the best spin on the rotten state of
policing in New South Wales.
The Coalition wants to lift the bar and have a new honesty. There is an almost cancerous-like situation
in relation to the honesty offered through the Labor Party and the current police service of reporting on crime
figures; it is a major problem from the local communities to the bigger areas of the State. I remember a few
years ago in my electorate a very sad circumstance of the police being directed to conduct knife searches on
young people during the morning peak hour when they were waiting at the bus stop to go to school. Some might
question whether that is acceptable. As I said at the time and now repeat, it is not acceptable. But one has to
reflect on why it occurred. At the time the local commander, who is now a more senior officer, reported to Jeff
Jarratt and, I think, the operational review committee that met on a regular basis with the assistant
Local area commanders would meet to report, one would hope, on serious crime reductions but instead,
on my understanding from talking to police officers, they were demanded to report on what they were doing to
satisfy the Carr Government's requirement for spin for that period to drive the agenda on the value of knife
12240 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
searches. The Coalition agrees with the value of knife searches, and that we need to ensure that people are not
carrying knives in our community, but that does not translate to harassing local students in their school uniforms
going to school. At that time the operational review committee was discontented and agitated by the lack of
knife searches in the northern beaches. The local area commander, Bob Waites, issued an email to his officers in
the station to the effect that he had received a piddling from Jeff Jarratt and the operational review committee
because knife search numbers were not up to speed, and were not at the level required by the Carr Government
for its spin purposes.
The committee recommended that more knife searches had to be conducted. My office was advised that
the message was translated further down the line to officers to do whatever they had to do to increase those
numbers and the quickest way was to conduct knife searches on the kids at the bus stop. How ridiculous!
Residents of the northern beaches are not known for their propensity to carry knives. Other crimes may occur in
the northern beaches but there is not a heavy emphasis on knife-carrying members of the community. I am not
stating it does not happen because occasionally it does, but not to the extent of justifying a waste of police
resources and time in an attack on our local community, particularly our young people.
When the Government focuses on spin that is what happens—from the moment the police
commissioner signed his name on the contract he was forced to travel down that path, he was forced to drive
down the perception of crime. The Liberal Party and The Nationals say to this Labor Government that it is time
to be honest and forthright with the community and that transparency should be paramount. This bill will get rid
of a provision that drives dishonesty and spin and will put a provision in the commissioner's contract which
conveys that the community wants to be partners with him in driving down crime. Many officers in NSW Police
do a fantastic job and driving down crime will tell its own story. The commissioner does not need spin or the
silly provisions that currently exist in his contract.
Mr ANDREW HUMPHERSON (Davidson) [10.29 a.m.]: I am pleased to follow the honourable
member for Wakehurst in supporting the honourable member for Vaucluse, the shadow Minister for Police, on
his bill, which is primarily focused on improving the quality of life for all citizens in this State. One of my
fundamental beliefs is that a primary responsibility of any government is to protect the safety of the people who
fall under its responsibility. In the case of the State Government, whatever complexion the Government may be,
that is the entire population of New South Wales.
That is achieved in a number of ways: by ensuring that laws are effective and updated to protect those
who are vulnerable, by ensuring that justice is effective and swift and avoids delays, and by ensuring that there
are sufficient resources so that crime is not just reduced but eliminated. Unless the Government aims for that
objective it runs the risk of tolerating crime. People who live in this State—in any State—should expect the
Government to do all that is reasonably possible to ensure they are safe from being persecuted by those who do
not respect their rights and liberties, and confident that the Government will act as effectively as it can to ensure
they can go about their lives and pursue their interests as they wish. This legislation bases itself on those
Sadly, as preceding speakers have identified, by virtue of the Commissioner of Police's contract, the
Government's objective is to focus substantially on the perception of crime. Its aim is not sufficiently focused on
reducing and eliminating crime: its aim is substantially on reducing the perception of crime. The objects of this
bill are to amend the Police Act to include as part of the functions of NSW Police a reduction of crime and the
active encouragement of reporting of all crime and incidents of public disorder in New South Wales; and to
include those matters in the performance criteria contained in the contract of employment or associated
performance agreements between the Commissioner of Police and the Minister for Police.
Over the decade of this Government—and increasingly in the latter years—we have seen a focus on
what is referred to in the public arena as spin. The Government is trying to create the impression that things are
better than they are. This is not confined to crime and public safety, it occurs across most areas of government
responsibility. In crime and public safety particularly, the focus has been to appear to be active, to persuade
people that they ought not be as fearful or concerned as they are—all with the political objective of ensuring that
people do not attribute blame or responsibility to the Carr Labor Government.
As the honourable member for Vaucluse said, the police media unit has grown exponentially. It focuses
on maximising positives and minimising negative coverage. He cited the guidelines about what police officers
should be focused on with regard to the media: maximising the positives and minimising the negatives. That
derives from half of the commissioner's obligation—to focus on appearances and not to focus 100 per cent on
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12241
reality. That has been entrenched in the Commissioner of Police's contract. This legislation, which clearly
outlines where the Opposition stands, will amend the perception aspects of that contract and ensure that the
police commissioner is focused on reporting crime and driving it down.
The honourable member for Vaucluse also quoted Australian Bureau of Statistics figures as to the
proportion of crime in New South Wales that is not reported. The most recently available figures quoted were
that 61 per cent of robberies, 70 per cent of assaults, 84 per cent of sexual assaults, 59 per cent of attempted
break-ins, and 32 per cent of break-ins are not reported to police. The police assistance line has received
criticism. It has been established to discourage members of the public from reporting crime. Any member of
Parliament who has dealt with citizens who have been involved in crime, who have had their homes broken into,
who have had a child robbed, or who have had a car vandalised has found that in many cases—probably more
than half—those people have not reported the crime because they do not believe it is worthwhile, because the
system has been created to make it difficult for people to report crime.
People contacting the police assistance line speak of having to wait and being made to jump through
hoops when all they wanted was some response and to contribute some intelligence to help in ultimately
eliminating that crime, at least in their areas. It is an increasing practice—particularly with lower-level crime—
that members of the public do not think it is worthwhile or think it is too difficult to report crime. The
consequence is no follow-up of those sorts of crimes and no intelligence on which police can act, and
perpetrators are not deterred and are therefore more likely to reoffend. A substantial portion of crime is not
being reported, directly as a result of government policy, and that is partly entrenched in the commissioner's
contract, because he does not have an obligation to focus on increasing the reporting of crime.
It is worthwhile commenting that crime is increasing, notwithstanding that an increasing proportion of
crime is not reflected in the statistics. Figures taken from recorded criminal incidents, in the decade of this
Government—since 1995—show that attempted murders have increased by 50 per cent, driving manslaughter
by 180 per cent, assault by 59 per cent, sexual assault by 60 per cent, acts of indecency by 19 per cent,
abduction and kidnapping by 50 per cent, robbery without a weapon by 38 per cent, and robbery with a weapon
not a firearm by 75 per cent. Other categories of crime reflect that trend.
Crime rates have steadily increased over the past decade, and reporting of crime has diminished. The
people of New South Wales are becoming less and less safe, yet the Government wants the commissioner,
through his spin doctors and the Government's spin doctors in its various media units, to tell communities they
are safe. That is almost tantamount to a criminal act in itself—persuading people they are safe to go about their
normal daily lives when they or their properties are exposed to greater levels of risk.
Sadly, the actions of the Government focus on maximising its prospects of retaining office, not on
discharging its sworn obligation to the people it is supposed to be looking after. In the Coalition's view, the aim
should be to eliminate crime. That may be aspirational, but unless one aims high in any area one will never
come close to achieving the desired goal. If the focus is on spin—in effect, on deception—in practice, where
there is a crime bushfire or a surge in criminal activity, resources are temporarily directed at the problem,
whether for a matter of hours, days or months, and when the perception is that the crime has been attacked and
has diminished—in some instances, merely moved elsewhere—the resources are withdrawn from the area and
If the policing strategy were to encourage the reporting of crime, drawing together all available
information and aiming to eliminate crime, we would not have experienced the growth in crime that has
occurred in some areas. I would like to draw some comparisons about the area I represent, comprising part of
the northern beaches and parts of the lower and middle North Shore. Compared with 1994, the area now has
fewer locally based police, a number of police having been deployed elsewhere. As a result, there is a less than
adequate visible police presence on the streets and in shopping centres. That unsatisfactory position has been
developing since 1994, particularly on the North Shore railway line, because it has become well known that
there is a reduced police presence.
The inadequate police presence results in the probability of a very slow police response in many
instances. This attracts drug dealers to use the train system in that area of Sydney; they come to the North Shore
to ply their illegal trade. Other offenders come to that area to rob and threaten young or school-age members of
the community. Offenders drive to this area and engage in large-scale break-ins of homes. They can do that
because they know that if security alarms go off, even if there is a report to the police, all too frequently the
police will be unable to respond appropriately owing to lack of resources. The same comment could be made of
many categories of crime simply because police resources have diminished.
12242 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
In relation to my area, as much as any other area, the focus of the Commissioner of Police and the
Government has been on telling people they are safe. That is despite statistics showing that crime has increased
in that 10-year period. Only if there is a surge in a particular crime in an area is there a visible diversion of
resources to that area—with all the media spin, press releases, and other political activity that goes with that in
an attempt to convince the community it is safe. That is not the reality. Obviously, crime has increased and there
has been an increasing uneasiness about lack of safety on our streets, particularly on the part of parents who
have school-age children who use the local rail system. [Extension of time agreed to.]
About 18 months ago I called for drug sniffer dogs to be used on the North Shore train line, but at that
time the responsible Minister was opposed to using drug sniffer dogs on trains. He wanted them used elsewhere,
perhaps because he knew they could identify the true incidence of crime and change the nature of reporting drug
dealings. It was only about three months ago that drug sniffer dogs were introduced on North Shore train lines—
a year after they should have been. The focus of the Government on perception and the nature of crime reporting
enabled crime in the area to increase. That is because anyone who dealt in drugs knew they were unlikely to be
picked up on trains. They were allowed to ply their illegal trade.
For 12 months the responsible Minister deliberately turned a blind eye to drug dealers in this area,
some of whom had been forced out of other parts of Sydney, such as Cabramatta. They moved to the North
Shore to carry on their trade, in the certain knowledge they could move in and out of the area without any fear
that police would identify them or arrest them. The Minister knowingly allowed that to occur until three months
ago. Even now I could not feel confident that any drug sniffer dog presence on the North Shore rail system will
act as an effective deterrent to drug dealers coming into the area. I have had no reports of people seeing sniffer
dogs, only media reports that they had actually been deployed in the area. In a sense, it may be erroneous to base
my perception on spin from the Minister, the Carr Government, or the commissioner's office.
Over the past decade the Forest area on the northern beaches part of my electorate has experienced a
growth in vandalism. Of course, these are not shootings or murder, but it is crime that affects everyone's lives.
Vandals attack cars parked in the street and break aerials, windows and mirrors. They damage letterboxes,
smash bus shelters, and torch buildings and structures like fences. It might be said that these are minor crimes
compared with some of the worst offences being committed, but this increase in vandalism has changed the
lifestyles of a great many people.
Many people who have lived in the Forest area—in Davidson, Belrose, Frenchs Forest and
Forestville—for 20 or 30 years no longer feel it is safe to walk down the street after dark. They have an absolute
right to expect to be able to do that with safety. Sadly, because of the growth in crime due to the lack of a police
presence and the Government's focus on perception rather than on the reduction of crime, things have got worse.
No matter what people are told, they know that the level of criminal activity in their area may potentially impact
on them. They have suffered a diminution of their lifestyle and a loss of the freedom they are entitled to expect.
I lay responsibility for that directly on Government policy and successive Ministers for Police acting not in the
interests of community but in the interest of their political objectives. As I said earlier, that Government
response is criminal in itself.
There needs to be a sharp focus on reducing crime, and on encouraging the reporting of crime. The
Coalition legislation will assist the Commissioner of Police, particularly in an operational sense, to so focus. The
Carr Government and a succession of its police Ministers have tolerated crime. They have not adopted a policy
of zero tolerance to crime or the implementation of policies or values that should be enshrined in the police
service, as the community would expect. The Carr Government and successive police Ministers have tolerated a
growth and proliferation of crime, and therefore have accepted that the price of that is a diminution in the
quality of life in many areas. That is the result of Government spin and attempts to convince the community that
things are better than they really are.
Why is it that insurance premiums to cover crime-related activity have increased? Why is it that the
prison population has increased? It is because the level of crime has increased. Where crime has been reported,
it has increased in all its categories. We know from research that the proportion of crime being reported has
reduced. The Government's policy on crime and its approach to policing, part of which comes within the
commissioner's contract, are criminal acts in themselves. [Time expired.]
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER (Gosford) [10.49 a.m.]: NSW Police, headed by the Commissioner of
Police, plays a fundamental role in the life and governance of the people of New South Wales. It is essential that
the police, as the custodians of law and order and the enforcers of the criminal law, have and retain public
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12243
confidence. It is also essential that the Commissioner of Police, as the chief executive officer of the police force
and the person in whom the power to administer the police force is vested by legislation, retain the public
confidence of the people of New South Wales. As is expressed in the current statutory requirements, the role of
police is to reduce crime. It is also to maintain and enhance public safety and increase community co-operation
Crime cannot be effectively reduced and the community cannot be effectively protected unless the
six million people of this State work with the 15,000 police officers. If policing ever gets to the stage where it
becomes wholly the responsibility of the constabulary, we have failed to maintain a civil society. A civil society
can only operate effectively with ongoing co-operation between police and the community. What is the role of
the community? It is to assist police. How does the community assist the police? By reporting crime and
working with the police, where required, to solve crime.
In recent times we have seen a shift away from encouraging people to report crime. One of the most
tragic and, in my mind, evil manifestations of this switch away from the reporting of crime was enacted by this
Government when it established the police assistance line. I know that many worthy people work on the police
assistance line. People from my electorate on the Central Coast work on the line at Tuggerah. But it has simply
become an insurance reporting agency. If your home is broken into or your car is stolen, the police assistance
line is an effective system of reporting to enable you to make your insurance claim.
Three years ago my car was parked in a shopping centre—not on the Central Coast, I hasten to add, but
in Sydney. When I returned to my car the driver's side window had been smashed and glass was on the inside of
the car and all over the tarmac outside. The offence had happened in broad daylight. The offender got into my
car, snatched my mobile phone and decamped. I went to the local police station to report the offence. The police
officer, who was very helpful and courteous, typed the information into the computer and said, "That is your
incident report number for your insurance company." That was the totality of policing in relation to this criminal
offence. Although it was quite a serious offence—breaking into and stealing from a car in broad daylight at a
public shopping centre—that was the end of the reporting mechanism and the end of police involvement in that
Regardless of my role as a member of Parliament, as a citizen I thought that was appalling. If that is all
that happened, that meant nothing was going to happen. Some weeks later I made inquiries through my local
area commander, who was very helpful. When I contacted Telstra to cancel my mobile phone I asked for a
printout of all the calls that had been made on the phone in the hour between its theft and the time of
cancellation. The printout showed that six calls had been made. I gave the list to the local area commander, who
in turn handed it on to local police. I said, "These people received calls from the offender. What action will be
taken to contact these people to find out who made the calls?" Clearly, the caller was the offender. It is not
rocket science to work out that is the way to catch the criminal. The reply came back that police resources were
strained, they had had no real opportunity to follow through, and no follow-up calls had been made. That was
the end of the matter.
It is a massive disincentive for people to report crime. Why would a citizen go through the process of
standing in line at the police station to report the crime? Now, to make it easier, and so that people do not really
have to report the crime, we have the police assistance line, where an operator puts the information into a
computer, you make your insurance claim, and that is the end of the matter. I return to the fundamental point
that we cannot run a civil society unless the community works in co-operation with the police. The role of the
community working in co-operation with the police is to report crime and follow through by giving evidence in
a court case if someone is charged. How do we encourage people to report crime if nothing happens when they
do? Nothing is even seen to happen when they report a crime. Tragically, that is the way the Government has
structured crime reporting in this State.
The honourable member for Vaucluse has appropriately and properly introduced legislation to assist the
police and the community by ensuring that the role of the Commissioner of Police, who, as I said, is the chief
executive officer of NSW Police, is to reduce crime and encourage the public to report crime. All members of
Parliament have the opportunity, and I am appreciative of it, to participate in the police and community teams
[PACTs] in our local area commands. When I attend PACT meetings the point that hits me is the very low clear-
up rate of quite serious crimes. I remember from the last meeting that the clear-up rate for break and enters in
New South Wales is 5 per cent. A person who breaks into your home has a one in 20 chance of being detected
and being brought to justice. Car stealing has a 6 per cent clear-up rate. A person who steals your car has a one
in 16 chance of being detected and brought to justice.
12244 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Following on, only about half of all break and enters are even reported, and car thefts are reported only
if there is to be an insurance claim. Many people on the Central Coast buy an old car to drive to and from the
railway station for the 2½ hour trip to Sydney—once the train has been delayed half an hour; thank you, Mr
Costa, for the service. They do not insure their cars. One of my sons bought an old car to drive to and from the
station, and it was uninsured. If his car were stolen, what would be the point of reporting it? He does not have an
insurance claim, nobody but nobody is interested, and the car fades into history.
The extraordinary situation is that only one in 20 house break-in perpetrators and only one in 16 car
thieves come to justice, and that a huge number of car thefts and break and enters are not even reported. The
police cannot bring offenders to justice if a report is not even made. On behalf of the New South Wales
Coalition, the honourable member for Vaucluse has introduced this sensible bill. It is simple and clear; it does
not go on for pages. In fact, if the honourable member for Vaucluse will excuse me for saying so, it is elegant in
its clarity. The bill provides that the contract of the Commissioner of Police shall include two requirements: to
reduce crime, and to encourage the reporting of crime.
Members of the Government support that concept. No-one in the Government disagrees with the
concept of reducing crime, and I am sure every member of the Government wants to stand up and say they
support the community being encouraged to report crime. So why will the Government not participate in this
debate? Why are no Government speakers getting involved in the debate? Why are none of them standing up
and speaking for their constituents? Why do they run a mile, or 1.3 kilometres—
Mr Neville Newell: 1.6.
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: The honourable member for Tweed may have been kicked out of
Richmond and rejected by the voters of Richmond, and given a safe haven in this House as a sort of retirement
home, but he still knows his metrics. We are grateful for his very rare contribution to parliamentary debate in
this State. The honourable member for Tweed is doing a wonderful job sitting in the seat that should be
occupied by the Minister for Police. This House has before it legislation dealing with the operation of NSW
Police and the role of the Commissioner of Police over whom the Minister for Police has parliamentary,
political and public responsibility, yet he is not interested in attending the forum of the people when it is being
debated. Members opposite are not prepared to stand up and speak on this important bill. We have before us the
honourable member for Drummoyne, whose public and parliamentary utterances on industrial matters are well
known. She likes to stand up and speak about the Nurses Association.
Ms Angela D'Amore: Point of order—
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: She is always taking points of order.
Ms Angela D'Amore: My point of order is relevance. I suggest that the member stick to the facts and
debate the legislation rather than attack a female member in the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The point of order has some validity. I remind the honourable member for
Gosford of the question before the Chair and ask him to keep the points he is making relevant to that matter.
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: Absolutely. I could not agree with you more, Mr Speaker. The honourable
member for Drummoyne is not participating in this debate. She loves to get up and talk about being a trade
union representative and standing up for the workers in this State but she is not prepared to stand up for them
when their cars are stolen or their homes are broken into. The Labor Party supports the workers of New South
Wales, but it will not back the workers when they lose a car or their home is broken into. Those opposite are
absolutely frightened to do anything to ensure proper public reporting of crime in this State. We wonder why
people like the honourable member for Drummoyne do not have the courage to participate in this debate, but
that is a matter for another day. I am sure the honourable member for Newcastle would be only too glad to tell
us that he is a strong supporter of law and order in his community. We look forward to his participation in this
debate. [Extension of time agreed to.]
These matters were addressed earlier in a statement issued by the Coalition, which states:
The Police Commissioner's contract is fundamentally flawed and the State Opposition wants the contract changed to focus on
reduction of crime and to actively encourage the reporting of all crime and incidents of public disorder.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12245
Accordingly, the State Opposition takes the view that there should be an amendment to the Police
Commissioner's contract and the Police Act to emphasise "the reduction of crime and the active encouragement
of the reporting of all crime and incidents of public disorder". As I stated, we believe that the commissioner's
contract is fundamentally flawed. It demands that the commissioner pursue a media-based strategy to push down
the perception of crime. It is just plain wrong. Everyone in the State would have turned on their TV to watch the
six o'clock evening news and seen the face of one of the deputy commissioners of police in New South Wales,
or sometimes the Commissioner of Police, trying to pour oil on troubled waters by giving us honeyed words to
placate public concern about crime rather than addressing how to catch criminals and resolve crime in this State.
It is to the Government's great shame that we have had a media-run policing strategy in this State, not a crime-
prevention, crime-detection run media strategy. The Coalition statement continues:
In NSW a high percentage of crime is NOT reported to police e.g. 61% of robberies [I have dealt with that on break and enters],
70% of assaults, 84% of sexual assaults, 59% of attempted break-ins and 32% of break-ins are not reported, according to the ABS
(2001 & 2002).
As I said, why would people bother to report these crimes when they know that nothing will happen at the end
of the process, when the attitude taken by the commissioner and his two deputy commissioners is to look at the
TV cameras and mouth reassuring words? I refer to the Central Coast experience in the light of those figures,
where something like 84 per cent of sexual assaults are not reported.
The Central Coast continues to undergo a spiralling increase in the rate of sexual assaults. The latest
figures for the Central Coast show a 20 per cent increase in the number of sexual assaults. The number of
unreported sexual assaults, which is the real crime against women, is a dark and undisclosed figure. Every
community is concerned that assaults on women, who do not have sufficient confidence that the system will
protect them and ensure compliance on their behalf with the law, are not reported. It is a disgrace that members
opposite are not even prepared to participate in this debate. They have been gagged. They have been muzzled.
They have been told not to participate because to do so would render them liable to a charge of hypocrisy.
Ms Angela D'Amore: Point of order. My point of order relates to relevance. I ask that the honourable
member for Gosford retract those comments because they are incorrect. I am here on Chamber duty, and I take
great offence to the member putting those types of comments on record. I would advise him that if he is truly
passionate about this debate he should outline what his concerns are and what he is seeking rather than
continually attacking members on the other side, which shows weakness on his behalf.
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: That is not a point of order. It was a contribution to the debate. It is
interesting that the member, having been gagged—
Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Drummoyne has taken a point of
order. If the honourable member for Gosford wants to make a substantive complaint about her, there are
procedures available for him to do so.
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: I have not made a complaint about the honourable member for
Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Drummoyne believes you have. I
caution the honourable member for Gosford to ensure that he does not make offensive comments in relation to
the honourable member for Drummoyne or other members of the House.
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: I invite you, Mr Deputy-Speaker, to draw my attention to the offensive
remarks, if you think they were offensive. They were not. There were no offensive remarks. There was an
invitation to members opposite—
Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I advise the honourable member for Gosford not to canvass my
ruling too vigorously.
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: —to participate in the debate, and that invitation has not been taken up,
except in a covert way by the honourable member for Drummoyne participating in the debate by way of taking a
point of order. That is the way the honourable member for Drummoyne wants to play it: the only time she will
participate in the debate is to take points of order. So be it. We have not heard from members opposite about the
legislation. We have not heard their comments about how the people in the electorate are being affected by the
failure to report. We invite them to participate. We invite them to stand up and say what they are doing for their
12246 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
electorates, what their views are on the legislation, and how they will facilitate the community to fight crime in
New South Wales. But what do we get? A deafening silence. What do we get from the Labor Party on the
increasing and spiralling crime rate in New South Wales? A deafening silence. That is why this type of
legislation is necessary and appropriate. There can be no argument against the need for this legislation. If the
Government wants to oppose this legislation, it should state its reasons. I thank the House for its attention.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE (Wagga Wagga) [11.09 a.m.]: At the outset I compliment the shadow
Minister for Police and the honourable member for Vaucluse on the presentation of this bill because all
communities are concerned about crime. All Government members would be concerned about crime if they
truly reflected the views of the communities they represent. The bill has two objects: to amend the Police Act
1990 to include as part of the functions of NSW Police the reduction of crime and the active encouragement of
the reporting of all crime and incidences of public disorder in New South Wales, and to include those matters in
the performance criteria contained in the contract of employment or any associated performance agreement
between the Commissioner of Police and the Minister for Police.
This bill is not difficult to understand. It is not written in language that ordinary citizens would be
unable to come to grips with. Its provisions are intentionally uncomplicated because its purpose is to incorporate
a simple change to the Police Act to provide that the employment contract of the Commissioner of Police
reflects the community's wishes. In the context of the reporting of crime, I also draw the attention of the House
to an article in today's newspaper on funding to address problems of domestic violence. If the Minister for
Police is unable to detect the multitudinous crimes that are being committed in New South Wales, he would not
be able to hit a barn door with a bucketful of wheat. No matter where one looks, crime is rampant in New South
The issue is perception, and that is why the reduction of crime and the active encouragement of the
reporting of crime are performance criteria that are sought to be included as part of the contract of employment
for the Commissioner of Police. The article in the Daily Advertiser refers to domestic violence and reflects the
problems that exist in communities, but my electorate is no different from communities represented by
Government members. Superintendent Steve Bradshaw stated in the article:
Statistics are only as good as the information reported and although the rates are high I would think there are a great many
instances that go unreported...
75 per cent of our clients [at the women's refuge] have been affected by domestic violence and it is a big issue as far as we're
The Superintendent and I have the same view: people must report the incidences of crime. Domestic violence is
widespread in the community, but many incidences are unreported. This bill is intended to encourage the
reporting of crime. The significance of that object of the bill is that when crimes are reported they will be acted
upon. I have personally telephoned the local police station and followed up my call with the superintendent the
next day because the superintendent, like me, wants to encourage the reporting of all incidences of crime.
Leadership has to come from the top—from the Government and from the Commissioner of Police. This bill
seeks to encourage the reporting of incidences of crime—a core obligation of the Commissioner of Police.
Ms Noreen Hay: You must not understand domestic violence if you think that is what is going to fix it.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: Let me tell the honourable member for Wollongong that the reporting of
crime is not confined to domestic violence. As I said, many crimes constitute the high incidence of crime in
New South Wales. I chose domestic violence as an example because I support the women's refuge in Wagga
Wagga, which is a very important organisation.
I can tell the honourable member for Wollongong and the honourable member for Drummoyne that I
know more about it than perhaps they do. I work with that organisation very closely and I support 100 per cent
its efforts to obtain funding. I am sure that the organisers of the women's refuge will attest to my support. I
chose domestic violence as an example because it is a hidden statistic. To obtain a true statistical indication of
the incidence of crime in New South Wales, encouragement has to be provided by the Minister for Police and
the Commissioner of Police to increase awareness and provide appropriate resources to achieve the proper
reporting of crime. The Auditor-General is always very critical of the way in which New South Wales is
administered. The Auditor-General states in his 2002 report:
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12247
Taxpayers have the right to expect governments to spend their tax dollars efficiently and effectively. They have the right to
expect governments to be accountable.
Do Government members opposite get it—"accountable"?
After becoming Auditor-General, I grew increasingly concerned that the Government and its agencies were not meeting that
This bill is all about accountability, transparency and reflecting what is really happening in the community. I
imagine if I took a straw poll among the people who are present in the public gallery, they would all have a
perception about crime. When I speak to people in my community they tell me about their perception of crime.
But statistics that are reported about crime are quite different from the views that are being expressed by people
in the wider community.
The Government should encourage people to report crime. People say to me, "What is the point of
reporting this crime? It never gets acted on." The authorities need to be told the true position about the
incidences of crime. The public needs to be able to understand exactly what is happening in the community so
that the problems can be addressed. That is a fair proposition. Encouragement of the reporting of crime will lead
to transparency in the process of dealing with crime and it will inspire the community with greater confidence.
When the authorities are able to understand the magnitude of the problem they are dealing with they will be able
to take appropriate action. Members of NSW Police do a marvellous job. Police officers are dedicated men and
women and they work under very difficult and stressful circumstances.
Mr Peter Debnam: And the budget squeeze.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: As well as a budget squeeze, which only adds to their stress. As recently as
this week the Joint Standing Committee Upon Road Safety heard that police vehicles have to be parked on the
side of the road so that fuel will be conserved and tyres will not be worn down. We also heard that some
specialist officers are being directed to do other duties as a result of budgetary constraints, and that increases
stress on police officers. I totally support New South Wales police officers.
Mr Bryce Gaudry: It does not sound like it.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: If the Parliamentary Secretary wishes to make a contribution to the debate, I
invite him to do so after I have concluded my speech. I invite the honourable member for Drummoyne to talk
about the Drummoyne police station and the need for 24-hour policing in Drummoyne. I note that people in the
Drummoyne community have written to the shadow Minister, so they are certainly concerned about crime and
their perception of crime, but what has the honourable member for Drummoyne said about that? I invite her to
contribute to the debate and vote in support of the bill so that the perception of crime matches the statistics of
crime. The Macquarie Dictionary defines the word "perception" as:
Psychology a single unified meaning obtained from sensory processes while a stimulus is present.
What do the words "spin" or "spin doctor" mean? They mean to take control of, to put one's own direction or
story on something. This bill is intended to address the spin that the State Government puts on statistics by
introducing clarity and transparency into reporting procedures for crime statistics so that in future they will
reflect the reality. For the benefit of Government members opposite, I point out that the Macquarie Dictionary
defines "transparent" as:
4. open, frank, or candid: a person's transparent honesty. 5. easily seen through or understood... 6. manifest or obvious.
That is a very basic term.
Ms Angela D'Amore: I am pleased we are having an English lesson in here.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: The honourable member for Drummoyne needs it. The term is very basic
English and is easy to understand. The bill is all about making this Government and the Commissioner of Police
more accountable and about encouraging the community to be confident that crime statistics reflect the reality in
electorates that I and the honourable member for Drummoyne represent. I know that the perception of crime and
the reality are very different. Next week I am going to a community meeting, and I know I will be informed
about incidences of vandalism and shop break-ins. In one shopping mall five windows have been broken since
12248 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Christmas. Retailers want to leave that area and relocate elsewhere because they are sick to death of having their
shops broken into. I am sure that if I went to a shopping centre or went door knocking anywhere in New South
Wales, even in Dubbo, I would be told that people are experiencing similar problems, but the statistics do not
reflect what is really happening within the communities.
Ms Noreen Hay: You have been to Wollongong to look at only two streets. I would not start on
Wollongong if I were you.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: I could go to Wollongong. I am sure the honourable member for
Wollongong is waiting to make a contribution to this debate after I have finished and after a contribution by the
honourable member for Drummoyne. In all communities I have been told—
Mr Peter Debnam: They are in an uproar.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: Yes, they are in an uproar, and they are sick to death of the statistics not
reflecting what is really happening. I ask: What is the point of recording the crime, the graffiti, because nothing
gets done? Reporting statistics are down so the Commissioner of Police looks good and the Minister tells us that
he is doing a great job. However, the reality is that crime is not being addressed, and this bill will help deal with
that. The bill is designed to reflect the reality of what is happening in the communities; it is about community
concerns and communities knowing that when the statistics come out they will be accurate. It is a positive tool,
because it will enable the Commissioner of Police to advocate for resources.
Mr Peter Debnam: It is to help him.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: Yes, it is to help him. The bill allows the Minister to plead with the Carr
Government to dive into the bottom of the coffers and find some money to address the problems. That is what it
is all about. It is about giving the Minister the tools he needs to do the job, to fight for law and order, for
people's safety, for the Highway Patrol.
Ms Angela D'Amore: Have you consulted with the Police Association? You are talking about his
criteria and employment contracts.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: That is part of his employment contract, because we want him to succeed.
The bill is about getting funds, allowing the Minister to have the right information to say to the Premier, "I need
some more money". That request will then go to the Treasurer, but I do not know where the Treasurer will find
more money. But he should, because communities are concerned equally about health and crime. This bill is
about New South Wales communities having their goods and chattels protected, about being able to report an
issue to police and have it dealt with, and it is about people's safety. This bill is about locking up criminals,
about giving the Commissioner the necessary tools. [Extension of time agreed to.]
Mr Bryce Gaudry: I am opposed to that idea.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: I note the honourable member for Newcastle is opposed to my being
granted an extension of time, and why would he not be! I imagine that Newcastle would have unreported
problems as well.
Mr Peter Debnam: A public meeting is coming up in Newcastle.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: There is about to be a public meeting in Newcastle, something that is
happening in all communities. As I said, next week I am to attend a public meeting at Five Dock, where the
community is experiencing daily robberies. Annandale experiences robberies every day, and the local post
office has been robbed many times, although I understand it is next door to the police station.
That is exactly right. Why would members opposite not want me to be given an extension of time?
Mr Bryce Gaudry: Because you are boring; you are full of spin.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE: The honourable member for Newcastle knows all about spin. The
Government is the master of spin, and that is why it is resisting the bill. This bill is about transparency, honesty,
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12249
clarity and reporting the facts about the reality of what is happening in New South Wales. I expect the
honourable member for Drummoyne to fire up; she has made many interjections during this debate. I expect a
contribution from her now. As Opposition Whip I give her leave to abandon her House duty and make a
contribution to tell us whether she is going to support the bill. The bill insists on reporting crime and supports
her community's concerns. This is an important bill, and it is easy to understand. There is nothing hard about it:
it is straightforward and is designed to benefit the people of New South Wales.
The honourable member for Drummoyne made numerous remarks during my contribution, but she will
not get to her feet and defend the people within her community. I remind her that 2007 is not far off, and she
will get a rude shock if she does not get up and defend her community. Today she has the opportunity. My good
friend Bob Sendt, the Auditor-General, has reflected accurately what this bill is all about: transparency and
accountability, something the Government avoids at all costs. It has an army of spin doctors and the Stasi;
goodness knows how many millions of dollars that costs per year. That money should be put into the real
resources that are needed, the police men and women of this State. The bill is designed to help those police men
and women, the Commissioner, and the Minister advocate for more resources to protect the people of this State,
to deliver to this State better outcomes.
As I said earlier, the community is convinced that the statistics do not reflect the reality in the suburban
streets and city shopping centres. I am sure that all honourable members could tell of an incident that has taken
place within 500 metres of their home. Perhaps their letterbox has been vandalised, or their garage roller doors
have been painted with graffiti, or they may have been robbed. Goodness knows what else may have happened.
The public of New South Wales deserve to know what is happening in the community. If it is good enough for
the Opposition to be transparent in the provision of information to the public—everything we say appears on the
public record, and we provide annual returns on what property we own and what share transactions we have
had—it is only fair that the Government, through the process of this bill, report to the people of New South
Wales exactly what is happening.
That is a fair and reasonable request. The people in the public gallery would agree with me that it is fair
and reasonable that we have accurate statistics. The public should be encouraged to report crime. The
commissioner's contract should encourage him to do that also. There is an old saying that I have quoted before
in this place: A fish rots from the head first. The Minister should be encouraged to support the bill because it
will help the commissioner. The Opposition is here to help the people of New South Wales. We are advocating
for them, unlike the honourable member for Drummoyne, who made a five-minute private member's statement
in which she threatened to do all sorts of things about what we say in the House. However, she has not defended
the people within her electorate. It is a sad day. Honourable members have an opportunity in this House to make
known the views of their communities. In this House they represent the people of their electorates. I am
disappointed that the honourable member for Drummoyne will not contribute to this debate. I encourage her to
vote with the Coalition and support the motion. This bill will be beneficial for the commissioner.
Mr THOMAS GEORGE (Lismore) [11.29 a.m.]: I support the shadow Minister, the honourable
member for Vaucluse, and congratulate him on introducing the Police Amendment (Crime Reduction and
Reporting) Bill, which should be endorsed by every member of the House. The objects of the bill are:
(a) to amend the Police Act 1990 to include as part of the function of NSW Police the reduction of crime and the active
encouragement of the reporting of all crime and incidents of public disorder in New South Wales, and
(b) to include those matters in the performance criteria contained in the contract of employment or any associated
performance agreement between the Commissioner of Police and the Minister for Police.
In this State the reporting of crime is at a low level simply because people have given up on reporting crime.
Rural crime has not yet been dealt with in this debate. Prior to the appointment of rural crime investigators, I
drew to the attention of the House the fact that rural crime and stock theft in this State have gone undetected
because people know that whenever they report it no action is taken. If I give any credit to the Minister for
Police it will be for the appointment of rural crime investigators.
Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted.
CHATSWOOD MENTAL HEALTH FACILITIES
Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN (Willoughby) [11.30 a.m.]: I move:
That this House:
(1) notes reports by leading clinicians about the critical need to maintain community-based mental health care;
12250 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
(2) condemns the Government for ignoring such advice with respect to the closure of the Chatswood Mental Health Clinic;
(3) demands that the Minister for Health meet with staff, local mental health support groups and carers as soon as possible
with a view to making mental health services in Chatswood accessible beyond Monday 1 November 2004.
I appreciate honourable members allowing this motion to have precedence today. Unless the Minister for Health
does the right thing and reconsiders his position, from next week he will be slamming shut the doors to the
Chatswood Community Mental Health Centre. Time is running out for the 300 mental health patients, their
families, clinical staff and everyone else who cares about the future of community-based mental health care in
this State. The Minister must act to ensure that the services from the site in Chatswood continue beyond next
week. I hope that he will agree today to meet with local mental health groups and leading clinicians, who have
stated repeatedly that eliminating community-based mental health services is a retrograde step.
In the gallery today are representatives from the Action Foundation for Mental Health, Service Users
for North Shore, the Schizophrenia Fellowship, Club Speranza, members of the Mosman Local Action Group
for Mental Health, who are constituents of the honourable member for North Shore, consumer advocates and
carers, and members of Rotary. I thank them for attending today, for making the honourable member for North
Shore and me aware of their plight and for raising public awareness about this issue. They, more than anyone
else, understand the positive impact that community-based mental health care has on patients and their families.
They, more than anyone else, understand what is at stake if the Chatswood Mental Health Clinic is forced to
close its doors forever.
I take this opportunity to thank the honourable member for North Shore, who will contribute to this
debate and who has been of enormous assistance in raising public awareness of mental health care and
community-based mental health care. Today the Minister for Health, or his representative, if he or she shows up,
will no doubt try to justify the Government's actions by claiming that the buildings at the Chatswood site are
condemned and do not comply with occupational health and safety standards. However, the Minister will
neglect to mention that those buildings have been in a dilapidated state for some time and staff and community
groups have been lobbying for the past few years to have them upgraded. Interestingly, I have been advised that
the condition of the buildings at Chatswood has not changed dramatically in the past few months. That is an
important point to consider, given that only a short while ago the State Government announced that it would
transfer other mental health services from across the lower North Shore to Chatswood, the very site it is now
threatening to close.
I have been advised by health and community workers that the occupational health and safety problems
identified by a survey conducted at the Chatswood buildings are easily rectifiable to allow for usage beyond
next week. In fact, the Action Foundation for Mental Health has offered to have a team consisting of an
architect, an engineer and a builder to inspect the two buildings in question and to provide some alternative
views on necessary immediate repairs. Unfortunately, the department and the State Government refused the
foundation's request, without giving any explanation. I would like to quote a paragraph from a letter addressed
to Dr Stephen Christley from Patrick Webb, President of the Action Foundation for Mental Health, which was
emailed today in response to assertions by Dr Christley that the Northern Area Health Service has its own expert
staff to carry out such inspections. Mr Webb writes as follows:
Could you get your management team to explain to you and us why therefore the structural defects seen by the assessor or
surveyor during the recent accreditation process were not seen and attended by your above mentioned expert staff during the last
number of years and especially recently, while the buildings were obviously deteriorating and when the heavy filing compactus
was installed some years ago without adequate reinforcing and was impacting on the old wooden floor? We understand this is
one of the main problems raised. Possible after it was brought to the assessor's attention? We understand the accreditation
assessor/surveyor is not an expert in building matters and is a psychiatrist!!
Mr Webb later states in the letter:
Please confirm by return that your experts are repairing the buildings as needed and that the Centre will remain in Chatswood
while the above alternatives [outlined in this letter] are discussed.
That makes it clear that the buildings are rectifiable. The Government has no excuse for closing down the centre
from next week. Let me turn now to the importance of community-based mental health care. It is widely known
and acknowledged by experts that community-based mental health care facilities should be based directly in the
local geographic areas that they serve and not in the grounds of hospitals. That is because patients who are in
rehabilitation do not wish to visit hospitals unless absolutely necessary, as many of them associate hospitals with
acute periods of their illness. In fact, a recently released paper by Dr Alan Rosen, Director of Clinical Services
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12251
at the Royal North Shore Hospital, entitled "Community Mental Health Services" and dated only in September
this year confirms that position. That paper is also supported by extensive research overseas.
Ironically, the community-based model that we currently have in Chatswood and that is under threat
has been used as an example of world's best practice in many overseas jurisdictions. There is strong evidence to
suggest that the relocation of community-based mental health services back to co-location with general health
services is a retrograde step and to the detriment of mental health patients. Recently I had an opportunity to
speak to two mothers who have children with a mental illness and who utilise the services at Chatswood. They
both explained that the community-based facility enabled their children to seek treatment and help in a discrete
way without the stigma and stress of having to attend a hospital site. The mothers also explained the emotional
trauma that mental health patients suffer when they attend a hospital site.
It is a sad indictment of the State Government, but unfortunately a reality, that it is putting financial
gain ahead of patient care. It is a publicly known fact that the site of the mental health clinic at Chatswood is
worth in the vicinity of $12 million. It is also of immense concern that clinical staff have been advised that
within weeks the Chatswood Community Mental Health Centre will be transferred to the foyer of the old
paediatrics unit at Royal North Shore Hospital until 2008, after which time the unit will be permanently housed
in a community service facility that will have a number of co-located health services, which is hardly an
appropriate situation for mental health patients.
The Minister for Health, the Hon. Morris Iemma, who, unfortunately, does not seem to be able to give
of his time to participate in debate today, must take immediate action to ensure that the services at Chatswood
and the lower North Shore operate beyond the November deadline. He must reverse his decision to close down
permanently services at Chatswood and he must allow for the consideration of alternative arrangements. For
instance, it has been suggested, and it may be possible, for existing levels of service at Chatswood to exist
alongside partial sale of the site. I know that clinicians and community groups are more than happy to discuss all
these alternatives. But what is perhaps of greatest concern to them is that they have not had the chance to put
their views forward for appropriate consideration. The decision to close the centre has been presented as a fait
accompli without any consideration of alternatives.
I urge the Minister for Health to give an assurance as soon as possible that the doors of the Chatswood
Mental Health Clinic will remain open beyond November. People's lives will be detrimentally impacted by this
short-sighted and inappropriate decision. The strong advice of expert clinicians is that community-based mental
health care is the best approach for patients, their families and those outstanding health care professionals who
provide treatment. In the face of this advice and accepted standards of best practice, the Carr Government is
searching for every excuse to do the opposite. We can conclude only that this rash decision making is motivated
by the prospect of a windfall gain from the sale of the site.
It is regrettable that the Minister for Health is not in the Chamber this morning for this debate. On
behalf of the community, I ask him to consult the relevant stakeholders, community organisations, many of
whom are represented in the public gallery today, carers of patients and the broader community about the viable
alternatives that will not put patients at risk but support their families and health care professionals and ensure
that community-based mental health care in this State does not become a thing of the past. I reiterate my
extreme disappointment that the Minister has not taken the time to participate in this debate. I hope that is not an
indication that he will refuse to meet community groups to discuss this matter or that he will refuse to solve the
building problems that can be rectified easily and retain services on the site. If the Minister is listening to this
debate I hope that he will come to the Chamber to respond to these serious issues. I commend the motion to the
House. I thank members of community organisations who offered information and who have made themselves
available today. I also thank the honourable member for North Shore for raising public awareness about this
Miss CHERIE BURTON (Kogarah—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.40 a.m.]: It will be useful for
honourable members to hear some facts about the proposed relocation of the Chatswood Community Mental
Health Centre to the Royal North Shore Hospital on Herbert Street. First, services will not be lost to the lower
North Shore. Secondly, the relocation—not closure—will occur on 15 November 2004 and not this Monday, as
the honourable member for Willoughby claimed. I am advised that because of structural and safety issues the
Acute Community Mental Health Team and the Psychosis in Young People Service will relocate to refurbished
premises on Herbert Street at the Royal North Shore Hospital. The Northern Sydney Area Health Service made
this decision following a high-priority recommendation by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards on 1
October, which was:
12252 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
... that the community mental health services at Chatswood, in buildings 38-40 Hercules St, be relocated within four weeks from
the completion of the survey.
I am also advised that WorkCover has placed an order on the Northern Sydney Area Health Service to act on
this issue immediately. The new facility on Herbert Street at the Royal North Shore Hospital is within walking
distance of St Leonards station, the Forum shopping complex, the Pacific Highway and main bus routes. The
300 patients who use the service will have a clear orientation as to how to access the new site, which is on a
public transport hub.
The Assertive Recovery in the Community Team at 55 Hercules Street will remain at Chatswood and
will continue to provide high-level intensive support to about 130 individuals. The Herbert Street service will be
co-located with other community services, including drug and alcohol. This is recognised as current best
practice as it allows integration and ease of access to other patient services. The new service will ensure
integration with the inpatient unit, the emergency department and mainstream mental health services, while
maintaining a community identity. Home visits will occur in line with current practice. I note that most
interventions in Chatswood take place in the home. The area health service has advised me that this is a
temporary measure and that it intends to consult widely about options for the medium and long term.
The Northern Sydney Area Health Service is currently reviewing the plan to accommodate the lower
North Shore community mental health services as part of the redevelopment of the Royal North Shore Hospital
and community health services. This matter has been discussed at length with staff and the community over the
past two years. Indeed, two and half years ago at a meeting of the Service Users for North Shore Group, the
Clinical Director of the Royal North Shore Mental Health Service, Dr Alan Rosen, and the acting service
director canvassed with consumers and carers the issue of consolidating all community mental health services
on one site. The reasons for the move are various. At present the two community mental health teams operate
out of five buildings. There is a lack of critical mass of staff not only in North Sydney but across the State. At
Cremorne there are only seven full-time equivalent staff. At present staff operate in isolation not only from other
sections of their community mental health team but from other services. Their work is resource intensive, it is
being duplicated and they lack infrastructure support. I am advised that staff at Cremorne must drive to other
locations to attend meetings. This does not offer the best care to consumers, especially when considering
existing occupational health and safety issues.
Stand-alone mental health centres do not align with the National Mental Health Plan's principle of
mainstreaming. Sections of the community claim that many consumers cannot travel by bus so will be unable to
attend the centre if it is located further away. This portrays all mental health consumers in a negative light and
suggests they have significant disabilities, both physical and mental. This is not the case and it is stigmatising.
People with mental health problems attend Royal North Shore Hospital to have their teeth fixed and their feet
seen to and to receive antenatal care. The Royal North Shore Herbert Street precinct is located in a major
transport hub and is highly accessible. It is a two-minute walk from St Leonards train station and is on major bus
routes. It is three kilometres from both Cremorne and Chatswood. The Herbert Street precinct is located in the
centre of the lower North Shore catchment and is ideally located for clients from Mosman, North Sydney,
Willoughby and Lane Cove local government areas.
I am advised that a final decision has not been made in relation to the medium- and long-term future of
Chatswood and Cremorne community mental health services. I assure the House that the Government supports
the principles of mainstreaming and providing the best care possible. I point out for the benefit of the
honourable member for Willoughby that this proposal is about providing the best quality care to consumers and
looking after staff. They have been our mental health goals for the past 18 months since the upper House
committee handed down its findings. It is a tragedy that such a positive initiative is being portrayed in such a
negative manner for purely political reasons. Much of the speech by the honourable member for Willoughby
was familiar because we have heard it before. As I said, most interventions in Cremorne occur in the home so
staff must visit consumers. Consolidating the services at Royal North Shore Hospital will give patients access to
other care that is provided on that campus. We believe it will improve communication, safety and co-ordination
of care for consumers and will place staff in a much better position with regard to planning. I remind honourable
members that the precinct is only three kilometres from both Cremorne and Chatswood.
I remind the honourable member for Willoughby of her parliamentary orientation, when she learned the
location of the Parliamentary Library: it is downstairs. In the library she will find the budget papers for 2002-03.
If she had done proper research she would know that pages 8 and 9 of those papers say that this development
will free up extensive land along the Herbert Street frontage of the Royal North Shore campus as well as the
current health facilities at Chatswood and Cremorne. Revenue from the future sale or lease of these properties
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12253
will support the redevelopment strategy. I assure the honourable member for Willoughby that the money will be
used to improve the health of her constituents into the future.
Mrs Jillian Skinner: Not mental health.
Miss CHERIE BURTON: Including mental health. A final decision will be made following further
consultation with staff, consumers, carers and the community. The advice about decisions pending has already
been provided to the shadow Minister for Health and the honourable member for North Shore, the former
shadow Minister for Health, in response to their correspondence. Sadly, the Minister is yet to receive any
representations from the honourable member for Willoughby, apart from some ill-informed grandstanding in the
Parliament. Community consultation will take place in November. I am advised that the honourable member for
North Shore has kindly recommended suitable community representatives to take part in the discussions. I thank
her for her constructive input. The honourable member for Willoughby could learn a thing or two from the
honourable member for North Shore.
Mrs JILLIAN SKINNER (North Shore) [11.50 a.m.]: I acknowledge the people in the gallery who
very ably represent people living with a mental illness in my community. These passionate people are concerned
about the proposed moves, and I am sure they are as disappointed, as I am, by the speech of the Parliamentary
Secretary. In the eight years during which I was the shadow Minister for Health nothing was more important to
me or to the community than improved mental health services. What was most gratifying was the provision of
mental health services in the community. Therefore, in June I viewed with great alarm the moves to close down
the mental health service at Cremorne. I will not repeat what has happened since then because I have already
raised it in this House. I note that the Parliamentary Secretary does not have the courtesy to remain in the
Chamber for the remainder of the debate. On 22 September I wrote to the Minister, and on 22 October the
Parliamentary Secretary replied:
There will be significant benefits from moving staff to a consolidated site including improvements in efficiency, infrastructure
support and reduction of duplication of medical records systems.
She made no mention of patients or their families. The honourable member for Willoughby and I have met with
clinicians who deliver services from the community-based mental health centres. They do not want to move.
They have told me categorically that from the point of view of patients, their families and their carers it is best
to have the services remain in the community, close to where the patients live, so that they can walk to the
mental health services for their care that is so fundamental to the maintenance of their good health. In the main,
they are not treated in the home but are often asked to leave their homes and walk the neighbourhood to improve
their sense of health, wellbeing and independence. Moving the services to the Royal North Shore Hospital site is
contrary to those advantages. The Parliamentary Secretary mentioned a report by Professor Alan Rosen, Clinical
Services Director of the Royal North Shore Hospital. I will set the record straight and read his letter of 24
September to Dr Stephen Christley. A copy of the letter was sent to many others. It stated, in bold text:
Re: Relocating Our Community Mental Health Centres onto RNS Hospital site—NSW Department of Health and NSAHS are
relieving Mental Health of its remaining capital assets and beating the retreat to wholly hospital-based "fortress psychiatry"—a
I suspect that the Parliamentary Secretary needs to bring herself up to date with the views of the people who are
at top of the service delivery pole about this proposal to relocate the Cremorne and Chatswood services into the
boundaries of a major hospital. Professor Rosen asked what evidence there is about how these clients should be
managed. He stated:
The randomised control evidence clearly favours community and home based mobile extended hours crisis services over hospital
based assessment and initiated treatment.
He could not make it any clearer. He continued:
This retreat to a "fortress" hospital mentality is ostensibly due to administrative staff OH&S concerns. However, it is really due to
Health Executives "land hunger", plus the perceived need to make shortsighted attempts to assuage general hospital clinical
pressures, eclipsing the real need for community based services which prioritise the best possible outcomes for service users and
He went on to talk about asset stripping at the expense of mental health patients, their families and their carers. I
know that honourable members on both sides of this Chamber, members of all political persuasions in my
community and North Sydney and Cremorne councils are shocked about the decision and are unanimous in their
opposition to move the centre from Cremorne. I particularly acknowledge Councillor Simon Menzies, who has
12254 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
personally made this a very big issue and has a high standing in the community in relation to it. We have not
given up hope. I am pleased the Minister has agreed to meet a delegation. We must stop these closures! [Time
[Interruption from gallery]
Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I remind those in the public gallery, despite their enthusiasm, that
the debate concerns only the members of this Chamber. I would appreciate it if they could restrain their
enthusiasm until they are able to talk to members in the foyer.
Mr BRYCE GAUDRY (Newcastle—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.55 a.m.]: I am drawn to make a
few comments because there has been a lot of huff and puff in the debate. I acknowledge those in the public
gallery who support mental health clients. I note the ongoing discussions about community-based care as
opposed to care within acute-care hospital systems. The honourable member for North Shore read the views of
one health professional, but those views are strongly contested by other health professionals at the top of the
tree. Some years ago I faced a similar situation in Newcastle when the community-based mental health service
was moved from Stewart Avenue and the cottage-based service provided by the Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Association was transferred to a large building within the central business district of Newcastle.
Mrs Jillian Skinner: In hospital grounds?
Mr BRYCE GAUDRY: No. At the time consumers of the service were strongly opposed to the move.
They felt confronted and made several submissions, which I forwarded to the Minister. They believed it would
be detrimental to their health to move from a cottage-based service into one large facility. After the move those
who strongly opposed it are now the greatest supporters of it.
Mrs Jillian Skinner: The difference is they did not go to a hospital.
Mr BRYCE GAUDRY: I note what the honourable member for North Shore has said, but this is a
area of serious discussion and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health has certainly made it clear
that this move and any funds resulting from it will be used for the benefit of the service.
Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN (Willoughby) [11.58 p.m.], in reply: I am absolutely floored by the
hypocrisy of the State Government today. Last week or early this week it announced a review of the Mental
Health Act. Last week a member of the Government gave notice of a motion congratulating the Government on
mental health care in this State. However, today, when a serious issue affecting the future of community-based
mental health care in this State is debated in Parliament, the Minister for Health has not taken the time to make a
contribution. The honourable member for Kogarah Parliamentary Secretary read something she clearly had not
seen before, and left the Chamber. The Parliamentary Secretary, the honourable member for Newcastle, who did
not anticipate speaking in the debate, was forced to speak because no-one else on the Government side was
willing to support people who want community-based mental health care in this State. However, I thank him for
Mr Bryce Gaudry: Point of order: I appreciate the honourable member mentioning my contribution,
but I take offence at her use of the word "forced". I was not forced. I spoke in this debate because I considered I
had a useful point to make.
Madam ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Marie Andrews): Order! I uphold the point of order. I ask the
honourable member for Willoughby to refrain from using such strong terms.
Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: To highlight the Government's hypocrisy and its so-called concern for
mental health care in this State, I wish to deal with some inaccurate statements made by the Parliamentary
Secretary, the honourable member for Kogarah. First, 85 per cent of patients are treated at the Chatswood site.
Only acute care is provided in the home, in contrast with what she said. Secondly, there has been absolutely no
consultation with the community about what the Government calls the relocation of this clinic. So far as the
Coalition is concerned, the clinic is being closed, not relocated. Either way, there has been no consultation with
the community. I was pleased to hear the Minister imply, as I accept, that there would be further consultation
prior to the proposed closure.
Thirdly, it is important to note that only about six months ago the Government proposed to allow half
the site to be sold, with the other half to be retained for community-based mental health care. The Government's
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12255
decision in the past six months has been based purely on windfall financial gain, not on the appropriate priority,
which is the wellbeing of mental health care patients. Also, the Parliamentary Secretary, the honourable member
for Kogarah said that the so-called relocation had the support of those involved with the clinic. I want to place
on record that community organisations have told the Coalition that patients, carers and staff all want
community-based mental health care delivery at Chatswood and Cremorne, not at a hospital site.
One of the worst things that could be done would be to send mental health care patients to a hospital,
because often that would be a reminder of their worst health care experiences. One of the worst things for
mental health care patients would be to remove them from a place of comfortable and discreet community-based
mental health care treatment and place them in a hospital—in this case, one co-located with other health
services. The mental health patients would then be in buildings and clinics that service other than mental health
care patients. That is hardly best practice. It is hardly the advice that is being given by leading clinicians, who
are employed by the very area health service that is recommending this so-called relocation. This shift to so-
called relocation directly contradicts the national mental health strategy, which supports community-based
mental health care, not mainstreaming. Reports reveal that it is in the best interests of patients, consumers, staff,
and the broader community to retain community-based mental health care, not mainstreaming.
In the final minute remaining for me to speak I would like to once again thank community members
who have raised this issue with me and with the honourable member for North Shore. I thank the honourable
member for North Shore for her assistance in bringing it to the public's eye. I reiterate the Coalition's urging of
the Government to consult the relevant community organisations, and I call on the Minister to meet with those
organisations and do everything he can to ensure the buildings are sufficiently rectified to allow continued use
of the site. The Government should stop being hypocritical on mental health care. It announced the review of the
Mental Health Care Act and congratulates itself on what it is doing, but when it comes to the crunch of
delivering patient care it is letting New South Wales down, it is letting families down and it is letting carers
down. Enough is enough! The Minister must act. Community-based mental health care must continue to be
delivered at Chatswood and Cremorne. [Time expired.]
Question—That the motion be agreed to—put.
The House divided.
Mr Aplin Mrs Hopwood Mrs Skinner
Mr Armstrong Mr Humpherson Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Barr Mr Kerr Mr Souris
Ms Berejiklian Mr Merton Mr Stoner
Mr Cansdell Ms Moore Mr Tink
Mr Constance Mr Oakeshott Mr Torbay
Mr Debnam Mr O'Farrell Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Draper Mr Page Mr R. W. Turner
Mr Fraser Mr Piccoli
Mrs Hancock Mr Pringle Tellers,
Mr Hazzard Mr Richardson Mr George
Ms Hodgkinson Ms Seaton Mr Maguire
Ms Allan Mr Greene Mrs Paluzzano
Mr Amery Ms Hay Mr Pearce
Ms Andrews Mr Hickey Mrs Perry
Mr Bartlett Mr Hunter Mr Price
Ms Beamer Mr Iemma Dr Refshauge
Mr Black Ms Judge Mr Sartor
Mr Brown Ms Keneally Mr Scully
Ms Burney Mr Knowles Mr Shearan
Miss Burton Mr Lynch Mr Stewart
Mr Campbell Mr McBride Mr Tripodi
Mr Collier Mr McLeay Mr Watkins
Mr Corrigan Ms Meagher Mr West
Mr Crittenden Ms Megarrity Mr Whan
Ms D'Amore Mr Mills
Mr Debus Mr Morris
Ms Gadiel Mr Newell Tellers,
Mr Gaudry Ms Nori Mr Ashton
Mr Gibson Mr Orkopoulos Mr Martin
12256 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Mr Hartcher Ms Saliba
Mr Roberts Mr Yeadon
Question resolved in the negative.
SELF-FUNDED RETIREES CONCESSIONS
Mr ROBERT OAKESHOTT (Port Macquarie) [12.14 p.m.]: I move:
That this House:
(1) recognises that self-funded retirees in New South Wales do not receive access to the concessions that self-funded
retirees in Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia receive.
(2) urges the Government to accept the Commonwealth offer of financial assistance to provide equity in concessions for
self-funded retirees in New South Wales, thereby recognising their contribution to the State.
An election advertisement in the most recent edition, the spring 2004 volume, of the Independent Retiree states,
"Mark Latham and Labor Opportunity for older Australians". Part of the election pitch from the Labor Party in
the magazine was to extend financial concessions to holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. An
election promise at the Federal level was "Labor supports the extension of concessions to Seniors Health Card
holders. Labor has a strong track record in this area. In government we introduced the Commonwealth Seniors
Health Card [CSHC] and successfully negotiated with the States to extend pensioner concessions to self-funded
retirees receiving a part pension." Here is the good bit: "Labor will examine a range of options to ensure
additional concessions are delivered to CSHC holders." If it is good enough for Federal Labor, the question we
ask today is why is it not good enough for State Labor and the New South Wales Government. There is a range
of inconsistencies. One is the lack of recognition of the savings culture needed in New South Wales.
The Port Macquarie electorate has 2,100 independent retirees, all of whom are discriminated against
financially because they have chosen to save and plan for their retirement, although concessions are offered to
others who, for whatever reason, have not put in place savings plans. If we are to encourage a savings culture in
New South Wales and Australia I would have thought that we should provide incentives for, and encouragement
to, those who want to plan. Although compulsory superannuation has been introduced in Australia, which forces
saving on all of us, the current retired generation who chose to put in place their own savings schemes are now
being discriminated against financially.
For this generation of older Australians, I would have thought it is only a matter of fairness and equity
that this Government would recognise their contribution and their foresight in planning and saving for their
retirement. There are three types of Commonwealth concession cards. The Pensioner Concession Card is
provided mainly to pensioners, for example aged pensioners and people on disability support pensions. Holders
of the Pensioner Concession Card are able to access subsidised pharmaceuticals through the Pharmaceutical
Benefits Scheme [PBS] and core State concessions on transport, utilities, rates and car registration. They are
entitled to boating discounts and subsidised concessional travel on the Great Southern Rail. The State
Government and private providers give discounts to holders of the Pensioner Concession Card.
The Health Care Card is provided primarily to people on allowances, such as the Newstart allowance.
The basic concession is that it gives people access to the PBS. Those on sickness benefits have access to
subsidised hearing services, but people with a Health Care Card do not have access to the core State concessions
of subsidised utilities or car registrations. The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is provided to people of age
pension age who are not in receipt of the age pension, but have an income of less than $50,000 a year for a
single and $80,000 for a couple—the self-funded retiree group. Holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health
Card have access to subsidised pharmaceuticals under the PBS, subsidised rail travel on the Great Southern Rail,
and a telephone allowance. As everyone would be aware—this is the point of the motion—a couple of years ago
the Commonwealth extended some of the core concessions and, as the budget papers indicate, negotiations are
The recently re-elected Federal Coalition Government is committed to contributing $200 twice a year
as a way of meeting its part of the 60:40 agreement, but I do not think that absolves the State Government from
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12257
its responsibility to contribute. On the grounds of equity and fairness, the State Government should put an end to
this financial discrimination. I know that other States and Territories, such as the Australian Capital Territory
and Western Australia, have entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth Government, and the South
Australian Government has given in-principle support to the arrangement while it closely examines the
Throughout New South Wales and Australia this is a burning issue for the peak lobby group, the
Association of Independent Retirees. Over several years the association has undertaken a very strong campaign
to exert pressure on the New South Wales Government to recognise the needs of older Australians, particularly
independent retirees. In view of the forthcoming by-election in Dubbo, I will read one of the letters I have
received from the association on this issue. The Dubbo-Orana branch of the Association of Independent Retirees
wrote to me during the State election campaign in March 2003. This letter is one example of concerns felt by a
group of independent retirees who have been lobbying for assistance. The branch president, Brian Semmler,
I write on behalf of the members of the Dubbo/Orana Branch of the Association of Independent Retirees to ask that you and your
Government might give favourable consideration to the concept of those persons who are Self Funded Retirees (SFRs) or partly
SFRs … being granted benefits equivalent to the benefits provided to other retirees who are in receipt of the full Age Pension.
In the view of members of this Branch the present situation whereby one class of retirees receives certain benefits and another
does not is both unfair and discriminatory.
Given that the Commonwealth Government has offered to meet 60% of the cost of providing these benefits, we believe it is not
unreasonable nor beyond the means of the State to provide the other 40% so that SFRs become equal partners with those retirees
who are being supported by the Age Pension and other concessions granted by both Federal and State Governments.
Many SFRs … are not wealthy people; in fact, many are not well off at all, but because there is, in our opinion, an incredible
discrepancy between the Commonwealth Incomes Test and Assets Test for receipt of the Age Pension, they do not qualify for the
pension under the Assets Test even though they would qualify with ease under the Incomes Test.
There are two main reasons for this; the first is that many so-called 'assets', such as furniture, motor vehicles, caravans, jewellery,
art works etc are counted in the Assets Test but are not income producing, and the second is the incredible downturn in incomes
because of poor investment market performance.
I might also add, ironically, low interest rates. The letter goes on to state:
This grossly unfair situation has led and will continue to lead to SFRs fast becoming extremely disadvantaged and in the poverty
bracket; they are clearly the new poor.
Our Association recently undertook a survey of members, and one of the results showed that of the respondent couples 26.8%
had an income of less than $29,000 pa and another 41.7% had an income of between $30,000 and $49,000 pa. For singles the
figures were 50.2% and 32.0% respectively—not what one would call wealthy. In fact many would have incomes below what is
commonly accepted as the 'poverty line'.
Your [State] Government has been generous to many in this State who are in need, and we believe it is not too much to ask that
those persons who have contributed, many at a relatively high level to taxation over the years, and to a very considerable extent
to their own maintenance in retirement be assisted to have a quality of life in their latter years that would be enhanced at least a
little by your Government supporting the Commonwealth initiative, as has been done in [other States and Territories].
Those views are held right throughout the State by the entire network and membership of the Association of
Independent Retirees. The association's views have the support of many council bodies. Hastings Council in my
electorate held a workshop on 16 August, and according to the council there are 2,079 eligible self-funded
retirees who live within the council's boundary. Based on that number, the total cost of the concession in that
area would be $883,573. The State's contribution to that would be $353,430. Councils have expressed their
support for the proposal that the State Government should contribute. I therefore encourage the State
Government to conclude negotiations that have been going on for far too long, recognise the need for fairness,
and support self-funded retirees in New South Wales. [Time expired.]
Mr TONY STEWART (Bankstown—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.24 p.m.]: It is commendable that
the honourable member for Port Macquarie has brought this important issue to the attention of the House.
However, I wish to lend some perspective to the concerns he has raised. I am somewhat perplexed by what the
honourable member said, because he has a reputation for doing his homework. He deserves credit for drawing
attention to this important issue, but appropriate research would have led him to conclude that there are real
problems with the manner in which the Commonwealth Government deals with New South Wales in terms of
funding arrangements, and that that is source of the difficulty.
12258 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
On numerous occasions the Carr Labor Government has approached the Commonwealth Government
about equitable funding distribution. I will deal with that matter in more detail later, but I briefly make the point
now that earlier this year the Howard Government used the Commonwealth Grants Commission to rip
$345 million out of New South Wales each year for the next five years—a fact that provides a wider perspective
on the concerns outlined by the honourable member for Port Macquarie. The Commonwealth Government cut a
huge chunk from the level of funding that New South Wales expected as part of revenue disbursement and
ripped off the New South Wales economy. Furthermore, it is widely recognised that the Howard Government
short-changed the New South Wales Government in funding for Health, Disability Services and Housing. Over
the recent years of the Howard-Costello Government, Commonwealth Government funding to the State of New
South Wales has been diminishing.
The Commonwealth Government currently offers concessions to holders of the Commonwealth Seniors
Health Card, but there is a catch: the concession applies only if the New South Wales Government matches
Commonwealth funding. There are some real difficulties associated with the proposal, and I will explain what
they are. The commitment was made by the Howard Government so the Commonwealth should fund the
proposal. After all, the concession relates to income for older Australians and that is a Commonwealth
responsibility. However, again the Howard Government has sought to avoid its responsibility and has tried to
pass the buck to New South Wales. Despite having already ripped $345 million each year for the next five years
out of this State by stealth through the Commonwealth Grants Commission—a move that has had a devastating
impact on the New South Wales budget—the Commonwealth Government made the commitment, and, as I
have said, the Commonwealth Government should provide the funding to meet its commitment, if it wants the
concession to work.
I understand that the Commonwealth Government offered to the New South Wales Government
$35.4 million, which represents an increase from the original offer of $29.4 million, toward meeting the cost of
extending pensioner concessions to holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. The offer deals only
with core concessions for services such as water, rates, energy, motor vehicle registration fees, and drivers
licence fees. The Commonwealth Government claims that its offer meets 60 per cent of the estimated full-year
cost of providing the concession. Treasury estimates that the cost will be $80 million, so there is already a huge
shortfall because at best the Commonwealth's offer meets only 44 per cent of the cost, resulting in a cost to New
South Wales taxpayers of at least $44.6 million per annum. As the Commonwealth did not consult New South
Wales in making its calculations in any way, shape or form, the Deputy Premier, Dr Andrew Refshauge, wrote
to the Prime Minister in June 2004 and requested the basis of the Commonwealth's calculations. The letter
My dear Prime Minister
I write with regard to the extension of state pensioner concessions to holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, wrote to the Premier on 25 March 2004 offering the
NSW Government $35.42 million in the 2003-04 financial year for this purpose. The Minister advises that the offer constitutes
60% of the cost of extending pensioner concessions to NSW Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.
As NSW Treasury estimates the Commonwealth's offer is substantially less than 60% of the cost to New South Wales, I would be
interested to receive further information on how this figure has been calculated.
It nevertheless remains the position of the NSW Government that this proposal should be fully funded by the Commonwealth,
particularly since it relates to income support for older Australians.
As the Commonwealth's proposal seeks to assist those older Australians most disadvantaged by the current concession
arrangements, I reiterate the Premier's proposal to you of 24 September 2002. The Commonwealth's goal would be met by
establishing a separate category of concession card for seniors with assets less than 15% above the eligibility for the Pensioner
Concession Card. The additional costs of state concessions for this group could be fully met by the $35.42 million offered by
I look forward to your response to this proposal.
We waited and waited.
Mr Malcolm Kerr: You should not be reading other people's mail.
Mr TONY STEWART: This is the people's mail. On 24 September 2002 the Premier wrote to the
Prime Minister, John Howard. It was an important letter, because our Premier was acting to help the people of
New South Wales, particularly older Australians, and we are still waiting for the Prime Minister to reply. The
Premier's letter stated:
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12259
Dear Mr Howard
I am writing regarding my letter dated 3 May 2002 to yourself, in response to your Government's proposal that pensioner
concessions be extended to include holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
It si noted that your Government's intention is to offer funding of $29.4 million in 2002-03 by way of a specific Purpose
Payment, to partially meet the cost to NSW of extending these concessions. This amount represents 60% of your estimate of the
cost in 2002-03.
The Treasurer recently met with a delegation from the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association who suggested a
separate category of concession card was necessary for those aged people whose asset values lay less than 15% beyond the
eligibility for Pensioners Concession Cards.
As the goal of your proposal is to address those older Australians most disadvantaged by the current concession arrangements,
the NSW Government suggests that the Commonwealth may wish to consider establishing and administering a separate
classification of concession holder. The eligibility criteria for these new concessions could be such that the additional cost of
supporting the concessions are fully met by the $29.4 million that the Commonwealth proposed to contribute to extending
I would like to reiterate, it remains the position of the NSW Government that your original proposal should be fully funded by the
Commonwealth, particularly since it relates to income support for older Australians.
That letter outlines the situation. The Carr Government has demonstrated its validity in supporting older
Australians in this great State. However, we are confronted with the situation that the Commonwealth
Government has consistently refused to adhere to its responsibility in this area. It cannot walk away from that
responsibility. Clearly it is a Commonwealth responsibility to support the income needs of older Australians. It
is not doing that: it wants to pass the buck back to the States. This State has been cruelly dealt with by the
Grants Commission, which will rip $345 million out of New South Wales every year for the next five years. It is
easy to work out the repercussions of that, and they have been mentioned often in the past.
At present the New South Wales Government provides concessions on transport, water, energy, vehicle
registration, drivers licences, local council rates, and many other essential services. In 2004-05 the New South
Wales Government will provide more than $700 million worth of concessions. Those concessions are available
to recipients of the Commonwealth age pension and holders of the Department of Veterans Affairs gold card.
Transport concessions and discounts on many services are available through the popular New South Wales
Seniors Card scheme to all New South Wales residents over the age of 60 who do not work more than 20 hours
a week. The Government is doing its bit and is delivering, and it is now asking the Federal Government to
demonstrate that it will be accountable and responsible and help older Australians, particularly the self-funded
retirees who, as the honourable member for Port Macquarie pointed out, deserve its support and are simply not
Mr PETER DRAPER (Tamworth) [12.34 p.m.]: I am delighted to support the motion moved by the
honourable member for Port Macquarie. The New South Wales Government should recognise that self-funded
retirees in New South Wales do not receive access to the concessions that their counterparts in Western
Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia receive. The New South Wales Government
should accept the Commonwealth Government's offer of financial assistance. I welcome the opportunity to
contribute to this debate because the issue of equity in concessions to self-funded retirees is relevant in my
electorate of Tamworth. The Tamworth branch of the Association of Independent Retirees supports a strong
membership of 180 senior citizens.
I am frequently approached by members of that association regarding concession equity. It would seem
that the only service really offered to self-funded retirees by the State Government is the Seniors Card, which is
available to any permanent resident of New South Wales over 60 who is employed for less than 20 hours a
week. The Seniors Card provides concession fares on public transport and concession entry to museums, art
galleries, et cetera. It also provides cardholders with discounts at various private businesses. The Federal
Government provides a Seniors Health Card, but that is means tested. Pensioners, on the other hand, get
discounts on electricity, water, gas, ambulance services and motor vehicle registration, discounts that are not
available to people who are not in receipt of a pension.
Self-funded retirees are not asking for special treatment; they are asking for fair treatment. They ask
only to procure the equivalent benefits, rebates and concessions as those provided by governments, health
12260 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
organisations, business and commerce to pensioners. As the association pointed out, self-funded retirees are a
unique community group in that they chose to fund or partially fund their own retirement needs long before it
became government policy to encourage the working population to do so. Far from being penalised, they should
be made eligible for the benefits afforded to those who, for whatever reason, are not able to fund their retirement
out of their own pockets. The extent of sacrifice of self-funded retirees includes forfeiture of the pension
entitlement, resulting in a substantial saving to the national economy, zero or severely limited access to Federal
and State- resourced age concession assistance, and differentials in the costs of travel, hospital fees, access to
carers where required, and access to taxi transport when driving licences are revoked.
Self-funded retirees do not choose to support their own retirement because they are wealthy. Very few
retirees have a large income; indeed, most would probably fall into the middle-income bracket. Many live
frugally, economising on every dollar so their hard-earned savings, accrued through a lifetime of toil, will last
the distance. For the current generation those savings are needed to stretch further than they did for previous
generations, thanks to greater life expectancy achieved through medical and lifestyle advances. Self-funded
retirees have planned for their future so they will not be a burden on taxpayers or on Government. It is
completely unfair that self-funded retirees who have worked hard and paid taxes all their life are penalised
through a denial of benefits when help is needed most, later in life, unlike those who have lived on benefits for
much of their lives. The Federal Government has offered to help address this inequity by offering States and
Territories a 60:40 split in the cost of extending Federal and State-funded pension type concessions to self-
The Government has offered the States and Territories $75 million per annum, which is $10 million
more than its previous offer in 2002, to assist with a range of State and local government charges to
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders. Earlier the Parliamentary Secretary spoke of equity and raised the
tired old rhetoric of the same cuts the Government quotes to justify cuts across a range of issues, including
health, police, education, and anything else it is criticised on. That line has come to the end of its tenure. The
offer from the Federal Government focuses on providing concessions that attach to the card for energy, rates,
water and sewerage, and motor vehicle registration costs. Western Australia and Victoria already offer
concessions to their Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders. The Federal Minister for Family and
Community Services, Kay Patterson, is now appealing to the New South Wales Government to accept this offer,
which could save cardholders an average of $700 a year across a range of charges.
The National President of the Association of Independent Retirees, Joan Heard, has pointed out that in
the current economic climate the association's superannuant members are finding it hard to remain self-reliant
with rising health costs and other service costs increasing rapidly in local government areas. Mrs Heard
rightfully highlights the fact that in addition to paying taxes and providing for their own retirement, self-funded
retirees also contribute to community life through educational and social services. I believe it is only fair that all
retirees of pensionable age be treated equally by all levels of government. I urge this Government to recognise
the lifetime of contribution to taxes self-funded retirees have made and to stop penalising them unfairly. We are
in a regime of low interest rates, which is great for young home buyers but certainly not for people relying on
income from investments. People have planned and saved all their lives. It is discriminatory that they are being
penalised, and the Government needs to recognise that fact.
Mr THOMAS GEORGE (Lismore) [12.39 p.m.]: Like every member in this House, I have an
independent retirees association in my community. I am surprised that the Government produced only one
speaker to participate in debate on this important issue. The Association of Independent Retirees on the far
North Coast has strong support. The honourable member for Ballina, other members who represent that area and
I also support that organisation. The president, Bob Smith, the secretary, Delma McDonald, Bob Swords, State
President, and other members of the organisation do a tremendous job in organising meetings and taking part in
the community. The retirees association issues a quarterly magazine in which it provides advice and fellowship,
and it also arranges trips. Members of that association also provide support for each other.
I am surprised that Parliamentary Secretary Stewart attempted to blame the Federal Government for the
lack of funding for self-funded retirees. I remind him that prior to the last election the Leader of the Opposition,
the Hon. John Brogden, and the then Leader of The Nationals, the Hon. George Souris, supported the Federal
Government's initiative to provide retirees with many of the benefits that they have been trying for some time to
secure. However, retirees have met with problems when they have attempted to obtain support from this State
The Coalition recognises the enormous contribution of self-funded retirees in the electorates of Ballina
and Lismore—and, I am sure, in the electorates of every honourable member. They do a tremendous job and
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12261
they save local, State and Federal governments a lot of money. The Commonwealth Government has put its
funding offer on the table. I commend the honourable member for Port Macquarie for moving this motion. Prior
to the last Federal election the Federal Leader of the Opposition published a two-page advertisement in the
magazine produced by the Association of Independent Retirees. That advertisement is headed "Mark Latham
and Labor. Opportunity for older Australians". The Federal Leader of the Opposition saw the benefit of doing
Mr Robert Oakeshott: Ease the squeeze.
Mr THOMAS GEORGE: He was going to ease the squeeze.
Mr Malcolm Kerr: He provided a ladder of opportunity.
Mr THOMAS GEORGE: He provided John Howard with a ladder of opportunity, and John climbed
to the top. I commend the Federal Leader of the Opposition for easing the squeeze. Labor governments in both
Western Australia and South Australia have implemented similar proposals. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary:
Why has this Government not done the same thing? Labor governments in Western Australia and South
Australia did not depend on the Federal Government to do that for them. Why is this Government not
implementing similar proposals? It is entitled to do that and it has our support, but it is trying to blame the
Federal Government for this lack of funding.
Mr Tony Stewart: Tell them to give our $345 million back and we might be able to look at these
Mr THOMAS GEORGE That amount of $345 million will be just a drop in the ocean in comparison
with our State deficit. However, we will not go into that argument. This Government must take on board the
requirements of self-funded retirees. The Commonwealth Government has made its offer. The policies of the
New South Wales Coalition at the last election would greatly improve the quality of life for self-funded retirees
by providing concessions on rates, electricity, water, sewerage and car registration costs. I remind honourable
members of what the Auditor-General said yesterday in relation to electricity and water costs. This year retirees
will be looking for, and they will need, those concessions. I support the motion. I call on the Carr Government
to support the motion and to provide concessions for the independent retirees of this State, who rightly deserve
Mr MALCOLM KERR (Cronulla) [12.44 p.m.]: I support this motion, as I supported the Coalition's
policy when it promised that if it were elected it would introduce these concessions and accept the
Commonwealth Government's offer. All honourable members would remember that the Premier said, "I will not
match that offer." There was no mention of that amount of $345 million when the Leader of the Opposition
made that announcement well over a year ago. Even before the Premier started on his campaign he did not refer
to his alibi defence of $345 million. Earlier we heard the outrageous response to debate on this motion by the
honourable member for Bankstown.
Mr Tony Stewart: Be fair.
Mr MALCOLM KERR: The honourable member for Bankstown said, "Be fair."
Mr Tony Stewart: I am never nasty to you. I always back up the shire.
Mr MALCOLM KERR: All right, we had a relatively outrageous response from the honourable
member for Bankstown. He said that the honourable member for Port Macquarie had not done his homework.
No doubt he will threaten the honourable member for Port Macquarie with detention for speaking out against
discrimination. I hope that the member for Port Macquarie is not intimidated into withdrawing his motion, and
that he sticks with his motion and ensures that it is put to a vote. I wish to speak briefly about the amount of
$345 million to which the honourable member for Bankstown referred. We have just had a Federal election.
Mr Paul Gibson: Have we?
Mr MALCOLM KERR: The honourable member for Blacktown would not want to know about it.
Ignorance is bliss, and he should remain in a state of ignorance. Did Mark Latham say, "If I win I will convene a
meeting of the Grants Commission and the Premiers and ensure that the people of New South Wales get their
12262 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
$345 million"? It is not the task of the Howard Government to do that; it is the task of Grants Commission and
the Premiers. In Australia we have a majority of Labor Premiers.
Mr Thomas George: They don't like Bob.
Mr MALCOLM KERR That is right. The Premier went very quiet in relation to that issue because it
was going to cost Labor too many seats in Queensland.
Mr Thomas George: It is a State of Origin competition.
Mr MALCOLM KERR: It is a State of Origin competition. Queensland is the State in which the
money cuts originate.
Mr Thomas George: Queensland won.
Mr MALCOLM KERR: Queensland won the State of Origin game. So that argument is completely
fallacious. Even before the Grants Commission argument was put forward by members of the Coalition the
Premier rejected it out of hand. Earlier the honourable member for Lismore and the honourable member for Port
Macquarie referred to a two-page advertisement that was published by the Federal Leader of the Opposition in
an attempt to fool retirees in relation to Labor's policy. He said that if he were Prime Minister he would not
change the grants formula and that the same argument would apply.
Mr Peter Draper: It did not fool them.
Mr MALCOLM KERR: It did not fool them at all, as the honourable member for Tamworth said. It
is ridiculous. I wish the Federal Leader of the Opposition well. I understand he is writing a new book on the
campaign called "How to increase your minority". Let me return to some of the arguments that have been put
forward in this debate. Earlier the honourable member for Bankstown should have declared a conflict of interest.
He said that the Carr Government was very generous to older people and that it was giving them hundreds of
dollars in concessions, after having just made the point that it was the Commonwealth's responsibility to provide
those concessions. If it is the Commonwealth's responsibility to provide concessions for aged pensioners and
veterans, it is also the Commonwealth's responsibility to do that for independent retirees, pensioners and
Mr Robert Oakeshott: Consistency.
Mr MALCOLM KERR: We need consistency.
Mr Peter Draper: He shot himself in the foot.
Mr MALCOLM KERR: As the honourable member for Tamworth said, he shot himself in the foot.
In fact the people against whom this Government discriminates are the very people who have spent their lives as
tax earners and not tax eaters. They are the very people who have provided a great deal of the wealth of this
community. They and members of their families fought in wars to ensure that this country remained safe. Those
people, who provided the basis of our prosperity, are least deserving of discrimination. It is about time there was
a bit of equity and equality in relation to this whole issue.
Mr GREG APLIN (Albury) [12.49 p.m.]: I support the motion. We are all familiar with the plight of
independent retirees. During my time as a member of Parliament I have been approached many times by
numerous independent retirees in the electorate of Albury who are concerned about the continuing discrepancies
they notice between the situation for retirees in New South Wales and those in other States. These discrepancies
are not being addressed. During the last State election campaign the Coalition parties indicated that we would
address the concerns of independent retirees by extending to them some of the concessions that are available to
the State's pensioners.
Over the years independent retirees have paid their taxes and saved to provide for their retirement. It
seems grossly discriminatory that when they are in a position to retire and sit back and enjoy the fruits of their
hard labour over many years, they are unable to access services in the same way as others who, for various
reasons, are not in a position to provide for themselves. I think particularly of travel, medical and other
concessions that are offered through the Seniors Card. The discrimination is even more obvious to those who
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12263
live on the State's borders, because they can contrast the difficulties they experience in New South Wales with
the benefits enjoyed by their colleagues, friends and relatives who live just across the border in Victoria, for
It is galling indeed to hear about the problems people face accessing medical services. It is much easier
for those who live along the border in the Albury, Corowa and Mulwala areas to access specialist medical
services in Melbourne rather than travel more than double the distance to Sydney for treatment. Yet they are
denied the opportunity to enjoy concessional travel on the Victorian rail network because there is no reciprocity
between New South Wales and Victoria. This ongoing problem is the fault of the State Government, which has
refused to accept the Federal Government's offer to subsidise that rail travel. Other honourable members
commented also about the State Government's refusal to accept the Federal Government's 60:40 proposition.
That is the root of this problem.
Independent retirees are regular visitors and complainants to me because they do not understand why
the New South Wales Government cannot solve a problem that has been addressed by the Victorian and
Western Australian governments. It does not make sense. The current system is discriminatory. I support the
motion and urge the Government to tackle this problem and address the issue in favour of the people who have
made this State so great. They should not be penalised for doing the right thing over the years and not becoming
a drain on the State. It is incomprehensible to me that those who have worked hardest to make opportunities for
themselves and who have put money aside are then unable to enjoy the fruits of their labour in the same way as
others in this State. Can this be equitable? I think not. I urge the Government to address that issue and to support
Mr DONALD PAGE (Ballina—Deputy Leader of The Nationals) [12.53 p.m.]: I record my very
strong support for this motion. The plight of self-funded retirees was a big issue at the last State election. The
Coalition parties made it clear that if elected we would accept the Commonwealth Government's offer and adopt
an initiative similar to those taken by the West Australian and Victorian governments.
Madam ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Marie Andrews): Order! The number of speakers provided for in
the standing orders have contributed to the debate. The honourable member for Ballina is out of order.
Mr ROBERT OAKESHOTT (Port Macquarie) [12.53 p.m.], in reply: I thank the honourable
members representing the electorates of Tamworth, Lismore, Cronulla, Albury and Ballina for their valuable
contributions to this debate. I also thank the two members for Bankstown who participated in the debate: one
who argued the case that the State is not responsible for the incomes of older Australians and one who argued
that the Government is doing a lot for the pension benefits of New South Wales citizens based on the
Commonwealth income test for older Australians. The confused honourable member for Bankstown presented a
most inconsistent argument on behalf of the State Government. The Government's practices are discriminating
against the current generation of older Australians who have saved and planned for their retirement. That is the
essence of this debate: The Government treats differently those who plan and save for their retirement and those
who do not.
A retirement income system has been established for my generation. Superannuation is now
compulsory. The figures I have seen suggest that in the next 20 or 30 years the number of independent retirees
will increase from about 18 per cent to more than 25 per cent. The number of those on part-rate pensions will
increase from 28 per cent to more than 40 per cent, and the number on full-rate pensions will decrease
significantly from about 54 per cent to 35 per cent. Financial discrimination is not such an issue for my
generation because we are all forced to save through the income system. But a generation of older Australians
are taking up the fight. They are being discriminated against because they did one simple thing: they planned
and saved for their retirement.
The honourable member for Bankstown argued strongly that the State Government is providing
benefits to those who did not save for their retirement. That is laudable. Yet my simple question remains
unanswered: Why is the Government discriminating against those who planned and saved for their retirement?
This Government seems to be comfortable about walking away from those people. The Government usually
amends motions such as this but that has not happened today. So it appears that Government members will
simply vote against this important motion. That is an indication that the Government is quite happy to continue
its discriminatory practice of not providing assistance to those who have planned and saved for their retirement.
All speakers in this debate mentioned the situation federally. In an attempt to ease the squeeze the
leader of the Federal Australian Labor Party, Mark Latham, promised at the last election to assist this category
12264 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
of older Australians. South Australian Labor has offered in-principle support to entering an agreement with the
Commonwealth Government on this issue, and the West Australian Labor Party has done likewise. The
Australian Capital Territory, which has a Labor government, was the first State or Territory to enter into an
agreement with the Commonwealth Government about the 60:40 concession. The Commonwealth Coalition
made this commitment in recognition of the current discriminatory situation. I note that during the Federal
election campaign the Coalition parties promised to pay $200 twice a year to self-funded retirees who hold a
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. The State Coalition also made a commitment at the last State election to
recognise the needs of independent retirees throughout New South Wales.
So the squeeze is on the New South Wales Labor Government. Labor and labour organisations in other
States and the Coalition parties in New South Wales and across Australia are saying one thing: There is
discrimination against those who planned and saved for their retirement. The Government has drawn a line in
the sand between funded and unfunded retirees. That situation is unfair and should be resolved. On behalf of
independent retirees throughout New South Wales, I again urge the Government to act. [Time expired.]
Question—That the motion be agreed to—put.
The House divided.
Mr Aplin Mrs Hopwood Mrs Skinner
Mr Armstrong Mr Humpherson Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Barr Mr Kerr Mr Souris
Ms Berejiklian Mr Merton Mr Stoner
Mr Cansdell Ms Moore Mr Tink
Mr Constance Mr Oakeshott Mr Torbay
Mr Debnam Mr O'Farrell Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Draper Mr Page Mr R. W. Turner
Mr Fraser Mr Piccoli
Mrs Hancock Mr Pringle Tellers,
Mr Hazzard Mr Richardson Mr George
Ms Hodgkinson Ms Seaton Mr Maguire
Ms Allan Mr Gibson Ms Nori
Mr Amery Mr Greene Mr Orkopoulos
Ms Andrews Ms Hay Mrs Paluzzano
Mr Bartlett Mr Hickey Mr Pearce
Ms Beamer Mr Hunter Mrs Perry
Mr Black Mr Iemma Mr Price
Mr Brown Ms Judge Dr Refshauge
Ms Burney Ms Keneally Mr Scully
Miss Burton Mr Knowles Mr Shearan
Mr Campbell Mr Lynch Mr Stewart
Mr Collier Mr McBride Mr Tripodi
Mr Corrigan Mr McLeay Mr Watkins
Mr Crittenden Ms Meagher Mr West
Ms D'Amore Ms Megarrity Mr Whan
Mr Debus Mr Mills Tellers,
Ms Gadiel Mr Morris Mr Ashton
Mr Gaudry Mr Newell Mr Martin
Mr Hartcher Ms Saliba
Mr Roberts Mr Yeadon
Question resolved in the negative.
[Mr Speaker left the chair at 1.07 p.m. The House resumed at 2.15 p.m.]
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12265
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Routine of Business
[During notices of motions]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I advise honourable members that a notice of motion should not constitute a
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will confer with the Clerks as to whether the motion of which the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition has given notice relating to an interview between John Laws and the Minister for
Health is in order.
Mr Bob Debus, by leave, tabled the report entitled "The Forensic DNA Sampling of Serious Indictable
Offenders under Part 7 of the Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act 2000", dated August 2004.
INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION
Mr Speaker tabled, in accordance with section 78 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption
Act 1988, the report entitled "Annual Report 2003-2004".
Ordered to be printed.
OFFICE OF THE CHILDREN'S GUARDIAN
Mr Speaker announced the receipt, pursuant to section 190 of the Children and Young Persons (Care
and Protection) Act 1998, of the report entitled "Annual Report 2003/2004".
Ordered to be printed.
Milton-Ulladulla Public School Infrastructure
Petition requesting community consultation in the planning, funding and building of appropriate public
school infrastructure in the Milton-Ulladulla area and surrounding districts, received from Mrs Shelley
Murrumbateman Public School
Petition requesting re-establishment of Murrumbateman Public School, received from Ms Katrina
Skilled Migrant Placement Program
Petition requesting that the Skilled Migrant Placement Program be restored, received from Ms Clover
Mature Workers Program
Petition requesting that the Mature Workers Program be restored, received from Ms Clover Moore.
12266 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Gaming Machine Tax
Petitions opposing the decision to increase poker machine tax, received from Mrs Shelley Hancock,
Mrs Judy Hopwood, Mr Malcolm Kerr and Mr Andrew Tink.
Lake Wollumboola Recreational Use
Petition opposing any restriction of the recreational use of Lake Wollumboola, received from
Mrs Shelley Hancock.
Petition requesting changes in legislation to allow for tougher sentences for crime, received from
Mrs Shelley Hancock.
Road Tunnel Air Filtration
Petition asking the Government to ensure that all Sydney road tunnels are fitted with air filters,
received from Ms Clover Moore.
Breast Screening Funding
Petition requesting effective breast screening for women and maintenance of funding to BreastScreen
NSW, received from Mr Steve Cansdell and Mrs Judy Hopwood.
Coffs Harbour Aeromedical Rescue Helicopter Service
Petitions requesting that plans for the placement of an aeromedical rescue helicopter service based in
Coffs Harbour be fast-tracked, received from Mr Andrew Fraser and Mr Thomas George.
Yass District Hospital
Petition opposing the downgrading of existing services at Yass District Hospital, received from
Ms Katrina Hodgkinson.
Alcohol and Drug Services
Petition requesting increased and expanded inner city alcohol and drug services, received from
Ms Clover Moore.
CountryLink Rail Services
Petitions opposing the abolition of CountryLink rail services and their replacement with bus services in
rural and regional New South Wales, received from Mr Steve Cansdell, Mr Andrew Fraser, Mr Andrew
Stoner and Mr John Turner.
South Coast Rail Services
Petition opposing any reduction in rail services on the South Coast, received from Mrs Shelley
Bus Service 352
Petition requesting extension of bus service 352 to operate on nights and weekends, received from
Ms Clover Moore.
Murwillumbah to Casino Rail Service
Petition requesting the retention of the CountryLink rail service from Murwillumbah to Casino,
received from Mr Neville Newell.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12267
Annandale and Leichhardt Policing
Petition requesting that Annandale and Leichhardt police stations be made fully operational on a 24-
hour basis, received from Ms Sandra Nori.
Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme
Petition objecting to the criteria for country cancer patients to qualify for the Isolated Patients Travel
and Accommodation Assistance Scheme, received from Mr Andrew Stoner.
Lismore Fire Service
Petition requesting the provision of a permanently staffed fire service in Lismore, received from
Mr Thomas George.
Petition opposing any proposal to sell State Forests, received from Ms Katrina Hodgkinson.
Sow Stall Ban
Petition requesting the total ban of sow stalls, received from Ms Clover Moore.
Petition requesting a ban on the sale of pets from pet retail outlets, and that such sales be restricted to
qualified registered breeders and pounds, received from Ms Clover Moore.
Cat and Dog Meat Sale
Petition requesting legislation banning the sale of cat and dog meat for human or animal consumption,
received from Ms Clover Moore.
Alcohol Wet Centres
Petition requesting the establishment of wet centres in the inner city to provide a safe place for chronic
drinkers, received from Ms Clover Moore.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
PREMIER INDIA VISIT
Mr JOHN BROGDEN: My question without notice is addressed to the Premier. Given the code-red
crisis in our hospitals, radio and electricity blackouts, commuters stranded at bus stops and on railway platforms,
and a $10 billion black hole in electricity and water infrastructure, how can the Premier justify his junket to
India, which is his sixth taxpayer-funded overseas junket in 18 months? Why will he not stay home and do his
Mr BOB CARR: Wrong again! There is no black hole, only record capital works funding that dwarfs
anything that happened under the Coalition Government.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Southern Highlands to order.
Mr SPEAKER: I call the honourable member for Southern Highlands to order for the second time.
Mr BOB CARR: Further, our schools have the best literacy outcomes of any in Australia. Extra
teachers are being employed to reduce class sizes.
12268 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for North Shore to order.
Mr BOB CARR: Each and every year more than 630,000 procedures are carried out in our hospitals
because of the funding we have provided. In addition, $10 billion has been carved off State debt. We have a
record performance of professionalism and heroism by the State's police in reducing crime in the last two sets of
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Murrumbidgee to order.
Mr BOB CARR: I have another confirmation of how wrong the Leader of the Opposition gets it. In
the current edition of the Australian Jewish News, dated 29 October 2004, there is an apology for his statement
on 30 pieces of silver. An article headed "Brogden apologises for 'Judas' comments" reports a plaintive apology
and withdrawal by the Leader of the Opposition. Earlier he was as bold as brass, when he declared publicly, "I
will vigorously defend the action, I will be vigorously contesting this action." Here slipping into the Jewish
news today is a craven apology: "I got it wrong"—
Mr John Brogden: Point of order: My point of order is relevance. I asked the Premier why he is
junketing off to India, instead of staying home to do his job.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order. The level of noise in the Chamber is unacceptable.
After an unfortunate incident last week a member was ejected from the Chamber. The standing orders provide
that a member who is ejected from the Chamber may not return to the parliamentary precinct until the next
sitting day. Although I was inclined to allow the member back into the parliamentary precinct the next working
day rather than the next sitting day, members should bear the standing orders in mind when contemplating their
behaviour during question time.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Vaucluse to order.
Mr BOB CARR: And just as the Leader of the Opposition was wrong in all his allegations a moment
ago, he is wrong in alleging an asbestos crisis at Rose Bay Secondary College when in fact the experts in charge
of it say that students, teachers and the workers were never exposed to risk.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for North Shore to order for the second time.
Mr BOB CARR: The principal himself said that there is no risk to the school community. On all those
things the Leader of the Opposition continues to be consistently and predictably wrong.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for East Hills to order.
INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION COMMISSIONER APPOINTMENT
Mr JOHN MILLS: My question without notice is directed to the Premier. What is the latest
information on progress to appoint a new Independent Commission Against Corruption Commissioner?
Mr BOB CARR: I am sure that all members of the House as keen on the great sport of baseball as I
am will be overjoyed by the news that the Boston Red Sox today won the world series of baseball, its first since
1918, which we would believe, and I am sure that members opposite would believe, is a very happy omen for
Tuesday next week.
Mr John Brogden: Point of order: My point of order is relevance. This is the New South Wales
Parliament, you are the Premier of New South Wales. Why don't you do your job?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order.
Mr BOB CARR: No wonder business all around Sydney is talking up Barry O'Farrell as the next
Liberal leader. All around Sydney they are saying they have to do better. As is well known, one of my first
decisions as the new Opposition leader back in 1988 was to have the Labor Party support the formation of the
Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC]. It was a tough decision, but totally vindicated. The ICAC
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12269
has made it harder for corruption to take root. It has given New South Wales a place where allegations of public
sector corruption can be impartially and professionally investigated, taking such allegations out of the hothouse
of the political contest. The people of New South Wales have had three ICAC commissioners, Ian Temby, Barry
O'Keefe and Irene Moss. As the term of Irene Moss comes to an end I thank her on behalf of the people of New
I am sure that she has the best wishes of the whole House as she leaves this challenging post.
Honourable members would be interested to know her replacement, if approved, will be of the highest calibre,
an experienced judge who has served the people of New South Wales with distinction for many years, the
Honourable Justice Jerrold Cripps, QC. As honourable members would be aware, section 5A of the Independent
Commission Against Corruption Act provides that the appointment of the ICAC commissioner is subject to
approval by the joint committee on the ICAC. Today I have written to the committee seeking its support for the
appointment of Justice Cripps as a matter of urgency. There are few legal curriculum vitae more illustrious than
that of Jerrold Cripps. He was a Judge of the District Court, Justice and Chief Justice of the Land and
Environment Court, Justice of the New South Wales Court of Appeal, President of the New South Wales Anti-
Discrimination Board, Chairman of the New South Wales Legal Services Commission and Electoral District
Justice Cripps also has experience specific to the ICAC that particularly suits him to the role of
commissioner. I refer to the judicial review of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act that he is
undertaking. That review was originally scheduled to be completed tomorrow, but earlier this month the judge
requested a short extension so he could consider some outstanding written submissions. It would obviously be
inappropriate for Justice Cripps to inquire into an organisation of which he is about to take charge, so I intend to
recommend to the Governor the appointment of Mr Bruce McClintock, Senior Counsel, to complete the review.
Mr McClintock is a senior member of the bar with extensive experience in a number of areas of law. He has also
had wide experience in various roles in relation to investigatory bodies and inquiries. We expect that he will be
able to conclude the review of the ICAC legislation by the end of January next year.
There will be close consultation between Mr McClintock and Justice Cripps to ensure that the work
that has already been done is not wasted. I believe that the proposed appointment of Justice Jerrold Cripps as
ICAC commissioner is a sound one and in the best traditions of ICAC's impartiality, professionalism and
integrity. I commend Justice Cripps to the Joint Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption
and I look forward to placing this distinguished nomination before the Governor at the earliest opportunity.
COUNTRY TOWNS WATER SUPPLY AND SEWERAGE PROGRAM
Mr ANDREW STONER: My question is directed to the Minister for Energy and Utilities. How can
he reconcile spending $800 million on his metropolitan water strategy when towns like Wellington are suffering
poor water quality due to ancient pipes and there are no sewerage services at Yeoval and Geurie because,
despite his recently announced $25 million funding, the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program is
still $24 million short of the promised $85 million a year?
Mr FRANK SARTOR: The Leader of The Nationals has got it wrong again, but that is not surprising.
Mr Andrew Stoner: It is not wrong. You promised $85 million a year.
Mr FRANK SARTOR: No, we did not. Originally we promised $850 million. Several years ago that
figure was increased to $878 million and then to $883 million.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order.
Mr FRANK SARTOR: To date over $900 million has been allocated to that program. This
Government never talked about providing $85 million a year. That is nonsense when we consider that last June
an amount of $50 million was waiting to be spent because of the delay in achieving some of the projects.
Honourable members need to remember that water delivery services and sewerage services in country areas are
not run by the State. There are 106 water utilities that run those services and local councils own them.
As we all know, local councils value their autonomy. Opposition members have defended their
autonomy on many occasions in this House. Do Opposition members want me to give them direction or take
control of those 106 water utilities? The simple fact is that this Government has boosted funding and re-targeted
12270 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
it to ensure that it goes to smaller utilities that have the most need. At the moment the Government is providing
a lot of money for emergency drought assistance. Last year the Government spent about $8 million and this year
it is intending to spend another $7 million or $8 million.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Lismore to order.
Mr FRANK SARTOR: I note that this State's dam levels have fallen further over the last two weeks
despite extensive rain in some parts of the State. The Government is addressing each of these issues
systematically. It has changed the best practice guidelines for water and it has improved the management system
for the Country Towns Water and Sewerage Scheme. I am encouraging utilities to expedite their projects. In
fact, they will be required to do so if they do not want to lose funding.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order.
Mr FRANK SARTOR: The Government believes that these projects are important. This Government
has addressed these issues systematically and generously, given the fact that it does not control or run the
country water utilities.
JAMES HARDIE AND ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASES LIABILITY
Ms PAM ALLAN: My question without notice is directed to the Premier. What is the latest
information on James Hardie and related matters in New South Wales?
Mr BOB CARR: In recent weeks the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Greg
Combet, the New South Wales Labor Council and Bernie Banton, representing asbestos victims, have met
formally with James Hardie. There has been some progress but progress has been far too slow. In that time,
when James Hardie should have been getting down to solidly negotiating a settlement, it rubbed salt into the
wounds of asbestos victims by announcing that huge payout to Peter Macdonald and Peter Shafron. On 25
October the Interim Chief Financial Officer of James Hardie Industries, Mr Russell Chenu, provided Greg
Combet with the first formal response to the draft heads of agreement and statement of objectives required to
negotiate a settlement.
I am advised that there are some positive indications in James Hardie's correspondence. I am also
advised that James Hardie's letter of 25 October flags further delay in any board sign-off of the heads of
agreement. So, in effect, it has taken James Hardie five weeks to tell Greg Combet that it needs several more
weeks. In the meantime the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation has published the fact that it is
running out of funds, that it only has sufficient funds to meet its obligations to victims through to March or April
next year. But without an immediate and unconditional commitment of funds the foundation could be placed in
administration within weeks. That is entirely unacceptable.
The pressure is on James Hardie to do the right thing. It should do as it said it would do and meet its
obligations to victims of asbestos. In the last few days the New South Wales Government has received some
interesting legal advice. We obtained this advice from two eminent senior counsel, expert junior counsel and
Crown law officers about legislative options to ensure that James Hardie meets it obligations to victims of its
asbestos products. As a result of this advice we started preparing legislation. That legislation will be designed to
ensure that victims can claim against the former James Hardie parent company and that their claims will be met
by money from the current James Hardie parent company. The legislation will reinstate the partly paid shares so
that the Dutch parent company has to transfer funds to ABN60, the company that used to be James Hardie
Industries, the Australian parent company.
The New South Wales Government will be able to pursue this legislation by itself but in consultation
with other Australian governments. Alternatively, we can pursue a joint legislative arrangement with other
Australian governments. The Ministerial Council for Corporations meets next week and the Attorney General
has put this legislation on the agenda. We want James Hardie to do the right thing in its negotiations with the
unions and asbestos victims. We want James Hardie to reach agreement on how it will fund proper
compensation for victims of its asbestos products. Doing this by agreement will be more straightforward than
achieving the necessary outcome by legislation. But the message for James Hardie is simple: We will be ready
with legislation if you do not do the right thing, if you do not reach agreement with the unions and the victims.
If I can put it another way, James Hardie will have this legislation hanging over it in Australia and
elsewhere around the world so that everyone will be aware that this is a significant, potential liability. When the
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12271
company goes to the market, for example, to expand and grow, there will be a black financial mark against it.
These liabilities will be shadowing its operations around the world for all time. The choice for James Hardie is
clear. I think it should do what it promised it would do, that is, reach an agreement with the unions and victims.
I say to James Hardie, "Don't think you can avoid your obligations to victims by standing back and waiting for
the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation to go under, to go into liquidation."
We are also preparing legislation to ensure that any future victims legal rights to compensation will be
preserved, despite any liquidation of the foundation or the former James Hardie asbestos subsidiaries. Again, I
hope that we do not have to do that; I hope that we can avoid having to introduce this legislation. It requires
complex drafting and it involves a tick-off, which I am sure we will get from the other jurisdictions. What hope
do we have of James Hardie ever agreeing to do the right thing if it stands by now and denies short-term funding
to the foundation? That is a very dubious area.
If James Hardie is still completely indifferent to the survival of a foundation that was set up to
compensate victims, we can have little hope that it will ever agree to meet its obligations to victims of its
asbestos products through some other route. New South Wales will be ready with this legislation, complex
though it is, if it comes to that. But I hope that before too long the James Hardie board will see that it has not
only a moral obligation but also a practical one to settle the negotiations and to wrap it up with a clear, firm,
financial commitment to victims through a revived foundation.
PREMIER INDIA VISIT
Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: My question is directed to the Premier. Is the Premier travelling to
India on his sixth overseas junket since the State election to learn about train on-time running from the Indian
rail system, which carried 850 million passengers in April and May 2004 with an on-time running figure of
90.8 per cent, whereas CityRail passengers had to endure only 2.5 per cent of trains running on time last week?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question is far too long. I ask the honourable member for Willoughby to
reword the question and I will give her the call again later.
Ms CLOVER MOORE: My question is directed to the Premier. In light of the Redfern-Waterloo
announcement on Tuesday, will the Premier allay community fears by telling the House how the Government
intends to fund the necessary community and urban renewal so that it is not just a land development exercise
that aims to increase density and bypass the City of Sydney as the consent authority?
Mr BOB CARR: The short answer is, first, through the commitment of individual government
agencies and their budgets; and, second, through co-operation with the private sector. I believe that the urban
renewal that this area needs presents many opportunities to achieve private-public partnerships that offer clear
benefits to the community. The focus of this exercise—establishing a distinct Redfern-Waterloo Authority—is
to achieve community renewal as much as physical regeneration of this area.
Among the priority projects we have identified through our work in the area is an upgrade of the
Redfern railway station, including the development of a significant town centre with appropriate commercial
and retail activities. The development will offer many opportunities for private investors to contribute to
community projects for public purposes. The redevelopment of The Block stands at the centre of the challenges
we face. It will of course be undertaken in consultation with the owners of the site, the Aboriginal Housing
Company. A bridge will be constructed to link the Australian Technology Park with North Eveleigh, and rental
and home ownership opportunities will be increased. As I said, we will co-operate with the Aboriginal Housing
Company to fix The Block. I hope that, in co-operation with that company, we can boost Aboriginal home
ownership in the area. It would be an important achievement if we could reach that goal.
I am pleased to see the honourable member for Wakehurst working carefully with the honourable
member for Willoughby on her question. He will teach her how the standing orders work. The honourable
member for Wakehurst is the only sensible tutor on the Opposition front bench. I look forward to seeing the
product of his industry in a moment.
Mr Brad Hazzard: Will you answer the question though?
12272 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Mr BOB CARR: I will, absolutely. I am looking forward to the opportunity, as always. We know that
this is the biggest event in the honourable member's life for some time and I will treat it with all the reverence it
Mr John Brogden: Her name is Gladys.
Mr BOB CARR: I refer to her as "the honourable member". Under our plan the Government will
initiate private sector involvement in the development of existing government assets. There will be many
opportunities to achieve the sorts of things I referred to a moment ago. The authority will oversee major
infrastructure development in the area and provide advice to the Minister as a consent authority. While the
model used is similar in design to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, I make it clear that the Redfern-
Waterloo Authority will not be a development corporation. The Minister for Energy and Utilities has been
charged with leading the renewal process and has already commenced discussions with some of the leading
Among our goals for the area is to increased employment. The core challenge in Redfern is
unemployment—60 per cent of the adult population are unemployed—combined with the entrenched problems
of alcohol and drug abuse, and what those factors produce in terms of dysfunctional families. So an employment
plan will be part of this renewal. I assure the honourable member for Bligh that it is not just about developing
infrastructure or renewing private investment in the region. Very importantly, it is also about rebuilding a
community and working with it and with the honourable member for Bligh to achieve these admirable
RURAL AND REGIONAL POLICE INCENTIVES
Mr PETER BLACK: My question is addressed to the Minister for Police. What is the latest
information on incentives to encourage police officers to settle in rural and regional New South Wales?
Mr JOHN WATKINS: I am pleased to report to the House that the Government's plan to attract more
police to remote locations has been an outstanding success—a million-dollar success. In the past 18 months, 149
front-line police have accepted incentive packages for postings to remote rural communities across New South
Wales. The Government and NSW Police developed and implemented this plan in consultation with the New
South Wales Police Association. I was pleased to launch the plan in Dubbo early last year but I am even more
pleased to report today that it has delivered for police and the country communities.
The plan covers 332 remote police positions in the Barrier, Barwon, Castlereagh, Darling River,
Lachlan, Mudgee, Deniliquin and Griffith local area commands. Central to the plan is a remote incentive
allowance—a one-off payment of $5,000 when officers accept a posting to these special locations in remote
parts of State. Some 133 officers accepted this payment in 2003-04 and 16 officers have accepted it since July
this year. Of special significance in New South Wales are our one- and two-officer police stations. At these
locations the Spousal Assistance Payments Program is also having an impact. Total payments to partners of
officers have increased from $150,000 for 220 spouses in 2001-02 to $268,000 for 240 spouses in 2003-04.
We have also changed procedures to encourage police officers to cross the Great Dividing Range. City
tenure restrictions were removed, allowing officers who wanted to work in the country to do so without delay—
without the restrictions that tenure may have placed upon them. We also removed the requirement that NSW
Police rejoinees recommence duties in the Sydney metropolitan area. We gave them the option of going directly
to country locations. We have also provided free computer and Internet access for educational purposes for our
remote police and their families. In June this year 69 families received our computer and Internet access benefit,
a salary rental subsidy, provisions for tertiary study, and motor vehicle payments within salary packaging
I will give two examples of how the Government's package has been effective. Senior Constable
Wilson transferred from his long-term Sydney posting to Tibooburra—which would have to be the most remote
and lonely police location in New South Wales. Senior Constable Wilson and his wife, a registered nurse who is
employed by the Tibooburra Health Service, have received their full entitlements from our incentive package. In
Brewarrina, police strength has been bolstered by the arrival of Constable Anning and her partner, Constable
Freeman. The couple answered internal notices at their respective Western Sydney local area commands, their
transfers were completed quickly, and they were posted to Brewarrina, where they are policing very effectively.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12273
This plan has seen $1 million well spent on those smaller towns, where I know that strong support is
given to their police officers. Policing in country communities offers a range of benefits over metropolitan
living, as officers who make the move quickly find out, and our package of incentives is making a real
difference in enticing police to make that change. The Government will continue to work with NSW Police and
the New South Wales Police Association to ensure country communities get the service they deserve.
JUSTICE JEFF SHAW MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Mr ANDREW TINK: My question is directed to the Minister for Police. Will the Minister confirm
that Justice Jeff Shaw has provided a blood sample at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital following a motor vehicle
accident? If so, when will the results be available?
Mr JOHN WATKINS: I am advised that a man was taken to hospital with minor injuries following a
road incident about 11.30 p.m. on 13 October in Louisa Road, Birchgrove. At hospital a blood sample was
taken. Police inform me they are awaiting the results, which routinely can take up to three weeks. I am advised
that it is standard procedure that if people are injured they are not breath tested at the scene or taken back to the
station for a breath test; they are taken to hospital and blood is taken by a doctor. I am also informed that the
standard procedure is that police do not have to interview the person prior to the blood test results. All police
procedures have been followed in this matter.
CLOTHING OUTWORKERS PROTECTION
Mr RICHARD AMERY: My question is addressed to the Minister for Fair Trading. What is the latest
information on the Government's efforts to protect outworkers in the garment industry?
Ms REBA MEAGHER: The Government is giving consideration to introducing groundbreaking new
laws in the next phase of its commitment to minimise the exploitation of clothing outworkers in New South
Wales. It has released a draft mandatory code for retailers, which if implemented, will be the first of its kind in
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order for the second time.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: Under the mandatory code, known as the Ethical Clothing Trades Extended
Responsibility Scheme, retailers and suppliers will be required to source clothes only from manufacturers who
abide by State award conditions when using outworkers. In addition, it will require them to keep records of their
operations, to help authorities hunt down those who exploit outworkers, or face up to $11,000 in fines. New
South Wales ranks second behind Victoria as a centre for the textile, clothing and footwear industry, with some
2,000 manufacturing enterprises, mainly in Sydney, with an annual turnover of $2.6 billion.
Our local textile industry produces high quality, value-added products for both the domestic and
international markets. There are an estimated 50,000 outworkers who carry out a large proportion of the
domestically-sourced production of clothing garments. Unfortunately, many of them are reported to be slaving
away in their homes or in sweatshop-like factories scattered around Sydney for as little as $2 an hour—$10 an
hour below the award minimum. Outworkers are predominantly women from non-English speaking
backgrounds who find it hard to stand up to the middlemen who often employ them under terrible conditions.
Information supplied by more than 900 outworkers over the past two years reveals that many women
are forced to work around the clock to meet unreasonable deadlines imposed by manufacturers. Even then they
may be forced to wait up to a month to receive their paltry wages. Often they employ other members of their
immediate family to help them with the heavy workload and they are scared to report this exploitation to the
authorities for fear of losing their livelihood. We all expect a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, and these
women have the right to expect the same. In fact, the Office of Industrial Relations has received more than 400
inquiries and complaints over the past three years relating to the exploitation of outworkers. There is evidence
that some operators are using Phoenix companies and business practices designed to evade legal responsibilities
For example, the Office of Industrial Relations has uncovered instances of outworkers being designated
company directors so the dodgy operators can avoid their responsibilities. Through the employment of bilingual
officers, the Office of Industrial Relations has, over the past few years, inspected more than 1,300 workplaces
and recovered close to $200,000 in lost wages. But the clandestine nature of some parts of the industry is a
12274 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
continuing obstacle to the fair treatment of its workers. There is currently a voluntary code between the Textile,
Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia and the Australian Retailers Association that requires retailers to use
only manufacturers who do the right thing by outworkers. Some 40 retailers have signed the code, including
Target, Woolworths, Coles Myer, and Best and Less. However, it is apparent that a section of the industry is
determined to flout the law.
The aim of the mandatory code will be to provide authorities with the necessary information from the
top of the clothing chain, in order to hunt down these dodgy operators and ensure that outworkers receive their
correct entitlement. The mandatory code was developed in consultation with industry, and has been available to
key stakeholders over the past month for their comments. Submissions close tomorrow, and the Government
will examine all comments received before making a final decision on the implementation of the code.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Upper Hunter to order.
Ms REBA MEAGHER: The Government has led the way in the fight against outworker exploitation
while still supporting a modern high value-added clothing industry in New South Wales.
PREMIER INDIA VISIT
Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: My question is directed to the Premier. Is the Premier travelling to
India to study the rail system that carried 850 million passengers in April and May, with on-time running of
91 per cent, unlike CityRail passengers who had to endure only 2.5 per cent of trains running on time last week?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Upper Hunter to order.
Mr BOB CARR: Many interesting companies are among the 16 I am taking on a trade and investment
mission to India. I will come to that list of companies in a moment. I am looking forward to going with 16
companies to engage in 15 promotional events next week. I am looking forward to promoting trade and
investment by addressing the Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which has 250,000
business members. I am looking forward to opening the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation's New
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Epping to order for the second time.
Mr BOB CARR: I am looking forward to addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry, which has
more than 50,000 companies. I am looking forward to launching programs initiated by universities based in
New South Wales to recruit students to universities. I am looking forward to meeting Tata Consultancy
Services, one of the biggest companies in the world. But why go into this detail when I can table the list for the
edification of honourable members?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Wakehurst to order.
Mr BOB CARR: Let me entertain the House by talking about some of the companies that will be
travelling with me. Bluescope Steel, the Australian Computer Society, Oracle, Bizcore International, Union
Switch and Signal, XCapital Group, National ICT Australia, Softech Computing, and Westpac are all travelling
with me because they see the advantage of being there when I am there promoting their business in India.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for South Coast to order.
Mr BOB CARR: Also with me will be the Securities Institute of Australia, Gammasonics, Australian
Information Industries Association, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Wollongong.
Fifteen events are organised, following recent trips to India by the Premiers of Queensland and South Australia.
But one company we are very pleased to have recruited for this delegation is PricewaterhouseCoopers. I am glad
they have got on board because, old friends are the best friends! By the way, a little observation on costing: The
total bill for overseas travel by this Premier during the period to which the Leader of the Opposition referred
was $61,000. To put it into context, old John Fahey of happy memory, in a shorter period, spent $312,417.
TEACHER MENTOR PROGRAM
Mr MILTON ORKOPOULOS: My question is addressed to the Minister for Education and Training.
What is the latest information on support for new teachers in the public schools system?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Epping to order for the second time.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12275
Dr ANDREW REFSHAUGE: I thank the honourable member for his question and I commend his
ongoing interest in education.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Lismore to order for the second time.
Dr ANDREW REFSHAUGE: The Government is strongly committed to ensuring that all our
students have the best possible future. Our teachers are the highest-paid in Australia. We are continuing to
encourage our best and brightest young people to take up teaching, and we are supporting them while they work
in the classroom. The university admission index [UAI] mark now required for entry to teaching shows there
has been a dramatic improvement in this profession during the past four years. In 2000 Sydney University
required a UAI mark of 75 for its bachelor of education primary course, but this year the required mark is 86, an
11-point increase over four years. That is a dramatic improvement. That means teaching is becoming a very
popular career choice for our school leavers.
Let us look at the mark required by some other universities for their teaching courses. In 2000 the
University of New South Wales education course UAI was 70; now it is 85.3, a 15-point increase in four years.
In 2000 the University of Western Sydney UAI for that course was 72, but it is now 85.5. Obviously, teaching is
a very popular choice among the best and brightest of our high school students. They want to be teachers so they
can impart that knowledge to the next generation of students.
One of the important things to do is to make sure that new teachers get appropriate support when they
first go into the classroom. For the past two years we have been piloting the Teacher Mentor Program, which
has been working very well. It has been designed specifically to help our newest teachers. Under the pilot we
employ experienced, successful teachers to support, mentor and guide beginning teachers in schools. Some
schools have only a few new teachers, and experienced teachers in those schools can quite easily mentor the one
or two new teachers. But sometimes schools have a large number of new teachers, and we have designed the
pilot program and we are using experienced teachers to help at those schools.
The evaluation of the pilot program has shown a number of things. It has certainly demonstrated that
the mentors have successfully shown new teachers how best to establish good classroom routines to maximise
student learning time, how to vary their teaching methods, and how to manage classroom discipline. With this
ongoing support, the vast majority of principals and mentors believe the program will help keep our newest
teachers motivated and interested in teaching as a long-term career.
The evaluation has suggested ways in which we can improve the program and expand its reach. That is
exactly what we are doing: we are expanding the work of our mentors into more schools. Starting from the
beginning of next year the proportion of new teachers covered by the program will increase from 20 per cent,
which it has been for the past two years, to 60 per cent. It will take in some 80 schools at different locations
across the State. As I mentioned, the program specifically focuses on schools where there are significant
numbers of new teachers. As part of the program there is also support for beginning teachers in targeted areas—
those who are beginning their careers in temporary positions, for example, filling in for teachers who are on
long service leave or maternity leave.
The program has strong endorsement. It has been developed by a working party that included the
Primary Principals Association, the Secondary Principals Council, my dear friends in the Teachers Federation,
and the Teacher Education Council. It is just one plank in a raft of programs specially designed to ensure we
help ease beginning teachers into their new careers. This ranges from help and encouragement during a teaching
student's practical experience in schools, providing them with a wealth of information about employment in
New South Wales government schools, and specific workshops on how best to teach key areas of the
curriculum. For example, the Government has increased from 150 to 200 the number of new teacher
scholarships it awards each year, it has a $15.5 million program to pay Higher Education Contribution Scheme
fees for scholarship holders and an additional $1,500 to help meet other expenses, such as text books,
computers, and transport to and from university.
This is a very important program. If the Federal Government would see fit to remove the fringe benefits
tax on the scholarships—I have been advocating that, as has Brendan Nelson from New South Wales, but Peter
Costello has not been listening to us—we would be able to double the number of scholarships. I hope
honourable members opposite will write to their Canberra colleagues, asking them to urge the Howard
Government to remove the fringe benefits tax on those scholarships. Then we will be able to double the number
of scholarships. In doing that, they would have the support of Brendan Nelson. Unfortunately, we do not have
the support of Peter Costello. Working together, we hope to be able to bring about that change.
12276 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Whilst at university, students are also offered a chance to take part in the "Beyond the Line" program,
which takes teaching students to rural communities and schools in western New South Wales, encouraging them
to consider careers working at a country school and gaining experience as a student teacher under supervision
there. As they take up their position in a school, they receive an array of information and resources. They have
wide access to a web site specifically designed for teachers, as well as hands-on help from the principal and
other staff within the school. As I said, the number of new teachers in the Teacher Mentor program has
increased from 20 per cent to 60 per cent, and that program has the strong endorsement of professional groups.
That is yet another indication of why more and more students are taking up teaching and staying in the teaching
Questions without notice concluded.
HONOURABLE MEMBER FOR MURRUMBIDGEE REMOVAL FROM CHAMBER
Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI, by leave: I wish to make a personal explanation. Last Thursday I was ejected
from this Chamber, a fact, Mr Speaker, that you made reference to this afternoon. I acknowledge that the point
of order I had taken was not exactly in line with the standing orders, but I wish to explain why I did not follow
the direction you gave after I resumed my seat. I, like the Premier, do take a passing interest in the standing
orders. After I had taken my seat, Mr Speaker, you stood and asked me to approach the table. Firstly, I do not
believe the Speaker has that power. Secondly, Standing Order 57 provides:
When the Speaker rises Members shall sit down and be silent.
Mr Speaker, you were standing when I was seated. I would not like you to think that I was flagrantly
disregarding the Speaker or the standing orders and rules of the Parliament.
Mr Carl Scully: Point of order: The statement made by the honourable member for Murrumbidgee
does not constitute a personal explanation under the standing orders. The honourable member merely whingeing
about his removal from the Chamber for misbehaviour, and he should be directed to resume his seat.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I uphold the point of order. I was about to draw the attention of the honourable
member for Murrumbidgee to the fact that making a personal explanation does not afford him the opportunity to
raise issues about or question the standing orders of this House. If the honourable member wishes to take issue
with the way in which standing orders have been applied, he may use other forms of the House to pursue that
matter. A member can make a personal explanation only if he believes his character, his political integrity or his
position as a member of Parliament has been impugned or reflected upon.
Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI: Mr Speaker, part of the reason for my ejection is that you believed I was not
following your orders.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Murrumbidgee will resume his seat. I will not
hear him further on this matter.
TOWNS AND VILLAGES FUTURES PROGRAM
Mr DAVID CAMPBELL (Keira—Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Illawarra, and
Minister for Small Business) [3.28 p.m.]: The New South Wales Government works in partnership with smaller
communities to encourage their future sustainability. The Nationals will be interested in what I have to say, but
as always we hear guffaws and noises from the city-based Liberals, who have no interest in the smaller
communities in this State. Our $1.2 million four-year Towns and Villages Futures Program is helping support
communities with fewer than 2,500 residents. This year, 32 towns and villages will be funded. There has been a
record number of applications for this, the second year of the program. Successful communities will receive up
to $15,000 for projects involving community planning, local events, and marketing.
Some $68,000 is being provided for eight projects in the Hunter and on the Central Coast. Five
communities in the western region will use $54,000 for local projects while similar projects in the northern
region will receive $50,000. Smaller communities in the Illawarra and the south-east will benefit from $43,000
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12277
in funding. Riverina and Murray region towns and villages will receive $35,000. For the Hunter region this
program benefits communities in Broke, Fordwich, Bulga, Milbrodale, Denman, Gresford, Nabiac, Paterson,
Stroud Valley, Wollombi Valley and Mangrove Mountain. In the south-east and the Illawarra, projects in
Bribbaree, Cobargo, Dalgety, Delegate, Sussex Inlet and Jervis Bay, and Galong are being funded. The 200
residents of Galong will use this funding to market the St Clements Retreat Centre as a conference and
In the western region communities around Barmedman, Burcher, Manildra, Tullamore and Goodooga
will benefit from this latest New South Wales Government funding. Once again, the successful Tullamore Irish
Festival is being funded. The event attracted 1,000 visitors, who injected $50,000 into local businesses.
Community projects in Gundagai, Batlow, Howlong, Wentworth and Walla Walla in the Riverina and Murray
regions also being funded. For example, the "Let's Sell Walla Walla" project will promote this 700-strong town
as a great place to live. In the northern region towns like Mungindi, Tambar Springs, Werris Creek, Comboyne,
Hallidays Point and Orara Valley will grow, thanks to this project. I congratulate these towns, villages and
hamlets on their enthusiasm and dedication to improving the economic future of their communities. I wish them
every success with their future projects.
Mr ANDREW STONER (Oxley—Leader of The Nationals) [3.31 p.m.]: The Opposition joins with
the Government in recognising the plight of many smaller communities throughout regional and rural New
South Wales, and welcomes any endeavours to assist with the sustainability of those communities. Sadly, many
smaller country towns and villages have found life increasingly difficult under this Labor Government's policy
of economic rationalisation and centralisation. I instance the centralisation of business enterprise centres and
area health services, the threatened closure of agricultural research stations and a business link proposal taking
jobs out of country towns like Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Kempsey and Coffs Harbour.
Mr Donald Page: Closure of fisheries at Ballina.
Mr ANDREW STONER: And the closure of fisheries at Ballina, as the honourable member
mentioned. All of these jobs and programs add up and they count for smaller communities. The Minister
referred to Comboyne, which is in my electorate. Many of the residents of Comboyne have jobs in Wauchope.
Centralisation away from local communities impacts on the sustainability of smaller country towns. In question
time I asked the Minister why, when we have a Metropolitan Water Plan, country New South Wales has
nothing. Funding has been cut back under the Country Town Water and Sewerage Scheme, which will result in
a shortfall of $24 million despite a recent announcement by the Minister of $85 million a year. This Government
promised $85 million a year over 10 years, but it has come nowhere near that.
If we are fair dinkum about helping smaller country communities, clean water and reasonable sewerage
schemes add to their sustainability. Although it is nice to hear that we are going to give these towns up to
$15,000 in some cases, we must get the infrastructure and the roads right. The State Government should take a
leaf out of the Federal Government's book, which is funding the Roads to Recovery Program. Naturally they are
going over the head of State Government, which is wasting money as it always has, so that local communities
can have investment in local infrastructure. This Government has no plans for country infrastructure. Although
the program is nice, it does nothing for those communities in that sense. [Time expired.]
Mr SPEAKER: I acknowledge the presence in the public gallery of Mr Phil Bergin, the former
Serjeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives, the guest of the honourable member for Wallsend. I welcome
him to the Chamber.
Motion by Mr Carl Scully agreed to:
That the House at its rising this day do adjourn until Tuesday 9 November 2004 at 2.15 p.m.
CONSIDERATION OF URGENT MOTIONS
Credit Card Debt
Mrs KARYN PALUZZANO (Penrith) [3.34 p.m.]: This motion is urgent because the nation can no
longer continue under the heavy burden of credit card debt. This motion is urgent because the largest number of
complaints—more than 1,100—to the banking and finance systems Ombudsman relates to credit cards. The
motion is urgent because the Federal Government has not addressed consumer debt in any meaningful way. The
motion is urgent because Australian families cannot sustain life under a black cloud of debt.
12278 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Mr ANDREW STONER (Oxley—Leader of The Nationals) [3.34 p.m.]: My motion is urgent because
infrastructure in regional New South Wales is at breaking point. It is urgent because over the past 9½ years the
Carr Labor Government has allowed vital road, rail, hospital, school and water infrastructure to crumble. It is
urgent because rural and regional residents of the highest taxing State in the nation are getting a very poor return
from Labor. This matter is urgent because, while Labor has released the long-awaited Metropolitan Water Plan,
there is no strategy in place for the rest of the State. It is insulting that Minister Sartor has attempted to cover up
Labor's inaction by announcing a supposed $25 million extra in funding for the Country Town Water and
However, due to Labor's earlier massive budget cut to the scheme, the Minister's announcement still
represents a shortfall of $24 million on Labor's previously promised allocation of $85 million this year. It is
urgent because the Carr Labor Government continues to condemn country and coastal residents to substandard
water supply and sewerage systems. What about Nimmitabel? We have no country water strategy. When rain
begins to fall over this State once more, this Labor Government will have done nothing to ensure that we have
the infrastructure in place—
Mr Steve Whan: Point of order: The honourable member should substantiate why his matter is
important. Nimmitabel just received funding from this Government to help it overcome the effects of the
drought. Adaminaby is getting an entirely new water supply, courtesy of this Government.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member for Monaro will resume
his seat. The Leader of The Nationals has the call.
Mr ANDREW STONER: When the rain begins to fall over this State once more, the Labor
Government will have done nothing to ensure that we have the infrastructure in place to harvest, store and use it
more efficiently. This matter is urgent because the poor state of the roads in country New South Wales is
threatening the safety of motorists. Crumbling surfaces, potholes and unsealed sections of road have become the
norm. The NRMA estimates that New South Wales roads are in need of $1.5 billion in maintenance work just to
bring them up to a decent standard. Infrastructure is extremely urgent. Labor has slashed the Roads budget by
$100 million over two years, and vital projects have been put on the backburner. This matter is urgent because
the Government's failure to maintain vital rail infrastructure has threatened the viability of rail services in
country New South Wales. This year Labor has axed the Murwillumbah to Casino XPT service, and announced
nothing by way of reinvestment in the infrastructure for country rail services.
A report released yesterday by Charles Sturt University and the Local Government Association states
that New South Wales is being left behind in passenger train development, and consequently regional New
South Wales is missing out on possible opportunities for regional, economic and social development. It is urgent
because Labor's failure to maintain and develop rail infrastructure is stunting the growth of country towns.
Labor crows about its commitment to regional development, but that is just rhetoric because it does not match
the reality. The matter is urgent because the Grain Infrastructure Advisory Committee has highlighted Labor's
appalling failure to invest in grain rail lines across New South Wales over the past nine years. It is urgent
because years of neglect of our grain rail lines has resulted in a crumbling system that mirrors much of the
infrastructure that the New South Wales Labor Government is responsible for in country and coastal New South
This matter is urgent because yesterday the Auditor-General found that the Government faced a
looming $10 billion bill to replace ageing infrastructure in just seven agencies. It is urgent because during the
past nine years or more the Premier and the Treasurer have ripped $6 billion in dividends from the State's
utilities, but have failed to put money aside to reinvest in this State's ageing infrastructure. This matter is urgent
because basic services and infrastructure in rural and regional New South Wales have been run into the ground.
It is urgent because health care, education facilities and road and transport infrastructure in the State of New
South Wales are in a mess.
In this year's budget identifiable new health projects in country areas, such as new hospitals, received
just 12 per cent of the total new capital works budget, despite country areas representing 30 per cent of the State.
Just 14 per cent of funds allocated for ongoing education capital works are destined for rural and regional areas.
Students and staff swelter as classrooms in schools such as Parkes High School remain without airconditioning.
With a hotter-than-average summer predicted, Labor's only solution is to tell teachers to squirt children with
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12279
water and sit them in the shade of trees. Country New South Wales simply does not feature on the Labor
Government's radar. Country communities currently face a crisis in basic services. This motion is urgent
because the first and foremost priority of any State government should be the provision of good schools, roads,
transport and hospitals—yet the Carr Labor Government has failed country New South Wales. [Time expired.]
Question—That the motion for urgent consideration of the honourable member for Penrith be
The House divided.
Ms Allan Mr Gibson Ms Nori
Mr Amery Mr Greene Mr Orkopoulos
Ms Andrews Ms Hay Mrs Paluzzano
Mr Bartlett Mr Hickey Mr Pearce
Ms Beamer Mr Hunter Mrs Perry
Mr Black Mr Iemma Mr Price
Mr Brown Ms Judge Mr Sartor
Ms Burney Ms Keneally Mr Scully
Miss Burton Mr Knowles Mr Shearan
Mr Campbell Mr Lynch Mr Stewart
Mr Collier Mr McBride Mr Tripodi
Mr Corrigan Mr McLeay Mr Watkins
Mr Crittenden Ms Meagher Mr West
Ms D'Amore Ms Megarrity Mr Whan
Mr Debus Mr Mills Tellers,
Ms Gadiel Mr Morris Mr Ashton
Mr Gaudry Mr Newell Mr Martin
Mr Aplin Ms Hodgkinson Ms Seaton
Mr Armstrong Mrs Hopwood Mrs Skinner
Mr Barr Mr Humpherson Mr Slack-Smith
Ms Berejiklian Mr Kerr Mr Souris
Mr Cansdell Mr Merton Mr Stoner
Mr Constance Ms Moore Mr Tink
Mr Debnam Mr Oakeshott Mr Torbay
Mr Draper Mr O'Farrell Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Fraser Mr Page Mr R. W. Turner
Mrs Hancock Mr Piccoli Tellers,
Mr Hartcher Mr Pringle Mr George
Mr Hazzard Mr Richardson Mr Maguire
Ms Saliba Mr Brogden
Mr Yeadon Mr Roberts
Question resolved in the affirmative.
CREDIT CARD DEBT
Mrs KARYN PALUZZANO (Penrith) [3.48 p.m.]: I move:
That this House:
(1) expresses its concern about the current level of record personal credit card debt;
(2) notes the average New South Wales credit card holder has $5,000 in credit card debt; and
(3) calls on the Federal Treasurer to develop a national plan to address consumer debt through tougher regulation of banks
and financial institutions.
12280 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Today it is necessary to confront this House with the bare facts of debt, including the startling extent of debt
throughout Australia. This country is sighing collectively under the gathering burden of debt. However, it must
be made clear that credit debt in itself is not the cause of this burden. Credit can enable a family to purchase a
home when they do not have the savings to pay for it outright, and credit can provide the opportunity for
students to engage in higher education—especially now, in the days of the Howard Government's full fees. The
concept of credit in itself is not to blame. Credit can be a great liberator.
However, banks and financial institutions have tied Australians from neck to toe with the ropes of their
own debt. Banks are not extending credit responsibly or moderately but in many cases are irresponsibly giving
credit to people who, simply put, are not able to comfortably repay their debt. In the last financial year the
Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman received 1,087 complaints. Of those complaints 69.5 per cent, the
vast majority, related to variable rate home loans, 16.4 per cent related to investment property loans, and
14.1 per cent related to fixed rate home loans. The Ombudsman also handled 1,355 disputes relating to
consumer finance cases, 81.2 per cent of which related to credit cards. We cannot stand idly by and watch
Australians sink into the debt black hole. Indeed, this Government has not been standing by.
This year the State Government provided $1.9 million to 27 organisations to operate 45 separate
community-based services to help provide financial counselling or assistance to help consumers manage their
financial affairs. I thank the Minister for Fair Trading, who is in the House, for that initiative. It was welcome
news for the people of Penrith, who were included in the 27 organisations that were assisted. Creditline Penrith
received $50,000, which will help with its provision of a financial counselling service that will operate four days
a week. Creditline Penrith also received just under $48,000 to assist with its outreach projects for people in the
Richmond and Quakers Hill areas.
Debt is a growing problem for many families, particularly those hard hit by credit card or mobile phone
debt. Creditline Penrith is at the coalface, providing advice and direction to individuals and families who are in
financial distress. I thank the Minister for her initiative within Penrith. Other people across the State have also
benefited. Broken Hill has a Consumer Credit Legal Centre, Creditline Central West Financial Counselling
Service and Lifeline Broken Hill. The Consumer Credit Legal Centre received close to $189,000 to operate a
free Statewide telephone help line for consumers who need instant advice and referral. Creditline Central West
Financial Counselling Service has received just over $63,000 to provide additional service to cater for the high
demand in the area and the travel costs associated with servicing a large geographical area.
Lifeline Broken Bill will use the $53,000 grant to provide a service four days a week in an area of high
demand where previously no permanent financial counselling service was available. The Carr Government has
provided funding to the Consumer Credit Legal Centre (NSW) Inc. and the University of New South Wales
Financial Services Consumer Policy Centre Inc. to examine credit card overcommitment. The Government will
use that information to develop appropriate solutions for those who are experiencing financial difficulties. Those
actions have been vital because the Banking and Financial Ombudsman Scheme has reported on a growing
number of complex disputes being raised by consumers.
The main product complained about in the consumer finance category is credit cards, which represent
82 per cent of disputes. The disputes include major systemic issues such as rewards program fees being charged
on credit cards that were closed, and 72,000 card holders being charged fees for late payments and duplicate
statements by an institution that failed to send statements. More and more families, and alarmingly teenagers,
are being caught up in a serious debt cycle. Last year the Office of Fair Trading undertook a survey of youth
debt which showed some alarming statistics. The survey revealed that those who reported having debt had an
average debt bill of more than $3,000. The figure rose to $6,000 for those aged between 18 and 24, with credit
cards ranked as the number one problem, followed by mobile phone and car repayment bills.
Ten years ago Australians held 6.5 million credit card accounts. Now there are over 11 million, with a
total debt of close to $28 billion. According to the Reserve Bank, close to 70 per cent of Australian households
have a credit card debt, with an average bill of $5,000. That is truly shocking. That debt is on top of the
mortgage, the Higher Education Contribution Scheme [HECS], and full-fee university debts. A HECS debt does
not apply only to people 22 years of age. People who attend the University of Western Sydney as mature-age
students could be aged 42, 45 or older. A person 42 years old, or even 52 years old, could be starting a
professional life with a HECS debt, and therefore would have a reduced time in which to repay that debt. That
person may have a mortgage as well as a HECS debt. The reduced time to pay off that debt is of concern. This is
not a sustainable or healthy level of debt, and as a nation we cannot afford for it to continue.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12281
Ms KATRINA HODGKINSON (Burrinjuck) [3.54 p.m.]: The motion moved by the honourable
member for Penrith calls for tougher regulation of banks and financial institutions. I would like to take the
honourable member to task on some of the things she said in her contribution. I have some up-to-date
information, which I will reveal to the House. The 2004 Reserve Bank of Australia financial aggregates,
released on 30 July, reveal that total household credit grew by 1.3 per cent in June, and by 19.6 per cent through
the year to June, and that total household credit has grown at an average annual rate of about 14.5 per cent over
the past 10 years. Credit for housing purposes, about 80 per cent of total household credit, grew by 1.3 per cent
in June and by 20.5 per cent through the year to June.
It is important that there be a level of education for people who are to be issued with credit cards.
Individuals must take responsibility for racking up charges on their credit cards. I imagine that most members of
this House would have a credit card: they would have to have a credit card in order to conduct their day-to-day
affairs. It is even possible that at some time they may have experienced difficulty with their credit card. That is
not altogether a bad thing because it means they will be able to identify with their constituents who have similar
concerns. Figures on the amount outstanding on credit cards in June 2004, released by the Reserve Bank of
Australia, showed that the total amount outstanding on credit cards at the end of June was $27.7 billion, which
was 13.8 per cent higher than a year earlier.
The average amount outstanding per card was $2,499 and the average credit limit on each credit card in
June was $6,635. The honourable member for Penrith said that credit card holders have a debt of about $5,000,
but on my figures that debt is $2,499. The amount owing on credit cards comprises less than 5 per cent of total
household debt. That is not to say debt is a good thing, but it must be managed properly, and it can be managed
properly with proper education. I am sure that all honourable members join me in encouraging people to make
sure they are properly educated when it comes to recognising the important responsibilities of running a
household and being responsible for a budget.
Of course, many people slip through that loop and find themselves with offers of credit cards,
sometimes with expensive rewards programs which look very attractive in the glossy brochures that arrive in the
mail. In many instances very high interest rates are associated with those credit card programs, and consumers
have to be very cautious. People taking up the offer of a credit card should make sure they are getting a card
that—although it may not be the most glamorous card in the world—charges competitive interest and is
affordable. They should not extend credit beyond their means to pay. That is something many people find
difficult to do. Perhaps the Office of Fair Trading could consider ensuring that consumers are made aware of
exactly how they should manage their credit.
The provision of credit is effectively subject to a single set of legislative standards, the Uniform
Consumer Credit Code, which was developed by the States and Territories and is administered by their relevant
consumer affairs or fair trading agencies. In New South Wales it is the Office of Fair Trading, so the Minister
for Fair Trading is responsible for the provision of credit card debt. There is also a Consumer and Financial
Literacy Task Force, which is chaired by finance commentator Paul Clitheroe. All honourable members would
be aware of Paul's great work, which includes high-level representation from the public, private, community and
education sectors. The task force released its discussion paper on 11 June 2004 following a series of public
consultation meetings across Australia.
That task force is due to present its final report to the Government. One of the key issues that it raised
in that discussion paper is the need to build on existing initiatives in financial literacy—there are more than 700
financial literacy units—rather than recommending new initiatives. Instead, the task force acknowledges the
need to better co-ordinate existing initiatives in a more efficient manner. Recently announced responsible
lending initiatives by the Australian Bankers Association include improving disclosure documentation included
with offers of increased credit card limits and advice where personal circumstances change, providing
consumers with the ability to seek lower credit card limits than those offered and industry benchmarks on time
frames for reducing credit card limits, and developing a credit education booklet in association with other
financial literacy efforts.
A report was released today that shows that confidence in the banking industry has improved. That is
good news for all concerned. As I said earlier, there will always be a certain level of credit card debt. That is the
way in society operates. As long as that level of debt can be managed and properly maintained by consumers
and individuals, it is not bad thing. It is a convenient way to shop and it is only one of the ways in which we
conduct our lives. In the lead-up to Christmas, the Office of Fair Trading should be warning people not to
overextend their credit limits. People must also be careful about the types of credit cards with which they
12282 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
become involved. They must be wary of high interest rates and glamorous reward points. They must also ensure
that they do not overburden their credit cards.
A credit card does not give people a free licence to print money. It is important that credit card debt is
paid back in a timely manner. The current growth in credit card debt is consistent with the long-term average.
Credit card debt, as measured by the Reserve Bank of Australia, grew by 1.9 per cent in the month of June and
by 13.8 per cent through the year to June 2004. The household sector as a whole is not having difficulty
servicing its debt, with indicators of financial stress for the household sector—such as loans in arrears and
personal bankruptcy rates—remaining at relatively low levels. While the Federal Government does not have
legislative responsibility for the regulation of credit products and services—that is responsibility of State and
Territory governments—it is supportive of measures that have the potential to improve consumer understanding
and promote the responsible provision of credit.
In February this year the Federal Government established the consumer and financial literacy task
force. It has been doing an exceedingly good job integrating consumer and financial education in schools and
issues that affect young people, including credit cards. I trust that the Minister, who is present in the Chamber,
ensures that the Office of Fair Trading follows up the excellent work that is currently being undertaken by the
Federal Government. Senior school students will soon be approaching the age of independence and they will
become credit card consumers. I remember receiving my first credit card at the age of 18. Many students who
are ready to go on to university will have a limited amount of money and they will be unable to repay credit card
debt. We are living in a world in which it is expected that everybody should have access to mobile phones,
glamorous white goods and to furniture that might not necessarily have come from the Salvation Army.
Before those young people become involved in a credit card spending routine they must be aware of
what they are getting into and they must have the ability to pay back that money. All too often it is left to their
parents to repay those debts—and I am sure they do not appreciate that. All those young university students who
are about to become independent must be informed about these issues. I wish all students undertaking their
Higher School Certificate the very best of luck. It is a hard time for them right now. Obtaining a credit card is a
big responsibility for students. The Australian Government has been supportive of proposals that are under
consideration by State and Territory Ministers and the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs to improve the
disclosure of credit card fees and charges and the regulation of unsolicited credit card limit increases. The
Federal Government is aware that proposals that provide for the inclusion of Schumer or honesty boxes in credit
contracts are being advanced. The Government is encouraged by the recently announced responsible lending
initiatives of the banking industry and industry involvement in community forums. [Time expired.]
Mr GERARD MARTIN (Bathurst) [4.04 p.m.]: I support the urgent motion moved by the honourable
member for Penrith. For the information of the honourable member for Burrinjuck, the Minister for Fair
Trading, far from following the Federal Government's initiatives in providing students with information about
credit card responsibility, has been on the front foot. Last year the Minister came to Bathurst and launched a
successful campaign relating to the problems of credit, a campaign that was targeted at a number of student
colleges in the area. In the lead-up to Christmas the Minister and her department have been warning people
about the problems of running up credit card debt. There seems to be some dispute about the level of consumer
debt. So far as I am concerned there is no dispute on this side of the Chamber. The Consumer Credit Legal
Centre has used figures that it obtained from the Reserve Bank of Australia. It states:
Seventy per cent of Australian households have a credit card debt, with an average of $5,000. Research by the Office of Fair
Trading has found that the average that is owed by teenagers is also $3,000.
Having corrected the record I would like to bring a rural perspective into this important debate. People in
country areas are not immune from the effects of debt. Years of poor harvests, droughts and floods place
unbearable pressure on our farmers and their families. In times of financial crises those families still need to be
fed, clothed and sheltered. Their needs do not decrease just because we would like them to. A line of credit can
be a lifeline for country families who are pushed beyond their means. In June this year Philip Hopkins is
reported in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying that the drought was likely to force hundreds of
farmers off their farms in the next three years. He said also:
Four out of five farmers were badly affected by the drought, with 40 per cent increasing their debt significantly and 23 per cent
slightly. Where debt rose significantly, 70 per cent had made no recovery from that position.
Those are alarming figures. All honourable members would be aware how important the farming community
and the farming industry is to this State and to Australia. Farmers put the food on our tables and the clothes on
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12283
our backs. However, debt become a problem, and this problem requires a community-wide solution. The New
South Wales Department of Primary Industries carries comprehensive advice for farmers and solid guidance for
their property budgets. That includes cash flow projections and a farm decision-making checklist. As the
honourable member for Penrith said, this year the State Government provided almost $2 million to 27
organisations to operate 45 separate community-based services that provide financial counselling or assistance
for consumers to help manage their financial affairs.
In the struggle against debt it is vital that these hard-working and community-minded organisations are
publicly congratulated on their contribution. The rural and regional organisations that received Government
support this year through these grants are the Anglican Counselling Service, Armidale; Care Inc.; Outreach
Queanbeyan; Centracare, Port Macquarie; Coffs Harbour Financial Counselling Service, Grafton; and
Creditline, which has branches in Albury, the Central West and Nowra. I acknowledge the work Kevin Howard
does with that organisation. Also included are Eurobodalla Financial Counselling Service; Gosford Community
Financial Counselling Service; Hunter Valley Project Financial Counselling Service; Kempsey Financial
Counselling Service; Lifeline, which has branches in Broken Hill, the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Hunter,
Mullumbimby and Byron Bay; Mission Australia in Wollongong; Moneycare Financial Counselling Service,
which has branches in Forster-Tuncurry and Taree-Wingham; Murwillumbah Financial Counselling Service; St
Vincent de Paul Broken Bay Financial Counselling Service; and Wagga Wagga Financial Counselling Service.
Mr Acting-Speaker would agree that that is a very comprehensive list. The Government is assisting
those organisations, which are doing a magnificent job in rural and regional communities helping people with
their debt problems. It is easy to be critical of people who get into debt but we must offer them assistance,
particularly in rural communities, in mapping out a strategy to get back on their feet. I congratulate the
Government and the Minister on their work in this area.
Mr JOHN TURNER (Myall Lakes) [4.09 p.m.]: There is no doubt that some people have problems
with credit cards—for any number of reasons—but they could get into difficulties with any financial
undertaking. Other people are not sufficiently aware of the guidelines for credit card use and cannot manage
their cards responsibly. The Reserve Bank has verified that 70 per cent of households have at least one credit
card. The bank noted in September this year that credit card debt is not as bad as some people assume. It said:
… changes in patterns of credit card use may provide early signs of financial stress in the household sector … around 0.85 per
cent of total credit card loans by value are to borrowers who have not met their minimum repayment for 90 days or more.
That is a very small percentage in the scheme of things—particularly if we consider that outstanding debt on
credit cards accounts for about 3 per cent of the total debt owed by the household sector. The Reserve Bank
Given this relatively small share, the current level of credit card debt is not a prime concern for the stability of the financial
That is fine for the financial system, but every honourable member who has spoken in this debate has mentioned
the concern in the wider community about those who are vulnerable to credit card debt. Young people are
particularly at risk. The honourable member for Burrinjuck said that we must up the ante and educate people
who have got their first credit card or who have a bad financial record and should see a counselling service. It is
simply not appropriate for some people to have credit cards—perhaps credit card use should be monitored.
In the second half of the 1990s growth in aggregate cash advances through credit cards averaged 16 per
cent per annum. The average amount drawn per card also increased steadily. However, since then the growth of
aggregate cash advances has slowed and the average amount drawn per account has stabilised. The ratio of
monthly payments to outstanding credit card balances increased steadily during the second half of the 1990s,
although this ratio has also levelled off in the past few years. The Reserve Bank also points out that another
measure of repayment activity is provided by the proportion of cardholders who usually pay off at least one
credit card each month. This proportion also trended higher during the 1990s before levelling off in recent years.
The Reserve Bank's financial stability review concludes:
… the available data are consistent with low levels of financial stress in the Australian household sector.
Although the Reserve Bank claims that credit card debt is not a huge problem, some people certainly have
difficulty managing their credit card use. I note that the Minister for Fair Trading will fund and support a study
by the Consumer Credit Legal Centre (NSW) into credit card debt and increasing levels of family debt. In 2001-
02 the centre received 1,329 telephone calls about debt. That is not many in view of the Reserve Bank's
12284 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
statement that 70 per cent of households have at least one credit card. Of those callers, 27 per cent called about
debt collection, 22 per cent called about an inability to pay, 6 per cent called about bankruptcy matters and
28 per cent called about account disputes. Some 16 per cent of discussions at the centre were about credit cards,
15 per cent were about non-credit cards and 13 per cent were about personal loans.
There are problems with credit card use and debt in the community but we must not throw the baby out
with the bathwater. I am sure that the concern of the honourable member for Penrith is genuine, but her call for
the Federal Treasurer to develop a national plan is a bit over the top. I am sure these problems can be addressed
through further education programs within the New South Wales credit system.
Mr MATT BROWN (Kiama) [4.14 p.m.]: I support the motion. I pay tribute to the honourable
member for Penrith for her hard work and for caring for her constituents. I support the Minister for Fair Trading,
who is most concerned about debt levels in this State and across Australia as a whole. Some 70 per cent of
Australian households have a credit card, and their average debt is $5,000. Teenage cardholders have an average
credit card debt of $3,000. How can young lives begin and grow when young people are placed under financial
pressure so soon? A CPA Australia survey conducted earlier this year found that young people aged between 18
and 24 years are about $21,500 in debt. That is an enormous debt and a national problem that must be taken
Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted and motion lapsed.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Bill: Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders
Motion by Mr Carl Scully agreed to:
That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow the introduction, and progress up to and including the Minister's second
reading speech, of the Health Services Amendment Bill prior to the taking of private members' statements.
ASSENT TO BILLS
Assent to the following bills reported:
Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill
Liquor Amendment (Racing Clubs) Bill
HEALTH SERVICES AMENDMENT BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA (Lakemba—Minister for Health) [4.17 p.m.]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
I am pleased to introduce the Health Services Amendment Bill. This bill is central to the Government's Planning
Better Health reforms to the New South Wales public health system, which I announced on 27 July this year.
Among other things, the reforms I announced on 27 July include the amalgamation of the 17 area health services
into eight larger health service areas. The new area health services will be formed on 1 January 2005, in
accordance with the Governor's order of 20 October 2004. I take this opportunity to remind the House of the
benefits of the new area structure, which this bill will support.
Area health service boundaries were drawn up almost 20 years ago and no longer reflect New South
Wales's population distribution, make-up and growth, health work force distribution, and patterns of clinical
referrals and patient flows. Since then improvements in communications, transport and travel times have also
impacted on the way that health services can be delivered. The new area boundaries have been developed to
meet current and future health needs, with the key principle underpinning the area health service reforms being
that more of NSW Health's resources should be spent on direct patient care and less on administration. The new
area health service structure will reduce administrative duplication and inefficiencies and improve consistency
in the way health services are delivered.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12285
It will encourage the building of better clinical networks and enhance academic and teaching links. The
new structure will also assist in improving the distribution of the health work force. For example, it is estimated
that in the inner city there is a neonatologist for every 4,000 babies born, while in the outer metropolitan areas
there is one for every 12,000 babies born. This is despite higher levels of births in outer metropolitan areas.
Establishing a single service covering central and south- western Sydney will allow neonatologists and neonatal
services to be more easily redistributed to the areas of greatest need. The new area structure will also facilitate
much-needed corporate service reform. Instead of each area providing its own corporate and business support
services, some of these services will be able to be delivered on a statewide or regional basis.
The reforms to area health service boundaries and shared services arrangements are, over time,
expected to free up $100 million annually, with the savings being reinvested in additional frontline health
services in the areas where they are realised. The September 2003 report of the Independent Pricing and
Regulatory Tribunal [IPART], entitled "NSW Health—Focusing on Patient Care" gave impetus to the reform of
health administration in New South Wales. IPART found that pressures on the public health system will
increase dramatically over the years, and the task of providing the best possible health care will become
increasingly costly. The IPART outlined a series of recommendations for better governance and institutional
arrangements in NSW Health, including streamlining administration and reducing identified areas of duplication
between the department, areas and hospitals, the reform of area health boards and improved clinician and
community involvement in health service decision-making processes.
The reforms outlined in this bill are designed to address board governance arrangements to cope
effectively with the demands of modern health care delivery, the need to improve accountability in health
administration and the important role clinicians, health consumers and the community should have in health
service decision-making processes. The first key change provided for in the bill is the abolition of area health
boards as the governance model for area health services. The changes in models of care, health service delivery
and technology, and the expansion of clinical networks across area boundaries signal the time for change. It is
now time to move to an administrative model that better facilitates these networks and ensures a systemic
approach to service delivery and clinical governance in the public health system.
The bill abolishes area boards, with area health services being controlled and managed by a chief
executive, supported by an executive management team. It provides clear lines of accountability from the chief
executive to the director-general, who in turn is accountable to the Minister. This simpler governance structure
will make accountability in health administration clearer and better enable NSW Health to progress reforms that
involve statewide initiatives or have cross-area impacts, such as shared corporate and health support service
reform. The current Act provides for the establishment of statutory health corporations, of which there are
currently five. These are Justice Health, the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children—more commonly known as
the Children's Hospital at Westmead—the Clinical Excellence Commission, HealthQuest and the Stewart House
Preventorium. Those bodies are currently also subject to board governance.
The more specialised and focussed nature of some statutory health corporations has enabled their
boards to operate. However the Children's Hospital at Westmead, like other area health services, has an integral
role in health service delivery within the public health system. There is a need to improve the manner in which
the Children's Hospital's services and administration are integrated with the area health system, whilst
maintaining its own distinct expertise and branding. In the case of the Children's Hospital, there is a need for
simpler, more direct and more accountable governance arrangements of the kind proposed for area health
The bill therefore amends the Health Services Act to enable the Governor to order whether the affairs
of any particular statutory health corporation are to be controlled by a board or a chief executive. Where the
Governor orders that the affairs of a statutory health corporation are to be controlled by a chief executive, the
bill applies similar governance arrangements to those that will apply to area health services. The bill's
amendments to schedule 2 to the Act provide that all of the current statutory health corporations, with the
exception of the Children's Hospital at Westmead, will continue to be governed by boards. Board-administered
health corporations remain accountable to the Minister and chief executive administered health corporations will
be directly accountable to the director-general.
While the board governance model has generally outlived its usefulness in the delivery of public health
services, its abolition represents an ideal opportunity to establish improved clinical, consumer and community
participation arrangements. IPART identified the need to reform clinical and community participation
arrangements at the State level and in health priority areas, and to establish permanent structures for community
12286 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
participation at the area level. The Health Services Act already provides some recognition of the importance of
community and clinical consultation. Some clinician input is currently provided through area clinical councils
and health care quality councils. However, consumer and community participation structures in areas are
established on an ad-hoc basis and are variable in their effectiveness.
New structures are needed to give health professionals, health consumers and community
representatives an enhanced role in the administration of our health system and in setting directions for the
delivery of health services. This involvement is critical in keeping area management informed of issues relating
to patient care and promoting continuous improvement in patient care and health care quality. Given the critical
importance of clinical, consumer and community participation, I established the clinical and community
advisory group, jointly chaired by the Rt Hon. Ian Sinclair, AC, and Ms Wendy McCarthy, AO, to recommend
an appropriate model for area health advisory councils. The committee received 190 written submissions and
held more than 60 meetings, involving more than 2,300 people in 35 locations across New South Wales.
The results of the work of the advisory group is contained in the report I tabled yesterday entitled, "A
Clear Voice for Clinicians and the Community". I take the opportunity in this reading to congratulate the Rt
Hon. Ian Sinclair and Wendy McCarthy and thank them for their leadership of the advisory group. The Rt Hon.
Ian Sinclair has also taken the time to assist in settling the provisions of the bill relating to area health advisory
councils. I also thank the advisory group members Professor Judy Lumby, Noel O'Brien, Professor John
Overton, Dr Sue Page and Tom Slockee for their valuable contribution.
The second key reform in the bill is the culmination of this process and will legislatively enshrine
robust clinical, consumer and community participation structures for area health services in the form of area
health advisory councils [AHACs]. The bill legislatively enshrines an area health advisory council for each area
health service, whose membership will comprise up to 13 ministerially appointed clinicians and community-
based consumer representatives, with a requirement that there must be a reasonable balance between these two
groups. Members may be appointed for terms up to four years and may serve a maximum of no more than eight
years in total to ensure there is an appropriate balance of experience and fresh ideas within each advisory
There will be at least one person on each AHAC who has expertise, knowledge or experience in
relation to Aboriginal health. It would obviously be my strong preference that these representatives are members
of the Aboriginal community. The new area health advisory councils are in no way intended to replace already
well-developed local health participation councils that have direct links with area management. Rather, the new
structures will build on this good work and serve as a focal point for local health participation councils' issues.
The legislative framework is sufficiently flexible to meet local needs, with the broader council functions and
appointment arrangements being provided for under the bill and matters of detail, such as council procedures,
being the subject of regulation.
The bill also provides for the establishment of an area health advisory council charter, as recommended
by the clinical and community advisory group, which will further develop the way councils operate over time.
The charter must be publicly available on the Department of Health and area health service web sites. The
incoming council chairs will assist in the development of the charter. Chief executives will continue to require
the advice and support of committee structures and medical staff councils, similar to those currently established
under existing by-laws. Accordingly the model area health service by-laws will be amended to ensure these
committee and council structures are appropriately constituted under the new system. The bill also provides that
the Minister may establish advisory committees for chief executive governed health corporations, the precise
functions of which will vary depending on the nature of the corporation. This provision will be used to provide
for appropriate clinician and community input into the work of the Children's Hospital at Westmead.
The third key reform in the bill, which will complement the simpler, more direct and accountable
governance arrangements for health administration, is the establishment of a health executive service. Members
will be aware that area chief executive officers are currently members of the senior executive service [SES].
With the abolition of area boards and the introduction of new accountability arrangements for chief executives,
it is proposed that the director-general, as the Health Administration Corporation, be their employer, including
being responsible for appointment, contracts of employment, performance review and termination of
Greater consistency with other public sector executive arrangements is also desirable in terms of
performance review and management of other executives within NSW Health. The performance of such
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12287
executives is pivotal to the fulfilment of the duties and responsibilities of public health organisations, including
the achievement of targets and objectives set in the performance agreements with the director-general. Executive
performance is also pivotal to the management accountability of the chief executives of public health
Under section 115 of the Act the Health Administration Corporation already has the central role of
determining consistent employment and remuneration conditions for these health service executives. Moving to
establish the corporation as their legal employer will facilitate an integrated approach to executive development
and promotional opportunities within the public health system, a consistent approach to executive performance
management and review within NSW Health, and clear lines of accountability of senior health executives,
through chief executives to the director-general, consistent with the director-general's already established role in
monitoring the public health system and performance review of public health organisations and chief executives.
The bill applies similar employment and compensation provisions to those applying to senior executive
service officers under chapter 3 of the Public Sector Employment and Management Act 2002. This gives greater
certainty to health service executive employment arrangements, rather than leaving them to be determined solely
by the Health Administration Corporation. The bill retains scope for employing board-governed statutory health
corporation chief executives as SES officers, as it would be appropriate to maintain more of an arm's-length
relationship between the director-general and such chief executives where the statutory health corporation has
some form of broad health oversight role, as is the case with the Clinical Excellence Commission. The bill also
makes minor consequential amendments to the Public Sector Employment and Management Act 2002 to
recognise the new Health Executive Service regime.
The proposals contained in the bill represent the next major step forward in health system reform.
Together with the area amalgamations I have already initiated, they will streamline area management and
administration, simplify health system governance and management, better support the development of health
executives and make them more accountable, improve clinical and community participation in public health
service delivery, enhance system-wide approaches to critical issues like strong clinical governance and patient
safety, support shared services reform, and facilitate clinical networking across area boundaries. These reforms
provide a framework for the public health system for the twenty-first century. They will mean more resources
for front-line services and stronger clinical support for outer metropolitan and rural health services—in short,
better, more accountable health services for the people of New South Wales. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Daryl Maguire.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' STATEMENTS
PENRITH ELECTORATE VOLUNTEERS
Mrs KARYN PALUZZANO (Penrith) [4.32 p.m.]: Each year about 4.4 million Australians make a
difference in their local communities by volunteering to do a wide range of tasks for a wide range of not-for-
profit organisations. People volunteer for many reasons and in many different ways, and a great deal of
satisfaction comes from making a difference. Volunteers can experience working for causes in which they are
interested, or they can assist in creating change in areas that are important to them. They can build new skills,
meet new people, and add a variety of work and experience to their lives.
I wish today to talk about volunteers in Penrith. They are the fibre that binds the fabric of our fair city.
We observed examples of that last night, when State Emergency Service and Rural Fire Service people went out
to 87 jobs that had to be done following high winds. I commend Derek Hudson and his State Emergency
Services team centre at St Marys. I would also like to congratulate Greg Corrigan from the Glenbrook-Lapstone
Rural Fire Service, and also Richard Petch, the zone co-ordinator. The command centre for the Rural Fire
Service is also located in Penrith. They worked very hard, until about 2 o'clock this morning, carrying out 87
jobs involving removing many trees that had fallen across major roads, on houses and cars and in front yards.
Thank you very much to this group of hard-working volunteers.
I have been talking about volunteers, but I must also commend Penrith City Council, which supported
those teams of volunteers. Penrith City Council's Waste and Community Protection Manager, Barry Ryan,
informed me that the Parks and Gardens staff also were on duty well into the night yesterday. The Penrith
12288 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
electorate has not only those volunteers but also community fire units and rural fire units. I have mentioned the
Glenbrook-Lapstone Rural Fire Service, but Penrith also has New South Wales Fire Brigades community fire
units, at Brook Road. For those who may not know what a community fire unit is, I should mention that it is a
group of five to six households equipped with a van or utility that has all the equipment necessary for six people
to use during bushfires to protect their households. Honourable members who live in a fire-prone area know that
having a locally based facility such as New South Wales Fire Brigades and the Rural Fire Service, as well as a
community fire unit that is well trained to protect their homes and assist people from other organisations in their
work, is a very valuable asset. I commend New South Wales Fire Brigades for that initiative.
There are many other volunteer groups in the Penrith electorate. I note that for 90 years the Red Cross
has been supporting and serving the Penrith area. I recently joined with its president, Yvonne Cassidy, and
others at a luncheon to support its 90 years anniversary. Red Cross groups came from all over the State, and I
had a chat with some of them. They spoke of what they used to do 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 years ago. During
the Second World War, Red Cross members were changing bed pans on the North Shore, but at Penrith the Red
Cross were organising dances. So they had a very good time providing recreational support using the Army base
facility at Penrith at that time. I commend that group, which is still active in providing Red Cross services within
the Penrith area.
Another anniversary was that of the Penrith RSL Sub-branch auxiliary, whose president is Paula
Bozzard. It recently celebrated its sixtieth year of providing services to returned men and women in their sub-
branch, by doing volunteer work for the community. Well done to Paula Bozzard and her team. I also shared a
luncheon with that group to recognise a number of life members. Each had an orchid on the lapel, and I enjoyed
going round the room to meet some of these 170 women who are very active in Penrith. Many of us spoke of
what they did to become a life member of the Penrith RSL Sub-branch, because not everyone becomes a life
Ten years ago the Older Women's Network, which has as its motto "Celebrating and Promoting the
Wellbeing of Older Women", was established in Penrith. It is an active and vibrant group that not only supports
its members with tai chi and general exercise but also helps with the operation of the management committee of
the Kingswood Park Neighbourhood Centre. I commend its members for doing that. It also has a five-day-a-
week drop-in centre at the Penrith Community Health Centre, where members can drop in to help others. I
commend those three groups that have celebrated anniversaries. I commend also the sporting, scouts, and guides
groups in the Penrith area.
BOUNDARY ROAD AND KITCHENER ROAD INTERSECTION, CHERRYBROOK
Mr MICHAEL RICHARDSON (The Hills) [4.37 p.m.]: I want to speak yet again about traffic lights
at the intersection of Boundary Road and Kitchener Road, Cherrybrook. Kitchener Road is unique in that it has
two retirement villages, a hospital and two nursing homes. It is Cherrybrook's equivalent of Mowll Village,
Castle Hill, the greatest concentration of aged persons in Australia. The intersection with Boundary Road is on a
bend with limited visibility. Boundary Road carries a very considerable volume of traffic, particularly during the
morning peak hour, and it is extremely difficult for older people, whose reflexes and eyesight are not as sharp as
they were, first, to drive out onto Boundary Road in either direction or, second, to walk across Boundary Road
to Kitchener Road when they get off the bus from Pennant Hills station, as there is no pedestrian crossing.
I last made a private member's statement on this issue in November 1998, but I have raised it many
times in other debates as well as in correspondence to successive Ministers for Roads. Hundreds of people have
signed a petition asking for traffic lights to be installed at this intersection, yet nothing has happened in six
years. According to Mrs Cynthia Wells of Woodlands Retirement Village, two residents of Woodlands village
were badly injured last year entering Boundary Road in their car—exactly the type of accident I warned about in
Mr John Evans, a resident of Woodlands Retirement Village, wrote to me regarding the difficulties he
had crossing Boundary Road. He waited for a lull in eastbound traffic, then stepped smartly onto the road.
However, he slipped and crashed quite heavily onto the road surface. He got to his feet as quickly as possible in
order to reach the median strip, and he became aware of cars pulled up in both lanes. He sustained badly grazed
knees, grazes to his nose, a sprained right wrist, and pain in the left rib area. He told me that this experience
brought home vividly to him the need for traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing in this area, as it is highly
dangerous for less active persons than him to try and cross as virtually all traffic travels at a minimum of 70
kilometres an hour. Two weeks ago I received a letter from Reverend Roger Waugh, chairman of the residents
forum at Elouera Gardens Christian Retirement Village. Reverend Waugh said:
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12289
There is a large and constant volume of traffic in both directions on Boundary Road … Boundary Road traffic makes it extremely
difficult to gain entry to or exit from Kitchener Road and this is almost impossible in the heavy traffic at times.
We have in this village 71 residents in independent living units who have varying levels of mobility. In addition there are 45
residents in Yurana House Hostel and these folk are increasingly less mobile. Further to that there are 50 people in the Nursing
Home. There is also the staff who care for residents on a 24 hour basis. In addition to residents' vehicles, staff vehicles and the
village bus and maintenance vehicles there is a steady and constant flow of visitors. Service vehicles to provide specialist
maintenance needs, as well as ambulance and emergency vehicles, need to use this intersection.
He further states:
It is a nightmare experience, especially for residents who have restricted mobility, to cross Boundary Road … particularly from
the bus stop opposite Kitchener Road. Traffic volume of heavy transport vehicles has multiplied with the banning of such
vehicles from New Line Road between Castle Hill Road and Boundary Road.
The provision of traffic lights would forestall the possibility of a tragedy occurring as sooner or later it is almost a certainty that a
multiple vehicle accident will occur at this intersection which may well involve fatalities. To make a right turn into Boundary
Road from Kitchener Road is a hazardous undertaking especially with the Retirement Village bus.
Yet the response from the Government would lead one to believe that there were no problems. Gillian Kane,
Director of Nursing at Woodlands Nursing Home, wrote to the Government in 1999 about this matter. She
received the following response from the honourable member for Cabramatta, Reba Meagher, who was then the
Parliamentary Secretary for Roads:
The Safety of Pedestrians is of concern and in this regard the Roads and Traffic Authority has carried out morning and afternoon
observations at the junction to assess pedestrian movements and conditions when traffic volumes are at their greatest.
Pedestrian volumes were found to be low and observations showed that there is a good sight distance for motorists and
pedestrians in both directions along Boundary Road and that there is a wider median, which allows those pedestrians wishing to
cross the road, to do so in two stages.
This is a nonsense. The site distance may be adequate for a young woman in her 30s who fills her lungs with the
sea air at Coogee, but for people in their 70s and 80s this is certainly not true. Nor was it true, according to
Reverend Waugh, for a schoolgirl who was knocked down and injured a few weeks ago trying to cross
Boundary Road. Of course pedestrian volumes are low. Who would want to take their lives in their hands and
try to walk across the road? We have a duty of care to our senior citizens, which this Government ignores at its
peril. Already there have been serious accidents and injuries.
As I asked six years ago, will it take a fatality before something is done? I ask the Minister for Roads to
re-examine this issue, look at his budget, and see whether something cannot be done for the elderly residents of
Kitchener Road and all of my constituents living in this area. This is no way to encourage people to use public
transport. It is no way to encourage young people, particularly schoolchildren, to walk to school. It is more
likely to get them in their mothers' cars, which will put more traffic on the roads and exacerbate the problem.
Ms NOREEN HAY (Wollongong) [4.42 p.m.]: I draw to the attention of the House an event that took
place recently in my electorate of Wollongong to help raise much-needed funds for a cause that was first
brought to my attention by a 12-year-old child. The Wollongong walk in support of research to find a cure for
juvenile diabetes took place on Sunday 17 October in Stuart Park under a threatening sky and in less than fair
weather. However, I am happy to say that approximately 400 eager participants assembled to walk the five
kilometres. Their every step raised valuable funds that will go towards research to find a cure for this
Walk to Cure Diabetes is the fastest-growing fundraising campaign in the history of the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation. Last year walkers raised $2.6 million. More than 80,000 people gathered at sites
throughout Australia to take part in the walk. This year thousands of men and women, including participants
from 800 corporations and local companies, put their best foot forward. Participants raise funds by asking
family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers to sponsor them.
It was an honour to be part of the first Walk for Juvenile Diabetes, and I am proud it took place in my
electorate of Wollongong. Australia has one of the world's highest incidence of the disease. More than
one million people have diabetes, and juvenile diabetes affects thousands of children. Some 100,000, or 10 per
cent of them, suffer from type 1 diabetes. Although it generally strikes people younger than 15 years, it can
happen at any age. It is not a well-known fact that the most common chronic disease of childhood is type 1
diabetes. It is more common than cancer, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, or muscular dystrophy.
12290 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Type 1 diabetes cannot be treated with lifestyle and dietary changes. Through no fault of their own
these children are insulin-dependent for life. Two or more children a day are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes,
and their lives and the lives of the people around them change forever. These children face the knowledge that
they may go blind, require a new kidney, lose a limb, or suffer a heart attack or stroke long before they reach
middle age. For them, life is anything but normal because it revolves round injections, blood tests, doctors and
hospitals. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease: the immune system attacks its own beta cells in the
pancreas, destroying the body's ability to produce insulin.
Many people believe that insulin is a cure for diabetes, and insulin means that type 1 diabetes is no
longer a death sentence. However, it cannot prevent debilitating health conditions, and nor is it a cure. The
greatest irony of type 1 diabetes is that those who suffer from it look healthy. Its seriousness is often
underestimated, and it does not receive the recognition it should as one of society's main health problems,
especially among our young children. Parents, faced with public misconceptions about the cause of diabetes, are
often forced to defend themselves and their children against accusations of poor eating habits. But this is not the
case. To date researchers do not know what causes type 1 diabetes, but they have disproved the myth that it is
caused by eating too much sugar or not exercising efficiently.
The magnitude of this illness was first brought home to me by Rachel Lincoln, whose three children—
twins Jacob and Ryan, and Samantha—suffer from juvenile diabetes. Samantha, who was diagnosed at 11 years,
and the twins, who were diagnosed at 18 months, were chosen to represent New South Wales this year as State
ambassadors for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Mrs Lincoln told me it was Samantha who insisted
she contact me in the first place to raise awareness about the disease. As with so many childhood diseases, the
parents of children afflicted feel they are alone and without local support. Mrs Lincoln and her husband had to
travel to Sydney to attend diabetes support group meetings. It was these feelings that prompted Mrs Lincoln to
form a committee with representatives from the area health service, Diabetes Australia, parents of children with
diabetes and people from our community interested in the wellbeing of children. I commend this group and their
Mr KERRY HICKEY (Cessnock—Minister for Mineral Resources) [4.47 p.m.]: It is great to hear the
honourable member for Wollongong raise this matter in the House. It is clear that Mrs Lincoln and her daughter,
Samantha, have done a wonderful job in bringing the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to the attention of
the honourable member for Wollongong. My best friend with whom I grew up had diabetes and I know first
hand of the pain and suffering children go through and the taunting they are subjected to at school.
The 80,000 walkers who gathered at various sites around Australia and raised $2.6 million to fund
research into a cure for type 1 diabetes are to be congratulated. Everyone should get behind the walkers to
ensure they raise the necessary funds for this important research. An adult can understand the problems they
have with their bodies, but it is difficult for juveniles to accept that they have to learn to inject insulin and
change their dietary habits to suit a disease so they can live a reasonably normal life, albeit somewhat different
from what it was. In today's world there are many different treatments for diabetes, and I commend the
honourable member for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.
Ms CLOVER MOORE (Bligh) [4.49 p.m.]: In 1999 The Block became part of my electorate when
the boundaries changed, and at that time I was horrified at the lack of action on serious problems. In response to
my calls for co-ordinated action to deal with the human degradation, urban blight, and criminal activities centred
on the area, the Government set up the Redfern-Waterloo Partnership Project in March 2002. In June 2003 I
raised concern about limited progress, inadequate information and consultation, overdevelopment, inaction on
entrenched social problems, unclear plans for The Block and public lands, and the failure to protect heritage or
provide new open space. I called for a 10-year Government commitment. Now, after two and half years of the
Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project, the Premier has announced the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, under a
different Minister, to control key sites, administer a Redfern-Waterloo Fund, and develop a 10-year Redfern-
While I welcome the commitment to bring this project under one umbrella, I am concerned about the
proliferation of agencies and about duplication with the existing partnership project. I am acutely aware that the
community will be suspicious about the likely value of adding more agencies, more co-ordinating groups, and
yet more layers of decision making. I remain concerned about the lack of information and engagement with the
local community, who have been told to expect new proposals since February 2004 but who now find that a
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12291
whole new bureaucracy will be set up to develop a plan. The Government has provided very little information
about how this new authority will work and what powers it will have. This will remain unclear until draft
legislation is made available.
The authority's planning powers, budget and coverage are unknown and the community is awaiting
detail on the role and power of the Minister and the authority's board, the composition of the board, whether any
new funding will be provided, and, if not, how the much-needed community and urban renewal work will have
to be funded, how the new authority will relate to other agencies and the community, how it will add value and
improve the response to local issues, and the rationale for the move to make a different Minister the consent
authority for new development in the area. Years of talk about the Aboriginal Housing Company redevelopment
must be translated into action with financially viable and sustainable development, good tenancy management,
and support for tenants with problems. This is urgent and a major barrier to lasting improvement. Plans for the
Redfern railway station upgrade and the proposed town centre clearly need to involve the community. This
project and the planned pedestrian bridge over Gibbons and Regent streets need to be fast-tracked and linked
with the City of Sydney's $12 million upgrade of Redfern Street and the future Regent Street upgrade.
I understand that the new authority will take over important community assets such as the Redfern
Public School and Rachel Forster Hospital sites, the Eveleigh railyards, and Department of Housing properties.
These community assets must provide real ongoing community benefit and not be sold off or handed over to
commercial interests. I remain concerned about local and railway heritage. The Government must stand by its
commitment to keep existing public housing and guarantee public tenants future homes. I hope that the new
authority will require a 10 per cent affordable housing levy, as I have requested, to ensure that ordinary people
like nurses, teachers and hospitality staff can afford to live in the inner city.
There is a lack of information about transport plans, despite the planned doubling of the population.
Although I welcome the announcement of an expanded health service, I note the community's fears that
continuing delay in the Government's review of human services threatens human services and social programs
that are badly needed to help families in trouble. However, there is an ongoing and urgent need for specific
training and employment programs.
There have been achievements in Redfern, with stronger policing impacting on crime, and the
provision of valuable intensive family support and youth programs. The Council of the City of Sydney's
$3.2 million Redfern Community Centre is bringing people together, and the council's work on community
safety and youth and children's programs shows promise. This distressed community needs consistent and
persistent Government action to build on the partnership project achievements that involve the local community
and respect Aboriginal ways in order to provide hope for those without a job, those on low incomes, those with
drug problems, and those who are subject to crime and antisocial behaviour. For the first time since 1999,
community feedback tells me that things are beginning to improve. I urge the Government to ensure that the
proposed new Redfern-Waterloo Authority builds on this progress.
Mr KERRY HICKEY (Cessnock—Minister for Mineral Resources) [4.53 p.m.]: It is great that the
honourable member for Bligh, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, has acknowledged the benefits the Government is
providing for the Redfern-Waterloo area. The Minister for Energy and Utilities will be responsible for the
Redfern-Waterloo Authority, and I am sure that he will oversee progress in the Redfern-Waterloo area and
ensure that everyone benefits.
GRANVILLE SCHOOLS SPECTACULAR
Mrs BARBARA PERRY (Auburn) [4.54 p.m.]: It is my pleasure to inform the House of my recent
attendance at the Fourth Annual Granville Schools Spectacular, which was held at the Sydney Opera House in
October. As promised, the evening turned out to be a truly spectacular affair and perhaps is best captured by the
now infamous Nat King Cole lyrics "unforgettable in every way". I am sure the honourable member for
Strathfield, who also was present, will agree.
Ms Virginia Judge: Yes, I do.
Mrs BARBARA PERRY: To put it mildly, I thoroughly enjoyed the event. Moreover, I left the Opera
House feeling enormously proud of all the talent, effort and abundant creativity that I had seen on show. The
theme of the evening, A World of Colour, was ingeniously interpreted in myriad ways by the students
throughout the many brilliant music and dance items they created. Some brought to life the diversity and beauty
12292 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
of the earth and environment, while others took the audience through musical eras such as the sixties with its
renowned vibrancy of colours and sounds.
There was a splendid array of cultural performances of Chinese dance that was inspired by the peacock,
which was performed so elegantly by the Regents Park Public School, and there was the Auburn West Public
School's rendition of I Go To Rio, featuring performers dressed in Carnivalé outfits and accompanied by a Peter
Allen look-alike. There was also a stunning high-voltage version of the New Zealand group Adeaze's track
Getting Stronger, which was sung by three outstandingly gifted students from Auburn Girls High School.
I also immensely enjoyed the Tongan Kai Lao by the Granville Boys High School, the literalist
interpretation pieces of Red Hot by Birrong Public School, and True Colours, which was a Cyndi Lauper
remake by the Birrong Girls High School, the choir of 550 kids from the Auburn Public School, Auburn North
Public School, Auburn West Public School, Birrong Public School, Lidcombe Public School, Newington Public
School, and Regents Park Public School, which was simply angelic, the duets, trios and rock band and the
Jewels of Jazz piece by the Berala Public School. To top it all off, the evening concluded with a joint
performance by all 1,100 students of the song Colour My World, which almost lifted the roof. It was simply
It has been said that there are few things more uplifting and beautiful to experience than children
singing in unison and with heart. How true that is! At the conclusion of the event I took time to catch up with
some of the school principals. As we were standing at the entrance to the building, I noticed two large groups of
students from Auburn West Public School and Granville Boys High School facing off at each other while
waiting for their buses. The encounter seemed good spirited enough, so we watched with curiosity. Almost
simultaneously and without expectation, the boys from Granville Boys High School started performing the
Haka, and the young Arabic people from Auburn West Public School began to beat their derbekkah drums in
response. It was the most impromptu and engaging outburst of a performance that one could ever hope to see,
much to the delight of onlookers—particularly me. Needless to say, it was much enjoyed by all who were
fortunate enough to be in the vicinity.
While watching it I was reminded of how much of our lives are brightened by the spontaneity and zest
for life that young people have to offer. They really do colour our world. Today I pay a special tribute to all the
principals, teachers and students of the schools that participated in the evening. I cannot tell honourable
members how proud I felt while I was watching the kindergarten to year 12 students take the world-renowned
Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House by storm. The professionalism and confidence of each and every
performer was second to none, as was the thought and creativity that went into their work. It pleased me greatly
to see the infusion of positive and inclusive messages on stage and the joy that was so evident in celebrations of
multiculturalism. I also commend to the House the outstanding job done by all in weaving the magic of
costumes and props from a shoestring budget. It really was a remarkable example of human ingenuity and
In conclusion, I make special mention of the director and production co-ordinator, Sharon Fulcher, for
her great work. I give extra special thanks to all the hardworking parents who faithfully sacrifice everything they
are, and have, for their children. They gave themselves, their children, and our public education system every
reason to be proud on that unforgettable evening, and for that I thank and honour them.
COMMUNITY COLLEGES FUNDING
Mrs JILLIAN SKINNER (North Shore) [4.59 p.m.]: I listened to the honourable member for Auburn
refer to the very fine performance of students from schools in her electorate. I agree with her comments, and
congratulate the teachers and principals from those schools. I hope she will join with me in congratulating the
principals and teachers of community colleges throughout New South Wales. I will now refer to those in
metropolitan Sydney, particularly in my area at the Mosman Evening College. Next year Mosman Evening
College will receive no money, zero money, from the State Government because it has changed the rules on
funding. Last year it received $125,400, and this year it will receive nothing. That level of cuts has been
repeated in many other colleges. Funding to the Workers Educational Association, Sydney, was down 35.6 per
cent; to the Sydney Community College it was down 35 per cent; to the Strathfield Regional Community
College it was down 48.6 per cent; to the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community College it was down 29.7 per cent;
and to the Manly Warringah Community College it was down 30.6 per cent.
Mr Kerry Hickey: How many are funded by the Federal Government?
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12293
Mrs JILLIAN SKINNER: The Minister for Mineral Resources asked how many colleges receive
money from the Federal Government. A substantial amount of funding comes to the State from the Federal
Government for community colleges, for the vocational educational training component of their budget. The
State Government has cut $4 million from next year's budget and it is clear that the Minister for Education and
Training has no idea about the importance of adult education for people who wish to extend their knowledge. As
I said, Mosman Evening College will receive no funds. The budgets of other colleges have been dramatically
The cuts are a consequence of the State Government allocating 18 per cent less to community colleges
than it did last financial year, and the end result will be that many people will miss out on courses. Those
colleges have always charged fees for their courses, without complaint, with the Government providing a small
allocation for general costs. That allocation has now gone, because the Government has changed the rules. The
big losers will be members of the older community who undertake language courses, learn computer skills or
learn to paint. I was disgusted with the Minister's attitude when he belittled those courses in answer to questions
put to him during the budget estimates hearing. Those answers, and the recent revelation of the cuts that will
occur next year, show that he either does not understand or has chosen to ignore research which shows that an
active mind helps with the health and well-being of an ageing community.
Last year community colleges enrolled more than 400,000 students, so we are not talking about a small,
insignificant education provider. I have visited a number of those colleges, and I assure honourable members
that if they have a community college within their electorate they should visit it and speak to the directors,
teachers and students. The colleges need the help of their local members to persuade the Minister to reverse his
decision. The honourable member for Strathfield should be aware that last year her community college,
Strathfield Regional Community College, received $237,196, but this year its budget will be cut by $115,196.
That is a cut of 48.6 per cent. In the end the losers will be the community, the older people, those who are
upgrading their skills. I am a director of my community college board, as would be the honourable member—
It is compulsory; the Government appoints the directors. The honourable member for Strathfield should
check the rules. We are appointed ex officio because we are members of Parliament. If honourable members are
interested in community education and their communities—
Ms Virginia Judge: I have actually done courses.
Mrs JILLIAN SKINNER: If the honourable member for Strathfield has done courses, she should
defend community colleges in this House. She should explain to the Minister how detrimental it would be if the
colleges no longer have the money they need to run services.
Ms Virginia Judge: Have you done any courses?
Mrs JILLIAN SKINNER: I have not only done courses, I regularly attend their meetings.
Ms Virginia Judge: What courses have you done?
Mrs JILLIAN SKINNER: Computer skills. I run my own web site from home,
www.jillianskinner.com. It consists of 360 pages. She should look at it; it has all my press releases and policies.
I thank the community colleges, particularly Mosman, for providing a fantastic service.
Mr KERRY HICKEY (Cessnock—Minister for Mineral Resources) [5.04 p.m.]: It is wonderful that
members raise in this House the issue of funding cuts to the State education system. But we must acknowledge
that those cuts are driven by the Federal Coalition. This State is being penalised by the Federal Coalition
Government, which has benefited greatly from the war chest it has accrued from this State. It has cut funding to
this State in Education, Health and other areas, and has hidden behind those cuts by increasing funding to
private schools. It is appalling. I have regular contact with my community college at Singleton, and I understand
the cuts. However, the Government was driven to those cuts by the Federal Coalition Government, which is
ripping money off this State and putting it elsewhere.
It would do well for the Coalition to write to its Federal counterpart and have the funding formula
changed from the private sector to the public sector. It is a very sad day when the Coalition puts the blame on
the State Government in a private member's statement instead of putting the blame where it should be put: on
the Federal Government.
12294 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Mr JOHN MILLS (Wallsend) [5.06 p.m.]: Callaghan College is approaching the end of its fourth year
of operation. Callaghan is a collegiate of three public high school campuses: two junior high schools at
Wallsend and Waratah for years 7 to 10, and one senior high at Jesmond for years 11 and 12, which are linked
to programs at the Hunter Institute of TAFE and the University of Newcastle. In June 2000 the Minister for
Education and Training, the Hon. John Aquilina, announced:
High school students in Newcastle's Western Corridor will soon enjoy an unprecedented array of education and training options
Callaghan College will be a direct link between school, work and further education, with senior students being able to study
vocational and tertiary courses in a more adult learning environment.
The campuses for students in Years 7-10 will have a greater focus on the educational and welfare needs of young people, as well
as greater leadership and citizenship programs and more focused transition programs from primary to secondary schooling.
I declare an interest in Callaghan College because I serve as a community representative on its school council.
Callaghan College was formed to improve educational opportunities for our local students. It is pleasing to
record that considerable improvements in educational outcomes for students have been achieved. Enrolments
have increased on all campuses, indicating increased retention rates from feeder primary schools to the two
middle school campuses, from 82 per cent to 93 per cent, and increased retention rates for years 10 and 11, from
63 per cent to 87 per cent. The availability of the widest subject choice of any high school in the Hunter region
has assisted retention rates and attracted enrolments back from private schools and applications from out of the
I refer now to learning outcomes. Years 7 and 8 English Language and Literacy Assessment and
Secondary Numeracy Assessment Program results have improved on both middle school campuses. Year 10
School Certificate results at Wallsend and Waratah have improved. At Jesmond the year 12 Higher School
Certificate results have improved in the majority of faculties. Students gained first place in the State in two unit
Business Services last year, students were placed on the all-rounders list for the first time, and the number of
students placed on the merit list has trebled in two years. Callaghan students are now achieving at or above State
average in many subjects, which is a considerable improvement since the formation of the college.
In regard to co-curricular achievements, the college has focused on student participation in civics,
culture and sport pursuits. As a result, they have been involved in the Newcastle city Anzac Day ceremony,
gained first place in sports events at regional, State and national level, and participated in music, Shakespeare
festivals and an eisteddfod, with the concert band recognised as the most improved—it has gained first place in
competition with specialist schools—and drama students have been highly commended.
Another student recently won the Australian share market game from over 45,000 entrants nationwide,
while chess and mock trial teams performed well in regional competitions. Some wonderful work has been done
in achieving results in sport, performance, English language and literature and other assessment tests. Fine spirit
is evident among students at Callaghan and they have a justifiable pride in their improved achievements. I
extend congratulations to teaching staff at Callaghan College on their successful development of a more adult
learning environment for years 11 and 12 at Jesmond campus and on their outstanding improvement to middle
school teaching at the Wallsend and Waratah campuses.
The building program is progressing through all its stages. In 2001 an immediate initial upgrading
program costing $1.4 million was completed in terms 1 and 2, providing senior cafeterias, senior study and
common rooms, student lockers and a locker area, improved landscaping and the upgrading of computers in the
library at the Jesmond campus, and there were other improvements of an interim nature at Wallsend and
Waratah. Major works for the new library and staff room at Wallsend have been completed, and classrooms and
an administration block have been refurbished. Refurbishment works have been completed at Waratah. Stage
one major works are almost completed at Jesmond.
On Wednesday 20 October the first of the brand new buildings was completed and staff moved into the
administration block. Major refurbishments to the science laboratories and the library have been completed and
students are already using those areas. Blocks D, E and F are all but finished. However, there has been a delay
of eight months in completing stage one works. That delay has caused much grief to parents who had hoped that
construction work would be quick. Understandably, that delay is disappointing. Last week a story in the
Newcastle Herald revealed that some students had gone away, but 24 hours earlier the college principal,
Graham Boyd, told me:
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12295
Some students are coming back—we have turned the corner thanks to the educational programs.
I call on the Minister for Education and Training and the department to ensure that the building program, in
particular at Jesmond campus, is finished on time for the benefit of all students. The basic role of a school is
academic outcome. Through that measure the college thus far has been successful. [Time expired.]
COFFS HARBOUR REGION STORM DAMAGE VOLUNTEERS
Mr ANDREW FRASER (Coffs Harbour) [5.11 p.m.]: The matter to which I refer tonight is similar to
a matter raised tonight by the honourable member for Penrith. She referred to the great job that volunteers in her
electorate had done in a time of emergency. I commend volunteers in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen for their
great efforts in assisting those people affected last week by a natural disaster. I thank the Minister for
Emergency Services in the other place, the Hon. Tony Kelly, for reacting so quickly and for giving me an
opportunity to fly back to my electorate to look at the damage that had been caused by that natural disaster. I
was lucky to be able to fly into the electorate. The flight took about 2½ hours and the plane circled for about 40
minutes before making several attempts at landing. I could not see the runway from about 700 feet.
Conditions were dreadful that night, so I can only imagine how dreadful they would have been the
night before. My wife told me that when she got up at 2.00 a.m. she thought the tiles from the roof of our home
were about to peel off. Our home sustained some damage, as did the homes of my neighbours, as trees came
down in the storm. Others were far less fortunate than we were. They either lost their homes or their homes were
not able to be repaired. I visited Ross and Bev Donald at Heritage Park who had nine trees down on their
property, one of which went straight through their granny flat. They are now considering removing some of the
trees on their property. If there were another storm of that magnitude their home would be crushed, as were
I estimate that more than 200 trees in the Heritage Park area were blown down—mature blackbutt trees
that were 50 or 60 metres tall. The storm hit in the middle of the night. State Emergency Service personnel, who
were operating under controller Bob White from Coffs Harbour, got into their vehicles, drove to the area and
started to secure roofs and homes for people in what can only be described as very trying conditions. It was
estimated that the speed of the wind was 140 kilometres an hour. The Hon. Melinda Pavey, a member of the
Legislative Council, lost her garage roof as a result of that storm.
The storm was horrendous and it left debris all over the place. Controller Bob White from Coffs
Harbour and all his volunteers attended 358 reported incidents over a number of days. Within a period of 24
hours only 132 of those homes still required attention, which I think is a phenomenal effort. I drove past a home
at Corowa and saw three State Emergency Service volunteers on the roof of that home. There was a 40-foot or
50-foot drop to the ground and a tree limb which was 8 or 10 inches in width was protruding from the roof of
the home. The people who owned the home were extremely grateful for the assistance of volunteers—assistance
that was given unselfishly.
I refer also to controller Liz Thomas from Bellingen State Emergency Service. Coffs Harbour was
subjected to a great deal of wind and rain but there was not much wind in Bellingen. However, Bellingen was
subjected to a torrential downpour. One constituent reported that, on the old scale, Bellingen received the
equivalent of five inches of rain in 20 minutes—an incredible amount of water in such a short period. As a
result, the Bellinger River rose and people were in real danger of losing their property. Liz Thomas and her
volunteers closed roads and ensured that people in dangerous situations were notified and supplies were brought
in. They are still working in that area. In some areas, for example Darkwood, some roads are still closed.
Volunteers literally risked life and limb to look after the property of others.
In the last major event we tragically lost two lives—one in Bellingen and one in Coffs Harbour. On this
occasion no-one was hurt and no lives were lost, which is a credit not just to emergency service personnel but
also to police, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the fire brigades and local radio stations that transmitted
warnings to everyone asking them to stay away and telling them what roads were open or closed. My hearty
congratulations go to the whole community. I thank all those volunteers who assisted people in my electorate—
people whom I am sure they will continue to assist in times of emergency.
Mr KERRY HICKEY (Cessnock—Minister for Mineral Resources) [5.17 p.m.]: It is great to hear an
Opposition member thanking the Minister for Emergency Services, who I believe conducted himself quite
splendidly during a time of crisis in the Coffs Harbour region. The honourable member for Coffs Harbour paid
12296 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
tribute to State Emergency Service [SES] volunteers across New South Wales for their hard work in the Coffs
Harbour region, which was beneficial to the whole community. I am pleased they are now being informed of the
acknowledgement they received in the media and elsewhere. I congratulate the member for Coffs Harbour on
being bipartisan in this matter. This Government has done an enormous amount to support SES and volunteer
workers across this State.
Ms MARIE ANDREWS (Peats) [5.17 p.m.]: Today I acknowledge the significant benefit that first
home buyers in the Peats electorate obtained as a result of the Carr Government's generous stamp duty
concessions announced in the April 2004 mini-budget. New South Wales has the most generous stamp duty
concessions of any State in Australia. The abolition of stamp duty for first home buyers has tipped the balance
in favour of young families. On the Central Coast, one of the fastest growing regions in the State, more than 809
first home buyers have received a massive $8,069,869 in stamp duty savings since April 2004. In the Peats
electorate 32 first home buyers in post code 2256, or the Woy Woy area, saved $321,479. In post code 2257,
which includes the suburbs of Ettalong Beach and Umina Beach, first home buyers saved $626,908. The share
of total housing loans going to first home buyers jumped from 8 per cent in March to 12.5 per cent in
Young couples now have a real incentive to purchase their own home, in line with the long-held
Australian dream of home ownership. That dream is increasingly being realised thanks to the incentives
available to young couples, not-so-young couples and single persons who are desirous of purchasing their own
home. Since the introduction of the Carr Government's mini-budget on 6 April this year, 20,437 first home
buyers have received a total of $201 million in First Home Plus exemptions. Under the former first home buyers
concessions scheme an average of 1,072 home buyers a month received concessions of $2,525 each. Under the
newly expanded scheme an average of 3,400 first home buyers per month are saving an average of $9,838.
I am very proud of the fact that the Carr Government's policies have made available more than
$200 million in stamp duty exemptions in the six months since the April mini-budget. Reports about the changes
to property taxation announced in the mini-budget often overlook the fact that the First Home Plus Scheme
gives eligible first home buyers exemptions on transfer duty and mortgage duty on homes valued up to $500,000
and concessions on duty for homes valued between $500,000 and $600,000. First home buyers purchasing a
vacant block of residential land on which to build their home will pay no duty on land valued up to $300,000
and will receive concessions on duty for vacant land valued at between $300,000 and $450,000. I applaud the
remarkable shift in the number of housing loans going to first home buyers. This was the Carr Government's
intention when Treasurer Michael Egan announced changes to property taxation in the 6 April mini-budget.
The Treasurer and the Carr Labor Government are to be applauded for allowing so many more people,
particularly young couples with a family or those planning to start a family, to enter the home ownership
market. I feel sure that first home buyers in the electorate of Peats who have been assisted under the new home
buyers scheme appreciate the fact that they have been able to buy in an area with which they are familiar and do
not have to move further afield. I applaud the Government for that initiative.
CRONULLA SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT WATER RECYCLING
Mr MALCOLM KERR (Cronulla) [5.22 p.m.]: Australia is a land of drought but, as revealed on the
Four Corners "City Limits" program on 18 October, Sydney is leading the race to run out of water. With our
dams running low and Sydney's population increasing by 50,000 a year, a reliable water supply is crucial for
existing and future generations. Recycling water from sewage treatment plants is one way of augmenting the
water supply from Sydney dams. Before the 1995 State election the Premier pledged to promote water reuse and
to pursue alternatives to ocean outfalls at Cronulla. Effluent reuse was to be a major component of the upgraded
sewage treatment plant, with this effluent used in local industry and open spaces near the Cronulla sewage
treatment plant. The Premier and the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning again went to the polls in 1999
with a promise that effluent reuse would be a major component of the upgraded plant. They promised that the
new plant would make greater use of non-drinking water on parks and golf courses, and in industry.
The Cronulla sewage treatment plant performs secondary and tertiary water treatment before the water
flows on to an ultraviolet [UV] disinfection facility. Sydney Water claims that the UV disinfectant system at
Cronulla is the largest of its kind in Australia. Nine years after the initial announcements and three years after
the upgrade of the plant in 2001, Sydney Water has failed to find any viable commercial markets for recycled
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12297
water from the Cronulla sewage treatment plant. Sydney Water boasts that the upgraded plant is the largest
ocean plant of its kind to discharge such high-quality effluent. Yet less than 2 per cent of this wastewater is
recycled, and that is used in the operation of the sewage treatment plant.
Sydney Water's publication "Recycled Water Projection 2000-2005" states that approximately only
2.3 per cent of total waste water treated at all its sewage treatment plants is recycled. Of that 2.3 per cent, 83 per
cent is used in the operation of the sewage treatment plants, while industry uses 5 per cent and 12 per cent is
used in irrigation. More disturbing is the report on the Cronulla sewage treatment plant that Sydney Water was
required to submit to the Environment Protection Authority for approval. While several large potential water
reuse clients were identified in the report, no projects were considered to be financially viable due to the high
cost of recycled water. The recycled effluent component was a major part of the upgrade of the sewage
treatment plant. The Government has had nine years to find a market for recycled water in Cronulla. Its failure
to do so has resulted in approximately 50 million litres of disinfected water flowing into the ocean every day.
This water could be used in local industry and to water parks, golf courses and sporting areas.
The Cronulla plant represented a golden opportunity for the Carr Government to demonstrate
responsible forward thinking on the use of water. The plant is in close proximity to industries at Kurnell as well
as golf courses, playing fields and schools with large grounds. By neglecting this opportunity the Carr
Government has shown an appalling lack of commitment to the use of recycled water to augment the dwindling
supply from Sydney's dams. Not only has it failed to honour its promise to use recycled water from the tertiary
upgraded Cronulla sewage treatment plant, it has shown an abysmal lack of commitment to the use of recycled
water generally. Recycling water from the Cronulla sewage treatment plant could pave the way to more
widespread use of recycled water in existing urban infrastructure in Sydney. The time to act is now.
MURRAY-DARLING ELECTORATE CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT AUTHORITIES
BELMONT GOLF CLUB LTD DEVELOPMENT
Mr PETER BLACK (Murray-Darling) [5.27 p.m.]: Honourable members will be aware that the
electorate of Murray-Darling includes six of the State's 13 catchment management authorities [CMAs], either in
whole or in part. I mention particularly natural resources reform. The Government's promises to reduce
bureaucracy and deliver more money to farmers and local communities are well and truly on track. A reduction
in costs has been achieved by decreasing the size of the head office and red tape—a commitment made prior to
the last State election. For the first time in more than 100 years, 55 per cent of the global budget of the
Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources is going to programs, works and grants rather
than being tied up in bureaucracy and red tape. It is going to on-ground works and grants to communities
Community grants alone—that is, money for farmers and on-ground works—have increased from just
$18 million in 2002-03 to $118 million this financial year through the CMAs. More than $436 million in State
and Federal money will be available to local communities over four years to spend on local natural resource
projects. For example, on 20 July the Lachlan CMA announced a $4.5 million incentive funding program for the
purchase of machinery to adopt or improve farming practices, to improve grazing management, to set up salt-
interception schemes, to upgrade some of the streams in the area, and of course to assist in property vegetation
plans. The same story rolls out across the State in each of the operational catchment management authorities. I
congratulate Peter Laird, the Mayor of Carrathool shire, based at Hillston, on his appointment to the Lachlan
In the Murrumbidgee CMA—which includes the great community of Hay—an additional $500,000
will be provided to upgrade fencing. Another $500,000 will be provided to the Kyeamba Valley Landcare group
to reduce salinity, sediment and nutrient loads coming out of Kyeamba Creek into the Murrumbidgee River to
ensure that the Murrumbidgee performs as efficiently as it can, for both environmental and economic reasons.
The Central West Catchment Management Authority is investing more than $1.6 million to control
watertable changes and recharges in salinity hazard areas, upgrade 2,800 hectares of perennial pasture, retain
3,500 hectares of native vegetation and replant 1,000 hectares for salt interception to re-establish the land as
productive farming landscape and reverse some of the environmental degradation. In addition, the Central West
Catchment Management Authority is allocating funds to ensure that Aboriginal communities are more actively
involved in planning for better natural resource management. It is developing training packages to increase
knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal management of significant landscape elements.
12298 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
Additional appointments of members to the CMA boards are being made. There is a great deal of
satisfaction with this process in western New South Wales. We have reduced the 72 committees, about which
our councils used to complain so assiduously and consistently, down to 13 CMAs. Bureaucracy has been put on
the back foot and the people who count are now on the front foot. We have got rid of the consensus arguments
and other arguments that were holding up the development of the regional native vegetation plans and similar.
In relation to natural resources, I refer briefly to the Belmont Golf Club, which is a subject close to my
heart. One may ask: what has that to do with western New South Wales? Simply put, a lot of people who live in
western New South Wales want to come and see water from time to time—a lot of it—and the ocean is one
good big patch of water. In fact, some people from Menindee on their first trip to Sydney wanted to know the
name of the lake and asked "Where is the far shore?" Belmont Golf Club has before it the most scandalous
proposal I have ever seen in my life to rezone and develop land for the construction of 400 houses. Having been
in local government, I cannot believe that anybody in local government could countenance such a proposal. One
can think of sitting at Swansea or thereabouts and looking at the vast seascape past Belmont up to Redhead.
Although I might have been born in Hurstville I spent my school holidays at Dudley and Whitebridge. To even
suggest developing that part of the coastline with 400 houses on golf course land is complete and absolute
nonsense. I do not know who is responsible for that proposal, but I urge everybody, particularly those involved
in the planning process, to say "No".
Mr NEVILLE NEWELL (Tweed—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.32 p.m.]: I compliment the
honourable member for Murray-Darling on his work with the catchment management authority [CMA] and on
his efforts to ensure that resources go to catchment management authorities within his electorate. He has pointed
to the work done by the CMA in managing natural resources and working on farming projects, river stream
management, watertable level corrections as well as Aboriginal native resource management projects. His most
important point was about the reduction of the 72 committees to 13 CMAs to look after those areas. No doubt,
from his experience in local government, he would appreciate a reduction in bureaucracy. However, I am a little
surprised by his foray into coastal issues—something he has not undertaken in the past.
HAWKESBURY RIVER FISHING INDUSTRY
Mr STEVEN PRINGLE (Hawkesbury) [5.33 p.m.]: On 14 October Hawkesbury City Council
convened a major public forum concerning the health of the Hawkesbury River. I commend Mayor Bart Bassett
on his initiative. I commend the councillors who attended the forum: Councillors Neville Wearne, Stubbs,
Rasmussen, Devine, Brooks and Williams. Recently, the health of the Hawkesbury River has achieved national
prominence in relation to its problems with weeds, low water flows and high nutrient levels due to run-off and
sewage. I remind the House of my recent private member's statement when I outlined the lack of a reticulated
sewerage system that was promised 20 years ago, in particular Glossodia, Freemans Reach and Wilberforce.
The health of the Hawkesbury River is vital to Sydney's water supply, recreation, tourism, agriculture
and fishing. The impact of water quality on fishing has often been overlooked. Fishing on the Hawkesbury River
is important to Sydney and the whole of New South Wales. Approximately 62 commercial prawn trawling
endorsements are on the Hawkesbury River, which means that at least 62 families are well and truly dependent
on an industry that generates approximately $6 million per annum. The industry targets three primary species:
school prawns, squid and king prawns. The by-product species are blue swimmer crabs, trumpeter whiting and
The Hawkesbury River fishing industry is a skilled operation. Prawns are caught by using a funnel-
shaped net that is towed along the riverbed. Fishermen need to be well and truly aware of the critical factors of
the colour and temperature of the water, the size and time of the tide and the location. One cannot catch prawns
and, at the same time, squid or mesh for fish. The product has to be handled carefully to meet the strict quality
control requirements of the Sydney markets. Hawkesbury fishers know that fishing is seasonal and is affected by
flood—if only—drought or because there is too much egria densa, kelp or wind. Also, we know that fish travel
in schools and they are migratory in their breeding patterns, which also affects how the industry operates.
Hawkesbury fishers are constrained by the size of the boats, nets and mesh and the topography of the
estuary. They are unable to work on weekends and were only recently allowed to work on public holidays. The
Hawkesbury industry is the second-largest producer of school prawns in New South Wales. It produces a high-
value and distinctive product that is well sought out in the Sydney Fish Market. It is also the largest producer of
squid. The trawl industry has operated since 1946 and it has seen dramatic changes to Sydney's water supply,
urban development, gear and boat development, fisheries management strategy, exotic weeds and siltation, all of
which have had a major effect on the industry that generates some $6 million per annum.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12299
Sydney and New South Wales need this industry. Sydney residents have a right to be able to eat a
good-quality local product. We cannot afford to lose this industry, and Sydney cannot afford to lose it. The
Government needs to show leadership and agree to the purchase of a weed harvester, improve water quality
coming out of the sewerage treatment plants, reuse more black and grey water and give priority to the sewerage
program, although it is now 20 years too late. We also need to take a holistic approach to the river. The Labor
Government needs to get behind our hardworking fishermen and give them support, and note that they are
strident supporters of sustainability. They want an industry that can last for many years to come. They need a
river that is healthy and clean. I thank Mary and Gary Howard, who are hardworking fishermen and strong
believers in sustainability. I also thank Jackie Thompson from Hawkesbury council, who organised the recent
extremely successful forum.
Mr NEVILLE NEWELL (Tweed—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.39 p.m.]: This must be an afternoon
for private member's statements relating to environmental matters. I appreciate that. I commend the honourable
member for Hawkesbury on bringing the health of the great and mighty Hawkesbury River to the attention of
the House. Healthy rivers, water quality and fishing quality have to be addressed by governments. I note the
concerns about having 62 licences on the river, the taking of school prawns, squid and other catch and the
maintenance of a viable industry in the area. Constraints on sharing the river have to be recognised. Not only
fishermen but others have a right to use the river for recreational and other purposes. I know that the Tweed
River has similar, voluntarily imposed constraints on fishing to allow a sharing of the river. Those constraints
mean that those fishermen do not work on weekends.
The constraints are imposed voluntarily, perhaps because the number of other boats and water vehicles
would make fishing almost impractical in any event. There is some uncertainty about whether there are
voluntary constraints on using fishing licences during those times of peak boating activity, or whether it is some
other constraint. I would point out to those who use the Hawkesbury and other rivers that the health of those
rivers requires the co-operation of all levels of government—Federal, State and particularly local, which
controls development along the river. After all, development has an enormous impact on the quality of run-off
into the river and hence the health of the river itself.
MARDI ESTATE OVERDEVELOPMENT
BELMONT GOLF CLUB LTD DEVELOPMENT
Mr PAUL CRITTENDEN (Wyong) [5.41 p.m.]: In March 2003 at Mardi, despite there being nothing
over two storeys in the Terrace Tower Company's Mardi Estate and nothing over three storeys within eight
kilometres, Terrace Tower put forward a proposal for twin 11-storey towers. It would have been great for the
company's profits but it totally sold out the company's previous customers in the Mardi Estate. The proposal was
for 64 two-bedroom units and two levels of car parking. The Mardi Estate opposite Westfield was marketed as
the Great Australian Suburban Showdown—the Hills hoist and the sandpit in the backyard, together with the
barbeque. People were never told about these other developments that would impact on them and their property
values as part of the great master plan of Terrace Tower.
Although the two 11-storey towers application exceeded the current height control at The Entrance by
11 metres, or three storeys, Wyong Council officers supported Terrace Tower. Clearly, council officers thought
it was acceptable for Mardi to end up looking like The Entrance! I strongly opposed this massive
overdevelopment. The council set 31 March as the closing date for public comment. I asked some of my
wonderful volunteers to hand deliver over 900 personally addressed letters at Mardi on around 18 March. I
asked residents who shared my concerns to sign an attached letter of objection and send it back to me: 624
residents responded and objected to this development, and only two supported it. Those 624 Mardi people
objected to this development on the basis of its bulk and scale and the traffic flow issues arising from it.
Unfortunately, Wyong councillors totally ignored the objections of the 624 Mardi residents and 9 out of
the 10 councillors voted for it. Maybe Terrace Tower has superior political skills! Mardi people with huge
mortgages clearly felt they were pawns in the developer's greed game. People have a right to know all the
developer's plans before they buy. To my utter amazement, on 7 April 2003 I received a letter from Wyong
Council, advising of yet another draft local environment plan for Mardi on behalf of Woodbury Park Estates, the
Terrace Tower subsidiary, to permit additional residential development of up to four storeys in height over
25 per cent of the site.
My experience of fighting Terrace Tower over the Mardi developments taught me that it has minimal
commitment to working with local residents and putting forward development proposals that are in keeping with
12300 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
the surrounding environment. This is the last type of company to which I would entrust an environmentally
sensitive oceanfront development site such as the land at Belmont Golf Club. The glossy so-called concept
design of Terrace Tower in the foyer of Belmont Golf Club is worded very carefully—it says "upwards of 400
dwellings" on the 9th, 1st, 18th and 10th holes of the present championship course. Based on its past record at
Mardi, "upwards of" are the operative words. What Terrace Tower put forward might look like an ambit claim,
but on past performance it may only be the commencement of an iterative process leading to much greater
development over its quarry, which is Belmont Golf Club land.
The contract entered into by the previous board of Belmont Golf Club with a subsidiary of Terrace
Tower involves the disposal of some or all of the real property of Belmont Golf Club. Notwithstanding the
recent local environmental plan from Lake Macquarie Council, this contract may lead to a Pandora's box that
will allow massive overdevelopment in a sensitive coastal strip in the Nine Mile Beach area. That is why the
Minister must report on the contents and legality of this contract. Last Thursday, for the first time, the Minister
for Gaming and Racing came into this House, huffing and puffing, and said I would get a reply. A reply has not
been forthcoming to date. I am amazed it has taken the Minister so long. Surely it should not take more than 24
hours to review a contract that was given to the legal officer on 19 August this year.
When the Minister says that I would "get a reply" it is a bit like waiting for Godot. I would have
thought the Minister could be as speedy investigating this case as he is getting free water in hotels and
restaurants. Getting a free glass of water is an important issue, especially for young people in dance clubs. But I
put to the Minister that his department has been investigating this issue for months and months. Why can we not
get an answer about what they have found? Or is it the case that this is a Department for Gaming and Racing
which does not have the ability or the courage to investigate clubs on behalf of the ordinary members? What is
the point in having a department with responsibility for clubs if it does not have the courage or ability to
investigate and expose the rorts?
Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE (Bega) [5.46 p.m.]: Education is the silver bullet. It lowers
unemployment, improves economic growth and engenders social change for the better. It improves people's
health, reduces poverty and crime and builds the esteem and values of our community. Whilst the crisis in health
has received significant air time in the public domain, there is an underlying crisis within education that is
leaving families depressed as young members within face significant obstacles to achieve and participate in
everyday life. Learning disability, more commonly known as dyslexia, is of broad public significance and one
which, from a public policy perspective, is not being addressed with the priority or care that is needed. The fact
is that we live in a text-oriented world, a world in which our dependency on being literate and numerate
determines our capacity to undertake participation in everyday life.
Recently I spoke to a Batemans Bay mother of three who is both brave and determined in seeking to
rectify the inequality in our public and private education systems in the funding allocation to those suffering
because of dyslexia. She has sent correspondence to me regarding her three children, who are all learning
disabled. One of her daughters, despite being acknowledged as learning disabled from the age of six and put
through multiple remedial programs by the public education system—not to mention the private system, which
as a parent she contributed to as well—continues to fall behind her peers on an average of six months for every
year at school. She is heading into high school 44 months behind her peers. Despite all her children being
assessed by specialists, bureaucracy and government have not adequately funded and supported school
communities to tackle the challenges associated with her children.
In response to her calls about funding, the mother was told that dyslexia/learning disability is not a
financially funded diagnosis; it is merely a learning difficulty and not a disability. Hence the education
bureaucracy expects these children to learn the same way and at the same rate as a child without a leaning
disability. The education debate in this House is constantly focussed on school capital and maintenance works
matters and workplace issues of the teaching profession, yet how does a mum whose family is facing enormous
challenges get across to public policy and key decision makers within government the message that dyslexia and
learning disability must be addressed? The message is this, and I quote this mother:
Parents, teachers and schools are constantly belittled in their efforts to get financial funding which in turn has left most schools
choosing, not to waste financial resources on getting learning disabled children assessed.
This however only exacerbates the present problem by not presenting an accurate picture to the Education Department on the
severity of the problem or identifying the child's true needs. The child, parents and schools are set in a tailspin with everyone
failing to address the problem or know what to do next. This is a disastrous outcome for their future and our country.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12301
I have had meetings with school communities, and I can inform the Parliament that in regional New South
Wales and on the South Coast upwards of 30 per cent of school classes have special needs. That is against a
backdrop of funding being allocated to only 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the classroom.
This does not even touch the sides when seeking to tackle other disabilities, let alone dyslexia. This is
the big education challenge for the next decade and we need an innovative approach to tackle it. Too many
children are three, five or even seven years behind despite remediation, and yet they are still being viewed as
having a learning difficulty, and one which attracts little, if any, financial support.
It is imperative that this House conduct a conference or summit to tackle dyslexia from a public policy
perspective. I urge the Minister for Education and Training to do just that. There must be recognition from a
public policy perspective that there is no one solution for those suffering from this disability; no one solution fits
everybody. Students with dyslexia need early diagnosis and lots of personal assistance. Dyslexia is a disability,
and should be recognised and resourced as such. It impacts not only on the individuals but also on fellow pupils
and teachers. I believe we should ensure that we have equality of opportunity in education, not equality of
outcome. Governments should not necessarily provide the service, but they should fund it and allow for an ever-
more creative and flexible approach to public education. We have to change our approach for these children.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT INTERNAL OMBUDSMAN PROPOSAL
Mr DAVID BARR (Manly) [5.51 p.m.]: On three occasions I have attempted, without success, to have
the Local Government Act amended. On two occasions I suggested that the Act be amended by providing that
elected councillors be restricted to two consecutive terms. A couple of weeks ago the Minister successfully
introduced an amendment to the Local Government Act to improve the conduct of councillors: the sin bin
proposal. However, I suggest that the Act be further amended to provide for the role of an internal ombudsman.
An internal ombudsman was appointed to Warringah Council following investigations that found the council
had a cycle of poor performance, which had resulted in numerous complaints from ratepayers. The council has
been sacked three times. The appointment of an internal ombudsman is an attempt to break the cycle, achieve
consistency and to re-establish good governance and community support of council, despite the actions of
individuals or elected representatives.
The Warringah Council ombudsman is not an ombudsman in the same sense as the State Ombudsman,
nor does he have anything like the same powers. In essence, he is a complaints officer. The investigation found
that the council's complaints review policy was inadequate; it needed to beef up the way it handled complaints.
The full potential of the role of an internal ombudsman can be fulfilled only when the ombudsman is
independent from the council and can, therefore, be impartial and at the same time remain close enough to have
a good professional understanding of local government issues that affect the area, particularly the personalities
involved. The internal ombudsman must be able to form a relationship with the community that is separate to
any relationship with the council, thereby providing the community with an easy and effective means of having
its concerns examined and resolved.
Members of the public need to be able to sit down with the internal ombudsman and have their matters
heard with some expectation that they will be heard impartially. However, there are shortcomings with
Warringah Council. Therefore, I suggest some changes that would require amendments to various statutes. First,
the office of the internal ombudsman is not envisaged in any legislation and has no official place in local
government. The Local Government Act would have to be amended to allow for the creation of the position of
internal ombudsman by a council or regional grouping of councils, if they so desire, for the purpose of
investigating complaints about the conduct of that council or regional grouping of councils, or have council
officers provide probity advice to council, analysing and co-ordinating corruption prevention measures,
improving council processes and procedures and providing transparency, accountability and good governance.
Second, the internal ombudsman does not have sufficient tenure to guarantee independence. Perhaps
four years would be an appropriate tenure. If it were not, an ombudsman could be dismissed at the whim of
councillors. In other words, independence is not fully guaranteed under the current set-up. Third, the office of
the internal ombudsman has little protection in relation to litigation and defamation or personal and private
information. Furthermore, there must be some exemption from the provisions of the Freedom of Information
Act. The Defamation Act must be changed should the Government see fit to institute internal ombudsmen.
Reports by the ombudsman would be protected.
Exemptions would be necessary under section 24 (5) of the Privacy Act. People who give information
to an internal ombudsman should have a guarantee of privacy. If information is sought under freedom of
12302 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
information on a matter the internal ombudsman is dealing with it could lead to legal proceedings, such as
defamation action. I suggest the Government consider allowing councils to create internal ombudsmen, as they
deem appropriate, as another way of making local government more transparent and accountable, giving the
public a chance to have a say, and giving the Government more confidence in local government. I have put the
suggestion to the Minister and I am awaiting his response.
ALBURY CHILDREN'S WEEK ACTIVITIES
Mr GREG APLIN (Albury) [5.56 p.m.]: Last Saturday I had the honour of opening Children's Week
in Albury on one of the many stages set up in the main street for the hugely successful Applause Festival.
Children's Week is a national event that provides an opportunity for children to celebrate their talent, skills and
achievements and to raise community awareness of a child's right to enjoy childhood. The Children's Week
Council of Australia was founded in 1985 to co-ordinate Children's Week celebrations and in 1996 adopted a
permanent theme for the week: "A Caring World Shares." That was exactly the case in Albury, where the
council organised a wide range of activities in conjunction with providers of children's services. There was story
time, the launch of an Albury Family Services directory, picnic in the park and a series of free parent
information sessions. Paediatric surgeon and mother, Tracey Merriman, presented the first session on children's
health topics titled, "Our kids—the bits we don't like to boast about."
Other information sessions during Children's Week included a workshop for parents of preschool-aged
children and a session on developing and strengthening literacy skills in young children, which was presented by
Albury City Libraries and Gabrielle Connell, an early childhood teacher. The daytime focus for Children's Week
in Albury was the Children's Creative Play Spaces Expo held in the police training hall. The expo was a
fascinating and inspirational creation of colourful activities crafted by representatives of local children's
services. Helen Fitzgerald of Albury City and Gabrielle Connell from Albury preschool guided me around the
interactive play spaces that filled the hall and delighted children and their parents. The play spaces were based
on the notion that children are curious and competent explorers of their world, and that understanding their
natural environment is an integral part of children's learning.
Accordingly, the expo presented a range of creative play situations utilising readily available materials
from gardens and from around the house. It was rewarding watching children participate in the displays, create
works of art, crawl into tepees and over large cushions, and entertain their parents with glove puppets and a
wonderful variation of playdough called flubber, which can stretch and break, and be reformed, moulded and
decorated. The displays were inspirational and beautifully presented. I congratulate the organisers on the success
of the expo. It was most appropriate that Children's Week was launched during a festival that provided free
family entertainment and encouraged wide community participation along the main street of Albury. The
Applause Festival presented street theatre and buskers in a diverse, action-filled, spontaneous and accessible
carnival of entertainment.
There were jugglers and jazz troupes, circus performers, mime artists, unicyclists, plate twirlers,
dancers, rock bands and painters, sculptors and body artists. It was fun, it was spectacular and it was colourful.
It featured children on stages and along the street at designated busking points and it offered seasoned and
professional entertainers an opportunity to take over the heart of the city. The Applause Festival was organised
by Albury Central. Co-ordinator Kellie Kadaoui believes it will become a signature event for the region. Over
9,000 people were attracted to the central business district with the fine weather contributing to their enjoyment
throughout the day and into the evening. The final show commenced at 6.00 p.m. and featured the best of
Applause as the pick of the performers presented their act on the central stage. Kellie Kadaoui said that one of
the highlights for her had been the ability for parents to bring their children to Dean Street at night and be
entertained. It was truly a wonderful day for the community and as the co-ordinator said:
It is the only event in Australia with a mix of busking and street performance and the different sections for visual arts, performing
arts and music. By 2012 at the latest, we would like to reach the stage where we have an event bringing in 20,000 people, perhaps
over three or four days.
Adding to the kaleidoscope of colour, fun, sound and entertainment were two world record attempts, which were
both successful. Albury restaurateur, Mr Mohamad Mansour, set a new record for the world's largest kebab—a
giant creation of 413 kilograms with 84.5 kilograms of lettuce, 25.9 kilograms of tabouli salad, 64.4 kilograms
of tomatoes, 18.4 kilograms of onions, 23.1 kilograms of garlic butter, 133.5 kilograms of chicken—100
individual birds—and 62.1 kilograms of pita bread. It was quite a sight and drew several hundred people to the
Maroosh Lebanese Restaurant in Dean Street, where Mr Mansour and a team of 16 staff, family and friends put
together the gastronomic monster that measured eight metres long and 70 centimetres wide.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12303
The arrival of the pita bread was heralded by belly dancers and the kebab was created before the
appreciative crowd. The Albury kebab defeated the previous world record, held by the Greeks, by more than
200 kilograms and five metres in length. Over $900 was raised for the Salvation Army by the sale of slices of
the kebab. The other world record to fall during the Applause Festival was for eating the most ice-cream with a
teaspoon in 30 seconds. Mr Ivan Jakovac broke the record at the Albury Ice Creamery by consuming 320 grams
in the 30 seconds, breaking the 264 grams record previously held by an American. It was a day of winners.
MAITLAND ELECTORATE ARTS FUNDING
Mr JOHN PRICE (Maitland) [6.01 p.m.]: I wish to express my thanks to the Ministry for the Arts for
it is well-targeted grants to the Maitland electorate. The Maitland City Art Gallery was recently relocated. Under
the former directorship of Mrs Margaret Sivier, OAM, the art gallery was previously located in a heritage
building, Brough House, in Church Street, Maitland, which is under the control and care of the Heritage Council
of New South Wales. The gallery's collection has been relocated to a new gallery in the former TAFE building
in High Street, Maitland, under the careful directorship of Mr Joe Eisenberg, OAM, who was formerly of the
Maitland City Art Gallery received grants totalling $63,000, made up of $21,000 to establish an
education outreach co-ordinator's position, $20,000 to produce a comprehensive catalogue of all the pieces held
by the gallery, $8,000 for a project known as A Snapshot of Maitland, which is a photographic record of the city
that has been undertaken by Michel Brouet, $8,000 for a project known as JAB, which is an exhibition that will
show how digital technologies are being used by textile artists, and $6,000 for development of design proposals
for public art work.
The Maitland City Art Gallery was given a tremendous boost during the period at about the time of the
2003 State election when the Premier announced a grant of $250,000 to assist Maitland City Council to
purchase the TAFE building and proceed with the redesign of the building as an art gallery. The funding
provided tremendous impetus for the city and generally is a great boon for the arts in the Maitland electorate. I
am pleased to inform the House that several world-class exhibitions have recently been held at the building and
that the Art Gallery has attracted significant donations of valuable art works to the city of Maitland. I should
also mention that $12,000 of the grants was allocated to the St James Theatre in Dungog for restoration works
and airconditioning. The St James Theatre is one of only two old Spanish-type public theatres in New South
Wales, and it is in an excellent state of preservation. I am very pleased that the department has recognised its
cultural and social significance by providing that funding.
The Maitland electorate has attracted a number of grants for the arts from various sources. The local
history museum in Dungog is currently showing a Powerhouse Museum travelling exhibition that features
health remedies from a by-gone era—the types of remedies our mothers and grandmothers used to administer,
such as honey and lemon juice to cure a cold, or a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down for those who needed
it. The exhibit features the packaging and the tins that home remedies came in. The display features products
that have been used within my lifetime, which I found interesting. When people turn 60 they think they are on
the way out, but the exhibition gave me the feeling that I was still on the way in. It was a tremendous thrill for
me to see products with brand names that I remember from my childhood.
Work has also been carried out at the Morpeth local history museum, and more work will be done. The
museum holds a valuable collection centred on the history of the city of Maitland. The museum at the village of
Paterson, which was once a major centre and one of the last ports on the Paterson-Hunter river network, recently
held a commemorative celebration that featured the launch of a number of books. One of the books
commemorated the Presbyterian Church that is immediately opposite the museum. Depending on which history
book one refers to, the church is probably the oldest established Presbyterian Church in the country. St Anne's is
a culturally significant building which, in keeping with Presbyterian values at the time it was built, is very
austere but is nevertheless steeped in history. I was interested to note those who returned to Paterson and
participated in the commemorative ceremony. I pay great credit to Mr Cameron Archer, the President of the
local Paterson Historical Society and the Principal of the Tocal Agricultural College.
I hope that all the arts and cultural events I have mentioned indicate to the Government that Maitland is
recognising its heritage and is actively embracing its cultural and social origins. The community is
enthusiastically engaged in all types and styles of arts activities. The people of Maitland greatly appreciate the
financial support they have received and are seeking further grants. I am pleased to advocate on behalf of the
people of the Maitland electorate that further funding should be provided for the arts. It is gratifying to witness a
community recognising and enjoying the social and cultural side of life and doing something about it. It has
been a great honour for me to be involved in the projects.
12304 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 October 2004
WEST HARBOUR RUGBY UNION FOOTBALL CLUB PRESENTATION NIGHT
Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE (Strathfield) [6.06 p.m.]: It is my great pleasure to relate to the House the
amazing sporting talent that exists and is being developed in West Harbour Rugby Union Football Club. I was
honoured to attend the West Harbour Rugby Union Football Club's 2004 presentation night, which was held on
Saturday 23 October. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, which celebrated the club's successful season. I had the
honour also of assisting with the presentation of some of the awards. It was absolutely astonishing to come
across such a dedicated, talented and diligent group of people in one room, and it was exciting to witness the
passion they clearly share for this great club. This sort of unity and camaraderie is so important to communities,
and it was uplifting to see it alive and in action at this presentation night.
The evening celebrated the successful year of the club, which obviously could not operate without the
hard work of many people. At the outset I acknowledge the hard work and effort put in by the organisers of the
event, which was most enjoyable. The club's president, Mr. Lloyd Mills, and the energy of his hardworking
team, including the club's executive members and Mr Geoff Moxham, who is always the most fantastic master
of ceremonies and who also obviously has a great passion for rugby union, keep the club alive and functioning
efficiently. Without these people the club could not reach the high levels that were achieved this season.
The major sponsors—particularly the local and highly supportive Burwood RSL, the Pine Inn,
Aristocrat, Staffware, and Mako Sunglasses—make it possible for the activities to go ahead. They provide the
necessary funds for ground hire, uniforms, safety equipment, and other important elements of competitive sport.
Without them, there may not have been a team. The dedication of coaches allows the players to progress as both
individuals sports people and as a team. The coaches contribute hours of hard work to the sport each week and
ensure that the players can continue to play as well as develop. However, the centrepiece of the evening was
unquestionably the players of the club. They demonstrated true team spirit at the dinner, and the results of their
games reflect their talents.
The club recognised individual players on the night. I would like to make particular mention of these
award winners. The A. L. Vincent Award winner was Peri Maika; the Player of the Year was Brendan
O'Connell; Colt of the Year was Lewis Farrar; the Women's Player of the Year was Jane Blackburn—the
women's team was acknowledged for being premiers in their competition and they were absolutely sensational;
the Rookie of the Year was Khan Taylor; the John Manwar Memorial Trophy for Colts was presented to David
Keast; and the Sel Freelander Clubman of the Year awards went to Greg High and Vince Gee.
The club's milestones included 100 first grade games being played by Peri Maika, and 100 grade games
being played by Kent Fague and Tuele Tiko. The 2004 Australian Schools Representative was Leon Bott. The
highest point scorer in the club was Teava Terangi. The Colts Club Championship Shield was presented to Jed
Hogan. The highest try scorer in the club was Vuli Tailasa. The best rookie forward in his grade was Gavin
Holder. The most improved player in his grade was Salesi Maafu—if I am not mistaken, that is a Tongan
name—and in the Colts the most improved player was Mark Porpigilia.
In first grade Colts the best back was Lupini Siale and the best forward was James King. In first grade
the best back was Chrwas Siale and the best forward was Mark Howell. In second grade Colts the best back was
Tito Mua and the best forward was Tom Andrews. In second grade the best back was Nathan McLachlan and
the best forward was Gavin Holder. In third grade the best back was Jamie Seaton and the best forward was
Jackson Campbell. In third grade Colts the best back was Taylor Spratt and the best forward was Mark
Porpiglia. In fourth grade the best back was Trent Fasch and the best forward was Gareth Powell. In fourth
grade Colts the best back was Moses Uluibau and the best forward was Stephen Reynolds. In fifth grade the best
back was Tulele Tiko and the best forward was Luke Sinai. In sixth grade the best back was Ben Solomon and
the best forward was David Satuala. For the women, the best back was Ariana Te Raki and the best forward was
I am proud to acknowledge that wonderful event, which acknowledged the sporting talent in
Strathfield. Sport encourages physical exercise, friendship, teamwork, and good conduct, making it important
both to individuals and communities as a whole. I was glad to be given the chance to be a part of it. I would like
to conclude by mentioning the 24 wonderful women who won the premiership. They are Mihi Ashby, Jane
Blackman, Paige Butcher, Sharon Carson, Linda Centofanti, Claire Cruikshank, Dalena Dennison, Louise
Ferris, Kate Fitzsimmons, Kristy Frogley, Melissa Galea, Debby Hodgkinson, Kristy Millanta, Nic Nerling,
Karyn Pierce, Juanita Rangi, Chairmaine Smith, Susan Stokes, Cassandra Sutton, Ariana Te Raki, Akansi
Vakacoa, Ron Lipovac, Emma Te Raki and Leu Tuiavii. I mentioned all the names because all those players
deserve to be recognised in the Parliament of the premier State in this nation.
28 October 2004 LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 12305
SERBIAN CULTURAL CLUB M7 CONSTRUCTION IMPACT
Mr PAUL LYNCH (Liverpool) [6.11 p.m.]: The M7, previously known as the Western Sydney
Orbital, is an important piece of transport infrastructure for Western Sydney. Many advantages flow from it and
it has broad support in the community. However, that does not mean that there are no problems or issues
surrounding its construction. Honourable members may remember my concerns relating to the route of the M7
through Cecil Hills. A number of residents had purchased properties on the basis of advertised road routes, only
to find that the route changed after they had bought the land. Following a community campaign, that I was
happy to support, the road was moved further west, which was an improvement, although it did not go quite as
far as it should have. Other problems are associated with the M7, one of which involves the Serbian Cultural
Club at 256 Cowpasture Road, Hoxton Park, within my electorate.
The club has lost part of its land for the construction of on/off ramps for the M7. The club's entry was
off Seventeenth Avenue, which now cannot be accessed from Cowpasture Road. A massive wall and
embankment now tower over the clubhouse. I have inspected the site in company with board members Rajko
Ignjatic, the president; Luka Kovacevic, the vice president; Miladin Dragojevic, a director; and Vlajko Topic, a
director. Also present was the club's general manager, Zoran Dragojevic. With the development of the M7 there
has been a litany of problems for the club.
As the club's name suggests, its members are drawn mainly from Serbian migrants to Australia, largely
several decades ago. In what was almost a traditional Australian story, in common with many other post-World
War II communities, they have settled, worked, raised families, and contributed significantly to the remarkable
community known as Western Sydney. The club was formed in 1964 and it has held the land for about 30 years.
Building started in the 1970s and the club opened in about 1974. A letter from the club's general manager, Zoran
Dragojevic, dated 17 August, sets out the core of some of the problems. It states:
As you are aware the M7 was being built and might I add at a very fast rate. As a result of this construction we have suffered
numerous problems during this period. We are also suffering at this very moment due to the RTA's inability or perhaps lack of
interest in resolving the issue of compensation. From what I know not one case concerning acquisition by the RTA for the M7
has been resolved.
The Club has been pushing to have this matter resolved as soon as possible. Ever since the RTA acquired part of our land which,
in turn, led to a court case, the Club has had no direction and can make no plans for the future.
I do not seek for the Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA] or the Minister to do anything other than what is fair
and appropriate in determining the amount of compensation. I do ask, however, that the process be expedited as
far as reasonably possible. I understand that the RTA has been quite tardy in supplying relevant documentation,
such as hydraulic evidence and material, for example. In that regard it now seems extraordinary that the flood
modelling by the RTA does not reflect the approved construction drawings. If that was the case, no reliance can
be placed upon assertions by the RTA that the club premises will not become flood affected as a result of the
construction work. That aspect ought to be resolved urgently.
There has been a plethora of other problems with the construction. During construction the RTA's
contractor severed the club's connection to the sewerage system. That resulted in raw sewage seeping onto club
land and even adjoining land not owned by the club. Abigroup, the RTA's contractor, has attempted to arrange
pump-outs of the sewage. That was, of course, the least it should do. However, that has not worked consistently
and has been unsatisfactory. Part of the problem was that numbers at the club vary, obviously, during the week
and between weeks, depending upon the type and size of functions held there. The regularity of the need for
pump-out was not clear.
There have also been problems with entry to the club. The previous entry via Seventeenth Avenue was
removed in early November 2003. A new entry cul-de-sac and proper sealed entry to the club was promised
within five weeks. The provision of a satisfactory entrance was delayed by 24 weeks, which took in Christmas
and Easter, which were very busy times for the club. When I last inspected the club a proper sealed surface on
Seventeenth Avenue still had not been provided.
The cessation of access to Seventeenth Avenue from Cowpasture Road made access to the club much
harder. Signs should have been erected by the RTA redirecting patrons to access the club at the same time as the
road was closed. They were not. In addition, great inconvenience and damage to amenity was visited upon the
club and its patrons and employees during the construction period. I refer in particular to dust and noise, which
were both significant problems. I ask the Minister to have a look at this and see if there is some way that the
issues can be resolved.
Private members' statements noted.
The House adjourned at 6.16 p.m. until Tuesday 9 November 2004 at 2.15 p.m.